News and Commentary

‘Mayhem…This Was Nuts’: CNN Reports Kabul Airport In Chaos Despite White House Assurances
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- AUGUST 17, 2021: A man cries as he watches fellow Afghans get wounded after Taliban fighters use guns fire, whips, sticks and sharp objects to maintain crowd control over thousands of Afghans who continue to wait outside the Kabul Airport for a way out, on airport road in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. At least half dozen were wounded, within the hour of violent escalation, including a woman and her child. (MARCUS YAM / LOS ANGELES TIMES)

CNN reporter Clarissa Ward, who has been covering the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan from outside the relative safety of Kabul airport’s military sector, called the situation Wednesday “mayhem” and “nuts,” despite White House assurances that the airport is secure and evacuations are proceeding.

The White House said Wednesday that the United States military is in full control of Kabul airport and that flights are up and running, with a plan to evacuate as many American citizens and Afghan nationals with visas as possible before the U.S. withdrawals completely at the end of August.

But the situation outside the Kabul airport gates appears to be very different from the scenes inside, according to CNN’s Ward — and it is more in line with State Department statements made Tuesday afternoon that the U.S. government could not guarantee the safety of Americans traveling to Kabul’s airport, and statements made by Biden administration officials indicating that there are no official plans to rescue Americans located outside of Kabul.

“It’s definitely chaotic,” Ward told CNN’s Brianne Keilar in a morning report from Kabul. “It’s definitely dangerous.”

Ward then related a terrifying story about the Taliban guards waiting outside the airport gates.

“Two Taliban fighters just came up with their pistols, and they were ready to pistol-whip [our producer],” she said, with what appear to be the sounds of gunshots behind her. “We had to intervene and scream..I’ve covered all sorts of crazy situations. This was mayhem. This was nuts.”

“This is important to see,” another CNN commenter said, shocked, following Ward’s report, “because what we are seeing now is the disconnect between what the United States says is happening and needs to happen, with what can happen.”

Ward fired back, “That’s what’s so crazy.”

Afghans are still gathering in massive crowds outside the airport, the Wall Street Journal added, and there are few clear roads — and most of those are “crowded” by “Taliban checkpoints.”

“Afghans and Westerners stranded in Kabul after Sunday’s Taliban takeover started trickling into the city’s U.S.-controlled airport for evacuation flights, but entry remained extremely difficult, with Taliban checkpoints on most access roads and no clear system to bring people in,” the outlet noted.

“At Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, crowds of Afghans continued to gather along the perimeter, trying to flee the country. U.S. Marines focused mostly on keeping people from coming close. As a result, many of the evacuation flights continued leaving with empty seats even as tens of thousands of Afghans who worked with Western governments clamored for a way out before the Taliban track them down,” the WSJ reported.

Taliban fighters, desperate to control those desperate to leave, are beating and whipping even women and children, according to a Los Angeles Times photojournalist, also on the ground outside Kabul airport.

An unconfirmed report from Reuters noted that the Taliban fighters were firing warning shots into the air to try to disperse the crowds outside the airport gates.

So far, the WSJ notes based on Biden administration statements, an “estimated 10,000 to 15,000 U.S. citizens remain in Afghanistan, senior Biden administration officials told Senate staff during a private briefing on Tuesday, a Senate aide said. The U.S. military evacuated 1,100 American citizens, U.S. permanent residents and their families on Tuesday, according to a White House official. In total, the U.S. has evacuated 3,200 people so far and relocated to the U.S. 2,000 Afghans who were approved for special immigrant visas.”

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  ‘Mayhem…This Was Nuts’: CNN Reports Kabul Airport In Chaos Despite White House Assurances