(See updates at end of article.)
The “deadline” for getting out of Afghanistan is approaching on Tuesday, so it appears that final preparations are taking place as you read this article. Whether that deadline is self-imposed or was imposed by the Taliban depends on who you ask at the moment. For whatever reason, it does appear that the Taliban has been calling the shots for a while now and the Biden administration is still going along with the idea and even negotiating with them. But simultaneously, we’re holding our breath and waiting to see if ISIS-K will strike again near the airport. Joe Biden is telling us that it’s “highly likely,” while promising to “hunt them down and make them pay.”
So how do the final hours game out? The Taliban claims to have arrested some ISIS-K fighters who were involved with the attack on Thursday, but just as with the U.S. attack that allegedly killed two of them with a drone, nobody is giving out any names of who was arrested or blown up. Obviously, we’re going to need to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time in Kabul if we’re going to make it out, and the onus is on Team Biden to make that happen somehow. (National Review)
President Biden said Saturday that the situation on the ground in Afghanistan continues to be “extremely dangerous” and that an attack on the Kabul airport is “highly likely” in the next 24-36 hours…
“I said we would go after the group responsible for the attack on our troops and innocent civilians in Kabul, and we have,” Biden said in a statement on Saturday. “This strike was not the last. We will continue to hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay.”
The president added that “despite the treacherous situation in Kabul,” the U.S. is continuing to evacuate citizens as the August 31 withdrawal deadline quickly approaches.
If we’re doing any “hunting” in Kabul, it’s presumably going to happen via satellite data and drone strikes, because as of today, most of the allied troop activity is confined to the airport and involves putting our soldiers and marines on planes. Meanwhile, the Taliban has effectively taken control of all points of access to the airport gates. And according to the few remaining sources we have on the ground, they’re turning pretty much everyone away, effectively sealing off the airport. So the “deadline” may be Tuesday, but if you’re in Kabul – even if you’re an American citizen – and you’re not already inside of the airport walls, you’re probably not getting out. (Associated Press)
Taliban forces sealed off Kabul’s airport Saturday to most Afghans hoping for evacuation, as the U.S. and its allies were ending a chaotic airlift that will end their troops’ two decades in Afghanistan.
Western leaders acknowledged their withdrawal would mean leaving behind some of their citizens and many locals who helped them over the years, and they vowed to try to continue working with the Taliban to allow local allies to leave after President Joe Biden’s Tuesday’s deadline to withdraw from the country.
Although most of its allies had finished their evacuation flights, the U.S. planned to keep its round-the-clock flights going until the deadline, saying 113,500 people had been evacuated since Aug. 14, the day before the Taliban claimed Kabul.
Despite the White House repeatedly assuring us that any American who wanted to leave Afghanistan would be able to do so, they are now tacitly admitting that it’s not going to happen. The reality is that we still don’t know how many American citizens are still outside of the airport or in other parts of the country, but they’re not all going to make it. According to a few different sources, the number could be anywhere from a few hundred to more than one thousand. And the number of translators and helpers who are being abandoned is almost certainly in the tens of thousands.
What we’re left with is the one situation that everyone who has been following this story has been dreading from the beginning. We are looking at what amounts to nothing less than a hostage situation. Once the Taliban locate any remaining American citizens, they will almost certainly be “detained for their own safety.” Presumably, the airport will reopen at some point for normal travel (under the control and supervision of the Taliban, of course) but I somehow doubt that anyone with an American passport will be allowed to simply board a plane and go.
It didn’t have to end like this. Even if we had to stay for another six months past Joe Biden’s self-imposed deadline, a slow, steady evacuation of all Americans and Afghan helpers could have taken place while we still controlled both the airport and Bagram airfield and had our full military presence on hand. We surrendered all of our leverage to the Taliban based on promises that everyone knew they were not going to honor. More than two weeks ago, even the Associated Press was saying “we know what happens next.” And it’s not going to be pretty. It was all predictable, and somehow we still managed to drop the ball.
It looks like there was another airstrike on a “vehicle-borne IED” (or a car bomb) near the airport.
BREAKING: US military carried out an airstrike against a suspected VBIED- vehicle borne IED that it says posed a threat to Kabul airport MORE
— Jennifer Griffin (@JenGriffinFNC) August 29, 2021
And just to show how weird things have gotten over there, a Taliban spokesperson confirmed the airstrike to the Associated Press before the U.S. government did.
The Taliban said that a U.S. airstrike targeted a suicide bomber in a vehicle Sunday who wanted to attack the Kabul international airport amid the American military’s evacuation there.
There were few initial details about the incident, as well as a rocket that struck a neighborhood just northwest of the airport, killing a child. The two strikes initially appeared to be separate incidents, though information on both remained scarce…
Zabihullah Mujahid said in a message to journalists that the strike targeted the bomber as he drove a vehicle loaded with explosives. Mujahid offered few other details.
U.S. military officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
In a separate incident, a rocket slammed into a neighborhood in another part of the city. Both the Taliban and the United States have been using rockets lately (thanks to our generous donations) so it’s going to take a while to sort out who was responsible. A child was reportedly killed in the rocket strike. (NY Post)
A rocket struck an Afghan neighborhood northwest of Kabul’s airport, killing a child, a police chief said Sunday.
The attack occurred Sunday afternoon in Kabul’s Khuwja Bughra neighborhood near the international airport, said Rashid, a police chief who like many Afghans goes by one name.
The rocket fire comes amid efforts at the airport to evacuate tens of thousands of people trying to flee the Taliban takeover following the fall of the Afghan government.
It’s seeming like a very long time until we get our last planes out at this point. Chaos doesn’t begin to describe the sitution.