UN Extends Mission in Afghanistan for Next 6 Months

 

The United Nations Security Council (UN) decided to extend the UN mission in Afghanistan for another six months until March 2022. The UN also called on the Taliban to create an inclusive government.

 

UN Mission in Afghanistan

The 15-member security council decided to continue the political mission entitled UNAMA which focused on dealing with development issues. Afghanistan has been an important concern since the Taliban seized the government.

In the document, the United Nations stressed the importance of establishing an inclusive and representative government. Currently, the government is made up entirely of members of the Taliban and there are no women.

“Women’s full, equal and meaningful participation, and respect for human rights, including for women, children and minorities,” the UN wrote.

In addition, in this mission, the UN also ensures that it will continue to play a role in the peace and stability of Afghanistan.

 

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Diplomats said the Taliban had no objection to the extension of the UN mission in Afghanistan.

“They are more pragmatic,” said a UN Afghanistan specialist.

The UN representative also said the Taliban needed a UN presence.

“The Taliban need the UN and this is our influence,” the UN representative said.

The UN Security Council also asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to provide monthly briefings on the latest situation in Afghanistan until the end of the mission.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about UN Mission.

UN: Taliban Break Promises on Women and Inclusion

 

The United Nations’ human rights chief; Michelle Bachelet; said the Taliban were breaking its promises on women’s rights and inclusive governance in Afghanistan.

 

UN – Taliban

“Contrary to assurances that the Taliban will uphold women’s rights; over the past three weeks; women have been increasingly excluded from the public sphere;” Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Bachelet also expressed disappointment with the composition of the Taliban government which did not involve women and was dominated by ethnic Pashtuns.

“(I) am disappointed by the lack of inclusion of the so-called interim cabinet; which does not include women and is slightly non-Pashtun;” Bachelet said.

He stressed that Afghanistan was entering a new and dangerous phase since the Taliban took power on August 15. Violence against protesters and journalists has also increased.

Several demonstrators were even reported killed after the Taliban opened fire in the air to disperse the crowd. Many other demonstrators also claimed to have been beaten by the group.

Another promise that the Taliban broke; said Bachelet; was the issue of granting amnesty to former civil servants and security officers during the Ashraf Ghani administration. He highlighted house-to-house searches of former officials in the previous era.

 

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The United Nations says it has received multiple reports of searches for those who have worked with US companies and security forces. Some staff also reported increased attacks and threats.

He also admitted to receiving reports regarding the alleged murder of dozens of former members of the Afghan military.

Bachelet then called for a mechanism to monitor rights in Afghanistan.

“I reiterate my call to this Council to take bold and strong action; commensurate with the gravity of this crisis;” he said.

The world is continuing to shine a light on the Taliban; especially as they promised to build an inclusive and moderate government when they took power in mid-August.

They also promised to uphold women’s rights. The current government; said the Taliban; will be different from the 1996-2001 era; which was considered authoritarian and ultraconservative.

Not even a month into the leadership; the Taliban has shown restrictions on women’s movement. They also do not want women representatives to occupy ministerial positions because they think it is not in accordance with Islamic law.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about UN Taliban.

Turkey warns world not to rush to recognize Taliban

 

Turkey has warned the international community not to be too hasty in recognizing the Taliban as Afghanistan’s new official government.
In a television interview; Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned that the new Afghan government should be inclusive and provide space for women. He also suggested that some Afghan women from various ethnic groups should be given ministerial posts.

 

Turkey – Taliban

“There is no need to rush. This is our advice to the whole world. We must act together with the international community;” Cavusoglu said.

Cavusoglu himself is very careful and does not reveal how Turkey’s own attitude towards the current relationship with the Taliban.

Turkey is currently in negotiations regarding operational assistance for Kabul airport; which has not yet fully recovered after being left by the United States and its allies.

Cavusoglu also said that Turkey is currently cooperating with Qatar and the US to formulate requirements for the opening of Kabul airport which will be prioritized for access to humanitarian aid distribution and evacuating civilians who want to leave Afghanistan.

Cavusoglu considers security issues to be the main focus of Kabul Airport operations. He stressed that commercial flights can never be resumed until the airline is sure that conditions at the airport are safe enough.

Cavusoglu said even if airlines; including Turkish Airlines; wanted to fly to Kabul; insurance companies would not allow it because security was not guaranteed.

 

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“In my view; Taliban or Afghan forces can ensure security outside the airport;” Cavusoglu said.

