Afghanistan veterans press White House to get colleagues out

As the Taliban tightens its control over Afghanistan after sweeping to energy this weekend, veterans of America’s longest warfare are begging the Biden administration to choose up the tempo of evacuating Afghans who aided them on the battlefield.

In remarks from the East Room of the White House Monday, President Joe Biden announced that 2,000 Afghans awarded so-called Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) have been relocated to the US together with their households since July.

However, as increasingly desperate Afghans try to catch flights out of Kabul’s airport by any means essential, hundreds extra who acted as interpreters for American forces are in peril of being left behind to face a brutal fundamentalist regime that’s bent on revenge.

“I have been personally trying to tell this administration since it took office – I’ve been trying to tell our government for years — that this was coming,” Matt Zeller, a former CIA officer and co-founder of the nonprofit No One Left Behind — which works to resettle Afghan interpreters and their households within the US — advised MSNBC Monday. “We sent them plan after plan on how to evacuate these people. Nobody listened to us. They didn’t plan for the evacuation of our Afghan wartime allies.”

“I have a list of 14,000 names right now of people who want to get out of Afghanistan,” added Zeller, who blasted Biden for his assertion earlier Monday that some Afghans eligible to go to the US didn’t achieve this as a result of they had been “still hopeful for their country.”

“What we need to be doing right now … is that we need to be talking about how we’re going to get every single one of these people out,” Zeller mentioned. “Because let’s be abundantly clear: People like me looked these people in the eye and made them a promise. We promised them that in their time of need we would take care of them. How do you expect anyone to ever trust us again if we don’t do that now while we can?”

Zeller’s name was echoed Monday by the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), which referred to as on the federal government to “waste no additional time in bringing the thousands of Afghan allies who have stood shoulder to shoulder with our forces, and their families, to safety in the US now.”

“They are in grave danger and many have already been targeted and killed. We must keep our promises to those who have sacrificed so much on our behalf,” mentioned IAVA Executive VP for Government Affairs Tom Porter. “Unfortunately, the US has failed since the Special Immigrant Visa Program’s inception in 2008 to have a plan in place to properly ensure the safe and timely evacuation of our personnel and our Afghan allies.”

“What we are in the midst of right now is a humanitarian crisis,” Army veteran and IAVA board member Kristen Rouse advised MSNBC Monday.

No One Left Behind estimates that over 300 Afghans have been killed in retaliation for helping US troops.
No One Left Behind estimates that over 300 Afghans have been killed in retaliation for serving to US troops.

“I’ve been getting messages from people at the airport [in Kabul] right now, throughout this catastrophe that has broken out around the airport, people absolutely struggling to get in, to get a flight, saying that the Taliban are waiting right outside … [saying] ‘If the Taliban get me away from the airport, they are going to kill me,’” Rouse added. “There are tens of thousands, if not more than that, Afghans who are trying to get out.”

At a Pentagon briefing Monday afternoon, press secretary John Kirby introduced the airfield at Hamid Karzai International Airport had reopened to obtain the primary of 1,000 US troops deployed to safe the airfield, again up the two,500 already there and get evacuation flights again up and working.

Late Monday evening, a whole bunch of individuals remained trapped between American forces attempting to push them out of the airport and Taliban forces attempting to maintain them in, witnesses mentioned.

Earlier, greater than 300 folks had been evacuated aboard a Turkish Airlines flight after Turkish troopers cleared the runway. Senol Celik, who recognized himself as a Turkish Embassy worker, mentioned folks “threw themselves in front of the plane.”

“They wanted to board the plane. They wanted to escape Afghanistan,” he mentioned. “We were afraid that the plane would return and that we would enter that chaos. We were sad for those people.”

Also Monday, Biden directed Secretary of State Antony Blinken to direct up to $500 million to support “refugees, victims of conflict, and other persons at risk as a result of the situation in Afghanistan,” together with SIV candidates.

No One Left Behind estimates on its web site that greater than 300 Afghan interpreters and relations have been killed in retaliation for aiding US troops. It was unclear whether or not that quantity mirrored the newest reviews of Taliban reprisals.

With Post wires

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