Pentagon Boss, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Under Pressure to Resign Over Afghan ‘Debacle’

Ninety retired American generals and admirals have urged Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley to step down over “the disastrous” US troop exit from Afghanistan.

In an open letter released on Monday, the signatories stressed that their call for the resignation and retirement of the secretary of defence (SECDEF) and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) is based “on negligence in performing their duties primarily involving events surrounding” the troop withdrawal.

The letter notes that both Milley and Austin should have advised President Joe Biden against the pullout, adding that if the two failed to do “everything within their authority to stop the hasty withdrawal, they should resign”.

Referring to the implications of “the hasty retreat”, the signatories underlined that it “has left initial estimates at ~15,000 Americans stranded in dangerous areas controlled by a brutal enemy along with ~25,000 Afghan citizens who supported American forces”.

“The consequences of this disaster are enormous and will reverberate for decades beginning with the safety of Americans and Afghans who are unable to move safely to evacuation points. […]The loss of billions of dollars in advanced military equipment and supplies falling into the hands of our enemies is catastrophic”, the document stressed.
The signatories also argued that damage to the reputation of the United States as a result of the troop withdrawal is “indescribable”.

“We are now seen, and will be seen for many years, as an unreliable partner in any multinational agreement or operation. Trust in the United States is irreparably damaged”, the letter pointed out.

In conclusion, the document recalled “a fundamental principle in the military” which stipulates “holding those in charge responsible and accountable for their actions or inactions”.

“There must be accountability at all levels for this tragic and avoidable debacle”, the signatories underscored, referring to the troop exit.

The letter comes as the US Department of Defence announced on Monday that all American troops had left Afghanistan, a day before the 31 August deadline earlier set by Biden, who has been repeatedly criticised over his handling of the troop withdrawal.

Many Republicans have already called for POTUS to be impeached over the issue, while the 46th president made it clear earlier this month that his decision to comply with the 2020 US-Taliban* peace deal would not be stopped.

According to Biden, he had no intention of passing the war onto another US president or send American forces to fight the Taliban when even Afghan forces willingly let the militant group gain control of the nation.

On 15 August, the Taliban entered the capital Kabul and seized power in Afghanistan following a months-long offensive, which unfolded against the backdrop of US and NATO troops leaving the nation.

Source: Oleg Burunov – SPUTNIK NEWS

Header: US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Mark Milley depart after participating in a briefing on Afghanistan for the members of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S. August 24, 2021

Taliban revels in US ‘defeat,’ says withdrawal a ‘big lesson for other invaders’

The Taliban held full control of Kabul’s international airport Tuesday after the last US plane left its runway, marking the end of America’s longest war and leaving behind a now-quiet airfield and Afghans outside it still hoping to flee the insurgents’ rule.

Vehicles raced back and forth along the Hamid Karzai International Airport’s sole runway on the northern military side of the airfield. Before dawn broke, heavily armed Taliban fighters walked through hangars on the military side, passing some of the seven CH-46 helicopters the US State Department used in its evacuations before rendering them unflyable.

Taliban leaders later symbolically walked across the runway, marking their victory.

“Congratulations to Afghanistan… this victory belongs to us all,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters from the runway of the airport.

The defeat of America was a “big lesson for other invaders and for our future generation,” Mujahid said a number of hours after the last foreign troops departed Afghanistan.

He said “it is also a lesson for the world,” but added that the Taliban wants “to have good relations with the US and the world. We welcome good diplomatic relations with them all.”

The airport had seen chaotic scenes since the Taliban blitzed across Afghanistan and took Kabul on August 15. Thousands of Afghans besieged the airport, some falling to their death after desperately hanging onto the side of an American C-17 military cargo jet. Last week, an Islamic State suicide attack at an airport gate killed at least 169 Afghans and 13 US service members.

But on Tuesday, after a night that saw Taliban fighters fire triumphantly into the air, guards now blearily on duty kept out the curious and those still somehow hoping to catch a flight out.

“After 20 years we have defeated the Americans,” said Mohammad Islam, a Taliban guard at the airport from Logar province cradling a Kalashnikov rifle.

“They have left and now our country is free.”

He added: “It’s clear what we want. We want Sharia (Islamic law), peace and stability.”

Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, similarly praised the takeover in an online video early Tuesday.

“Thank God all the occupiers have left our country completely,” he said, congratulating fighters by referring to them as mujahedeen, or holy warriors.

“This victory was given to us by God. It was due to 20 years of sacrifice by the mujahedeen and its leaders. Many mujahedeen sacrificed their lives.”

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative who oversaw America’s talks with the Taliban, wrote on Twitter that “Afghans face a moment of decision & opportunity” after the withdrawal.

“Their country’s future is in their hands. They will choose their path in full sovereignty,” he wrote. “This is the chance to bring their war to an end as well.”

But the Taliban face what could be a series of major crises as they fully take over the country’s government.

The majority of the billions of dollars Afghanistan holds in foreign reserves is now frozen in America, pressuring its now-depreciating Afghani currency.

Banks have implemented withdrawal controls, fearing runs on their deposits in the uncertainty.

Civil servants across the country say they haven’t received their salary in months.

Medical equipment remains in short supply, while thousands who fled the Taliban’s advance remain living in squalid conditions.

A major drought also has cut into the country’s food supplies, making its imports even more important and raising the risk of people going hungry.

During the evacuation, US forces helped evacuate over 120,000 US citizens, foreigners and Afghans, according to the White House, making it the largest airlift in the history of the American military. Coalition forces also evacuated their citizens and Afghans. But for all who got out, foreign nations and the US acknowledged they didn’t evacuate all who wanted to go.

At the airport’s eastern gate, a handful of Afghans still tried their luck to get in, hoping for any flight. As of now, however, commercial airlines aren’t flying into the airport and it remains unclear who will take over managing the country’s airspace.

On their way out, the US military warned pilots the airport was “uncontrolled” and “no air traffic control or airport service are available.”

Several of those trying to come into the airport came from Kandahar province, the Taliban heartland in southern Afghanistan that saw some of the war’s fiercest fighting. One of the men, Hekmatullah, who like many Afghans goes by one name, carried paperwork he said showed he worked as a translator.

Hekmatullah said he had waited four days for an opportunity to leave.

“But now I don’t know what chances I have,” he said.

Source: Agencies via TOI

Header: Members of the Taliban Badri 313 military unit stands guard next to a Afghan Air Force aircraft at the airport in Kabul on August 31, 2021, after the US has pulled all its troops out of the country to end a brutal 20-year war — one that started and ended with the hardline Islamist in power. (Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR / AFP)

Ombudsman faults ‘defective’ decision-making on COVID under Netanyahu

Israel’s response to the first three waves of the coronavirus pandemic was marred by under-preparation, the sidelining of experts, a lack of a clear decision-making process, a failure to learn from mistakes and vast discrepancies in nationwide enforcement of government decisions, according to a scathing new report by the state comptroller.

The report, released on Tuesday, covers the outbreaks that took place under the watch of Israel’s 34th and 35th governments under then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and does not address the response of current Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government to the latest outbreak.

