NATO chief on evacuating people from Afghanistan, Taliban on terrorism

Afghan folks sit as they wait to depart the Kabul airport in Kabul on August 16, 2021, after a stunningly swift finish to Afghanistan’s 20-year conflict, as 1000’s of individuals mobbed the town’s airport attempting to flee the group’s feared hardline model of Islamist rule.

Wakil Kohsar | AFP | Getty Photos

The primary focus in Afghanistan now’s to evacuate folks from the nation, NATO Secretary Normal Jens Stoltenberg mentioned, 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 mentioned 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 mentioned a lot of the evacuees are Afghan nationals.

At NATO’s overseas minister assembly on Friday, many allies supplied to obtain refugees on a brief foundation or resettle some Afghans extra completely, Stoltenberg mentioned. The nations embrace Poland, Hungary, Canada, and “many others,” he mentioned.

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, almost the entire nation is now below the insurgents’ management.

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

Learn extra on the developments in Afghanistan:

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

“We’ve been in a position to get many out already, however there are lots of extra we have to assist,” he mentioned.

‘Arduous 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 towards the Islamic militant group.

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

There are “critical and arduous 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 mentioned. Then again, leaving meant that the Taliban might return to energy.

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

Stoltenberg mentioned the principle aim of coming into Afghanistan was to forestall worldwide terrorist teams comparable to al-Qaeda and ISIS from working within the nation, and that goal was achieved.

The Taliban’s guarantees

NATO has been clear that it anticipated the Taliban to maintain to its “dedication” that it’s going to not enable Afghanistan to turn into a haven for terrorists, Stoltenberg mentioned.

“We count on them to reside as much as that dedication, however we have to keep vigilant,” he mentioned, including that NATO members have mentioned they will strike terrorist teams in Afghanistan “even with out 1000’s 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 work with the group, Stoltenberg mentioned the alliance will “decide them on their actions, and never … by their phrases.”

However he acknowledged that, with out troops within the nation, NATO could 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 mentioned.

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

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