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First Move with Julia Chatterley
At Least 12 Killed in and around Kabul Airport; Joe Biden Defends Handling of U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan; E.U.'s Top Diplomat Says Situation in Afghanistan is a Catastrophe. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired August 19, 2021 - 09:00 ET
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walk through them. And I'm thinking like, all right, come try it, because I'm ready.
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PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome to FIRST MOVE. I'm Paula Newton in for Julia Chatterley. And of course, we begin with the latest from
At least 12 people have reportedly been killed in and around Kabul's Airport since Sunday. Reuters says the deaths were caused by either
stampedes of people trying to get into the airport, or gunshots in that area.
Meantime, former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who is now in the UAE has been trying to explain why he ultimately fled his home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASHRAF GHANI, FORMER AFGHAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I didn't want the bloodshed to commence in Kabul, like it had in Syria and Yemen, so I
decided to go, to leave Kabul.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Now today, meantime, the Taliban say they defeated quote, "powerful and arrogant America" in a statement celebrating Afghan
independence from British colonial rule. CNN's Clarissa Ward is in Kabul and she described the situation a short time ago.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We spoke to someone who was at the airport earlier this morning, he said that the crowds are
just astonishing -- huge, huge amounts of people in the hundreds, if not the thousands desperately trying to push themselves into the airport,
despite the best efforts of you know, all the various contingencies who are putting out protection in that area.
They did also say though, it's a little bit quieter, but that may have been on account of the fact that they went very early this morning.
We were there all day yesterday, as we were doing live shots from there. We're not trying to do that again today, because it was such a chaotic
situation. And at a couple of points, it was actually quite dangerous.
Now, I do want to make the point that outside of the airport, it is calm in the capital and the Taliban is really trying to put on that show for the
international community and for the people of Afghanistan. Today is Ashura, which is a Shiite religious festival. They are making a big deal of how the
Shiites are free to practice this religious celebration on the streets and they're going to protect it.
We've also seen a sort of flash protest or parade in support of Afghan Independence Day, with a couple hundred people gathering in Kabul for a
brief time holding up the Afghan flag, the Taliban are saying you can fly any flag that you want.
But as we've seen already in other parts of the country, taking down the Taliban flag, putting up the Afghan flag has been met with bullets and
violence from Taliban fighters.
So, despite the best efforts of the Taliban's leadership to show a more conciliatory face, you are still seeing that fear and you are still seeing
that crush of people desperately trying to get out.
NEWTON: You certainly are. And that was from our Clarissa Ward. CNN international security editor, Nick Paton Walsh now joins us, and he has
traveled from Kabul, from that airport, just in the last 24 hours. He joins us now from Doha, Qatar.
Nick, tell us what did you see? And it seems from what Clarissa has said that the situation might have gotten even worse since you went through.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, I mean, it's utterly chaotic. A lot of the problem about this essentially stems from the
belief, I think, for most inside the airport, running the scheme, that there is some sort of orderly mechanism to get people on, and they appear
to feel that they'll be able to sustain this for a matter of weeks to get the sort of 22,000 Afghans that they say they want out of the country into
a safe place.
But outside the airport, it is utter chaos. And there is a mixture of Taliban blocking access, and Afghans themselves blocking access because of
the sheer numbers of them trying to get through.
Now, my access was on Tuesday afternoon, through an area to the north. That was almost impossible, owing to the fact that there are so many other
Afghans, possibly American citizens to waving their passports, trying to get close to a specific gate.
Now, for the Marines guarding that gates, the task was impossible because you can't start picking people out of the crowd and agreeing to take them
and allowing them to be lifted over the gate because you'll spark a rush of people trying the same, and then when you have unfiltered people trying to
jump over the gate, essentially you have to find a way of stopping them.
And that's when we hear the gunshots on the air. That's why we've heard reports of teargas.
And so it is an exceptionally difficult task to filter hundreds of desperate people, particularly when along that road where I was, there are
Taliban when I was there doing traffic control, trying to keep the traffic moving, but your major problem at the moment is going to be when they
choose to start stopping people accessing all of the gates around the airport.
PATON WALSH: That doesn't appear to have happened. They put a persistent presence up on the main airport road heading up towards there. And so, this
essentially comes down to the question haunting all these thousands of Afghans and American citizens and other citizens, too that are trying to
get on to the airport, which is, is there ever going to be some sort of negotiable mechanism for doing this that's calm, that manages the numbers,
effectively, that causes no panic, that causes no injury, and there isn't one at this stage and we don't necessarily seem to be having a diplomatic
track that's racing towards that.
