Monday Flights. A Qatar Airways flight left Kabul for Doha, Qatar Monday at 1630 Kabul time. A Kam Air flight departed Mazar-i-Sharif on Monday at 1630 Kabul time for the Gulf. Source FlightRadar24.com.
Kabul Flight – Sunday. Another Qatar Airways jet (QTR7277) left Kabul for Doha, Qatar on Sunday, October 17, 2021. According to a Twitter post by @TreyYingst of Fox News, the plane is carrying 353 passengers, including students and faculty from the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF). This is the ninth evacuation flight organized by Qatar. American citizens and other foreign nationals were on board. Citizens from the Netherlands, Denmark, and Australia are reported to have been on board the aircraft as well.
Pakistan Flights to Resume? Afghanistan’s ministry of transport and civil aviation said that international flights can resume between Kabul and Islamabad. The decision was made after the acting minister of transport and civil aviation met with Pakistan’s ambassador to Kabul and authorities of three airlines servicing the Kabul – Islamabad route. The airlines agreed to reduce ticket prices. Recently, PIA was charging $2,500 for each ticket – an increase over the usual $150. “Kam Air, Ariana, PIA to resume flights from Kabul to Pakistan”, The Khaama Press, October 16, 2021.
Visas for Afghan College Students in India. Nearly 2,000 Afghan students who won Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) scholarships for various universities in India cannot leave Afghanistan because they don’t have the appropriate visas. “Afghan Students with Indian Scholarships Face Visa Problems”, Tolo News, October 18, 2021.
How to Welcome Afghan Families. Blue Star Families and Welcome.US will host an event entitled “Veterans and Military Families: How to Welcome Our Afghan Allies” on Tuesday, October 16, 2021 at 2 PM ET.
Security and Governance in Afghanistan
International Recognition? Pakistan, China, and Iran have yet to recognize the Taliban government – but they may do so in the near future. All want to see a stable government in Afghanistan – as that would be good for their national security interests. The three countries will likely cooperate with each other – and to a degree, with Russia as well – in an effort to enhance security, stability, and economic progress in Afghanistan. This will result in an emerging anti-US axis, which will vastly reduce US influence in the region and affect the US security environment in Central and South Asia. Zahir Sherazi provides an analysis in “Will Afghanistan’s powerful neighbors engage the Taliban?”, Aljazeera, October 16, 2021.
Drone Attack Payments. The U.S. Department of Defense has offered unspecified condolence payments to the family of 10 civilians who were killed in a botched U.S. drone attack in Afghanistan in August during the final days before the U.S. military withdrew from Afghanistan. (Reuters, Oct 16, 2021).
NGOs and the Taliban. The lives of millions of Afghans will depend on how the Taliban choose to regulate, cooperate with, or inhibit the activities of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society in Afghanistan. With a humanitarian crisis now taking place – one that will get worse as winter approaches – it is important that NGOs conduct their important life-saving work without interference from the Taliban. David Moore, VP of Legal Affairs at the International Center for Not-for-Profit law (ICNL), provides his perspective on this topic in “Taliban Governance of NGOs – What to Expect and How to Respond”, Just Security, October 15, 2021.
Dollar Smuggling. Kandahar money changers say that most of their customers are buying US dollars in exchange for Pakistani rupees. Foreign currency use is increasing as the Afghani value drops. Much of the US currency is then moved to Pakistan. “Dollar Smuggling Out of Afghanistan Increases: Money Changers”, Tolo News, October 10, 2021.
NIC Center Reopens. Officials at the Civil Registration Authority in Afghanistan said that more than 80,000 electronic identity cards would be issued form the ID card center in the coming weeks. There was a two-month long pauses following the collapse of the former government. The Kabul centers will open this week and other centers across the country will reopen in the current weeks. “Electronic ID Card Center Reopens in Kabul”, Tolo News, October 16, 2021.
Analysis and Think Tank Stuff
Video – Gates on Afghanistan. Robert Gates, the only secretary of defense to serve under presidents from two different political parties, was interviewed by Anderson Cooper on “60 Minutes”. He provided some candid statements on Afghanistan – and criticized both the Biden and Trump administrations for not properly planning for a cogent withdrawal plan. “Robert Gates on Afghanistan, His Disagreements with President Biden and Polarization in the U.S.”, CBS News, October 17, 2021, 14 minutes.
The Blame Game. Members of Congress are asking questions about the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan during the summer of 2021 and the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. During Congressional testimony officials from the Department of State and Department of Defense continue to point fingers at each – many times answering questions with “You will need to talk to State about that” or “You will need to talk to Defense” about that. Congress is not blame-free in this after-action review process – most times the dialogue breaks down into political posturing – with members of Congress advancing the usual arguments of their respective political parties. “Pentagon, State Department square off on Afghanistan accountability”, The Hill, October 17, 2021.
Podcast: Foreign Fighters and IW. Jasmine El-Gamal and Nate Rosenbaltt discuss the political, social, and economic circumstances that create the conditions to enable the mass recruitment and radicalization of foreign fighters and the influential role that foreigners play in Islamic extremist groups. “On the Road to Jihad: The Role of Foreign Fighters in Irregular Warfare”, Modern War Institute at West Point, October 18, 2021.
Taliban Victory Helps Pakistan Radicals. The ‘bad Taliban’ – or Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP), the name associated with the jihadists fighting the Pakistan regime is being assisted with the victory of the ‘good Taliban’ in Afghanistan. The Pakistani Taliban are looking at regaining territory lost in the tribal regions several years back to the Pakistani military. “Afghan Taliban’s victory boosts Pakistan’s radicals”, by Kathy Gannon, Associated Press, October 18, 2021.
Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rachael Scott interacts with an Afghan child during Operation Allies Welcome at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Sept. 1, 2021. Photo by Tia Dufour, Marine Corps.