Afghanistan: The end of the evacuation

2 min
Afghanis on a Spanish military plane about to fly from Kabul to Dubai.

At half past seven in the evening the last plane with Afghan refugees evacuated by Spain landed at the air base in Torrejón de Ardoz (Madrid). They are the last ones and they leave a landscape of despair and destruction after the attacks that Thursday left about two hundred dead and the uncertainty of what will happen now with the Taliban government. Most European countries have also completed the evacuation of their Afghan personnel and collaborators, while the United States will meet the deadline of 31 August to finish moving all its military equipment and troops that are still deployed.

These images are therefore the corollary of a collective failure of the international community in Afghanistan, but it is also fair to state that, at least in Spain's case, the evacuation has been successfully completed. And this is because the ministries of foreign affairs, defence and home affairs set up a working group before the Taliban arrived in Kabul, so that when the exodus began, the operational plans were already well advanced. This has made it possible to meet all the requests of the Afghans who worked for the Spanish personnel, in an operation that has managed to get more than 2,000 people out of the country. We are also aware that the civil servants and workers involved in the operation worked 24 hours a day to ensure that it was a success and that no one was left behind, despite the short time, barely a week, that there was to operate the flights.

That's why the right-wing opposition's criticism of Pedro Sánchez's government for its management of the Afghanistan crisis is ridiculous, especially because Spain plays a very minor role in that country and, within the obvious limitations, it has done what could be asked of it. Sánchez, moreover, had the political sense to offer the Torrejón de Ardoz base as a hub to distribute refugees, a decision that earned him the praise of the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, and which has also served to improve relations with the United States.

However, this undoubted success has been accompanied by a triumphalist speech by Pedro Sánchez about the Afghan reality that is far from reality. A little self-criticism on the part of Sánchez about the failure of the withdrawal and evacuation after 20 years of international intervention on the ground would be appreciated. Other leaders, such as Emmanuel Macron or Angela Merkel, have had no problem admitting this failure (which Joe Biden has not done, by the way) to their fellow citizens. Given the state of Afghanistan and the type of regime the Taliban are trying to establish, it is inappropriate to speak of "mission accomplished". On the contrary, it is precisely because the mission to stabilise the country has not been accomplished that a dramatic evacuation of the people in danger has now had to take place.