And so instead, we have increasing numbers of people, increasing numbers of panic and fear, increasing desperation, all of which adds to the chaos
around the actual facility itself.
So once you're on the base, frankly, when I was there, no problem getting on a plane, a lot of the planes didn't have enough people. It seems to have
got larger in number on the base since I was there, but it is simply getting on to the airport that is a staggering task -- Paula.
NEWTON: Yes, sounds so harrowing. And I'm sure, Nick, as you point out, it's not like you had a family depending on you when you're trying to get
in there. So, just imagine all those Afghan families with little ones in tow, not knowing where their next meal is going to come from, as they're
trying to get in there.
Not happy to hear as well, that there were of course, empty flights, leaving or half empty flights leaving.
Nick a really good perspective and appreciate your input there.
Now meantime, President Biden says U.S. forces will remain in Afghanistan until all Americans who want to leave the country are out. In an interview
with ABC News, George Stephanopoulos and ABC News, pardon me, the President also dismissed criticism of the ongoing U.S. military operations, and
pushed back on suggestions that he was getting flawed Intelligence on Afghanistan. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Back in July, you said a Taliban takeover was highly unlikely. Was the Intelligence wrong? Or did you
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think there was no consensus if you go back and look at the Intelligence reports. They said
that it's like more likely to be sometime by the end of the year.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You didn't put a timeline out when you said it was highly, you unlikely just said flat out it is highly unlikely the Taliban would
BIDEN: Yes. Well, the question was whether or not it was -- the idea that the Taliban would take over was premised on the notion that the -- that
somehow the 300,000 troops we had trained and equipped was going to just collapse, they were going to give up. I don't think anybody anticipated
STEPHANOPOULOS: We've all seen the pictures, we have seen those hundreds of people packed into a C-17. We've seen Afghans falling --
BIDEN: That was four days ago, five days ago.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What did you think when you first saw those pictures?
BIDEN: Well, I thought, it was weird. We have to gain control of this. We have to move this more quickly. We have to move in a way in which we can
take control of that airport, and we did.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you don't think this could have been handled -- this exit could have been handled better in any way? No mistakes?
BIDEN: No, I don't think it could have been handled in a way that there -- we were going to go back in hindsight and look, but the idea that somehow
there's a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don't know how that happens. I don't know how that happened.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, for you, that was always priced into the decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Hey, John Harwood joins me now from the White House. John, there seem to be very little confusion there in that interview, and worse, the
issue of accountability, he did say that the buck stops with him. And yet in that interview, not so much. He clearly wants Americans and the world,
quite frankly, to accept that he could do no better.
JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Look, you didn't hear a lot of contrition because President Biden is not contrite. He has acknowledged
that the collapse of Afghan government officials and security forces was faster than he thought, but he hasn't expanded upon that to explain how he
might have accommodated that differently. That's -- the defensiveness that he showed is probably hindered his ability to connect with the American
people somewhat in terms of explaining what's happened.
That being said, we have not had a widespread loss of life. The 12 fatalities that Clarissa reported, that's 12 too many, but it's not in the
context of a large Civil War, a huge number, and we have not had American casualties.
So, I think from President Biden's perspective, this withdrawal has not failed. It is still in front of him as he tries to evacuate more than
60,000 Afghan allies and American citizens. But that's going to -- the proof is going to be in the results of that. The American officials say
6,000 out so far. They are going to try to sustain that for the next couple of weeks and President Biden acknowledged that the American troops may stay
to sustain that evacuation, at least for American citizens beyond August 31st, if necessary,
NEWTON: What's interesting here is the fact that Biden has emerged weakened from this, and I don't have to tell you, John, you know what the
allies have been saying behind the scenes and probably directly to Biden administration officials.
Is it dawning on his aides, though, that this could yet jeopardize his very ambitious domestic agenda? Because you have had people both from the
Democratic side of the aisle and the Republican side of the aisle say, this was not handled well.
HARWOOD: Look, he is getting a ton of incoming criticism, as you indicated for members of both parties, as well as from American allies. But again,
the staying power of that criticism is going to turn substantially on the success of this evacuation, which is now underway.
In terms of the domestic agenda, what a senior administration official told me yesterday was for all of the dunking they are doing on President Biden
on Afghanistan, they recognize that their success is tied to his success in terms of his domestic agenda, and they are counting on that feeling to
sustain this popular infrastructure agenda, which he is pushing.
There is discord within the Democratic Party apart from Afghanistan, on the tactics and strategy for executing that, but I think President Biden is
counting on House Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Schumer to shepherd that through and they are confident that they have not sustained
damage that will prevent that from happening, at least not yet.
