Topics: News about Afghanistan, evacuation of AMCITs, LPRs, and at-risk Afghans, Operation Allies Welcome Fact Sheet, Afghan girls and school, WELCOMED Act, NATO mission creep, bad intelligence, Seth Jones on Afghanistan, Kabul NEO vetting, Americans stranded, DoS internal review of evacuation, . . . . . and more.
Subscribe to the Afghan Report Newsletter. Arrives
in your email inbox before your morning coffee has perked.
Americans Stranded. During a Tuesday, October 26th hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, U.S. military leaders were subjected to intense questioning about the poorly executed U.S. departure from Afghanistan and the chaos at the Kabul airport during August 2021. The session also provided more light on a topic the Department of State had kept in the dark – the actual number of Americans still remaining in Afghanistan. “Americans Remain Stranded in Afghanistan While Biden Looks On”, Family Research Council, October 26, 2021.
Kabul NEO and Vetting. Some Afghans who got on the initial evacuation planes out of Kabul airport have not passed some of the extra screening checks being conducted at the ‘lily pads’ – the first stop the evacuation planes made in the Middle East. These Afghans are now being temporarily held in Kosovo. Critics of the evacuation say standard screening steps were bypassed during the chaotic evacuation effort in August. “Republican Lawmakers Question Vetting Standards for Afghans Brought to U.S.”, The Wall Street Journal, October 27, 2021.
Congressman Assists in Evacuation. Representative Greg Murphy’s office has helped 80 at-risk people escape from Afghanistan in the past week. A member of his staff, Kevin Ryan, is part of an online network of thousands of private citizens helping to fill the gap that the U.S. government left when it exited Afghanistan stranding thousands in Afghanistan. (Fox News, Oct 28, 2021).
DoS Review of Evacuation. The man leading the agency that was responsible for the chaos at Kabul airport in August now says he (Blinken) has ordered a series of internal reviews of the State Department’s planning and execution of the NEO. Thousands of U.S.-allied Afghans were not evacuated and are now at risk of Taliban persecution. The Biden administration had broke a previous commitment to keep U.S. troops in the country until every U.S. citizen was able to escape. “Blinken says he ordered reviews of State Dept’s evacuation efforts out of Afghanistan”, Reuters, October 27, 2021.
Afghan Evacuee Resettlement
Afghans on U.S. Bases – A Waiting Game. The United States evacuated thousands of Afghans in August and they are now on one of eight military installations in the U.S. Many have finished the medical screening, background checks, and bureaucratic processing necessary to be resettled to a community in the U.S. The resettlement agencies are not as robust as they have been in years past – so they were not able to handle the large and sudden influx of over 55,000 Afghans – and more to come. In addition, there is a affordable housing shortage nationwide that has added to the problem of finding housing for the Afghans. Jen Kirby describes the life of an Afghan refugee waiting to start a new life in the United States. “Why thousands of Afghans are still on US military bases”, Vox.com, October 28, 2021.
The WELCOMED Act – Assisting Afghan Evacuees. Seth Moulton represents the 6th District in Massachusetts and is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. He introduced a bipartisan bill that secures benefits for the Afghans who are now being resettled into communities across the United States. “How a new bipartisan law will help our Afghan allies resettle in the US”, The Hill, October 28, 2021.
EOA Congressional Advocacy Day. Evacuate Our Allies is conducting its Virtual Congressional Advocacy Days on Tuesday, November 9th and Wednesday, November 10th., 2021. The intent is to inform Congress about the Afghan Adjustment Act and for more assistance related to the continued evacuation and resettlement of at-risk Afghan allies. Contact Evacuate Our Allies for more information.
OAW Fact Sheet. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has posted a three-page document (PDF) that provides and overview and describes the different phases of Operation Allies Welcome. Topics covered include:
- Screening and Vetting Prior to Arrival in the U.S.
- Special Immigrant Visas
- COVID-19 Testing, Vaccinations, and Other Medical Services
- Arrival in the U.S.
- Processing at U.S. Military Facilities
- Applying for Immigration Status, Workforce Authorization, and Essential Coverage
- Integration Support
- Refugee Resettlement Processing
Girls Schools, Security , Justice, HA, and Financial Assistance
Girls and School. In some areas of Afghanistan teenage girls have been allowed to return to school – but it is much different than what has been experienced the past two decades. Mazar-i-Sharif, located in northern Afghanistan, is one of the cities where school is in session for girls. “Taliban Allow Girls to Return to Some High Schools, but With Big Caveats”, The New York Times, October 27, 2021. See also, “In Afghanistan, a girl’s school is the story of a village”, Associated Press, by Samya Kullab, October 29, 2021.
Taliban Justice. The judicial system of the former Afghan government was famously corrupt, inept, and inefficient. Most people in the rural areas resorted to the informal Taliban justice system that was harsh but most times fair. Now that the Taliban are in charge there is a fundamental change in how justice is meted out. The Taliban promised justice without the corruption and that was ‘fair’. They will find that easier said than done. “12 Million Angry Men”, by Stefanie Glinski, Foreign Policy, October 28, 2021.
