Joe Biden defends handling of Afghanistan withdrawal
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The Taliban captured Kabul last weekend following a campaign in Afghanistan that took advantage of retreating western troops. The radial faction ousted the existing government in just one week, with remaining forces comprised of the US and its allies now evacuating citizens and officials. Among those looking to relocate amid fears of retribution from the country’s insurgent rulers is president Ashraf Ghani.
Where is Ashraf Ghani now?
The Taliban coursed through Afghanistan’s key arteries last week, taking cities methodically and rapidly.
Their path blindsided both occupying troops and the country’s existing security forces, led by the president.
As they watch decades of work collapse to dust, the government scattered into the wind – including president Ghani who left Afghanistan as the Taliban knocked at the doors of Kabul over the weekend.
His office did not confirm where he had fled to, with speculation mounting that he had landed in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan or Oman.
The sudden move drew harsh criticism from both local and international politicians, as the former president fled for his safety while his people were being murdered in the streets.
Three were shot dead during a protest to raise the flag of Afghanistan in Jalalabad this week, while one woman was killed by insurgents in Takhar for being in public without a head covering.
Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, said God would “hold him accountable” and the nation would “also judge”.
The US has continued to use his title but said he is “no longer a figure in Afghanistan”.
Afghanistan’s ambassador to Tajikistan has accused the president of stealing $169 million in state funds as he made his escape.
On Wednesday, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) confirmed he had landed in the country on “humanitarian grounds”.
Mr Ghani has since made an address streamed by Facebook yesterday.
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He explained why he had promptly left and dismantled some of the rumours surrounding his departure.
Speaking on the social media platform, he said his continued presence could have caused “bloodshed in Kabul”.
He added: “Kabul should not be turned into another Yemen or Syria over power struggles so I was forced to leave”.
He denied accusations from other Afghan politicians that he had fled, adding he intended to prevent a “huge disaster” unfolding.
Now he has settled in the UAE, he added, he is now “in talks to return to Afghanistan”.
Mr Ghani roundly rejected the accusations of stealing money as the chaos unfolded last week.
He said he had left the country with “just a waistcoat and some clothes”.
The president dubbed the rumours a “personality assassination against me”.
He added: “The accusations are baseless lies. You can even ask customs officials – they are baseless”.
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