Topics: News about Afghanistan, evacuation of AMCITs, LPRs, and at-risk Afghans, funds needed, last flight out, online education for girls, IOM report, healthcare system, DoS virtual town hall on Afghan evac, selling your sisters, Doha agreement, online event by USIP, . . . . . and more.
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Evacuation from Afghanistan
Still Stuck in Afghanistan. The State Department believes as many as 14,000 U.S. lawful permanent residents (LPRs with a green card) remain in Afghanistan. The agency is facing increasing scrutiny from Congress about the status of U.S. citizens and green card holders in that country. “State Department: Thousands of U.S. Residents Still Stuck in Afghanistan”, Foreign Policy, November 3, 2021.
Evac Orgs Need Funds. The many different volunteer groups and organizations that have been established to protect and evacuate at-risk Afghans from Afghanistan depend on contributions from private citizens and other organizations. The costs of conducting operations in Afghanistan are very expensive – and organizations like Operation North Star are dependent upon contributions from Americans who care.
Last Flight Out. A former infantry officer who deployed to Afghanistan recounts his story on how he first received a message that a former Afghan interpreter needed assistance. He details from the first attempts at rescue in mid-August to the joy of learning his friend was out of Afghanistan. Along the way he explains how the many veteran volunteer groups are assisting thousands of Afghan interpreters and other at-risk Afghans in their escape from Taliban rule and possible death. “Catching the Last ‘Last Flight’ Out of Afghanistan”, Politico, November 3, 2021.
Education and Life Under the Taliban
Online Education for Girls. The Taliban’s strict rules on girls not attending school has prompted some educators to seek alternative measures to provide education to Afghanistan’s female students. One of them, Angela Ghayur – a member of the Afghan diaspora, has established an online school with volunteer teachers. She has founded the Online Herat School, an educational resource for Afghan women and girls. The school offers more than 170 different online classes including music, cooking, math, and other subjects. “The woman defying the Taliban on girls’ education“, BBC News, November 3, 2021.
More News on Girls Education. See also “Dreams on hold: Afghan girls, women desperate to get back to class”, Reuters, November 3, 2021. And read this one as well – “Afghan girls learn, code ‘underground’ to bypass Taliban curbs”, Reuters, October 27, 2021.
UNICEF to Pay Teachers. The United Nations children’s agency says it will set up a system to directly fund Afghan teachers. Currently, the international community has placed a hold on funding the Taliban regime and its ministries. “UNICEF to Directly Fund Afghan Teachers”, TOLO News, November 4, 2021.
Don’t Wear Your Suit to Work. A private university lecturer was shot in the leg in Kabul after being physically beaten for wearing ‘western style clothing’. (Kabul Now, Nov 4, 2021).
IOM on Humanitarian Situation. The Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has issued a statement about how Afghanistan is on the brink of collapse. He cites conflict, poverty, an economy in freefall, severe drought, and the COVID-19 pandemic as contributing factors. Antonio Vitorino is predicting a winter with increased human displacement and erosion of social and development gains acquired in the past two decades. “The Race Against Time to Prevent a Humanitarian Disaster in Afghanistan”, IOM, November 4, 2021.
Healthcare System in ‘Free Fall’. With another harsh winter approaching Afghans are faced with hunger, living under a Taliban regime, an economy in the tank, and a healthcare system that is collapsing. The state health-care systems has been propped up by the international community for two decades – and the support is no longer there. Healthcare workers have not been paid for months, medical staff is a fraction of what it used to be, and medical supplies are in short supply. “Afghanistan’s Health-Care System in ‘Free-Fall’ as Punishing Winter Looms”, Gandhara, November 3, 2021.
Female Aid Workers – Prohibited. The Taliban are making it difficult for women to take part in humanitarian aid work. The restrictions mean that aid will reach fewer families in need – particularly woman-headed households. “Afghanistan: Taliban Blocking Female Aid Workers”, Human Rights Watch, November 4, 2021.
