CAIRO, October 3. /TASS/. The former president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, fled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in August via Uzbekistan, using a presidential helicopter and subsequently a plane of Kazakhstan’s FlyJet air carrier, a source close the ex-leader was quoted as saying by Afghanistan’s Hashte Subh Daily.
According to the source, shortly before the Taliban (outlawed in Russia) entered Kabul on August 15, Ghani, along with his advisors and bodyguards left the capital in several helicopters, reserved for evacuating the president and his inner circle in case of emergency.
"Of the 54 people who landed in the four helicopters in the Termez, Uzbekistan, 22 were pilots, co-pilots, and Air Force technicians, and the other 22 were the president’s bodyguards, and none of them had passports," the source said.
When the aircraft landed in Termez, Ghani, along with his wife Rula Ghani, national security chief Hamdullah Muhib, presidential administration chief Fazl Mahmood Fazli and other companions, had to spend 31 hours in the airport, guarded by over 200 Uzbek servicemen.
"Around dinner on Monday [August 16], after 31 hours of uncertainty, a small white plane with no government or trademark landed at Termez Airport, <…> They [the president and his inner circle] first boarded this small plane, which had a total of 60 seats, and then we boarded one after the other with the same hungry stomachs, thirsty mouths, miserable conditions, and tangled hairs," the source said.
"The inside of the plane seemed normal and there were no special cabins for the president and other officials. They sat in the seats near the cockpit, making us move to the back seats. Nobody was talking and we didn’t know where we were heading. Minutes later, the plane took off and they announced that we were leaving for the United Arab Emirates. Inside the plane, for the first time in 28 hours, we got some water and food," he continued.
Arrival to UAE
The paper said, citing the Flightradar plane tracking service, that an aircraft of Kazakhstan’s FlyJet, performing flight FJK-1255, took off from Termez to Abu Dhabi on August 16, at 23:00 local time (21:00 Moscow time). It had Ghani and 53 others on board.
"After three and a half hours, the plane landed at Abu Dhabi Airport. As soon as the gates of the plane opened, several Arab men approached us and, after greeting Ashraf Ghani and Hamdullah Muhib, took a handful of Afghan officials with them in a respectful manner, including Fazl Mahmood Fazli, Rula Ghani, and a number of their close aides," the source continued.
"From the moment Ashraf Ghani left the airport, I didn’t see him or other officials. <…> On Tuesday [August 17] morning, some UAE officials visited us and asked us where we were going. They said there is no way for us to live in that country. Several companions, including pilots, co-pilots, and helicopter technicians, had no documents other than military IDs. They had to be transported to one of the camps recently set up for Afghan citizens by US forces in Abu Dhabi. The others each went their own way," he said.
Situation in Afghanistan
The Taliban movement (outlawed in Russia) launched a large-scale operation to regain control over Afghanistan after the United States announced the withdrawal of its military personnel from the country. On August 15, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani stepped down and fled the country, while the Taliban forces swept into Kabul, meeting no resistance. Later, Ghani said in a Facebook post that he had left the country to avert bloodshed, but did not specify where he was going.
On August 18, UAE foreign ministry informed that it had provided asylum to Ghani and his family members.
On September 6, the movement said it had secured full control over the entire territory of Afghanistan. On September 7, the Taliban announced a new Afghan government consisting only of the movement’s members, the majority of whom are ethnic Pashtuns. So far, no country has recognized the legitimacy of the Taliban cabinet.