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New Day Sunday
Taliban at Gates of Kabul As U.S. Embassy Staff Evacuates; U.S. Completely Pulling Out of Embassy in Kabul Over the Next 72 Hours; Biden Says He Won't Pass Afghanistan War Onto Next President; U.S. Completely Pulling Out of Embassy in Kabul Over the Next 72 Hours; At Least 304 Dead After 7.2-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Haiti. Aired 7- 8a ET
Aired August 15, 2021 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. And welcome to NEW DAY. It is Sunday, August 15. I'm Boris Sanchez.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christi Paul.
We begin with this breaking news out of Afghanistan this morning. We are witnessing history here. Taliban fighters have reached the gates of the capital city of Kabul.
SANCHEZ: Yeah, a statement issued by the Taliban a short time ago is asking for calm, saying that its fighters are now on the outskirts of the city and they want to take control of Kabul peacefully.
The embattled Afghan government is currently in talks with the Taliban over the country's future, and sources tell CNN that Taliban representatives are right now at the presidential palace in the city's center. The acting minister of national defense is attempting to reassure Kabul citizens saying in a speech that the security of the city is ensured and Afghan defense forces are committed to defending Kabul.
PAUL: Now, the effort to get Americans out of Afghanistan is gaining momentum. Sources tell CNN the U.S. is completely now pulling out of the embassy in Kabul over the next 72 hours. What you're looking at is video, CNN shot of some of the helicopters that are shuttling employees from the embassy to the airport to be evacuated. Remember it was just on Thursday, President Biden had said some would be evacuated. It has escalated to all.
The president also sending another 1,000 troops to carry out the operation, which brings the total to 5,000.
CNN chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward is with us from Kabul.
Clarissa, when we talked to Nick Paton Walsh earlier, and I know he is near where you are, he describes the situation he's looking at this morning as that he is stunned. What is your assessment?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think stunning is a pretty good assessment. I mean, this news that we are just receiving from a source inside the presidential palace that eight or nine of the Taliban representatives who are a part of the Qatar delegation are currently in the presidential palace here in Kabul. I mean, that truly is stunning news. That would have been unimaginable, Christi, even 24 hours ago.
And so, what we're learning essentially is that all sides are trying to hash out some kind of a deal to avert a catastrophe and bloodshed in the capital, and to essentially come up with some kind of a transitional interim government that would be accepted by all sides.
So what we know is that the Taliban is now on the outskirts of Kabul. They are at the gates. They are ready to come in, but they say they don't want to come in violently. They want to come in peacefully. And they have put out messages to try to reassure people they are not looking for revenge, that they are not looking for bloodshed that they will grant amnesty to anyone as long as they don't attempt to take up arms against them.
We also heard from Afghanistan's defense minister and the interior minister as well essentially saying that security of Kabul is guaranteed, trying to tell people not to panic as these talks, these last-ditch, last-effort talks continue in the presidential palace to try to come up with some kind of a coherent power sharing agreement.
That, of course, is a pretty tall order, Christi, to get both of those sides to sit down and agree on anything, and to get the Taliban to make concessions in a moment where very clearly they feel that they are poised for absolute victory and they don't have to make many compromises.
But they say that they are mindful of mistakes that have been made in the past. They don't want to see urban fighting and terrible violence and bloodshed here in the capital. So everybody waiting to see what kind of an announcement might come out of these talks that are ongoing.
SANCHEZ: Clarissa, the stunning nature of what we are watching is underscored by this intelligence report that came out a few days ago from the United States that outlined this moment might happen within 30 to 90 days. That was less than a week ago. This happened in a matter of hours.
You have been reporting from Afghanistan, not just the recent Taliban advance, but for years. What is it that the U.S. intelligence missed? What did they fail to capture?
WARD: Well, I mean, that's the question that everyone's going to be asking. And even four days ago, I remember when our teams in the U.S. were reporting first of all that 30 days, it might be isolated, the city of Kabul, and my reaction was that's not possible. That must be an exaggeration. There is no way the Taliban could be circling the capital been 30 days. Here we are, three days later shall and it's essentially happened. I
think, clearly, what U.S. intelligence officials did not bank on was the sort of speed with which Afghan forces would capitulate to the Taliban because originally in some of the earlier fights there was a sense that they were fighting hard and trying to resist and launching counter-offensives. But in the past couple of days the Taliban has been taking provincial capitals without firing a single shot.
