Posts tagged with "Afghanistan"

Afghan crowds return to Kabul airport after blasts as America warns of further attacks

August 30, 2021

On Friday, August 27, hundreds of Afghans picked their way, through the carnage left behind by the previous day’s deadly suicide bombings outside Kabul airport in a last-ditch effort to flee the country, as the United States. and its allies rushed to complete their final evacuation flights, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The official Afghan death toll from the attack, claimed by Islamic State, was expected to rise above the current figure of 90. One hospital alone, the Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital in central Kabul, said it had received the bodies of 145 people killed.

The United States, which lost 13 members of its armed services, vowed a retaliatory strike against Islamic State’s local offshoot, known as ISIS-K.

On Friday, the Taliban, which has been manning checkpoints around the airport, criticized Washington for lax security that it said opened the way for the bombers. The Taliban have for years fought the Islamic State as the two Islamist militant groups have battled for supremacy in Afghanistan.

“The incident did not happen in an area controlled by the Islamic Emirate,” as the Taliban refer to themselves, said Habib Samangani, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission. “That area is controlled by the Americans. We blame the Americans for it.”

amangani said Taliban intelligence officials were investigating the attack, but that the probe was still at a “preliminary stage.”

Marine Corps Geeral. Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, said in a press briefing Thursday after the explosions that the threat from Islamic State, along with “other active threat streams,” remained.

“We believe it is their desire to continue these attacks and we expect those attacks to continue,” he said.

Thursday’s violence appears to have sped up the pace of evacuations from Kabul airport, with the U.K. saying it would finish flights on Friday morning. Other countries expressed regret that they wouldn’t be able to airlift all citizens and Afghans who worked with their forces and embassies.

As crowds queued up in the street outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in the early morning, dozens of Afghan men waded through open sewers lining the street to get closer to the gates.

“There was still blood and pieces of flesh and torn-off clothes on the ground,”  29-year-old man who lives near Kabul airport told the Journal. “People stepped on it trying to get to the airport.”

The crowd was smaller than it appeared to be on Thursday—with many apparently wary in the wake of the attack.

Later Friday, rumors spread of another explosion, sending people running away from the airport in all directions, leaving only Taliban fighters guarding the gates, according to a shopkeeper in the area. Taliban militants have since prevented would-be evacuees from getting near the airport, several witnesses said.

President Biden in a speech Thursday evening said he had instructed his military commanders to develop response plans to the attack.

“We will hunt you down and make you pay,” Biden said, adding that U.S. evacuations would continue despite the attack, and that efforts to extract Americans who want out of Afghanistan would continue beyond an August 31 deadline he set for withdrawing the last remaining American troops.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials and activists stepped up efforts to get as many Westerners and Afghans out of the country as they could. In recent days, access to the airport had been impeded by Taliban checkpoints and bureaucracy at the airport, leaving several evacuation flights to take off with significant numbers of empty seats.

Americans held tense negotiations with Taliban leaders to get approval to bring busloads of Afghans to the airport for flights to places such as Ukraine and Albania.

Research contact: @WSJ

 

Airbnb says it will give temporary free housing to 20,000 Afghan refugees

August 25, 2021

Airbnb and its charitable arm, Airbnb.org, said on Tuesday, August 24,  that the company intended to provide free temporary housing globally for 20,000 refugees fleeing the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, The New York Times reports

As American and European governments race to evacuate tens of thousands of people from the landlocked nation at the crossroads of Central and South Asia, the property rental company called the displacement and resettlement of refugees a “significant humanitarian crisis.”

The cost of the accommodations will be covered with money from Airbnb and its chief executive, Brian Chesky, as well as contributions from the Airbnb.org Refugee Fund, which was launched in June with the goal of raising $25 million. The organization is working with resettlement agencies and offered to support federal and state governments.

“The displacement and resettlement of Afghan refugees in the U.S. and elsewhere is one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time. We feel a responsibility to step up,” Chesky said on Twitter.

“I hope this inspires other business leaders to do the same,” he said, according to the Times, adding, “There’s no time to waste.”

Airbnb did not specify how long refugees could stay in the apartments or houses, but said its hosts were offering short- and long-term stays. The company said it had begun supporting Afghans fleeing the country last week when it gave funding to the International Rescue Committee and other organizations to provide temporary stays using the Airbnb platform for up to 1,000 refugees.

Over the weekend, Airbnb said, it placed 165 refugees in housing across the United States, including in California, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, and Washington State.