“But inside; there could be a security company that the international community trusts or all the other companies;” he said.

Meanwhile; the US stated that they no longer control the airspace in Afghanistan and the Kabul airport was in a state of disrepair when it was abandoned by Uncle Sam’s troops.

However; Kabul Airport started operating for domestic flights last week. The Qatari Ambassador to Afghanistan stated that the Kabul airport runway had been repaired and could be used again for domestic flights and humanitarian assistance.

He then said that since the runway was fixed; there have been two successful domestic flights taking off from Kabul airport; namely to Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about Turkey.

 

Man who spread Covid-19 in Vietnam jailed for 5 years

 

The Vietnamese Communist government court sentenced the spreader of Covid-19 to five years in prison.

Vietnam COVID

It was Le Van Tri, the man who was found guilty of violating the quarantine period at home and spreading Covid-19 in the country.

The 28-year-old man was traveling from the red zone in Ho Chi Minh to his hometown of Ca Mau. Meanwhile, the province requires a 21-day quarantine period at home for residents who come from the red zone.

Violation of this rule is punishable by criminal sanctions by the Vietnamese Court.

“Tri has violated the rules of the quarantine period at home, causing a number of residents to be infected with Covid-19. One person died on August 7 after contracting it,” the court ruled in a statement, quoting AFP.

 

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Local Vietnamese media also reported that a total of eight people had contracted Covid-19 due to the violations committed by Van Tri.

Vietnam is now facing a surge in Covid-19 cases with a total of 540,000 people who tested positive and 13,000 died so far.

The highest cases were recorded at the end of April, forcing the country to go into lockdown in major cities such as Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

Several people were also jailed for being found guilty of spreading Covid-19. The 32-year-old man was jailed for 18 months in July on charges of spreading Covid-19.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about Vietnam COVID.

Taliban governor continues to hunt ISIS in hiding

 

One of the governors of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Mullah Neda Mohammad, said he would continue to hunt down ISIS fighters from hiding in his country.

Neda also previously fought against the US-formed Afghan government. Now he occupies the position of Governor of Nangarhar, Afghanistan, after the Taliban managed to retake the country.

 

Taliban Governor

“We are still looking for people (ISIS) who are still hiding,” Neda Mohammad told AFP.

He also claims to have arrested 70-80 members of IS Khorasan (IS-K), the country’s branch of ISIS, since the Taliban under his command took control of Jalalabad City, Nangarhar Province.

IS-K is said to be behind a number of suicide bombings in Afghanistan in recent years. The group is also said to have massacred people inside mosques, in public areas, and in hospitals.

IS-K also claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed more than 100 people, including 13 US troops, near Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul. The attack was said to be the largest since the US invaded Afghanistan in 2011.

The US retaliated for the suicide bombing by carrying out drone air strikes against the IS-K suicide bomber designer in Nangarhar province.

However, Neda Mohammad does not believe ISIS will pose a serious threat to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

 

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“They have lost a lot of lives in the north and east of Afghanistan. There is no reason ISIS can live here (Afghanistan). We don’t see ISIS as a threat,” said Neda Mohammad.

Although the Taliban and ISIS are both Sunni Islamist militias, they differ in terms of branching beliefs and strategies.

The two even fought each other and claimed to carry the flag of jihad. The battle caused many casualties.

ISIS also made a statement that the Taliban had betrayed the jihadists because of the deal to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about Taliban Governor.

Taliban Accused of Shooting Dead Pregnant Afghan Policewoman

The Taliban reportedly shot dead a pregnant Afghan policewoman at her home in Firozkoh.
A number of relatives told the BBC that initially, three gunmen visited the house of the policewoman named Banu Negar on Saturday (4/9).

 

Taliban News

They ransacked Negar’s house, then tied the hands of his family members. The three men then beat Negar and shot the woman dead in front of her husband and child.

The BBC doesn’t know the details of the incident because many people don’t want to speak up. They are afraid of being targeted by the Taliban if they dare to speak up.

Grief for Afghan Women in Indonesia: My sister was killed by the Taliban
However, some of Negar’s relatives showed photos showing blood splattered on the wall in the corner of a room. There are also photos of bodies whose faces are unrecognizable.

However, the spokesman for Takiban, Zabiullah Mujaheed, said that his group was not involved in the incident at all.

“We are aware of the incident and I can confirm that the Taliban did not kill him. Our investigation is still ongoing,” Mujaheed told the BBC.

