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Ashraf Ghani hosted by UAE on 'humanitarian grounds'

August 18, 2021

The ousted president of Afghanistan and his family are in the UAE after fleeing the Taliban advance on Kabul. His whereabouts had been uncertain since Sunday.

Ashraf Ghani, pictured on August 4
Ghani fled before the Taliban occupied the presidential palace in KabulImage: Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Wednesday said that it was hosting ousted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his family after they fled Afghanistan on Sunday ahead of the Taliban takeover of Kabul.

"The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation can confirm that the UAE has welcomed President Ashraf Ghani and his family into the country on humanitarian grounds," the Gulf state said in a brief statement.

It is unclear how long Ghani will remain in the country, which is an ally of the US. 

Ghani's exact whereabouts since Sunday had not been confirmed until the UAE released the statement. There had been speculation the ousted leader had fled to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan or Oman.

What has Ghani said?

On Wednesday, Ghani posted a video on Facebook from the UAE, calling it "an address to the nation regarding recent developments." 

In the video he said he left Afghanistan to prevent a "huge disaster."

"I am in consultation with others until I will return so that I can continue my efforts for justice for Afghans," the ousted president said. 

In a Facebook post released Sunday, Ghani had said that the "Taliban have won" and that he fled to avoid a "flood of bloodshed."

"If I had stayed, countless of my countrymen would be martyred and Kabul would face destruction."

Ghani has been criticized for leaving in haste and not allowing the possibility of a smooth transition of power.

Responding to Ghani's statements Wednesday indicating he would return to Afghanistan, Deputy US Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said that Ghani is "no longer a figure in Afghanistan"

Soon after it became clear that Ghani had left the country on Sunday, Taliban fighters advanced to the presidential palace in Kabul, the seat of power in Afghanistan, and were pictured sitting at the president's desk, assuming de facto control of the country.

What is next for Afghanistan's government?

The Taliban are continuing in efforts to form what a spokesman has called an "inclusive, Islamic government.''

Taliban leaders have been holding talks with former Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, a senior official in the deposed government. 

Video footage from the Panjshir province, the last area of Afghanistan not controlled by the Taliban, appear to show potential opposition figures gathering, including Ghani's vice president, Amrullah Saleh, and Defense Minister General Bismillah Mohammadi. 

The Afghan ambassador to Tajikistan, Lieutenant General Zahir Aghbar, who had formerly held top state security posts, told Reuters news agency that Ghani was a traitor.

"I cannot say that the Taliban have won the war. No, it was just Ashraf Ghani who gave up power after treacherous talks with the Taliban," he said on Wednesday. 

Saleh said Tuesday on Twitter that he is Afghanistan's rightful "caretaker president." It is unclear what action, if any, the men intend to take in opposing the Taliban. 

Ghani's legacy 

Also the former finance minister of Afghanistan from 2002-2004, 72-year-old Ghani was elected in 2014 on promises to tackle deep-rooted government corruption. 

However, Ghani was unable to fulfill these promises, and made little progress in increasing his government's legitimacy among the Afghan people. 

Ghani was not even included in the 2020 Doha talks between the US and the Taliban that ultimately led to the US and NATO troop withdrawal and later the collapse of his government

wmr/msh (dpa, AFP)