#AceNewsReport – May.26: If Australia believes Afghanistan is so dangerous that it must abandon its Kabul diplomatic post four months before military withdrawal, what has been the point of the past 20 years?
Australia’s closure of embassy in Afghanistan leaves government figures questioning past 20 years: That question has ricocheted through the government and the foreign service after the shock announcement that Australia’s Afghanistan embassy will close on Friday: In a statement, Canberra talked of “an increasingly uncertain security environment” in the country.
Just four weeks ago, Foreign Minister Marise Payne was in Kabul affirming Australia’s support for the Afghanistan government.
“With the departure of the Australian Defence Force, the Australia-Afghanistan relationship is beginning a new chapter of our diplomatic relationship, established in 1969,” Senator Payne said.
That relationship will very soon be one reduced to sessions on Zoom, aided by an occasional fly-in visit from a residential posting elsewhere in the region — an astonishing turn of events, given this nation has spilled much blood and spent countless billions on the so-called Forever War.
Australia has become the first country involved in coalition military activity to not only announce military withdrawal by September but full retreat on its foreign presence.
Other nations may follow. An emboldened Taliban will see it as one of the occupiers surrendering.
There can be only two reasons why the government has made this significant decision and both are likely due to a recent security assessment of the embassy.
One is that there is little confidence in the Afghanistan government’s capacity to maintain peace or to provide security for Australians and other foreigners left behind once coalition forces withdraw.
The second is the expectation that once that withdrawal comes, existing embassy security provided by the Canadian company GardaWorld will not be sufficient to secure safety.
So what has it all been about and what has been gained by Australia’s sacrifice?
“Australia is proud to have worked over the past 20 years to assist Afghanistan in protecting itself from exploitation as a base for terrorist groups, to address inequality, and to contribute to improvements in the rights and livelihoods of women and girls,” the Prime Minister said, noting Australia’s $1.51 billion in development and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan since 2001.
“During the time Australia has been working in Afghanistan, we have seen significant improvements in school enrolments, access to basic health care and women’s representations in politics, which has risen from zero in 2001 to 27 per cent in 2020. Maternal mortality has fallen, as has child malnutrition.
“Australia remains committed to supporting an Afghan-led peaceful resolution to the conflict in Afghanistan, and to helping preserve the gains of the past 20 years”.
Another $200 million in foreign aid will flow from Canberra to Kabul over the next three years.
Beyond that, who knows.
Australia’s message to Afghanistan from today’s news is that if it wants to preserve the gains of the past 20 years, it will soon have to do it without Australian help.
#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: May.26: 2021:
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