What was started in the presidency of George W Bush has come to end in the presidency of Joe Biden. The United States of America has officially ended its longest war in Afghanistan on Monday as the last squadron of US Troops has left the Afghan soil by leaving the country into the hands of whom it has battled over the years.
The drawdown of the troops was made possible by the botched decision of US President Joe Biden and despite the pleas from the allies including Britain and France, Biden has refused to extend the deadline of troops withdrawal beyond August 31st. The United States has left Afghanistan in the backdrop of the resurgence of the Taliban and by ending the two-decade war, the Biden administration will less likely have a direct diplomatic mission in Kabul after the city has completely fallen to the hands of the Taliban. Earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that the United States will exercise ties with Afghanistan by placing a mission in the Qatari capital of Doha.
On Monday, the United States has officially announced the end of its twenty-year-old war after the last American military flight had taken off from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, hours ahead of the August 31 deadline. Speaking to the reporters via a virtual news conference, US Central Command Commander Marine Corps General Frank McKenzie said, "I am here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan and the end of the mission to evacuate American citizens, third-country nationals, and vulnerable Afghans."
His statement of ending the evacuation drive has come when hundreds of people including those who have helped the US troops are desperate to flee the country owing to the fear that they will be hunted down by the Taliban. "Every single US service member is now out of Afghanistan", McKenzie added as the mission has ended days after a suicide attack in the Kabul airport that had killed 13 US military men. America has ended the war, two weeks ahead of marking the 20th anniversary of the September 9/11 attack in which Al Qaeda terrorists had hijacked the aircraft in the US airspace and blown up the Twin Towers in New York. The terrorists had also rammed the aircraft on the Pentagon, the US Defence headquarters in 2001.
Shortly after the dreadful attack, then US President George W Bush has announced a war against Afghanistan and invaded the country and ousted the Taliban rule for providing safe havens to the leaders of Al Qaeda, who were behind the attack in the United States. Since 2001, the United States had kept enhancing the war on Afghan soil to eliminate the Taliban group and the rest of the extremists. During the Obama era, the United States had deployed more troops to Afghanistan and it was during the Obama presidency that the US Defence forces traced and killed Al Qaeda's chief Osama Bin Laden. In the second half of his presidency, Obama's successor Donald Trump had begun negotiations with the Taliban to pact a peace deal and to bring the US troops home.
After episodes of deliberations, a deal was signed between the United States and the Taliban in February 2020 and the Trump administration had committed to withdrawing the US forces by May 2021 and in return, the Taliban has committed to preventing other terrorist groups including Al Qaeda from using Afghan soil as their base for terrorism. After Biden became the President, he escalated the deal and announced that the US troops will completely be withdrawn by August 31, 2021. His administration has fastened the drawdown, which invited criticism within the country that he had taken a botched decision. However, Biden was firm and his administration was taking back the troops when the Taliban was busy regaining control across the territory.
What was seen as a sophisticated military grid had completely bowed down to the Taliban fighters as they advanced to Kabul by capturing all other major cities. Two weeks back, the Taliban has regained control of Kabul, thereby taking control over the entire country. The Afghan forces and the government didn't bother the insurgents much as then-President Ashraf Ghani had fled the country. As the Taliban was working to form their second regime, the US and several of its allies and global countries had begun the operation of evacuating their diplomats and citizens from Afghanistan and the world had seen how the Afghans were in need to flee the country as they thronged before the airport and on the runway.
There were deaths at the airport due to stampede and at least two people had died falling from the aircraft from mid-air as they had attempted to leave the country by hanging on the landing gear. However, amid such heart-wrenching scenes, the US had continued its drawdown and evacuation and the Biden administration has reported that it has evacuated over 1.20 lakh people from Afghanistan in a fortnight and the majority of them are Afghans. President Joe Biden has announced that America's 20-year-old military presence in Afghanistan has ended, hours after the United States withdrew all of its soldiers from the Afghan soil.
By thanking the armed forces for executing the dangerous drawdown as scheduled, Biden said, "I will report that it was the unanimous recommendation of the Joint Chiefs and of all our commanders on the ground to end our airlift mission as planned. Their view was that ending our military mission was the best way to protect the lives of our troops, and secure the prospects of civilian departures for those who want to leave Afghanistan in the weeks and months ahead." He stated that the Taliban had made commitments on safe passage and the world will hold them to their commitments. It will include ongoing diplomacy in Afghanistan and coordination with partners in the region to reopen the airport allowing for continued departure for those who want to leave and delivery for humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.
Biden further said that he has asked the Secretary of State to lead the continued coordination with US international partners to ensure safe passage for any American, Afghan partners, and foreign nationals who want to leave Afghanistan. Speaking at the virtual news conference on Monday, General Frank McKenzie said that no American civilian was in the last flight. He said, "While the military evacuation is complete, the diplomatic mission to ensure additional US citizens and eligible Afghans, who want to leave, continues. Tonight's withdrawal signifies both the end of the military component of the evacuation, but also the end of the nearly 20-year mission that began in Afghanistan shortly after September 11, 2001. It's a mission that brought Osama bin Laden to a just end, along with many of his Al Qaeda co-conspirators."
McKenzie further added, "It was not a cheap mission. The cost was 2,461 US service members and civilians killed and more than 20,000 who were injured. Sadly, that includes 13 service members who were killed last week by an ISIS-K suicide bomber. We honour their sacrifice today as we remember their heroic accomplishments." The Taliban has welcomed the departure of the US troops from Afghanistan. The group, which currently rules the country, said, "Congratulations to all our compatriots and our dear nation and Mujahideen. Today, all foreign forces left our pure and martyr land." The reports had said that the Taliban fighters had in fact celebrated near the Kabul airport by firing gunshots towards the sky when the last US aircraft had departed.