And indeed, when we drove to Ghazni through the city which is now under the control of Taliban, we saw Afghan soldiers running out of their base hailing a civilian car and booking out of there.
So very quickly, it appears, Afghan forces have essentially decided to give up on this fight.
SANCHEZ: It is truly stunning and we are confirming now that several of President Ashraf Ghani's closest advisors are at the airport awaiting a flight out of Kabul. So make of that what you will. Clarissa Ward, thank you so much for the reporting.
Let's talk more about the U.S. troops that are being deployed to Afghanistan. U.S. officials say they are going to be there to ensure an orderly and safe drawdown of U.S. personnel.
PAUL: Pentagon correspondent Oren Liebermann is with us now.
What are you hearing from the Pentagon from their officials there about the decision, this decision this morning to evacuate all and any plan moving forward?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly waiting for an updated reaction on the latest plan essentially to get out, what is now effectively a rush for the exit by U.S. embassy staff. We are waiting to see what an update is on Afghan's interpreters and families who helped the U.S. There were still tens of thousands of people to get out. The U.S. only had gotten out about 1,200.
And even if the Pentagon said they could move thousands a day, there is much more work to be done than appears to be doable in the course of the next 24, 48, 72 hours, especially with the speed of the Taliban advance into Kabul and now as we found out from Clarissa Ward into the presidential palace where they are essentially negotiating and given the leverage, the force they have, you have to imagine they have a tremendous amount of ability to dictate what happens in the immediate future here.
The U.S. has or will have in the almost immediate future 5,000 troops in Afghanistan. That's 1,000 that were already there. 3,000 that were going in, including 2,000 marines and 1,000 soldiers, as well as 1,000 from what was essentially a standby force of 3,500 soldiers that were supposed to be in Kuwait.
The situation has spiraled so rapidly downward that President Joe Biden and the security officials here decided to immediately send in 1,000 of those to Afghanistan. If it continues in this direction, it seems possible he will send in the full force of all 3,500 from the 82nd airborne based in Fort Bragg to Afghanistan.
They have one mission and one mission alone at this point, that is to secure the exit, make sure the Hamid Karzai International Airport is safe and to make sure that the U.S. can get its citizens and staff out of the country as quickly as possible as we watch the Taliban advance across what we can say is effectively the entire country.
So, we're watching that situation closely. It is worth noting, I have been watching and looking at flights on flight tracking websites. There was an Emirates flight that approached the airport, looked like it was going to land, put in a holding pattern east of the airport and instead of landing simply left the country and flew out without touching down. That is ominous sign as the U.S. and other countries try to get their citizens out.
SANCHEZ: A telling detail of the situation right now in Afghanistan.
Oren Liebermann from the Pentagon, thank you.
PAUL: So President Biden is standing firm on his initial decision to withdraw the remainder of the troops to end the nation's longest war.
SANCHEZ: Yeah, and now, President Biden says he will not hand this war down to the next president.
CNN's Arlette Saenz is live at the White House this morning.
Arlette, President Biden saying that not one year, not five more years of U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan would change the equation in that country.
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Boris.
President Biden really standing firm on his decision. He announced earlier in the year to withdraw all American troops by August 31. Now, President Biden is currently in Camp David, been there since Friday, and we are waiting to hear from the White House whether there is additional reaction to the developments taking place in Kabul overnight.
But the president has been kept abreast of the developing situation in Afghanistan. Yesterday, he convened a secure video call with top U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Tony Blinken.
And it was after that video conference that the president authorized the deployment much an additional 1,000 troops to Afghanistan bringing the total who are expected to be there to 5,000 as they are trying to pursue what he has described as an orderly and safe drawdown. Not just of American personnel who are in the country, but also trying to help evacuate those Afghan allies who aided the U.S. military over the course of that 20-year presence in the country.
Now, this planning for the evacuation had been underway since May. It was part of the overall planning over at the Pentagon for this eventual drawdown. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered two weeks ago some tabletop exercise to go through what a potential evacuation would look like.
