CNN journalist on the ground describes “utterly startling scenes” at Kabul airport 

After the Taliban rapidly gained control over Afghanistan, leaving scores of people scared, helpless and desperate to flee, the United States’ withdrawal strategy has been greatly criticized.

“Clearly, there’s no plan B. There’s clearly been no contingency, there’s clearly even no intelligence among the most sophisticated intelligence operation in the world that this could have happened so fast,” CNN’s Christiane Amanpour said.

“The 20 years of American effort collapsed in a whimper,” she added.

The future of Afghanistan under the Taliban is uncertain as of today.

“We don’t know whether there’s any serious effort in Kabul today to actually construct some kind of transitional process that is a peaceful process and one that actually involves various different constituencies in Afghanistan. That’s what the Taliban says but we haven’t seen any evidence of it. It’s never been the case in the past,” she said.

Amanpour had reported out of Afghanistan when the Taliban first took over in 1996, when she made certain observations.

“They have never governed any space. They are not a government. At least they certainly they weren’t then and we don’t know what they are now,” she explains. “They have imposed their form of fundamentalism and radical Islamic Sharia on a population, not all of whom believe in that. We do not know how they are going to react to now being in charge.”

This puts the fate of many women, children and journalists at risk.

“Last time they didn’t give a hoot about what the rest of the world thought. They did exactly what they wanted, backed by enough power from Pakistan and certain other quarters of the world … certainly, women are right to be incredibly scared,” Amanpour said.

“Let us not forget that the designation of the Taliban as a terrorist organization still stands, and it’s a very big ask to think this is going to be some kind of inclusive government with rights for all,” she added.

Hear more from Christiane Amanpour:


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