Washington / Kabul (dpa) – The US is stepping up its efforts to evacuate Americans, Afghans and people of other nationalities from Kabul.
It was said from Washington that the US State Department is sending additional consular officers to Qatar and Kuwait to organize the onward journey of the people there. In addition, other officials have landed in Kabul, where chaos continues around the airport. The goal is to get as many people out of the country as quickly as possible.
U.S. Department of Defense officials are in close contact with the militant Islamist Taliban outside the airport, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said. “We don’t want anyone to be harassed or hurt.” Kirby stressed that there was no complete record of what was happening outside the airport and whether people with US passports or visas were being harassed by the Taliban. Additional gates have been opened at the airport to speed up the evacuation.
Journalist Ayesha Tanzeem of US foreign broadcaster Voice of America reported on CNN about “cruel scenes” around the airport. The situation is as bad as it appears on countless videos – and is getting worse. She herself only made it to the airport on the third attempt and stood in the crowd for hours.
Biden wants to comment on the evacuation
Meanwhile, new allegations have surfaced that the US government failed to heed warnings in time. CNN reported that US diplomats sent a classified letter to US Secretary of State Blinken in July asking for swift action. “To my knowledge, the telegram predicted the possible overthrow of the Afghan government after the withdrawal of US troops on August 31,” said Deputy National Security Adviser Jonathan Finer. “I think the telegram reflects what we’ve been saying all along.” No one expected the Afghan government and military to collapse within a few days.
Finer reiterated the plan to complete the evacuation operation by the end of August — by which time the US actually wanted to have withdrawn its troops from Afghanistan. “We believe we can get the Americans who want to leave before August 31,” he said. US President Joe Biden had made a similar statement the day before — without ruling out an extended stay in an emergency, if Americans were still in Afghanistan. He left open whether this also applies to Afghan aid workers.
While the US military evacuated 2,000 people within 24 hours on Thursday morning, the Bundeswehr has rescued more than 1,600 people from Afghanistan since Monday.
US President Biden wanted to say something about the status of the evacuations on Friday (7:00 pm CEST). Most recently, he had fiercely defended the withdrawal of US troops, despite the swift takeover of the Taliban. He also discussed the situation in Afghanistan with French head of state Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, as the White House announced in the evening (local time). Both stressed the importance of close cooperation between allies and democratic partners.
Meanwhile, concerns are growing over the Taliban’s violent reprisals after they took power in Afghanistan. The G7 countries reacted with alarm to reports and called on the Islamists to actually guarantee the security of civilians they promised. This message came from a conference call of the foreign and development ministers of the G7 countries, which in addition to Germany and the US also included Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Japan, as well as representatives of the EU.
It was agreed that “the international community’s relations with the Taliban will depend on their actions, not their words,” the US State Department said after the changeover. A conference call at the level of the heads of state and government is planned for the coming week.