Topics: News about Afghanistan, relocation, immigration, resettlement, humanitarian crisis, commentary, books, podcasts, events, and more.
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Kabul NEO and Operation Pineapple Express. The badly-executed withdrawal of U.S. military forces in the spring of 2021 led to the chaotic Kabul non-combatant evacuation operation of August 2021. The Department of State was ill-prepared for the rapidly changing events on the ground in Afghanistan and the Department of Defense was playing catch up. Thousands of at-risk Afghans, those who had worked with the U.S. military over the past twenty years as combat interpreters or members of elite Afghan SOF units, converged on the Kabul airport looking for a seat on one of the outgoing U.S. military evacuation flights. They were assisted onto the airport by a number of volunteer veteran groups – one of them Pineapple Express. Scott Mann, one of the key players in Pineapple Express has authored a book, Operation Pineapple Express, about the Kabul NEO and its aftermath. Read more in an interview of Mann by The War Horse, November 2022.
Badger Six. Many of the Afghan men who assisted U.S. Special Forces and the Central Intelligence Agency in the early days of the U.S. involvement in the Afghan conflict have been killed or have passed away. Their families remain behind. Badger Six is a non-profit organization that is looking after more than 30 Afghan families who are left behind. The organization was founded by members of the “Team Alpha” – a small group of CIA operators who worked with U.S. Special Forces and the Northern Alliance. Learn more about this non-profit by checking out their website.
Relocation Flights from Kabul On Hold. The Department of State has been coordinating the travel of Afghans from Kabul to Doha for several months. The flights carrying lawful permanent citizens and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants have been taking place once or twice a week. However, the flights are now on hold for the months of November and December due to the World Cup being held in Qatar. It is expected that the flights will resume in January after the World Cup concludes. There are specific eligibility requirements to be manifested for these flights. A graphic (below) by Afghan Evac provides an explanation.
Finland and Asylum. The European Union has accepted more people seeking asylum in recent months. But not all countries are equally receptive. “More asylum seekers arriving in the EU, but not many in Finland”, YLE.fi, November 17, 2022.
Escape from Afghanistan. The journey of a pilot of the Afghan Special Mission Wing from Kabul to the United States is documented in this article. “Escape from Afghanistan”, War on the Rocks, November 14, 2022.
Task Force Antal Honored. A small group of veterans who belong to Task Force Antal have assisted Afghans in departing Afghanistan has been honored for their work by the United Veterans War Council in conjunction with Veteran’s Day. “Task Force Antal Founders Honored for Humanitarian Work in Ukraine and Afghanistan”, Veterans News Report, November 18, 2022.
CIA’s Afghan Proxies and Resettlement. The Central Intelligence Agency took extraordinary measures in August 2021 to evacuate fighters of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) ‘zero units’. The CIA Afghan proxy forces – also known as the counter terrorism pursuit units – were among the most effective of the elite fighting units of the Afghan forces on the battlefield. Members of the 01, 02, 03, and KPF transited Taliban-held territory in August 2021 to the safety of the Kabul international airport. While at the airport they assisted U.S. forces in providing perimeter and gate security during the Kabul non-combatant evacuation operation. They were among the last people to be flown out on U.S. military aircraft to ‘lily pads’ in the Middle East. Eventually, most of them found their way to the United States and have now been resettled in communities across the country. However, there are still some Zero unit members who have been stuck in the Emirate Humanitarian City in the UAE for months. “Ground Zero”, The Intercept, November 20, 2022.
Arrests in Pakistan. Over a million Afghan refugees have sought shelter in Pakistan. However, the reception of Afghans in that country is mixed. Many Afghans in Pakistan lacking documents are being charged with violating the Foreigners Act that empowers authorities to deport foreigners without proper documentation. Some Afghans with the proper documents (visas) have been imprisoned as well. “Everyone is Anxious”, Gandhara Blog, November 16, 2022.
