Why France was more clear-eyed about Afghanistan than the US

Tuesday - 31/08/2021 09:04
A Taliban fighter guards the gate of Kabul’s airport on August 28. Officials said 623 people were flown to France in the weeks before the Afghan army collapsed and the Islamist militant group seized power © AP
A Taliban fighter guards the gate of Kabul’s airport on August 28. Officials said 623 people were flown to France in the weeks before the Afghan army collapsed and the Islamist militant group seized power © AP
Paris, which started evacuating Afghans and staff in May, had ‘more dispassionate’ assessment of same intelligence

In May — three months before the fall of Kabul to the Taliban — France began evacuating Afghans working for its embassy and other French organisations, along with their families.

Officials said 623 people were flown to France in the weeks before the Afghan army collapsed and the Islamist militant group seized power. These evacuations came in addition to the 800 Afghans and relatives who had worked with the French armed forces and had already been moved after Paris ended military operations in Afghanistan in 2014. France also repeatedly told its citizens to leave.

At the time, the French decision prompted remonstrations from NGOs and from some of France’s European allies. They were concerned about this apparent abandonment of Afghanistan and accused the French of being unduly pessimistic about the security impact of President Joe Biden’s announcement of a full US military withdrawal by September.

France’s foresight about the imminent collapse of Kabul has contrasted with the lack of US preparedness and triggered speculation that French spies knew something the Americans did not.

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