NEWTON: Interesting. Really interesting there. And as you said, it's in everyone's interest that, you know, for Joe Biden that this withdrawal
continue and be a success. We still have several more days, if not weeks to get that done.
John Harwood for us at the White House. Appreciate it.
Now, Europe's top diplomat has called the situation in Afghanistan a quote, "catastrophe and a nightmare."
The E.U. and other allies are of course racing to evacuate before those U.S. troops leave. The E.U. warns it may not be able to get all of its
Afghan staff out. Now, the U.K. Secretary of Defense says it is evaluations scheme can continue, only -- pardon me -- its evacuation plan can only
continue as long as U.S. forces of course are at the airport.
Melissa Bell joins me now. You know, it goes without saying, they have been very transparent, right? We can't do this unless the U.S. stays at that
Is resentment growing with allies that they now have to depend on the U.S. to do the basic -- get their citizens out, and that there is no guarantee?
I mean, right now, I have heard from those allies saying that they themselves are trying to negotiate with the Taliban outside that airport.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, like, first of all, just on that question of the airport, have you seen both the British and the French
sending in Special Forces, extra forces to try and lend a hand to the security at the airport because of the need to get their own citizens and
those Afghans who have helped them out over the years is so great.
And of course, already, it's been fairly slow. Just today, it is the third aircraft arriving here in Paris that will be bringing in evacuees from
Afghanistan, this time carrying mostly Afghans, but we heard from France's Europe Minister earlier today, Paula, who said, look, there are thousands
more of these people that we need to evacuate. And of course, it's a race against time.
How long can that airport in Kabul be secured in order that these evacuations can continue? A fair deal of impatience, a fair deal of
disappointment with what one European politician has described here as a far reaching miscalculation on the part of the Americans in Afghanistan.
And one, of course, that has repercussions for the Europeans, both morally in terms of the people -- their own people, they are trying to get out --
the Afghans who've helped them they are trying to get out.
But beyond that, Paula, the fear that it may be Europe that bears the brunt of the consequences of this fast withdrawal, because of course, you'll
remember back in 2015, those images of the last migrant crisis still burns in the heads of so many European politicians, because it has so many
profound repercussions for the politics of the European Union, and the politics of their member states.
So many politicians, including Emmanuel Macron, very forthright in their speaking of their fears about the next migrant crisis that might be
looming, even before the European Union has come up with a fresh policy on how best to deal with it, it is still trying to deal with the fallout from
So yes, impatience, frustration, fear that they might not be able to get out all of those that they know that they need to get out -- Paula.
NEWTON: You are so right to point out the blunt talk in an opinion piece today in "Le Figaro," the quote is: "The more Biden and Blinken, the U.S.
Secretary of State speak to the media to try and justify their hasty abandonment of an ally, the more they sink, the more they ridicule
themselves, the more they emphasize American shame." Is the reckoning here with Europe still to come -- Melissa.
BELL: Well, I think Paula, you're quite right. It isn't just about the immediate fallout with regard to the people who are stuck in Afghanistan,
neither is it simply about the next crisis, which could be the migrant -- next migration crisis that hits Europe.
BELL: It is also fundamentally about the hopes that had come in Europe when Joe Biden was elected of a resurgence of the Transatlantic Alliance of
multilateralism, of a multilateral approach to international affairs. The disappointment here in Europe is palpable with regard to that as well.
There had been another way of doing things before the Trump administration came in. Many here in Europe had imagined that there would be a new page
turned and I think that's why this particular crisis is hit with such a hard thumb, so many people, the idea that, in fact, can the United States
be counted on even now and I think that's one of the things that is behind some of the expressions of disbelief and of impatience that we've heard
There has been a succession of meetings, of course, leading up to this meeting of the G7 next week, which I expect the fairly fractious, given
that there is on all sides, and specifically, on the European side, both disappointment and fear about what the consequences of what was an American
decision might be.
NEWTON: Right. The words "America is back," Biden's words already wearing on those European allies. Melissa Bell for us in Paris, thank you.
Meantime, the IMF is freezing some $450 million worth of emergency funds that it was about to send to Afghanistan next week. The financial
organization won't release the payment at the request of the United States.
Now, the Taliban inherit, of course, a severely weakened Afghan economy that desperately needs international support, but a financial lifeline may
not be coming anytime soon.
Clare Sebastian has been following all of the developments on this. And Clare, there is a delicate balance here. Right?
Understandably, the IMF won't hand over the money to the Taliban. But there's a risk here. Right? This is going to hurt Afghans in general.
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is a serious consideration and this has been a huge challenge, I think it's fair to say,
Paula, for the I.M.F. There are in some ways precedents for this.
