Macron pledges EU response to stop Afghan migrants heading to West

President Macron pledges ‘robust, coordinated and united’ European response to stop waves of Afghan migrants heading to the West and says Taliban territories cannot become ‘sanctuary for terrorists’

  • Emmanuel Macron has vowed a ‘robust, coordinated and united’ European response to Afghanistan crisis
  • French President has pledged effort to stop waves of Afghan migrants fleeing Taliban heading to the West
  • He warned that Afghanistan is on course to become ‘sanctuary’ for terrorists and people-smugglers
  • ‘This is key for international security and peace,’ Macron said from presidential summer residence Monday

Emmanuel Macron has vowed a ‘robust, coordinated and united’ European response to stop Afghan migrants heading to the West and warned that Taliban-controlled Afghanistan is on course to become a ‘sanctuary’ for terrorists and people-smugglers unless action is taken. 

In a television broadcast from his holiday home in the South of France, the French President said the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan after the 20-year Western intervention had far-reaching consequences for other countries – and would need to work together to manage the change.  

‘This is key for international security and peace,’ Mr Macron said on Monday night. ‘We will do everything for Russia, the United States and Europe to co-operate efficiently as our interests are the same’. 

Mr Macron also urged the United Nations Security Council – of which France is a permanent member – to produce a ‘reasonable and unified’ response to the crisis engulfing Afghanistan and the wider region.

The French President said the European Union would now be trying to regulate the vastly increased refugee flow from Afghanistan, which has a population of almost 40,000. He said France would be cracking down on ‘illegal people smuggling rings’, along with Germany and other EU countries.

Mr Macron said: ‘We must anticipate and protect ourselves against significant irregular migratory flows that would endanger the migrants and risk encouraging trafficking of all kinds.’

He said some 800 Afghans including translators and cooks who worked for France had already been evacuated to his country And the President added that France was ready to help activists, artists and journalists who risk being targeted because of their work.

‘We will help them as it is the honour of France to be side-by-side with those who share our values,’ he said.

Speaking from the Fort de Bregancon presidential summer residence, Mr Macron said he had already spoken to Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who is chairing a remote G7 summit later this week – and ‘joint initiatives’ were already underway in the struggle against Islamist terrorism. 

Afghanistan was originally invaded by US-led coalition forces after the September 11, 2001 attacks because the Taliban was allowing terrorist groups including Al-Qaeda to operate within its territory.  

An image shot in Paris off a television screen shows French President Emmanuel Macron speaking on the situation in Afghanistan, from the Fort de Bregancon presidential summer residence at Bormes-les-Mimosas

Thousands of Afghans rush to the Hamid Karzai International Airport as they try to flee the Afghan capital of Kabul

Taliban members are seen near Hamid Karzai International Airport as thousands of Afghans rush to flee the Afghan capital of Kabul

In a television broadcast from his holiday home in the South of France, Mr Macron said the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan after the 20-year Western intervention had far-reaching consequences for other countries – and would need to work together to manage the change

President Joe Biden speaks about Afghanistan from the East Room of the White House

Feb. 29, 2020 Trump negotiates deal with the Taliban setting U.S. withdrawal date for May 1, 2021 

Nov. 17, 2020 Pentagon announces it will reduce troop levels to 2500 in Afghanistan

Jan. 15, 2020 Inspector general reveals ‘hubris and mendacity’ of U.S. efforts in Afghanistan 

Feb 3. 2021 Afghan Study Group report warns against withdrawing  ‘irresponsibly’

March Military command makes last-ditch effort to talk Biden out of withdrawal 

April 14 Biden announces withdrawal will be completed by Sept. 11 

May 4 – Taliban fighters launch a major offensive on Afghan forces in southern Helmand province. They also attack in at least six other provinces

May 11 – The Taliban capture Nerkh district just outside the capital Kabul as violence intensifies across the country

June 7 – Senior government officials say more than 150 Afghan soldiers are killed in 24 hours as fighting worsens. They add that fighting is raging in 26 of the country’s 34 provinces

June 22 – Taliban fighters launch a series of attacks in the north of the country, far from their traditional strongholds in the south. The UN envoy for Afghanistan says they have taken more than 50 of 370 districts

July 2 – The U.S. evacuates Bagram Airfield in the middle of the night 

July 5 – The Taliban say they could present a written peace proposal to the Afghan government as soon as August

July 21 – Taliban insurgents control about a half of the country’s districts, according to the senior U.S. general, underlining the scale and speed of their advance

July 25 – The United States vows to continue to support Afghan troops “in the coming weeks” with intensified airstrikes to help them counter Taliban attacks

July 26 – The United Nations says nearly 2,400 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in May and June in escalating violence, the highest number for those months since records started in 2009 

Aug. 6 – Zaranj in the south of the country becomes the first provincial capital to fall to the Taliban in years. Many more are to follow in the ensuing days, including the prized city of Kunduz in the north 

Aug. 13 – Pentagon insists Kabul is not under imminent threat 

Aug. 14 – The Taliban take the major northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and, with little resistance, Pul-e-Alam, capital of Logar province just 70 km (40 miles) south of Kabul. The United States sends more troops to help evacuate its civilians from Kabul as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says he is consulting with local and international partners on next steps

Aug. 15 – The Taliban take the key eastern city of Jalalabad without a fight, effectively surrounding Kabul

Taliban insurgents enter Kabul, an interior ministry official says, as the United States evacuate diplomats from its embassy by helicopter

 

‘Our actions will above all be aimed at fighting actively against Islamist terrorism in all its forms,’ Mr Macron added. ‘Terrorist groups are present in Afghanistan and seek to profit from the instability.’ 

