KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Thousands of people packed into the Afghan capital’s airport on Monday, rushing the tarmac and pushing onto planes in desperate attempts to flee the country after the Taliban overthrew the Western-backed government. U.S. troops fired warning shots as they struggled to manage the chaotic evacuation. The Taliban swept into Kabul on Sunday after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, bringing a stunning end to a two-decade campaign in which the U.S. and its allies had tried to transform Afghanistan. The country’s Western-trained security forces collapsed or fled in the face of an insurgent offensive that tore through the country in just over a week, ahead of the planned withdrawal of the last American troops at the end of the month.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and other top U.S. officials have been stunned by the pace of the Taliban’s nearly complete takeover of Afghanistan, as the planned withdrawal of American forces urgently became a mission to ensure a safe evacuation. The speed of the Afghan government’s collapse and the ensuing chaos posed the most serious test of Biden as commander in chief, and he was the subject of withering criticism from Republicans who said that he had failed. Biden campaigned as a seasoned expert in international relations and has spent months downplaying the prospect of an ascendant Taliban while arguing that Americans of all political persuasions have tired of a 20-year war, a conflict that demonstrated the limits of money and military might to force a Western-style democracy on a society not ready or willing to embrace it.
WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s top general said the United States could now face a rise in terrorist threats from a Taliban-run Afghanistan. That warning comes as intelligence agencies charged with anticipating those threats face new questions after the U.S.-backed Afghan military collapsed with shocking speed. Less than a week after a military assessment predicted Kabul could be surrounded by insurgents in 30 days, the world on Sunday watched stunning scenes of Taliban fighters standing in the Afghan president’s office and crowds of Afghans and foreigners frantically trying to board planes to escape the country. Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told senators on a briefing call Sunday that U.S.
The chop of U.S. military helicopters whisking American diplomats to Kabul’s airport punctuated a frantic rush by thousands of other foreigners and Afghans to flee to safety as well, as a stunningly swift Taliban takeover entered the heart of Afghanistan’s capital. The U.S. was pouring thousands of fresh troops into the country temporarily to safeguard what was gearing up to be a large-scale airlift. It announced late Sunday it was taking charge of air-traffic control at the airport, even as it lowered the flag at the U.S. Embassy. Sporadic gunfire at Kabul international airport Sunday frightened Afghan families fearful of Taliban rule and desperate for flights out, in an ever-more chaotic and compressed evacuation.
LES CAYES, Haiti (AP) — Under Haiti’s burning heat, Jennie Auguste lies with a lost, thousand-yard stare on a flimsy foam mattress placed on an airport’s tarmac. A resident of the southwestern part of the Caribbean nation, Auguste has wounds in the chest, abdomen and arm after the roof of the store she worked at collapsed during a powerful earthquake over the weekend. She flashes the occasional grimace of pain while her sister or other helpful bystanders fan her. In the badly damaged coastal town of Les Cayes, health care is at capacity, so Auguste can now only wait — for space at a local hospital, or a spot on one of the small planes that are ferrying injured people to Haiti’s capital.
Earthquakes have been wreaking havoc in Haiti since at least the 18th century, when the city of Port-au-Prince was destroyed twice in 19 years. The 21st century has been no less kind. Saturday’s powerful quake killed hundreds and injured thousands more. Eleven years earlier a temblor killed tens of thousands of people, if not hundreds of thousands. Haiti sits near the intersection of two tectonic plates that make up the Earth’s crust. Earthquakes can occur when those plates move against each other and create friction. Haiti is also densely populated. Plus, many of its buildings are designed to withstand hurricanes — not earthquakes.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani slipped out of his country Sunday in the same way he had led it in recent years — a lonely and isolated figure. Ghani quietly left the sprawling presidential palace with a small coterie of confidants — and didn’t even tell other political leaders who had been negotiating a peaceful transition of power with the Taliban that he was heading for the exit. Abdullah Abdullah, his long-time rival who had twice buried his animosity to partner with Ghani in government, said that “God will hold him accountable” for abandoning the capital. Ghani’s destination was not immediately known.
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials on Monday are expected to declare the first-ever water shortage from a river that serves 40 million people in the West, triggering cuts to some Arizona farmers next year amid a gripping drought. Water levels at the largest reservoir on the Colorado River — Lake Mead — have fallen to record lows. Along its perimeter, a white “bathtub ring” of minerals outlines where the high water line once stood, underscoring the acute water challenges for a region facing a growing population and a drought that is being worsened by hotter, drier weather brought on by climate change.