Thursday, September 9, 2021

Taliban Reportedly Will Allow Afghan Evacuation Flights

Afghanistan’s Taliban authorities are allowing some 200 Americans and other foreign citizens to leave the country on a flight to Qatar scheduled for Thursday, the first such departure by air since U.S. forces withdrew last month, reports The Wall Street Journal citing Qatari and American officials.

It is unclear if any of six private planes were chartered by syndicated talk host Glenn Beck's Nazarene Fund and Mercury One charity, are included. 

The Taliban grounded the flights after a breakdown in negotiations with the U.S. State Department, according to an NGO official. tar Airways Boeing 777 would mark the resumption of international passenger operations at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, and is expected to be followed by daily air links to foreign countries, a senior Qatari official said.

The Qatari official said it wasn’t an evacuation flight as all the passengers hold foreign passports and, if required, visas to their destinations, and have been ticketed by the airline. Qatar is facilitating the movement to the airport in a convoy of minibuses that were parked Thursday morning in a Kabul hotel, one of them with a bullet hole through the windshield. Most of the foreign citizens still in Afghanistan are dual nationals.

The Taliban have consistently pledged to allow foreigners to leave unimpeded. At Tuesday’s press conference announcing the formation of their new government, the movement’s spokesman and new deputy information minister, Zabiullah Mujahid, said problems with international travel would be resolved soon. “When Afghans and foreigners want to leave Afghanistan, they should do it lawfully, having a passport and visa,” he said.

U.S. forces rendered the radar and other equipment at the Kabul airport inoperable as they left on Aug. 30, concluding an emergency airlift that transported some 120,000 foreigners and Afghans who had helped the West during the 20-year war. Since then, Qatar sent a team of technicians to restore some flight-control capabilities, and Ariana Afghan Airlines resumed flight-by-sight domestic connections to the cities of Mazar-e-Sharif, Kandahar and Herat on Saturday.

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