A Qatari plane carrying a technical team landed at Kabul airport today – a first since Western evacuation flights stopped on Monday night.
The plane was bringing experts to help the Taliban keep the airport running, a source said, helping to resume evacuation flights and bring aid into the country.
Qatar sent its experts following a request from the Taliban, the source added, but no final agreement has yet been reached on what kind of assistance they can provide.
It comes amid a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, with thousands of people crossing national borders, amid doubts the Taliban will keep their word and allow those with Western travel documents to leave once flights resume.
A Qatari jet landed at Kabul airport today, the first to land since western evacuation flights ended on Monday night
The flight has a tech team on board that has asked the Taliban (pictured) to help them reopen the runway — bringing aid into the country and refugees out
“A Qatari jet with a technical team landed in Kabul earlier today to discuss the resumption of operations at the airport,” a source told AFP today.
While no final agreement has been reached on the provision of technical assistance, Qatar’s technical team has initiated this discussion based on the request of the other parties. Talks are still going on at the level of security and operations.’
More than 123,000 foreigners and Afghans fled the country in a frenzied airlift operation that ended Tuesday, but many more are desperate to leave.
Hundreds of them are considered Western citizens left behind in the rush to leave, while tens of thousands more are Afghans who have been promised refuge in return for helping US, British and NATO forces.
Afghanistan faces several immediate and rapidly worsening crises after the rapid takeover by the Taliban, showing no signs of abating as the Islamists have not yet formed a government – overwhelmed by the speed of their own takeover.
Cash reserves are desperately running out, food shortages have pushed prices up, skilled workers are fleeing and the economy is on the brink of collapse.
Medical supplies are also running out, the country’s wealth reserves have been stashed abroad and under an asset freeze, aid payments have all but dried up and foreign exchanges have been shut down – meaning people can’t transfer money from abroad.
The Islamist militia has focused on running banks, hospitals and government machinery even as thousands of people crossed the border into Iran, Pakistan and Central Asian states.
Thousands of people have flocked to Afghanistan’s land borders, questioning Taliban promises to leave the country once flights resume
At Torkham, a border crossing with Pakistan just east of the Khyber Pass, a Pakistani official said, “A large number of people are waiting on the Afghanistan side for the gate to open.”
Thousands also gathered at the Islam Qala post on the border with Iran.
“I felt that being part of the Iranian security forces brought some sort of relaxation for the Afghans when they entered Iran, compared to the past,” said one Afghan from a group of eight who crossed.
The Taliban are talking to Qatar and Turkey about how to manage Kabul’s airport, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said, but those negotiations could take days or weeks to complete.
Uzbekistan’s land border with northern Afghanistan remained closed, but the government said it would help Afghans transit to Germany once flights resumed.
In a resolution Monday, the UN Security Council urged the Taliban to allow safe passage for those who want to leave, but did not call the creation of a safe zone, a move supported by France and others. .
The Taliban have announced amnesty for all Afghans who collaborated with foreign forces during the war that ousted them from power in 2001 for refusing to extradite al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the September 11 attacks on the United States .
Taliban leaders have also called on Afghans to return home and help rebuild while pledging to protect human rights, in an apparent effort to show a more temperate face than their first government, which upheld radical Islamic law. .
The militia made similar promises when taking power in 1996, only to publicly hang a former president, ban women from education and work, impose strict dress codes and take a punitive approach to the people of Kabul. to take.
A woman said she saw Taliban fighters beating women with sticks at a bank in the Afghan capital on Tuesday.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen something like this and it really scared me,” the 22-year-old said on condition of anonymity.
Hamid Karzai Airport remained closed today after the Taliban took over behind the back of retreating US troops
Taliban guards are pictured outside the runway, where only members of the Islamist group are currently allowed to go – with no flights taking off
The Taliban have yet to appoint a new government or reveal how they intend to rule, unlike in 1996, when a leadership council was formed within hours of the capital’s capture.
The foreign minister of neighboring Pakistan, which has close ties to the Taliban, said on Tuesday that he expected Afghanistan to have a new “consensus government” within days.
In the absence of a government in Kabul, Britain and India held separate talks with Taliban officials in Doha over fears that up to half a million Afghans would https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/half-million- afghans -could-flee-across-borders-unhcr-2021-08-27.
Washington said it would use its influence, including access to global markets, over the Taliban as it tries to get the remaining Americans and allies out of Afghanistan after the military withdraws.
High on victory and back to power, some Taliban leaders mock the United States.
“Your power is gone, your gold is gone,” Anas Haqqani, who has emerged as one of the group’s most prominent leaders, said on Twitter.
Haqqani posted a photo of himself wearing discarded prison cuffs on Wednesday as he toured Bagram Prison, where he was held in solitary confinement by US troops for years.
Still, Afghanistan is in dire need of money, and it is unlikely that the Taliban will have any quick access to the approximately $10 billion in assets that the Afghan central bank largely has abroad.
“If the international community wants to avoid economic collapse, one way would be to give Afghanistan limited and controlled access to its reserves,” Shah Mehrabi, an economics professor at Montgomery College in Maryland who sits on the board of the central bank, said. told Reuters.
Afghan evacuees – some of the last to leave the country – arrive in Washington DC on Tuesday, a day after the last US troops left
Long lines lined up at banks in Kabul on Wednesday as people tried to withdraw their savings.
The Taliban also said they had surrounded the only remaining province that resisted its rule and called on the fighters there to negotiate a settlement with them.
Several thousand members of local militias and remnants of army and special forces are held in mountainous Panjshir led by Ahmad Massoud.
In a recorded speech, senior Taliban leader Amir Khan Motaqi called on them to lay down their weapons.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is home to all Afghans,” he said.
Motaqi reminded anti-Taliban forces that NATO and US forces had been unable to defeat the Taliban.
“But we are still trying to ensure that there is no war and that the issue in Panjshir is calmly and peacefully resolved,” he said.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the United States was also aware of the threat posed by ISIS-K, the affiliate of the Islamic State that claimed responsibility for last week’s suicide bombing outside the Kabul airport, which left 13 American troops and dozens of Afghan civilians were killed.