Afghanistan Taliban News: US contractors using private charters to fly out evacuees | World News

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WASHINGTON: American lawmakers cutting across party lines are urging President Biden to consider extending the August 31 deadline for withdrawal from Afghanistan amid a looming humanitarian crisis arising partly from a money vs people stand-off between Washington and Kabul.
US and western powers are cutting off financial aid and money supply to Kabul given the uncertain situation there, and the Taliban, amid impending economic collapse, in turn is virtually holding Americans and their Afghan allies hostage, not allowing them to reach the airport for evacuation.
The situation is barreling down to a humanitarian crisis with thousands of westerners and their Afghan cohorts still stranded across the country, even as the US managed to airlift more than 20,000 people over the past 24 hours with the clock ticking down to the August 31 deadline.
Some of the evacuation is being undertaken by private contractors who are reportedly charging as much as $6500 for a flight seat.
But many such flights are flying out of Kabul at less than capacity because the Taliban has put it foot down on passage to the airport, apparently in response to the west turning off money spigot. According to one account in the Wall Street Journal, two charter flights with capacity of 345 people and 240 people, flew out with 50 and 170 people respectively, with many evacuees thwarted by US personnel concerned about their eligibility.
On Wednesday, the World Bank followed the International Monetary Fund in stopping all assistance to Kabul, the steps coming after the Biden administration froze $ 7 billion in Afghan reserves. Yet to get a grip on administering the country, the Taliban in turn has cracked down on capital flight, while ordering Afghans not to leave the country and to return to work.
But Afghans who collaborated or even engaged with westerners are so fearful of the Taliban crackdown that they are rushing to the airport in droves to get on evacuation flights.
Their US backers are hiring private contractors to fly them out. On Tuesday, two American lawmakers who have previously served in the US military in Afghanistan, made a secret unauthorized trip to Kabul to get a first hand assessment of the situation, inviting the wrath of the administration and the party leadership.
“Today with @RepMeijer I visited Kabul airport to conduct oversight on the evacuation. Witnessing our young Marines and soldiers at the gates, navigating a confluence of humanity as raw and visceral as the world has ever seen, was indescribable,” Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton tweeted.
“The world has truly never seen anything like what America is doing in Kabul this week—deeply tragic and highly heroic. Fear and desperation at their worst; hope and humanity at their finest,” Moulton said, adding, “Washington should be ashamed of the position we put our service members in, but they represent the best in America. These men and women have been run ragged and are still running strong. Their empathy and dedication to duty are truly inspiring.”
Their secret trip came amid continuing doubts over whether in is possible for doubtful that it is possible to evacuate all remaining Americans and Afghans before the deadline. Even the Democratic leadership in Congress believes it will be tough to pull it off and it is asking the Biden White House to have contingency plans.

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