Afghanistan: Near-identical images of US evacuating Saigon and Kabul go viral as Taliban seize power

In 1975, helicopters were used to evacuate thousands of US personnel during the Vietnam war

Stuti Mishra
Monday 16 August 2021 12:54 BST

Just five weeks ago, Biden said this about the Taliban

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As the US carried out a hasty evacuation of its embassy in Kabul following Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, the viral image of a helicopter has led social media users to compare the situation with the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam war.

The two strikingly similar images show an American chopper during an evacuation mission at its embassies, one clicked in Kabul on Sunday, and the other at Saigon, during the Vietnam war in 1975.

In Afghanistan, US flags were lowered on Monday in the embassy in Kabul as most officials were taken to the airport after the Taliban took control of Kabul. US announced it will send 3,000 troops to facilitate the quick withdrawal of personnel from the embassy.

Throughout the weekend helicopters were seen going back and forth between Kabul’s airport and the vast US diplomatic compound in the heavily fortified Green Zone, carrying US officials and many residents. One image clicked by an Associated Press photo journalist captured a round of evacuation on Sunday.

The photo is being compared with the images of Saigon, which became a symbol of America’s withdrawal from Vietnam. Helicopters rescued American citizens as thousands of desperate people scaled the embassy’s walls in Saigon.

In the final days of the war, American helicopters were used to evacuate nearly 7,000 people from the US embassy in Saigon on 29 and 30 April 1975.

As soon as the images went on social media, the inevitable comparisons cropped up with people remembering the Vietnam war.

In another image, people can be seen scrambling to climb up to the aircraft in Kabul, which is being compared to another image from Saigon from 1975.

US lawmakers, including Republican senator Mitch McConnell, compared America’s present retreat from Afghanistan to Saigon, labelling it “humiliating.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reacted to the comparisons on Sunday, saying what’s happening in Kabul is not similar to the the scenes in Saigon at the close of the Vietnam War because the US has completed its mission in bringing the perpetrators of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to justice in Afghanistan.

“Remember, this is not Saigon,” Mr Blinken told ABC News. “We went to Afghanistan 20 years ago with one mission, and that mission was to deal with the folks who attacked us on 9/11 – and we have succeeded in that mission.”

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