Friday 9/17/21
AFGHANISTAN

NATO foreign ministers to discuss Afghan evacuations, future ties

The radical Islamist group rapidly took control of Afghanistan in the wake of NATO troops' withdrawal from the country, in a major blow to the military and democratic gains made during almost two decades
18 August 2021, Afghanistan, Kabul: US Marines check civilians at an Evacuee Control Checkpoint during the evacuation process at Hamid Karzai International Airport. Photo: Ssgt. Victor Mancilla/U.S. Marin/Planet Pix via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
US Marines check civilians at an Evacuee Control Checkpoint at Hamid Karzai International Airport. Photo: Ssgt. Victor Mancilla/US Marin/dpa.

NATO foreign ministers are to discuss their ongoing evacuations on Afghanistan and begin weighing their future relations with the Taliban on Friday as Western powers reel from the speed at which the group seized power.

Foreign ministers have a host of issues to discuss in their videoconference, including ongoing evacuation efforts, but also how to deal with the Taliban going forward.

The alliance also promised to maintain support for the Afghan people despite the military withdrawal, but it is unclear how this can be done if the Taliban control state institutions.

NATO had difficult questions to ask itself, alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said earlier this week.

"Despite our considerable investment and sacrifice over two decades, the collapse was swift and sudden," he said.

The radical Islamist group rapidly took control of Afghanistan in the wake of NATO troops' withdrawal from the country, in a major blow to the military and democratic gains made during almost two decades of the alliance's presence in the Central Asian state.

Protect Kabul airport

NATO maintains a civilian presence of some 800, including many Afghans, in the Central Asian nation, but no longer has a single military personnel member on the ground, Stoltenberg said Tuesday.

Alliance member states, including the United States, Britain and Turkey, still have boots on the ground, mainly to protect Kabul airport and coordinate evacuation flights.

The Taliban were ousted in 2001 at the start of a US-led mission backed by NATO allies that cost trillions of dollars and claimed thousands of lives.

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