Every time it seems as if the situation in Afghanistan couldn’t get any worse, it does.
Since it became apparent that a resurgent Taliban would be retaking control of the country, President Joe Biden and his team have made misstep after misstep, which made it difficult to execute a viable withdrawal and evacuation effort. Indeed, as of this writing, hundreds of American civilians remain stranded in the country, along with thousands of Afghan allies who assisted the U.S. military.
Politico reported last week:
A State Department official said in a private briefing to reporters that “the majority” of special immigrant visa applicants were left in Afghanistan due in part to the complications of the evacuation, and that he and his team are “haunted” by the evacuees the U.S. could not get out by the Aug. 31 deadline.
Needless to say, these individuals are in a rather precarious situation due to the fact that the Taliban has firmly ensconced itself as the governing authority. This means these people are under the sway of one of the most brutal regimes in the world today. According to the Politico report, “the Taliban sometimes stopped Afghans from getting to Kabul’s airport even after the U.S. showed manifest details, though the official said the U.S. for the most part subsequently got them safely through to the facility.”
The official told Politico that the reason why the majority of Afghan allies who requested Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) status have been left behind is that:
“Every credential we tried to provide electronically was immediately disseminated to the widest possible pool. And so it was no longer a viable credential to differentiate among populations, and we simply did not have the people for that time to be able to try to sift through that crowd of people demanding access.”
But the situation is even worse than that.
Now that it has become clear that the Biden administration has failed those left behind, it has fallen to private organizations to pick up the slack. However, there has been a snag. Yesterday, reports showed that the Taliban is not allowing Americans and Afghan allies to take off from the airport in Kabul. In essence, they are holding these individuals hostage.
Later, it was revealed that the State Department’s ineptitude prevented these folks from leaving the country. Some of the people involved in the effort to rescue these individuals stated that delays in the department are stopping them from flying civilians out. One of these people told Fox News:
“This is zero place to be negotiating with American lives. Those are our people standing on the tarmac and all it takes is a f—ing phone call.”
He continued, stating that “if one life is lost as a result of this, the blood is on the White House’s hands” and that “it is not the Taliban that is holding this up … it is the United States government.”
The issue seems to be the fact that the group has not gotten permission to take off. Rick Clay, who runs the private rescue group PlanB told Fox News that the State Department “is not allowing any private charters carrying refugees [to] land anywhere” in neighboring countries and is making various “excuses” for its decision to prohibit flights out of Afghanistan. Clay asked, “if we can get aircraft in and pick up people and bring them out, why can’t we take them to Doha to the refugee center or other refugee centers?”
It is amazing that the White House continues to bungle the Afghanistan evacuation effort. Unfortunately, Biden’s team seems not to have learned their lesson well enough to finally get it together. If they continue dragging their feet, another catastrophe like the suicide bombings which killed 13 American service members could easily occur. While it is not entirely clear whether this is a hostage situation, simply yet another example of the administration’s incompetence, or both, these people’s lives are in danger.
While it is difficult to determine how this will play out, it is clear that President Biden’s handling of the matter is digging a deeper hole for the Democrats. As the problems continue to pile up, it is becoming more difficult to salvage the situation. Indeed, polling shows Americans are none too happy about the continuing debacle unfolding on the world stage.
But even if these organizations manage to rescue these people, it will remain a blight on the president’s tenure in office. This, combined with House Democrats’ attempt to gloss over the issue and deflect from the incompetence the White House has shown, will undoubtedly become a significant factor contributing to their eventual defeat in 2022 and even 2024. Apparently, they haven’t yet realized it.