Now, the president in a statement yesterday said that the U.S. has made clear to the Taliban that any action taken on the ground by them, that would put Americans in danger and at risk, would be met with a swift and strong military response. So that is something to watch in the coming days as the U.S. is trying to evacuate all officials from the U.S. embassy over the course of the next 72 hours.
But I also want to read a bit of what the president said as he defended that decision to draw down the American military presence in Afghanistan. He in part said, argued, that he was hamstrung by some of the decisions by former president Trump and Biden said: When I became president, I faced a choice followed through on the deal with a brief extension to get our forces and our allies' forces out safely or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again, in another country's civil conflict.
I was the fourth president to preside over an American true presence in Afghanistan, two Republicans, two Democrats. And President Biden said, I would not and will not pass this war on to a fifth. So, the president remaining resolute in his decision.
But what you have seen from this White House and administration, they are watching the stunning speed with which the Taliban has seized control of portions of the company, something that President Biden had a month ago said was highly unlikely. So this is something we are waiting to hear more from this president as the situation gets more and more dire.
PAUL: Arlette Saenz, thank you so much for the latest from the White House.
Let's bring in retired Major General Spider Marks who has been watching this with us as we have been following it this morning.
General, thank you for being with us.
I want to ask about two of latest and most notable events we have learned in the last ten minutes. One, that there are eight to nine Taliban representatives at the presidential palace in Kabul, and I'm just reading that it includes a brother of the deputy Taliban leader. And secondly, that some of President Ghani's highest level officials and advisors have now been spotted at the airport getting ready to get on flights out of Kabul.
What do you make of those two developments?
MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I think it's a good idea that there is at least an opening for some type of -- I am not going to use the word peaceful, but for some type of a less than violent transition from what exists to what ultimately will be. And the fact that some of the government officials are now at the airport and departing I think is a reality, it's a shame, but it's a reality. Not sure what their role would be in these potential negotiations with the Taliban.
My view of all off this, it's an inevitability. It makes perfect sense to try to work out some of the modalities and the protocols associated in surrounding this transition. And I think we're all incredibly surprised at the speed by which the Taliban just cascaded through the country and then gained momentum and then raised a hand and said, hey folks, it's going to happen. Let's have a chat.
Otherwise, the Taliban is not bashful, right? They would not hesitate to use the force that they have demonstrated in the past. I am glad to see that they've at least initially made an overture to not do that.
SANCHEZ: General Marks, I want to bring up a tweet from Congresswoman Liz Cheney. Of course, her father was vice president when the war in Afghanistan was launched.
She wrote this morning, quote: This isn't ending endless wars. This is Americans surrender empowering our enemies and ensuring our children and grandchildren will have to fight this war at much higher cost.
General, there are very compelling arguments for a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. I defer to experts such as yourself as an outsider, though, I wonder if there is a space between a withdraw and the panic our reporters are describing in the streets of Kabul right now. Could that have been avoided?
MARKS: Well, let's look at both of those two things. They are juxtaposed. Panic that you described in the streets is one thing. An orderly withdrawal is something entirely different. Those can be disconnected.
The sad thing is -- unfortunate thing, the United States, let's go back, the United States overreached 20 years ago. We got lost in our counterinsurgency efforts. We really tried to do way too much in the initial mission that guided our entry into the country. So, we took a path where we are going to essentially nation build.
We are going to rebuild the government, rebuild the military, we're going to reestablish forms of governments, we're going to allow the Afghan people to make decisions for themselves. All of that was working.
But we were the glue that held it all together. When we made the declaration that we were leaving, it clearly, the conditions on the ground were not sufficiently mature, robust to allow us to depart. We have made a decision to stick around and now we are going to depart. We determined it was time to go.
And I would not question the president's decision. There is plenty of blame. There is plenty of blame at the highest, highest levels. But let's not talk about the blame. Let's try to figure out the path forward.
This president said it's type to depart. Afghanistan government, you've got it. We are here for you as best we can be.
