NATO is ‘working 24/7’ to get as many individuals out of Afghanistan as potential, its chief says


Afghan individuals sit as they wait to go away the Kabul airport in Kabul on August 16, 2021, after a stunningly swift finish to Afghanistan’s 20-year conflict, as hundreds of individuals mobbed the town’s airport attempting to flee the group’s feared hardline model of Islamist rule.

Wakil Kohsar | AFP | Getty Pictures

The principle focus in Afghanistan now’s to evacuate individuals from the nation, NATO Secretary Basic Jens Stoltenberg stated, as reports of violence and repression continue to emerge despite promises of peace from the Taliban.

“We’re working 24/7 to get as many individuals out as potential,” he advised CNBC’s Hadley Gamble on Friday.

U.S. President Joe Biden stated more than 18,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan since the end of July, and 5,700 in the last 24 hours as of Friday afternoon in the U.S. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby stated a lot of the evacuees are Afghan nationals.

At NATO’s overseas minister assembly on Friday, many allies provided to obtain refugees on a brief foundation or resettle some Afghans extra completely, Stoltenberg stated. The international locations embody Poland, Hungary, Canada, and “many others,” he stated.

Afghanistan fell under Taliban control after the Islamist militant group seized the capital of Kabul earlier in August. The Taliban began making fast battlefield advances within the nation for the reason that U.S. introduced in April that NATO and American troops would withdraw from Afghanistan by Sept. 11. Now, practically the entire nation is now underneath the insurgents’ management.

Since then, individuals have been scrambling to leave the country.

Learn extra on the developments in Afghanistan:

Stoltenberg stated members of NATO are involved about getting their workers and different personnel out of Afghanistan, but additionally need to assist locals depart — many have supported U.S.-led efforts within the nation over time.

“We’ve been capable of get many out already, however there are various extra we have to assist,” he stated.

‘Exhausting selection’

The West has been criticized for the chaos that unfolded in Afghanistan after the Taliban rapidly took over country, together with the presidential palace.

NATO and President Biden have blamed the local Afghan government for failing to face in opposition to the Islamic militant group.

Stoltenberg stated NATO — a 30-member army alliance — made a “very tough and exhausting selection” when deciding to withdraw these troops, a move that has been branded an abandonment by some observers.

There are “severe and exhausting questions” to be requested about how that withdrawal was executed, he advised CNBC.

However, staying within the nation meant there was a danger of an “open-ended army battle with extra casualties, extra violence” and maybe the necessity to ship extra troops in, he stated. Then again, leaving meant that the Taliban might return to energy.

“We have been very clear concerning the dangers of ending our army mission, however what we did not anticipate, what got here as a shock was the pace of the collapse of the Afghan authorities and safety forces,” he stated. “However we additionally want to take a look at NATO and our engagement and the exhausting classes to be learnt.”

Stoltenberg stated the primary aim of getting into Afghanistan was to forestall worldwide terrorist teams reminiscent of al-Qaeda and ISIS from working within the nation, and that intention was achieved.

The Taliban’s guarantees

NATO has been clear that it anticipated the Taliban to maintain to its “dedication” that it’ll not permit Afghanistan to develop into a haven for terrorists, Stoltenberg stated.

“We anticipate them to dwell as much as that dedication, however we have to keep vigilant,” he stated, including that NATO members have stated they will strike terrorist teams in Afghanistan “even with out hundreds of trainers on the bottom.”

The Taliban have presented a conciliatory image, but reports of deaths and beatings have surfaced over the past few days. Requested whether or not NATO believes it may well work with the group, Stoltenberg stated the alliance will “decide them on their actions, and never … by their phrases.”

However he acknowledged that, with out troops within the nation, NATO may have much less affect than earlier than.

“However no matter what sort of authorities we get in Kabul, allies are prepared to make use of the leverage they’ve,” he advised CNBC. That features diplomatic, political, financial and monetary instruments that can be utilized to help the event of an Afghanistan the place people rights, together with girls’s rights, are revered, he stated.

— CNBC’s Natasha Turak and Amanda Macias contributed to this report.