The collapse of Afghanistan in the face of the Taliban advance “was quick and sudden, there are lessons to be learned”. Thus the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in a press conference in Brussels following an emergency meeting of the Alliance ambassadors on the situation in Afghanistan.
“The real question we must ask ourselves is why the forces we supported and formed have not resisted” in the face of the advance of the Taliban? The NATO secretary general asks.
“The situation in Afghanistan is extremely serious and unpredictable. This failure of the Afghan leadership has led to the tragedy we are witnessing,” said Stoltenberg.
“We knew there were risks (after the withdrawal of the US and NATO forces, ed), but no one had foreseen the speed of the collapse of the Afghan military structures and forces”, admitted the NATO secretary general in a press conference in which he repeated several times that “all the allies agreed that the time had come to put an end to the military presence”.
“The situation is evolving and it is difficult to anticipate what will happen in the future”, he added, anticipating that even if NATO has ended its military presence, “the international community will be able to continue to play a role, provide development assistance and protect and support. respect for human rights “.
“We knew there were risks, we made our choices without hiding it. The alternative to leaving would have been to stay and increase the military presence, to have more soldiers on the ground, more clashes and fighting”. “The hope was that all the investments made would make the situation sustainable, that the Afghan forces would be able to counter the Taliban,” he stressed.
NATO’s priority is now to keep the Kabul airport “open and functioning” in order to evacuate as many people as possible, in addition to the citizens of NATO countries and Afghans who have worked with them in all these years “but also Vulnerable Afghans and in a Vulnerable Position “. “We work 24 hours a day, every day, to land and take off more planes, and to have as many people as possible leave the country.” “The Taliban must respect and facilitate the safe departure of all those who want to leave.”
“The precondition for this to happen is to have an open and functioning airport.” Engaged in this effort are, Stoltenberg cited, the United States, which is strengthening its troops, Turkey, which has long been present at the airport, Norway, which has a hospital, Britain and other allied countries that help and support.
“Several allied countries send airplanes to the region to carry out an airlift”, the secretary general then stated, making it known that NATO “has suspended and frozen all forms of support for the government, given that there is no longer a government in Kabul” . “After the collapse of the government, no more money was sent.”
“The Taliban have pledged, with the agreement with the US of February 2020, to ensure that the country does not become a safe territory for international terrorism. We expect them to respect their commitment,” said Stoltenberg.
“NATO remains a strong alliance. The reason we went to Afghanistan was to weaken al Qaeda and fight international terrorism. We knew the allies would not stay in Afghanistan forever. Together we decided to end the mission.” he therefore concluded.