Chaotic scenes centered around Kabul airport, the last exit for those who wanted to escape Islamic fundamentalists, referred to the fall of the South Vietnamese capital to the communists of the north, in 1975, a North American trauma evoked after twenty years of international military intervention led by the United States of America in Afghanistan.
Key dates and events in the two weeks following the Taliban’s retake of Kabul based on various sources, including AFP, AP, EFE and Lusa news agencies:
– Beginning of the withdrawal of diplomats, other foreigners and Afghans at their service, in an operation precipitated by events.
A human tide rushes into Kabul’s airport, giving rise to scenes of utter anarchy.
Security forces struggle to maintain order, two men are killed by US soldiers and flights are suspended for several hours because the runways are inoperable.
Military planes from around the world begin a race against time to evacuate thousands of people from Afghanistan, including 16 Portuguese citizens.
Hundreds of Afghans are filmed running alongside a US military plane that is taking off and then at least two bodies are seen falling onto the runway when the device is already in the air.
Over the course of two weeks, more than 120,000 people are evacuated from Kabul on hundreds of flights, according to NATO, with airport security being maintained by US, UK, Turkish and Norwegian troops.
– At the Taliban’s first press conference, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid promises that the movement will not retaliate against former soldiers and allow women to work and study, “but within the framework of Islam”.
– In an act of desperation, the parents of a two-month-old baby deliver him to a US soldier over the wire fence at Kabul airport, in one of the most dramatic images of the operation to leave international forces from Afghanistan.
– Ahmad Massoud, son of commander Ahmed Shah Massoud, assassinated by Al-Qaida in 2001, asks the US for arms and ammunition so that his militia resists the Taliban.
– In a suicide attack on crowds near Kabul airport, operatives of the Islamic State group kill dozens of people, including 13 US soldiers.
A US attack kills 10 civilians in eastern Afghanistan, including seven children. The Pentagon initially says the attack was aimed at the perpetrators of the airport attack, but later acknowledges that it was a mistake.
– The plane with the last US troops leaves Kabul at 23:59 local time (20:29 in Lisbon). “On board the last plane was General Chris Donahue. He was accompanied by Ambassador Ross Wilson,” according to General McKenzie.
– Confirmation of departure of US forces is greeted with shots in the air in Kabul. “We made history again. The 20 years of US and NATO occupation of Afghanistan ended tonight,” Taliban leader Anas Haqqani wrote on Twitter.
– President Biden defends that the operation to withdraw Americans and allies was an “extraordinary success” and ended a war that lasted 20 years. “No country has ever achieved anything like it in history,” he says.
– NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg promises not to forget the Afghans who could not be evacuated from the country.
– In Kabul, the Taliban say the time is now to “appreciate the victory”, but they are appealing for international support to revive the country’s economy.
The return to power of the Taliban causes the freezing of 8,000 million dollars (almost 7,800 million euros, at the current exchange rate) of Afghanistan in assets held abroad, most of them in the US.
Almost overnight, the already tenuous economy collapses, and over the next few months, millions of Afghans can no longer afford food.