So we have this terrible picture right now of the departure of the United States in this kind of this unfortunate picture of chaos. Of course, it's chaos because there are helicopters flying, marines, American soldiers coming into the country not with a single mission to take the care field, but to evacuate the rest of the embassy staff. We have done that before. To make sure that remaining American citizens can get out. Those that have been declared, those that we know are there.
And the third thing is this moral obligation that we have to the Afghan interpreters, special immigration visas. We have a large inventory of folks that we will not be able to get out of the country, on the SIV side. That's a shame. That's unfortunate. We might have --
PAUL: General, I wanted to ask you about some information we are getting from the U.S. marine interpreter this morning from Afghanistan who has family there and tells us his family is locked in their homes because of the Taliban that, the Taliban is taking people's homes to use for soldiers, that cell towers and Internet access has been cut off.
This is a different situation he is telling us as opposed to what we're hearing from the Taliban this morning, that they want a peaceful and satisfactory transfer of power, that they instructed about lives dignity and belongings of the residents of Kabul not to create any danger or discomfort and then they say until that time the security of the capital was the responsibility of the government and they should guarantee it, meaning -- referring to Kabul.
Until that time stood out to me. So these are all the things they are promising until that time. After that time, what is your assessment of what might happen, because this is not -- the Taliban is not a group that is seen to be trustworthy.
MARKS: Not at all. There is going to be an inflection point. The government is going to remain in place and you are going to flick a switch and then the Taliban are going to take over in whatever form that's going to look. And we should not fool ourselves that there is an incredible mismatch between the words that the Taliban are going to use as they move in in this hopeful quasi peaceful, less militaristic, less violent way into the city.
They haven't demonstrated that in their efforts throughout the rest of Afghanistan. They have been incredibly aggressive and militarily they have achieved an amazing amount of momentum. This is a striking example of a well-armed, well-equipped, well-trained, motivated, focused organization that has a task and a purpose.
So I would anticipate once we reach that transition from government to Taliban disregard anything they say. Let's see what their actions look like. PAUL: Major General Spider Marks, thank you so much for taking time to
talking to us, walk us through what we are watching together this morning. We appreciate you so much. Thank you.
SANCHEZ: Thank you, sir.
MARKS: Thanks, Christi. Thanks, Boris.
PAUL: So the ongoing siege in Afghanistan is the major topic of conversation, when Secretary of State Antony Blinken is with Jake Tapper this morning, it's on "STATE OF THE UNION" at 9:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.
MARKS: So, what happens next after the U.S. embassy is evacuated? Will there be any U.S. presence in Kabul? We'll get an update from the State Department after a quick break. Don't go anywhere.
SANCHEZ: As the Taliban quickly closes in on the Afghan capital of Kabul, U.S. officials tell CNN that evacuations at the American embassy are well underway.
PAUL: These are some of the pictures CNN has taken, but at the U.S. we should point out that you might remember a couple of days ago, President Biden said some of the personnel would be evacuated. This morning just in the last hour that has been heightened. All of the U.S. personnel at the embassy will be pulled out and it will be done over the next 72 hours.
CNN's Kylie Atwood live at the State Department this morning.
What more do we know about the escalation of this evacuation plan as it has changed just this morning?
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: This accel -- this process has accelerated rapidly the last few days, right. We heard on Thursday the State Department talking about evacuating, bringing out some of their personnel at the embassy in Kabul. What we have now learned this morning is that all of those personnel, diplomats and contractors, are going to be leaving the embassy in the next 72 hours.
Now, what this process looks like is they get on these helicopters that take them to the airport in Kabul and then most of those diplomats are flying home to the United States. There is going to be a core group of U.S. personnel who remain at least for now at the embassy in Kabul. We have yet to kind of figure out what is going to be the determining factor as to if they also have to get out of the country. But this is something that the U.S. is working rapidly to do right now.
As the Taliban are closing in on Kabul, as they are at the gates essentially, you know, of Kabul.
Now, I want to note that one thing that we have learned is that the top U.S. negotiator with the Taliban, U.S. special representative Zalmay Khalilzad, has requested that the Taliban fighters do not enter Kabul until all U.S. personnel are out of the city.
Now, of course, that is going to happen in the coming days. So the following question is, when U.S. personnel are out, then what? Are the Taliban fighters going to enter then?
