Several European countries say they’ve halted evacuations from Kabul’s airport because the U.S. needs time to organize their final withdrawal from Afghanistan by August 31.
Meanwhile, there are still thousands — perhaps tens of thousands — of Afghans who assisted NATO forces during the occupation and are being left to die.
And it’s not just Afghan citizens, says the Wall Street Journal. The Taliban have blocked all roads to the airport and are not letting anyone through — even if they have a passport from a Western country.
Thousands of Western citizens and permanent residents are still stranded in Afghanistan, and many fear that they will now be abandoned to face possible Taliban retribution. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that approximately 1,500 American citizens were still in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, and that Washington was in touch with some 500 of them, trying to organize evacuations.
PJM’s Stacey Lennox reported on those estimates of Americans still in Kabul and found them confusing and almost certainly wrong. There may be a few dozen who want to stay behind because of marriage or other family ties. But the Taliban have executed western aid workers in the past so there aren’t too many NGO-types who will are staying behind.
Stacey speculated that there may already be some Americans in the Taliban’s custody — more than a distinct possibility.
There is also the growing — perhaps imminent threat — of an attack on the mass of humanity at the airport by ISIS.
“The credibility of the reporting has reached the stage where we believe there is a very imminent, a highly lethal attack, possibly within Kabul,” James Heappey, the U.K.’s armed forces minister, said in a broadcast interview Thursday.
The evacuations are ending as the Taliban cement their hold over the country. Though the Islamist movement’s leaders have met with prominent figures from the fallen Afghan republic, such as former President Hamid Karzai and chief peace negotiator Abdullah Abdullah, the visits were mostly courtesy and didn’t discuss power sharing, a person familiar with the meetings said. Mr. Karzai, in particular, had been strongly advised not to leave his compound for his own safety, a soft form of house arrest, the person said.
The Taliban says they will allow Afghans to leave via commercial airlines even after the August 31 deadline, but it’s unclear whether any airlines will ever come back to Afghanistan — certainly not any time soon.
The coming disaster at the Kabul airport on August 31 is going to make the bugout from Saigon look tame by comparison. The Taliban will not be gentle with those left behind at the airport or elsewhere. Many Afghan collaborators have already received threats from anonymous callers about what will happen to them once the Americans leave.
Despite the Taliban’s amnesty pledge for collaborators, no one in Afghanistan believes it. Indeed, the Taliban have made it clear already that that amnesty promise was for Western consumption and not a realistic pledge. They want their pound of flesh while eliminating all remnants of Western influences in the country.
Fueling fears of what Taliban rule might hold, a journalist from private broadcaster Tolo News described being beaten by Taliban. Ziar Yad said the fighters also beat his colleague and confiscated their cameras, technical equipment and a mobile phone as they tried to report on poverty in Kabul.
“The issue has been shared with Taliban leaders; however, the perpetrators have not yet been arrested, which is a serious threat to freedom of expression,” Yad wrote on Twitter.
Afghanistan’s long, bloody night has begun.