First evacuation flight since western countries retreat takes off from Kabul

Qatar Evacuation Flight Kabul

An aircraft with more than one hundred passengers on board left for Qatar, the first since the chaotic evacuation of more than 120,000 people ended on August 30.

The first civilian evacuation flight since the US troop withdrawal at the end of August took off this Thursday (09.09.2021) from Kabul airport with 115 passengers on board, including Americans, bound for Qatar. The Taliban government has authorized the travel of some two hundred people, Americans and other nationalities.

The Qatari government envoy in Afghanistan, Mutlaq al Qahtani, had already announced on television today that “for the first time there will be international commercial or charter flights with Afghan passengers” with the necessary documents to travel. “We are not talking about evacuation, but about free movement (…) Those people who have passports or travel documents and a card to get on the plane will be able to travel,” the envoy explained, although he also said that it was “a historic day for Kabul Airport”. In addition, he explained that international flights would resume “progressively”. “The Kabul airport is already operational,” he summarized.

Qatar commercial flight Kabul

This Atar Airways flight, bound for Doha, takes place as the Taliban try to consolidate their regime, less than a month after they took control of Kabul. It is the first after the chaotic evacuation operation of more than 120,000 people, mostly Afghans, which ended with the US withdrawal on August 30. “We are very grateful to Qatar,” one of the passengers told Qatari television Al Jazeera, saying he had a Canadian passport. Doha, and its Turkish ally, have been working for days to fix the airport structures, which were badly damaged. Outside the airport, many more armed Taliban fighters were seen on the streets of Kabul than in previous days, including special forces with military equipment.

Although the Taliban do not stop reiterating that they have changed and are no longer that repressive regime, especially with women, that ruled between 1996 and 2001, their first weeks in power show that they will not tolerate any kind of opposition. This Thursday, several protests in favor of freedom were canceled in the Afghan capital, after the new government prohibited such acts.

During the week, armed Taliban had dispersed concentrations of hundreds of people in several cities in the country, including Kabul, Faizabad (northeast) and Herat (east), where two people were killed by gunfire. To end the mobilizations, on Wednesday night, the government ordered that any demonstration had to be authorized by the Justice Ministry. And that “for the moment”, none was.