KABUL (Dispatches) – Australia on Tuesday abruptly announced it will shutter its embassy in Afghanistan this week, citing the “increasingly uncertain security environment” in Kabul as the reason.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the embassy would close as an “interim measure” on May 28 -- in just three days -- “in light of the imminent international military withdrawal from Afghanistan”.
The United States and allied forces are in the final stages of withdrawing their troops from Afghanistan, ending America’s occupation after two decades.
The elected government in Kabul and the Afghan security services have repeatedly said that they are ready to take the helm and there was no need for foreign troops.
Initially, and as agreed under a deal the U.S. struck with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar last year, all foreign troops should have left Afghanistan by May 1. But last month, U.S. President Joe Biden pushed the deadline back to September 11.
The Taliban have warned that the failure to meet the May 1 deadline has in fact “opened the way for” the militants to take every counteraction they deem appropriate against foreign troops that are still present in Afghanistan.
Around 80 Australian troops are also leaving Afghanistan.
Morrison said that his government “has been advised that security arrangements could not be provided to support our ongoing diplomatic presence.”
“It is Australia’s expectation that this measure will be temporary and that we will resume a permanent presence in Kabul once circumstances permit,” he added.
It was not clear whether there was a specific threat made against the embassy.
The claims come despite assurances by President Ashraf Ghani that the Afghan military is fully prepared to deal with militants once foreign troopers are out. He has also urged the Taliban to announce a permanent truce.