In a final sign of surrender, the American flag that once flew proudly over the U.S. Embassy in Kabul has been removed from its post, The Hill reports, as the Taliban seizes control of Afghanistan’s capital city.
According to The Hill, taking down the flag marked “the final step in the evacuation of staff from the embassy.” The evacuation process reportedly began last week, when it first became clear that the Taliban was setting its sights on the capital city after days of taking control of other parts of the country by force.
“An orderly and safe drawdown”
The Taliban’s advance came as President Joe Biden was pulling the last of America’s troops out of Afghanistan after 20 years of conflict. But what was meant to be a triumphant departure quickly devolved into chaos.
By Sunday, the Associated Press was reporting that Biden had ordered thousands of U.S. troops to return to Afghanistan to help ensure the safe evacuation of both U.S. nationals and Afghans who provided aid to Americans during their decades-long fight.
“I have authorized the deployment of approximately 5,000 U.S. troops to make sure we can have an orderly and safe drawdown of U.S. personnel and other allied personnel and an orderly and safe evacuation of Afghans who helped our troops during our mission and those at special risk from the Taliban advance,” the president said of the move, according to NBC News.
“This is not an evacuation”
That move came just days after the Biden administration effectively pleaded with the Taliban not to attack the embassy in Kabul. Still, officials there prepared for the worst by starting evacuation efforts and destroying sensitive material as well as American flags, on orders from the White House.
Meanwhile, State Department officials including spokesperson Ned Price were trying to claim the effort didn’t constitute a “wholesale withdrawal.”
“This is not abandonment. This is not an evacuation. This is not the wholesale withdrawal,” Price said Thursday, according to The Hill. “What this is [is] a reduction in the size of our civilian footprint. The embassy remains open and we plan to continue our diplomatic work in Afghanistan.”
Less than five days later, it seemed the White House had thrown in the towel, leaving Afghans in Kabul desperate for a way out that, for many, may never come.
“Kabul was gripped by panic,” the AP reported Monday. “Fearful that the Taliban could reimpose the kind of brutal rule that all but eliminated women’s rights, Afghans rushed to leave the country, lining up at cash machines to withdraw their life savings.” Meanwhile, the AP said, “commercial flights were suspended after sporadic gunfire erupted at the Kabul airport,” cutting “off one of the last routes available for fleeing Afghans.”
Biden’s biggest blunder yet
Indeed, in less than two weeks, the Taliban has managed to seize control of Afghanistan — and all on Biden’s watch. It’s an embarrassing situation for the Democratic administration, to say the least, even as the White House tries to pin the blame on former President Donald Trump. More importantly, though, it’s an embarrassing situation for America.
Even our allies are less than pleased with Biden’s handling of it all, according to reports.