U.S. Investigating Cargo Airplane Deaths: Afghanistan Update
(Bloomberg) -- The situation at Kabul airport appears calmer after the desperate scenes on Monday when hordes of Afghans attempted to crowd onto planes in the wake of the Taliban takeover of the capital.
Civilian and military flights have resumed with more than 700 people moved out over the past 24 hours, a White House official said.
The Taliban have sealed off the airport and are only letting through members of the international community, German defense officials said. The officials warned tensions could escalate as evacuation flights pick up.
Meanwhile, Taliban officials said on Tuesday they will allow women to work in government roles under certain conditions, a shift on a topic that will help determine whether the U.S. and its allies officially recognize its authority in the country.
Key stories and developments:
- The Taliban tried a different tone during a news conference
- Navy SEAL commander in Kabul is getting reinforcements
- President Joe Biden stood by his decision to pull U.S. troops out
- Sharia Law for Afghan Women? What That Might Be: QuickTake
- Video: What Could Afghanistan Look Like Under Taliban Rule?
All times are in ET.
U.S. to probe deaths from C-17 plane (5:31 p.m. ET)
The Air Force said it is investigating reports of Afghans falling from a C-17 that departed from the chaotic Kabul airport on Monday, as well as the discovery of human remains in the aircraft’s wheel well after it landed in Qatar.
The Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations will lead the probe, and the service said in a statement that “Our hearts go out to the families of the deceased.” --Travis Tritten and Anthony Capaccio
Yellen should block Taliban from IMF reserves, Republicans say (5 p.m. ET)
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen should intervene at the International Monetary Fund to prevent Taliban-led Afghanistan from being able to use almost $500 million in reserves, Republican House members said.
The group of 18 lawmakers, including Arkansas’s French Hill, wrote to Yellen on Tuesday in a letter obtained by Bloomberg News, asking Yellen to take action at the fund and respond to their request by Thursday afternoon. They also called on Yellen to provide more detail on measures being taken at the IMF to make sure the assets, known as special drawing rights, aren’t used in ways that run counter to U.S. national interest. -- Eric Martin
Draghi says G-20 can work to ensure ‘fundamental rights’ (2:35 p.m. ET)
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said the Group of 20 is best suited to facilitate “global collaboration” to make sure fundamental rights are guaranteed in Afghanistan.
“The future for Italy is made up of defending fundamental rights, defending women’s rights, protecting all those who have exposed themselves in recent years in defending these rights in Afghanistan,” Draghi said in a rare television interview on Rai 1. “States such as China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey will enter this great work of global collaboration.”
All the nations he mentioned are G-20 members. Italy holds the rotating presidency of the group. -- Alberto Brambilla
Biden administration knew Taliban could take control (1:53 pm. ET)
The Biden administration knew there was a possibility the Taliban could take control of Afghanistan when the U.S. pulled out but didn’t anticipate it would happen so quickly, said National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.
“We were clear eyed going in when we made this decision that it was possible that the Taliban would end up in control of Afghanistan,” Sullivan told reporters at the White House.
He said the U.S. is trying to get Americans and others out of the country as quickly as possible and that the Taliban agreed to provide safe passage to the airport. -- Josh Wingrove and Jennifer Jacobs
EU to use ‘leverage’ on human rights (1:30 p.m. ET)
The EU will “engage with local authorities” and try to ensure the Taliban respect human rights, EU High Representative Josep Borrell said after a meeting of European foreign ministers.
“I know that when I’m saying that it sounds a bit like wishful thinking, but we will use all our leverage,” he said, emphasizing that the EU didn’t want to leave Afghanistan. --Jan Bratanic and Katharina Rosskopf
Taliban vow no haven for terrorists (12:45 p.m. ET)
The Taliban said it would build an inclusive government, protect the rights of women “within the bounds of Shariah law,” and prevent Afghan territory from being used to target any other country after sweeping aside the Western-backed government to end two decades of war.
“We assure the international community and especially the U.S. and neighboring countries that Afghanistan won’t be used against them,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said in Kabul.
His comments addressed deep fears in Afghanistan and overseas that the Taliban’s return to power will in particular roll back advances in the freedoms enjoyed by some women, and allow terrorist groups like al-Qaeda to rebuild a base in the country. -- Eltaf Najafizada
Taliban delegation arrives in Kandahar (11:23 a.m. ET)
A delegation of top Taliban leaders, led by the group’s deputy chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, has arrived in the southern city of Kandahar, a spokesman for the group, Mohammad Naeem, tweeted.
Baradar, who many expect could lead the group’s government, has been living in Doha, Qatar, where the group has a political office. Baradar has been the diplomatic face of an organization that once lived in the international shadows, shunned for support of terrorism and suppression of women. He led the group in talks that resulted in a peace deal inked in Doha, Qatar, in February, with the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump. -- Muneeza Naqvi
U.S. aims for one flight an hour from Kabul (11:10 a.m. ET)
Pentagon officials said U.S. commanders at the Kabul airport are aiming to have one flight depart per hour and to eventually fly 5,000 to 9,000 people out of the country a day.
U.S. troop numbers continue to rise at Hamad Karzai International Airport. About 4,000 are expected to be in place by the end of Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
American commanders at the airport have been in regular contact with Taliban leaders outside the airport to ensure the airport remains secure and U.S. troops don’t come under fire, Kirby and Major General William Taylor said. --Tony Capaccio and Peter Martin
Kabul airport activity resumes, U.S. official says (10:00 a.m. ET)
Some 3,500 U.S. troops are currently on the ground at Hamid Karzai International Airport, with more expected to arrive over the next two days, a White House official said. On Monday, seven people died and air traffic was halted amid scenes of Afghans swarming airplanes - including some who clung to a U.S. Air Force plane as it took off.
