According to a Defense Department source who was not allowed to comment publicly, all gates at Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai International Airport were blocked Saturday due to a backlog at Qatar’s Al Udeid Air Base.
The majority of US military evacuation aircraft travel from Kabul to Qatar, and Qatar’s reluctance to accommodate more evacuees is having a rippling effect.
The US Embassy in Kabul advised Americans on Saturday against traveling to the airport without receiving “individual instructions from a US government representative” due to possible security risks outside the gates.
The warning about the airport’s chaotic circumstances, where hundreds of people are awaiting departure, comes a day after President Joe Biden said that he was unaware of any difficulties connecting downtown Kabul to the airport.
On Friday, Biden stated that they have no reason to believe they haven’t been able to get via the airport in Kabul.
President Joe Biden said Friday that the government remains hopeful that the military pullout will be completed by the deadline, but will continue until all Americans have departed. Additionally, he promised to evacuate Afghans who assisted US troops.
He said that it is one of the world’s biggest and most challenging airlifts and that we will do everything possible to ensure the safety of our Afghan friends, partners, and Afghans who may be targeted as a result of their connection with the US.
The US military has about 6,000 soldiers on the ground, along with the 82nd Airborne performing the runway security at Kabul International Airport, the Army’s 10th Mountain Division guarding the airport, and the departure of the civilians is being taken care of by the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Biden said that 169 Americans climbed over the airport wall Thursday with military assistance, despite the airport’s turmoil. Flights were halted Friday for “a few hours” to allow authorities to process evacuees, Biden added.
Since the airlift started Aug. 14, the US has evacuated 13,000 people, including 5,700 on Thursday, Biden said.
The House Armed Services Committee’s chairman has joined demands for an investigation into why the United States’ departure from Afghanistan went awry.
According to Rep. Adam Smith, the plan for civilian evacuation was woefully inadequate. He said that in the next few months, we must investigate why this occurred in this manner and ensure that it never occurs again.
Smith also said that the information used to direct the evacuation must be examined to see if it offered any clarity about the Taliban’s speed of entry and the nature of our reaction.
Biden said that the intelligence community anticipated the Taliban assuming control of the nation but grossly overestimated how fast the Afghanistan government and security forces would surrender.
Biden stated on Friday that the agreement was that they would collapse and fall in 11 days, and the Afghanistan commander would leave the country.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is coordinating a series of scheduled investigation hearings into activities taken by the intelligence agencies, State Department, Pentagon and the White House with Republicans and Democrats on the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees.
However, Smith, like Biden, stressed that the immediate priority should be securely removing Americans and friends from Afghanistan.