Potential deal could prevent further bloodshed at Kabul airport
An official with US Central Command has reportedly met with Taliban officials in Doha, Qatar, and struck a deal that will allow for American evacuations to continue from Kabul’s airport uninhibited by the militant force.
The Associated Press reported on Monday that General Frank McKenzie met with Taliban leaders and expressed the US’s promise that any attempts to stop the evacuations or harm US personnel at the airport would be met with force.
The Taliban reportedly agreed to not interfere with evacuations, a US defence official told the news service.
Two armed men were reportedly killed by US troops at the Kabul airport in recent hours as the evacuations unfolded, with news reports indicating that seven died in total; the two armed individuals were reportedly part of a massive crowd that overwhelmed the airport as commercial flights were cancelled and desperate civilians were seen clinging to US military aircraft trying to depart on the tarmac.
Crowds of people desperate to escape Afghanistan stormed Kabul’s international airport, rushing onto the tarmac.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) August 16, 2021
A Pentagon official referred reporters back to President Joe Biden’s statement on Saturday, before Kabul’s fall, when asked about whether the Taliban agreed to not interfere with the evacuations; Mr Biden’s statement did not answer that question.
The rapid fall of the capital came just hours after Taliban forces took control of the last of Afghanistan’s outlying major cities, bringing the militant group to near-total control of the country.
The development was a massive failure for the nearly two decades of US occupation and a reality that just last month President Biden denied that his intelligence officials said would likely come to pass.
Kabul’s fall clearly took the Biden administration by surprise, as US personnel were forced to evacuate the US embassy in the capital via helicopter flights to the nearby airport, where they awaited a flight out of the country.
Thousands of Afghan citizens who served as translators or aides for US forces during the war remain in the county hoping for admittance to the US or other countries, though their futures now remain uncertain.