The U.S. military has announced that it is evacuating all non-essential personnel from Afghanistan, with the exception of a small number of staffers and contractors who will remain to help with the transition.
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On Monday, Afghans gathered outside the Kabul airport. Credit… The New York Times’ Victor J. Blue
WASHINGTON, D.C. — According to Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, approximately 1,500 American citizens remain in Afghanistan, with about a third of them in touch with the US administration and hoping to depart in the coming days.
Mr. Blinken suggested that some of the remaining 1,000 people may not want to go, reflecting an ever-changing number that the Biden administration has struggled to nail down as American forces wind down an evacuation operation that has clogged Kabul’s airport.
He said that this figure does not include lawful permanent residents or green card holders.
Since Aug. 14, when the Taliban launched an attack on Kabul, more than 4,500 Americans have been flown out of Afghanistan, according to Mr. Blinken. He claimed the State Department had written over 20,000 emails and made 45,000 phone calls to identify and find Americans in Afghanistan ahead of the country’s 20-year-long conflict ending on August 31.
Mr. Blinken, on the other hand, wanted to make sure that any Americans or Afghans who have worked with the US mission and wish to depart after that date may do so. He said, “That endeavor will continue every day.”
Officials stated on Wednesday that US and partner aircraft transported an extra 19,200 individuals out of Kabul in the previous 24 hours, as the Biden administration made significant progress in evacuating American citizens and Afghans who served for the US over the last 20 years.
On Wednesday, more than 10,000 passengers waited for planes out of Kabul’s international airport, while Afghans with valid credentials continued to be allowed onto the runway, according to Pentagon officials.
Tens of thousands of Afghans who qualify for special immigration permits are also waiting to be evacuated as President Biden’s deadline for the departure of American forces approaches on August 31.
Since the government fell to Taliban troops, the US has evacuated approximately 82,300 individuals from Kabul’s international airport as of 3 a.m. in Washington.
‘We’re working as quickly as we can,’ says the US government.
According to a Pentagon spokesperson, US and partner forces would work “all the way to the end” to evacuate Americans and vulnerable Afghans from Kabul, but in the mission’s last days, the emphasis will change to flying out American soldiers and equipment.
In all, ninety planes departed Kabul airport yesterday, resulting in 19,000 evacuees safely leaving Afghanistan in less than 24 hours. To far, about 88,000 people have successfully left Afghanistan since the US and coalition troops started the evacuation. We’ll keep evacuating those who need to be evacuated until the end. If we have to, and if we have to, if you’re an evacuee, we’ll keep trying to get you out until the end. But, as you would expect, in those last days, we’ll strive to maintain as much capability as possible at the airport. So, in the next several days, we’ll start prioritizing military capabilities and military resources for deployment. That doesn’t mean that if you’re an evacuee in need of evacuation, we won’t attempt to help you, but it does mean that we’ll have to set aside some capacity in the last days to prioritize the military presence departing. We are aware that many desperate individuals want to flee, which is why we are working as quickly as possible. And you’ve seen the statistics that we’ve been able to get out. We’re doing all we can to get American citizens, Special Immigrant Visa applicants, and vulnerable Afghans out as soon as possible.
According to a Pentagon spokesperson, US and partner forces would work “all the way to the end” to evacuate Americans and vulnerable Afghans from Kabul, but in the mission’s last days, the emphasis will change to flying out American soldiers and equipment. CreditCredit… The New York Times’ Victor J. Blue
According to John F. Kirby, the Pentagon’s senior spokesperson, American officials in Kabul, including the top commander, Rear Adm. Peter G. Vaseley, were meeting with Taliban counterparts on a regular basis to guarantee the safe passage of Americans and Afghan friends with appropriate credentials.
Hundreds of thousands of Afghans, including Afghan security personnel, government officials, women’s rights activists, and other democracy defenders, are expected to be targeted by the Taliban if they remain. Those Afghans are eager to join the US military’s airlift before it ends, which may happen as soon as this weekend.
American military helicopters rescued Americans inside Kabul for the third time in a week. According to Maj. Gen. William Taylor, approximately 20 American civilians were flown into the airport from a place inside the city on Tuesday. Last week, a similar aircraft evacuated 169 Americans from a Kabul hotel conference.
