As the Taliban took control over two of Afghanistan’s biggest cities – Herat and Kandahar on Thursday, the government of the United States of America is reportedly asking the Islamic terror group not to attack the US Embassy in Kabul if and when they capture the Afghan capital, reports New York Times.
According to the reports, the US negotiators hope to secure assurances from the Taliban that they will not attack the US Embassy in Kabul if the Taliban group overruns the capital in the coming days.
The American interlocutors, led by Zalmay Khalilzad, the chief US envoy in talks with the Taliban, are negotiating a deal with the Taliban to allow for a safe evacuation of the embassy officials as the fighters rapidly seize cities across Afghanistan, the NYT report says. The Taliban’s swift advances into major cities have put foreign diplomatic missions in Kabul on high alert. Many countries have either suspended their operation or evacuated their citizens due to the recent surge of violence in Afghanistan.
As per the reports, Khalilzad is trying to convince the Taliban leaders that the embassy must remain open and secure if the terror network hopes to receive US financial aid and other assistance as part of a future Afghan government. The Taliban leadership, which is seeking legitimacy and good diplomatic relations with other global powers, including Russia and China, is also hoping to receive economic support in the coming days.
After a poorly planned and chaotic withdrawal, Joe Biden is now begging and bribing the Taliban not to attack our embassy?— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) August 12, 2021
The senior US diplomats have confirmed Khalilzad’s meetings with the Taliban to try and negotiate a better deal for the Americans if the Taliban capture power in Afghanistan. The American diplomats are now pushing hard to seek assurance from the Taliban to evacuate their citizens safe.
On Thursday, the embassy urged US citizens who were not working for the government to leave Afghanistan immediately on commercial flights. However, Joe Biden administration has officially not communicated yet on the evacuating or at least drawing down the embassy’s staff of 4,000 employees, including about 1,400 Americans, even as US troops formally complete their withdrawal from the country.
“We are withdrawing our forces from Afghanistan, but we are not withdrawing from Afghanistan,” the State Department said in a statement. “Although US troops will depart, the United States will maintain our robust diplomatic engagement with Afghanistan,” another official was quoted by the media.
US sends troops to evacuate diplomats, citizens
Amidst negotiations with the Taliban, President Joe Biden has also decided to send about 3,000 US troops to Kabul to help evacuate more diplomats from the US embassy, underscoring just how badly the US has been caught off-guard by the Taliban’s advance across Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the US diplomats are closely watching the dangerous situation in Kabul to see how the Biden administration will balance its long-standing commitment to stabilising Afghanistan against protecting the American interests.
Price said that the US will send troops to Hamid Karzai International Airport to assist in the withdrawal of embassy staff.— TOLOnews (@TOLOnews) August 12, 2021
Yesterday, US State Dept spokesperson Ned Price stated that the US Embassy in Kabul will remain open and the diplomatic mission will continue. However, troops will be sent to the Karzai International Airport to assist in the evacuation of staff.
The US officials have expressed fear of an imminent Taliban take over after the terror group’s swift capturing of provincial capitals across Afghanistan, particularly cities like Herat, Kandahar and Lashkar Gah. Kabul, the seat of power in Afghanistan, is the only major northern city still under government control, and the fall of Kabul could well mean the end for the Afghan national government.
The US diplomats have described the mood inside the embassy as increasingly tense and worried as the Taliban takes over the war-torn country. The diplomats at the State Department’s headquarters in Washington are reportedly disheartened about the US withdrawal, nearly 20 years after they had arrived in Afghanistan.
The embassy officials are hoping to avoid a situation like the fall of Saigon in 1975 when Americans were evacuated from the embassy from a rooftop by helicopter.
“I don’t think people are yet at the point where they would say we need to get out the door, but they will be looking at the door a lot more often,” said Ronald E. Neumann, who was the US ambassador to Afghanistan from 2005-07 and is now the president of the American Academy of Diplomacy in Washington.
This comes at a time when foreign governments such as the United Kingdom have warned the Taliban that it will not recognise the Taliban government if it captures the country by force. Similarly, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas of Germany said Berlin would not give the Taliban any financial support if it ultimately rules Afghanistan with a hard-line Islamic law.
Taliban captures Kandahar, Herat and Lashkar Gah:
The Taliban have captured three important cities – Herat, Kandahar and the key southern city of Lashkar Gah on Thursday. The Afghan security forces have fled the city following the onslaught by the Islamic terror organisation.
The security officials said that military and government officials had evacuated the city after striking a deal with the terrorists. The government has now effectively lost control of most of the country after the Taliban launched a blitzkrieg against the Afghan national forces to capture urban centres.
Meanwhile, the Taliban claimed that they have captured Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city, leaving just the capital and pockets of another territory in the government’s hands.
“Kandahar is completely conquered. The Mujahideen reached Martyrs’ Square in the city,” a Taliban spokesman said.