Friday 13th August 2021
Pentagon: Kabul must lead
USA set up rescue flights from Afghanistan
Two decades of military operations in Afghanistan lead more and more to the flight of the nations involved. In rows, countries are withdrawing their embassy staff and flying out domestic helpers. The US is building an airlift to save thousands of people a day – and open it to allies too.
In the face of the advance of the Taliban, the nations that have been engaged in military and humanitarian activities for a long time in Afghanistan are speeding up their citizens and Afghan aid workers. The US Department of Defense said that the armed forces could fly thousands of people from Kabul every day if necessary. The capacity for air transport is “not a problem,” said the Pentagon spokesman. “We can move thousands every day,” he said, offering allied states and partners assistance with deploying personnel should there be such requests for help. Meanwhile, Great Britain is also preparing the swift departure of diplomats.
Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas had previously announced that the staff in the German embassy would be reduced to an absolute minimum. Norway will close its embassy in Kabul and evacuate diplomats as well as Afghan embassy staff and their families. Switzerland is withdrawing the last three remaining employees from a cooperation office.
Sweden also wants to reduce the number of employees in its embassy. Foreign Minister Ann Linde tweeted that there were well-developed plans for an evacuation of the staff “which may be relevant shortly”. The Netherlands are considering closing their embassy, but want to keep the representation open as long as possible, as Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag said. This could prove impossible, however, should the city be besieged or captured by the Taliban. In addition, Afghans who have worked for the country are to be brought to the Netherlands, the broadcaster NOS quoted Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld as saying.
Pentagon: No imminent threat to Kabul
According to the Pentagon, the US State Department ultimately determines how many people will actually be promoted. The US military is sending around 3,000 soldiers to reinforce the airport in the Afghan capital to help reduce the number of staff at the US embassy in Kabul. They are also said to help with the flight out of thousands of former Afghan employees of the US authorities and the US military who want to get to safety from the Taliban. The Afghans should be able to apply for visas outside the country and then start over in the USA.
In the meantime, according to the information, the US soldiers have arrived in Kabul to secure the evacuation operation. The “majority” of a total of 3,000 US soldiers are expected in Kabul by Sunday. Despite the rapid advance of the radical Islamic Taliban in Afghanistan, Kirby declared that the capital Kabul is currently not “in immediate danger”. At the same time, he admitted that the Islamists were aiming to “isolate Kabul”.
The US observed with “great concern” the speed at which the Taliban expanded its control in Afghanistan and the “lack of resistance they are facing,” Kirby said. He called on the Afghans to counter the Taliban attacks with the “political” and “military” leadership that “are required at the front”. Whether this “pays off” depends on the Afghans. “No result has to be inevitable,” added Kirby.
Johnson: The west must not turn away
Britain’s prime minister, meanwhile, has warned the West not to turn away from the country in the Hindu Kush. Afghanistan should “not become a breeding ground for terror again,” he said after a crisis meeting in his cabinet. The prime minister ruled out a “military solution” for Afghanistan.
At the same time, he confirmed that a large part of the British embassy staff in Kabul would be flown out in view of the severely deteriorated security situation. British Home Office officials would also be flying to the Afghan capital to help Afghan interpreters who had worked for the British Army with their UK visa applications.
Since the start of the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan at the end of April, the Taliban have brought large parts of the country under their control. So far, the Islamists have conquered around half of the Afghan provincial capitals. In some places they evidently met with little resistance. On Friday, after conquering the provincial capital Pul-i-Alam, the Taliban were only around 50 kilometers from Kabul, according to a regional parliamentarian from Logar province.