~ Piper Bayard
I began posting FaceBook updates on the Afghanistan Crisis created by the sudden withdrawal of US troops on August 17. More US troops were sent into Afghanistan to secure the Kabul airport as the Taliban overran the country and the city of Kabul. Americans, Germans, French, British, and others from NATO countries, along with their interpreters, embassy employees, and assets are trying desperately to get out of the country before Biden calls for the Kabul airport gates to close on their chances of rescue. At this point, it is widely anticipated that thousands of Americans and citizens of other NATO countries will be stranded, along with our Afghan allies. Still living in some alternate universe, the White House is in a full court press to push the narrative that the largest airlift in US history is an unqualified success. I do not know whether they actually believe that or not.
This is a compilation of those updates and links so far.
August 24, 2021, p.m.
NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel tweeted that the US Embassy issued a “last alert” for US citizens to leave Afghanistan or they’re on their own, then the Embassy recalled it 30 mins later.
Multiple news agencies are reporting on Twitter that US troops sent to facilitate the evacuation of tens of thousands of Americans and Afghan allies are now starting to pull out of Afghanistan. Some say the gates to Hamid Karzai International Airport could close as early as tonight.
State Department cancelled today’s briefing.
Multiple reports of Taliban selling some of the captured US weaponry to Iran.
August 24, 2021, a.m.
DCIA William Burns
Image by US gov, public domain
CIA Director Burns sat down with Mullah Baradar, the defacto leader of the Taliban yesterday. CIA is seen by the Taliban to be the most credible US Government interlocutor.
Per Taliban, August 31 deadline was announced by Biden, and now he has to stick to it. The Taliban again warned of “consequences” should the US not have all of its soldiers out by that date.
NATO allies pled with Biden to extend the deadline. There are some reports of NATO countries literally questioning Biden’s sanity.
Today, Biden announced he will stick to the August 31 deadline. My translation: Americans, as well as the citizens of other NATO countries and Afghan allies, who aren’t out by Aug 31 are at the mercy of the Taliban, which has proven it has no mercy.
Biden’s Press Secretary Jen Psaki denied in yesterday’s press conference that any Americans are stranded, saying that it was “irresponsible” to say that Americans are stranded in Afghanistan.
Pentagon Press Secretary Jack Kirby refuses to give the actual number of Americans who have been evacuated at this point.
Other sources are reporting 37 US military flights carried 12,700 evacuees and 57 coalition flights carried 8900 more. 58,000 total souls evacuated since August 14.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid announced that Afghan citizens are no longer allowed to travel to the airport. No Afghans are allowed to leave the country. The Taliban has ordered Afghan citizens at the airport to return home without delay. To be clear, that includes, and perhaps especially, the Afghans who have been working with the West for the past 20 years. Mujahid claims their “security would be guaranteed.” Nevermind that they are currently being beaten, slaughtered, and enslaved throughout the country along with their families.
British soldiers have been told to expect the Taliban to become more aggressive with crowds near the airport perimeter.
The Spanish Defense Minister says they won’t get everyone out and that the Taliban are becoming more aggressive, but that they will keep trying until the end. Spain has been fantastic during this crisis.
Again, BIG THANKS TO QATAR! Qatari Emirati Air Force is able to operate quicker evacuation flights because they are able to overfly Iran.
Airbnb’s co-founder, Brian Chesky, says Airbnb will host 20,000 Afghan refugees globally at its own cost. Contact Airbnb if you are willing to host a family.
Uzbekistan, after talks with the Taliban, returned 150 refugees to Taliban control.
Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan
Image by USAF, public domain
Fighters in the Panjshir Valley are preparing Soviet-era weapons in expectation of a major Taliban assault. The Taliban will now be fighting the Afghan resistance armed with *our* weaponry that was abandoned by the Afghan military when they were overrun.
China is now openly threatening Taiwan, no longer showing any concern that the US will intervene.
Singapore flat out told Harris that the image of the United States and in the international community is now in question due to America’s “awry” withdrawal of troops.
