Afghanistan, first flight to Washington with US interpreters and collaborators
“I want to thank these brave Afghans for being on the side of the United States,” Joe Biden said in the statement released by the White House. “I am proud to tell them: welcome home.” The president then recalled “all those in the US who have spoken on their behalf,” including veterans, thanking American diplomats and officials who “work tirelessly in the framework of the ‘Allies Refuge’ operation.”
According to the document obtained by the Associated Press, the airliner carrying 221 Afghans, including 57 children and 15 infants, arrived in US territory in the early hours of this morning. Evacuation flights were organized to resettle former translators at risk of death from retaliation by the Taliban for working with the US military and civilians.
The Al Jazeera correspondent from Kabul said the US embassy in the city was “very cautious” on the news of the evacuation flights. “They told us they are incredibly concerned about the safety and privacy of these interpreters,” writes the Qatari broadcaster. “They are concerned about information leaking about logistics and who these people are and how they are getting out. It would put their future at risk.”
Washington has announced that about 750 Afghans are eligible for the special immigrant visas (Siv), which have already been approved for the US visa, with an estimated 1,750 people, including families. Twenty thousand former collaborators have asked for evacuation under the US State Department’s particular immigration visa program. Some estimates suggest that the total number of potentially displaced persons could reach 100,000, counting family members.
The Taliban agree to continue the negotiations. But there is still no talk of a ceasefire, at least until there is an Islamic government. They know well that they can take advantage of the moment of disarray in the country, also because they are stronger militarily than in the past, thanks to a competitive arsenal of war and the support of neighboring countries, which has improved in recent years. Therefore, they want all the international military forces in Afghanistan to be ready to leave the country without further conditions.
Otherwise, the conflict will continue; but non-governmental organizations, embassies, and foreign workers will not be targeted. In the last month, the fundamentalists have conquered many provinces and strategic border crossings, the leaders of the Islamic Emirate, confirm control of almost the entire territory but do not intend to occupy the capital. The spokesman for the Koranic students, Suhail Shaheen, argues that their goal is not military conquest but to find an agreement in Doha.