It also does not address Israel’s world-beating vaccination drive initiated by Netanyahu.

State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman said on Tuesday that the “significant shortcomings” uncovered by the report were “more relevant than ever” given the ongoing battle with the virus.

“We are now in the fourth wave and it is important to correct the shortcomings immediately,” Englman said.

While the report criticizes a range of issues relating to efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, Englman, a Netanyahu appointee, saves some of his harshest criticism for the overall mechanism under which decisions were made, saying a number of key rulings were made by the former premier without full cabinet approval or proper oversight.

“Defects were found in the process of making decisions and implementing them,” the report says.

According to Englman, there was no proper procedure in place to supervise and monitor the decisions made by Netanyahu and his government, and no process was put in place by the National Security Council or Health Ministry to learn lessons at a national level.

The report charges that numerous decisions — such as on purchasing ventilators and when and how to exit the first lockdown — were not deliberated by the government but made in “different forums led by the prime minister.”

Citing cabinet protocols from early 2020 that were made available to the comptroller but remain barred from publication, the report says that Netanyahu presented ministers with handpicked forecasts for infections and deaths — which supported his own position on implementing harsh measures to stop the initial spread — and failed to address a range of issues created by the virus.

It wasn’t until June 2020, four months after the first coronavirus patient was diagnosed in Israel, that the government held any discussion on the impact of the virus on the economy, education or welfare systems.

The report also criticizes the fact that the coronavirus cabinet, a select panel of ministers tasked with forming virus policy, wasn’t given authority to make decisions on behalf of the government until the second wave in June 2020. Until then, government approval was required for every decision, which slowed down the handling of the crisis, it said.

Engelman also notes that the appointment of a coronavirus czar to oversee government policy on the pandemic was delayed for four months amid political disagreements.

The comptroller specifically scolded the government for failing to convene the coronavirus cabinet at all during July and August last year, saying that the break in meetings “hurt the adoption of the traffic light system [for rating cities based on infection rates] and led to the second lockdown in September 2020.”

Among the specific policy issues addressed by the comptroller, the report describes home quarantine for travelers arriving from abroad as “inefficient” in both compliance and enforcement.

It describes the furlough program created by the government to compensate workers who were unable to work as a “failure,” saying that there was confusing information put out about who was eligible, vast delays in getting the money to those who did qualify, and that it ultimately had “the opposite effect of what was intended” and encouraged people to remain out of work after the crisis had abated.

Additionally, Englman decries the way restrictions were enforced, arguing that “there was no congruence between the places in which there was an outbreak of the coronavirus and enforcement in these places.”

He notes that the number of fines issued in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak — both of which have large ultra-Orthodox populations — “did not correlate to the high levels of morbidity.”

Netanyahu, who is closely allied with the Haredi Shas and United Torah Judaism parties, faced criticism during the pandemic for allegedly not ordering more stringent enforcement of COVID rules in ultra-Orthodox areas with high infection rates.

Citing figures showing that Israeli schools operated for fewer days since the start of the pandemic than in most countries in the world, Engleman slammed the “dire situation” faced by Israeli schoolchildren, which he said was caused by “a severe lack of focus on educational institutions and the impact the virus has had on them.”

The report also criticizes the roll-out of distance learning methods across the country, saying that without proper planning, the initiative “increased the inequality that exists in the education system.”

In a particularly harsh condemnation of decision-makers, Engleman concludes his report with a critique of what he describes as the Netanyahu government’s “apparent inability to learn from the experience of the virus and implement improvements before each new wave of infection.”

Source: Raoul Wootliff – TOI

Side effects feared from vaccine are more common in COVID cases – Israeli study

“COVID is far worse than vaccines in elevating risk of myocarditis and other conditions that have been feared as post-inoculation side effects”, Israeli research shows.

The authors of the peer-reviewed side effects study, thought to be the largest of its kind to date, say “it offers new reassurance on the safety of the Pfizer vaccine. They believe that it should prompt a serious rethink among people who shun the shots because of the rare side effects”.

“Anyone who has been hesitant to get vaccinated so far due to concerns about rare side effects such as myocarditis, should be aware that the risk is higher among unvaccinated people infected with the coronavirus,” said Prof. Ran Balicer, head of research at the Clalit Health Services, which produced the study.

The study looked at almost two million medical records, and failed to identify high incidence of any serious side effect post-vaccination — while finding that several conditions are less common than normal among the newly inoculated.

According to Balicer, it provides clear figures that put the incidence of side effects, which loom large in the minds of many, into perspective.

Balicer, a senior adviser to the Israeli government on the coronavirus, said: “So far one of the main motives for hesitation to get vaccinated has been a lack of information about possible vaccine side effects. This in-depth study provides reliable information on the safety of the vaccines, and we hope it will help those who have not yet decided on the vaccine.”

One of the most discussed vaccine side effects, a heart condition called myocarditis, was found to be elevated among vaccinated people, with 2.7 more cases per 100,000 people than would normally occur (known as surplus cases). But among people who didn’t vaccinate and subsequently caught COVID-19 and recovered, surplus cases stood at 11 per 100,000.

The study, just published in the New England Journal of Medicine, focused on people who received the Pfizer vaccine, and tracked patients’ health for six weeks. The study concluded that “the BNT162b2 vaccine was not associated with an elevated risk of most of the adverse events examined.”

The main exceptions were lymphadenopathy, which enlarges lymph nodes, and shingles. There were 78 surplus cases of lymphadenopathy per 100,000 vaccinated people but only 3 among the unvaccinated and infected.

There were nine fewer cases of shingles per 100,000 among the unvaccinated population than the norm, but 16 surplus cases among vaccinated patients.

“The data indicates that the conditions feared as side effects were largely in the normal range — or even less common than normal — among vaccinated people, but elevated among those who caught COVID-19.”

Acute kidney injury and arrhythmia turned out to be less common among the vaccinated than would be expected. Yet among the unvaccinated and infected patients, there were surplus cases — as many as 125 and 166 per 100,000 in the case of acute kidney injury and arrhythmia respectively.

“There were other conditions that were more common among recovered patients, but in the broadly normal range among the vaccinated.”

These included pulmonary embolism (62 surplus events per 100,000 among the infected), deep vein thrombosis (43 events), myocardial infarction (25 events), pericarditis (11 events), and intracranial hemorrhage (7.6 events).

Appendicitis was found higher than the norm among both vaccinated people and the unvaccinated infected to a similar level — with five and four surplus cases per 100,000 people respectively.

The research was conducted in partnership with Harvard University, which chose to study Israeli data because it is comprehensive. Marc Lipsitch, director of Harvard’s Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, a co-author of the study, said that a major challenge of vaccine safety research is comparing like-for-like patients.

“This is especially challenging when it comes to vaccines that are advancing so fast, but Clalit’s extraordinary database makes it possible to design research that addresses these challenges in a way that builds confidence in the reliability of the research’s conclusions.”

