We found out about the 14,000 abandoned Americans almost two months ago, of whom the State Department only shows 900 exfiltrated thus far. We also knew that the US had abandoned tens of thousands of Afghan allies in Joe Biden’s haste to retreat from Afghanistan in August, but we didn’t have an exact count. The Wall Street Journal reported last night that State now estimates that number to be 62,000 (via Andrew Malcolm and John Ondrasik):
More than 60,000 Afghan interpreters and others who have applied for visas to seek shelter in the U.S. after working alongside American forces still remain in Afghanistan, a State Department official said Thursday.
About 33,000 Afghans, including principal applicants and their families, have already cleared the more-onerous vetting requirements and could be eligible for immediate evacuation. This is the first time that the State Department has provided a number on those left behind since the Afghanistan government collapsed this summer.
A total of 62,000 Afghans are believed to have been left behind, the official said.
This figure does not include family members of those interpreters and other workers who supported US efforts in Afghanistan. The true number of people at risk of reprisals from the now-ruling Taliban (or others) may well go into six figures. And that also doesn’t include the 13,000 Americans — citizens and legal permanent residents — that remain stuck behind Taliban lines months after Biden’s bug-out.
But wait, readers may interject, we pulled out tens of thousands of Afghans during the pull-out! True enough, but those were mainly people who happened to be in the right place at the right time. The US under Biden’s leadership didn’t have a plan for getting Americans out, let alone Afghan allies. Biden only left enough time for a mad rush across Taliban-held Kabul to the Hamid Karzai International Airport, which Biden had to re-secure after first pulling all troops out of Kabul. Both the Biden and Donald Trump administrations had deprioritized the processing of exit visas too, meaning that many of these would have been left behind even if a more orderly process had been in place in the final days anyway. In the event, however, the rapid collapse of the American position — especially after abandoning Bagram a few weeks earlier — meant that only the intrepid got out, whether they qualified for the flight or not.
With at least 76,000 people abandoned by Biden, what are the plans to get them out? At the moment, it’s limited to a couple of commercial flights a week … maybe:
The U.S. is co-organizing a couple of flights a week, but scheduling depends on conditions at Kabul airport—which is only partly operational—and the weather. It could take until well into 2022 to complete the evacuation of those who already qualify for flights. If the other 29,000 visa applicants pass vetting, they too would become eligible for evacuation along with their immediate family members.
“Well into 2022,” eh? If each flight carries 300 people, that would be 600 a week, assuming that the weather and security at HKIA held up reliably at all times. At that rate, it would take 126 weeks to complete the exfiltration/evacuation, which would put us well into 2024, not 2022. Even if this represented 1200 a week reliably getting out, we’re still looking at January 2023. And that doesn’t count the family members of the visa holders, numbers not included in State’s estimates.
This is an utter disgrace, and it all goes back to Biden and his leadership team. And apart from occasional updates as State sees fit to give, it’s also an utter disgrace by our national media, which has chosen to ignore these abandoned Americans and allies rather than hold Biden accountable for his cowardly actions. Disgrace barely touches on it, in fact.
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