Taliban Help Is Making America’s Kabul Evacuation Possible
Editor’s note: The Taliban are keeping many of the would-be economic migrants the US doesn’t want away, while allowing many ex-collaborators to pass. Theoretically, they’re also providing a measure of security against ISIS, albeit of course there is no realistic way of stopping a determined suicide bomber.
According to a report from Politico, US officials in Kabul gave the Taliban a list of names of US citizens, green card holders, and Afghan allies so they would be granted permission to pass through Taliban-controlled checkpoints outside of the airport.
Critics of President Biden’s withdrawal have jumped on this news, and one unnamed defense official told Politico that giving the names of the US’s Afghan allies amounted to putting them on a “kill list.” But while there have been some reports of the Taliban beating some Afghans on their way to the airport, overall, the Taliban has been cooperating with the US.
Since the US airlift started on August 14th, over 95,000 people have been evacuated [105,000 by now], the vast majority of them being Afghans. Throughout this week, tens of thousands of people were flown out just about every day.
President Biden was asked about the report after he gave remarks about Thursday’s suicide bombings that killed at least 60 Afghans and 13 US troops. He said he had no knowledge of a particular list but that he said it was possible some names were given when people were arriving at airport checkpoints.
“There have been occasions when our military has contacted their military counterparts in the Taliban and said this, for example, this bus is coming through with X number of people on it, made up of the following group of people. We want you to let that bus or that group through,” Biden said. “So, yes there have been occasions like that. To the best of my knowledge, in those cases, the bulk of that has occurred and they have been let through.”
The fact is, close coordination with the Taliban was Washington’s only option to get US citizens and Afghan allies out of the country. The cooperation is not a surprise considering the Taliban has upheld its pledge not to attack US troops since February 2020, when the Doha agreement was signed. The Taliban also has an interest in the evacuation going smoothly [do not want to give the US an excuse to change its mind and want to improve their chances of international recognition and a sanctionless existence] and has condemned the suicide attack, which was claimed by ISIS, the Taliban’s sworn enemy.