A defiant President Joe Biden rejected blame for chaotic scenes of Afghans clinging to U.S. military planes in Kabul in a desperate bid to flee their home country after the Taliban’s easy victory over an Afghan military that America and NATO allies had spent two decades trying to build.
At the White House, Biden on Monday called the anguish of trapped Afghan civilians “gut-wrenching” and conceded the Taliban had achieved a much faster takeover of the country than his administration had expected. The U.S. rushed in troops to protect its own evacuating diplomats and others at the Kabul airport.
But the president expressed no second thoughts about his decision to stick by the U.S. commitment, formulated during the Trump administration, to end America’s longest war, no matter what.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban declared an “amnesty” across Afghanistan and urged women to join their government Tuesday, seeking to convince a wary population that they have changed a day after deadly chaos gripped the main airport as desperate crowds tried to flee their rule. Following a blitz across Afghanistan that saw many cities fall to the insurgents without a fight, the Taliban have sought to portray themselves as more moderate than when they imposed a brutal rule in the late 1990s. But many Afghans remain skeptical. Older generations remember the Taliban’s ultraconservative Islamic views, which included severe restrictions on women as well as stonings, amputations and public executions before they were ousted by the U.S-led invasion that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Thousands of Afghans rushed into Kabul’s main airport Monday, some so desperate to escape the Taliban that they held onto a military jet as it took off and plunged to their deaths. At least seven people died in the chaos, U.S. officials said, as America’s longest war ended with its enemy the victor.
The crowds came while the Taliban enforced their rule over the capital of 5 million people after a lightning advance across the country that took just over a week to dethrone the country’s Western-backed government. There were no major reports of abuses or fighting, but many residents stayed home and remained fearful after the insurgents’ takeover saw prisons emptied and armories looted.
A resolute U.S. President Joe Biden said he stood “squarely behind” his decision to withdraw American forces and acknowledged the “gut-wrenching” images unfolding in Kabul. Biden said he faced a choice between honoring a previously negotiated withdrawal agreement or sending thousands more troops back to begin a third decade of war.
“After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces,” Biden said in a televised address from the White House.
The president said American troops should not be fighting and dying in a war “that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.” He warned the Taliban not to interfere with the evacuation efforts.
Across Afghanistan, the International Committee of the Red Cross said thousands had been wounded in the fighting. Security forces and politicians handed over their provinces and bases without a fight, likely believing the two-decade Western experiment to remake Afghanistan would not survival the resurgent Taliban. The last American troops had planned to withdraw at the end of the month.
“The world is following events in Afghanistan with a heavy heart and deep disquiet about what lies ahead,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.
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A South African court has again postponed a long-delayed corruption trial against jailed former President Jacob Zuma to September 9 following his hospitalisation last week for an undisclosed medical condition.
Zuma, whose jailing last month for 15 months on a separate contempt of court matter led to a wave of looting and unrest, was expected to appear in court on Tuesday in a $2bn arms deal corruption case that led to his sacking as South Africa’s deputy president in 2005.
He was moved to a hospital on Friday for medical observation. Prison officials did not provide details on his condition.
High Court Judge Piet Koen granted the postponement but ordered Zuma’s team to produce a medical report by August 20. He also ordered the state to appoint a medical doctor of its choice to assess whether Zuma was fit to stand trial and give evidence.
“We are at the moment completely in the dark as to the justification for the postponement, more particularly Mr Zuma’s condition,” said Wim Trengove, representing the National Prosecuting Authority, during a virtual hearing.
Trengove said that, according to a letter from Zuma’s doctor, the former president suffered from a condition requiring extensive emergency procedures that had been delayed for 18 months.
India on Tuesday advised its citizens in violence-hit Afghanistan to make immediate travel arrangements to return home before commercial air services are discontinued.
“As violence in many parts of Afghanistan has escalated, commercial air travel services to many provinces and cities are getting discontinued.
“All Indian nationals visiting, staying and working in Afghanistan are strongly advised to keep themselves updated on the availability of commercial flights and make immediate arrangements to return to India before air services are discontinued,” said a statement released by the Indian embassy in Afghanistan.
National carrier Etihad Airways on Monday informed that flights from India to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will remain suspended till August 2. The date could be extended, depending on directions by the UAE authorities, Khaleej Times reported citing Etihad Airways Guest Relations. “We’ve just received confirmation that flights from India are suspended till the 2nd August, and we are not entirely sure if this will be extended as it depends on the authorities,” Etihad Airways Guest Relations said in a tweet.
From South Kaibab trail- Phantom Ranch- Bright Angel trail in 14 hrs grueling dead March 🏃♂️. Never again and never never again do this in June 🥵. Not recommended in a single day hike. Park Ranger stops us at Indian Garden, not to continue up, cuz people got medevac out the canyon. My responds to the Rangers…. YOLO 🏆
Picture behind- The Black Bridge built in 1928.