After 20 years, $2.2 trillion dollars, thousands of casualties, and immeasurable trauma, the US has officially left Afghanistan.
A minute before midnight in Afghanistan, the last US planes took off from Kabul airport, marking the first time in 20 years there was no American military presence on the ground.
- Taliban reaction: Celebratory shots were heard as the last US presence left the country.
Media coverage: The opening line of an AP article has been widely shared online.
“The United States completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan late Monday, ending America’s longest war and closing a chapter in military history likely to be remembered for colossal failures, unfulfilled promises and a frantic final exit that cost the lives of more than 180 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members, some barely older than the war.” - powerful opening line to an AP article
Evacuation figures:More than 123,000 people were evacuated from Afghanistan in recent weeks by US and coalition forces. As General Frank McKenzie - the commander of US Central Command - noted, it represented the “largest non-combatant evacuation in the U.S. military’s history”.
Americans remaining:US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said somewhere close to 100 Americans remain in Afghanistan, wanting to leave. Blinken said efforts to assist them will continue, but from afar as America now has no diplomatic presence in Afghanistan. No US citizens were on any of the last five planes.
British remaining: Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Sky News there was a number of British nationals - in the “low hundreds” - still in the country, adding it will be a challenge to find a route out of the country.
Biden approval:A majority of Americans disapprove of President Biden’s handling of the withdrawal - 51% disapprove, 38% approve.
Worth noting: Biden will make an address on the situation today.
The UN has estimated half a million Afghans could flee the country by the end of this year. On Monday, neighbouring country Uzbekistan said its border with Afghanistan was to remain closed for the foreseeable future.
“They are the true citizens of nowhere, pawns in a geopolitical game.” - Matt Frei, Channel 4 News
MONDAY’S OTHER MAIN LINES
In Brazil, heavily armed bank robbers strapped hostages to their cars as they made a dramatic getaway in the early hours of Monday morning.
What else happened? Three banks in the city of Araçatuba were robbed, in what BBC News describes as a growing trend. A number of bombs were also planted around the city, and citizens were warned to stay inside while at least 14 explosives were dismantled.
In Estonia, the only candidate running for president is struggling to win the position. How? In Estonia, the country’s lawmakers vote on this, and 68 votes are needed to secure the presidency. Candidate Alar Karis reportedly received 63 votes on Monday, with 16 blank votes.
What happens now? There will be two further rounds of voting today.
Why isn’t the current president running for another term? Kersti Kaljulaid is the country’s first female president, who is said to be “reasonably popular” in the country. However, she lacked support needed by lawmakers. As The Guardian noted, this was “due to her outspokenness about fellow politicians and government policies”.
In the ongoing R Kelly trial, a man has testified against the singer, saying he was sexually abused by him when he was 17. The man - using the pseudonym Louis - claims Kelly promised to help him establish a career in the music industry in exchange of sexual acts. According to his testimony, Louis was abused many times, with many incidents allegedly recorded by Kelly. It marks the first time Kelly has been accused of sexual abuse by a male.
Worth noting: The same man, Louis, was charged in 2020 with attempting to bribe a witness to keep quiet and stop cooperating with prosecutors in the case against Kelly. Louis pleaded guilty to the charge and cooperated with authorities from the day of his arrest last August. He also said Kelly was not aware of the bribery plan. According to CNN, Louis said his intentions were to “help” the woman involved, adding “I thought that person might have some tapes on me as well”.
- As expected, the EU has advised its member states to remove the US and five other countries from its safe travel list.
- Remember: Back in June, the US was added to the EU’s safe travel list, meaning American tourists could travel to EU countries for non-essential travel. There was an expectation among some European leaders that the move would be reciprocated by the US, but the Biden administration did not budge.
- Which other countries are included on the list? Kosovo, Israel, Montenegro, Lebanon, and North Macedonia.
- The newly-elected prime minister of Malaysia had to miss the swearing in ceremony for his new government the other day, as he is a close contact of someone who tested positive and has had to isolate.
- BBC News: Elizabeth Holmes: The CEO who duped Silicon Valley
- The Guardian: Afghanistan live news: Biden confirms end of 20-year US military presence as Taliban celebrate in Kabul
- The Financial Times: Investors in Xi’s China face a rude awakening
- Al Jazeera: Taliban celebrates ‘independence’ as last US troops leave Afghanistan
“The end of one toxic era” - that is how the eradication of leaded petrol was described by Greenpeace.
According to the UN, the world’s use of leaded petrol - considered dangerously poisonous - came to an end when Algeria ran out of it in July. Most high-income countries had curtailed its use by the 1980s.
According to a report in The Guardian, the elimination of leaded petrol could prevent as many as 1.2 million deaths per year.
24 years since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.