- As the Taliban has seized Afghanistan’s largest city, more than 60 countries – including the United States and European nations – said that foreign citizens and Afghans, who want to leave Afghanistan, must have an opportunity to do that safely. The Taliban seized Kabul without a fight on Sunday, 15 August, prompting President Ashraf Ghani to resign and reportedly leave the country. Ghani later declared his decision was dictated by the desire to prevent violence as the militants were ready to carry out an attack on the capital.
- UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has stated that “the Taliban are in control of Afghanistan” and that British troops “are not going back”. “I acknowledge that the Taliban are in control […]. I mean, you don’t have to be a political scientist to spot that’s where we’re at”, Wallace told Sky News on Monday. When asked whether the UK and NATO would return to Afghanistan, Wallace said: “That’s not on the cards […] we’re [not] going to go back”.
- According to Denmark’s former Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller, the Taliban’s takeover may signal the defeat of western values in the country, where all progress may soon be eradicated in what historian Claus Bundgård described as a “descent into barbarism”. Mogens Lykketoft, who was Denmark’s foreign minister at the time of al-Qaeda’s* 9/11 terrorist attack against America, which spurred the US into entering Afghanistan in 2001, called the result “a predictable tragedy”. “We must participate if the UN asks us to, and it is a peacekeeping mission”, he admitted.
- US officials say seven people have died at Kabul airport, including some who fell from a departing American transport plane. Meanwhile, flights out of the Afghan capital have been interrupted by crowds on the runway. The death toll was reported by the Associated Press on Monday, citing US officials. Throughout Sunday night, US troops brought in to protect the evacuation of American diplomats and workers struggled to keep hundreds of desperate Afghans off the runway at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai Airport, which is now the only lifeline between Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and the outside world. Two of the people killed by US troops were gunmen, sources told Reuters.
- Russia has no plans to remove the Taliban’s status as a banned terrorist organization, despite the fact that the movement is now de-facto ruling a country, Moscow’s special presidential representative for Afghanistan has said. Speaking to online publication Podyem, Zamir Kabulov explained that Moscow’s decisions are guided by the UN Security Council. The Taliban was declared by the Russian Supreme Court to be a terrorist organization on February 14, 2003, and its activities are outlawed nationwide. Other groups with the same classification include Al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).
- As Taliban forces neared the capital of Kabul, the National Museum’s director, Mohammad Fahim Rahimi, told National Geographic, “We have great concerns for the safety of our staff and collections.” Now the city has fallen. “Cultural heritage officials are divided over whether the group will again go on a rampage as it did in 2001, when it destroyed the famed Bamiyan buddhas as well as a host of objects and statues in the Kabul museum,” Andrew Lawler reports. The rapid speed of the takeover reportedly scuttled some efforts to safeguard museum collections. Taliban officials have said they will protect heritage sites, and they have banned the selling artifacts, but one academic who just fled the country told the magazine, “They have whitewashed their image, but they are still a very ideological and radical group.”
- Islamic police in Nigeria’s Kano state have ordered clothes shop dummies to be decapitated for breaking the Muslim prohibition on idolatry.
- Royal aides fear there may be “inconsistencies” in the story that Prince Andrew keeps repeating to dismiss the accusations of sexual assault against Virginia Giuffre, The Sunday Times reported, citing an anonymous source. According to the newspaper, the lawyers hired to protect the prince are “desperate” to prevent Prince Andrew’s case from going to trial in the US, as with his existing “credibility problems”, he might lose it.At the moment, the source added, Prince Andrew is a “massive embarrassment” who, at the same time, “can’t be sacked”.
- Prince Andrew is being tracked by American lawyers who reportedly planned to ambush him on a Windsor Castle horse ride. Legal staff were waiting for Andrew to go on his regular horse ride at Windsor Castle just hours before the sex abuse allegations were filed, the Mirror reported. They reportedly wanted to serve him court papers in person. A source told the paper: “Virginia’s lawyers are under no illusions how difficult it is to get alongside the prince. They’ve been trying to speak to him for five years. Processors were on the ground on Monday when the papers were filed in Manhattan hoping to hand them to him if he went out on his horse. He could be at Balmoral for months without coming out.”
News Burst 17 August 2021