‘The fear of Taliban retaliation is being felt’: US withdrawal leaves chaos behind

U.S.

(NewsNation Now) — As the Taliban gains control of more Afghan cities, the crunch to evacuate Americans and their allies is getting more intense. There are thousands more people applying for visas than are expected to get one. The consequences could be life and death.

“The fear of Taliban retaliation is being felt intensely across the country,” interpreter Ahmadullah Sediqi said on The Donlon Report.

Even if a person is granted an emergency visa, life may not be easy for them. Any Afghan under the age of 20 has only known war in one of the world’s poorest countries. There may be real culture shock awaiting them in their new home.

“I would suggest them get out of their comfort zone and work and then make connections,” Sediqi said.

Biden had given the Pentagon until Aug. 31 to complete the withdrawal of the 2,500 to 3,000 troops that were in Afghanistan when he announced in April that he was ending U.S. involvement in the war. That number has dropped to just under 1,000, and all but about 650 are scheduled to be gone by the end of the month; the 650 are to remain to help protect the U.S. diplomatic presence, including with aircraft and defensive weapons at Kabul airport.

But Thursday’s decision to dispatch 3,000 fresh troops to the airport adds a new twist to the U.S. withdrawal. There is no discussion of rejoining the war, but the number of troops needed for security will depend on decisions about keeping the embassy open and the extent of a Taliban threat to the capital in coming days.

Having the Aug. 31 deadline pass with thousands of U.S. troops in the country would be awkward for Biden given his insistence on ending the 20-year U.S. war by that date. Republicans have already criticized the withdrawal as a mistake and ill-planned, though there’s little political appetite by either party to send fresh troops to fight the Taliban.

The extremist group has faced little resistance as it marches toward the capital city, Kabul. It’s captured dozens of cities.

“These are not massive, strategic military goals, as much as they are a demonstration of how much the Afghanistan government has not truly unified this country,” Association of the U.S. Navy Executive Director Jason Beardsley said on The Donlon Report.

He said there may have been a path to fundamental change in Afghanistan years ago, but it’s been mired in limbo for too long.

“The turning point might be when we ceded that objective, the military tactics on the ground to a larger purpose that was a little bit vague and aimless, which is something like nation building or settling the region,” Beardsley said.

The international community is preparing to shun any future Taliban government.

United Nations Security Council members are considering a proposed statement that would urge an immediate end to the Taliban offensive and warn that the U.N.’s most powerful body will not support any government in Afghanistan imposed by military force or restoration of the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate that ruled the country from 1996 to 2001.

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The proposed presidential statement, a step below a resolution, would also condemn the Taliban’s attacks on cities and towns across Afghanistan “in the strongest terms” and reaffirm that there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.

The draft statement, obtained Friday by The Associated Press, urges the Afghan government and the Taliban “to engage without delay,” with equal participation of women, and make “immediate and sustained progress toward achieving an inclusive, just durable and realistic political settlement” to their long conflict.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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