White House doubles down on calling Taliban ‘businesslike and professional’

Statement came after 200 Americans and foreigners left Afghanistan on first Qatari flight.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

A statement issued by the White House’s U.S. National Security Council raised eyebrows on Thursday for calling Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban “businesslike and professional.”

The NSC statement was issued in response to an evacuation flight out of Kabul on Thursday, run by the Gulf state of Qatar and the first of its kind since U.S.-led military evacuations ended Aug. 30.

An estimated 200 foreigners, including Americans, left Afghanistan on the commercial flight with the cooperation of the Taliban. Ten U.S. citizens and 11 green-card holders made Thursday’s flight, State Department spokesman Ned Price said. Americans organizing charter evacuation flights said they knew of more U.S. passport and green-card holders in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif and elsewhere awaiting flights out.

The statement, issued by NSC spokesperson Emily Horne, said, “The Taliban have been cooperative in facilitating the departure of American citizens and lawful permanent residents on charter flights from HKIA [Hamid Karzai International Airport]. They have shown flexibility, and they have been businesslike and professional in our dealings with them in this effort. This is a positive first step.”

At a White House briefing, Fox News questioned White House spokesperson Jen Psaki over the NSC’s description of the Taliban as “businesslike and professional.”

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Psaki responded, “We are here to celebrate the return of American citizens who wanted to leave Afghanistan, of legal, permanent residents, of Afghans who fought by our side, to Qatar, successfully on a Qatari airlines flight.”

“In order to get those people out, we had to work with some members of the Taliban to press them and to work in a businesslike manner to get them out,” Psaki maintained.

For the U.S. lawmakers, veterans groups and other Americans who’ve been scrambling to get former U.S. military interpreters and other at-risk Afghans on charter flights out, the relaunch of evacuation flights did little to soothe fears that the U.S. might abandon countless Afghan allies.

Hundreds of Afghans who say they are in danger of Taliban reprisals have gathered for more than a week in Mazar-e-Sharif, waiting for permission to board evacuation flights chartered by U.S. supporters.

Associated Press contributed to this report.