By John Ikani
An estimated 200 foreigners, including Americans, left Afghanistan on a commercial flight out of Kabul on Thursday with the cooperation of the Taliban — the first such large-scale departure since U.S. forces completed their frantic withdrawal over a week ago
A senior U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity provided the number of Westerners on the Qatar flight and said two senior Taliban officials helped facilitate the departure — the new Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.
Americans, U.S. green card holders and other nationalities, including Germans, Hungarians and Canadians, were aboard, the official said.
Qatari envoy Mutlaq bin Majed al-Qahtani said another 200 passengers will leave Afghanistan on Friday.
The White House said before the flight that there were roughly 100 U.S. citizens left in Afghanistan. But several veterans groups have said that number is too low because many citizens never bothered to tell U.S. officials they were in the country. And they said the figure overlooks green-card-carrying permanent U.S. residents living in Afghanistan who want to leave.
Thousands of Afghans remain desperate to get out, afraid of what Taliban rule might hold. The Taliban have repeatedly said foreigners and Afghans with proper travel documents could leave. But their assurances have been met with skepticism, and many Afghans have been unable to obtain certain paperwork.
The Taliban have repeatedly said foreigners and Afghans with proper travel documents could leave. But their assurances have been meet with skepticism, even with the departure of the Qatar flight. U.S. lawmakers, veterans groups and others are pressing the Biden administration to ensure that former Afghan military interpreters and others who could be in danger of Taliban reprisals for working with the Americans are allowed to leave.