Mr. Biden has pledged to adhere to the Aug. 31 departure timetable, as the Taliban have requested, but he has also ordered Mr. Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin to devise ways to move the deadline forward if necessary.
The Taliban have threatened retaliation if the US fails to meet its commitment to remove its soldiers by the deadline, and Vice President Joe Biden highlighted the risk to American troops if they stay any later.
Beyond the Taliban, Islamic State-affiliated militants are seen to be a danger to the evacuation operation, which has drew throngs to Kabul’s airport gates, eager to board one of the 45-minute flights.
Mr. Biden said at the White House on Tuesday, “I’m committed to guarantee that we accomplish our job.” “I’m also aware of the growing dangers that I’ve been informed on, and the need to account for them. There are genuine and serious difficulties that must be considered as well.”
The decreasing hours, on the other hand, are weighing heavily on the minds of those wanting to escape Afghanistan and members of Congress who want the US to stay in the country until Americans and high-risk Afghans can leave.
Mr. Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said that in the mission’s closing days, the military would prioritize flying out American soldiers and equipment. “As we move closer to the conclusion, we’ll shift our focus more toward getting military assets out, but we’ll continue to work on the evacuation operation until the very last day,” he added.
After a briefing at the Ministry of Information and Culture in Kabul on Tuesday, top Taliban official Zabihullah Mujahid. Credit… The New York Times’ Jim Huylebroek
KABUL, Afghanistan (Reuters) – One of the Taliban’s commanders gave his first sit-down interview with a Western media source since the organization seized complete control of Afghanistan on Wednesday, painting a picture of a group focused on reconstructing a nation devastated by decades of conflict.
In an interview with The New York Times, the spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, stated, “We want to build the future and forget what occurred in the past.” He dismissed popular concerns that the Taliban are already pursuing revenge against those who oppose them and seek to reintroduce the severe restrictions on women that made them famous during their 20-year reign.
Mr. Mujahid gave the interview only a day after warning Afghan women that it may be safer for them to stay at home until more Taliban militants had been educated in how not to abuse them.
It was a noteworthy acknowledgement of the numerous changes in Afghan culture that the Taliban encountered when they re-entered a city they had not ruled in two decades.
Women play an important role in many of these developments. They have not only been allowed to leave home alone and dressed as modestly as they feel appropriate, but they have also returned to school and employment, and their pictures may be seen on billboards and television screens.
Mr. Mujahid indicated on Wednesday that women will be able to resume their regular activities in the long run.
He dismissed fears that the Taliban would compel them to remain in their houses or hide their faces once again. He went on to say that the need that they be accompanied by a male guardian, known as a mahram, had been misinterpreted. It only applies to trips of three days or more, he said.
“They don’t need a mahram whether they go to school, the workplace, university, or the hospital,” said Mr. Mujahid, who also acts as the Taliban’s top spokesperson.
He also gave reassurance to Afghans attempting to flee the country, stating that individuals with proper travel papers will not be denied entry to the airport, contrary to press reports based on his news conference on Tuesday, including The New York Times.
Mr. Mujahid said, “We stated that individuals who don’t have appropriate papers aren’t permitted to leave.” “They’ll need passports and visas for the places they’re visiting before flying off. We won’t inquire about their previous activities if their papers are valid.”
He also disputed claims that the Taliban was looking for former American military translators and other personnel, claiming that they would be secure in their own nation. He also voiced his displeasure with the Western evacuation attempts.
Mr. Mujahid said, “They should not meddle in our nation and steal our human resources: physicians, professors, and other professionals we need here.” “They might work as dishwashers or cooks in America. It’s inexcusable.”
Mr. Mujahid has been a vital connection between militants and the news media for the previous decade, but he remained anonymous. He gave the interview on Wednesday in the Ministry of Information and Culture, after a long debate with Taliban commanders and other Afghan power brokers over the country’s future direction.
Mr. Mujahid is expected to take over as Minister of Information and Culture in the near future. Mr. Mujahid, 43, a native of Paktia Province and a graduate in Islamic law from Pakistan’s well-known Darul Uloom Haqqania madrasa, identified himself as a native of Paktia Province and a graduate in Islamic jurisprudence from the well-known Darul Uloom Haqqania madrasa.
