Ex-Afghan President Had Minutes to Flee Taliban

The former President of Afghanistan said he had a mere two minutes to flee the country as the Taliban closed in earlier this year. He left in order to prevent the destruction of the city of Kabul as the Taliban took over, he said. 

Ashraf Ghani said that when he woke up on Aug. 15, he had no idea that it would be his last day as the president of Afghanistan, nonetheless his last day in his country. He was told by his national security adviser that he needed to leave and that the departure was imminent. It was only when the plane took off that Ghani realized they were indefinitely leaving the country. 

Ghani faced criticism for leaving Afghanistan at the time, to which the former leader said that while Afghans “rightly blame” him for the fall of the country, he has been made into a scapegoat for the Taliban’s overtaking and that his life’s work has been destroyed. He also said that he fled because security was “not capable” of protecting him from the Taliban. 

Critics of his departure from the country also say that by leaving, he thwarted a political deal that would have brought in a more orderly transition. Some say that his departure created a vacuum. 

Ghani called for all parties to come together and arrive at a pathway for national reconciliation. Ghani also pointed at the United States, specifically especially former President Donald Trump, for events that paved the way for the Taliban takeover of Kabul on Aug. 15.

A deal made between Trump and the Taliban opened the door for the Taliban to sweep into the capital. Instead of a peace process, the now-former Afghanistan government only got a withdrawal process, Ghani said. He said that it led to a violent coup, not a political process or agreement in which people were involved. 

Trusting international partnerships is something Ghani said he will take the blame for, and that it led to the fall of Kabul. 

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