Source: Nathan Jeffay – TOI

America’s catastrophic miscalculation: 20 years of disaster in Afghanistan, by the numbers

The last three US military transport departed the Hamid Karzai Airport late on Monday, just ahead of the August 31 deadline set for full withdrawal.

For years, Washington and media outlets described the conflict in Afghanistan as a stalemate that had provided enough security to kindle social progress, security and stability. But a post-mortem of the last twenty years tells a different story – one of bloodshed, instability and grift, at a total cost of more than $2 trillion.

$85 billion in US weapons and equipment abandoned to the Taliban

According to Congressman Jim Banks (R-Indiana), due to the “negligence” of the Biden administration, the Taliban is in possession of 75,000 vehicles, over 200 airplanes and helicopters, 600,000 small arms and light weapons, as well as night vision goggles and body armor.

He claimed that the Taliban now have more Black Hawk helicopters than 85% of countries in the world, including close US allies. He estimated that equipment was worth $85 billion, but some have suggested a far higher figure.

At least 47,000 civilians killed

While estimates vary, Brown University’s Costs of War project has calculated that at least 47,000 Afghans were killed over the course of the war. Even now that the fighting has stopped, the consequences of the conflict are still being felt: Unexploded ordnance continues to kill and maim civilians, in many cases children. The war has also exacerbated the effects of poverty and poor sanitation and healthcare in the country.

Nearly 6 million displaced Afghans

The US-led conflict in Afghanistan has fueled a refugee crisis that continues to reverberate across Europe. In a nation of 38 million, around 5.9 million Afghans have either been displaced internally or have fled the country since war broke out in October 2001.

In the last three years alone, more than 395,800 Afghans have been displaced, according to Afghan government figures released in early July.

More than 2,400 US military personnel killed and 20,000 wounded

Current estimates put total US military casualties at more than 2,400 killed, with 20,000 others wounded. An additional 3,800 private contractors died during the 20-year war. More than 1,100 allied service members, including those from NATO states, also lost their lives.

At least 64,000 Afghan military and police killed

More than 64,000 members of the US-trained Afghan National Army (ANA) and the country’s police force perished in the war.

Countless thousands of US bombs and munitions dropped on Afghanistan

As the war entered its final years, the US military radically ramped up its bombing campaign in Afghanistan. In 2019, US warplanes dropped 7,423 bombs and other munitions on the country, a nearly eightfold increase from 2015.

Hundreds of thousands of hectares of opium poppies

According to a UN estimate, Afghanistan’s opium production was estimated at 6,300 tons in 2020. That year, the total area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan was estimated at 224,000 hectares, an increase of 37% compared to 2019. Afghanistan is once again the world’s leading source of opium poppies. Under Taliban rule, the crop had been nearly completely eradicated by May 2000.

Incalculable levels of grift and waste

With a price tag of more than $2 trillion, the war in Afghanistan suffered from a seemingly ceaseless stream of profiteers and grifters.

In 2007, the US Air Force paid $18 million to a private firm to build barracks at Camp Phoenix, an Army installation in Afghanistan. The company enlisted the help of a subcontractor who withheld salaries from his workers and later fled the country with $2 million, which he used to build himself luxurious homes abroad. His shafted workers decided to pay themselves by walking away with generators and other materials taken from the military camp. The resulting delays left hundreds of NATO troops without adequate housing for more than a year.

This is just one of dozens of similar cases. In 2019, a whistleblower claimed that a defense firm, Navistar Defense, overcharged the Pentagon by $1.3 billion for components of armored vehicles used by troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Source: RT

Yes, I miss Donald Trump

I miss the days of Donald Trump.

Those were the days, not so long ago, when our friends trusted us and our enemies feared us.

The nations gave heed when Trump spoke because they knew he meant business.

Not so under Biden.

So far as people being left behind, stranded, now that we’re gone from Afghanistan as of this writing, August 30, some might quip, it’s Biden’s way of saying, “So long, suckers.”

Our troops served honorably. Our leaders chose disgrace.

Trump also intended to leave…but not that way.

Trump was the real deal, a strong leader, a champion for America First.

He secured our southern border.

He made us energy independent. He strengthened our military.

He started no wars. He cut down Iran. He got both the EU and UN to bend his way.

Legal refugees only.

He silenced the Palestinian Arab terrorists, and brought forth the Abraham Accords, which was a light at the end of the tunnel between Israel and four Arab neighbors.

Forget most of that on Biden’s watch.

Trump did much more than all that, but you’d hardly know it because the Democrats, the people who put Joe Biden in office, were so busy tearing him apart.

They spent his entire four years going after him for anything, everything. Russia…Russia…Russia.

The House had no time for the nation’s concerns, because Trump was its only concern.

David Remnick’s The New Yorker magazine kept asking, and hoping, and dreaming, “Will this be the knockout punch?”

Yet they found no wrong, but still went after him. Suddenly, Ukraine. What did he do? He made a phone call. So let’s impeach him again.

Again and again and again.

Anyone associated with Trump found himself being bullied, and even arrested. Paul Manafort was placed in solitary confinement.

That’s how medieval it was at the time…a time when good people…Trump people were being muzzled, battered and shamed. You wore a MAGA hat at your peril.

Up to the election, Trump voters became hip to the scene and chose silence when canvassed. They did not need the grief.

But the harassment kept coming.

If Trump was your man…in those days when America turned medieval…you must be racist.

In that way they lorded it over us.

They were glib all right. They had all the answers, namely Joe Biden, so shut up, and be happy.

Don’t you dare be contrary. Don’t even think about mentioning Biden’s lack of fitness, open to anyone who chooses to see…a man so utterly lacking.

Pay no attention…they warned…to the person he chose for vice president. She can’t be all that bad. Can she?

Yet that is what they gave us to lead the greatest, most powerful nation on Earth.

The grieving mother of a Marine killed in Kabul says, “Biden voters” killed her son.

Biden voters—but we all bear the burden and pay the price.

Beginning with Biden, the dumbing down has been so steep that we had our generals saluting Taliban terrorists.

Who knew it would come to this…the folly that is Afghanistan? We did. We did not know it would be Afghanistan.

We knew it would come from somewhere…yes, the knockout punch that would stagger Joe Biden and bring America to its knees.

Biden was a calamity waiting to happen, and it happened.

They can shame us no more. We were right all along. They were wrong.

In Trump we had the perfect president for our times. We miss him.

Say it loud.

Source: Jack Engelhard – Arutz Sheva

Tel Aviv University suspends professor over anti-haredi rant

Professor Eliyahu Gershon, a lecturer in Tel-Aviv University’s School of Electrical Engineering, was suspended by the university for making racist remarks against haredim during his classes.

Gershon’s harsh remarks were uncovered by the Zionist watchdog group Im Tirtzu, and were first reported on by Channel 12, resulting in Gershon being summoned to a disciplinary hearing.

“If you remove PLL from electronics, that’s like taking money away money from the haredim. You’re essentially harming their God,” Gershon said.