In February this year, they froze aid to Myanmar after the military seized power there. In 2019, Venezuela was cut off after the majority of the IMF
members failed to recognize the Maduro government.
And that's usually how this works, it has to be more than 50 percent of members or voting power within the IMF that votes not to recognize a
government for aid to be cut off. But if you look closely at the IMF statement, it says, there is currently a lack of clarity within the
international community regarding recognition of a government in Afghanistan. That shows you the situation we're in.
This happened just a week of this takeover by the Taliban just a week before a very large disbursement of IMF funds around the world. This put
the IMF at a very challenging position. And as you say, it does potentially impact the poorest people within Afghanistan.
And yes, this could -- some of this could have gone into the hands of those people. But of course, the concern was that it was going to end up with the
Taliban. But now, we have a situation where the Taliban essentially cut off from accessing Central Bank reserves. The U.S. has frozen those. There are
no physical dollar shipments at the moment, we're hearing according to the former Central Bank chief who has fled the country.
And now, the IMF cutting off funding, not just this disbursement of funds that was set to happen on Monday, but there was another aid package to
Afghanistan, where part of it has already been dispersed, the rest of it will also be frozen. That could lead her to the currency further
depreciating, that could spur inflation, and of course, as we know, that hits the poorest people hardest.
NEWTON: Absolutely. Any sense of where things go from here? I mean, they don't want -- they can't afford for Afghanistan to turn into yet another
SEBASTIAN: Yes. I mean, look, this is an economy that spent the last two decades relying almost entirely on foreign aid for its economic growth. You
can't turn that around very quickly, not even really, in a matter of years.
So, you're hearing from the Biden administration, you know, that it's going to coordinate with its European allies, continue to provide humanitarian
aid. It's not clear what that looks like yet, but in the meantime, people are looking to the longer term in Afghanistan, to potential other sources
And one of those is the vast mineral resources that the country is believed to have worth over or at least a trillion dollars, according to U.S.
military and geological surveys that happened about a decade ago. That includes the lithium, it includes copper and gold, rare earth elements that
are some of the key ingredients in things like electric cars, even iPhones.
This is considered by some to be a potential backbone of the Afghan economy post international aid. I heard from a former diplomat who used to work in
the Afghan Embassy in Washington, this is what he told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AHMAD SHAH KATAWAZAI, FORMER AFGHAN DIPLOMAT: I believe if we are able to exploit these resources in a good manner, this could turn the fate of the
country dramatically -- economy-wise, politically, and also can bring peace into the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SEBASTIAN: So, a lot of hope rests on this, Paula, but a lot of challenges. You need the right infrastructure. You need the right
expertise, transportation, and logistics. This diplomat told me that he believes that Afghanistan would need a foreign partner and he hopes that
would be the U.S., but there are a lot of question marks around this and it would take probably at least a decade to get some of these potential
resources out of the ground and making money.
NEWTON: A decade yet. Clare Sebastian, thanks so much. Appreciate that.
Now, up next, was the Afghanistan exit mishandled? The U.S. President says no. A former State Department adviser says Washington should have talked to
the Taliban sooner. He joins me next.
NEWTON: Returning to our top story, at least 12 people have been killed in and around Kabul Airport since Sunday. That's according to reports from
Now, desperate Afghans continue to surround the airfield. The Taliban is stationed outside the airport, of course and is firing shots to try and
control the crowds. You see some of what went on there.
And now last night, President Joe Biden said the current chaos was, in his words, inevitable, and that he didn't think the exit had been a failure.
Joining me now is Vali Nasr, he is Professor of International Affairs and Middle East Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He served as senior
advisor to U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Richard Holbrooke from 2009 to 2011.
And I have to ask you, as you see all of these extraordinary events unfold, what next for Afghanistan under the Taliban? How do you predict they will
handle things going forward?
VALI NASR, PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS AND MIDDLE EAST STUDIES, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: I think they are trying to handle it differently
than they did in 1994. I think their goal is now to create a stable government so that they can control the country, they can implement the
kind of ideas they have for Afghanistan, but they're facing difficulty.
First of all, they were a very effective fighting force of 75,000 men, but that's too small to control a country that is not ready to accept them,
even though they've cut a lot of deals with different warlords and factions in the provinces, but in big cities like Kabul, that doesn't work and we're
seeing that they have difficulty controlling demonstrations, riots, looting, and surges on the airport.
Secondly, the economy in Afghanistan for two decades was really the U.S. military. All the money that was sloshing in by American and other forces
has disappeared overnight, and they have to deal in the short run with potential economic collapse, which is going to make life difficult for all
Afghans whether they are peasants or city dwellers.