They are claiming this morning that they want a peaceful transition, that they are not going to enter with force militarily. But as we well know, the Taliban is not one, you know, predictable group of fighters. There are many different factions and one key problem that U.S. officials have described to my colleagues and myself over the last few days is the lack of U.S. intelligence on the ground in Afghanistan right now.
The U.S. military has withdrawn, most all of the U.S. of the troops from the country already. There is a large group of them that is helping with the peaceful transition out of these diplomats and these contractors, but there aren't U.S. troops across the country collecting intelligence.
That puts the U.S. essentially, you know, in a black hole right now in terms of what is happening across the country, what the plans are for these Taliban fighters.
So, we are going to be closely monitoring this. And I do think that the U.S. evacuation of this embassy in Kabul is tremendously noteworthy and this is something that could be done by Tuesday at the latest.
PAUL: Kylie Atwood, thank you so much. I know it's a developing situation. We appreciate all the updates.
SANCHEZ: Well, so over the past 20 years the U.S. military needed thousands of Afghans to help them translate and navigate the country. Now many of those Afghans are desperately trying to leave, trying to potentially come to the United States. We are going to speak to a translator who did just that, and the developments we're watching unfold. Stay with us.
SANCHEZ: We're tracking breaking news out of Afghanistan this morning. Sources say the United States is trying to get everyone out of the U.S. embassy in Kabul over the next 72 hours, including top officials. Congress is also set for a briefing later today.
PAUL: Now, I want to show you some of the video shot by CNN a short while ago. Those are helicopters flying above Kabul possibly carrying U.S. personnel. We know right now, sources tell CNN Taliban representatives are at the presidential palace in Kabul while at least some Afghan presidential advisors are at the Kabul airport trying to get out.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh joins us live from Kabul. You have described this this morning already, Nick, as urgent, and as stunning. Help us understand what's going on there right now.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Hard to really emphasize how extraordinary it is after 20 years of war, if indeed there are Taliban officials in the presidential palace in Kabul talking to the government there. Now, there have been talks elsewhere before, and I have various sources in the palace denying this to be the case, but it's quite clear we have strong evidence to suggest this is happening. It is extraordinary, utterly extraordinary.
This is essentially it seems to create a transitional government of sorts. Names are being floated around. No transitional government can come in a peaceful way unless President Ashraf Ghani agrees to step to one side. And that, of course, that transition government gets into sort of row. And this is essentially I think where the crux point lies here.
It's evident that the city is to some degree surrounded. We have not seen evidence of the Taliban moving in. Earlier panic appeared to be a clash around bank where people were trying to get money out. I heard sporadic gunfire here. That seems to be traffic disputes.
A quick drive around the city, the traffic has dissipated until you get to the airport. Utter chaos and panic here. The traffic in the sky as we saw around the embassy, that appears to have quieted as well. So perhaps that might suggest some of that operation is winding up.
But there is this constant drum beat of diplomacy done with, frankly, the fact this is not agreed to in terms the Taliban seek, then they are presumably able to move to the next phase, to lowly move into the city. It would not in itself be remotely pleasant for everybody living here. There would be elements of resistance, too.
So, I think everybody would prefer to avoid that kind of situation. But this has been a morning of stunning events that looks like we are headed towards some sort of transitional government here. But I should point out we have been hearing of this for two or three days and still the president, who we have been hearing would Congress the nation for the last two or three days, came out yesterday and said essentially he wasn't going anywhere yet.
So, everything continually in flux. But the speed and scale of the American operation here to pull their people back towards the airport is definitely a sign of quite how slippery things are at the moment.
PAUL: Nick Paton Walsh, you and the crew take good care there as well. Thank you so much.
SANCHEZ: As the Taliban gains ground in Afghanistan, thousands of Afghans who worked with U.S. troops in the country are under direct threat. Some telling CNN they believe they are being hunted. The Biden administration is working to get them out, but that takes time. It's a complicated process. And though some have made it out, thousands still remain.
I want to bring in Adrian Kinsella and Mohammed Yousafzai. Adrian served as a marine and Mohammed was an interpreter with his platoon who received a visa to come to the United States in 2014.
