A 12 months on, ex-Afghan chief defends position in Taliban takeover

ISLAMABAD (AP) – On the eve of the anniversary of the Taliban takeover of Kabul, Afghanistan’s former president on Sunday defended what he mentioned was a split-second choice to flee, saying he wished to keep away from the humiliation of give up to the insurgents.

Ashraf Ghani additionally informed CNN that on the morning of Aug. 15, 2021, with the Taliban on the gates of the Afghan capital, he was the final one on the presidential palace after his guards had disappeared. He mentioned the protection minister informed him earlier that day that Kabul couldn’t be defended.

Ghani had beforehand sought to justify his actions on the day Kabul fell, however supplied extra particulars Sunday. He alleged that one of many cooks within the palace had been supplied $100,000 to poison him and that he felt his rapid surroundings was not protected.

“The explanation I left was as a result of I didn’t wish to give the Taliban and their supporters the pleasure of but once more humiliating an Afghan president and making him signal over the legitimacy of the federal government,” he mentioned. “I’ve by no means been afraid.”

Critics say Ghani’s sudden and secret departure Aug. 15 left the town rudderless as U.S. and NATO forces have been within the last levels of their chaotic withdrawal from the nation after 20 years.

Ghani additionally denied persistent allegations that he took tens of tens of millions of {dollars} in money with him as he and different officers fled in helicopters.

In a report issued final week, a Congressional watchdog mentioned it is unlikely Ghani and his senior advisers transported that a lot money on the escape helicopters.

“The hurried nature of their departure, the emphasis on passengers over cargo, the payload and efficiency limitations of the helicopters, and the constant alignment in detailed accounts from witnesses on the bottom and within the air all counsel that there was little greater than $500,000 in money on board the helicopters,” wrote the Workplace of the Particular Inspector Normal for Afghanistan Reconstruction, which has tried to watch the large U.S. spending within the nation through the years.

The company added that “it stays a powerful risk that important quantities of U.S. forex disappeared from Afghan authorities property within the chaos of the Taliban takeover, together with tens of millions from the presidential palace” and the vault of the Nationwide Directorate of Safety. Nevertheless, the report mentioned the watchdog was unable to find out how a lot cash was stolen and by whom.

Ultimately, the Taliban seized the capital with out important preventing final August, capping a weeks-long army blitz during which they quickly captured provincial capitals with out a lot resistance from the more and more demoralized Afghan safety forces.

Within the 12 months for the reason that takeover, the previous insurgents have imposed important restrictions on women and girls, limiting their entry to schooling and work, regardless of preliminary guarantees on the contrary. The Taliban have remained internationally remoted and largely minimize off from the circulate of worldwide support loved by the Ghani authorities. The Taliban have struggled to manipulate and halt the sharp financial decline that has pushed tens of millions extra Afghans into poverty and even starvation.

Regardless of these challenges, the Taliban-led authorities deliberate a number of occasions Monday to mark the anniversary, together with speeches by Taliban officers and a number of other sports activities occasions.

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