Topics: News about Afghanistan, evacuation of AMCITs, LPRs, and at-risk Afghans, Afghan commandos ask for help, buying safe passage, Europe as a refuge, IDPs, OCHA report, Hungarian SF, Army Ranger Wing, ‘green eyed girl’, border crossings, OCHA humanitarian report, IDPs, and more.
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Evacuation from Afghanistan
Afghan Commandos – A Plea for Help. A former high-ranking member of the Afghan special forces and commando units has issued a plea for assistance from United States officials. After the Taliban takeover the elite Afghan units dispersed – with many members moving at night from house to house to avoid capture and death. The Taliban are seeking out members of the special operations units and those caught are executed. “Former Members of Afghan Special Forces, Commandos Issue Plea to U.S. For Help”, Gandhara RFE, November 23, 2021.
Buying Safe Passage – Is it a Scam? Thousands of Afghans are desperate to leave Afghanistan. Some for economic reasons but many because they are in danger of execution, torture, or imprisonment by the Taliban. So when offered passage out of Afghanistan – they will pay. “Scammers are preying on Afghans desperate to leave their country”, The Economist, November 27, 2021.
Recruitment of Afghans Into Iranian Militias. History has seen many examples of the recruitment of refugees into paramilitary units by many countries around the world. The current humanitarian crisis coupled with the Taliban persecution of former members of the Afghan military could give rise to the recruitment of Afghan refugees by Iran. Over 50,000 Afghans fought for Iran in the recent Syrian conflict against the Islamic State. “Afghan refugees are being recruited to join an Iranian paramilitary”, The Hill, November 23, 2021.
Europe as a Refuge? Perhaps Not. In mid-2021 the migration of Muslims from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria became a weapon to be used by Turkey and Belarus against nations of the European Union. Turkey flew thousands of migrants (while turning a pretty profit) to Belarus. That nation, bordering Poland, attempted to use the migrants as political ammunition to reverse European Union economic sanctions imposed on his nation in retaliation for a cooked election. The end result is the migrants are being flown back to Iraq and other locations – at Turkish expense. Some migrants are refusing to leave Belarus – providing it with thousands of unwanted migrants. Another more troubling aspect of this sad situation is the hardening of European attitudes towards unwanted migrants – including those of Afghanistan. “Poland’s Border Shapes the Future of Migration”, Middle East Forum, November 24, 2021. See also “Poland: Belarus eyes using Afghan migrants as border pawns”, AP News, November 21, 2021.
Some Border Crossings Provide Lifeline. After the Taliban takeover in August Pakistani officials closed many of the border crossings to prevent a swarm of refugees from entering Pakistan. But some remote crossings continue to allow traders and others to cross. The crossing point is crucial for the Kuchis, the nomads who spend their summers in Afghanistan and winters in Pakistan. These tribespeople usually possess official documents from both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Personal connections and bribes continue to speed the process of crossing the border. “Afghanistan: How a remote border crossing provides a lifeline for traders and nomads”, by Franz Marty, Deutsche Welle, November 25, 2021.
Greece Stepping up for At-Risk Afghan Women. One European country has been taking in a significant number of Afghan women who are in danger of persecution by the Taliban because of the role they played as female judges, lawmakers, journalists, and lawyers. “How Athens Became the Unexpected Hub for Afghan Women”, Politico, November 22, 2021.
Evacs Continue – Quietly. Ben Fox reports on the slow trickle of American citizens, lawful permanent residents (green card holders), and other at-risk Afghans from the Taliban-run country. Since the end of August around 8,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan on board private flights chartered by volunteer veterans organizations and in some cases, by the U.S. Department of State. The State Department believes that several hundred Americans remain in Afghanistan. “Evacuations from Afghanistan continue, quietly”, Mail Tribune, November 27, 2021.
Afghan Evac – A Look Back. Ben Fox tries to capture a short history of the beginning of the non-combatant evacuation operation of Kabul in August 2021 to the current day. He sort of gets it right. “EXPLAINER: What happened to the Afghanistan evacuation?”, Associated Press News, November 27, 2021.
Irish Army Ranger Wing and Afghan Evac. Ireland’s special forces unit had to hitch a ride with commercial and the military aircraft of other nations because its Irish Air Corps lacks a long-range heavy lift aircraft capability. Read more in “Documents show Ireland was offered aircraft eight months before Afghan rescue mission – despite Coveney denial”, The Journal, November 22, 2021.
