1.Biden briefed on Kabul airport attack: White House
Britain will continue to evacuate its citizens and Afghans despite the ‘barbaric’ bomb attack, says Boris Johnson
President Joe Biden is being briefed on the bloody attack against Kabul’s airport, the White House said on Thursday, delaying a planned meeting with Israel’s visiting Prime Minister.
“The President has been briefed and he is in the Situation Room,” an official said on condition of anonymity.
Two explosions struck near the main gate of the airport, causing multiple casualties in what the U.S. military labelled a “complex attack”.
Britain will continue the operation to evacuate nationals and Afghans from Kabul despite Thursday’s “barbaric” bomb attack, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
“We’ve been ready for it,” he said of the attack. “We’re going to continue with that operation, we’re now coming towards the very end of it in any event.
“We’re going to work flat out… getting people through as fast as they can still, and we’re going to keep going up until the last moment,” said the Prime Minister, shortly after chairing a meeting of the emergency COBR committee.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday allied forces should continue to evacuate as many vulnerable people as they can from Kabul despite what he branded a “horrific terrorist attack”.
Evacuations on priority
“Our priority remains to evacuate as many people to safety as quickly as possible,” he tweeted after two deadly explosions hit crowds on the perimeter of the airport in Afghanistan’s capital.
The President of the European Commission, Charles Michel, echoed Stoltenberg’s call for evacuations to continue. “Securing safe passage to the airport remains vital,” he tweeted.
Germany has pulled out all its soldiers from Afghanistan with its last evacuation flight from Kabul, Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said on Thursday.
The attacks hit ahead of an August 31 deadline for U.S. troops to leave the airport on the outskirts of the Afghan capital, and as allies wind down their rescue operations.
Belgium and the Netherlands have already halted their airlift from the airport and other allied countries are to follow suit in the coming hours and days, despite fears that at-risk people will be left behind.
Graphic footage shared on social media showed men and women in a tangled mess in the shin-deep water of a drainage canal.
Stunned survivors pulled themselves to their feet, while others desperately shouted for help in searching the carnage for loved ones.
‘Total panic’ after blasts
One man held a semi-conscious victim by the elbow, trying to stop his head from slipping beneath the surface of the murky water. “Bodies, flesh and people were thrown into a canal nearby,” Milad, who was at the scene of the first blast, said.
“It was a huge explosion among the crowd of people who were waiting at the gate. A lot of people are killed or wounded,” he added.
He had applied for a visa to the United States, but in the confusion dropped the documents he hoped would help him board a flight with his wife and three children.
“I will never, ever want to go (to the airport) again. Death to America, its evacuation and visas.”
A second witness said that “total panic” erupted when the first explosion was heard. “The Taliban then started firing in the air to disperse the crowd at the gate,” he said. “I saw a man rushing with an injured baby in his hands.”
A former Royal Marine who runs an animal shelter in Afghanistan said he and his staff were caught up in the aftermath of the explosion near the Kabul airport.
Paul “Pen” Farthing said the group was outside the airport when the blast occurred on Thursday.
“We’re fine but everything is chaos here at the moment,” he told Britain’s Press Association news agency. “All of a sudden we heard gunshots and our vehicle was targeted, had our driver not turned around he would have been shot in the head by a man with an AK-47.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed in 1949.
What is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)?
- NATO stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization which is also called the North Atlantic Alliance.
- It is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4 April 1949.
- The organization constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by a non-member external party.
- NATO’s headquarters are located at Boulevard Leopold III in the city of Brussels, Belgium, where the Supreme Allied Commander resides.
Why was NATO formed?
The organisation was formed as a means to ensure collective security in western Europe. Even though World War 2 had come to an end, the deteriorating relations between two former allies, the United States and the USSR would eventually lead to the Cold War. The USSR sought to expand its influence in Europe through the spread of communism, while the US saw the ideology of the USSR as a threat to its way of life. Hence it saw the need to form NATO.
NATO – A Brief Background
- The Treaty of Brussels, signed on 17 March 1948 by Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, and the United Kingdom, is considered the precursor to the NATO agreement. This treaty established a military alliance, later to become the Western European Union
- North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed in Washington, DC on 4 April 1949, was a result of the talks for the military alliance. It included the five Treaty of Brussels states, United States, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland
- Three years later, on 18 February 1952, Greece and Turkey also joined
- The incorporation of West Germany into the organisation on 9 May 1955 was described as “a decisive turning point in the history of our continent” by Halvard Lange, Foreign Minister of Norway at the time
- One of its immediate results was the creation of the Warsaw Pact, signed on 14 May 1955 by the Soviet Union and its satellite states as a formal response to this event, firmly establishing the two opposing sides of the Cold War
Pre and Post Cold War Impact
- During most of the duration of the Cold War, NATO maintained a holding pattern with no actual military engagement as an organisation. On 1 July 1968, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was opened for signature
- On 30 May 1978, NATO countries officially defined two complementary aims of the Alliance, to maintain security and pursue détente
- However, on 12 December 1979, in light of a build-up of Warsaw Pact nuclear capabilities in Europe, ministers approved the deployment of US Cruise and Pershing II theatre nuclear weapons in Europe. This policy was called the Dual Track policy
- The end of the Cold War, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991, removed the de facto main adversary of NATO. This caused a strategic re-evaluation of NATO’s purpose, nature and tasks
- The first post-Cold War expansion of NATO came with the reunification of Germany on 3 October 1990, when former East Germany became part of the Federal Republic of Germany and the alliance
- On 24 March 1999, NATO saw its first broad-scale military engagement in the Kosovo War, where it waged an 11-week bombing campaign against what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The conflict ended on 11 June 1999, when Yugoslavian leader Slobodan Milošević agreed to NATO’s demands by accepting UN resolution 1244
- The expansion of the activities and geographical reach of NATO grew even further as an outcome of the September 11 attacks
NATO – Latest Updates (2020-2021)
- Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary-general, stressed that 2020 would be the sixth consecutive year in which total defence spending by European allies and Canada would rise, this time by 4.3 per cent in real terms.
- Defence ministers of ten Nato allies have launched a multinational initiative to explore a ground-based air defence (GBAD) modular solution. The project is part of the expanding multinational High Visibility Projects (HVPs) portfolio, which is supported by Nato to deliver defence capability for alliance security. It will be able to counter very short range, short-range and medium-range threats.
- Russian recently gave out a statement that they are open for constructive work on minimizing the negative consequences of the collapse of the INF [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces] Treaty on the basis of the principles of equal and indivisible security and the respect for the balance of the parties’ interests.
- NATO allies France and Turkey traded angry recriminations as international tensions mounted over the fiercest clashes between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces since the mid-1990s. Some of Turkey‘s NATO allies are increasingly alarmed by Ankara’s stance on Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region inside Turkey‘s close ally Azerbaijan that is run by ethnic Armenians but is not recognised by any country as an independent republic.
- Tensions between Russia and NATO reached new heights when satellite images discovered Russian forces massing near the Ukraine border. Although the Russian government has claimed that their forces were conducting a military exercise in the region, NATO allies have remained vary of the claim.