(© picture alliance/ASSOCIATED PRESS/Rajanish Kakade)


  28 Debates

A row appears to have broken out among the Taliban leadership between the more "moderate" camp and the hardliners: Abdul Ghani Baradar, the acting first deputy prime minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and number two in the Islamist movement, disappeared several days ago. Rumours of his death or escape are circulating. Whether the Taliban's denials are credible remains to be seen.

Contrary to their promises, the Taliban have presented a transitional Afghan government consisting solely of people from their own ranks. Security-related portfolios went to jihad-oriented Taliban and the interior minister is a wanted terrorist. Today's commentaries reflect the world's concerns.

The Taliban have announced that they have taken complete control of Panjshir - the last Afghan province still held by resistance fighters. Heavily armed Taliban fighters posed outside the governor's residence there, but the NRF resistance front has contradicted these claims. Meanwhile, the Taliban has appointed the first ministers of its new government. But not all commentators believe the resistance to Taliban rule is broken.

The EU's interior ministers failed to reach an agreement on binding conditions for taking in Afghan asylum seekers at their special summit last week. Despite the strong desire to reach a consensus, the EU Commission failed due to opposition from Austria, Hungary, Denmark and Slovenia, among others. Instead, Afghanistan's neighbouring countries are now to receive money for taking in refugees. Europe's press is incensed.

Nato began its mission in Afghanistan 20 years ago. Today, most experts consider the strategy of building a democratic state on the basis of military support to have failed. More than 3,500 troops belonging to Nato and its allies lost their lives in Afghanistan. While some commentators point to lessons to be learned from the fiasco, others say the self-criticism has gone too far.

The US has concluded its mission in Afghanistan: the last troops left Kabul early on Tuesday morning. Europe's press takes stock of the chaotic evacuations of the last few days and the failure of the intervention as a whole - as regards both US strategy and the role of Europe. Some see America withdrawing from the world stage while others simply see a realignment.

Just a few days after the final withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban is continuing to establish its rule despite humanitarian problems and grim economic forecasts. The new government is to be presented after today's Friday prayers. Beijing has already announced that it is ready to strengthen its ties with Kabul. Commentators stress that the question of the Taliban's future financial sources is crucial.

The Taliban's deadline for the Western forces' evacuation operations expired a week ago. Now the 27 EU foreign ministers have agreed on several "benchmarks" which the government in Kabul should fulfil if it wants to receive money from Europe. While some commentators voice astonishment others discuss what exactly the terms should be.

At least 85 people have died and 150 have been injured in the terrorist attacks in Kabul. The IS terrorist militia, which operates independently of the Taliban in Afghanistan and advocates an even more extreme interpretation of Islam, has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Europe's press looks at the impact on the evacuation operations and what the attack says about the balance of power in Afghanistan.

Women and girls will likely be among the main victims of the failed mission in Afghanistan and the return of the Taliban. The Terre des Femmes organisation has voiced fears that they will be denied the right to education, employment and self-determination. They also face the prospect of full-body veils, forced marriages and public punishment. Notwithstanding their situation some commentators argue that pity is out of place here.

The Taliban have issued an ultimatum to the Nato states that their troops must leave the country and all evacuations be completed by August 31, calling the date "a red line". Joe Biden hopes to end the mission by the deadline but is no longer ruling out an extension. Will the red line be crossed?

Many Afghans are fleeing Taliban rule and the threat of civil war. To make matters worse, the country is suffering from a severe drought and famine. While Western countries are flying out as many of their compatriots and Afghans who worked for them as possible, the urgent questions now are how to help the people in the country and whether it should continue to receive development aid.

The row over which countries should take in refugees from Afghanistan is in full swing. So far the EU member states have been unable to agree on a joint approach, but there is a consensus on sending money to the country's neighbouring states to help finance the cost of them taking in fleeing Afghans - a solution that does not convince commentators.

After the conquest of the country by the Taliban fighters, governments all over the world must now position themselves vis-à-vis the new de facto rulers. Europe's press discusses the question of how stable their grip on power is and whether governments should negotiate with the Taliban.

Now that the Taliban have seized power in Afghanistan, the balance of power in Central Asia has shifted. Commentators focus on China and Russia, which, aside from Pakistan, are the only countries keeping their embassies open in Kabul. But how much responsibility Moscow and Beijing are really assuming, and what advantages this will bring them is debatable.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Johansson warned against further destabilisation of Afghanistan at a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Wednesday and said the bloc was preparing for all scenarios. According to media reports, the European Council had already discussed the situation at the beginning of July and come to a similar conclusion. Commentators criticise the EU for failing to take appropriate steps back then.

Europe's media focus not just on the consequences of the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan but also on the root causes. What were the goals of this international mission, how was it viewed by the Afghans, and what is the impact of the rivalry between the major powers?

Following their lightning advance in Afghanistan, the Taliban took control of the presidential palace in Kabul on Sunday. US forces still control the capital's airport, where the evacuation of Western nationals and former staff is underway. Commentators fear the reconquest of power by the radical Islamist militia will have dramatic consequences far beyond Afghanistan.

Since the withdrawal of international troops, the Taliban have advanced faster than expected, taking control of the country's third-largest city Herat on Thursday and its second-largest city Kandahar just a few hours later. The US and the UK have sent troops to Kabul to ensure diplomats can leave the country safely. Commentators discuss whether the Taliban's onslaught can still be stopped.

Encouraged by the power vacuum left by the withdrawal of Western troops, the Taliban have already regained control of about half of Afghanistan. Several thousand people have been injured or killed in the process. Europe's press looks at who is now particularly at risk and what responsibility the West bears for their fate.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban captured five provincial capitals on the weekend, including Kunduz, an important trade hub near the border with Tajikistan. The advance was to be expected after the withdrawal of the US and Nato troops, commentators note, and warn against further inaction by the West.

The security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated considerably since the withdrawal of international troops began on 1 May. The Islamist Taliban have now recaptured more than half of the country's territory. Europe's press discusses the purpose and consequences of military missions like that in Afghanistan.

US President Joe Biden has postponed the final withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. His predecessor Donald Trump had agreed with the Taliban that all US troops would leave by 1 May 2021, but Biden has now moved the deadline to September 11 - the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Commentators warn that the West must continue to provide the country with support.

In the US, criticism of Joe Biden is growing following the events in Kabul. Republicans, as well as a number of Democrats, are accusing him of uncoordinated action. However, the withdrawal itself has hardly been called into question, which is also reflected in opinion polls among US citizens. Will the US president's reputation be permanently damaged by the images from Kabul airport?

After 18 months of negotiations the US and the Taliban have signed a peace agreement in Doha aimed at ending the conflict that started in 2001. Among other things, the deal provides for the withdrawal of US troops by 2021, in return for which the Taliban promise that Afghanistan will no longer pose a terrorist threat. What are the chances of peace?

The soldiers of an Australian elite unit are suspected of committing war crimes in Afghanistan. An investigation found that they "unlawfully killed" at least 39 civilians and prisoners between 2009 and 2013. The commander-in-chief of the Australian armed forces, General Angus Campbell, announced that the crimes would be prosecuted under criminal law. Shocked reactions from Europe's press.

On the orders of President Trump, the US will further reduce its military presence in Afghanistan from around 4,500 to 2,500 soldiers by mid-January 2021. Another fifth of the US troops stationed in Iraq are also to be pulled out of the country. This will have disastrous results for the region and put US military cooperation with Europe to the test again, commentators write.