The US has ceased its diplomatic presence in Afghanistan and will conduct operations from Qatar, according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who also stated that the US will continue its “relentless” efforts to assist individuals fleeing the nation even after its troops have left.
Blinken’s announcement came after the last US plane left, leaving thousands of Afghans behind who aided Western countries and may have been eligible for evacuation.
President Joe Biden, who has faced significant criticism from both Democrats and Republicans for his management of Afghanistan since the Taliban made quick inroads and seized over Kabul earlier this month, set a timetable for the operation on Tuesday.
Blinken stated in his remarks that Washington would handle its Afghanistan diplomacy, including consular work and humanitarian assistance, from Doha, Qatar’s capital, with a staff led by Ian McCary, the US mission’s deputy chief.
Our diplomatic presence in Kabul has been stopped as of today, and our operations have been shifted to Doha, Qatar. For the time being, we will manage our diplomacy with Afghanistan from this position in Doha.
“The United States’ engagement with Afghanistan has entered a new phase. It’s one in which we’ll take the lead with diplomacy,” Blinken said, adding, “We’ll keep working tirelessly to let Americans, other nationals, and Afghans leave Afghanistan if they choose.”
He stated there were still more than 100 Americans in Afghanistan who wanted to leave, but Washington was attempting to figure out how many there were. Over 6,000 people from the United States have been evacuated.
Since August 14, the day before the Taliban retook control of the country, more than 122,000 individuals have been flown out of Kabul.
As the destiny of Kabul airport, the country’s major gateway to the rest of the world, remained uncertain following the US withdrawal and Taliban takeover, Blinken said the US was working to identify ways to assist Americans and anyone who might choose to leave via overland routes.
“We don’t expect any of this to be simple or quick,” he said.