CIA Chief William Burns Met With Senior Taliban Figure in Kabul, Wall Street Journal, Warren P. Strobel, August 24
Biden Refuses to Extend Evacuation Deadline Past August 31, The Pavlovic Today, Ksenija Pavlovic McAteer, August 24
Spain Warns Will Have To Leave People Behind In Afghanistan, NDTV, Syndicated Feed, August 24
Queueing Up to Escape from Hell: Satellite Images Show Thousands Lining Up for Rescue Flights, Daily Mail, Chris Pleasance, August 24
Uzbekistan Sends Afghan Refugees Back Home, States Taliban Won’t Persecute for Fleeing, Newsweek, Mary Ellen Cagnassola, August 20
Singapore PM Says US Image in Question During Press Conference With Kamala Harris, Media ITE, Rudy Takala, August 23
August 23, 2021
Digital Dunkirk — An army of thousands of veterans are using satellite imagery to locate Taliban checkpoints and evacuate the abandoned Afghan interpreters and their families who are being hunted down by the Taliban.
US forces have extended their perimeter at the Kabul airport. Per independent reporter Alex Tiffin, they are now closer to the civilian terminal and directly opposite the Taliban’s Badri 313 special forces unit. (If you’re on Twitter, follow Alex Tiffin @RespectIsVital for comprehensive coverage of the Afghanistan Crisis.)
Some Americans making it to the airport report that they are not able to get through the crowd to the Marines, and the Marines cannot come out into the crowd to get them.
Those who do make it to the airport are being told to be prepared to wait up to twelve hours with no food, water, shelter, or sanitation facilities. Some reports of people with everything in order waiting days in these conditions.
Now serious concerns that ISIS, which is at odds with the Taliban but never misses a good opportunity for death and chaos, will send suicide bombers into the crowds and Western forces at the Kabul airport.
Reports are coming out numerous places that thousands of blank visas to the US have been printed and distributed in Kabul.
Taliban has intensified search for Afghans who assisted US and Western allies, along with members of the Afghan government and military. Those trying to reach the airport are having their documents taken and being beaten at Taliban checkpoints. In at least one report, the Taliban beat a small child to keep the parents back. Some of our Afghan allies are being slaughtered with their families and their daughters taken for sex slaves.
The Taliban is using our biometric facial recognition database to locate and identify Afghans who helped the West during the past 20 years.
Taliban on the streets of Kabul
Image by US gov, public domain
Taliban (who promised not to retaliate and the Biden administration believed them) is also passing death sentences on extended family members of those who worked with the West.
The Taliban is now well-equipped with our machinery, armaments, uniforms and gear that was abandoned to them.
BIG THANKS TO THE COUNTRY OF QATAR! Groups of Americans trying to escape are meeting up with Qatari diplomats, who are helping escort them through the Taliban checkpoints to the Kabul airport.
Special Forces from EU countries are bringing out Afghans who worked with them.
American rescue operations are being a bit more cagey with any information.
Some Spec Ops veterans and contractors are crowd funding rescue missions for Americans and Afghan allies.
Germans are reporting a firefight involving German and US military against a sniper at the airport. An Afghan security soldier was killed and three others wounded. No US or German casualties reported.
At least 20 people killed outside the Kabul airport from stampeding and shootings.
Anti-Taliban resistance group claims to have thousands of fighters bracing for a showdown with the Taliban in the Panjshir Valley. Tajikistan and Northern Alliance forces have been using Afghan National Air Force Mi-8/17 helicopters to transfer weapons and food to the Panjshir Valley.
G7 countries are pressing Biden to extend the August 31 deadline for evacuations so that they will have time to get their people out. Likely, they are reminding Biden that they were not consulted or considered in setting withdrawal dates, and that it was Biden who threw not only the US but the entire Western world and Afghanistan into this unnecessary s**t show.
A Taliban spokesman said today that the Taliban “will not tolerate” any extension to the evacuations.
For more on Afghanistan, follow @PiperBayard on Twitter.
Massive Veterans Group Uses Intel, Satellite Images to Direct Afghan Interpreters Around Taliban Checkpoints, FOX News, Ethan Barton, August 22
August 21, 2021
Yesterday, Biden claimed “We have no indication” Americans are being blocked from getting to the Hamid Karzai Int’l Airport in Kabul. Pelosi said, “It sounds like everything is in place. All they have to do is get to the airport.”