So, they have won. But now, they are facing a completely different challenge than defeating the United States and conquering the country.
NEWTON: You know, you point out, they now do have to govern. And sometimes it's not very glamorous, right? It is about getting people employed. It is
about collecting garbage, it is about making sure the sewage is working, even in some of these cities where they are now turned into fairly modern
How do you think they will continue to govern? Especially since as we've -- so many of us have pointed out before, the Taliban is not exactly one
cohesive group. They can't even keep all of their fighters in control outside the perimeter of the airport, never mind in some of the provinces
NASR: They have actually had more discipline than I anticipated. In other words, there has been a lot less looting, random killing, random execution,
et cetera that was their hallmark in the 1990s, and that's the surprising part, that they've come to Kabul in a fairly disciplined way.
But you're correct. Either, they will have to find a way to shore up the economy, work within the international community enough so that they are
accepted, and they can engage in trade, and continue to work with moderate Afghans, people like President Karzai -- former President Karzai or
Abdullah Abdullah who is still in Afghanistan to try to get the bureaucracy going, try to get the Afghans settle down and get back to work.
If they don't do that, then Afghanistan is going to collapse into chaos. We're going to see civil unrest, we're going to see gradually a Civil War,
and we are going to be back to the worst part of Afghanistan, what we are worried about.
I think what we should worry about is not whether the Taliban necessarily invites al-Qaeda back, but that they lose control of the country where
nobody can stop al-Qaeda from coming back, and that's not a good scenario for us.
NEWTON: So, we know that that vacuum power is definitely bad news for everyone. I do want to -- I don't have a lot of time left, but I do want to
single out two countries, which I'm hoping we can lean on your expertise, China and Pakistan.
Pakistan on the security issue, but China financially -- how do you think they, going forward, will now deal with the Taliban having retaken
NASR: They also want Afghanistan not to collapse into mayhem. The blowback for them is significant, and that is the message they've been giving to the
Taliban. They are trying to do the -- look after their own national interest by maintaining stability. Same with Russia, the same with Iran.
The problem is that the United States not talking to those countries. It has no strategy of how to work with those countries, in a way in which they
would reinforce the things that aid wants in Afghanistan, but cannot do right now itself for a variety of reasons.
NEWTON: You know what is startling to me? The message from China's Foreign Ministry was much the same that was the message today from the Taliban on
the day of Afghanistan's independence. Do you think that China will perhaps know better and believe that this is too complicated of a mess to get
involved in? Or do you think we will start to see them work a little bit more closely with the Taliban?
NASR: No, I think they don't fully understand. They are different from us in the sense that they don't include human rights and those sorts of issues
into their foreign policy. They don't believe other countries have to have a say in how they handle their own population. We're seeing that with
Uighurs and Hong Kong, for instance.
But at the same time, they think they need to engage the Taliban, they need to give them promise of trade and aid in order to get them to do certain
things. For the Chinese, the most important thing is that the Taliban don't become an inspiration, a source of support for the Chinese Muslims. And
that all of that chaos in Afghanistan does not allow Chinese Muslims to set up shop there in order to attack China.
So, they are going to do their utmost to try to influence the behavior of the Chinese government and the Taliban government, and maybe give it enough
source of support, so it doesn't collapse immediately and for Afghanistan, to basically become sort of a failed state, a complete failed state.
NEWTON: Yes, and you make such a good point. It is in everyone's interests that it does not become a failed state in the weeks and months to come.
Vali Nasr from Johns Hopkins University. Thanks so much. Appreciate it.
Now coming up here for us after the break, heartbreaking pleas for help to try and escape Afghanistan. We'll hear from a former interpreter who has
been helping comrades with visas and now, feels he is powerless to help.
NEWTON: Hello, I'm Paula Newton, and we are returning to our top story, and a declaration of victory by the Taliban in Afghanistan. In an
Independence Day statement, the Taliban announced they defeated quote, "The powerful and arrogant United States."
Meantime, Reuters is reporting at least 12 people have been killed in Kabul since the Afghan capital fell to the Taliban Sunday. President Biden,
meantime, is vowing to get 10,000 remaining Americans out of Afghanistan.
Clarissa Ward is live for us in Kabul with the very latest. I mean, Clarissa, you were on the ground there outside the airport yesterday. You
must really be incredulous when you hear the fact that there are not only thousands of Americans, and then thousands of other citizens from those
allied countries to get out of Afghanistan still, but of course, all those Afghan citizens who right now believe they're being hunted down by the
WARD: Well, you know, it's a crisis. It's a crisis. It's chaotic. It's inhumane.