Hungarian SF and Ohio Veterans Worked Evac. A couple of veterans who served in Afghanistan in 2010 reached out to members of the Hungarian Special Forces to assist in the evacuation of Afghans from the Kabul airport. “Ohio Veterans Help Afghan refugees escape the Taliban”, Cleveland 19 News, November 27, 2021.
Afghan Evac Orgs Short of Money. Groups that have been assisting at-risk Afghans survive and evade the Taliban are coming up short of funds to assist their Afghan allies. This week, Operation North Star ran out of donor funding to provide safe houses, security, and food to some of its 2,000 friends in Afghanistan. As winter approaches the situation will become more difficult for these Afghans. “Afghan allies face death as donor funding dries up”, Washington Examiner, November 26, 2021.
HP, USCIS, and Government Theft. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS) agency has received $575 from over thousands of Afghans who have applied for Humanitarian Parole. The total amount of fees received is over $4.6 million. However, despite continuing to rake in the dough for HP applications the USCIS has not processed any HP applications since August. “Department of Homeland Security Owes Afghan Allies More Than Poor Excuses”, Forbes.com, October 8, 2021.
Afghan Evac Resources. Need info on how AMCITs and LPRs can get out of Afghanistan? Check out DoS’s Afghanistan Inquiries site. Want to check out the status of your immigrant visa with the U.S. Department of State? Go to the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) site. Here is how to understand the results of a visa check.
Afghan Evacuee Resettlement
‘Green-Eyed Afghan Girl’ Escapes Afghanistan. An Afghan girl whose picture was on the cover of a 1984 National Geographic magazine has been evacuated to Italy. “Afghan girl from famous cover portrait is evacuated to Italy”, The Washington Post, November 25, 2021. See “Italy takes in National Geographic’s green-eyed ‘Afghan Girl'”, Reuters, November 25, 2021.
Evacuees Now in Netherlands. A group of twenty Afghan citizens who worked for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) initially were flown to Poland in August. They have now been accepted by the Netherlands. “More Afghans who worked with NATO are settling in Allied countries”, NATO, November 23, 2021.
Afghan American Soldier Helps Out at McCoy. A tanker with the 4th Infantry Division is temporarily working in a medical clinic at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin assisting with the resettlement of Afghan refugees. He began his journey in Afghanistan as a translator for American units, moved to the United States with a Special Immigrant Visa, and then joined the U.S. Army. “Afghan American Tanker Puts Interpreter Skills to Work with Evacuees”, by Maggie BenZvi, Coffee or Die Magazine, November 23, 2021.
Tough Choices. In the resettlement of thousands of displaced Afghans there are some decisions to be made on where to live. Some areas where Afghan communities have grown over the last several decades are expensive to live in. Alternatives do exist in places where there are jobs and housing is cheap. But most times there is no nearby Afghan community. “For Afghan Refugees, a Choice Between Community and Opportunity”, The New York Times, November 24, 2021.
Screening vs Vetting. Anna Giaritelli, a homeland security reporter, details the significant shortfalls of the Kabul non-combatant evacuation operation that took place in August 2021 in the screening and vetting process of evacuees. She describes how the Biden administration is attempting to portray the thousands of Afghans who arrived in the U.S. as Afghan allies, when the fact is many had no ties whatsoever to the American military involvement in the Afghan war. According to one Biden administration official, only 3% of the Afghans who arrived from the August 2021 exodus had Special Immigrant Visas. “Tens of thousands entered US unvetted after Kabul airlift, officials say in memo”, Washington Examiner, November 23, 2021.
Former Afghan SOF Officer Gets a New Start. One brave Afghan who led a 1,000 man force made an escape from Kandahar to Kabul with some of his men in chaotic days of August 2021. He would eventually find his way to the United States. A former Army officer visited him over Thanksgiving weekend. “What an Afghan Hero Taught Me about Thanksgiving”, SLA, November 29, 2021.
Translator Family Settles in NC. A former interpreter for the US military was fortunate to escape Afghanistan in August. He and his family are now settled in North Carolina. “Afghan translator expresses gratitude for daughter’s education, first Thanksgiving in America”, Fox News, November 26, 2021.
Taliban, Governance, and Security
Governance and Security – Not an Easy Task for the Taliban. The former insurgent group proved extremely effective with village-based guerrilla units, an informal court system, and population control in Taliban-controlled areas. However, this insurgent group is now faced with running a national-level government and attempting to provide government services across the country. In the mix is the establishment of an effective army and police force. They also face the threat of a growing insurgency posed by the Islamic State – Khorasan Province. “Security and Governance in the Taliban’s Emirate”, Newslines Institute, November 24, 2021.
