Afghan Report – Tue, Oct 12, 2021

Ramstein Air Base Flights Resume

Topics: Revenge killings of ANDSF, flights to Pakistan, Lily Pads begin flights, Afghan immigration, Congress queries Congress, and more

Revenge Killings on ANDSF. The Taliban are targeting former members of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). Although the Taliban stated that they would hunt down former members of the ANDSF it is quite apparent they are doing it across the country. Many have been arrested and taken away – never to be seen again. “Taliban Takes Revenge on Former Afghan Security Forces”, Gandhara, October 12, 2021.

Flights to Pakistan. Flying commercially to Pakistan from Kabul is expensive – the price of tickets have skyrocketed over the past several weeks. In the past, a round-trip ticket would cost $300, now a one-way ticket can cost almost $2,400. Kam Air flights have not flown to Pakistan for three days in a row, mainly because Pakistan wants the airline to send lists of its passengers to Pakistan’s Ministry of Interior Affairs before embarking. This new security check was implemented by Pakistan on Friday, October 8th. Currently, only one Pakistani airline has permission to fly between Afghanistan and Pakistan. “Airfare to Pakistan Spikes, Flights Halted for Past 3 Days”, Tolo News, October 11, 2021.

Flights from ‘Lily Pads’ Resume. Outbound flights were temporarily paused at the request of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention out of an abundance of caution due to the discovery of a small number of measles cases in the United States among recently arrived evacuees from Afghanistan. Flights from Ramstein Air Base in Germany have resumed. Approximately 8,800 evacuees received the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and the majority of eligible evacuees received the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at Ramstein and Rhine Ordnance Barracks.

Afghanistan’s All-Female Orchestra. The school for the members of Afghanistan’s only all-female orchestra is now a military base for the Haqqani network, a hard-line group allied with the Taliban and that has strong ties to al-Qaeda. Some members of the Orchestra has managed to escape Afghanistan but others remain trapped. The Zohra Orchestra, consisting of 30 members, has traveled the world performing both traditional Afghan songs and classical music. They became an emblem of Afghanistan’s growing freedoms and opportunities for girls and women. “After the Taliban seized their school, Afghanistan’s all-female orchestra tried to flee. Only some escaped.”, The Washington Post, October 10, 2021.

800+ Afghans on C-17 – Interview. History was made during the Kabul noncombatant evacuation operation in August 2021. A C-17 Galaxy took off with over 800 people on board, the largest number of people on a C-17 ever. Over 640 adults and 183 children were on the flight. (CBS New York, Oct 12, 2021).

Immigration for Afghans. One resource to assist Afghans in their immigration quest is provided at the website of Afg Diaspora Hub. There is information on the U.S. Department of State Electronic Diversity Visa Program, online E-Visas for 16 different countries, and Humanitarian Parole for the United States. Pathways for Immigration.

Nonprofits Assist Afghans in Resettlement. Once an Afghan family reaches the United States a new life begins. However, there is a lot of assistance that is needed to help these new families adjust and survive in American. Fortunately, a lot of small and large nonprofit organizations are available to help – though perhaps not enough to handle the current surge of Afghan evacuees. In addition, these nonprofits survive on donations and funding from others. Read more in “Small nonprofits helping resettle Afghan evacuees say they need more foundation and government support”, The Washington Post, October 10, 2021.

Congress – Help Needed for U.S. Service Members with Family in Afghanistan. Some former Afghan interpreters who came to the United States over the past several years have acquired their ‘green card’ and then joined the U.S. military. They now want assistance in getting their family members to the United States. Lawmakers are pressuring the State Department and Biden administration for assistance. “Lawmakers Press to Rescue Afghan Relatives of U.S. Service Members”, The New York Times, October 11, 2021.

Greece – Stiffening Its Borders. Greece is increasing the number of border guards at the Turkish border over fears of a spike in attempted illegal migration because of the takeover by the Taliban in Afghanistan. “Greece boosts border guards over Afghan migration fears”, ABC News, October 11, 2021.

The New Taliban Regime

Taliban’s New Purpose? After the Western withdrawal and the collapse of Afghanistan’s former government, Taliban militant are struggling to define their purpose as the group switches from fighting to governance. Kabul-based journalist Franz J. Marty reports from Nuristan. “Afghanistan: What will the Taliban do without an enemy to fight”, Deutsche Welle, October 11, 2021.

Taliban and IS: A Long Rivalry. IS emerged in Afghanistan in 2015 with the name Islamic State in Khorasan Province and it drew in members from Afghan and Pakistani militant groups. ISKP had been hit hard by U.S. aerial strikes as well as by Afghan SOF units advised by U.S. Special Forces – and it was significantly reduced in size. However, its new enemy is now the Taliban regime and it seems intent on stepping up the violence. “EXPLAINER: Can the Taliban suppres the potent IS threat?”, Associated Press News, October 12, 2021.

Financial Collapse. The international community must find ways to inject cash directly into Afghanistan’s economy to avert its total collapse as a growing humanitarian crisis impacts half the population – according to U.N. Secretary Antonio Guterres. He was speaking to reporters on Monday (Oct 11) on the urgent economic and humanitarian needs of Afghanistan. “U.N. chief: Liquidity needed to stem Afghanistan economic, humanitarian crisis”, Reuters, October 11, 2021. See also “Afghanistan is Facing a Total Economic Meltdown”, The New York Times, October 12, 2021. (subscription)

Analysis and Think Tank Stuff

Video – McChrystal on Afghanistan. Retired General Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of Joint Special Operations Command, talks about the conditions around the United States Afghan pullout. “Former special ops commander on Afghanistan withdrawal”, Army Times, October 11, 2021, 5 minutes.

US and Pakistan. With fall of the former Afghan regime and the victory of Pakistan with its installation of the Taliban government, the U.S. relationship with Pakistan will undergone tremendous change. The Center for Middle East Policy of the Brookings Institute will host a forum to address this topic on October 13.

How Afghanistan Fell. For two decades Afghanistan was plagued by corruption, political infighting, abuse of power, and ineptness on the part of government officials and senior security leaders. The Taliban continued and expanded their dominance in the rural areas. The Doha Agreement in February 2020 was the final nail in the coffin. At that point it was clear that Afghanistan would be lost. Read an insider’s account of what went wrong by Ajmal Ahmady in “Why Afghanistan Fell”, Foreign Affairs, October 11, 2021.

‘Afghan Led Missions’ or Not. U.S. military units deployed to Afghanistan had a tendency to want to conduct unilateral missions rather than cooperate with the Afghan security forces in their area of operations. There were many reasons for this – ineptness on the part of the Afghan forces, distrust, cultural differences, and more. Afghan leaders were frequently cut out of the military planning process during ‘joint operations’. Many times, just enough Afghans were added to a mission at the last minute to put ‘an Afghan face’ on the operation. Kyle Atwell and Paul Bailey examine this topic in detail and provide recommendations for future counterinsurgency operations. “Wanna Fight? Pushing Partners Aside in Afghanistan”, War on the Rocks, October 11, 2021.


Photo: Dale Wursten, Transportation Security Administration inspector, has an evacuee help take pictures of their family members before boarding flights to the United States from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Oct. 9, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Edgar Grimaldo)