Thousands and thousands of people essentially camped out outside the airport trying every day to get inside, and they are being beaten back, as
we saw for ourselves by Taliban fighters with truncheons and whips, who are firing live rounds of ammunition into the crowd.
We know of people who have been injured, some even killed. Reuters reporting more than 12 dead in the chaos at the airport, some of them being
killed in a stampede because of the size of the crowds, and there is absolutely no sense that those Afghans who are sort of trying to run the
gauntlet to get into the airport are being allowed in.
We've heard of a trickle, maybe a handful that I've heard of it today who have been able to get past the multiple layers. Once you get past the
Taliban, then you have to get past the Afghan commandos, Special Forces who are working closely with the U.S., then you have to get past the U.S. or
And so, it really becomes a near impossible task and there is no sense right now that there is any plan in place to try to streamline this
process, to try to organize it and make it more orderly or to stop people somehow from pouring in as part of this deluge that continues to arrive at
NEWTON: You know what has been so startling, Clarissa is that everything that you're saying is so starkly juxtaposed to what Joe Biden was saying,
even though The Pentagon briefing yesterday by U.S. commanders was incredibly sobering, do you see a way that what Joe Biden says will be,
we'll be there until we get the last American out, we will do what we can.
Do you see any way that that can happen, as long as they restrict their -- you know, their location, their security to the perimeter of the airport,
and that's it?
WARD: Well, I think the Americans will probably get out, although it's hard to see how it would be done by August 31st realistically. You heard
President Biden talking about how you'd need to get evacuations up to 5,000 a day, I believe it was about 1,800 yesterday who were evacuated. So that's
-- you know, it's a significant number, but it's nowhere close to where it needs to be if the job of getting Americans out is to be completed by the
end of the month.
But then the real question, of course, becomes, what about all the Afghans? What about the tens of thousands? Joe Biden said that 80,000 was too high a
count, he put it closer to 50,000. Even so 50,000 people, that's an enormous amount.
And how are you going to do that after U.S. forces leave? And how, as you rightly point out, Paula, can you do it when U.S. forces can't provide any
safe passage to people to even get into the airport? So, there's a multitude of questions, and I think a lot of frustration here on the
ground. But none of those questions were really answered by either President Biden's speech or anything that we've seen coming out from the
U.S. military either.
NEWTON: Before I let you go, Clarissa, I mean, obviously millions of Afghans right now are wondering, what's next? We have heard of pockets of
resistance in whether it is Khost or Jalalabad, is there a sense that people are mounting some kind of a resistance? Or is this really
resignation now that the Taliban will run Afghanistan?
WARD: I think we're seeing real acts of courage. I think resistance might be too strong a word, although I will say today, Paula, right here in
Kabul, a lot of young people went out carrying Afghan flags and one large Afghan flag, because today is Afghanistan's Independence Day. They were
ultimately met with Taliban fighters who were shooting in the air to try to disperse the crowd, but the bravery for them to even go out and attempt
that in the first place, and given that they were met with bullets, the question becomes, does anyone have the guts to do that again?
You know, I very much hope they don't, because it would be horrifying to see any more bloodshed in this scenario. But the Taliban says one thing,
Paula, they say you can fly whatever flag you want and we will protect women's rights and we will protect Shiite religious festivals. But I think
slowly, there's a creeping feeling that their true colors will emerge and that their rule may be as draconian as that, which people experienced here
in the 90s.
NEWTON: Yes, and as you pointed out to us for several days now, Clarissa, that is a real risk no matter what the Taliban has been saying in public.
Clarissa, so grateful to you to be there on the ground for us, and we will continue to check in. Appreciate it.
Now, in amongst those trying to leave the country are of course, as Clarissa was just saying, Afghans who have put everything on the line for
U.S. forces, and obviously, other workers for other allied nations in Afghanistan.
Now, it hasn't just been interpreters, right? It's been cooks, cleaners, mechanics, even laundry workers, who now fear repercussions by the Taliban,
and you have to know that those fears are real.
The U.S. nonprofit charity, No One Left Behind has received really countless pleas for help. Ismail Khan is a former interpreter for U.S.
troops in Afghanistan. And he is a Visa Ambassador with No One Left Behind.
I cannot imagine how excruciating this is for you. We are all mere spectators to what is going on and the challenge of trying to get those
people out of Afghanistan right now.
You know, "The New York Times" is reporting that the U.N. says the Taliban is already actively looking for those who helped the U.S. and other allies.
I mean, as I was just saying, it contradicts everything the Taliban has said. What are you hearing from people?