“It’s like MK Gafni [from the UTJ party]. When he sees money, what does he do? He takes it, right? For his people. You can say ipcha mistabra [Talmudic phrase meaning “the opposite is more reasonable”], as the haredi MKs say, while they are stealing the state coffers.”

Gershon also attacked haredi MK Yaakov Litzman: “You know, in our State of Israel, despite the despicable Litzmans and his friends…If you compare Litzman and his friend [sic], they aren’t even on the level of an octopus, you know?”

Gershon also took aim at Likud MK Miri Regev, calling her an animal.

“And tell me, where is that animal Miri Regev sitting? If you compare wise and intelligent people…You can’t get more stupid than Miri Regev, you know?”

Responding to the remarks, Tel-Aviv University said: “These harsh statements are a complete contradiction to the views and values of Tel-Aviv University and caused harm to the student community and to the broad public, and for that we are very saddened. At the conclusion of the examination process, it was decided to suspend him from working at Tel-Aviv University.”

Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg said: “We cannot accept a reality in which professors take advantage of their platforms to attack entire groups in Israeli society and to indoctrinate students with political agendas.”

“We are glad that our exposure and public pressure bore fruit,” continued Peleg.

“Rather than slandering haredim during his lectures, this professor should sit at home and re-educate himself.”

Source: Arutz Sheva

Taliban Offered US Military to Secure Kabul, But Americans Said No, Bombshell Report Reveals

The Taliban had offered the US to keep Kabul secure, but the Americans said no, according to The Washington Post.

On the eve of the fall of Kabul, the insurgents swiftly captured major cities and secured nearly all border crossings without a fight.

In a bid to prevent bloodshed in the capital, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reportedly called President Ashraf Ghani to seek support for an arrangement with the Taliban, under which the insurgents would remain outside Kabul if the now deposed Afghan leader would step down and let an interim government take over.

According to a senior US official, the suggestion was made in order to buy time for talks aimed at establishing an inclusive government that would involve the Taliban. Ghani reluctantly agreed.

But just as the Taliban reached the gates of Kabul on the morning of 15 August, the US-backed Afghan president fled the country for an undisclosed location, without informing his American allies and “even many of his own top lieutenants on his way out the palace door”.

According to one presidential adviser, the president was told “it will either be your palace guards or the Taliban but if you stay you’ll be killed”.

It quickly became clear that the city would crumble and be plunged into chaos in a matter of hours.

“He not only abandoned his country, but then unraveled the security situation in Kabul. People just simply melted away, from the airport to everywhere else”, a senior US official was quoted as saying.

This development shocked American officials, who at the time relied on a newly-released intelligence assessment which suggested that the Taliban would be able to isolate Kabul within 30 days and completely capture it in 90 days. But they never thought it would take the insurgents a few days after the report was released to take control of the capital.

The chaos purportedly prompted a secret meeting between senior US military leaders in Doha, including Commander of US Centcom General Kenneth F. McKenzie and Abdul Ghani Baradar, the head of the Taliban’s political wing.

“We have a problem. We have two options to deal with it”, Baradar ostensibly said, according to the source.

“You [the United States military] take responsibility for securing Kabul or you have to allow us to do it”.

As swift and unexpected as the capture of the Afghan capital was, the US appeared to willingly give up the city – even when given an opportunity to secure Kabul. The reported decision is said to have been motivated by President Joe Biden’s determination to pull American troops out of Afghanistan by 31 August and even the collapse of the western-backed government didn’t change his mind.

According to WaPo, McKenzie told Baradar that the US had only one mission – to evacuate American citizens, Afghans who once helped the US, and others at risk.

As part of the deal reached during the clandestine meeting between US top brass and the Taliban, the Americans assumed control of Kabul Airport until the set deadline in order to carry out the evacuation of foreign citizens, diplomatic staff, and Afghan allies wanting to leave the country, while the Taliban took the reins in Kabul.

On 15 August, Taliban insurgents took control of the last government-controlled border crossing, leaving Kabul Airport as the only route out of the country. They subsequently surrounded and captured the Afghan capital after the city surrendered without a fight, and Ghani fled – as it later turned out – for the UAE.

The sudden collapse of the city, which the US intelligence community didn’t anticipate would happen for at least a month, triggered panic among Afghans and foreigners alike, who rushed to the airport seeking to exit the country.

Kabul Airport has been the site of chaotic and deadly scenes since the Taliban blitzed through Afghanistan and seized control of the capital. As foreign troops were conducting an unprecedented evacuation of their citizens and diplomatic staff, thousands of Afghans besieged the airport, desperately trying to flee the country.

Some fell to their deaths after hanging onto the side of an American C-17 military cargo jet, others died in a stampede. The already hectic withdrawal and airlift was dealt a massive blow last week when a Daesh-K* suicide bombing attack at a Kabul Airport gate killed at least 170 civilians and 13 US troops.

On 31 August, the Taliban assumed full control of the airport after the last US plane left the runway, marking the end of America’s longest war. President Biden has promised to address the American people on his decision not to extend US military presence in Afghanistan beyond 31 August on Tuesday.

“For now, I will report that it was the unanimous recommendation of the Joint Chiefs and of all of our commanders on the ground to end our airlift mission as planned. Their view was that ending our military mission was the best way to protect the lives of our troops, and secure the prospects of civilian departures for those who want to leave Afghanistan in the weeks and months ahead”, he said in a statement.

Source: Zara Muradyan – SPUTNIK NEWS

Americans have long claimed Afghanistan helped end ‘Soviet empire’ – now it’s their turn?

The last US military flight out of the Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) took off on Monday, a minute before the clocks struck midnight in Kabul. The 20-year war had come to an end, and the Taliban lit up the night skies with celebratory gunfire.

To hear President Joe Biden tell it, “the largest airlift in US history” was an “unparalleled” success, executed by the US military, diplomats, veterans and volunteers “with unmatched courage, professionalism, and resolve.”

In the minds of just about everyone else who could watch the events unfold over the past two weeks, it was a mad scramble to evacuate over 100,000 Afghans eager to emigrate, with fewer than 6,000 Americans making the flights – and several hundred being left behind for diplomats to try and save.

In fact, while 82nd Airborne Division commander General Christopher Donahue and US ambassador to Afghanistan Ross Wilson were the last two people to step on the last plane, no American civilians were on board the last five flights out of Kabul. This was the startling admission by General Kenneth McKenzie of CENTCOM to Pentagon reporters on Monday evening.

“We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out,” McKenzie said.

Compare that to the Soviet pullout from Afghanistan, which ended in February 1989. The USSR took nine months to draw down over 100,000 troops.

The last man across the Bridge of Friendship into present-day Uzbekistan was General Boris V. Gromov, who turned to a TV crew and said, “There is not a single Soviet soldier or officer left behind me.”

The government of Dr. Najibullah, whom the Soviets intervened to support against the US-backed Islamists a decade earlier, fought on for three more years – collapsing only after the USSR itself imploded and stopped sending aid. By contrast, the US-backed government in Kabul vanished into thin air before the US withdrawal was even complete.

President Ashraf Ghani flew out of Kabul on August 14, letting the Taliban take over without firing a shot.

