Afghanistan updates: Ghani accused of stealing $169M, calls to veterans crisis lines soar

Written by on August 18, 2021

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Taliban rule: Burqas, different scenes from the previous return to Afghanistan

When the Taliban took management of Kabul in 1994, most ladies have been pressured to give up their jobs and lots of misplaced entry to schooling and well being care.

Employees video, USA TODAY

Simply days after the Taliban took over Afghanistan’s authorities and Kabul’s worldwide airport turned chaotic, the U.S. is working to evacuate as many as 2,00zero folks a day.

The Taliban, which on Tuesday promised a extra inclusive authorities by involving girls, cracked down on a protest – hardly ever seen in Afghanistan. In Jalalabad, reviews say as many as 5 persons are lifeless.

Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin is among the many officers who went to the White Home on Wednesday to present operational updates. He’s anticipated to present a briefing at three p.m. 

As of Wednesday morning, about 4,00zero Marines and troopers, together with a small variety of airmen, have been despatched into reinforce about 1,00zero troops nonetheless in Afghanistan. Deployed troops embody the 82nd Airborne fight brigade (Fort Bragg, N.C.); 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Camp Lejeune, N.C.) and 621st Contingency Response Wing (Joint Base McGuire-Dix, Lakehurst, N.J.).

In the meantime, Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are among the many officers that congressional committees will name for testimony in upcoming hearings on how the American withdrawal from Afghanistan went sideways, with the Taliban routing Afghan safety forces and the US leaving its embassy – together with a “truthful quantity” of army tools.

Listed here are the most recent developments:

A number of federal businesses that operated in Afghanistan and labored with Afghan residents have been swiftly purging their web sites, eradicating articles and photographs that would endanger the Afghan civilians who interacted with them and now worry retribution from the Taliban.

The web scrubbing marketing campaign appeared to start late final week when it turned clear that the Afghan safety forces had utterly collapsed and the Taliban would take over the nation far sooner than even probably the most alarmist official predictions. The priority is that the Taliban or its supporters would search the web sites and establish Afghans who had labored with the People or merely benefited from their providers.

State Division Spokesman Ned Value stated the division was advising personnel to seek for and take away social media and web site content material that includes civilians as a result of the security of Afghan contacts “is of utmost significance” to the federal government.

“State Division coverage is to solely take away content material in distinctive conditions like this one. In doing so, division personnel are following data retention necessities,” Value stated.

– Related Press

Lots of of veterans have sought assist from the Veterans Affairs disaster line in current days, a part of a marked uptick because the U.S. army evacuates folks from Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover.

The VA logged 531 extra calls from Friday via Monday than the identical interval final 12 months, VA Press Secretary Terrence Hayes instructed USA TODAY. He didn’t say what the general quantity of calls was.

VA Secretary Denis McDonough stated in a message to veterans, their households, caregivers and survivors that he realizes photos from Kabul and elsewhere have been painful to see, “particularly for the lots of of 1000’s of veterans who’ve served there since that fateful day in September 2001.”

Veterans who need assistance can attain the Veterans Disaster Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. They’ll additionally attain somebody by textual content at 838255 or on-line chat at veteranscrisisline.web.

Veterans and their relations interviewed by USA TODAY have described a spectrum of feelings: melancholy, vacancy, confusion and a longing to grasp the which means of their service and the US’ longest warfare.

“It’s totally pure to really feel a spread of feelings concerning the newest developments in Afghanistan – and in case you are feeling depressed, offended, heartbroken, or anything, we at VA are right here for you,” McDonough stated.

He stated veterans also can go to a Vet middle for counseling or different wants.

“We’re standing by and able to assist,” McDonough stated. “Thanks for stepping as much as serve within the time when our nation wanted it most. We’re all without end in your debt.”

– Donovan Slack

What Afghanistan vets are saying: Veterans needed out of Afghanistan, however sudden collapse brings psychological well being to mild

Afghan officers are calling on worldwide police to arrest former President Ashraf Ghani, accusing him of fleeing the war-torn nation with $169 million in U.S. money.

Mohammad Zahir Aghbar, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Tajikistan, instructed a information convention that Ghani had taken the cash earlier than fleeing Kabul because the Taliban took over town over the weekend.

Ghani is now within the United Arab Emirates.

In a press release, the UAE Ministry of International Affairs and Worldwide Cooperation stated it “can verify that the UAE has welcomed President Ashraf Ghani and his household into the nation on humanitarian grounds.”

The previous president stated on Fb that he left Afghanistan to advertise peace: “With the intention to keep away from a flood of blood, I assumed it was finest to get out.”

Again in Afghanistan, Protection Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi used his Twitter account to name on Interpol to arrest Ghani. He and different Afghans have used the hashtag #ArrestGhani.

–David Jackson

The U.S. army has evacuated about 2,00zero folks from Kabul within the final 24 hours, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby stated Wednesday. The evacuees embody 325 U.S residents, with the rest Afghans and NATO personnel.

There are 4,500 U.S. troops on the airport, and some hundred extra will probably be flown in Wednesday. Kirby described the airport as open and safe for army and restricted industrial flights.

The Pentagon anticipates evacuating about 2,00zero folks per day, he stated.

U.S. troops fired warning photographs close to the doorway to the airport as crowd-control measures, Kirby stated. There have been no reported casualties or accidents. 

Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Employees, have been on the White Home on Wednesday morning, updating administration officers on the evacuation, Kirby stated. Austin and Milley are anticipated to satisfy with reporters later Wednesday to explain the operation.

— Tom Vanden Brook

Extra: White Home says a ‘truthful quantity’ of US army tools supplied to Afghans is now in Taliban arms

Days after taking up the Afghan authorities, the Taliban cracked down on a protest in Jalalabad, the place a crowd was attempting to place up the nationwide flag.

Witnesses instructed Reuters that not less than three folks died when Taliban militants fired at a crowd within the jap Afghanistan metropolis. Over a dozen folks have been additionally injured, in accordance with a police official and two witnesses.

Afghanistan has marked its 1919 independence from British rule on Aug. 19, and folks have been attempting to boost the Afghan flag to commemorate that, in accordance with reviews. 

The Taliban fired into the air and used batons to scatter a crowd of individuals, video footage confirmed, in accordance with the Related Press.

Extra: Veterans needed out of Afghanistan, however sudden collapse brings psychological well being to mild

The USA joined with greater than 20 different international locations on Wednesday in calling on the Taliban to ensure the rights of Afghan girls and ladies to work, go to high school and to maneuver about freely. 

In a gaggle assertion launched by the State Division, the nations stated they may “monitor carefully” how girls will probably be handled by any future authorities.

“Any type of discrimination and abuse ought to be prevented,” the assertion stated. “We within the worldwide neighborhood stand prepared to help (girls) with humanitarian assist and assist, to make sure that their voices will be heard.”

Associated: Taliban promise to uphold rights for girls and US allies, however White Home is skeptical

On Tuesday, Nationwide Safety Adviser Jake Sullivan stated the instruments obtainable to stress the Taliban embody sanctions, worldwide condemnation and isolation. Sullivan stated he didn’t wish to get too particular, as his group needs to speak on to the Taliban the “prices and disincentives.”

“That could be a dialog that we are going to intend to have, and I feel many different international locations, together with like-minded allies and companions, will probably be having that as effectively,” he stated.

Earlier than the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, girls nearly had no rights beneath the fundamentalist Taliban’s oppressive rule. Most have been pressured to give up their jobs and keep at house, denied entry to schooling and well being care, enduring excessive charges of illiteracy and maternal mortality.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, stated at a Tuesday information convention the militant group is “dedicated to the rights of girls beneath the system of sharia (Islamic) regulation,” however he emphasised they’d work and examine “inside our frameworks.”

The European Union signed the joint assertion of assist for Afghan girls as did a lot of different international locations, together with Australia, Canada, Norway, Switzerland and the UK.

— Maureen Groppe

Congress is shortly launching investigations into how the Taliban so simply took over the federal government in Afghanistan.

Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, chairman of the Home International Affairs Committee, has requested Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Protection Lloyd Austin to testify on the scenario.

“The scenario in Afghanistan is quickly altering, and it’s crucial that the administration present the American folks and Congress transparency about its Afghanistan technique,” Meeks, D-N.Y., stated in a press release issued Tuesday. He needs Blinken and Austin to “inform Congress what the administration’s plan is to soundly evacuate Americans, SIVs, and different weak Afghans from the nation, and to grasp our broader counter terrorism technique in South Asia following the collapse of the Ghani authorities.”

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., chair of the Senate International Relations Committee, made an analogous name on Tuesday, saying the panel will conduct a listening to on “U.S. coverage in direction of Afghanistan, together with the Trump administration’s flawed negotiations with Taliban, and the Biden administration’s flawed execution of the U.S. withdrawal.”

After being instructed the Afghan safety forces have been “as much as the duty” and able to struggle the Taliban, Menendez stated, “To see this military dissolve so shortly after billions of {dollars} in U.S. assist is astounding.”

Did intelligence fail? How did Afghanistan finish this manner? The finger-pointing begins.

The velocity during which Taliban forces moved throughout Afghanistan shocked U.S. officers. President Joe Biden introduced April 14 that each one American troops can be withdrawn by Sept. 11. The drawdown started Might 1. However this graphical take a look at the Taliban takeover exhibits simply how shortly the Afghanistan authorities misplaced management. 

That takeover led to tumult on the airport in Kabul as 1000’s tried to really feel the nation. Disturbingly vivid photos from the airport confirmed dozens of determined Afghans clinging to a U.S. Air Power C-17 jet because it took off from Hamid Karzai Worldwide Airport. No less than seven folks died within the chaos, USA TODAY reported. U.S. troopers killed two armed folks after being fired upon.

Extra: This is assist folks fleeing Afghanistan and the households nonetheless within the nation

Karzai, Abdullah meet with Taliban chief whom US has labeled a terrorist

KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghanistan’s former president has met with a senior chief of a strong Taliban faction who was as soon as jailed and whose group has been listed by the U.S. as a terrorist community.

Former President Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, a senior official within the ousted authorities, met with Anas Haqqani as a part of preliminary conferences {that a} spokesman for Karzai stated would facilitate eventual negotiations with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the highest Taliban political chief.

The U.S. branded the Haqqani community a terrorist group in 2012, and its involvement in a future authorities might set off worldwide sanctions.

The Taliban have pledged to kind an “inclusive, Islamic authorities,” though skeptics level to its previous report of intolerance for these not adhering to its excessive interpretations of Islam.

— Related Press

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