The Taliban is swiftly conquering all of Afghanistan thanks to an irresponsible withdrawal of American forces. You’re ordered to evacuate to the airport but are provided no protection from the Taliban that have now taken the roads between the embassy and your destination. You manage to get through the Taliban’s attacks and hatred only to face crushing mobs at the airport. You almost lose your children in the scrum, and a few of your friends collapse under the many feet of the desperate, forcing them back to a local hospital to recover from their injuries. That’s if you make it to the airport in the first place.
That was the experience of those who lived near and worked at the United States embassy in Kabul and they feel as if they were stabbed in the back by the U.S. government who left them to fend for themselves after the Biden administration suddenly withdrew America’s military forces there seemingly overnight.
According to the New York Post, the journey under harassment by the Taliban was preferable to the conditions at the airport as told by embassy staffers. The entire experience has left them feeling a sense of betrayal and that the “brutal experience” of it all without proper protection lead to horrifying occurrences:
The staffers accused the US of betrayal after they were advised to head to the airport — but instead suffered a “brutal experience” without protection, according to a diplomatic cable obtained by NBC News.
They complained to the State Department about being attacked and spat on by Taliban fighters at checkpoints near the airport and also targeted by criminals, NBC said.
Others said they almost lost their children in the stampede to flee the Taliban’s brutal rule, while some were hospitalized after collapsing in a crush of people. Others said they had collapsed on the road because of heat exhaustion, NBC said.
“It would be better to die under the Taliban’s bullet” than face the crowds again, one staff member was quoted as saying in the cable.
Another said, “Happy to die here, but with dignity and pride.”
These stories come via diplomatic cable on Saturday, with reports that seven people were crushed to death by the mobs at the airport, including one child. Deaths also include one death and several injuries due to a gun battle that ensued, as well as others who fell to their deaths attempting to cling to airplanes as they took off.
The State Department insists that it has a “special commitment” to embassy staffers who “have suffered hardships, pain and loss because of their dedication to working with us to build a better future for all Afghans.”
As reports from my colleague Hollie McKay detail, the situation on the ground in Kabul isn’t just dangerous, it’s confusing. As one man told her, you never know when an attack is coming or where it’s going to come from. Reports from local teachers who have braved the airport tell stories of almost dying as they search for a way in. Streiff also wrote an article with examples of just how bad it’s gotten, with videos of people begging and crying to be let into the airport, people passing their babies to the front of crowds to be taken away, and random gunfire happening from time to time.
Conditions must be even worse than many people understand if dying to the Taliban is preferable to waiting around at the airport where confusion and desperation reign supreme. What’s more, the sense of betrayal they must feel only adds to the demoralizing feeling about the whole situation.