France - Afghanistan

Macron to deploy special forces to Kabul to evacuate French nationals, Afghan allies

President Emmanuel Macron during his speech to the French on 16 August 2021.
President Emmanuel Macron during his speech to the French on 16 August 2021. © TFI / Screenshot de la diffusion internet

French President Emmanuel Macron has said that Afghanistan should not return to becoming a "sanctuary of terrorism" and that Paris will not abandon Afghans who worked for France who find themselves under threat from the Taliban. 

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Speaking this Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron gave a televised address on the situation in Afghanistan, saying: "This is key for international security and peace... we will do everything for Russia, the United States and Europe to cooperate efficiently as our interests are the same,"

He added that the European Union would set up an initiative to prevent large migrant flows from the country into the EU.

 Macron said that protecting those who helped France over the years is an “absolute urgency,” adding that two military transport planes, with special forces, were due to arrive in Kabul “in the coming hours.”

The exact timing was not immediately clear since the United States temporarily shut down the Kabul airport to civilian and military flights following deadly chaos on the tarmac that left at least seven people dead.

The aircraft would fly from a base in Abu Dhabi, a transit stop for France’s evacuees.

Terrorism is the enemy, not Afghanistan

According to Macron's pre-recorded speech, it's not known how many would be involved in the evacuation.

France has already pulled out some 1,400 Afghan employees and families, and evacuated citizens on a charter flight in July.

Paris withdrew all its soldiers from Afghanistan after 13 years by December 2014, but continued work with civil society.

The French president vowed that the fight against “Islamic terrorism in all its forms” would not end. 

Biden defends US withdrawl

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden struck a defiant tone underlining his stance being “squarely behind” the decision to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan and that the Afghan government's collapse was quicker than anticipated. 

Biden said he was faced with a choice between sticking to a previously negotiated agreement to withdraw US troops this year or sending thousands more service members back into Afghanistan for a “third decade” of war. 

Biden said he would not repeat mistakes of the past, be prepared to take the criticism and did not regret his decision to proceed with the withdrawal.

Johnson calls for G7 meeting

Following the Taliban take-over of Kabul, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he intends to host a virtual meeting of G7 leaders to tackle the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and has also stepped up efforts to evacuate UK nationals and others from the Afghan capital.

Johnson reportedly spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday to agree how the two countries could work together to recognise any future Afghan government and in trying to prevent a humanitarian and refugee crisis.

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