Afghan PM’s Speech. The new prime minister of Afghanistan delivered his first public speech since taking office. During a radio address to the nation he covered a range of issues from the economy, humanitarian aid, to international relations. “Afghanistan’s Taliban Premier Gives First Speech to Nation“, Gandhara RFE, November 27, 2021.
Afghanistan’s Northern Border. The Central Asian states have some legitimate concerns about security on their southern borders. To be prepared for any threats coming out of Afghanistan they have partnered with the Russia military and are holding exercises. “Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan hold drills near Afghan border”, Reuters, November 24, 2021.
Afghan Media Collapse. More than 70% of the country’s journalists are out of work and hundreds of newspapers, radio stations, and television stations have closed up shop. During the past 20 years the Afghan government press and media freedom were one of Afghanistan’s success stories. “Afghan media collapsing after Taliban takeover, report says”, New York Post, November 27, 2021.
Taliban Infiltration of Afghan Institutions Prior to Collapse. An article by the Wall Street Journal provides the details of how the Taliban had infiltrated various government organizations years before their ultimate takeover of the Afghan nation in August 2021. “An underground network of intelligence operatives helped Taliban seize Kabul”, The Khaama Press, November 29, 2021.
USSOCOM Cdr – Tools Available for Afghanistan. The commander of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) says that the U.S. has built up some amazing counterterrorism capabilities over the past 20 years. These ‘tools’ can be used to counter any terrorist threats in Afghanistan. (SOFREP, Nov 23, 2021).
Humanitarian Assistance and Economy
OCHA Weekly Humanitarian Report. The Afghanistan Weekly Humanitarian Update for 15 – 21 November 2021 has been released by United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
IDPs – Over 500,000. According to the United Nations International Organization for Migration there are over one half million people who have been internally displaced in Afghanistan due to conflict and insecurity. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans have fled to Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, India, Europe, England, the US, and other nations in the past three months. (Khaama Press, Nov 26, 2021).
Media Content for Sale, Even Under the Taliban. Many people in Afghanistan don’t have access to high-speed internet, but they still enjoy watching movies and other media on computers and phones. But business is off for the media kars that provide this service since the Taliban takeover. A once-thriving network of merchants selling digital content to people without internet connections is struggling under Taliban rule. “Can Afghanistan’s underground ‘sneakernet’ survive the Taliban?”, MIT Technology Review, November 26, 2021.
Commentary, Analysis, and Opinion
Embracing Afghan Refugees. The strategic impact of Afghan refuges who find their way to the United States should be considered. They may very well be the future leaders of Afghanistan. The likelihood of a Taliban regime surviving the next decade is slim – and a broken Afghanistan will need leaders and skilled workers to mend it once the terrorist regime goes away once again. “Embracing Afghan Refugees is a strategic opportunity for the US”, Atlantic Council, November 24, 2021.
India’s Role. The return of the Taliban is posing some new policy questions for India. Although it has closed its embassy in Afghanistan the country still has some legitimate political and strategic interests in Afghanistan. “Redefining India’s role in Afghanistan”, Observer Research Foundation, November 27, 2021.
The Taliban and Islam. With the coming to power of the Taliban, observers are comparing the different types of Islam found around the world with that of the Taliban. See “The contrasting manifestations of Islam: from Afghanistan to Morocco”, The Strategist, Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), November 26, 2021.
University of Jihad in Pakistan. One of Pakistan’s largest and oldest seminaries has educated more Taliban leaders than any school in the world. Now many of its students hold important government positions in Afghanistan. “Where Afghanistan’s new Taliban leaders went to school”, The Times of India, November 27, 2021.
Books, Reports, Podcasts, and Videos
Video – The Status of our Afghan Allies and Ways to Support. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and Team Rubicon hosted a live event that provided an overview of the ongoing evacuation and resettlement efforts for our Afghan allies. November 17, 2021, one hour.
Photo: Army 1st Lt. Alex Bloch with the Task Force McCoy hands an Afghan evacuee a stuffed animal during a karaoke event at Fort McCoy, Wis., Oct. 27, 2021. Afghans were invited to dance, clap and sing along to music as part of Operation Allies Welcome. Photo by Pfc. Caitlin Wilkins.