War Against IS-KP. Secunder Kermani reports about the violence taken place in the eastern provinces of Nangarhar and Kunar. Gruesome extra-judicial killings are taking place every – and Jalalabad is one of the battle zones. “Daesh” is using some of the same hit-and-run tactics that the Taliban used so successfully against the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). IS-Khorasan (an ancient name for the central Asian region) was first established in Afghanistan in 2015. “The Taliban’s secretive war against IS”, BBC News, October 29, 2021.
Weekly Humanitarian Update. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has published its Weekly Humanitarian Update for the week of 18-24 October 2021. (PDF, 2 pages). As of 25 October there were 677,832 internally displaced people (IDPs) in Afghanistan. The OCHA predicts that more than half the Afghan population will face acute food insecurity in 2021, snowfall and road conditions are expected to challenge aid delivery, and winter conditions will cause a disruption of humanitarian aid distribution throughout the country.
U.S. to Provide HA. The United States has announced that it will provide $144 million in humanitarian assistance (HA) to Afghanistan. This brings the total HA to Afghanistan and Afghan refugees in the region to nearly $474 million. The money will go directly to independent organizations, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), International Organization for Migration (IOM), the World Health Organization (WHO), and other international non-governmental organizations. It will help Afghans in Afghanistan as well as Afghan refugees in neighboring countries. “The United States Announces Additional Humanitarian Assistance for the People of Afghanistan”, U.S. Department of State, October 28, 2021.
HA Stuck at Border. Recent reports suggest that tons of humanitarian aid delivered to a transit hub in Uzbekistan by the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) has not been able to cross the border into Afghanistan. “Aid Cargo Destined for Afghanistan Stuck at Border”, by Catherine Putz, The Diplomat, October 29, 2021.
China – Urges Financial Assistance. The Chinese foreign minister has urged the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to resume its support of Afghanistan. He also wants the United States and other countries to lift unilateral sanctions on Afghanistan. “China urges World Bank, IMF to help Afghanistan”, Reuters, October 28, 2021.
Financing the Taliban Regime. How will the Taliban regime keep their country running and the Afghan economy afloat financially? In 1997 when the Taliban first took power it had a budget of just US $100,000 for a country of 20 million people. Very little economic activity took place, Kabul had a small population, and the country was in a shambles. Afghanistan today is very different with a population of 38 million and citizens who expect services such as health care, education, and basic utilities. The international aid that kept the Ghani government functioning is no longer available and may not resume in the future. So where will the Taliban get their money? Customs and taxation, drugs, mining, Non-Western countries, and Western aid. Read more in “Minerals, drugs and China: How the Taliban might finance their new Afghan government”, The Conversation, by Hanif Sufizada, September 9, 2021.
Commentary, Analysis, and Opinion
NATO Review – Mission Creep. In 2003 NATO took command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. There were initially about 5,000 NATO troops based mostly in and around Kabul, but then, within three years there were 60,000 NATO troops scattered across Afghanistan. The forces were attempting to foster economic growth and better governance. However, the insurgency increased in strength, the corruption of Afghan political leaders and senior military and police officers increased significantly, and governmental performance was not improving. NATO is in the midst of a ‘after action’ review of the past two decades. “NATO’s Afghan mission hit by ‘mission creep’, official says”, Associated Press, October 27, 2021.
Bad Intel. Several U.S. intelligence agencies failed to predict the rapid fall of the Afghan government and the capitulation of its security forces. The WSJ reviewed nearly two dozen intelligence assessments from four different agencies – and they missed some important signals. Summaries of the intel products indicate the organizations differed on the strength of the ANDSF and government. “Four U.S. Intelligence Agencies Produced Extensive Reports on Afghanistan, but All Failed to Predict Kabul’s Rapid Collapse”, The Wall Street Journal, October 28, 2021.
Book Review – Seth Jones on Afghanistan. A new book by Seth Jones has some important passages about Afghanistan. He questions whether the United States should have even left Afghanistan, ponders Afghanistan’s future, and points out flaws in U.S. national security strategy (conventional warfare vs irregular warfare). Jones served as an advisor to the Combined Joint Special Operations Component Command – Afghanistan (CFSOCC-A) at the height of the Afghan war (surge years). Read Jacob Ware’s take on Seth Jone’s writings on Afghanistan in “The United States Left Afghanistan to Prepare for a war it Will Probably Never Fight”, War on the Rocks, October 28, 2021.
Veteran of Afghan Conflict Announces Senate Run. Marjorie Eastman served in Afghanistan as a soldier and is now going to serve her country in the U.S. Senate. There is a small political race to win in North Carolina first – but serving in Congress is her ultimate goal. She says the fall of Afghanistan was the tipping point. “Our Nation Needs Leaders. Veterans Must Rise and Serve Again”, Defense One, October 26, 2021.
Photo: Families begin to board a U.S. Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster III during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 23. U.S. service members are assisting the Department of State with an orderly drawdown of designated personnel in Afghanistan. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Samuel Ruiz).