The head of the United States Military Central Command reportedly met face-to-face with Taliban leaders on Sunday, “urging” the Islamic fundamentalist group to allow American evacuation operations to go forward without Taliban interference.
“A U.S. defense official says the head of Central Command has met face-to-face with senior Taliban leaders to urge their fighters not to interfere with the U.S. military’s evacuation operations at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan,” the Associated Press reported on Monday.
“The official said that in the meeting on Sunday in Doha, Qatar, Gen. Frank McKenzie won Taliban agreement to establish a ‘deconfliction mechanism’ — an arrangement by which evacuation operations at the airport can continue without interference by the new rulers of the country,” the outlet said.
It is not clear whether the Taliban felt obligated to abide by the in-person agreement, and the Biden State Department issued a statement Sunday night, again urging — with the aid of a small coalition of other countries — the Taliban to allow the U.S. to evacuate its military and allies and to allow any Afghans who want to escape the country to leave on commercial flights.
So far, the Taliban has not visibly interfered in evacuation measures — measures that were largely stalled on Monday after video went viral showing Afghans clinging to the wings of C-17s and other aircraft as they took off from runways at Kabul airport. At least three people were killed in the melee. Two men were shot dead by U.S. troops.
“Separately, witnesses reported seeing three bloodied bodies, including that of one woman, lying on the ground just outside the terminal building,” the Wall Street Journal said Monday. Both commercial flights and U.S. military evacuations have been grounded. Repatriation efforts have paused in third countries that were assisting in the evacuation process.
The U.S. official who spoke face-to-face with Taliban leaders — something that the U.S. has rarely done — told the Taliban “not to interfere with the evacuation and said the U.S. military would respond forcefully to defend the airport if necessary.”
The Taliban “entered Kabul on Sunday after President Ashraf Ghani left the country, effectively marking the end of a 20-year effort by the U.S. and other Western nations to remold Afghanistan into a modern democracy, only to see its armed forces collapse as American forces withdrew,” the WSJ noted. “The Taliban said again Monday that they had issued orders to fighters—which they call mujahedeen, or holy warriors—that they couldn’t enter homes without owners’ permission.”
The Taliban claimed Sunday that it would operate a “more inclusive” government in Afghanistan, but maintained that the country will now be known as the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the name by which it was known before the September 11th, 2001, terror attacks.
Military officials, clearly unconvinced of the Taliban’s new, woke approach, said Monday that the terrorism alert is likely to be raised, and the United Nations, similarly, said Monday that there needs to be a global approach to addressing the redevelopment of terrorist organizations inside the Taliban’s Afghanistan.
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