Life slowly resumed its rights Tuesday in Kabul under the new Taliban regime, even if the inhabitants, frightened, remained on their guard, while in Washington, President Joe Biden resolutely defended the withdrawal of American troops.
Shops had reopened in the Afghan capital, car traffic had resumed and people were once again taking to the streets, where police were in traffic, while the Taliban held checkpoints. Few women, however, dared to risk themselves outside.
But there were also signs that life would no longer be that of yesterday. The men swapped their Western clothes for the shalwar kameez, the loose traditional Afghan dress, and state television now mainly broadcast Islamic programs.
Since they entered Kabul on Sunday, after a meteoric offensive that in barely ten days allowed them to take control of almost the entire country, and that they took over the presidential palace, deserted by President Ashraf Ghani, on the run abroad, the Taliban have stepped up gestures of appeasement towards the population.
On Tuesday, they announced a “general amnesty” for all state officials, calling on everyone to resume their “life habits with full confidence”.
But for many Afghans, trust will be hard to gain. When they were in power (from 1996 to 2001), the Taliban had imposed an ultra-strict version of Islamic law. Women could neither work nor study, and thieves and murderers faced terrible punishments.
“People are afraid of the unknown,” said a shopkeeper in the capital on Tuesday. “The Taliban are patrolling the city in small convoys. They don’t bother anyone, but of course people are afraid. “
Despite assurances from the Taliban, some reports seemed to suggest that they were continuing to search for government officials, with one witness saying that men of their own entered the house of one of these officials to take him by force.
Hours earlier, President Biden had defended tooth and nail the decision to withdraw US troops from the country, despite scenes of distress Monday at Kabul airport, where thousands tried to flee the country.
“I am deeply saddened by the situation, but I do not regret »the decision to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan, where they had entered 20 years earlier to oust the Taliban from power, Biden said in a much-anticipated nationwide address.
Targeted by sharp criticism, in the United States and abroad, after remaining silent throughout the weekend, he reiterated that Washington’s mission had never been to build a democratic nation in an unstable country, but “to prevent a terrorist attack on American soil”.
The United States intervened in Afghanistan in 2001 because of the Taliban’s refusal to hand over Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
“US forces cannot, and should not, wage a war and die in a war that Afghan forces are unwilling to fight for themselves,” Biden continued, conceding however that the ‘The collapse of the Afghan government had been faster “than we had expected. “
The Taliban entered Kabul on Sunday without spilling blood. But their triumph sparked scenes of monster panic at Kabul airport. A human tide rushed towards what is the only way out of Afghanistan on Monday.
Videos posted on social media earlier showed scenes of utter anarchy, such as hundreds of people running near an American military transport plane, which was taxiing to get into a take-off position, madly trying to hang on on its sides or on its wheels.
One snapshot, which the Pentagon has not denied, showed 640 Afghans crammed into a US Air Force C-17 cargo plane, some of whom climbed aboard at the last minute as the ramp was only half open.
Washington has sent 6,000 troops to secure the airport and remove some 30,000 Americans and Afghan civilians who have cooperated with the United States who fear for their lives.
From Madrid to The Hague, via Paris, Bucharest and London, several other countries are also still active on Tuesday to repatriate their nationals.
For its part, Canada has already evacuated 34 diplomats and soldiers, as well as 807 Afghans. The latter benefit from aimmigration aimed at resettling the families of interpreters and other support personnel who worked with the Canadian military and the diplomatic mission in Afghanistan.
A first evacuation flight from Kabul with French nationals on board arrived in Abu Dhabi overnight, announced the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly.
Mr. Biden threatened the Taliban with a “swift and powerful” military response if they disrupt the ongoing evacuation operations.
The United States could recognize a future Taliban government, provided it “preserves the basic rights of its people […], including half of its population – its wives and daughters, ”and that it“ does not offer refuge to terrorists, ”State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
China was the first country to say on Monday that it wanted to maintain “friendly relations” with the Taliban. Russia and Iran have also made gestures of openness.
Washington, which deplores 2,500 deaths and a bill of more than 2,000 billion dollars, and whose image emerges deeply damaged, has suffered many criticisms from its European allies.
British Defense Minister Ben Wallace denounced a “failure of the international community”, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel concluded that not everything “was done as we expected”.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Afghanistan should “not once again become the sanctuary for terrorism that it was” and called for “a response [internationale] responsible and united ”.
But for many analysts, even if the Taliban should choose to be more careful in their relations with al-Qaeda, the two groups remain intimately linked.
“What is happening in Afghanistan is a clear and resounding victory for Al-Qaeda,” said Colin Clarke, research director of the Soufan Center, for whom Al-Qaeda could use it to attract recruits and create a new dynamic. .
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