Charter Flights Delayed as U.S. and Taliban Struggle to Work Together

DOHA, Qatar — With the huge United States navy effort to evacuate American residents and endangered Afghans accomplished, these nonetheless scrambling to discover protected passage from Afghanistan at the moment are navigating a sophisticated and probably harmful diplomatic deadlock.

Unable to fly from Kabul’s airport, which stays closed and in want of upgrades, many individuals have flocked to the airport within the northern metropolis of Mazar-i-Sharif, making it the newest flash level as the United States struggles to coordinate with its former Taliban adversaries to assist individuals wanting to go away the nation.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, talking to reporters throughout a go to to Qatar on Tuesday, mentioned U.S. officers had been “working around the clock” to be sure that flights carrying Americans and endangered Afghans can safely depart Afghanistan. He contested claims that the Taliban have blocked constitution flights from departing the Mazar-i-Sharif airport.

Mr. Blinken mentioned he was unaware of any “hostage-like” state of affairs in Mazar-i-Sharif, contradicting a declare by a outstanding House Republican that the Taliban had been reneging on guarantees they’ve made to U.S. officers to enable protected passage from the nation of foreigners and Afghans with legitimate journey paperwork.

“We have been assured, again, that all American citizens and Afghan citizens with valid travel documents will be allowed to leave,” Mr. Blinken mentioned, including that “we intend to hold the Taliban to that.”

Mr. Blinken, who appeared alongside Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and their Qatari counterparts, mentioned Taliban leaders had just lately reaffirmed that dedication. He pointed to the exit from the nation on Monday by an American household who used an undisclosed land route. The Taliban knew what the household was doing however didn’t impede them, U.S. officers say.

But within the case of Mazar-i-Sharif, Mr. Blinken mentioned, the Taliban have objected to constitution flights that mix passengers who’ve legitimate journey paperwork and those that don’t.

VideoSecretary of State Antony J. Blinken, talking in Qatar, mentioned the United States was working with the Taliban to carry dwelling about 100 U.S. residents nonetheless in Afghanistan.CreditCredit…Pool photograph by Olivier Douliery

“It’s my understanding that the Taliban has not denied exit to anyone holding a valid document, but they have said that those without valid documents at this point can’t leave,” Mr. Blinken mentioned. “But because all of these people are grouped together, that’s meant that flights have not been allowed to go.”

On Sunday, Representative Mike McCaul of Texas, the highest Republican on the House Foreign Relations Committee, mentioned on “Fox News Sunday” that the Taliban had been blocking the departure of six flights from Mazar-i-Sharif that included American residents and Afghans who had acted as interpreters for the U.S. navy. Mr. McCaul mentioned the Taliban had been holding the passengers “hostage” as they made calls for of the U.S. authorities.

Mr. Blinken mentioned he believed round 100 American residents stay in Afghanistan, together with “a relatively small number” looking for to go away Mazar-i-Sharif.

Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan ›

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Further complicating issues, the Taliban mentioned Tuesday they might not enable individuals to go away the nation till a brand new authorities is fashioned. The Taliban introduced a listing of people that will fill key roles on Tuesday afternoon, however they held off on formally swearing within the new authorities.

The group mentioned earlier within the day that with out functioning ministries to grant exit stamps and carry out different crucial duties, an orderly departure course of was not but in place.

The Taliban’s newest feedback signify one more twist in a chapter that has performed out since their conquest of the nation led tens of 1000’s to attempt to flee.

Like the United States, the Taliban are not looking for to see a repeat of the determined scenes that performed out in Kabul, the place 1000’s of Afghans rushed to the airport and many had been evacuated with out correct documentation.

The Taliban are additionally working with worldwide companions to attempt and restart full operations on the airport in Kabul.

Taliban fighters on the airport in Kabul on Friday.Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

Turkey’s overseas minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, mentioned that his nation was working with Qatar and different nations to assist repair harm on the Kabul facility and set up safety protocols.

Understand the Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan

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Who are the Taliban? The Taliban arose in 1994 amid the turmoil that got here after the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989. They used brutal public punishments, together with floggings, amputations and mass executions, to implement their guidelines. Here’s extra on their origin story and their report as rulers.

Who are the Taliban leaders? These are the highest leaders of the Taliban, males who’ve spent years on the run, in hiding, in jail and dodging American drones. Little is understood about them or how they plan to govern, together with whether or not they are going to be as tolerant as they declare to be. One spokesman advised The Times that the group wished to overlook its previous, however that there can be some restrictions.

How did the Taliban acquire management? See how the Taliban retook energy in Afghanistan in just a few months, and examine how their technique enabled them to accomplish that.

What occurs to the ladies of Afghanistan? The final time the Taliban had been in energy, they barred ladies and women from taking most jobs or going to college. Afghan ladies have made many positive aspects for the reason that Taliban had been toppled, however now they concern that floor could also be misplaced. Taliban officers are attempting to reassure ladies that issues will probably be completely different, however there are indicators that, a minimum of in some areas, they’ve begun to reimpose the previous order.

What does their victory imply for terrorist teams? The United States invaded Afghanistan 20 years in the past in response to terrorism, and many fear that Al Qaeda and different radical teams will once more discover protected haven there. On Aug. 26, lethal explosions exterior Afghanistan’s predominant airport claimed by the Islamic State demonstrated that terrorists stay a risk.

How will this have an effect on future U.S. coverage within the area? Washington and the Taliban could spend years pulled between cooperation and battle, Some of the important thing points at hand embody: how to cooperate towards a mutual enemy, the Islamic State department within the area, identified as ISIS-Ok, and whether or not the U.S. ought to launch $9.four billion in Afghan authorities foreign money reserves which might be frozen within the nation.

“The Kabul airport can be opened to international flights again, the damage can be repaired, the runway can be renewed, the terminal, also renewed,” Mr. Çavuşoğlu mentioned, noting that 19 Turks had been working to restore harm.

While the safety exterior the airport could be maintained by the Taliban, he mentioned, the airport’s safety “should be maintained by a security company that is trusted” by the worldwide neighborhood.

“There are companies that do this business, if military presence is unwanted,” he mentioned. Without such safety, he mentioned, it was unlikely that business flights would have the option to resume.

“Even if planes want to fly, the insurance companies will not allow,” he mentioned in an interview with a non-public Turkish broadcaster.

At the information convention in Doha, Qatar’s overseas minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, mentioned his authorities had despatched a technical staff to consider the Kabul airport and expressed optimism that “we are about to get everything operational very soon,” together with for business flights.

The airport could at present be able to receiving business flights for “a limited time in the day,” Mr. Al Thani mentioned, including that it requires an tools improve to function as a regular worldwide airport.

He added that his authorities was additionally negotiating with the Taliban to guarantee safety there.

For now, Mr. Al Thani mentioned, Qatar is sending constitution flights to Kabul bearing humanitarian assist on a near-daily foundation.