Canada Accepts More Afghan Refugees. Coming from Afghanistan by way of Pakistan, 346 Afghan refugees landed in Halifax, Canada. The country has received over 24,000 Afghans from Pakistan, Tajikistan, and other transit countries. Canada has committed to receiving up to 40,000 Afghan refugees. At least 19 chartered flights from Pakistan have carried Afghan refugees to Canada. “Canada Relocates another Batch of Afghan Refugees from Pakistan”, The Khaama Press, November 17, 2022.
News About Afghanistan
Moscow Summit. A conference hosted by Russia has excluded representatives from the Taliban-Haqqani regime. Representatives from Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, China, India, Iran, and Uzbekistan were in attendance. Demands for a more inclusive Afghan government were made by several of the attendees. “Moscow Conference on Afghanistan Excludes Taliban- Haqqani Regime This Year”, ClearanceJobs, November 18, 2022.
Corruption in Afghanistan. Mohammad Imran Khushal discusses how corruption over the past 20 years has affected the country in terms of reconciliation, reconstruction, and development. He explores the extent of the corruption, the main reason behind the corruption, and provides some recommendations for the future. “Corruption and its effects on the people of Afghanistan”, Modern Diplomacy, November 13, 2022.
Border Point Temporarily Closed, Now Open. A border clash between Afghanistan and Pakistan has prompted the closing of the Chaman border in southern Afghanistan. An Afghan gunman shot and killed a Pakistani soldier and wounded two others (members of the Frontier Corps?) on the Afghan side of the Friendship Gate. No trade convoys were allowed to pass in either direction for several days. “Pakistan ‘Indefinitely’ Halts Afghan Trade via Key Border Point”, Voice of America, November 14, 2022. According to some news reports, Pakistan reopened the Chaman border crossing on Monday (Nov 21).
Qatar – A Key Ally in Afghan Evac Operation. The Middle East nation of Qatar has been a close ally of the United States for several decades. It has been one of the U.S. closest military partners in the Middle East and is home to the Combined Air Operation Center on Al-Udeid Air Base – an organization responsible for all Coalition air operations in the Middle East and Central Asia. In addition, Qatar’s close collaboration on Afghanistan and its support in facilitating the transit of U.S. citizens, Embassy Kabul personnel, at-risk Afghans, and other travelers from Afghanistan through Qatar has been indispensable. It has been host of the first and largest such transit site in the world and at the forefront of the efforts to shuttle people from Afghanistan to safety. Read more in “The United States and Qatar: Strategic Partners Advancing Peace and Security”, U.S. Department of State, November 20, 2022.
UNHCR Afghanistan Refugee Report. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has published its 2022 mid-year report on Afghanistan. Entitled Afghanistan Situation Regional Refugee Response Plan, the document was published on 17 November 2022. PDF, 28 pages.
Commentary, Analysis, and Opinion
Review of “Allies”. Sarah Pedigo Kulzer provides a look at a series of podcasts by Lawfare about the many interpreters, translators, and others who assisted the United States during its 20-year long involvement in the Afghan conflict. The podcasts highlight the bureaucratic process of the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program and the failure of the United States in the implementation of the SIV program. “Review – Allies”, E-International Relations, November 19, 2022.
Moral Injury. The US withdrawal from Afghanistan has prompted talk of ‘moral injury’ in veterans. What is it? (Columbus Dispatch, Nov 15, 2022.
Humanitarian Assistance. In a recent OpEd, Asia Maqsood argues that humanitarian aid must be independent of achieving any political, economic, and military objectives. She believes that China and other neighbors should work for Afghanistan’s development through investment-based development efforts. “Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan”, Eurasia Review, November 16, 2022.
Anthropology and Afghanistan. David Price provides his perspective on the Human Terrain System in Afghanistan in “The Great COIN Con”, Counterpunch, November 18, 2022.
Panel Discussion – Norwegian Intelligence and Afghanistan. The support of the National Intelligence Support Team (NIST) to special forces is getting a close look. It is believed that intel data feeds into the overall intelligence collection plan led to providing information for targeted killings of enemy combatants. “Norwegian Intelligence in Afghanistan: How Much did they Know?”, PRIO, November 16, 2022.
Books about Afghanistan
Photo: USAID delivers food to Afghans. Photo by World Food Program Afghanistan.