Stoltenberg urges Taliban to ensure country doesn’t become safe haven for terrorists.
BRUSSELS (AA) – NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg blamed on Tuesday the Afghan leadership for failing to stand up against the Taliban and leading the country to a tragedy.
“Ultimately, the Afghan political leadership failed to stand up to the Taliban and to achieve the peaceful solution that Afghans desperately wanted,” Stoltenberg said at a news conference following the meeting of NATO ambassadors.
“This failure of Afghan leadership led to the tragedy we are witnessing today,” he pointed out.
Acknowledging that “parts of Afghan security forces fought brave,” he called the recent developments in Afghanistan “a military and political collapse at the speed that has not been anticipated.”
According to Stoltenberg, it is necessary for the military alliance to take “an honest, fair assessment” on its two-decade presence in Afghanistan.
He also explained that NATO had faced a dilemma about ending the military mission in Afghanistan, where they had to choose between the risk of a Taliban takeover or open-ended combat.
“We never intended to stay in Afghanistan forever,” he stressed, adding that the main goal was to ensure that the country would not become again a safe haven for terrorists.
He called “those now taking power” to take this responsibility, as well as to preserve a stable and peaceful society.
The war between the Taliban and Afghan forces has intensified as foreign troops announced to withdraw from the country by Sept. 11.
The Taliban made rapid military advances, and took control over the capital on Sunday as Afghan government forces fled or surrendered. President Ashraf Ghani also left the country.