ISMAIL KHAN, FORMER INTERPRETER FOR U.S. TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN: Thank you for having me. I definitely hear the same thing. Everyone has fear to what
the Taliban. They ask people not to get out of the house at 9:00 p.m. That's when they go after people, they knock doors, they get into the
houses and they take people out.
It is -- I don't understand why would people still believe Taliban that they would be -- they have changed? They're not changed.
We have seen it when they took over Spin Boldak and Kandahar. They went door to door, start taking people out of their houses and they kill them.
They will do that. Their true colors will come out. People will see it.
The only reason they are not doing it right now, because the entire world is watching and they don't want to get under that pressure from the entire
world and they will be in a terrible situation. That's why they have been changing their policy and having this softer approach.
NEWTON: And what is your worst fear of what will happen to many of these people? You know, when the glare of the international media is off them.
KHAN: Everyone is going to die, that is the fear, and it's a real fear. That is why I've been pushing it to everywhere like please help us out, get
these heroes to safety. It's a matter of life and death. Don't trust. They are worse than the 90s, and you will see it.
The people on the street, they speak the language that even Afghans don't understand, who they are, where they came from. I wish that the people who
would understand and help every single person out and I wish that the administration would have all the Army stay there until the last persons is
NEWTON: And to that end, what have you heard from people who are trying to get to the airport, whether they're in Kabul or other parts of Afghanistan?
I mean, it's been harrowing. I've been on social media, just seeing some of the fear and the terror and the frustration that they describe. I mean,
what have you been hearing?
KHAN: I was up until 3:00 a.m. last night because people are calling me, they are going to the airport, but there is no way they could make it and
they had to go back. There is chaos, it's almost impossible even to get to the airport.
NEWTON: We're looking at pictures right now from just outside the airport. I mean, what's their next plan, Ismail? What -- is there a plan? And do
they continue to have confidence in what Joe Biden says about come to the airport, and we will get you on an airplane.
KHAN: For them, the people who get the e-mails and phone calls, they do everything possible to get in there, but it is the crowd, not only the
crowd, when they get to the gate. The Taliban, they don't let them in. They're asking them that someone needs to come out from the airport to get
you in. And that's -- I don't think that they have any plan in place to get that.
So, I don't know what their plans are how they are getting everyone in?
NEWTON: Describe -- you know, you're in Seattle right now. You're safe. Describe how you feel. You must feel helpless in the sense that you can't
do anything, even though you are sitting in the United States right now.
KHAN: I've never been in this situation and my entire life. I've been through a lot of difficult times, but this is something that you are --
like, I'm drowning and I'm trying to grab to anything. I've been calling and e-mails and talking to a lot of people.
There are friends that helped -- they fought in Afghanistan, they are calling me for help to get their interpreters out. The system that they put
in place, I guarantee you, if you ask the State Department, they will not even know what they are doing.
The system that they put in place. It's super slow. It's not working. They don't have a contingency plan. Like it's a chaos.
You ask anyone. They don't know what their plan is. They're just -- they're just shooting arrows in the air.
NEWTON: And it must feel like that because they've been trying so many of them for so many months, even years, and now, it's come to this. They are
literally taking a piece of paper to the airport and begging people to let them in as the Taliban threatens them on the outside.
Ismail Khan, we wish you every luck in all of your work. I know you are trying desperately to get more people to the airport, but obviously, to
talk to U.S. colleagues as well to help.
Ismail Khan there for us in Seattle. Appreciate your time.
KHAN: Thank you.
NEWTON: Now, the futures of so many people in Haiti are also uncertain after Saturday's earthquake. Just ahead, we will take you to a hard hit
town where locals say they've yet to see any help -- think about that -- from their government.
NEWTON: The Prime Minister of Haiti, Ariel Henry is urging his country to unite in order to rebuild. Now, the death toll from Saturday's earthquake
stands at nearly 2,200 with more than 12,000 injuries.
The quake toppled tens of thousands of homes, forcing families to sleep outside still. Then Tuesday, a tropical storm brought heavy rains and
mudslides that blocked roads.
Now, Mr. Henry underscore his government's efforts to help affected areas, but as Matt Rivers now reports, five days after this earthquake, there are
communities who say they still haven't received any help from the central government.
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Driving into rural Haiti is not easy. Miles and miles of tough unpaved roads, but it's
at the end of those roads where some of the worst damage from this earthquake lies.
This is Corail, a fishing town of 30,000 where hundreds of structures have been destroyed. Kilen Rashard (ph) lost everything when the ground shook.
"I lost my business and my home," she says. "I have six kids to send to school and I don't know what I'm going to do." Hers was just the first home
Up the street, we couldn't drive past this home because like so many others here, what remains could collapse at any moment.