The Afghan National Army, which Biden himself touted as 300,000-strong and equipped with some of the best US weaponry, simply surrendered and melted away, all that equipment taken by Taliban as trophies.

The Taliban then surrounded HKIA with checkpoints, leaving the 6,000 or so US troops there to keep out desperate Afghan civilians. There were no more disturbing images of men stuck in airplane wheels – or falling to their deaths after clinging onto planes as they took off – but something worse was yet to come.

Last Thursday, a suicide bomber allegedly belonging to the ISIS-K terrorist group made it all the way to the line of US troops before blowing himself up – killing up to 200 Afghan civilians as well as 14 US troops in the process.

Biden’s response was to order two drone strikes.

One reportedly killed unspecified ISIS-K leaders in another province, while another was said to have stopped a car bomb in Kabul.

Except the Afghans said it killed ten civilians, seven of them children, instead.

Yet the only member of the US military sacked during this fiasco has been the Marine colonel who spoke out publicly and demanded accountability.

The leadership at the Pentagon, the CIA, the State Department, and the White House that got just about everything wrong when it came to Afghanistan, remains in place.

While the Biden administration is now claiming credit for ending the 20-year war, it’s clear that its grip on the narrative – both at home and abroad – has been shaken, perhaps fatally.

For years it was thought that the US aided the Islamist mujahideen in Afghanistan only after the Soviets intervened. Until January 1998, that is, when former US national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski told a French publication that Washington’s support started months earlier, as part of his own plan to “give the USSR its Vietnam war.” Brzezinski outright boasted that the resulting conflict “brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.” Many US scholars agreed.

Fast forward to the present day, and it’s the American empire that’s facing demoralization, including a political and economic crisis at home.

Biden was inaugurated with 25,000 troops lining the empty streets of Washington, and declared the alleged “extremism” of his political opponents as the greatest threat to the country, now rebranded as Our Democracy.

He pitched the retreat from Afghanistan to the American public as a heroic decision to end the endless war before anyone else gets hurt. It was supposed to be a feather in his cap.

With the US now exiting Afghanistan after a 20-year nation-building effort and absolutely nothing to show for it but “complete disgrace and total humiliation” – as one commentator put it – Brzezinski’s theory is about to be put to a test.

Source: Nebojsa Malic – RT

Amazon, “Economic Terrorism” and the Destruction of Competition and Livelihoods

Global corporations are colonising India’s retail space through e-commerce and destroying small-scale physical retail and millions of livelihoods.

Walmart entered into India in 2016 with a US$3.3 billion take-over of the online retail start-up This was followed in 2018 with a US$16 billion take-over of India’s largest online retail platform, Flipkart.

Today, Walmart and Amazon control almost two thirds of India’s digital retail sector.

Amazon and Walmart have a record of using predatory pricing, deep discounts and other unfair business practices to attract customers to their online platforms.

A couple of years ago, those two companies generated sales of over US$3 billion in just six days during Diwali. India’s small retailers reacted by calling for a boycott of online shopping.

If you want to know the eventual fate of India’s local markets and small retailers, look no further than what US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in 2019.

He stated that:

“Amazon had destroyed the retail industry across the United States.”


In the US, an investigation by the House Judiciary Committee concluded that Amazon exerts monopoly power over many small- and medium-size businesses. It called for breaking up the company and regulating its online marketplace to ensure that sellers are treated fairly.

Amazon has spied on sellers and appropriated data about their sales, costs and suppliers. It has then used this information to create its own competing versions of their products, often giving its versions superior placement in the search results on its platform.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) published a revealing document on Amazon in June 2021 that discussed these issues. It also notes that Amazon has been caught using its venture capital fund to invest in start-ups only to steal their ideas and create rival products and services.

Moreover, Amazon’s dominance allows it to function as a gatekeeper: retailers and brands must sell on its site to reach much of the online market and changes to Amazon’s search algorithms or selling terms can cause their sales to evaporate overnight.

Amazon also makes it hard for sellers to reduce their dependence on its platform by making their brand identity almost invisible to shoppers and preventing them from building relationships with their customers. The company strictly limits contact between sellers and customers.

According to the ILSR, Amazon compels sellers to buy its warehousing and shipping services, even though many would get a better deal from other providers, and it blocks independent businesses from offering lower prices on other sites. The company also routinely suspends sellers’ accounts and seizes inventories and cash balances.

The Joint Action Committee against Foreign Retail and E-commerce (JACAFRE) was formed to resist the entry of foreign corporations like Walmart and Amazon into India’s e-commerce market. Its members represent more than 100 national groups, including major trade, workers’ and farmers’ organisations.

JACAFRE issued a statement in 2018 on Walmart’s acquisition of Flipkart, arguing that it undermines India’s economic and digital sovereignty and the livelihoods of millions in India. The committee said the deal would lead to Walmart and Amazon dominating India’s e-retail sector. It would also allow them to own India’s key consumer and other economic data, making them the country’s digital overlords, joining the ranks of Google and Facebook.

In January 2021, JACAFRE published an open letter saying that the three new farm laws, passed by parliament in September 2020, centre on enabling and facilitating the unregulated corporatisation of agriculture value chains. This will effectively make farmers and small traders of agricultural produce become subservient to the interests of a few agrifood and e-commerce giants or will eradicate them completely.

Although there was strong resistance to Walmart entering India with its physical stores, online and offline worlds are now merged: e-commerce companies not only control data about consumption but also control data on production and logistics. Through this control, e-commerce platforms can shape much of the physical economy.

What we are witnessing is the deliberate eradication of markets in favour of monopolistic platforms.


Amazon’s move into India encapsulates the unfair fight for space between local and global markets.

There is a relative handful of multi-billionaires who own the corporations and platforms. And there are the interests of hundreds of millions of vendors and various small-scale enterprises who are regarded by these rich individuals as mere collateral damage to be displaced in their quest for ever-greater profit.

Thanks to the helping hand of various COVID-related lockdowns, which devastated small businesses, the wealth of the world’s billionaires increased by $3.9tn (trillion) between 18 March and 31 December 2020.

In September 2020, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s executive chairman, could have paid all 876,000 Amazon employees a $105,000 bonus and still be as wealthy as he was before COVID. Jeff Bezos – his fortune constructed on unprincipled methods that have been well documented in recent years – increased his net wealth by $78.2bn during this period.

Bezos’s plan is clear: the plunder of India and the eradication of millions of small traders and retailers and neighbourhood mom and pop shops.

This is a man with few scruples. After returning from a brief flight to space in July, in a rocket built by his private space company, Bezos said during a news conference:

“I also want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all of this.”

In response, US congresswoman Nydia Velazquez wrote on Twitter:

“While Jeff Bezos is all over the news for paying to go to space, let’s not forget the reality he has created here on Earth.”

She added the hashtag #WealthTaxNow in reference to Amazon’s tax dodging, revealed in numerous reports, not least the May 2021 study ‘The Amazon Method: How to take advantage of the international state system to avoid paying tax’ by Richard Phillips, Senior Research Fellow, Jenaline Pyle, PhD Candidate, and Ronen Palan, Professor of International Political Economy, all based at the University of London.

