The United States' longest war, 2001 to 2021, ended on Monday as the last US soldiers left Kabul airport in the middle of the night.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced that the US military evacuation of civilians was completed and all the US soldiers had left Afghanistan.
According to Austin, the completion of the evacuation and the US soldiers’ departure marks the end of America's longest war.
“The end of this operation also signals the end of America’s longest war. We lost 2,461 troops in that war, and tens of thousands of others suffered wounds, seen and unseen. The scars of combat don’t heal easily, and often never heal at all,” he said on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the Taliban said that Afghanistan has gained full independence as the last US soldier stepped out of the country.
“Tonight 12:00 pm (Afghanistan time) the last American soldier left Afghanistan. Our country gained full independence. Praise be to Allah. Heart-felt congratulations to all countrymen!” said Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesperson.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, meanwhile, said that the US's diplomatic presence had tranferred from Kabul to Doha:
“As of today, we have suspended our diplomatic presence in Kabul and transferred our operations to Doha, Qatar. For the time being, we will use this post in Doha to manage our diplomacy with Afghanistan,” he tweeted.
Blinken, however, said that the United States’ work in Afghanistan will continue and that a new chapter has begun in US engagement with Afghanistan.
“I want to drive home today that America’s work in Afghanistan continues. We have a plan for what’s next, and we’re putting it into action. US military flights have ended and our troops have departed Afghanistan. A new chapter of America’s engagement with Afghanistan has begun. It’s one in which we will lead with our diplomacy,” he said in threaded tweets.
According to Blinken, the United States will continue supporting humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan through independent organizations, not the government.
US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said that the US war in Afghanistan is over and that it is time for the Afghans to end "their own war."
“With the departure of our military and those of the many partners who stood with us, Afghans face a moment of decision and opportunity. Their country's future is in their hands. They will choose their path in full sovereignty. This is the chance to bring their war to an end as well,” Khalilzad said.
According to Khalilzad, the test for the Taliban has just begun in leading the country and reflecting the diversity of Afghanistan and its history, beauty, and culture to the world.