D.he USA is stepping up its efforts to evacuate Americans, Afghans and people of other nationalities from Kabul. Germany and other countries are also continuing their evacuation flights: On Friday night, Bundeswehr machines again brought hundreds of people out of the Afghan capital. From Washington it was said 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 landed in Kabul, where there is still chaos around the airport. The goal is to get as many people as possible out of the country as quickly as possible.
As a NATO official confirmed to the Reuters news agency, more than 18,000 refugees have been flown from the airport in Kabul since the Taliban came to power.
US Department of Defense employees are in close contact with the Taliban outside the airport, said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby. “We don’t want anyone to be harassed or injured.” Kirby emphasized that there was no complete overview 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.
The journalist Ayesha Tanzeem from the US foreign broadcaster Voice of America reported on CNN about “cruel scenes” around the airport. The situation is just as bad as it can be seen on numerous videos – and is getting worse and worse. She herself only came to the airport on the third attempt and stood in the crowd for hours.
New allegations against Washington
Meanwhile, new allegations have emerged that the US government did not listen to warnings in time. CNN reported that US diplomats sent a secret letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in July calling for swift action. “As far as I know, the telegram predicted the possible overthrow of the Afghan government after the withdrawal of US troops on August 31,” said Deputy National Security Advisor Jonathan Finer. “I think the telegram reflects what we’ve been saying all along.” Nobody expected the Afghan government and army to collapse within a few days.
Finer reiterated the plan to complete the evacuation operation by the end of August – by then, the US actually wanted to have withdrawn its troops from Afghanistan. “We believe that we can get the Americans who want to leave before August 31st,” he said. US President Joe Biden had made a similar statement the day before – without ruling out a longer stay in an emergency, if Americans were still in Afghanistan. He left it open whether this also applies to Afghan aid workers.
The Bundeswehr has flown out 1,640 passengers
While the US military had evacuated 2,000 people within 24 hours as of Thursday morning, the Bundeswehr has brought more than 1,640 people from Afghanistan to safety since Monday. On Friday morning two more planes from Kabul landed with a total of more than 360 people in the Uzbek capital Tashkent, from where they will be taken to Germany by civilian aircraft.
US President Biden wanted to comment on the status of the evacuations on Friday. Most recently, he had vehemently defended the withdrawal of US troops despite the Taliban’s rapid takeover. He also discussed the situation in Afghanistan with France’s head of state Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, as the White House announced in the evening (local time). Both emphasized how important it is that the allies and democratic partners continue to coordinate closely.
Meanwhile, concerns about violent acts of revenge by the Taliban after they came to power in Afghanistan are growing. The G7 countries reacted with alarm to reports and called on the Islamists to actually guarantee the security of civilians they had promised. This message came from a telephone conference of the foreign and development aid ministers of the G7 countries, which in addition to Germany and the USA also included Great Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Japan as well as representatives of the EU.
Actions instead of words
It was agreed that “the relations of the international community with the Taliban will depend on their deeds and not on their words,” said the US State Department after the switch. A conference call at the level of the heads of state and government is planned for the coming week.
The former Federal Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) spoke out in favor of an international Afghanistan conference. “The sooner it takes place, the better,” he told the editorial network in Germany. Russia and China should also take part – even if both countries are still dominated by ridicule and malice because of the embarrassment of the West. “The howls of triumph these days in Moscow and Beijing will soon fade away,” says Gabriel. In addition to the EU and the world powers USA, China and Russia, Pakistan and Iran also belonged to the conference table, he emphasized.
Union Chancellor candidate Armin Laschet spoke out in favor of talks with the Taliban to help vulnerable people in Afghanistan. “The art of good foreign policy lies in finding solutions with those states whose goals and human image our society rightly rejects,” said the CDU head of the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. “Refusing to enter into dialogue with the Taliban would not help the people who want to get out of Afghanistan.”