Little wonder that when Bezos visited India in January 2020, he was hardly welcomed with open arms.

Bezos praised India on Twitter by posting:

“Dynamism. Energy. Democracy. #IndianCentury.”

The ruling party’s top man in the BJP foreign affairs department hit back with:

“Please tell this to your employees in Washington DC. Otherwise, your charm offensive is likely to be waste of time and money.”

A fitting response, albeit perplexing given the current administration’s proposed sanctioning of the foreign takeover of the economy, not least by the unscrupulous interests that will benefit from the recent farm legislation.

Bezos landed in India on the back of the country’s antitrust regulator initiating a formal investigation of Amazon and with small store owners demonstrating in the streets. The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) announced that members of its affiliate bodies across the country would stage sit-ins and public rallies in 300 cities in protest.

In a letter to PM Modi, prior to the visit of Bezos, the secretary of the CAIT, General Praveen Khandelwal, claimed that Amazon, like Walmart-owned Flipkart, was an “economic terrorist” due to its predatory pricing that “compelled the closure of thousands of small traders.”

In 2020, Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh (DVM) filed a complaint against Amazon and Flipkart alleging that they favoured certain sellers over others on their platforms by offering them discounted fees and preferential listing. The DVM lobbies to promote the interests of small traders. It also raised concerns about Amazon and Flipkart entering into tie-ups with mobile phone manufacturers to sell phones exclusively on their platforms.

It was argued by DVM that this was anti-competitive behaviour as smaller traders could not purchase and sell these devices. Concerns were also raised over the flash sales and deep discounts offered by e-commerce companies, which could not be matched by small traders.

The CAIT estimates that in 2019 upwards of 50,000 mobile phone retailers were forced out of business by large e-commerce firms.

Amazon’s internal documents, as revealed by Reuters, indicated that Amazon had an indirect ownership stake in a handful of sellers who made up most of the sales on its Indian platform. This is an issue because in India Amazon and Flipkart are legally allowed to function only as neutral platforms that facilitate transactions between third-party sellers and buyers for a fee.


The upshot is that India’s Supreme Court recently ruled that Amazon must face investigation by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for alleged anti-competitive business practices. The CCI said it would probe the deep discounts, preferential listings and exclusionary tactics that Amazon and Flipkart are alleged to have used to destroy competition.

However, there are powerful forces that have been sitting on their hands as these companies have been running amok.

In August 2021, the CAIT attacked the NITI Aayog (the influential policy commission think tank of the Government of India) for interfering in e-commerce rules proposed by the Consumer Affairs Ministry.

The CAIT said that the think tank clearly seems to be under the pressure and influence of the foreign e-commerce giants.

The president of CAIT, BC Bhartia, stated that it is deeply shocking to see such a callous and indifferent attitude of the NITI Aayog whch have remained a silent spectator for so many years when:

“…the foreign e-commerce giants have circumvented every rule of the FDI policy and blatantly violated and destroyed the retail and e-commerce landscape of the country but have suddenly decided to open their mouth at a time when the proposed e-commerce rules will potentially end the malpractices of the e-commerce companies.”

Of course, money talks and buys influence. In addition to tens of billions of US dollars invested in India by Walmart and Amazon, Facebook invested US$5.5 billion last year in Mukesh Ambani’s Jio Platforms (e-commerce retail). Google has also invested US$4.5 billion.

Since the early 1990s, when India opened up to neoliberal economics, the country has become increasingly dependent on inflows of foreign capital. Policies are being governed by the drive to attract and retain foreign investment and maintain ‘market confidence’ by ceding to the demands of international capital which ride roughshod over democratic principles and the needs of hundreds of millions of ordinary people. ‘Foreign direct investment’ has thus become the holy grail of the Modi-led administration and the NITI Aayog.

The CAIT has urged the Consumer Affairs Ministry to implement the draft consumer protection e-commerce rules at the earliest as they are in the best interest of the consumers as well as the traders of the country.

Meanwhile, the CCI probably will complete its investigation within two months.

Source: Colin Todhunter – Off-Guardian

Watch: Taliban declares independence after US withdrawal

The Taliban on Monday night declared the independence of Afghanistan after the US completed its withdrawal from the country.

“The last US soldier has left Kabul airport and our country gained complete independence,” Taliban spokesman Qari Yusuf said, according to Reuters.

The Taliban celebrated the end of the US mission in Afghanistan by firing into the air.

Footage posted to the Internet showed members of the Taliban at the Kabul Airport, entering the compound without difficulties.

Asked what message they have for the public and the Mujahideen, they respond,

“To the public, enjoy the victory with prayers. Work for your country, follow Sharia, be good human beings, be kind, respect everyone.”

Source: Arutz Sheva

US military’s Afghanistan commander admits that hundreds of Americans left behind, but praises Taliban as ‘helpful’ in withdrawal

“They were actually very helpful and useful to us as we closed down operations,” Marine General Kenneth McKenzie said of the Taliban on Monday, in a Pentagon press briefing.

He added that the Islamist group helped secure the airfield at Kabul’s airport, “not perfectly, but they gave it a very good effort, and it was actually significantly helpful to us, particularly here at the end.”

The comments by McKenzie, head of US Central Command (CENTCOM), sparked fresh criticism of the Biden administration’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, which was marred by hundreds of Afghan civilian casualties and the deaths of 13 US service members in last week’s terrorist bombing at the Kabul airport.

In addition to having to leave without completing evacuations of all Americans in the country, the US had to leave behind thousands of Afghan allies who fear being killed at the hands of the Taliban or ISIS-K terrorists.

“This is not a victory,” former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said on Twitter.

“It’s a national disgrace and failure of leadership.”

McKenzie’s praise of the Taliban especially struck a nerve with critics, such as Fox News contributor and former USMC Sergeant Joey Jones. “This press conference by General McKenzie has done more to undermine our service and sacrifice than anything I’ve seen in the 11 years since my injury,” said Jones, who lost both legs while serving in Afghanistan.

McKenzie said the Taliban had been “very pragmatic and very businesslike” as the US military mission in Afghanistan wound down.

The group not only had a common interest with the Pentagon – getting US troops out of the country – he said, but the US also told them “we will hurt you” if the Taliban challenged the evacuation efforts.

American military officials were therefore confident that any attack amid final withdrawal efforts would come from ISIS-K, not the Taliban, McKenzie said.

He added that Sunday’s US drone strike on ISIS-K terrorists – which reportedly killed 10 civilians, including seven children – disrupted the group’s ability to make a last-minute attack.

However, McKenzie said ISIS-K remains a “lethal force,” with at least 2,000 “hardcore fighters,” and will create challenges for the Taliban. He said the Taliban will suffer the consequences of freeing hundreds of ISIS-K terrorists from prison.

US forces held out hope of getting more Americans evacuated in the final hours before the last jets took off, but McKenzie said none were able to make their way to the airport.

