Afghanistan News – 11 Nov 2021

Story Time for Afghan Children Fort Pickett

Topics: News about Afghanistan, evacuation of AMCITs, LPRs, and at-risk Afghans, movie planned on NEO, Afghanistan’s economy, Afghan allies hunted, pilots in UAE, Doha agreement, Taliban’s interim government, economic turmoil, Biden wrong on Afghanistan, Sino-Russian cooperation, . . . . . and more.

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Evacuation from Afghanistan

Movie on Afghan Evac – Too Soon? Apparently Universal Pictures is planning a movie on the Afghan non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) that took place in August 2021 and the efforts of veteran groups that assisted. The Afghan Evac organizations are still hard at work trying to do the job that the Department of State should have done. Apparently this makes for a good storyline. The movie, based on reported stories from the NEO, will be focused on three former Special Forces team members who jump back into the fray alongside their Afghan counterparts to rescue families and allies left behind. (Deadline, Nov 9, 2021).

U.S. Service Members Families in Afghanistan. The Department of Defense is just now compiling a database of relatives of service members who are trying to get out of Afghanistan. Pentagon Spokesman had to defend the slowness of the Department of Defense in responding to this situation – having to explain why DoD has just sent out a memo (4 Nov 2021) to the services requesting data on this topic three months after the fall of the Afghan government. The Pentagon confirmed that there are “dozens” of family members left behind. (The Hill, Nov 10, 2021). See also an article by Military Times, Nov 10, 2021.

Afghan Allies Hunted. Various veteran groups engaged in the evacuation of at-risk Afghans – like former interpreters who assisted the U.S. military in Afghanistan – say the Department of State is doing too little in the evacuation effort. Numerous groups of veterans have arranged for chartered aircraft, safehouses, food and money drops, and movement by ground across borders to assist at-risk Afghans that are being hunted by the Taliban. The State Department is accused of working at cross-purposes with the veteran groups. Especially at risk are the Afghan Commandos who did the majority of the fighting while only making up about 10% of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). Everyday videos and photos are posted on social media of these Afghan special operations forces soldiers being beheaded, beaten, shot, hanged, stabbed, and strangled. Hannah Ray Lambert provides more details in “Afghan Allies Hunted As Red Tape Stalls Evacuation Efforts”, Coffee or Die Magazine, November 8, 2021.

Help At-Risk Afghans. David Maxwell, a retired Special Forces officer, writes on one way to honor our Veterans. He points out the contributions that have been made by former allies of the US from various conflicts to our national security. He commends the efforts that are being made by veterans to evacuate people from Afghanistan in the hope of giving them a better life. “To Honor Our Vietnam Veterans, Help At-Risk Afghans Today”, 1945, November 11, 2021.

More Visas and Quicker Flights. Some US senators are pushing federal agencies to work faster to fly Afghans holding Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) out of the country. Thousands more have ‘pending’ SIVs – a visa that is not yet fully approved. A bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act calls on the State Department and other agencies to fly potential SIV recipients out of Afghanistan immediately. “US Senators Urge Agencies to Rush Visas for Afghan Allies Left Behind”, The National News, November 9, 2021.

Afghan Pilots in UAE. The 160 plus Afghan aircrews and their families flew from Tajikistan to the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday, November 10, 2021. They were met in Abu Dhabi by members of the Operation Allies Welcome Task Force. The U.S. embassy is registering the evacuees and will begin the processing for their eventual admission to the United States as parolees. (DoD Press Conference, Spokesman John Kirby, November 10, 2021).

Taliban, Security, and Economy

Taliban’s Interim Government. When the Taliban took Kabul they announced that they would establish a moderate and inclusive government. However, that hasn’t been the case. The appointment of officials in the cabinets and second and third tiers of the government reflect a hardline Taliban rule in the future. “Members of the Taliban’s Interim Government”, Counter Extremism Project, November 2021.

Korengal Valley Today. A small part of Afghanistan that has been termed as the “Valley of Death” is still suffering the effects of decades of war. Hollie McKay, reporting from Afghanistan, writes of the famous valley located in Kunar province. “Inside the Korengal, Families Split Between Taliban, Afghan Army, and ISIS”, Coffee or Die Magazine, November 9, 2021.

A Safer Afghanistan. With the conflict now over between the Taliban and the ANDSF and Afghan government one would think that peace is restored under the harsh Taliban rule. Not so much. The Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP) has been harassing Taliban forces every day, committing violent acts such as assassinations, ambushes, and IED attacks. “Islamic State violence dents Taliban claims of safer Afghanistan”, Reuters, November 9, 2021.

Ex-Afghan Pilots – Please Stay. On one hand, the Taliban are hunting down and killing former pilots and aircrews of the Special Mission Wing (SMW). On the other, they are asking Afghan pilots to join the Taliban’s Air Force. A top Taliban official said on Wednesday that former Afghan pilots are protected by a national amnesty and should remain in the country. He stated that they are not subject to arrest by the Taliban. “A Taliban official urges ex-Afghan military pilots to stay, protected by an amnesty”, National Public Radio, November 10, 2021.

Economic Turmoil. Kate Clark of the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) provides a detailed summation of the situation in Afghanistan – an economy faltering and hesitation on the part of international donors to assist. She looks at how politics will decide whether the Taleban and Afghanistan’s potential donors can find ways – or not – to support Afghanistan’s ever-increasing poor. “Killing the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg: Afghanistan’s economic distress post-15 August”, AAN, November 11, 2021.

Famine Looms. The United Nations, World Bank, and United States should adjust sanctions and economic policies in light of the severe malnutrition that will be the fate of millions of Afghans this winter. The collapsed economy and broken financial system of Afghanistan will lead to widespread famine according to Human Rights Watch. In this article, HRW makes a series of recommendations to alleviate the suffering of Afghans. “Afghanistan Facing Famine”, HRW, November 11, 2021. Catastrophe if agriculture collapses in Afghanistan warns the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (FAO, 11 Nov 2021)

Analysis and Opinion

Sino-Russian Coordination in Afghanistan. Elizabeth Wishnick provides commentary on the increasingly close bilateral relationship between China and Russia – and how this is going to affect the future of Afghanistan. Although Russian and Chinese interests in Afghanistan and the Central Asian region are not identical, it doesn’t preclude a certain degree of compromise and cooperation in relation to Afghanistan. Wishnick explores the opportunities and the impediments to Sino-Russian coordination. “Prospects for Sino-Russian Coordination in Afghanistan”, War on the Rocks, November 8, 2021.

Biden Wrong on Afghanistan. Madiha Afzal argues that “. . . arguing that the Doha deal left us no choice but to withdraw this summer may have been the politically and domestically expedient move. But it was not the morally correct one.” He says that the president had a responsibility to ensure a different outcome. “Biden Was Wrong on Afghanistan”, Persuasion, November 5, 2021.

Doha Agreement. Kabir Taneja says that the US-Taliban deal must be subjected to consistent academic scrutiny as an agreement that was designed for a safe exit passage from a theater of war for the US, not stability for Afghanistan or the Afghan people. “The US-Taliban Deal on Afghanistan is Not a Model”, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), October 27, 2021.


Photo: Marine 1st Lt. Jacob Sugg, deputy director of communication strategy and operations for the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, left, and Karley Sirota, with Department of Homeland Security external affairs, read a book to Afghan children at Fort Pickett, Va., Oct. 26, 2021. Photo by Marine Corps Sgt. Corey Mathews.