In a final blow of the 20-year war, U.S. envoys close their embassy and exit Kabul.

WASHINGTON — American diplomats have left Afghanistan, and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul will stay closed, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken stated on Monday, after the navy introduced that it had accomplished its withdrawal from the nation.

The disintegration of diplomacy was a surprising turnabout from plans to remain and assist Afghanistan transition from 20 years of battle and to work towards peace, nonetheless tenuous, with a authorities that may share energy with the Taliban. This month, Mr. Blinken had pledged that the USA would stay “deeply engaged” in Afghanistan lengthy after the navy left.

However with the Taliban firmly in management, what was one of many largest U.S. diplomatic missions on this planet will for now be enormously scaled again, primarily based in Doha, the Qatari capital, and centered largely on processing visas for refugees and different immigrants.

“Given the unsure safety atmosphere and political scenario in Afghanistan, it was the prudent step to take,” Mr. Blinken stated in remarks on the State Division.

He sought to painting the departure as a “new chapter of America’s engagement with Afghanistan.”

“It’s one by which we’ll lead with our diplomacy,” Mr. Blinken stated, commending the U.S. diplomats, troops and different personnel who had labored on the embassy, which simply final month had employed round 4,000 folks — together with 1,400 Individuals.

Left unsure was whether or not American efforts to stabilize the Afghan authorities would proceed — the primary thrust of years of painstaking work and negotiations with leaders in Kabul that had been supported by billions of {dollars} in American taxpayer funding.

As a substitute, Mr. Blinken stated that any engagement with the Taliban — a longtime U.S. enemy that seized energy when President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan on Aug. 15 — “will probably be pushed by one factor solely: our important nationwide pursuits.”

Precisely 4 weeks earlier, on Aug. 2, Mr. Blinken had left little doubt that the Biden administration meant to maintain the U.S. Embassy in Kabul open.

“Our partnership with the folks of Afghanistan will endure lengthy after our service members have departed,” he stated then. “We are going to preserve participating intensely in diplomacy to advance negotiations between the Afghan authorities and the Taliban with the aim of a political resolution, which we imagine is the one path to lasting peace.”

As many as 200 Americans, and tens of hundreds of Afghans, had been left behind in a two-week navy airlift that Mr. Blinken referred to as one of many largest evacuation efforts in U.S. historical past. He demanded that the Taliban preserve its phrase and permit them to go away safely as soon as that they had exit paperwork in hand.

Greater than 123,000 folks had been evacuated from Kabul in current weeks, together with about 6,000 Individuals.

Mr. Blinken additionally stated that the USA would carefully watch the Taliban’s efforts to stanch terrorism in Afghanistan, because the group has stated it’ll do, and would proceed to work with the worldwide group to supply humanitarian support to hundreds of thousands of Afghans who want meals, medication and well being care after a long time of battle and political instability.

He struck a resolute tone in regards to the diplomatic retreat, and in reminding Individuals about the price of the battle.

America’s longest battle, with its casualties and the assets that had been sunk into it over the previous 20 years, “calls for reflection,” Mr. Blinken stated.

“We should study its classes, and permit these classes to form how we take into consideration basic questions of nationwide safety and overseas coverage,” he stated. “We owe that to future diplomats, policymakers, navy leaders, service members. We owe that to the American folks.”

Supply hyperlink