WASHINGTON — American diplomats have left Afghanistan, and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul will stay closed, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken stated on Monday, after the navy introduced that it had accomplished its withdrawal from the nation.

The disintegration of diplomacy was a shocking turnabout from plans to remain and assist Afghanistan transition from 20 years of struggle and work towards peace, nevertheless tenuous, with a authorities that may share energy with the Taliban. Earlier this month, Mr. Blinken had pledged that the USA would stay “deeply engaged” in Afghanistan lengthy after the navy left.

However with the Taliban firmly answerable for Afghanistan, what was one of many largest U.S. diplomatic missions on the planet will for now be enormously scaled again, based mostly in Doha, the Qatari capital, and targeted largely on processing visas for refugees and different immigrants.

“Given the unsure safety surroundings and political scenario in Afghanistan, it was the prudent step to take,” Mr. Blinken stated in remarks on the State Division.

He sought to painting the departure as a “new chapter of America’s engagement with Afghanistan.”

“It’s one during which we’ll lead with our diplomacy,” Mr. Blinken stated, commending the U.S. diplomats, troops and different personnel who had labored on the embassy, which simply final month had employed round 4,000 individuals — together with 1,400 People.

Left unsure was whether or not American efforts to stabilize the Afghan authorities would proceed — the principle thrust of years of painstaking work and negotiations with leaders in Kabul that have been supported by billions of {dollars} in U.S. taxpayer funding.

As an alternative, Mr. Blinken stated any engagement with the Taliban — a longtime U.S. enemy that seized energy when President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan on Aug. 15 — “shall be pushed by one factor solely: our very important nationwide pursuits.”

Precisely 4 weeks earlier, on Aug. 2, Mr. Blinken left little doubt that the Biden administration intended to keep the U.S. Embassy in Kabul open.

“Our partnership with the individuals of Afghanistan will endure lengthy after our service members have departed,” he said then. “We’ll maintain participating intensely in diplomacy to advance negotiations between the Afghan authorities and the Taliban with the objective of a political answer, which we consider is the one path to lasting peace.”

As many as 200 Americans, and tens of 1000’s of Afghans, have been left behind in a two-week navy airlift that Mr. Blinken known as one of many largest evacuation efforts in U.S. historical past. He demanded that the Taliban keep its word and permit them to soundly go away as soon as they’ve exit paperwork in hand.

He additionally stated the USA would carefully watch the Taliban’s efforts to stanch terrorism in Afghanistan, because it has stated it can do, and proceed to work with the worldwide neighborhood to offer humanitarian assist to hundreds of thousands of Afghans who want meals, drugs and well being care after many years of struggle and political instability.

Greater than 123,000 individuals have been evacuated from Kabul in latest weeks, together with about 6,000 People.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, stated it was “paramount” that the USA stay engaged with Afghanistan, including in a press release that she had lengthy apprehensive {that a} untimely American navy withdrawal would unravel 20 years of labor to construct a steady authorities in Kabul.

“Our mission in Afghanistan has ended,” Ms. Shaheen stated, “however our dedication to guard the American individuals, safeguard U.S. nationwide safety and keep our world stability endures.”

It was a miserable coda for a whole lot of American diplomats who had served on the U.S. Embassy since December 2001, when a handful of Overseas Service officers accompanied U.S. Marines who reclaimed the embassy compound from Taliban management. The embassy constructing itself had largely sat empty since 1989, when the Soviet navy withdrew from Afghanistan after a 10-year struggle, and American diplomats have been evacuated for cover.

The diplomatic mission’s staffing ranges ballooned throughout a so-called civilian surge that coincided with a rise in navy troops that started in 2010. The embassy compound in Kabul later expanded, with a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in further workplace area, worker residences, fortified gates and blast partitions over 15 acres.

From Doha, the brand new American mission shall be led by Ian J. McCary, a profession diplomat with 26 years on the State Division who had served because the embassy’s deputy chief of mission since final 12 months.

For years, American diplomats have held peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar, the place the extremist group opened a political workplace years in the past to ascertain relations with the broader worldwide neighborhood. Moreover, the American navy is firmly ensconced at Al Udeid Air Base exterior Doha, which is getting used now as a manner station for tens of 1000’s of Afghans who’ve been evacuated.

By relocating to Doha, American diplomats will be capable of maintain a detailed eye on their two overriding priorities in Afghanistan: processing refugees and making an attempt to maintain the Taliban in test.

Each may show to overwhelm a diplomatic system already underneath pressure from having to revamp one of the vital storied U.S. missions of a technology after being caught flat-footed.

Mr. Blinken struck a resolute tone concerning the diplomatic retreat, and in reminding People about the price of struggle.

“America’s work in Afghanistan continues,” he stated, including that the State Division was shifting ahead with plans to regroup.

America’s longest struggle, with its casualties and the sources that have been sunk into it over the previous 20 years, “calls for reflection,” Mr. Blinken stated.

“We should be taught its classes, and permit these classes to form how we take into consideration elementary questions of nationwide safety and international coverage,” he stated. “We owe that to future diplomats, policymakers, navy leaders, service members. We owe that to the American individuals.”