For U.S. residents trapped in Afghanistan — abandoned by their president to the tender mercies of the Taliban — life in hiding is made up of long periods of boredom interrupted by short, intense periods of abject terror.
The Associated Press contacted several of the families on the run and found that they had lost contact or been unable to talk to anyone in the State Department who can help them leave the country. All they can do is keep moving from house to house, trying not to stay in one place for too long lest the Taliban find out and arrest them.
For some Afghans who have green cards after working with the U.S. during the occupation, it’s a matter of life and death.
When the phone rang in an apartment in Kabul a few weeks ago, the U.S. green card holder who answered — a truck driver from Texas visiting family — was hopeful it was the U.S. State Department finally responding to his pleas to get him and his parents on a flight out.
Instead, it was the Taliban.
“We won’t hurt you. Let’s meet. Nothing will happen,” the caller said, according to the truck driver’s brother, who lives with him in Texas and spoke to him afterwards. The call included a few ominous words: “We know where you are.”
The Taliban knows who most of the collaborators are because the State Department helpfully gave the Taliban lists of Afghan citizens who had worked as translators and contractors.
Blinken said the U.S. government does not track U.S. green card holders in Afghanistan but he estimated several thousand remain in the country, along with about 100 U.S. citizens. He said the U.S. government was still working to get them out.
As of Friday, at least 64 American citizens and 31 green card holders have been evacuated since the U.S. military left last month, according to the State Department. More were possibly aboard a flight from Mazar-e-Sharif on Friday, but the administration did not release figures.
Neither the U.S. nor the Taliban have offered a clear explanation why so few have been evacuated.
The reason there’s no explanation is that the White House is terrified that the media will begin to use the “H” word. The remaining Americans and green card holders are hostages just as surely as if they were rotting in some stinking Afghanistan prison.
That is hardly encouraging to another green card holder from Texas, a grandmother who recently watched from a rooftop as militants pulled up in a half-dozen police cars and Humvees to take over the house across the street.
“The Taliban. The Taliban,” she whispered into the phone to her American son in a Dallas suburb, a conversation the woman recounted to the AP. “The women and kids are screaming. They’re dragging the men to the cars.”
The Taliban doesn’t want to provoke the U.S. into a military response by saying the remaining Americans are hostages. But you have to think that they have passed the word that it would not be advisable to try and get the Americans out without their help.
The Taliban wants to control the narrative. So does the White House. They are going to want the U.S. to recognize their terrorist government and in exchange, allow the Americans and some of the Afghan collaborators to leave.
And as long as the media cooperates and tries to help the American people forget we have a couple of hundred fellow citizens trapped in a hostile country, Biden can continue the charade of negotiations.
Meanwhile, there will continue to be a trickle of Americans allowed to leave by the Taliban. Biden’s only hope is that nothing disturbs the delicate balance so that all of our countrymen can escape.