Today the US Embassy in Kabul said Americans should “avoid traveling to the airport” due to security threats unless given individual instructions by a US government representative.
Crowds outside the airport are out of control, with Taliban beating people and shooting in the air, and German, US troops, and others beating back the crowds that are overwhelming the area.
Taliban is taking American-issued passports from Afghan-Americans at checkpoints when they can get away with it. In at least one case, a US Marine forced the Taliban to return a passport to an Afghan-American.
Taliban roam Kabul in US Humvee
Image by US gov, public domain
White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield in interview with CNN’s Brianna Keiler: “We are doing everything to get as many people out who want to get out before the August 31 deadline.” Even CNN’s Keiler realized Bedingfield was saying the White House is prepared to leave US citizens and Afghan allies behind.
169 Americans and Afghan allies were airlifted from the top of a Kabul hotel by US military and taken to the airport for evacuation on Thursday.
Other NATO countries that did not evacuate their citizens and Afghan allies are also being taken to task. See Der Spiegel.
Air Force revised number of people evacuated at one time on a C-17 from 640 to 823. Initially, 183 children had not been counted.
Chaos As Kabul Airport Closes After Fatal Crush at the Barricades, The Telegraph, Patrick Sawer, Edward Helmore, and Verity Bowman, August 21
Taliban Seizing Afghan-American’s US Passports Outside Kabul Airport, New York Post, Hollie McKay, August 20
August 20, 2021
White House says things in Kabul are settling and getting better, and people are evacuating smoothly with Taliban letting them through to the airport. The Biden administration is trying to push the idea that 100,000 Americans and Afghan allies would be going through this no matter what.
Taliban is intensifying door-to-door search for our Afghan allies using US biometric facial recognition database and butchering them and their families in horrific ways or disappearing them before they can get to the airport.
Taliban is preventing people with papers in order from getting to the airport.
Desperate parents are passing their children over the wall to US soldiers in the airport hoping at least they will get out.
US Marine comforts baby passed over fence.
Image DoD, public domain
Taliban is marking the homes of people identified as promoting women’s rights with pink paint.
Protests against the Taliban are breaking out across Afghanistan, even in Kabul.
We have only evacuated 6,000 people since Saturday.
This is not an isolated event. The repercussions to foreign policy and the emboldening of hostile nations are just beginning.
Thousands of Afghans with Travel Documents Stranded in Kabul as Taliban Fighters Turn Them Away, Gandhara, Frud Bezhan, August 19
Special Forces Mobilize in Kabul to Get Britons Airborne, The Times, Larisa Brown, August 20
What’s 50 Times More Dangerous Than Afghanistan?, Wall Street Journal, Sadanand Dhume, August 19
Biden Afghanistan Policy Counts on War Weary Americans to Lose Interest, Reuters, Trevor Hunnicutt and Idrees Ali, August 20
Taliban Urge Afghan Unity as Protests Spread to Kabul, Reuters, Lincoln Feast, Robert Birsel, Will Dunham and Catherine Evans, August 19
August 17, 2021
11,000+* Americans are stranded in Afghanistan, along with 86,000** Afghans who helped us. Biden administration is paying Taliban to “provide security around the airport in Kabul.”*** Per the Wall Street Journal, the Taliban has set up checkpoints at entrances to the airport where they are beating Afghans trying to leave and preventing people from reaching their evacuation flights. Some flights are departing from Kabul almost empty.
Biden administration is not providing assistance to Americans or Afghan allies attempting to reach their evacuation flights. Americans and Afghan allies outside of Kabul are stranded with too many Taliban checkpoints between them and the airport. They will not be receiving any assistance to reach the airport, either.
The Taliban has the biometric facial recognition database of our Afghani allies and is using it to hunt them down.
See Twitter for up-to-date coverage from numerous sources. I’m at @PiperBayard.
* Count of 11k per White House Press Secy Psaki. The plus is for the US citizens the US does not admit are in Afghanistan.
** Number per former 1st Lt. Matt Zeller interviewed on MSNBC. If you missed that, link in comments. He is saying what so many are feeling right now.
Taliban consolidate control in Afghanistan’s Capital as Thousands Remain Stranded, Wall Street Journal, August 17, 2021