RIVERS (on camera): So these guys behind me aren't professionals, they are just locals with hammer, wood, and nails trying to figure out a safe way to
bring that severely damaged building behind me down to the ground.
They told us in the nearly five days since this earthquake happened, they still have not had one representative from the central government show up.
RIVERS (voice over): It's a tough place to get to, but as some pointed out to us, we managed to do it, so why hasn't the government? Anger, a
persistent sentiment for many.
This man's family was injured when their home collapsed?
RIVERS (on camera): Do you think that the government can come here and help you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think so. I don't think so. I don't think so.
RIVERS: You're not waiting for them?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. No.
RIVERS: And Are you frustrated with that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes. Very, very frustrated. I'm very frustrated.
RIVERS (voice over): Some blame corruption and a lack of will for government inaction. There's also the recent assassination of Haiti's
President, gang violence, and a lack of quality infrastructure possibly at fault.
This bridge in the City of Jeremie in rough shape before the earthquake, now so damaged that heavy trucks like these loaded down with aid cannot
cross. Supplies sometimes hand carried.
No matter the reason, the reality persists, people in need are growing increasingly desperate.
"I need help," she says, "And no one is helping me. So far, it's only God who I think will help me.
The place where she might pray for that, the Church in the town center also destroyed. Thankfully, fewer people died during this earthquake compared to
previous similar quakes.
RIVERS (voice over): Imagine as one person told us if it had happened on a Sunday morning when church was full.
RIVERS (on camera): And we did reach out to Haiti's central government asking, have you sent representatives to Corail to see the hundreds of
structures that have been destroyed? What are you planning on doing to try and make the lives of people affected by this earthquake better? They did
not respond to a request for comment.
Matt Rivers, CNN, Jeremie, Haiti.
NEWTON: Coming up for us, too few planes, too many desperate people. Frustration over the slow pace of the Kabul evacuation is growing. Hundreds
of Afghanis are now making it out. That story coming up.
NEWTON: NATO member nations are intensifying their efforts to evacuate Western citizens and of course, vulnerable Afghans from Kabul. Now, The
Pentagon says its goal is to fly out as many as 9,000 people a day.
The U.K. meantime, hopes to ultimately airlift 1,500 people from Afghanistan per day, but the U.K. Defense Secretary is pushing back on
reports that some flights from Kabul have left with few people on board. Now, we have to say our own Nick Paton Walsh says he witnessed that.
In the meantime, the chaos in and around the airport is only making the evacuation effort more difficult. Reports today say at least 12 people have
been killed in and around the airport since the Taliban took control the city Sunday.
Eleni Giokos joins me now from Dubai where a U.K. flight from Afghanistan did land earlier today, and I'm sure, Eleni, there was a measure of relief
for so many, but there must be also apprehension about the people who haven't been able to get out and of course, what comes next, if you do
manage to get out.
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Look, seeing the expressions on the passengers' faces, so many numb, just completely expressionless. It
was truly fascinating to see. And of course, we know those images from Kabul Airport and how tough it must have been to even get onto that flight.
But I've just come back from Dubai World Center Airport and we saw an RAF aircraft landing, we also saw one taking off. The U.K. Embassy here in the
UAE says that they've already helped 1,600 evacuees from Afghanistan that have come through the UAE and then en route to the U.K.
What happens when they arrive? They are then assisted. They are given medical assistance. We saw lunchboxes given to people, and unfortunately,
one of the saddest things that we saw today was people holding plastic bags, garbage bags with their belongings. It kind of gives you the sense of
the urgency that they had to try and leave Afghanistan.
The UAE also says that it's been partnering with international agencies and partners to try and help with relief efforts from Afghanistan.
GIOKOS: This specific airport had been mothballed last year because of the pandemic, opened up specifically to facilitate flights from Kabul. The U.K.
says that they are going to be using the Dubai Airport in the coming days to try and get those evacuees out.
Who are these people? They are eligible Afghans, obviously, visa and permanent holders, as well as British citizens. And I have to say, I mean,
seeing this military aircraft, you've got to understand, this is a C-17 and is used for combat, it is used for peace keeping, and humanitarian efforts
So, this is not a comfortable passenger flight, and absolutely, the only semblance of hope I think I saw was toddlers and children running around,
playing, not really understanding what was going on.
But let me tell you, this was not a normal scene in a normal terminal.
NEWTON: No, and as you were talking, we saw those garbage bags on the tarmac. We also, of course, saw children who are clearly not knowing what
is going on, but truly relieved.
Eleni, thanks for the update.
That's it for this show. You are watching CNN.
"Connect the World" is next.