 

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Afghan women protest in front of the Taliban, urge for equality
He also stressed that the Taliban had announced they would pardon people who worked for the previous government.

Mujaheed also suspected that Negar’s murder was related to “personal matters or something else.”

This news comes amid public concerns about the increasingly repressive attitude of some Taliban members towards women after the group took power in mid-August.

Since taking power, the Taliban has continued to build an image as a more tolerant group. However, a number of reports of their brutality in restraining women are still emerging.

A number of observers have also begun to sniff out the signs of the Taliban to reduce the role of women. At the end of last week, Kabul was shocked by the news of a number of women who dared to stage demonstrations in front of the Taliban troops.

The Taliban allowed the demonstrations in the name of equality and freedom of expression. However, a number of women who attended the demonstration said the Taliban fired tear gas as they tried to cross the bridge to the Presidential Palace.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about Taliban.

Taliban Open Fire Celebrating Victory, 17 Dead

At least 17 people were killed when Taliban members opened fire in the air to celebrate victory after claiming to have captured Afghanistan’s only unconquered area; the Pansjhir Valley.

 

Taliban

The Shamshad and Tolo news agencies reported that a dozen people were killed when the Taliban fired “fire into the air” in Kabul. In addition; 41 other people were also injured in the incident.

Not only in Kabul; at least 14 other people were also injured because members of the Taliban in Nangarhar province opened fire in a similar celebration.

The main spokesman; Zabihullah Mujahid; also appealed to its members not to celebrate victory by firing into the air.

“Avoid firing shots in the air and just thank God. Bullets can injure civilians; so don’t shoot unnecessarily;” Mujahid said as quoted by Reuters.

 

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The Taliban are celebrating victory after the group claimed it had captured the only area in Afghanistan they had not conquered; the Panjshir Valley. However; anti-Taliban forces in Panjshir dispute these claims.

If the claims are proven; the group has managed to cover all areas of Afghanistan after fighting in recent months.

The Taliban themselves often fire in the air to celebrate victory. Shortly after the United States left Afghanistan earlier this week; they also opened fire on various roads.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about Taliban.

UN resumes humanitarian mission flights to Afghanistan

The United Nations (UN) began resuming flights for humanitarian missions to Afghanistan on Thursday (2/9) local time.
The UN spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said that the humanitarian flights were put into operation “so that 160 humanitarian organizations can resume lifesaving activities in various provinces of Afghanistan.”

 

Afghanistan

Dujarric later explained that the flight was operating from Islamabad, Pakistan, to two cities in Afghanistan, namely Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar.

According to Dujarric, there have been three flights landing at Mazar-i-Sharif since August 29. All of the flights were carrying food aid for Afghans.

He said that currently, the United Nations is working on adding more flights to reach other parts of Afghanistan.

“From 2002 to 2021, UN Humanitarian Flights in Afghanistan have reached more than 20 destinations in the country. We will try to return to those locations when security and finances allow,” Dujarric said, as quoted by AFP.

 

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In addition, Dujarric also said that the United Nations is working to provide cargo flights to carry non-food items, such as medical needs.

Meanwhile, civil flights to and from Afghanistan are currently not operational. Hamid Karzai International Airport has not been active since US troops departed earlier this week.

This civilian flight is very much needed because there are still many citizens, both foreigners and Afghans, who are waiting for evacuation.

At this time, it is not known which party will operate Kabul airport. Before the US left, Turkey operated Kabul airport since 2004. Now, Turkey and Qatar are reportedly continuing to coordinate discussing the operation of Kabul airport.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about Afghanistan.

Turkey holds first talks with the Taliban in Kabul

Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital

 

Taliban News

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said Turkey held its first talks with the Taliban in Kabul; adding Ankara was still assessing the armed group’s offer to assist in operating the international airport.

“We have held our first talks with the Taliban; which lasted three and a half hours;” Erdogan told reporters. “If necessary; we will have the opportunity to hold such talks again.”

NATO member Turkey had hundreds of troops in Afghanistan as part of the alliance’s mission; and had been responsible for the security of the airport for the past six years.

 

Latest Update

Responding to domestic criticism over Turkey’s engagement with the armed group; Erdogan said Ankara had “no luxury” to stand idly by in the volatile region.

“You cannot know what their expectations are or what our expectations are without talking. What’s diplomacy; my friend? This is diplomacy;” Erdogan said.

