National Security Briefing August 23

August 23, 2021
Plane in the clouds

In the days remaining, we believe we have the wherewithal to get out the American citizens who want to leave Kabul.

National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, in an August 23 briefing on the evacuations from Afghanistan.
  • The deadline to exit Afghanistan: August 31, one week from today. The Taliban said 8/31 is a "red line" for America to get out, arguing that Americans are now occupying Afghanistan.
  • Sullivan: We are "sustaining the highest level of vigilance" for an attack at the Kabul airport by terrorist groups, especially ISIS-K…"Our commanders on the ground have taken every step they can to prepare for such an attack."
  • White House: At about 2:30 pm EDT on Monday, over 16,000 people, including Americans, Afghan allies, "third-country nationals, and Afghans at risk of persecution or worse" had been evacuated from Kabul in the past 24 hours, crammed together on either U.S. military or coalition aircrafts (a total of about 90 flights). The U.S. has "facilitated the evacuation of approximately 37,000 people" since August 14. More than two dozen countries across four continents are helping with the effort.
    • Important Note: The White House said it doesn't know exactly how many American citizens remain in Afghanistan, not even a ballpark figure.
  • At the Kabul airport, at least seven Afghans died in a "panicked stampede of thousands of people over the weekend," AP reports. On Monday morning, an unknown assailant opened fire on Afghan security forces which led U.S., Afghan, and allied troops to return fire; one Afghan soldier was killed, and many Afghans were wounded.

Why It Matters: Sullivan called this "one of the largest airlifts in history." Officials fear for the safety of Americans and Afghan allies under Taliban rule. Furthermore, it remains unclear how this evacuation will affect America's standing as a Superpower and its ripple effects around the world.

Watch Sullivan's full speech here.

"Deadly gunfire at airport; Taliban insist on US pullout date" (AP)

"Three Babies Have Been Born Aboard U.S. Evacuation Flights Out of Afghanistan" (CNBC)

by Jenna Lee,