The big picture

"A living hell": Leaked email describes Afghan refugee conditions

The sweltering U.S. air base in Qatar was awash with loose feces and urine and a rat infestation.

Aug 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy
Allies push Biden to extend Afghanistan airlift beyond August 31

The Taliban says that's a red line.

Updated Aug 24, 2021 - World

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19 hours ago - World

Taliban exclude Afghan teen girls from attending school

Afghan girl students wearing facemasks attend a class in Herat on Aug. 22, 2020. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi/AFP via Getty Images.

The Taliban reopened Afghan secondary schools on Saturday for only boys, effectively banning teen girls from receiving a formal education, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: The move raises new fears that the Taliban will break public promises and impose severe restrictions on women's rights similar to those implemented in the 1990s.

Sep 17, 2021 - World

UN Security Council extends Afghan mission by six months

UN Secretary-General António Guterres attends a press conference on Afghanistan in Geneva on Sept. 13, 2021. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

The United Nations Security Council on Friday authorized a six-month extension of the UN's political mission in Afghanistan.

Why it matters: The move will allow Secretary-General António Guterres to compile the necessary information to determine "strategic and operational recommendations" in light of the Taliban's takeover.

Updated Sep 17, 2021 - World

In reversal, Pentagon now says drone strike killed 10 Afghan civilians

Caskets for the dead are carried towards the gravesite as relatives and friends attend a mass funeral for members of a family that is said to have been killed in a U.S. drone airstrike, in Kabul on Aug. 30. Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A U.S. drone strike launched on Aug. 29 killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan, including seven children, rather than the Islamic State extremists the Biden administration claimed it targeted, the Pentagon said Friday.

Why it matters: U.S. Central Command said at the time that officials "know" the drone strike "disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat" to Kabul's airport, and that they were "confident we successfully hit the target."

Senators introduce bill to honor 13 service members killed in Kabul

Mourners in Jackson, Wyoming, honor Marine Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum. Photo: Natalie Behring/Getty Images

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) introduced a bill on Wednesday that would award Congressional Gold Medals to 13 U.S. service members killed in last month's bombing at Kabul's international airport.

Why it matters: The deadliest day involving American troops in Afghanistan in more than a decade occurred four days before the full U.S. military withdrawal from the country.

Sep 15, 2021 - World

Trump officials aim to turn GOP against Afghan refugees

Photo: Douglas P. DeFelice via Getty Images

A handful of former Trump officials are making a concerted effort to amass opposition to Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban, AP reports.

Why it matters: In media appearances, position papers and meetings with GOP lawmakers, they're crafting a narrative that hinges on the anti-immigrant sentiment that defined former President Trump's rise and overall discontent with the Biden administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Updated Sep 13, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Blinken on Afghanistan: "We inherited a deadline. We did not inherit a plan"

Photo: Evelyn Hockstein/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered an unwavering defense of the Biden administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan on Monday, insisting it was "time to end America's longest war" and praising the evacuation from Kabul as "extraordinary."

Why it matters: Blinken, who is appearing Monday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Tuesday before Senate Foreign Relations, is the first senior Biden official to testify on Afghanistan in the wake of the chaotic withdrawal. Tempers flared in the first session, with House Republicans accusing Blinken of lying and demanding his resignation.

Sep 13, 2021 - World

U.S. spy chief: Other countries pose greater terror threat than Afghanistan

Photo: Graeme Jennings - Pool/Getty Images

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said Monday that terrorist groups operating in Yemen, Somalia, Syria and Iraq currently pose a greater threat to the U.S. homeland than those in Afghanistan.

Why it matters: The Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan has prompted new warnings from military and intelligence officials about the possibility that al-Qaeda will reconstitute.

DHS chief of staff Karen Olick resigns

Photo: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Karen Olick, the chief of staff to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, announced Monday she is leaving her post to pursue new opportunities, Politico reports.

Why it matters: The announcement comes as DHS faces several challenges, including welcoming tens of thousands of Afghan refugees to the U.S., as well as the crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Sep 13, 2021 - World

UN human rights chief voices concern over Taliban's Afghanistan rule

Michelle Bachelet. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

A top United Nations official said Monday that the Taliban's rule in Afghanistan has entered a "new and perilous phase" and condemned the group for breaking public promises on human rights, AP reports.

What's happening: The comments, made by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, come as the UN hosts a meeting with donors looking to raise funds for Afghans in need, with millions facing severe hunger following the Taliban's takeover.

Sep 13, 2021 - World

Afghanistan's cash problem

Ajmal Ahmady, former Afghanistan central bank governor; Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Afghanistan's former central bank governor, Ajmal Ahmady, had a front-row seat to the country's recent economic development. So he knows as well as anyone the financial risks the new government — and the people of Afghanistan — now face.

Driving the news: In a talk with the Atlantic Council on Friday, Ahmady shared his inside perspective on the Afghan financial system and concerns for the future of the economy. Front and center: the lack of hard currency.

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