Turkey had been planning to help secure and run Kabul’s strategic airport; but on Wednesday it started pulling troops out of Afghanistan – an apparent sign of Ankara abandoning this goal.

Erdogan said the Taliban now wanted to oversee security at the airport; while offering Ankara the option of running its logistics.

He said the twin suicide bombs that killed at least 110 people; including 13 US troops; outside the airport during the last days of an urgent evacuation effort on Thursday showed the importance of knowing the details of how the air hub will be secured.

 

Afghanistan-Taliban Crisis Highlights

Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital

 

Taliban News

At least 95 people; including children and US military personnel; were killed after 2 explosions rocked the Kabul airport amid a chaotic evacuation effort from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan on Thursday.

U.S. forces helping evacuate Afghans desperate to flee Taliban rule were on alert for more attacks on Friday after an Islamic State suicide bombing outside Kabul airport killed at least 92 people, including 13 U.S. service members.

The White House said the next few days of an ongoing U.S. evacuation operation that the Pentagon said has taken about 111,000 people out of Afghanistan in the past two weeks are likely to be the most dangerous.

Latest Update

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the United States believes there are still “specific, credible” threats against the airport after the bombing at one of its gates.

“We certainly are prepared and would expect future attempts,” Kirby told reporters in Washington. “We’re monitoring these threats, very, very specifically, virtually in real time.

 

Taliban High Threat at Kabul airport

Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital

 

Taliban News

The United States has urged crowds trying to access Kabul airport to leave the area; as the British and Australian governments warned of a “high threat” of a “terrorist” attack.

The warnings late on Wednesday and on Thursday came as Western troops hurried to evacuate as many foreign nationals and Afghans as possible before a withdrawal deadline on August 31.

“Those at the Abbey Gate; East Gate; or North Gate now should leave immediately;” the US State Department said in an alert; citing “security threats”.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs also cited an “ongoing and very high threat of terrorist attack” and told people not to travel to the airport.

The British foreign office gave similar advice; saying: “If you can leave Afghanistan safely by other means; you should do so immediately”.

 

Latest Update

“There is an ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack”; the statement added.

Meanwhile; US Army Major General William Taylor told a news briefing that there were more than 10;000 people at the Kabul airport waiting to be evacuated from Afghanistan.

The Pentagon claimed it evacuated some 19;000 people in the past 24 hours. More than 80;000 people; foreigners and Afghans; have been evacuated since August 14; the day before the Taliban swept into Kabul.

 

Thousands of people in London protest against Taliban

Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital

 

Taliban News

London – Thousands of people rallied in central London on Saturday. They showed solidarity with Afghans and condemned the takeover by the Taliban.

Reported from AFP; Sunday (22/8/2021); several thousand people descended into the center of the British capital since Saturday afternoon. They gathered in Hyde Park and marched in Whitehall past Downing Street; the residence and office of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Britain’s leader has faced fierce criticism for his government’s handling of the crisis in Afghanistan; as Britain; the United States and other Western allies struggle to evacuate their citizens and others from Kabul.

Protesters lined up behind banners reading “The Taliban have not changed”; while others held banners bearing slogans such as “stop killing Afghans” and “stop the oppression of Afghan women”.

 

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Many participants also waved Afghan flags and chanted slogans against the Taliban takeover.

The Taliban has insisted it treats women fairly and does not seek retaliation against Afghans who cooperated with Western forces during their two decades of involvement in the country; when thousands tried to flee Kabul amid chaos.

Many Afghans and others; including those demonstrating in London; are highly skeptical about their assurances amid reports that militants have initiated violent retaliation against so-called blacklists.

Afghan refugees and those trapped during the Taliban takeover

Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital.

 

Taliban News

Former British prime minister Tony Blair; a key figure in the war against terror and the conflict in Afghanistan in 2001; broke his silence on the U.S. withdrawal Sunday; calling the “abandonment” of the Afghan people “tragic; dangerous; unnecessary.”

As the leader of Britain; he decided in 2001 to join the United States; under President George W. Bush; in entering the war in Afghanistan; where more than 450 British forces have since died during the almost 20-year conflict. He left office in 2007.

The signal that U.S. troops could undertake enhanced efforts to rescue people outside the airport came as the Biden administration scrambles to fly thousands of people per day out of Afghanistan, and amid signs there were still significant bottlenecks to doing so. All gates at the Kabul airport were closed on Saturday, as crowds continued to swell inside and the U.S. government struggled to process people quickly enough to alleviate the issues.