Thank you both for sharing part of your weekend with us.
Before we talk about your relationship and what it's like for interpreters, I want to get your reaction to the breaking news.
Mohammed, given what you are seeing today, the Taliban now apparently with representatives in the presidential palace, how does that make you feel?
MOHAMMED YOUSAFZAI, AFGHAN FORMER U.S. MARINE INTERPRETER: Good morning. Thank you for having me on the show.
Yes, so it's really unfortunate. You know, we worked as Afghans and Americans all together, we worked together to bring a peaceful government and elected government and certainly this thing happened within the last couple of weeks or days that the whole government is going to be shut down and the Taliban is taking over.
They are really taking over the major cities already. A lot of big provinces. It's a really sad news for people of Afghanistan, especially people who are still there in Afghanistan, stuck, the ones that worked together with the American forces that are still seeking to get out of the country. They are really in fear and it's dangerous.
SANCHEZ: And, Adrian, I want to get your perspective on this. 2,300 American lives were lost in Afghanistan. More than 20,000 hurt in that conflict. And untold number of people, many of them marked irreparably by that war, including some of the friends I grew up with. I imagine this has to be painful for you because you know people that make up those staggering numbers.
ADRIAN KINSELLA, MARINE VETERAN: Yes, sir. Thank you for having us.
Unfortunately, as a veteran, I am with many other Afghan war veterans watching what is happening right now with horror. I haven't allowed myself to think about how tragic that is. What I am trying to do is help those who helped us like Mohammed, like people like Mohammed, to get out.
We are where we are with the war. The one thing we can do is take those thousands of heroes and their families who helped us, leave no man behind like we have been trained in the military.
SANCHEZ: Mohammed, help us understand that process to get your visa. It took four years. It was a difficult experience, I imagine.
YOUSAFZAI: It's very difficult. Especially with having no internet access and not having contact information of a lot of people you worked with.
So it's not easy to contact with the U.S. embassy or the State Department, especially lack of internet access there, especially right now that all the internet has been down. Phone towers are down. It's not an easy process for people to go through this unless somebody from the United States is helping.
I was one of the lucky interpreters that Adrian Kinsella is helping me from this side of the world when I was in Afghanistan, he was taking care of the emails and contacting the U.S. embassy on behalf of my paperwork. So he stepped in for all the documents and paperwork. I did not have access and it's really a really difficult process. It took me almost four years, which was supposed to be done in one year.
SANCHEZ: Yeah. Adrian, I hear your passion when you describe these interpreters as heroes. Talk to me about the relationship you have with Mohammed and what it's like to be entrenched in warfare with someone from a completely different background as you and yet you have this incredible bond. What is that like?
KINSELLA: Yes, sir. Honestly, it's like a bond that I have with high fellow marines, my brothers and sisters in arms. As far as we were concerned, Mohammed was one of us.
I did not feel when I came home from Afghanistan, even though I had all my platoon home, I didn't feel like all my men were home until we got Mohammed here. It's sacred. It's a bond. We need to save the rest of these.
We stood shoulder to shoulder with them. Mohammed quite simply would have taken a bullet for me or any of the marines without question. It's time for us to return the favor.
SANCHEZ: Wow. Mohammed, are you in contact with other interpreters or other people that are in Afghanistan trying to get out right now? If so, what are you hearing from them?
YOUSAFZAI: I am, yes. In the past couple of days, I have been getting a lot of contacts from a lot of the interpreters who are trying to get out of the country or they are scared to death. They don't understand what to do. They cannot get out of the country right now so -- because all of the Afghan officials offices are closed due to this situation because nobody can get their passports updated.
A lot of people are waiting to get out of the country, go to another country, but within the last two, three days the situation has been really bad.
So people, a lot of translators are hiding home and they are scared to death because they are really -- they already found that other interpreters got killed in the last couple of days and they are trying to, you know, avoid that situation, to happen to them or their families.
SANCHEZ: And you spoke with a friend in Kandahar, right, who said that the city had been taken over by the Taliban. I believe they shared with you that he was thinking of moving to Pakistan and we're seeing images of people by the hundreds at the borders trying to get out of Afghanistan. What is your message to him and others who are in that situation?