Army General Christopher Donahue and US ambassador to Afghanistan Ross Wilson were the last two people to step on the last plane, he said, but no American civilians made it onto the last five jets to leave the country.

“There’s a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure,” McKenzie said. “We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out. But I think if we’d stayed another 10 days, we wouldn’t have gotten everybody out who we wanted to get out, and there still would have been people who would have been disappointed with that. It’s a tough situation.”

The Biden administration has vowed to use its “leverage” against the Taliban to ensure that remaining Americans in Afghanistan and Afghan allies will be allowed to leave the country.

McKenzie said that although the military disabled weapons and other equipment that it had to abandon, it left behind fire trucks and other gear needed to operate the Kabul airport to help resume civilian flights as soon as possible.

Author and Fox News host Steve Hilton said

President Joe Biden withdrew from Afghanistan leaving

“13 dead heroes, thousands of Americans stranded behind enemy lines, hundreds of thousands of Afghan allies betrayed” and “America’s reputation and authority in tatters. Biden must be held accountable for his weakness, cruelty and incompetence.”

Source: RT

After 20 years, LAST US FLIGHT departs Kabul, leaving Afghanistan to its fate

America’s longest war came to an end just before midnight local time in Afghanistan, when the last evacuation flight flew out of Kabul airport.

A C-17 military transport plane took off carrying the US commander who oversaw the evacuation operation, Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue of the 82nd Airborne Division, and the acting US ambassador, Ross Wilson, who were the last two Americans to step off the tarmac in Kabul, minutes before the 31 August deadline.

It brought to an end a US presence that lasted nearly 20 years, beginning just a few weeks after the September 11 attacks. The US gave up its last toehold in Kabul to the guerrilla group it ousted with initial ease in 2001, marking a defeat on the scale of Vietnam.

There was no fanfare or ceremony, and no handing over of flags to Kabul’s new masters. All remaining armoured vehicles and other military equipment items were destroyed or rendered useless and the Taliban were notified of the last flight.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken said later “a new chapter has begun”, with the military operation over and a diplomatic mission just starting. US diplomatic operations have now been moved from Kabul to Qatar, he said.

More than 100 Americans remain in Afghanistan who wanted to leave but were unable to get on the last flights, he said, but that the State Department would keep working to get them out.

He reiterated a pledge to hold the Taliban to their commitments to let people leave the country and said it was time to “learn lessons” from the US’s 20-year presence in Afghanistan.

The head of US Central Command, Gen Kenneth McKenzie, announced the historic moment of departure, appearing on a videolink to the Pentagon, just as the last flight was clearing Afghan airspace.

“Tonight’s withdrawal signifies both the end of the military component of the evacuation, but also the end of the nearly 20-year mission that began in Afghanistan shortly after September 11, 2001,” he said.

“The cost was 2,461 US service members and civilians killed and more than 20,000 who were injured.”

He noted that total included 13 US service members killed on Thursday after an attack by the regional IS affiliate, Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), at one of the airport gates.

“Now, our 20-year military presence in Afghanistan has ended,” Joe Biden said in a written statement, hailing the “unmatched courage, professionalism, and resolve” of the US troops who carried out the historic airlift.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, said Afghans now “face a moment of decision and opportunity. Their country’s future is in their hands. They will choose their path in full sovereignty. This is the chance to bring their war to an end as well.”

In Kabul, Taliban fighters marked the departure of the last US transport plane with salvoes of celebratory gunfire.

“At 12 o’clock tonight, the last American troops left Kabul airport, on which account Afghanistan was completely liberated and independent,” Zabihullah Mujahid, the movement’s spokesman, declared.

Nearly 50,000 Afghan civilians and 70,000 Afghan soldiers and police are estimated to have died in the violence since 2001.

And with the Taliban asserting its control around the country, ISKP increasingly active and the US vowing to continue airstrikes against them, it seemed certain that the last American flight out will not mean the end of the daily violence faced by Afghans.

McKenzie estimated there were 2,000 “hardcore” IS fighters on the ground in Afghanistan, plus those that had been let out of prison by the Taliban in recent days.

“That’s going to be a challenge for the Taliban, I believe, in the days ahead,” the general said.

In the last 24 hours of the US presence, about 1,000 Afghans were evacuated who had worked for or with the US, bringing the total civilian evacuation carried out this month to 123,000. Of that total, 79,000 were flown out by the US military, including 6,000 US nationals.

It was the biggest noncombatant evacuation in US military history. McKenzie called it a “monumental achievement”, noting it included three helicopter extractions of 185 stranded Americans and 21 Germans.

On top of that, special forces brought 2,017 vulnerable Afghans, 1,064 American citizens and 127 nationals from third countries to the airport by road.

There were no evacuees left behind on the tarmac but McKenzie admitted: “There’s a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure. We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out.” He said that would now be the task of the diplomats.

“I have asked the secretary of state to lead the continued coordination with our international partners to ensure safe passage for any Americans, Afghan partners and foreign nationals who want to leave Afghanistan,” Biden said in his statement.

“The Taliban has made commitments on safe passage and the world will hold them to their commitments.”

Biden said he hoped the diplomatic work would build on a watered down UN security council resolution passed earlier on Monday, which said it “expects” the Taliban to honour a commitment to allow Afghans to leave the country and “requests” that Kabul airport be securely reopened.

It fell far short of demanding a UN-sponsored safe zone in the Afghan capital, that France, the UK and Germany had proposed.

The final evacuation came as the Pentagon announced an investigation into reports of civilian casualties from a drone strike in Kabul, saying it was “not in a position to dispute” accounts of nine people from one family being killed, including seven children, in a drone strike on Sunday.

The attack happened on the same Kabul street where the extended family lived, adding to the bloodshed and chaos of the last days of the US military presence. Among the dead were three children aged two, two children aged three and two older children.

Reports from Kabul suggested some of the children had run out to greet one of the adults killed, an NGO worker, as he returned home.

A relative of the victims, Ramin Yousufi, told the BBC that the youngest victim was two-year-old Sumaya, and the oldest child was Farzad, 12.

“It’s wrong, it’s a brutal attack, and it’s happened based on wrong information,” he told the broadcaster. “Why have they killed our family? Our children? They are so burnt out we cannot identify their bodies, their faces.”

Another relative said the family had applied for evacuation to the US and were waiting to be called to Kabul airport.

US military officials continued to insist that the strike hit an IS car bomb, pointing to “secondary explosions” at the scene.

That conflicted with reports from Kabul that the targeted vehicle belonged to a civilian and that children were in it when it was struck by a missile from a US drone.

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, announced an investigation, adding: “We take steps to avoid civilian casualties in every scenario, probably more than almost any country in the world.”

The political pressure on the Biden administration over the withdrawal mounted further on Monday with the leak of notes from conversations among top Pentagon officials, in which the defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, issued orders to prepare for “a mass casualty event” 24 hours before Thursday’s suicide attack on the airport.

However, the Abbey gate at Kabul airport was kept open to allow UK soldiers and officials to evacuate people from the nearby Baron hotel.