Addressing mounting reports of Taliban attacks on women and girls, Mr Macron said: ‘Afghan women have the right to live in freedom and dignity. We will say very clearly to those who opt for war, obscurantism and blind violence that they have chosen isolation.’

Kabul airport has reopened with evacuation flights to continue after at least eight people were killed on Monday, including two shot dead by US troops, three run over by taxiing jets and three stowaways who plummeted from the engines of an airborne plane amid chaotic scenes in Afghanistan.  

Three stowaways fell hundreds of feet to their deaths after climbing onto the fuselage of a departing US Air Force C-17 plane as it took off from at Hamid Karzai International Airport, while hundreds of other desperate people tried to cling onto planes as they taxied down the runway. 

Senior US military officials said troops shot and killed two armed Afghans among those trying to get onto the jet while US citizens were evacuated in two separate incidents. A further three people were caught under plane wheels amid scenes of anarchy as the country slips into Taliban control. 

A Pentagon official said that US troops had come under fire at the airfield and grounded all flights while soldiers cleared the airfield with Apache helicopters and fired ‘warning shots’ to disperse the crowds. Flights resumed after 90 minutes but were suspended again after a security breach on the civilian side of the airport, a Pentagon spokesperson said.

Thousands of terrified people descended on Hamid Karzai International Airport as the US, Britain and other Western countries evacuate their citizens and diplomats on military aircraft following the Taliban’s seizure of the capital city Kabul and much of Afghanistan this week. 

Video posted on Twitter shows hundreds of people running alongside a C-17 crammed with 800 people – eight times its usual capacity – with many clambering on to the front and rear wheels, while others climbed airbridges hoping to force their way on to planes waiting at the departure gates. 

The clip then shows three people falling to their deaths from hundreds of feet in the air, with images posted online later appearing to show residents collecting bodies from a rooftop in Kabul.  

The C-17 can carry 171,000 pounds of cargo but its interior is designed to carry fewer than 150 soldiers. It is unclear who exactly was on board and how many Americans remain on the ground. However, a flight-tracker showed the jet was flown to the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

The first of three German evacuation planes en route to Afghanistan diverted to the Uzbek capital Tashkent after it could not land at Kabul airport, a German general said on Monday.

The A400M transport plane circled for more than an hour over Kabul before changing its destination, Lieutenant General Markus Laubenthal told public broadcaster ZDF. A foreign ministry spokesperson said earlier in Berlin that no evacuation flights were leaving Kabul because people were blocking the runway.

A Pentagon spokesperson said 3,000 soldiers would be on the ground at the airport by Tuesday to help with the evacuation efforts, with a further 3,000 troops arriving later this week. However, the shambolic scenes further humiliated the US and its NATO powers, with much of the Anglo-US media and political class branding the withdrawal the ‘biggest foreign policy disaster’ since Suez. 

In an extraordinary address to the American nation on Monday, Joe Biden defended the US withdrawal and blamed Donald Trump’s agreement with the Taliban, Afghanistan’s political leaders for refusing to negotiate and Afghan military forces for refusing to fight.  

Announcing an end to the War in Afghanistan, the US President – who had returned to the White House from a ‘vacation’ in Camp David – said: ‘I stand squarely behind my decision. After 20 years I’ve learned the hard way. That there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces.’ 

In a statement on Saturday, he blamed his predecessor Trump for creating the conditions of the Taliban takeover. 

However, President Biden has faced intense domestic and global criticism of his handling of the Afghanistan crisis from both the Left and Right of politics across the West. 

Taliban fighters are seen on the back of a vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan

An Afghan family rushes to the Hamid Karzai International Airport as they flee the Afghan capital of Kabul

Image of British citizens and dual nationals residing in Afghanistan being evacuated to the UK

US media said the ‘debacle of the US defeat and chaotic retreat in Afghanistan’ was a ‘political disaster’ and slammed the President’s ‘failure to orchestrate an urgent and orderly exit’. 

New York Post editorial even said his claims that he ‘inherited’ Trump’s withdrawal plans were a ‘lie’ and branded the crisis situation ‘as humiliating an end as the rooftop scramble in Saigon in 1975’.  

The head of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, Armin Laschet, called it the ‘biggest NATO debacle’ since the founding of the alliance, while MPs accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of a ‘shameful’ silence and questioned if he did enough to discourage President Biden from withdrawing US troops. 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was ‘concerned’ by accounts of human rights violations against the women and girls of Afghanistan who fear a return to the darkest days’ of the 1990s when the Taliban came to power after the Civil War and imposed a brutal theocracy. 

Afghanistan’s representative to the UN Security Ghulam Isaczai told a meeting of the five powers – the US, Britain, China, Russia and France – on Monday that ‘there are already reports of target killings and looting in the city’. 

‘Kabul residents are reported that the Taliban have already started house-to-house searches in some neighbourhoods, registering names and looking for people in their target list,’ he added.   

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has also come under fire from critics and political rivals for hightailing out of the country as the Taliban stormed the Presidential Palace last night. 

The Russian Embassy claimed that he had fled in a helicopter full of cash. His whereabouts remain unknown. 

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