YOUSAFZAI: People like him that are trying to get out of the Afghanistan, I mean, the wait for them -- the way will be to stay tuned and stay in an area where there is not that much -- I mean, he would travel into Pakistan, there will be checkpoints. If any of those translators are going through those areas, traveling to the city, there is a lot of checkpoints, a lot of police stations that have been taken over by Taliban, big city like Kandahar province has been taken over by Taliban.
So for them to stay safe is probably stay at home and what I'm asking is that the State Department take action on this to help those who helped the U.S. government during the last 20 years, you know. Those people that were supported -- supporting the mission of the U.S. in Afghanistan and now they're in this type of a situation.
They are scared. They are almost, you know, getting threats, you know, getting killed, like as we found out in the last couple of days people are getting killed, they are chopping their heads off. It's time for the U.S. to step up and help those folks who helped the U.S.
SANCHEZ: It makes you wonder if this withdrawal was on the horizon for months, how this could have been handled differently. Perhaps more could have been done sooner.
Mohammed and Adrian, we are so grateful for your service and we appreciate your perspective on this morning as we watch what's unfolding in Afghanistan. Thank you both.
KINSELLA: Thank you, sir.
PAUL: So as we follow this breaking news out of Afghanistan, we are not forgetting about another disaster unfolding in Haiti. Hundreds of people are dead following that 7.2 magnitude earthquake. These are some of the images we are getting in now. Humanitarian aid we know is pouring in. But we will get you the latest in a moment.
SANCHEZ: We're going to pivot from monitoring the situation in Afghanistan to give you an update on Haiti. That country now under a state of emergency after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck yesterday. The official death toll, so far, 304 people. The expectation is that its ultimately going to climb much higher.
PAUL: We know that hospitals are so overwhelmed with patients, at least one of them had to put up tents just to handle the overflow.
CNN's Patrick Oppmann is live for us from Havana, Cuba.
Patrick, what are you hearing about what's happening there? PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it remains a situation of
life or death for so many Haitians. The Haitian government has not been able to reach many of the hardest hit areas. Roads simply no longer exist. This is government in the best of times has limited resources.
Haiti's new prime minister, Ariel Henry, said yesterday in a press conference, yesterday afternoon, that the Haitian government is going to make every effort it can to get to people as soon as it can. He also called on the United States to help and said that the United States will be sending disaster response team in the coming hours to assess the situation and see how they can further help this beleaguered country.
Of course, Haiti just last month experiencing assassination of its president. You have a government that has been in power for a very short time. It is a very chaotic situation still.
And what will make it all the much more worse is starting tomorrow morning, you will have tropical storm-force winds and rain lashing the nation of Haiti. A tropical storm Grace is coming through the Caribbean. It is expected to hit Haiti before coming here to Cuba and other parts. So this will complicate the search and rescue, complicate the ability for rescuers to get to some of these hard-hit areas.
PAUL: Patrick, you and the crew take good care. Thank you so much.
SANCHEZ: We turn back now to the breaking news we have been following all morning, extraordinary developments out of Afghanistan as the Taliban closes in on Kabul. We are told Taliban fighters are currently negotiating a surrender of the capital. We're going to bring you up to speed on the latest, next.
SANCHEZ: Welcome back. We are following breaking news out of Afghanistan this morning. Taliban fighters are at the gates of the capital city of Kabul while sources say Taliban representatives are at the presidential palace.
PAUL: A statement issued by the Taliban a short time ago is asking for calm saying its fighters want to take control of the capital peacefully. The embattled Afghan government we know is in talks with the Taliban over the country's future right now. At least a few Afghan presidential advisers, however, have been spotted at the Kabul airport trying to get out of the country.
SANCHEZ: Meantime, the U.S. government is racing to keep Americans safe.
Sources tell CNN the U.S. is completely vacating the embassy in Kabul over the next 72 hours. To help, President Biden is sending in another thousand troops, bringing the total of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to 5,000.
We're going to have much more on the breaking news. Stay with us.
PAUL: We appreciate you being with us and keeping us company especially on a morning that is as important as this as we cover the story.
"INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY" is up next.