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Amid roiling fear and pleas for help from Afghanistan, Afghan journalist Nazira Karimi demanded answers from the White House at a press briefing Monday.

What she's saying: "I'm very upset today, because Afghan women didn't expect that overnight all the Taliban came. They took off my flag," she said, motioning to a face mask with the Afghanistan flag's design. "And they put their flag. ... Afghan people, they don't know what to do."

  • "Where is my president?" she asked Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby. "People expected that he would stand by with the people. And immediately, he ran away. ... He should answer to Afghan people."
  • "President Biden said that [Afghanistan] President [Ashraf] Ghani knows he has to fight for us people. ... But we don't have any president, we don't have anything," she said, visibly in distress.
  • Women have made strides in Afghanistan since the Taliban was first expelled, she added. "I had a lot of achievement," she said, her voice breaking. "I left from the Taliban like 20 years ago. Now we go back to the first step again." 

Kirby said he couldn't speak to Ghani's location but added that "nobody here at the Pentagon is happy about the images that we've seen coming out in the last few days."

  • "So, a heartfelt respect to what you're going through," he said. "We, too, have invested greatly in Afghanistan and in the progress that women and girls have made."
  • He reiterated that the administration's priority is to assist U.S.-affiliated Afghans and "honor that obligation to all those who helped make all that progress possible."

The big picture: In an address earlier in the day, President Biden said he stands by his decision to pull out U.S. troops and cast blame on the Afghan government for failing to defend the country.

  • The Taliban's siege leaves Afghan women and girls in a vulnerable position, as they stand to lose hard-won rights to education, employment and everyday freedoms.
  • The Biden administration has faced sharp criticism over its response to the rapid collapse and the U.S.'s chaotic evacuation effort.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 16, 2021 - World

Islamic State claims responsibility for deadly bombing in southern Afghanistan

The mosque after the explosion in southern Kandahar province on Oct. 15. Photo: Murteza Khaliqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a massive blast that tore through a crowded Shiite mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Friday, killing at least 47 people and injuring dozens more, AP reports.

Why it matters: Friday's attack was the deadliest to strike Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrew its troops from the region and is the second major attack on a Shiite mosque in a week, underscoring the Taliban's growing security threat from other militant groups.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

GOP senator calls for senility test for aging leaders

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a physician, told me during an "Axios on HBO" interview that he favors cognition tests for aging leaders of all three branches of government.

Why it matters: Wisdom comes with age. But science also shows that we lose something. And much of the world is now run by old people — including President Biden, 78 ... Speaker Pelosi, 81 ...  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, 70 ... and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 79.

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology

Intel CEO blames predecessors for manufacturing woes

Axios on HBO

When it comes to Intel's recent manufacturing problems, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger places the blame squarely on his predecessors — many of whom he notes were not engineers deeply steeped in chip technology, as he is.

Why it matters: Gelsinger has announced a broad plan to reinvigorate Intel by doubling down on manufacturing. However, the strategy depends on the venerable semiconductor giant recovering from recent stumbles.