Mr. Mujahid expressed hope that the Taliban would build good relations with the international community, pointing out areas of cooperation such as counterterrorism, opium eradication, and the reduction of refugees to the West, despite the tense situation at the airport on Wednesday, where thousands of people were still crowded around most entrance gates.
Despite his efforts to portray the Taliban in a more forgiving light, Mr. Mujahid did confirm one rumor: music would not be permitted in public.
“Music is prohibited in Islam,” he said, “but we’re hoping that instead of forcing individuals, we can convince them not to do such things.”
Jim Huylebroek and Matthieu Aikins
On Saturday, a man was selling bread on a street in Kabul. Credit… The New York Times’ Victor J. Blue
The Americans have almost completely gone, the Afghan government has crumbled, and the Taliban now control Kabul’s streets. After 20 years of US-backed administration, millions of Kabul residents have been forced to negotiate an uncertain transition.
The majority of government services are unavailable. Residents are trying to go about their everyday lives in an economy that has been propped up by American assistance for the last generation but is now in free decline. Banks are shutting down, currency is becoming scarce, and food costs are increasing.
In stark contrast to the pandemonium at the airport, Kabul, the capital, has remained relatively quiet. Many people have retreated to their houses or are warily going out to explore what life would be like under their new overlords.
Even locals who claimed to be afraid of the Taliban were impressed by the relative peace and order, although the stillness has proved worrisome for others.
Residents in Mohib’s neighborhood claimed the streets were empty, with residents hunkering down in their houses, “scared and terrified.”
“People believe the Taliban might show up at any time and take everything away from them,” he added.
On Wednesday, outside Kabul’s international airport. As the US ramps up its withdrawal, ISIS-K, the Islamic State’s Afghan branch, poses the most immediate danger to Americans and Taliban. Credit… The New York Times’ Jim Huylebroek
WASHINGTON, D.C. — For the last two decades, the US has been fighting the Taliban and its terrorist allies in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda and the Haqqani network.
But the greatest immediate danger to both the Americans and the Taliban as the US ramps up its evacuation at Kabul airport ahead of an August 31 deadline is a lesser-known adversary: Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K, the terrorist group’s Afghan branch.
ISIS-K, which was founded by disgruntled Pakistani Taliban six years ago, has carried out scores of assaults in Afghanistan this year. The group’s threats, according to American military and intelligence experts, include a bomb-laden vehicle, suicide bombers infiltrating the throng outside Hamid Karzai International Airport, and airfield mortar attacks.
President Biden’s decision on Tuesday to adhere to the deadline was likely influenced by these threats, as well as fresh Taliban demands for the US to depart by Aug. 31. Mr. Biden said, “Every day we’re on the ground, we know that ISIS-K is attempting to target the airport and assault both US and partner troops as well as innocent civilians.”
The warnings reveal a complex relationship between the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and the Haqqani network, as well as their arch adversary, ISIS-K, in what experts predict will be a deadly battle involving thousands of foreign militants on both sides.
According to a UN study released in June, 8,000 to 10,000 militants from Central Asia, Russia’s North Caucasus area, Pakistan, and western China’s Xinjiang province have flooded into Afghanistan in recent months. The majority are linked to the Taliban or Al Qaeda, according to the study, while some are linked to ISIS-K.
According to Ali Mohammad Ali, a former Afghan security officer, “Afghanistan has now become the Las Vegas of terrorists, radicals, and extremists.” “Radicals and extremists all around the globe are shouting and celebrating the Taliban triumph. This opens the door for more radicals to enter Afghanistan.”
From Paris, Adam Nossiter provided reporting.
On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said of the Taliban-led Afghanistan, “This new reality is painful, but we must come to grips with it.” Credit… Getty Images/Tobias Schwarz/Agence France-Presse
Chancellor Angela Merkel stated on Wednesday that Germany would continue to assist Afghans who stay in their nation when the deadline for the US military departure and evacuation operation expires in six days. She also urged for negotiations with the Taliban in order to maintain Afghanistan’s development during the past two decades.
The chancellor defended Germany’s choice to join the international operation in Afghanistan in 2001, speaking to a session of Parliament called to examine the Taliban’s quick control of the country.
Ms. Merkel told legislators, “Our aim must be to maintain as much as possible what we have accomplished in terms of reforms in Afghanistan over the past 20 years.” “The international world has to speak to the Taliban about this.”