 

Latest Update

Blair also warned that Russia; China and Iran could now take advantage of the fragile situation in Afghanistan; with other nations regarding commitments from Western leaders as “unstable currency.”

However; he went on to criticize the recent U.S.-led withdrawal of troops from the country; lambasting it for being motivated by politics instead of strategy.

The Pentagon on Saturday strongly hinted that U.S. troops may stage further operations outside the Kabul airport to help evacuate stranded American citizens and Afghans who aided the war effort; as the threat of violence in the capital grows amid the return of the Taliban’s top political leader and increased concern about potential attacks by the Islamic State.

 

Taliban Targets Panjshir Valley

Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital

 

Taliban News

The Taliban are dispatching hundreds of fighters to the Panjshir Valley; 150 kilometers north of the Afghan capital; Kabul; to try to stamp out an emerging resistance movement led by the son of a warlord who defied them the last time they ruled Afghanistan 20 years ago.

The deployment comes hours after forces aligned with Ahmad Massoud’s National Resistance Front; comprising remnants of regular Afghan army units and special forces and local militia fighters; clashed with the Taliban in Andarab — a southern district in Baghlan province.

Ahmad Massoud’s father; Ahmad Shah Massoud; nicknamed the “lion of the Panjshir;” blocked Soviet forces in the 1980s and the Taliban in the 1990s from conquering the narrow and almost impenetrable valley It has in effect one main road in and out. His 32-year-old son; who was trained at Britain’s military academy Sandhurst and was taught war studies at King’s College; London; hopes to emulate his father.

 

Latest Update

The Taliban gave Massoud four hours Sunday to surrender the Panjshir Valley; saying they were deploying forces “after local state officials refused to hand it over peacefully.” Ahmad Massoud has been holding negotiations with the Taliban since the Islamist movement seized power in Kabul a week ago; but one of his advisers told VOA that the talks were stalled and appeared unlikely to advance.

On Sunday, Massoud told Reuters that he did not want war. “We want to make the Taliban realize that the only way forward is through negotiation,” he said by telephone. He said his fighters are ready to fight. “They want to resist any totalitarian regime,” he said.

 

Afghanistan: People at Kabul airport flee Taliban

Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital

 

Taliban News

The intensity; the urgency; the darkness of this hour. In every direction; there are the huge grey military transport planes from the US and many other countries. Military helicopters are in the sky.

Heading towards every single plane are long queues of Afghans. The lines don’t seem to end. They have been told they can only bring one suitcase and the clothes they are wearing; as they leave their country behind – the country now controlled by the Taliban.

But it’s not just the country they are leaving. They are leaving behind the life they lived; and for the young educated generation; the life they built up; the dreams they cherished over 20 years.

There are said to be 14;000 people inside this airfield; controlled by US military; waiting to board.

 

Latest Update

Freelance journalist Bilal Sarwary was among those who made it onto the airfield; having left behind everything he had worked so hard to build; save for a few pairs of clothes and his young family.

Sarwary; a former BBC journalist; had planned to raise his daughter – named Sola; meaning “peace” – in his home country; the place he has spent 20 years covering; starting as a fixer and translator in 2001.

Instead; he is hoping she will one day understand the decision he has made to leave.

“Today’s the day that a generation of Afghans have buried their dreams and aspirations and our lives;” he said.

 

Taliban has just shaken Biden’s Presidency

Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital

 

Taliban News

Two photographs of President Joe Biden this week neatly illustrated the White House’s fight to contain the fallout of the biggest crisis of his presidency.

In the first; he sat alone at Camp David; staring upwards at a bank of video monitors surrounded by 18 empty leather chairs. Even some White House officials wondered whether the imagery; including him in a polo shirt; was helpful.

Three days later; when Biden was back at the White House; the picture was much different. He sat in suit and tie at the head of the Situation Room conference table; mask hanging off one ear as he scowled toward the assembled members of his national security team. The same team assembled a day later to “manage efforts in Afghanistan;” the White House said.

Biden has found himself caught this week in some of the most dire days of his seven-month-old presidency; accused of badly botching the end of America’s longest war even by some of his most reliable allies at home and abroad.

 

Latest Update

The White House has scrambled to explain the chaos in Afghanistan through briefings; speeches and interviews — even as Biden himself remains defiant in his decision and insists the American people are behind him.