Weekly Withdrawals. The Central Bank has doubled the cap on weekly withdrawals citizens can take on their bank accounts. Now bank customers can take the equivalent of $400 a week or $1,200 a month. “Afghan Central Bank Doubles Cap on Weekly Withdrawals”, The Washington Post, November 3, 2021.
Paying Off Debt – Sell Your Sisters. With the Taliban in power new ways of conducting business will be introduced (or re-introduced). One of them is the selling of daughters to settle debts. Read “If You Don’t Have Money, You Have Sisters: Afghan Men Use Taliban Rule to Settle Scores”, The Wall Street Journal, November 3, 2021.
TAPI Pipeline. For the past fifteen years Turkmenistan has been attempting to get the natural gas pipeline running from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India built. However some critics say that perhaps the country would benefit more if it turned to the Trans-Caspian Pipeline (TCP) – exporting gas to the European market. Turkmenistan holds the fourth-largest proven reserves of natural gas on the planet. (Gandhara, Nov 2, 2021).
Commentary, Analysis, and Misc
Watch Dog: No Misconduct in Drone Strike. An independent Pentagon review has concluded that the drone strike by the U.S. military in August 2021 that killed ten Afghan civilians was not caused by misconduct or negligence. The review did not recommend any disciplinary action. The errant air strike took place during the chaotic non-combatant evacuation operation at the Kabul airport. The strike was meant to kill an IS-IK operative who was planning a suicide bombing at HKIA. “Watchdog finds no misconduct in mistaken Afghan airstrike”, Associated Press, November 3, 2021. See also reports on this topic by CNN Politics (Nov 3, 2021) and The Wall Street Journal (Nov 3, 2021).
Taliban Religious Ideology. Now that the Taliban have come to power observers are looking to see if they will be able to impose their extremely conservative religious view of society on the Afghan people in the long run. The origin of Taliban ideology was in so-called Deobandism – which was founded during the 19th century. This brand of Islamic ideology has changed over the years to its present day. “Afghanistan: What is the Taliban’s religious ideology?”, Deutsche Welle, November 2, 2021.
The Doha Agreement and US Failure. Lisa Curtis provides a detailed analysis of the February 2020 Doha agreement between the United States and the Taliban that outlined the specifics of the United States withdrawal from Afghanistan. The agreement, crafted and signed by the Trump administration, led to a poorly planned and executed withdrawal that saw the Afghan government collapse and the Taliban take power once again in Kabul. This 12-page essay (PDF) by Curtis examines the poorly negotiated and weak Doha agreement that hastened the leaving of Afghanistan and contributed to the rapid defeat of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). Curtis is a senior fellow and director of the Indo-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. “How the Doha Agreement Guaranteed US Failure in Afghanistan”, The Caravan Notebook, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, November 2021.
DoS Town Hall on Afghan Resettlement – 9 Nov. The U.S. Department of State will be conducting an online event on Tuesday, November 9, 2021. This virtual event will provide the growing community of Americans working to support the settlement of Afghans with important information. Afghanistan Resettlement Stakeholders Town Hall, November 9, 2021, 1:30 p.m. EST.
Online Event – 4 Nov 10:00 am – Governing Afghanistan. The former insurgent group now sits in Kabul. It has inherited a weak and divided country that had a past record of providing a minimal level of basic services like health, education, and governmental services. Now, much of that activity has come to a halt with the Taliban taking over. This is compounded with much of the civil service and government bureaucracy workers who were non-Pashtun being replaced by Taliban adherents. In addition, rival factions of the Taliban are competing for influence in the new government. The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) will hold a live webcast entitled “Now Comes the Hard Part: Can the Taliban Govern Afghanistan?”
Photo: Faiza Nguyen translates medical needs for evacuees during the evacuation operations at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Sept. 13, 2021. Nguyen was the only female translator for the first five days of the evacuation operation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Branden Rae)