On Tuesday, Australia abruptly announced it would close its embassy in Afghanistan this week, and expressed fears about the “increasingly uncertain security environment” in Kabul following the US decision to withdraw its troops from the devastated country. for the war.
The surprise decision comes a month after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the withdrawal of 80 Australian soldiers deployed as part of NATO’s resolute support mission, which is involved in training and assisting Afghan forces. . The country had completed its combat mission in 2013.
On Tuesday, the Australian prime minister said the facility would be closed as a “provisional measure” on May 28, in just three days, “in light of the impending international military withdrawal from Afghanistan.”
The United States and Allied forces have begun withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, 20 years after overthrowing the then-Taliban regime in a military invasion following 9/11 attacks on U.S. soil.
Australia hopes that this measure will be temporary and that we will resume our permanent presence in Kabul once circumstances allow.
The Taliban pledged on Tuesday to provide a “safe environment” for foreign diplomats after Australia announced it would close its embassy for security reasons.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan assures all foreign diplomats and humanitarian personnel that [we] it will not pose any threat to them, “Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem told AFP news.” We will provide a safe environment for their activities. “
The Taliban, who waged an armed rebellion against US-led NATO troops, have become a strong force controlling many parts of the country. The withdrawal from the United States is part of an agreement Washington signed last year with the Taliban to end the war.
The Kabul-elected government and Afghan security services remain fragile despite two decades of foreign support, and their success is unclear without large-scale US support.
In recent days, violence in the country has erupted and Afghan forces have clashed with Taliban fighters not far east of Kabul.
The rebels have also taken up positions 40 km (24 miles) west of the city, a traditional gateway to reach the capital and launch deadly attacks.
Withdrawal of American troops
All U.S. troops are expected to march on Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The United States invaded the country after accusing then-Taliban rulers of hosting al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden, blamed for the deadliest attack on US territory.
Since joining NATO-led forces in Afghanistan in 2001, more than 25,000 Australian troops have served the country over the years and cost the country billions of dollars.
Australian troops have been accused of abusing Afghan civilians. Last year a government research he found evidence of war crimes against his soldiers. That looted 13 soldiers of the special forces to kill unarmed men and children.
Morrison said there was an “increasingly uncertain security environment” without the 80-member Australian contingent and the largest US force as a backup. “The government has been informed that no security arrangements could be provided to support our ongoing diplomatic presence,” it said in a statement.
It was unclear if a specific threat was being made against the embassy.
Australian officials are expected to visit Afghanistan from overseas, and Morrison says his country remains “committed to the bilateral relationship.”
“Australia hopes this measure will be temporary and that we will resume a permanent presence in Kabul once circumstances allow,” Morrison said.
The sudden closure surprised some experts in Australia.
“It’s a somewhat shocking decision,” said Australian National University Professor of International Security John Blaxland.
“I can understand on one level why they would want to close, but I think it’s a sad accusation that we’re leaving like this after 20 years of investment, blood, sweat and tears,” Blaxland told AFP news agency.
“It’s not Saigon in 1975,” he added, a reference to the dramatic heliport evacuation on the roof of the U.S. embassy in South Vietnam as the Viet Cong and regular communist military forces seized the city.
Blaxland expressed his fear that Afghans working with the Australian government may now be unable to leave.
“This is something that, if we don’t deal with it, the embarrassment will last for years,” he said.