Kabul airport came under rocket attack on Monday but there were no reported casualties. Answering questions about the civilian deaths from the drone strikes, Kirby said: “We are not in a position to dispute it right now, and we’re assessing, and we’re investigating.

“Nobody wants to see innocent life taken. We take it very, very seriously, and when we know we have caused innocent life to be lost in the conduct of our operations, we’re transparent about it.”

Maj Gen Hank Taylor said the target was believed to have been a car bomb sent by ISKP.

“Significant secondary explosions from the targeted vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material,” he said. Kirby said decisions on whether or not to carry out a drone strike had to be taken very quickly because of the nature of the ISKP threat.

Britain ended its evacuation on Saturday and France on Friday, although the French president, Emmanuel Macron, has proposed a “safe zone” in Kabul to allow allies “to maintain pressure on the Taliban” while more of the thousands of Afghans who helped western countries try to leave.

British troops and international allies could return to Kabul airport to help police a UN safe zone in the capital in order to allow safe passage for people trying to leave Afghanistan.

Defence sources in the UK indicated the idea was one of several options under consideration to ensure safe evacuation routes for the thousands of people still trapped in Afghanistan while eligible for resettlement in the west.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, head of the Royal Air Force, told The Daily Telegraph: “We’ve got to be able to play a global role in the global coalition to defeat [ISIS] – whether it’s strike or whether it’s moving troops or equipment into a particular country at scale and at speed.”

As the US force prepared to withdraw under fire, with more ISKP attacks deemed imminent, Kirby said: “We are in a particularly dangerous time.” A Taliban spokesman told Agence-France Presse the group expected IS’s attacks to end once foreign forces left.

An unidentified Taliban source told Al Jazeera the group would take “full control” of Kabul airport straight after the US withdrawal ended.

The Taliban have promised a softer brand of rule compared with their first stint in power.

But many Afghans fear a repeat of the movement’s brutal interpretation of Islamic law, as well as violent retribution for working with foreign militaries, western missions or the previous US-backed government.

Source: The Guardian

Header: US Army Major General Chris Donahue, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, steps on board a C-17 transport plane as the last US service member to leave Hamid Karzai international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.

‘War is over – Taliban WON’: FINAL US flight leaves Kabul airport, ENDING Afghanistan airlift

The last C-17 Globemaster transport lifted off from Kabul at 3:29pm East Coast time, General Kenneth McKenzie, head of the CENTCOM officially announced on Monday, calling it “the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan.”

With the last US military flight departed, McKenzie said every single US service member had now left Afghanistan. However, he acknowledged that the US did not manage to evacuate everyone it wanted to.

“The war is over. America’s last troops have just left Kabul airport,” RT’s Murad Gazdiev tweeted from Kabul, adding that the war lasted “19 years, 10 months and 25 days.”

Reports had already circulated about the last US flights departing Kabul. The “final plane is wheels up. War is over,” Newsweek editor Naveed Jamali tweeted on Monday, citing an unnamed US official.

A few minutes earlier, a CNN reporter said the last three C-17 transport planes had taken off from Karzai International, saying it “could be the end of US presence” in Afghanistan.

Afghan journalist Masoom Ghaznavi posted what he called “the last pictures of the occupation of our country,” showing US troops preparing to leave the airport.

“All foreign occupation forces withdrew from the country moments ago,” Voice of America reported, quoting a Taliban official.

What was originally envisioned as the orderly departure of the last US troops and diplomats had turned into a desperate scramble on August 14, when the US-backed Afghan government melted away and the Taliban swiftly took over the country, including Kabul.

Crowds of Afghans charged the airfield, some making it into the transports bringing in US troops, others clinging to wheels and wings as the planes left, only to plunge to their deaths.

More than 130,000 people were flown out by the US and its allies over the following two weeks, the vast majority of them Afghans seeking refuge in the West.

Source: RT

Header: A Marine Corps team handles the remains of US troops killed in a suicide attack near Kabul airport at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, August 29, 2021 © AP Photo / Manuel Balce Ceneta

Watch: Last US plane leaves Afghanistan

The Pentagon said on Monday that the US had completed efforts to evacuate its remaining civilians and troops from Afghanistan with the departure of the last US plane from Kabul.

This concluded the US presence in Afghanistan, almost 20 years after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Footage posted on social media after the announcement showed Taliban fighters celebrating the US withdrawal by firing in the air.

“The president stands by his decision to bring our men and women home from Afghanistan,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday, according to NBC News.

Biden is expected to make remarks on the end of the war in the coming days, Psaki added.

The US had rushed to evacuate Afghan allies before troops were expected to leave midnight Tuesday local time (Monday afternoon in the United States). Pentagon officials said Monday that they would not reveal details about when the final evacuation flights would take place for security reasons.

Asked then what they would tell Americans who still wanted to leave, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said only, “There is still time.”

Psaki said the administration remained committed to getting all those who wanted to leave Afghanistan out of that country, even beyond the Aug. 31 deadline.

“Our commitment is enduring and our commitment does not waver even as we bring the men and women from our military home,” she added.

Biden has come under fire for his handling of the Afghanistan crisis, where the Taliban took over the country more than one week ago.

The criticism of the President increased after last week’s suicide bombing at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, in which at least 70 people were killed, including 13 US servicemembers.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Friday left open the possibility that Republicans would seek to impeach Biden over his handling of the troop withdrawal in Afghanistan.

“I’m extremely frustrated with this president,” McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol, adding,

“There will be a day of reckoning.”

Source: Arutz Sheva

Taliban to take full control of Kabul airport on Tuesday

The Taliban will completely take control of Kabul airport after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan on Tuesday, August 31, the Al Jazeera TV channel announced on Monday, citing a source in the movement.

According to the TV channel, the Taliban is holding consultations with Turkey and Qatar regarding the technical management of operations at the airport. The sides have not come to an agreement yet.

Earlier, the Spokesman for the Taliban Political Office in Qatar, Mohammad Suhail Shaheen, said in an interview with NHK WORLD-JAPAN that the radical movement was optimistic about the upcoming complete withdrawal of foreign troops from Kabul airport.

After the US announced the end of its 20-year-long operation in Afghanistan and the beginning of its troop withdrawal, the Taliban launched an offensive against Afghan government forces. On August 15, Taliban fighters swept into Kabul without encountering any resistance, establishing full control over the Afghan capital within a few hours.

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani left the country, while Vice President Amrullah Saleh declared himself acting head of state and called for armed resistance to the Taliban. Many countries are currently evacuating their citizens and embassy staff.

Source: TASS

Header: Taliban stand guard outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, 29 August 2021.

The process of withdrawing the 5,000 United States military personnel deployed to Kabul’s airport for the evacuation of Americans and Afghan allies is under way in the face of ‘very real’ threats of additional attacks such as the one two days ago that left some 200 people dead, the Pentagon said 28 August.

More than 117,000 people have departed from the Kabul airport since the ‘massive military, diplomatic, security and humanitarian undertaking’ began following the fall of the capital to the Taliban on 15 August.