Since then, 150 U.S. citizens have been moved out from Afghanistan, and the State Department has been in contact with some Americans on the ground to tell them how to safely assemble at the airport, the official said. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told CNN earlier Tuesday the U.S. expects it can fly out over 5,000 people per day and that he estimated there were between 8,000 and 10,000 Americans near Kabul. -- Justin Sink
NATO says introspection will follow airport evacuations (9:55 a.m. ET)
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the U.S., Turkey, U.K., Norway, and other allies are securing Kabul airport and working on evacuations round the clock. He said all those who want to leave the country should be allowed to do so by plane or by land, and that allies are working on getting land crossings open.
He said that once that’s done, the “big question” to answer is why weren’t the forces that NATO trained and equipped over so many years able to stand up to the Taliban “in a stronger and better way than they did.” -- Caroline Alexander
Russian envoy meets with Taliban in Kabul (9:45 a.m. ET)
Ambassador to Afghanistan Dmitry Zhirnov told state TV he held “constructive” talks with a Taliban official in Kabul, focused on ensuring the security of the Russian embassy. -- Tony Halpin
Germany wants Afghan refugees to stay in the region (9:20 a.m. ET)
Chancellor Angela Merkel said Afghans fleeing the country should first seek refuge in nations in the region. “Then, in a second step, you can consider whether people who are especially negatively affected can be checked through and supported in coming to Europe,” she said in Berlin on Tuesday.
The German leader sounded a pessimistic note on the European Union finding agreement on the refugee issue.
“It’s well known that a unified European position isn’t very simple,” Merkel said. “It’s a weak point for the European Union that we haven’t established a unified asylum policy. We need to continue to work on this urgently.” -- Patrick Donahue
Afghan currency slumps as central banker leaves (8:00 a.m. ET)
The Afghani extended declines to 86.0625 per dollar, a record low. Yet strategists say the currency may stem its losses if the Taliban and international governments work to maintain order.
“Major regional powers in the region like China, Iran and Pakistan have all showed a willingness to work with the new setup in Afghanistan and help maintain peace,” AKD Securities Ltd analysts Jehanzaib Zafar and Hamza Kamal said. -- Colleen Goko-Pretzer
Qatar foreign minister meets Taliban delegation (7:50 a.m. ET)
Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani met a Taliban delegation in capital Doha led by Mulla Abdul Ghani Baradar on Tuesday and discussed “a peaceful transfer of power” in Afghanistan, state-run Qatar News Agency reported. They also discussed security and political developments as well as “the protection of civilians, and intensifying the necessary efforts to achieve national reconciliation and work on a comprehensive political settlement”. -- Abbas Al Lawati
Russia says Taliban openness a ‘positive signal’ (7:30 a.m. ET)
Russia views recent Taliban statements signaling openness and inclusion as a “positive signal,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov tells forum in Kaliningrad.
“That the Taliban in Kabul are declaring and in practice showing their readiness to respect the views of others is a positive signal,” Lavrov said. -- Ilya Arkhipov
Taliban say women can work, shifting from stance before 9/11 (6:50 a.m. ET)
Women are allowed to work “where they so choose” within the bounds of Shariah law, according to a Taliban official who asked not to be identified in accordance with the group’s rules for speaking to the media. Those jobs could be in government, the private sector, trade and elsewhere, he said.
Earlier, the Associated Press cited a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission saying women “should be in the government structure” according to Shariah law. “The Islamic Emirate doesn’t want women to be victims,” the news organization quoted Enamullah Samangani as saying.
During its 1996-2001 rule, the Taliban had governed Afghanistan under an extremely conservative interpretation of Shariah laws. Punishments for non-compliance included public stonings and executions.
Taiwan reassures on U.S. resolve after Afghan exit (5:53 a.m. ET)
Premier Su Tseng-chang defended the island’s ability to withstand any Chinese attack after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan raised questions about America’s commitment to defending its allies and partners in Asia.
“The bloody lesson to be drawn from Afghanistan is that if you are in chaos internally, people from outside can’t help you, even if they want to,” he said. “Only if you help yourself can others help you.”
Su was responding to arguments by Beijing-friendly opposition figures and Chinese state media that neither the U.S. nor President Tsai Ing-wen would fight in the event of a conflict. -- Samson Ellis
Raab says strategy now to ‘moderate’ impact of Taliban (4:24 a.m ET)
U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, facing domestic criticism for the chaotic scenes in Kabul, said the strategy to deal with the Taliban is to try to “moderate” its influence.
The international community must “use every lever that we’ve got at our disposal,” Raab told BBC Radio on Tuesday. The Taliban has “made a range of commitments and frankly I can’t tell you I trust them to follow through on them.” -- Kitty Donaldson
France turns focus to terrorism risk from Afghan chaos (3:10 a.m. ET)
French Defense Minister Florence Parly said safely evacuating the country’s citizens and Afghan staff is the government’s short-term priority, but the larger goal is preventing a Taliban-led Afghanistan from becoming a hub for terrorism.
“The fight against terrorism isn’t over,” Parly said in an interview with French radio RTL. “Everything must be done so that this tragedy doesn’t lead to rekindling such a sanctuary for terrorism.” -- Geraldine Amiel
Germany says NATO will have to deal with the fall of Kabul (2:20 a.m. ET)
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer says NATO will need to deal with the consequences of the fall of Kabul, including whether Germany takes on a greater role.
Germany’s first evacuation plane only took seven people because of the risks at Kabul airport. The country is also sending 600 soldiers to help secure the airport and create an air corridor to allow for further evacuations. -- Chris Reiter
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