(Updates with info about Western powers embassy transfers)
International Desk, Aug 15 (EFE).- The United States and several other Western countries have transferred all their embassy personnel to the Kabul airport, with Taliban fighters entering the Afghan capital and President Ashraf Ghani having fled the country, a situation that has accelerated the Western nations’ evacuation plans that were already under way.
Ghani abandoned Afghanistan on Sunday, while Taliban fighters entered Kabul to prevent, they said, looting amid the flight of security forces.
“In order to prevent looting in Kabul city, and stop opportunists from harming people, the Islamic Emirate (as the Taliban define themselves) ordered its forces to enter the areas of the city left by the enemy,” the Taliban said in a statement.
The statement said Kabul citizens should not fear the Mujahideen, ensuring that the fighters will “enter the city calmly.”
“The military and civil employees can be confident that no one will harm them,” they said. “No mujahid is allowed to enter any civilian’s house, or to torture or disturb anyone.”
Shortly before that, it became publicly known that “former President” Ghani had left the country, thus bringing the victory of the Taliban one step closer after 20 years of warfare and a quarter century after they had entered Kabul and installed a radical and rigorously Islamist regime that now could reestablish itself.
While waiting for evacuation plans to be brought to fruition, the US and other Western countries transferred embassy personnel to the Kabul airport, which has been converted into an improvised diplomatic compound where all sorts of preparations are quickly being pursued to ensure the safe departure of Western personnel from the Central Asian country.
In remarks to ABC News, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Washington was moving all embassy staff to the Kabul airport, adding that an absolute minimum diplomatic presence will continue to operate from the airport as the rest of embassy staff is evacuated from Afghanistan.
He said that the US is working “to ensure (the embassy staff) can operate safely and securely,” but still keep a core diplomatic presence there.
Blinken refused to confirm whether the US Embassy in Kabul would be closed and abandoned altogether but he reiterated that a minimal diplomatic contingent would operate from the airport while the evacuation of other personnel continues.
According to CNN, the US diplomatic mission will be closed as of Aug. 17, while US charge d’affaires Ross Wilson and the rest of the US diplomatic personnel will work from the airport for an indefinite period.
The French government also moved to bring all its diplomatic personnel in Kabul to the airport “Due to the enormous and rapid degradation of security in Afghanistan, French authorities have decided to move their embassy to within the Kabul airport, where it will remain active in proceeding with the evacuation of the French contingent who are still” inside the country, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement.
Germany has also transferred its embassy personnel and local employees to the Kabul airport while they wait to be safely evacuated on military aircraft and Sweden and other Nordic countries are expecting to conclude similar operations on Sunday.
Denmark and Norway, specifically, had already announced on Aug. 13 that they would be closing their embassies in Kabul.
Spain will evacuate all its embassy personnel and about a dozen local workers – along with hundreds of Afghans who collaborated with the Spanish military missions and cooperation projects – diplomatic sources told EFE.
The Spanish Foreign and Defense Ministries have been attending to the logistics of the evacuation, determining both the number of people to be repatriated and the aircraft that will be used for the mission, the diplomatic sources said, adding that Afghans who collaborated with the Spanish personnel, along with six Spanish citizens listed as local residents, will be among those to be evacuated.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Sunday that, given the seriousness of the situation in Afghanistan, Canadian diplomats have left the country and are returning to Canada.
Trudeau said that he had been informed on Sunday morning about the situation in Kabul and in the rest of Afghanistan and that given the circumstances caused by the collapse of the Ghani government, Canadian diplomatic personnel were en route back to Canada.
Meanwhile, NATO – institutionally the main Western defense and security pillar and which has had a very important presence in Afghanistan for the past 20 years – said Sunday that a political solution to the conflict there is more urgent than ever.