“Because of potential security threats outside the gates at the Kabul airport, we are advising U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates at this time unless you receive individual instructions from a U.S. government representative to do so,” the embassy posted Saturday morning.
To the thousands of desperate US citizens gathered trying to flee the country the instructions to wait – perhaps until General Milley is finished reading the collected works of Mao Zedong – will come as merely the latest slap in the face by an administration that has rightfully earned international scorn and mockery for its unprecedented botching of the Afghan withdrawal.
Images circulated on social media this week of Afghans rushing towards a U.S. C-17 transport plane and clinging to its side. A separate video showed what appeared to be two people falling from a military plane as it flew out of Kabul. Since then, crowds have grown at the airport where armed Taliban have urged those without travel documents to go home. At least 12 people have been killed in and around the single runway airfield since Sunday, NATO and Taliban officials said.
The chaos was not the responsibility of the Taliban, an official of the group told Reuters. “The West could have had a better plan to evacuate.”
Meanwhile, Switzerland postponed a charter flight from Kabul because of the chaos, its foreign ministry said: “The security situation around Kabul airport has worsened significantly in the last hours. A large number of people in front of the airport and sometimes violent confrontations are hindering access to the airport,” the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
As noted above, the latest fiasco comes after Biden, with a straight face, read from the teleprompter that his administration had “no indication” that Americans weren’t able to get to the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. “We’ve made an agreement with the Taliban. Thus far, they’ve allowed them to go through.” Alas, it now appears that the Taliban
and the only recourse US citizens in Afghanistan have that the Taliban don’t alter it further, is prayer. have altered the deal,
Realizing that everyone knew Biden had just lied, just an hour later a scrambling Department of Defense acknowledged being aware of reports that Taliban terrorists had been beating Americans in Afghanistan.
Adding to the chaos, overnight the Post reported (the
real one, not that Amazon garbage) that in the latest blow to those running up against the clock, Afghan-Americans on Thursday said that Taliban fighters are now attempting to take their U.S. passports and identification orders in an attempt to stop them from leaving the country.
“I got to the gates and was about to show my passport, but the Taliban got it, and he said you are not allowed to go through and wouldn’t give it back,” one Afghan-American, who served for several years as an interpreter during the war and has his home in the U.S but requested anonymity for safety reasons, said. “I was lucky a U.S. marine was right there and forced him to give it back.” Buth some have not been so lucky — hamstringing their chance to make it home ahead of the Taliban’s officially assuming of the throne.
“U.S. passports, driver’s licenses — they are confiscating those pieces of documentation from American citizens,” said Ephraim Mattos, a former Navy SEAL and founder of the humanitarian organization, Stronghold Rescue and Relief, which is working around the clock to evacuate Afghans interpreters and helpers. “They lose proof of who they are, and this has happened on multiple occasions in multiple places.”
President Joe Biden on Friday said they “know of no circumstance where American citizens are carrying an American passport” and not able to reach the airport. Well, now he does.
Afghan-Americans said Taliban fighters are now attempting to take their U.S. passports and identification to stop them from leaving the country.
Other Afghan-Americans describe scenes of crowds getting crushed and even infant babies getting injured, of brutal beatings by some Taliban members to push back the sea of frenzied faces.
About 12,000 foreigners and Afghans working for embassies and international aid groups have been evacuated from Kabul airport since Taliban insurgents entered the capital, a NATO official said.
“The evacuation process is slow, as it is risky, for we don’t want any form of clashes with Taliban members or civilians outside the airport,” the NATO official told
Reuters on condition of anonymity. “We don’t want to start a blame game regarding the evacuation plan” for obvious reason.
Individual Afghans and international aid and advocacy groups have reported harsh retaliation against protests, and roundups of those who had formerly held government positions, criticised the Taliban or worked with Americans.
“We have heard of some cases of atrocities and crimes against civilians,” said the Taliban official on condition of anonymity. “If (members of the Taliban) are doing these law and order problems, they will be investigated,” he said. “We can understand the panic, stress and anxiety. People think we will not be accountable, but that will not be the case.”
Former officials told harrowing tales of hiding from the Taliban in recent days as gunmen went from door to door. One family of 16 described running to the bathroom, lights off and children’s mouths covered, in fear for their lives
Meanwhile, in Herat, more than a week after the Taliban seized the provincial capital, residents have continued to paint a chilling portrait of intimidation as the waiting game for the U.S. departure draws near.
“Taliban are searching home by home in Herat and asking about me,” one business owner with long-term ties to the United States, who is currently in an undisclosed location outside of Afghanistan, said. “Then others came to the Kabul office and asked about the company and our clients and warned they would search for information.”
It is a jarring fact of simply not knowing what lies ahead, driving much of the desperation forward.“These people are our allies; we fought shoulder-to-shoulder with them. I saw them fight just as bravely as any American soldier, and they deserve our support. What our country is doing to them now is a complete disgrace,” Mattos added. “What is happening is significantly worse than Saigon.”
Alas, even that was news to the US president – at least until he is replaced by Kamala Harris in a few weeks – who was shocked when confronted about criticism over the planning for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
“I have seen no question of our credibility from our allies,” Biden told reporters after a speech from the White House on Friday. “As a matter of fact, the exact opposite … we’re acting with dispatch, we’re acting, committing to what we said we would do.”