Source: Emily Zanotti
Responding to claims that it is blocking flights carrying Americans and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) from leaving Mazar-i-Sharif (MAZ) airport in Afghanistan, the Biden administration’s State Department reportedly admitted that it has few resources available to facilitate the evacuation and that they have no “reliable” information about the trapped flights.
As the Daily Wire noted Sunday, there are conflicting reports as to who is preventing planes carrying individuals rescued by a non-governmental organization (NGO) from taking off from MAZ.
Individuals associated with an organization handling the flights that the State Department is the only obstacle to the chartered planes leaving the airport, but sources close to the situation told the Daily Wire Sunday that while the State Department is not negotiating landing zones, the Taliban is also making significant demands, effectively creating a “hostage situation” on the ground in Afghanistan.
A State Department official, however, told the Washington Free Beacon, that the State Department’s hands are tied, and that they have no resources on the ground to assist or even to provide reliable information on the passengers.
“We do not have personnel on the ground, we do not have air assets in the country, we do not control the airspace—whether over Afghanistan or elsewhere in the region,” the official told the Free Beacon. “We understand the concern that many people are feeling as they try to facilitate further charter and other passage out of Afghanistan.”
A spokesman added that, “[g]iven these constraints, we also do not have a reliable means to confirm the basic details of charter flights, including who may be organizing them, the number of U.S. citizens and other priority groups on-board, the accuracy of the rest of the manifest, and where they plan to land, among many other issues.”
The Taliban, of course, said that it has no idea what is going on.
“This is not true. Our Mujahideen have nothing to do with ordinary Afghans. This is propaganda and we reject it,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the BBC.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), who has been keeping a close eye on the effort to evacuate Americans trapped in Afghanistan, and says he’s received classified briefings on the situation at MAZ, confirmed to Fox News Sunday that the “Taliban want something in exchange,” per the Free Beacon.
“McCaul has been tracking the situation and says the State Department cleared these flights to leave, but that the Taliban is responsible for stopping them. The State Department reportedly confirmed to Congress that flights from Mazar-i-Sharif are being held until the Taliban gives its approval,” the Free Beacon noted.
Individiuals associated with the NGO organizing the flights told media Sunday that there are both Americans and LPRs waiting to leave Afghanistan and put the number of Americans at around a dozen. The State Department said it could not confirm that number.
A source told the Daily Wire that the Taliban appears to be requesting “tens of millions.”
The Biden administration has, over the past several days, been operating as though the crisis in Afghanistan is over, but it appears some aspects of the crisis in Afghanistan could be just beginning.