There is dissent growing inside of the White House and the Pentagon over the feasibility of getting everyone trying to escape from Afghanistan safely out of the country. Some officials are speaking to the media on background, saying that while the goal may still be achievable, too many things will have to happen flawlessly to pull this off. Also, the reality is setting in that the only people who will be able to get out are the ones who made it to Kabul and are waiting in the long lines trying to gain access to the airport. In reality, there are still an unknown number of people in the other provinces who were unable to safely travel to Kabul and now have no way of reaching the city since the Taliban has taken over the entire country. The terror group has set up roadblocks in most areas, interrogating anyone seeking to travel. Some who have made the attempt have been turned back, while others simply disappeared. There are also checkpoints set up on the streets leading to the airport and not everyone is being allowed through. (Reuters)
President Joe Biden’s pledge to evacuate thousands more at-risk Afghans who worked for the U.S. government will run into the cold reality of a fast-closing window of time, insecurity all over Afghanistan and major logistical hurdles.
As one U.S. official told Reuters “too many things have to go 100 percent correctly” to execute the plan to move out those going through the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) process. The Pentagon is aiming to evacuate up to 22,000 SIV applicants, their families and other at-risk people.
But officials and refugee resettlement groups said that number, while admirable, will be much more difficult to reach now that the Taliban have seized the capital Kabul and most of the country.
It looks like former President Ghani made the right call when he fled for his life as the Taliban approached Kabul. At this point, his new location is still unknown to the public.
Thus far, only 2,000 Afghans have made it to America. More are being flown to third countries to have their SIV applications processed and background checks completed. But in a more disturbing development, some of Biden’s own allies in his administration are now admitting that most of the delays in getting people out of the country were the result of political decisions made by Joe Biden and his team.
Two officials speaking off the record told Reuters that Joe Biden was “concerned about the political impact of large numbers of Afghan refugees flowing into the United States and preferred they be sent to third countries.” That strikes me as a rather odd claim. The President has shown absolutely zero concern over the political optics of tens of thousands of illegal migrants flooding across the southern border and has almost seemed to relish the prospect. I suppose you could argue that there’s a higher chance of Islamic terrorists sneaking in with the Afghan refugees than among the largely Hispanic (and Christian) migrants coming from the Northern Triangle countries, but we’re still not talking about that many people from Afghanistan by comparison.
Getting back to the situation outside of the capital, there are increasing reports of the Taliban behaving quite differently out in the more remote provinces than what we’re seeing in Kabul. The head of one refugee aid group told Reuters that “Taliban fighters are going door to door and pulling people out who are not being seen again.” Also, women are regularly being seized in the streets and publicly beaten for not adhering to the strict Sharia law dress codes. But at this point, we don’t have very many reporters or cameras in the smaller cities, so getting documentation out to the rest of the world remains a challenge.
As one Pentagon official said, the clock is ticking. Any more delays, even if they are just caused by weather or mechanical malfunctions, could thwart the completion of the evacuation. This process needed to be started months earlier and should have been well underway before the Taliban had time to gather its forces and begin the march to Kabul.