I can clearly say that this is a historic day in the history of Afghanistan as Kabul airport is now operational.Qatari special envoy Mutlaq bin Majed al-Qahtani on the first flight leaving Afghanistan following the United States’ departure on August 30th.
- On Thursday, around 113 people left Afghanistan aboard a Qatar Airways flight, marking the first flight out of Afghanistan since the United States left at the end of August.
- The flight landed in Doha, the capital city of Qatar. Its passengers included Americans, U.S. green card holders, Germans, Hungarians, and Canadians, an official told the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.
- Interesting To Note: The airport in Kabul was previously called the Hamid Karzai International Airport. The name has now been changed to Kabul International Airport, without the name of former Afghan President Hamid Karzai (2004 – 2014).
- Another flight expecting to carry 200 passengers is scheduled to leave Afghanistan on Friday, according to Qatari special envoy al-Qahtani.
Why It Matters: Though this flight marks a significant moment, questions remain about what path lies ahead for the uncertain number of Americans and Afghan allies who remain in Afghanistan. The Taliban has promised that people who have the proper travel documents will be allowed to leave, however, many are concerned this will not be the case as obstacles begin to present themselves due to the U.S. no longer having an embassy in Afghanistan: “I’m frightened I will be left behind,” an Afghan interpreter who worked for the U.S. for 15 years told the Associated Press; he expressed worry about the Taliban taking revenge against Afghans who helped Americans.
Excerpt from the Associated Press:
“I’m frightened I will be left behind,” said the man, whose name was withheld by The Associated Press for his safety.
The interpreter said he was one of many former U.S. employees whose special visas the United States approved in the last weeks of the American military presence in Afghanistan. But with the U.S. Embassy closed when the Taliban took Kabul on Aug. 15, it has become impossible to get the visa stamped into his passport.
He said he doesn’t trust Taliban assurances that they will not take revenge against Afghans who worked for the Americans.
“No, never,” he said. “I never believe them, because they are lying.”
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States is looking at steps such as electronic visas to overcome the lack of an embassy in Afghanistan.
About 200 Westerners, including Americans, fly out of Kabul (Associated Press)
*Though some reports note an estimated 200 people were aboard the Qatari flight on Thursday, the WSJ reports that not all of the 200 people who were scheduled to fly arrived for their departure on time.*
by Jenna Lee,