She highlighted improvements such as increased access to basic needs, with 70% of Afghans now having access to clean drinking water and 90% having access to electricity, as well as improved women’s health care.
“What is obvious, though, is that the Taliban are a reality in Afghanistan, and many people are afraid,” said Ms. Merkel. “This new reality is unpleasant, but we must accept it.”
Germany withdrew its final contingent of soldiers from Afghanistan in June, but several hundred Germans were still working in Afghanistan on development projects sponsored by Berlin, and the German government thought they would be allowed to stay after US and international forces left.
Ms. Merkel defended her government’s choice to keep development workers on the ground, claiming that they had intended to continue providing vital assistance to Afghans after the military departure, and that an earlier pullout would have looked to be abandoning civilians.
“There were very strong reasons at the time to stand with the people of Afghanistan after the soldiers had left,” Ms. Merkel said.
Opposition leaders, on the other hand, chastised her administration for failing to create a strategy to evacuate residents and Afghan support personnel in the spring, when other European nations were doing so.
“The situation in Afghanistan is a disaster, but it did not happen out of nowhere,” said Christian Lindner, the leader of the Free Democratic Party, which petitioned Parliament in June alongside the Green Party to begin evacuations of German personnel and Afghans who may be in danger.
Ms. Merkel made no apologies, instead urging a more thorough investigation into where the West went wrong in Afghanistan and what lessons might be gained. Because she is stepping down after the German elections on September 26, that will be the job of the next administration.
“A lot of things take a long time in history. That is why, as a child of communist East Germany, we must not and will not forget Afghanistan,” stressed Ms. Merkel.
“I remain confident that no power or ideology can withstand the desire for justice and peace, even if it does not seem to be so at this hour,” she added.
On Saturday, a C-17 military cargo aircraft took departure from Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan. Credit… The New York Times’ Jim Huylebroek
In describing the United States’ evacuation efforts in Afghanistan, President Biden made a passing reference to the Berlin airlift, a 73-year-old operation to feed a city whose access had been cut off by the Soviet Union. He was revealing the inspiration for a broader plan to redeem America’s messy exit.
Mr. Biden and his staff are keen to change the narrative about the tumultuous conclusion of America’s longest war after ten days of missed signals, frantic crowds, and bloodshed surrounding Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
His national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, said on Monday that the United States’ daily rescue missions were likely to be remembered as “one of the biggest airlifts in history.”
“No other nation in the world — bar none — could pull anything like this off,” he added.
According to Biden, 12,000 individuals had been evacuated from Kabul in the preceding 12 hours as of Tuesday evening. According to the president, this brings the total number of individuals evacuated since the end of July to 75,900.
The analogy to the Berlin rescue effort is not a terrible one. Since the conclusion of World War II, Berlin had been divided, and tensions were rising. The United States and the United Kingdom took to the skies to provide supplies by aircraft.
Between June 24, 1948, and May 11, 1949, the two nations managed to bring slightly under 300,000 flights into Berlin, and according to the State Department’s records, “during the height of the campaign, one aircraft landed every 45 seconds at Tempelhof Airport,” which was Berlin’s major aviation hub until recently.
On Tuesday, US military troops manned a guard tower at Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan. Credit… The New York Times’ Jim Huylebroek
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the US military prepares to leave Afghanistan, authorities are hesitant to provide an estimate of one important number: how many civilians would eventually want to be evacuated.
Thousands more Americans are believed to remain in Afghanistan, including those outside Kabul, without a secure or quick means to travel to the airport, according to US authorities. Thousands more Afghans who have worked for the US government for the last 20 years and are eligible for special visas are also eager to go.
At least 300,000 Afghans are at risk of being targeted by the Taliban for associating with Americans and U.S. attempts to stabilize Afghanistan, according to refugee and resettlement specialists.
Officials with the government, however, say the numbers are always shifting, particularly because other nations have their own evacuation efforts. While the US Embassy in Kabul is in the process of contacting Americans thought to remain in Afghanistan, the warnings are only being sent to those who gave the government their whereabouts before Kabul fell or within the last week.
On Monday, Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security advisor, stated, “It is our duty to locate them, which we are currently doing hour by hour.”