So far; the President’s reflexive response to the crisis to deflect blame and reject criticism has done little to quiet the questions swirling about whether he properly prepared for the Taliban’s takeover. It has tarnished what had been a carefully-honed image of competence; and Biden’s own explanations for what happened — that the chaos was inevitable and the Afghan army was to blame — belie the empathy that is his chief political characteristic.

 

Taliban News: 6,000 people at Kabul airport will soon board planes

Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital

 

Taliban News

State Department spokesman Ned Price said 6;000 “fully processed” people were currently at the Kabul airport and would soon be boarding planes. A source told Reuters that White House officials told a congressional briefing that the United States already had evacuated 6;741 people; including 1;792 American citizens and legal permanent residents.

 

The Taliban swiftly conquered Afghanistan as U.S. and other foreign troops withdrew; surprising even their own leaders and leaving power vacuums in many places.

The Taliban urged unity ahead of Friday prayers; calling on imams to persuade people not to leave Afghanistan.

Since seizing Kabul on Sunday; the Taliban have presented a more moderate face; saying they want peace; will not take revenge against old enemies and will respect the rights of women within the framework of Islamic law.

When in power from 1996-2001; they severely restricted women’s rights; staged public executions and blew up ancient Buddhist statues. They were ousted in a 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

 

Latest Update

A U.S. lawmaker said the Taliban were using files from Afghanistan’s intelligence agency; the National Directorate of Security; to identify Afghans who worked for the United States.

“They are methodically ramping up efforts to round those folks up;” said Representative Jason Crow; who has been leading efforts in the U.S. Congress to accelerate the evacuation of American-affiliated Afghans. “I’ve had people send me pictures of Taliban outside their apartment complexes; searching for them.”

Crow voiced concern that the U.S. government may end the evacuation operation on Aug. 31; leaving more than 100;000 at-risk Afghans and family members in danger of Taliban reprisals.

 

Taliban forming new government

Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital

 

Taliban News

The Biden administration has curtailed the number of flights to the United States for Afghans who worked alongside the US; as it prioritizes the evacuation of American personnel from the country; three sources familiar with the situation told CNN.

The last flight of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants and their families bound for Fort Lee; Virginia; has left Afghanistan; four sources said.

One source said that the limitation on the number of flights that are able to transit in and out of the Kabul airport – which was a scene of mass panic and chaos on Sunday — has impeded efforts to evacuate the Afghans who worked alongside the US in its two-decade military campaign.

It is unclear how long the pause in inbound flights will last. As of last week refugee resettlement agencies were preparing for a large influx of Afghan arrivals; two of the sources said; and Biden administration officials were discussing an uptick in SIV flights.

As of last Thursday; 1;200 Afghans and their families had been evacuated to America as part of the administration’s “Operation Allies Refuge;” according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

 

Latest Update

The Departments of State and Defense have announced that US forces will now take over air traffic control at Kabul airport; in addition to expanding security there.

“Tomorrow and over the coming days; we will be transferring out of the country thousands of American citizens who have been resident in Afghanistan; as well as locally employed staff of the U.S. mission in Kabul and their families and other particularly vulnerable Afghan nationals;” the joint statement from the two agencies said.

“And we will accelerate the evacuation of thousands of Afghans eligible for U.S. Special Immigrant Visas; nearly 2;000 of whom have already arrived in the United States over the past two weeks;” the statement said. “For all categories; Afghans who have cleared security screening will continue to be transferred directly to the United States. And we will find additional locations for those yet to be screened.”

 

Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital

Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital

 

Taliban News

This was stated directly by a senior official of the Afghan Interior Ministry; who was quoted by Reuters on Sunday (15/8/2021). The official said the Taliban came from all sides of the region. However; it did not provide further details.

A tweet from an Afghan Presidential palace account said gunfire had been heard at a number of points around Kabul.

US officials said the diplomats were being transported to the airport from the embassy in the fortified Wazir Akbar Khan district. Many US troops were sent to help with the evacuation after a Taliban blitz of attacks brought the Islamists to Kabul within days.

Last week; US intelligence estimates said Kabul could hold out for at least three months.

 

Latest Update

A Taliban official told Reuters the group did not want any casualties when it took over; but had not announced a ceasefire.

Previously; Taliban insurgents also managed to seize us east of Jalalabad without a fight; giving them control of one of the main highways into landlocked Afghanistan.

The Taliban also took over a border post close to Pakistan; Torkham. Then leaving Kabul airport the only way out of Afghanistan is still in government hands.