Thousands of American citizens and legal permanent residents remain stranded in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, along with tens of thousands of Afghan allies – all of whom were promised by the president of the United States that they would not be left behind. More than a month after the US withdrawal, the appalling status quo is unchanged for the overwhelming majority of those who were abandoned, with rescues and evacuations (many spearheaded by private efforts) operating at a trickle. A few days ago, one such mission was completed. Notice who is thanked in the accompanying tweet, and who is not:
Due to your efforts, 3 U.S. citizens and 4 British citizens were extracted from Afghanistan yesterday. A special thanks to @Hollingsworth36 @DarrellIssa @DanCrenshawTX @michaelgwaltz and their offices for their ongoing efforts to locate and extract U.S. citizens from Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/KZC5NkYqMU
— Jack Carr (@JackCarrUSA) October 2, 2021
“Thankful these people got out, but a good reminder that there are still Americans trapped in Afghanistan and it’s not our federal government that is leading the charge to get them out,” writes A.G. Hamilton. Quite a few members of the legislative branch of the federal government are focused on these efforts, but the executive branch barely even talks about such things anymore.
President Biden “turned the page” in his UN speech, effectively attempting to wash his hands of this indelible stain. I’m sure the State Department, military, and intelligence agencies haven’t totally walked away from the project that remains, but lawmakers I’ve interviewed have said that the Biden State Department has not been very responsive or helpful. “Our State Department has been deplorable. Their response — if they do call back — has been utterly deplorable,” another congressman said. Some among the abandoned are losing hope:
New: We spoke to Afghans who helped the US military who adds left behind and in hiding, moving from safe house to safe house, and say their hope of evacuation is fading by the day https://t.co/4NXrvthcK4
— Robbie Gramer (@RobbieGramer) October 1, 2021
Imagine the terror:
The text message came in just after 2:30 a.m. “[T]here is a major search operation going on in Kabul tonight. … If possible try to stay out of sight, and away from central areas.” The message instructed its recipients to hide their documents and computers and listed the districts of Kabul the Taliban were targeting that night for house-to-house searches….He and other former US partners find themselves in a deadly game of wits: Hopping between safe houses day by day, as the Taliban, Islamic State and other extremist groups hunt down former US allies to jail them, or more often, beat or kill them.
Or try to imagine being these American children:
Dozens of Children from California are still trapped in Afghanistan, FYI. https://t.co/STcdWKXVdS
— Emily Zanotti (@emzanotti) October 6, 2021
At least 41 elementary school students from the San Juan Unified School District remain trapped in Afghanistan, the Sacramento Bee reported Wednesday, and getting them out is proving an impossible task, though Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA) says it it is continually pressing the Biden administration State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and even the White House to assist in their rescue. “San Juan Unified School District officials last week said 41 students were trapped in Afghanistan — a sharp increase from the two-dozen-or-so the district had previously identified. Of the 41 kids, three were evacuated over the weekend from the war-torn country but remain overseas,” district officials told the outlet…Officials at Baker Elementary school, in the San Juan district, say they’re trying to “cobble together” a rescue mission, as are officials in the nearby Sacramento City Unified School District. Sacramento school district officials told the Los Angeles Times that they are working with “Congressional representatives” but did not mention any coordination with the Biden administration.
The administration claims “about 100” American citizens remain in the country, though others dispute that figure. How many of these kids are US citizens? And what will happen to people like this?
Maryam Jami wanted to dedicate her life to helping Afghan refugees, one of the largest groups of displaced people in the world after more than four decades of war. That ambition led the 23-year-old human rights advocate to apply for a Fulbright scholarship this year to earn a master of laws in the United States, a life-changing opportunity to bring much-needed international legal expertise back to her native Afghanistan. She was told in April that she was one of only about 100 applicants in Afghanistan named a semifinalist for the prestigious U.S.-funded program. All Jami needed to do was sit for an online interview. Six months later, with her country in disarray and her safety in jeopardy as a woman living under Taliban rule, Jami is still waiting to hear about that interview. She and many other Afghan Fulbright candidates for the 2022 cohort say they’ve been abandoned by the U.S. after the Taliban’s shocking return to power in August.
The fate of women under Taliban rule was always anticipated to be one of the humanitarian disasters arising from the US withdrawal. As these things take place, the Biden administration still claims to be jealous guardians of human rights and women’s rights. As I’ve said before, you can argue that terrible fallout like this is a painful but necessary outcome of pursuing US interests. You cannot make decisions that guaranteed fallout like this and brag about how important human and women’s rights are to you:
In a devastating moment, she suggested she feels guilty for encouraging Afghan women to believe in a new future and serve with her in government, and for those she encouraged to stay in Afghanistan.https://t.co/2KJepuYtWd
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) October 3, 2021
“The Taliban is trying to push women out of public life,” @clarissaward reports from Kabul as she looks at the state of women’s rights in Afghanistan.https://t.co/demceXuZ9p pic.twitter.com/hoGHl43umg
— New Day (@NewDay) October 5, 2021
In case you missed it, Ward also reported that the ISIS-K suicide bomber who killed 13 American service members during our chaotic retreat – when the US was, by choice, relying on the Taliban to provide security in Kabul – had been freed by the Taliban from a prison on our abandoned strategic airbase:
CNN: Kabul airport suicide bomber was released from Bagram Air Base by the Taliban days before the attack that killed 13 U.S. service members. pic.twitter.com/dozG4vzHRm
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) October 6, 2021
Biden’s decision to walk away from Bagram was perhaps the single biggest blunder of the entire disastrous fiasco. And now we know it was both indirectly and directly deadly. I’ll leave you with this, playing out as people who should have been at the very front of the line are still stuck in Afghanistan. Was literally anything about this process, which Biden called an “extraordinary success,” thought through?
— Byron York (@ByronYork) October 3, 2021