Research contact: @Airbnb

Biden under pressure from G7 leaders to extend Afghanistan withdrawal deadline

August 25, 2021

Amid criticism from U.S. allies over the chaotic withdrawal in Afghanistan and pressure to extend his August 31 deadline, President Joe Biden met virtually with G7 partners on Tuesday with just a week left to evacuate thousands of civilians and to pull out thousands of U.S. troop, ABC News reports.

At a press conference on Monday, August 23, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said leaders are meeting “to ensure the world’s leading democracies are aligned and united on the way forward,” adding, “We are working with partners to address the acute humanitarian needs of the Afghan people and we will remain persistently vigilant against the terrorism threat in Afghanistan and in multiple other theaters.”

According to ABC, as the deadline to evacuate looms, approximately 58,700 people have been evacuated from Kabul since August 14, when the Taliban took control of the government. Since the end of July, the U.S. has relocated approximately 63,900 people.

Officials have been vague when asked how many Americans still need to be evacuated, only saying that there are “thousands”—and blaming it on citizens not registering with the U.S. Embassy when they arrive or deregistering when they leave.

Adding to the scramble to evacuate, U.S. officials are also concerned about a possible attack from ISIS-K at the airport, looking to exploit the situation of the packed crowds outside trying to gain entrance.

The U.S. has been working at a lightning pace to speed up evacuations as Taliban leaders have said that August 31 is a “red line” for troops to leave and doubled-down during a Tuesday, August 24, morning press conference, saying they will reject any U.S. military presence or evacuations past the end of the month.

President Biden has said that U.S. troops will stay until every American and Afghan SIV applicant has been evacuated, which is directly at odds with the Taliban’s position.

Their firm stance on that deadline comes after CIA Director William Burns met with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar on Monday, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to ABC News—the highest level in-person meeting between a Biden administration official and the Taliban since the militant group took over Kabul.

“We are in talks with the Taliban on a daily basis through both political and security channels,” Sullivan said Monday before the Burns meeting was reported.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, Biden defended the withdrawal and said he didn’t think it could have been handled any better.

“I don’t think it could have been handled in a way that, we’re gonna go back in hindsight and look—but the idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens. I don’t know how that happens,” he said.

The president also has conceded that the speed of which the Taliban took over the country was faster than expected.

The president has also spoken separately with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Spanish President Pedro Sánchez, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, among the G7 allies. He also has held calls with Amir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed.

Research contact: @abcnews

Polls find that Americans agree: War in Afghanistan wasn’t worth it

August 24, 2021

As corporate media amplify pro-war voices to cover developing events in Afghanistan, two polls out Sunday, as well as one from the week before, found that the U.S. public has little appetite for continuing the 20-year war, reports Raw Story.

CBS News/YouGov survey, conducted August 18-20, found that 63% of respondents nationwide approve of President Joe Biden’s decision to pull troops out of Afghanistan, and just 37% disapprove. Just 47%, however, approve of the way Biden is handling the troop withdrawal.

Separate polling from NBC News, conducted August 14-17asked if the war in Afghanistan was worth it. Sixty-one percent said it was not, compared to 29% who said it was. The last time the poll asked the question was in June of 2014 when similar percentages were found. At that time, 65% said the war wasn’t worth it, compared to 27% who said it was.

Those findings mirror a poll out last week from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Conducted leading up to and after the Taliban entered Kabul on Sunday, August 15, the survey found 62% of U.S. adults believed the war in Afghanistan wasn’t worth fighting.

The surveys were released amid still emerging and chaotic scenes of Afghan civilians trying to flee Taliban takeover of the country, Raw Story reported. The British military said Sunday that seven people were killed as a result of a crowd crush at the Kabul airport.

Rightwing media have responded to the scenes of those trying to flee with fear-mongering about the possible influx of Afghan refugees into the U.S. Human rights advocates, meanwhile, are calling on the Biden administration to “urgently do more” to help evacuate those most at risk of harm, including those who worked with U.S. and NATO forces, journalists, and women’s rights activists.

Specific actions that should be taken, the groups, including Amnesty International USA and Human Rights Watch, said in Friday, August 20,  letter  to Biden, are working with allies to ensure those fleeing get to the Kabul airport safely and increasing the administration’s stated goal of evacuating 5,000-9,000 people per day.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN on Sunday, August 22, that in the last 24 hours, the United States helped secure the evacuation of nearly 8,000 civilians, with 3,900 people on U.S. military aircraft and another 3,900 on partners’ aircraft.

Research contact: @RawStory