Issued by CEMO Center - Paris
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"Embassy Shutdown: Saudi Arabia Evacuates Kabul Amid ISIS Attack Fears"

Tuesday 07/February/2023 - 07:23 PM
The Reference
Dina Khalaf

In response to credible threats of an ISIS attack, Saudi Arabia has taken the rare step of shutting down its embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan and evacuating its staff to the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad. The foreign ministry confirmed the news to a local news outlet, Khaama Press. The exact date of the embassy's return is still uncertain.

Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K), the Afghan branch of the ISIS terror network, was believed to be planning a car bomb attack on the Saudi diplomatic mission in Kabul. The embassy building is located in the Shash Darak district, previously known as the "Green Zone," which used to be considered the city's safest area before the Taliban takeover in August 2021. However, the level of security in the area has significantly declined since the departure of foreign forces and their security personnel.

Contrary to reports, the Taliban has denied the embassy closure and stated that the Saudi diplomats have traveled to Riyadh for training and are expected to return in a week. No official statement has been released by the Saudi authorities. Before this shutdown, Saudi Arabia was one of a few embassies still functioning in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. It reopened its embassy in November 2021, three months after the fall of the Islamic Republic government.

Despite the embassy shutdown, embassies for countries such as Turkey, India, UAE, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, Qatar and China still remain open. Unfortunately, the country continues to be plagued by IS-K attacks, with recent targets including the Russian and Pakistan embassies, as well as a Chinese-run hotel in the center of Kabul frequently visited by Chinese businessmen. With the goal of establishing a foothold in Afghanistan after being largely driven out of countries like Iraq, IS-K aims to position its ideology as purer and more in line with the teachings of Islam than the Taliban.