S.or days there have been indications in Washington that the American military is working on creative solutions to get its citizens and Afghan aid workers to the airport premises in Kabul. In the Pentagon it was initially said that “alternative routes” were being established. The National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan then spoke of the danger that the Afghan branch of the terrorist organization “Islamic State” posed to the crowd in front of the airport: “The threat is real, it is acute, it is ongoing”. The rump embassy in Kabul had therefore announced that Americans should no longer try to get to the airport without being asked.
President Joe Biden then confirmed on Sunday that access to the airport had been improved to ensure that more people could get to the site safely. But it is still a “dangerous operation”. He did not want to confirm whether there were military actions outside the airport. He will not talk about “tactical changes”. Nonetheless, he later said that the Taliban had helped to enlarge the scope of the operation. He also mentioned a “security zone”, although government officials later pointed out that the military operation had not been expanded. Obviously nothing should sound like the narrow limits of a military-secured evacuation mission are not being adhered to.
Speeding up the mission?
All that is known so far is that three Chinook helicopters picked up 169 Americans on Thursday at a hotel near the airport to prevent them from having to walk the almost 200 meters to the entrance gate through the chaos. When asked whether other Americans stranded in Kabul could be brought to the airport through such operations, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby replied: “No,” but then added: He would not speculate about future operations.
The Washington Post reported Monday that the Qatar Ambassador to Kabul had escorted small groups of Americans to the airport grounds. The stranded citizens had previously been asked to go to certain places in the city. The following company by the Qatari ambassador gave them protection. Qatar has been a mediator between the Americans and the Taliban in recent years.
Extension of the mission?
Efforts to ensure safe access to the airport are linked with the hope of speeding up the evacuation mission. Biden said its own armed forces and allies have flown nearly 28,000 people out of Kabul since the operation began on August 14. He said on Sunday afternoon that around 11,000 people were brought to safety via the airlift within 36 hours. The White House announced on Monday that the American armed forces had flown around 10,400 people from Sunday morning to Monday morning.
Biden reiterated that he hoped to complete the evacuation mission by August 31. When asked, he confirmed that the government and the military were discussing extending the deployment. This will also be discussed at the virtual G-7 special summit on Tuesday. A Taliban representative responded to Biden’s comment on Monday: he refused to extend the mission and threatened consequences.
The president had previously stated that talks with the Taliban were not about trust. The Islamists sought legitimacy. Therefore, they are faced with a fundamental decision as to whether they are trying to unite the country and ensure the welfare of the people. If that is the case, they are dependent on economic aid and much more. Biden indicated that the Islamists would be judged on their actions.