In an immediate reversal from the Department of Defense and State Department’s reassurance on Tuesday that they would have the Taliban’s cooperation in allowing Americans to safely get to the Kabul airport with limited “hostile interactions,” the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan declared on Wednesday that the U.S. government can no longer “guarantee safe passage” to the airport for American citizens stranded in Afghanistan.
“The security situation in Kabul continues to change quickly, including at the airport”, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul stated. “U.S. citizens seeking assistance to depart the country should complete this Repatriation Assistance Request for each traveler in their group. Spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens in Afghanistan who are awaiting immigrant visas should also complete this form if they wish to depart. Please do so as soon as possible. Please do so only once.”
The security alert indicated U.S. citizens, LPRs, spouses, and their children, will be prioritized for flights back to the United States, but clarified that registration and space on flights are available only on a “first come, first serve” basis. Americans “may be required to wait at the airport for a significant amount of time until space is available.”
The situation in Afghanistan continues to escalate on a daily basis, with limited, constantly evolving information. As of Tuesday, only 1,100 U.S. citizens, or permanent residents, and their families were safely evacuated from Afghanistan, while an estimated 10,000-15,000 Americans still remain.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan attempted to reassure concerned Americans on Tuesday by stating that the Taliban “would provide the safe passage of civilians to the airport.” However, recent reports indicate hostile interactions are increasing, in addition to threats of violence toward American citizens.
Multiple lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, R-S.C., have expressed their discontent with the Biden administration’s handling of the crisis, accusing it of not doing “enough” to aid Americans and allies stranded in Afghanistan.
McCarthy blasted the State Department’s “absolutely unconscionable” alert stating that U.S. government “can’t guarantee” American citizens “safe transport to the Kabul Airport.”
Similarly, Nikki Haley slammed the Biden administration’s dependence on the Taliban for evacuation security.
“To have our Generals say that they are depending on diplomacy with the Taliban is an unbelievable scenario,” said Haley. “Negotiating with the Taliban is like dealing with the devil.”
The State Department plans to “pick up the pace” on removing Americans from the war-torn country by evacuating up to 9,000 passengers a day. Stay tuned as this story is still developing.