What We Know:
- After Ghani left Afghanistan, many wondered where he went. The United Arab Emirates confirmed Ghani and his family traveled to their country via a statement. The country announced the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation could confirm the UAE housed Ghani on humanitarian grounds.
- Ghani defended his decision to leave Afghanistan over the weekend. Ghani said that if he stayed in his position, “countless” countrymen would die. In addition, Kabul would see destruction.
- U.S. News reports that Ghani’s “swift departure” from office illustrates how rapidly the issue escalated in Afghanistan. After President Joe Biden decided to withdraw troops from the country after nearly 20 years, the Taliban seized Afghanistan in a matter of weeks.
- Biden defended his decision in a televised speech on Monday. In his appearance, he placed the blame for the country’s collapse on Ghani; Biden said he held “frank conversations” with Ghani and Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah earlier this summer. In his meetings with Ghani and Adbdullah, the three spoke about how Afghanistan should prepare in the case of a civil war after the U.S. military departed. Biden also advised them to clean up governmental corruption and unite the country. Pres. Biden additionally told American citizens he urged the Afghan leaders to seek a political settlement with the Taliban, but Ghani ignored the suggestion.
According to Biden, Ghani insisted his country’s military would fight back against the Taliban. “Obviously he was wrong,” said the U.S. President.
“Spencer” Trailer Showcases Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana
What We Know:
- The teaser trailer reflects the “claustrophobic environment” Diana lived through. Kristen Stewart, who will take on the role of the “People’s Princess,” says the movie will explore the trauma she endured for leaving the monarchy. Additionally, Stewart said the film is “a physical assertion of the sum of her parts,” starting with her maiden name, Spencer. The film’s title reflects Diana’s efforts to return to herself.
“Spencer is a dive inside an emotional imagining of who Diana was at a pivotal turning point in her life,” said Stewart.
- Alongside Stewart’s Diana, the trailer reveals an ensemble cast. Poldark‘s Jack Farthing will play her husband Prince Charles, Once Upon a Time’s Amy Manson will play Anne Boleyn, Thomas Douglas will play Earl John Spencer, and newcomer Olga Hellsing will play Sarah, Duchess of York.
- The film will also focus on Diana’s bond with her children, Princes William, and Harry. Director Larraín said that one of the keys to discovering herself is realizing that she doesn’t need to depend on anyone to be good to herself and her children. Larraín added that Diana was many things, including a “great mother.”
- However, the film will not explore the years after her separation. It will also not explore Diana’s untimely death. Larraín declared that the Princess of Wales died years after the story’s setting, so they don’t “need to deal with that.” In addition, the film only aims to give the audience a better perspective of Diana in three days.
Spencer will premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 3. After this, it will make its cinematic debut on November 5.
Deadly Firefight Erupts at Kabul Airport as Evacuation Chaos Continues into Second Week
A brief firefight erupted at one gate in Hamid Karzai International Airport as U.S. troops supervised the emergency evacuations of Western citizens and some Afghan nationals.
What We Know:
- Navy Capt. William Urban, the combatant command overseeing American military operations in the region, said the event took place after “an unknown hostile factor” fired at Afghan security forces, killing an officer. The forces retaliated by returning fire, and, in response, U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) coalition troops became involved. Several Afghans were wounded in the firefight. Despite this, no American or NATO forces were hurt.
- The event occurs while the Biden Administration deals with criticism for pulling out of the country. A day after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, President Joe Biden declared he still would not send the U.S. military back. In a press conference, he told reporters that he urged Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to compromise with the Taliban and prepare for a civil war. However, Ghani refused to take his advice; Ghani also told Biden that Afghanistan would fight back against the Taliban.
- Biden additionally activated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet on Sunday, allowing the Pentagon to order civilian airlines to provide planes that will help accelerate evacuation efforts. The activation will bring in 18 aircraft from six airlines. Biden did this after the Pentagon declared the U.S. military would not ensure safe passage for Americans to Hamid Karzai International Airport. Alongside this, the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan asked American citizens on Saturday not to go to the airport due to security reasons.
- In addition, CNBC states that the Biden Administration wants to extend the Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw all troops. However, the Taliban refuses to extend it; in addition, sources close to the Taliban told Reuters no Western authorities contacted the group to push the date back.
The crossfire at Hamid Karzai Airport happened just one week after several Afghans attempted to flee by clinging onto an American aircraft as it took off.
Biden Administration Embroiled in Internal Blame-Shifting amid Afghanistan Chaos
What We Know:
- On Monday, one day after the takeover, Afghans traveled to Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul in an attempt to flee the country, as the United States quickly sent troops to facilitate the safe evacuation of US Embassy employees. When military planes left the airport, Afghans clung to the aircrafts’ fuselage while it took off. It has been reported that at least two people died amid the chaos.
- Military officials claimed that they urged the State Department to begin removing diplomatic personnel from the country for weeks. In response, the State Department said they operated based on intelligence assessments that suggested they could take more time doing so. However, intelligence officials state they reported a rapid Taliban takeover to the State Department for a while.
- President Joe Biden made defiant comments about the overthrow on Monday. Biden stated that the Afghan security forces’ unwillingness to fight, previous administrations’ decisions, and failing to address the chaos on his watch was to blame for the situation. He also admitted that the Taliban takeover happened faster than he expected. Regardless, he stayed firm on his decision to end the war and made it clear he would not send troops back to Afghanistan.
“I know my decision will be criticized, but I would rather take all that criticism than pass this decision onto another president of the United States,” Biden said in his speech.
- Officials believe Biden received bad advice from some of his military and intelligence advisers. One White House official referenced Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley’s suggestion that Afghan forces could fight and defend themselves. Milley also stated that the Taliban takeover was not a foregone conclusion.
- CNN reported that John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, repeatedly warned leaders about the Afghan military’s corruption. Furthermore, soldiers suffered from drug addiction and participated in theft. The military also held tens of thousands of “ghost soldiers” that they would add to payrolls so corrupt officers could collect salaries. Therefore, CNN writes the US should have seen that Afghanistan could not defend themselves from the Taliban on their own.
Despite the Afghan situation unfolding quicker than expected, the Biden Administration believes the withdrawal of American troops is not to blame.