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NATO is ‘working 24/7’ to get as many individuals out of Afghanistan as attainable, its chief says

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 battle, as 1000’s of individuals mobbed the town’s airport making an attempt to flee the group’s feared hardline model of Islamist rule.

Wakil Kohsar | AFP | Getty Photos

The principle focus in Afghanistan now could be to evacuate folks from the nation, NATO Secretary Common Jens Stoltenberg mentioned, as experiences of violence and repression proceed to emerge regardless of guarantees of peace from the Taliban.

“We’re working 24/7 to get as many individuals out as attainable,” he instructed CNBC’s Hadley Gamble on Friday.

U.S. President Joe Biden mentioned greater than 18,000 folks have been evacuated from Afghanistan for the reason that finish of July, and 5,700 within the final 24 hours as of Friday afternoon within 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 international locations embody Poland, Hungary, Canada, and “many others,” he mentioned.

Afghanistan fell beneath Taliban management 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 beneath the insurgents’ management.

Since then, folks have been scrambling to depart the nation.

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 wish to assist locals depart — many have supported U.S.-led efforts within the nation through the years.

“Now we have been capable of get many out already, however there are lots of extra we have to assist,” he mentioned.

‘Arduous alternative’

The West has been criticized for the chaos that unfolded in Afghanistan after the Taliban quickly took over nation, together with the presidential palace.

NATO and President Biden have blamed the native Afghan authorities for failing to face in opposition to the Islamic militant group.

Stoltenberg mentioned NATO — a 30-member navy alliance — made a “very troublesome and onerous alternative” when deciding to withdraw these troops, a transfer that has been branded an abandonment by some observers.

There are “critical and onerous questions” to be requested about how that withdrawal was executed, he instructed CNBC.

However, staying within the nation meant there was a danger of an “open-ended navy battle with extra casualties, extra violence” and maybe the necessity to ship extra troops in, he mentioned. However, leaving meant that the Taliban might return to energy.

“We have been very clear concerning the dangers of ending our navy 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 have a look at NATO and our engagement and the onerous classes to be learnt.”

Stoltenberg mentioned the principle purpose 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 permit Afghanistan to change into a haven for terrorists, Stoltenberg mentioned.

“We count on them to dwell 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 offered a conciliatory picture, however experiences of deaths and beatings have surfaced over the previous 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 may 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 instructed CNBC. That features diplomatic, political, financial and monetary instruments that can be utilized to assist the event of an Afghanistan the place people rights, together with ladies’s rights, are revered, he mentioned.

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

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