Topics: News about Afghanistan, evacuation of AMCITs, LPRs, and at-risk Afghans, DoS staff ’emotionally broke’ during Kabul NEO, Afghans face deportation to Afghanistan, Russia aid and evac, musicians now free, Fort Lee closes camp, North Macedonia hosts Afghans, FB hacking by Pakistan, IS-KP attacks, . . . . . and more.
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Evacuation from Afghanistan
DoS Staff ‘Broke’ by Kabul NEO. Some Department of State officials were emotionally exhausted during and in the aftermath of the Kabul non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) that took place in August 2021. They worked feverishly in attempts to assist Americans and at-risk Afghans out of Afghanistan on board U.S. military flights. DoS officials were unclear of their own authorities and what policies they were allowed to employ to help evacuate people. The experience triggered mental health issues for some staffers – many who are still attempting to recover, months later. One DoS staffer said “We’re not used to failure at State, and in every single possible circumstance, it was failure.” In the lead up to the evacuation it was apparent to some State officials that chaos would ensue – it wasn’t a secret that disaster was right around the corner. One DoS staffer said “So I don’t think it was an intelligence failure. I think it was a management failure.” “This experience broke a lot of people: Inside State amid the Afghanistan withdrawal”, Politico, November 17, 2021.
Some Afghan Evacuees May be Sent Back to Afghanistan. The camp on a US military installation in Kosovo is the temporary holding site for some Afghans that did not meet the criteria for coming to America – or that have some questionable security concerns. The Biden administration is considering sending some of these Afghan evacuees back to Afghanistan. Camp Bondsteel in eastern Kosovo holds roughly 200 individuals, including family members. Kosovo has agreed to house them for up to one year. “US considering sending some evacuees who don’t pass vetting process back to Afghanistan”, CNN News, November 18, 2021.
Russia Evacuation Effort. Hundreds of people from the nations of Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, and Ukraine are to be flown out of Afghanistan. Three Russian IL-76 aircraft delivered 108 tons of humanitarian aid to Kabul and are transporting people out. “Russia to evacuate 380 people from Afghanistan”, Reuters, November 18, 2021.
Young Musicians Now Free. The Afghanistan National Institute of Music has long been a target of the Taliban. The artists and musicians of Afghanistan are once again facing serious threats from the Taliban (AAN). Many of the students and staff are now either in Portugal or Qatar. A third of the student body were girls – some who traveled the world as part of the school’s all-female orchestra, Zohra, and were hailed as symbol of modern Afghanistan. During the chaotic days of the Kabul NEO buses full of staff and students attempted to gain entry to the Kabul airport but were stymied by Taliban checkpoints and the Department of State and U.S. military’s failure to grant them access. Since August the members of the school have managed to leave in small groups in a variety of means. “1,200 Miles from Kabul, a Celebrated Music School Reunites”, The New York Times, November 17, 2021.
Afghan Evacuee Resettlement
Fort Lee Closes Down Resettlement Camp. According to the Department of Homeland Security the last of the Afghan evacuees who were temporarily housed at Fort Lee, Virginia have been resettled in communities across America. Fort Lee was the first of eight military installations to begin welcoming Afghans in late July and it is the first to close. About 2,300 Afghans moved through Fort Lee in the past three months. “Fort Lee ends Afghan resettlement effort”, Military Times, November 17, 2021. See also “US resettles last Afghan refugees at Fort Lee”, The Hill, November 17, 2021.
North Macedonia. There are currently 534 Afghan evacuees in North Macedonia awaiting further resettlement in other European countries. Over 80 Afghans have already departed the country to take up permanent residence in France, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Brazil, and the United States. For Afghan journalists recently arrived. “4 Afghan journalists get temporary shelter in N. Macedonia”, The Washington Post, November 17, 2021.
Life in Afghanistan
Facebook Hacking Campaign from Pakistan. Over the past several months hackers from Pakistan have been targeting the social media accounts of Afghans who were former members of the Afghan government or of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. The hackers shared links to websites hosting malware which could surveil people’s devices. It also compromised legitimate websites to manipulate people into giving up their Facebook credentials. “Facebook says hackers in Pakistan targeted Afghan users amid government collapse”, Reuters, November 16, 2021.
IS-KP Conducting Daily Attacks. The Taliban have an insurgency problem. Two more explosions took place in the Shi’ite Muslim area of western Kabul on Wednesday, November 17th. The United Nations envoy to Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons says that the Islamic State – Khorasan Province has been growing and is likely to soon be present in all of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. Lyons was briefing the United Nations Security Council on the situation in Afghanistan.
Girl’s Education. The acting Minister of Virtue and Vice said that women and girl’s education is permitted by Islam and that the Islamic Emirate is attempting to provide learning opportunities for girls. He stated that the Islamic Emirate is making a framework in which boys and girls can continue their education in separate places. “Acting Minister Insists Govt Not Against Girls’ Education”, Tolo News, November 16, 2021.
Taliban Wants its Money. Over $9 billion in frozen assets and loans are needed by the new Taliban regime to avert a disastrous humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. In a letter to the U.S. Congress the Taliban asks for the release of the frozen Afghan assets. “Taliban Calls On US Congress to Release Frozen Afghan Assets”, Aljazeera, November 17, 2021.
‘A Strong Army’. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) says that efforts are underway to establish a strong, disciplined, and educated army to defend the country. The army will be much smaller than the one established by the previous regime. (Ariana News, Nov 16, 2021).
Afghan Aviation Staff to be Trained. Professional training will be provided to Afghanistan’s aviation staff by Pakistan. The areas of training will encompass security, traffic control, firefighting, and airport management. An agreement has been reached that will allow at least ten flights a week between the two countries. “Pakistan to train Afghanistan’s aviation staff”, The Khaama Press, November 17, 2021.
Photo: Afghan evacuees disembark a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Aug. 22, 2021. NAS Sigonella is currently supporting the Department of Defense mission to facilitate the safe departure and relocation of U.S. citizens, Special Immigration Visa recipients, and vulnerable Afghan populations from Afghanistan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Young, 22 Aug 2021)