Last week, people protested the situation in Afghanistan in front of the UN’s European offices in Geneva. Credit… via Associated Press/Martial Trezzini/KEYSTONE
Staff unions expressed growing dissatisfaction with the UN leadership on Wednesday, citing what they called the organization’s failure to protect Afghan coworkers and their families, who remain trapped in Afghanistan at the mercy of the Taliban despite the fact that the majority of the organization’s non-Afghan staff has been relocated to other countries.
Many Afghan workers are in hiding or hesitant to continue working, according to their Western colleagues, for fear of reprisals from victorious Taliban militants who may view them as apostates, traitors, and agents of foreign meddling.
Even though the Taliban’s leadership has said that the United Nations should be allowed to operate in the nation unhindered while and after the US and NATO troops leave, which is set to be completed in less than a week, the worry persists.
Taliban agents arrested and assaulted several UN workers in Afghanistan, according to an internal UN memo seen by Reuters on Wednesday. Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres, did not confirm or deny the report, but said it was “critical” that “the authorities in charge in Kabul and throughout Afghanistan realize that they have the responsibility to protect UN premises and ensure the safety of UN staff.”
Mr. Guterres has said many times that the United Nations completely supports the Afghan personnel, which is estimated to number between 3,000 and 3,400 people, and that he is doing all possible to guarantee their safety. According to Mr. Dujarric, approximately 10% of those Afghan employees are women, who are particularly vulnerable to Taliban persecution.
Mr. Dujarric, who told reporters that Mr. Guterres “understands the staff’s profound concern about what the future holds,” said the secretary general repeated his promises during a private virtual town hall meeting with staff members on Wednesday.
However, UN staff personnel on the ground have become more dubious of Mr. Guterres’ statements. The United Nations employee union in New York approved a resolution on Tuesday urging Mr. Guterres to take measures to allow Afghan staff members to avoid “unacceptable residual dangers” by evacuating from Afghanistan as soon as feasible.
Officials from the United Nations have said that they are unable to grant visas to Afghan troops without the assistance of other nations willing to host them. Officials from the United Nations have also said that the agency is dedicated to delivering services in Afghanistan, where nearly half of the population need humanitarian assistance. Without local personnel, such services as food and health care are difficult to provide.
The town hall was conducted only days after a second group of non-Afghan United Nations personnel was evacuated from Kabul. Many of the approximately 350 non-Afghan United Nations employees in the nation, including Deborah Lyons, the director of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan, are currently working remotely from Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Uneven treatment of non-Afghan and Afghan employees working for the United Nations has become a thorny issue between management and workers at the world body. An online petition launched this weekend by staff union members urging Mr. Guterres to do more to assist Afghan workers and their families had gathered almost 6,000 signatures as of Wednesday.
The date has been changed to August 25, 2021.
An previous version of this story misstated the name of the United Nations staff union that approved a resolution asking the Secretary-General of the United Nations to assist Afghan workers in evacuating Afghanistan. Not the coordinating committee of the alliance of staff unions, but the United Nations staff union in New York.
On Sunday, a vandalized beauty store window display was seen in Kabul. Credit… The New York Times’ Victor J. Blue
Afghan women were usually not permitted to leave their houses while the Taliban were in control, unless in very specific circumstances. Those who did so were subjected to beatings, torture, or execution.
The Taliban’s commanders have maintained that this time would be different in the days after they retook power. They claim that women will be permitted to work. Girls will be able to go to school without restriction. At least as far as their understanding of Islam is concerned.
However, the early indications have not been encouraging, and a Taliban spokesperson said on Tuesday that women should remain at home for the time being. Why? He claims this is because some of the militants have not yet been taught not to harm them.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s spokesperson, described it as a “temporary” measure designed to safeguard women until the Taliban could guarantee their safety.
“We are concerned that our new troops, who have not yet had enough training, may abuse women,” Mr. Mujahid added. “God forbid, we don’t want our troops to hurt or harass women.”
Mr. Mujahid advised women to remain at home “until we have a new process” and that “their wages would be paid in their houses.”
His words mirror those of Ahmadullah Waseq, the Taliban’s deputy for cultural affairs, who told The New York Times last week that the Taliban had “no issue with working women” as long as they wore hijabs.
“For the time being, we are urging them to remain at home until the situation returns to normal,” he added. It has now devolved into a military situation.”
Women were prohibited to work outside the home or even leave the house without a male guardian during the Taliban’s initial years in power, from 1996 to 2001. They couldn’t go to school and risked public whipping if they broke morality laws, such as one that required them to be completely clothed.
