Flights at the Kabul airport were suspended Monday as a top White House official said the U.S. military would work through the day to evacuate women, judges and other Afghans who could “be in the crosshairs” of the Taliban.
“These are desperate people,” Jonathan Finer, White House deputy national security adviser, told CNN. “These are people who quite rightly are looking for a way out.”
The U.S. suspended flights to clear out desperate Afghans who swarmed the tarmac after the swift collapse of the Afghan government and fall of Kabul over the weekend.
“The United States has the forces that are necessary to bring stability and security to that airport,” Mr. Finer said.
Mr. Finer said the U.S. will be providing security at the airport and selecting people for flights based on existing criteria. He insisted it won’t be a “free for all” and that people cannot just show up at the airport.
He also pledged “severe consequences” from the U.S. military if the Taliban interferes with efforts to get prioritized Afghans from outside provinces to the airport.
The deputy national security adviser spoke amid questions from both parties about the debacle unfolding on the other side of the globe.
President Biden has been monitoring the unfolding events from Camp David in Maryland, raising questions about whether he will address the American people about the chaotic unwinding of U.S. involvement after a 20-year war in Afghanistan — and how his assurances of an orderly exist went so wrong.
“The president has spoken to this extensively, and I expect that he will speak to it again soon,” Mr. Finer told CNN.
Lawmakers said Mr. Biden needs to show his face and get U.S. partners out.
“While Afghanistan falls to jihadi militants, our Afghan allies are on the verge of slaughter, and America gets humiliated, President Biden hides out at Camp David. It’s unacceptable,” Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican, said. “The mission at this point ought to be simple: Bolster American troops and firepower until we can get flights running around the clock. The Taliban must not dictate when every last American, our courageous Afghan partners, and their families are off the tarmac.”