Afghanistan – News Update for Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Evacuees Board Plane at Rota, Spain

Topics: News about Afghanistan, evacuation of AMCITs, LPRs, and at-risk Afghans, service member families left in Afghanistan, 82nd Abn and HKIA, Afghan pilots need help, Air Force and the NEO, fee exemptions announced for Afghans, new Taliban governors, Afghan passports, IS-KP has U.S. concerned, hunger, Afghan sub-governance, . . . . . and more.

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Evacuation from Afghanistan

DoD and U.S. Service Member Families. There are still several dozen immediate family members of U.S. service members in Afghanistan – including parents and children. The Department of Defense ignored this issue until members of Congress put pressure on them to work the issue. On Thursday, November 4th, more than two months after the U.S. military withdrew completely from Afghanistan, a memo was issued seeking info on those left behind. Apparently, the DoD is establishing a database of these family members. A good first step but a lot more needs to be done. Many of the family members in Afghanistan belong to former Afghan interpreters who moved to the United States and then joined the U.S. military forces. “Pentagon steps up efforts to evacuate families of U.S. troops from Afghanistan”, NBC News, November 8, 2021.

82nd, HKIA, and Abbey Gate. Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division were rushed to the Hamid Karzai International Airport to assist in providing security during the non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO). Now back at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, they provide their perspective on the chaotic withdrawal from Kabul and the attempts to rescue American citizens and at-risk Afghans before the final plane took off. “They were children when the Afghanistan War began. As soldiers they carried the burden of ending it”, Task & Purpose, November 8, 2021.

Afghan Pilots – Where is the Help? Detained in Tajikistan, or hiding from the Taliban in Afghanistan, many pilots wonder why the military that trained them is not coming to their aid. There are 143 Afghan pilots and crew members detained by Tajikistan after they escaped Afghanistan in their planes in mid-August. Thousands more are in hiding in Afghanistan – they are being hunted and killed by the Taliban. “Afghan Military Pilots, on the Run, Feel Abandoned by U.S.”, The New York Times, November 7, 2021.

Air Force Performed in the Midst of Chaos. The massive airlift of over 120,000 people by the U.S. Air Force and other countries was truly remarkable. The effort put in by the respective air crews, maintainers, medical personnel, and other was an immense effort. They accomplished much during a tense and chaotic situation. The circumstances of the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, the fall of Kabul, and the horrible ending at Kabul airport will forever stain the U.S. reputation of the United States. However, the fact remains that for a brief one-month long period of time in Kabul the U.S. military did an outstanding job in securing the airport and evacuating thousands of people. Did a lot of things go wrong? Yes. Were horrible decisions made by the the leadership of the U.S. military and the State Department officials on HKIA in August 2021? Yes. But the fact remains that the individual service members did a awesome job. This is especially true of the U.S. Air Force. Read more in “Evacuating to Freedom”, by Abraham Mahshie, Air Force Magazine, November 5, 2021.

Afghan Evacuee Resettlement

Fee Exemptions Announced. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that it will exempt filing fees and streamline application processing for Afghan nationals who were paroled into the United States for humanitarian reasons on or after July 30, 2021. These actions will help facilitate their resettlement in the U.S. by streamlining the processing of requests for work authorization. Read more in a press release by DHS on November 8, 2021.

Taliban and Security

The Taliban and a US Journalist. The new rulers of Kabul paid a visit to the New York Times bureau in Kabul. They were escorted by a U.S. journalist who served as a Marine in Helmand province years ago. There are lots of reminders of his past in his bedroom – photos in uniform, an OEF coffee cup, body armor, and more. “When the Taliban Are in Your Bedroom”, The New York Times, November 8, 2021.

New Governors. The new regime has appointed a new slate of governors and police chiefs for many of the provinces of Afghanistan. “Taliban appoint members as 44 governors, police chiefs around Afghanistan”, Reuters, November 7, 2021.

IS-KP and U.S. Concerns. The increase in attacks by the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan has troubled U.S. national security officials. U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom West is in Brussels and was expressing his concerns to reporters on Monday on the topic of IS-KP in Afghanistan. “U.S. says worried about increase in attacks by ISIS-K in Afghanistan”, Reuters, November 8, 2021.

Afghan Passports and Corruption. Several officials have been arrested. Bribes needed to issue a passport are as high as 10,000 Afs. “Applicants Accuse Passport Office of Corruption”, Tolo News, November 4, 2021.

Humanitarian Assistance and Economy

‘Hell on Earth’. The warm weather of autumn will soon turn to the harsh cold of winter. This is always a hard time of the year for those in Afghanistan who have been displaced and who relay on humanitarian assistance from international non-governmental organizations. But this year will be worse. The economy has slumped and many are without jobs. Women with jobs have been sent home by the Taliban. There is a food crisis due to a severe drought this past year. People are now going hungry and it will get worse in the coming months. “Afghans facing ‘hell on earth’ as winter looms”, BBC News, November 9, 2021.

Facing Hunger. The United Nations World Food Programme has warned that over 22 million Afghans now face hunger. Jane Ferguson, a PBS News Hour correspondent reporting from Kabul, is interviewed about the latest developments in Afghanistan. She explains how the fall of the government by the Taliban, cut off of international aid, a recent drought, and the approach of winter are creating a perfect storm that will result in a massive humanitarian crisis. “More than half of Afghanistan’s population faces hunger”, National Public Radio, November 6, 2021.

Books, Reports, Podcasts, and Videos

Report – Aiding Afghan Local Governance: What Went Wrong?, by Frances Z. Brown, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, November 2021, PDF, 11 Pages.


Photo: Evacuees from Afghanistan at Naval Station (NAVSTA) Rota, Spain, walk to a U.S. charter aircraft bound for the U.S., Sept. 8, 2021. NAVSTA Rota is supporting the Department of State mission to facilitate the safe relocation of U.S. citizens, Special Immigration Visa recipients, and vulnerable populations from Afghanistan. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Brytani Musick)