Afghan women are no strangers to the notion that limitations on women’s life are a transitory necessity. According to Heather Barr, assistant director of women’s rights at Human Rights Watch, the Taliban made similar allegations the previous time they ruled Afghanistan.
“The argument was that security was poor, and they were waiting for security to improve so that women could have greater freedom,” she said. “But of course, in those years while they were in control, that moment never came — and I can guarantee you Afghan women hearing this now are thinking the same thing.”
According to Brian Castner, a senior crisis advisor at Amnesty International who was in Afghanistan until last week, the Taliban would need to retrain its troops if they wanted to treat women better. “You can’t have a movement like the Taliban that has functioned in a particular manner for 25 years and then take over a government and have all of your warriors and everyone in your organization do something completely different,” he added.
However, according to Mr. Castner, there is no evidence that the Taliban plan to follow through on this or any other pledge of moderation. Despite their commanders’ apparent promises not to retaliate against Afghans who cooperated with the former administration, Amnesty International has received accounts of fighters going door to door with lists of names.
Mr. Castner said, “The rhetoric and the reality do not match at all, and I believe the language is more than simply dishonest.” “It’s one thing if a random Taliban fighter commits a human rights violation; it’s another another if a random Taliban fighter commits a human rights violation. But if a system is in place to go to people’s houses and search for them, that’s not a random, untrained fighter — that’s a system in action. The rhetoric is only a smokescreen for what’s actually going on.”
On Wednesday in Kabul, women in areas of the city where the Taliban presence was limited were seen walking out “in regular clothing, like it was before the Taliban,” according to a local called Shabaka. Few women went out in central regions with numerous Taliban militants, and those who did wore burqas, according to Sayed, a government worker.
Ms. Barr of Human Rights Watch said that in the week since the Taliban announced that the new government would protect women’s rights “within the bounds of Islamic law,” Afghan women she has spoken to have expressed skepticism: “They’re trying to look normal and legitimate, and this will last as long as the international community and the international press are still there.” Then we’ll find out what they’re truly like.”
Ms. Barr speculated that it may not take long.
She said, “This news simply emphasizes to me that they don’t feel like they have to wait.”
On Wednesday, the Afghan employees of The New York Times and their families arrived at Benito Juárez International Airport in Mexico City. Credit… The New York Times/Azam Ahmed
A group of Afghans who worked for The New York Times and their families arrived safely in Mexico City early Wednesday – not in New York or Washington, but at Benito Juárez International Airport.
Unlike their colleagues in the United States, Mexican authorities were able to cut through the red tape of their immigration system to swiftly issue papers, allowing the Afghans to travel from Kabul’s besieged airport to Qatar.
The Afghans would be given temporary humanitarian protection in Mexico while they looked into other alternatives in the United States or abroad, according to the papers.
In a telephone interview, Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, stated, “We are now dedicated to a foreign policy that promotes free speech, freedoms, and feminist principles.”
He cited a national tradition of welcoming people fleeing coups, such as José Marti, the 19th-century Cuban independence leader, German Jews, and South Americans fleeing coups, and said that Mexico had opened its doors to the Afghan journalists “in order to protect them and to be consistent with this policy.”
However, the Afghan journalists’ and their families’ journey to Mexico was as haphazard, intimate, and perilous as everything else in Kabul’s hurried and disorganized evacuation.
Last September, Ahmad Massoud attended a ceremony in Kabul to honor his father, Ahmad Shah Massoud. Credit… The New York Times’ Jim Huylebroek
Just days after the Taliban stormed Kabul and deposed the Afghan government, a handful of veteran mujahedeen fighters and Afghan commandos announced that they had launched a resistance campaign in the country’s final uncontrolled territory: a small valley with a history of resisting invaders.
Ahmad Massoud, the 32-year-old son of legendary mujahedeen leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, is in charge. And their battle is up against formidable odds: the resistance fighters are encircled by the Taliban, are running out of supplies, and have no apparent outside assistance.
For the time being, the resistance has just two assets: the Panjshir Valley, which lies 70 miles north of Kabul and has a history of resisting invaders, and the famous Massoud name.
