While the desperation of Afghans willing to leave Kabul airport increased on Thursday, resistance against the Taliban is forming in the country.
Pandschir Valley – Led by former Vice-President Amrullah Saleh and Ahmed Massud, the son of a famous Taliban opponent, a resistance group is forming in the Punjir Valley northeast of Kabul. Massoud asked for US support in an article in the Washington Post.
Soldiers and special forces of the Afghan army joined his fighters, said Massoud. His “mujahideen fighters” are “ready to take on the Taliban again”. In view of the large amount of US military equipment that the Taliban captured from the Afghan army during their campaign of conquest, they needed “more weapons, more ammunition and more supplies”.
“The Taliban do not control the entire area of Afghanistan,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, referring to “reports on the situation in the Punjir Valley” and the resistance that is forming there. The Pandschir Valley is considered a stronghold of resistance and was not taken by Soviet soldiers or the Taliban.
At Kabul airport, thousands of people from Afghanistan and other countries tried to get a place on an evacuation flight. Thousands of Afghans were trapped in a strip between US soldiers’ barriers and Taliban checkpoints. There were several deaths, according to unconfirmed reports.
“I came to the airport with my children and family,” said a man who until recently had worked for an international non-governmental organization. The US soldiers and the Taliban would have shot. But people would still try to get to the airport “because they know that a situation worse than death awaits them outside the airport”.
Numerous people also gathered in front of embassies in the city after rumors that they could obtain visas to leave the country.
In the midst of the US troop withdrawal, the Taliban had regained power in Afghanistan at breathtaking speed. Western states are now feverishly trying to evacuate their citizens and local workers. The German diplomat Markus Potzel is therefore in contact with Taliban representatives in Doha.
US President Joe Biden admitted in an ABC interview that the US had “difficulties” in getting Afghan aid workers to safety. In a confidential situation report by the Federal Ministry of Defense for the Bundestag, which AFP has received, it is said that due to the control of the Taliban, “only people with foreign or dual citizenship” currently have access to the airport.
Vice Secretary of State Wendy Sherman warned that the Taliban must allow all Afghans who want to leave the country safe passage “without harassment”. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the US would insist on free passage for Afghans in talks with the Taliban.
In the ABC interview, Biden did not completely rule out the possibility that the full troop withdrawal planned by August 31 could be delayed somewhat if not all US citizens have been brought to safety by then. It is currently estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 US citizens are still in Afghanistan.
Biden had come under massive criticism given the return of the Taliban to power. In the interview, he again defended the government’s policy of troop withdrawal.
Meanwhile, the Taliban are further strengthening their position in the country: Taliban leader Haibatullah Achundsada ordered the provincial governors to unconditionally release all “political prisoners”.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) suspended the country’s access to IMF resources in the millions. Germany, one of the most important donor countries, also stopped its payments on Wednesday.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who fled at the weekend, said he was holding talks about his return to his country and supported the talks between the Taliban and former President Hamid Karzai. However, US Vice Secretary of State Sherman said Ghani “no longer played a role” on the country’s political scene.
fwe / ck