Thousands of troops, including remnants of the Afghan Army’s special forces and some of his father’s experienced guerrilla commanders, as well as activists and others who oppose the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate, have flocked to the valley, according to Ahmad Massoud’s spokesmen.
Mr. Massoud has stockpiles of weaponry and equipment, including American helicopters, according to spokespeople, some of whom were with him in the Panjshir Valley and others who were outside the nation drumming up support.
‘‘We’re waiting for some chance, some support,” said Hamid Saifi, a former colonel in the Afghan National Army who is now a leader in Mr. Massoud’s opposition. “Perhaps some nations will be prepared for this monumental task. So far, every country we’ve spoken to has been deafeningly silent. America, Europe, China, and Russia are all silent.”
Pelosi expresses “real concern” over lawmakers’ trip to Kabul.
Representatives Seth Moulton and Peter Meijer, both veterans, covertly traveled to Kabul to observe evacuations, prompting Speaker Nancy Pelosi to warn members not to go to Afghanistan without official advice.
The presence of members in the area is causing serious worry. So, with the Secretary of Defense’s awareness of the danger to these individuals, the resources required to enable their visit and safeguard them were an opportunity cost of what we needed to do to evacuate as many people as possible. The point is that we don’t want anybody to believe this was a good idea or that they should attempt to replicate it. Again, I haven’t — I’ve been busy — but it’s critical that we ensure their safety, not just for themselves, but also for the potential repercussions and ramifications if anything went wrong while they were there. As a result, they must make their own case for why they went and what they did. However, it was not, in my opinion, a good idea.
Representatives Seth Moulton and Peter Meijer, both veterans, covertly traveled to Kabul to observe evacuations, prompting Speaker Nancy Pelosi to warn members not to go to Afghanistan without official advice. CreditCredit… The New York Times’ Victor J. Blue
On Tuesday, two members of Congress traveled to Kabul without permission to observe the frantic departure of Americans and Afghans, upsetting Biden administration officials and leading Speaker Nancy Pelosi to warn other legislators not to follow their lead.
Representatives Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Peter Meijer, a Republican from Michigan, both veterans, said in a statement that the trip intended to “offer oversight on the executive branch.” In recent weeks, both senators have slammed the Biden administration, accusing senior officials of delaying the evacuation of American civilians and Afghan friends.
“Right now, there is no location on the planet where monitoring is more important,” they added.
Massachusetts Democrat Seth Moulton is a member of the House of Representatives. Erin Schaff of The New York Times contributed to this article.
Rep. Peter Meijer, a Republican from Michigan, is a member of the House of Representatives. The New York Times’ Anna Moneymaker is to thank for this.
I went to Kabul airport today with @RepMeijer to supervise the evacuation.
It was unbelievable to watch our young Marines and troops at the gates, negotiating a human confluence as raw and visceral as the world has ever seen. pic.twitter.com/bWGQh1iw2c
August 25, 2021 — Seth Moulton (@sethmoulton)
Administration officials, on the other hand, were enraged that Mr. Moulton and Mr. Meijer had entered Afghanistan on an illegal, secret trip, claiming that attempts to care for the congressmen had diverted resources that might have been used to assist those already in the country.
The Associated Press had already reported on the trip.
Mr. Moulton and Mr. Meijer said they departed Afghanistan “on an aircraft with empty seats, sitting in crew-only seats to guarantee that nobody who needed a seat would lose one due of our presence,” and that they took additional measures to “minimize the danger and inconvenience to the people on the ground.” They were only in Kabul for around 24 hours.
Nonetheless, Ms. Pelosi urged other legislators not to follow suit.
In a letter, Ms. Pelosi said, “Member travel to Afghanistan and the neighboring countries would needlessly distract essential resources from the primary task of safely and quickly removing Americans and Afghans at danger from Afghanistan.” Mr. Moulton and Mr. Meijer were not mentioned by name.
The lawmakers slammed the administration’s handling of the evacuation in a statement released Tuesday night, saying that “Washington should be embarrassed of the position we placed our military personnel in” and that the situation on the ground was much worse than they had anticipated.
“After speaking with commanders on the ground and seeing the situation here,” they said, “it is clear that no matter what we do, we will not be able to get everyone out on time.”
The afghanistan news live is a blog that provides up-to-date information on the war in Afghanistan. It includes news, updates, and analysis from the United States and Afghanistan.
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