September 6, 2021
WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST
Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.
THE HEADLINES IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Last week we noted that the US administration appears to recognize that a return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran might not be possible, and as a result is open to Israeli approaches to countering Iran, This possibility came from a senior member of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s entourage when they arrived in Washington. However, the past week has changed all conclusions. Israeli citizens now question what is going on in Washington and it’s not a good picture.
Despite President Biden’s claims of success in Afghanistan, US officials are “horrified” because the military abandoned Americans trying to get out of the country. On Tuesday, Biden appeared to say that those who remained did so out of their own free will and could leave in the future. He stated, “The bottom line: 90 percent of Americans in Afghanistan who wanted to leave were able to leave. For those remaining Americans, there is no deadline. We remain committed to get them out, if they want to come out.” He contended 100 to 200 Americans are still there and have “some intention to leave,” adding: “Most of those who remain are dual citizens, longtime residents, but earlier decided to stay because of their family roots in Afghanistan.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said afterward that Biden was telling those people that if they decide in two weeks that they want to go, “we will get you out.”
But other officials painted a different picture.
A White House official said that the mission isn’t accomplished if they left Americans behind. And military officers appeared to contradict Biden’s assessment of those left behind. Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of US Central Command, said Monday that Americans tried to get to the Kabul airport for the final evacuations but couldn’t. No Americans were on the last five jets to leave. “We maintained the ability to bring them in up until immediately before departure, but we were not able to bring any Americans out. That activity ended probably about 12 hours before our exit, although we continued the outreach and would have been prepared to bring them on until the very last minute. But none of them made it to the airport, and were able to be — and were able to be accommodated.”
The situation with Afghan citizens who supported the Americans remains in peril. During this past week, I’ve been involved in attempting to bring some Afghans out to a neighboring country. The experience has been harrowing. Here are some examples of the desperate voices coming out of Afghanistan in the wake of the US withdrawal.
Freshta (whose name has been changed for security reasons ) was one of those who was not able to join the evacuations organized by foreign countries via Kabul airportg. The 33-year-old artist and painter had attempted to get on a flight organized by France. But after a long wait with her five-month-old baby and five-year-old daughter, “stressed” by the chaos around the airport and frightened by shots fired by Taliban soldiers, she had to turn back. Now Freshta is in hiding at home in Kabul, in despair at the turn of events.
“In 20 years, we tried a lot to make our country to be a nation, to progress,” she said by phone. “Our message: Please think about those innocent people who don’t have any way out of Afghanistan. “Freshta called on the outside world “not to be silent about our situation.” She said, “If other countries “recognize the Taliban regime our situation in the future will get worse. They should listen to our voice,” she said.
Now Freshta is simply “waiting” to see what the future holds while asking relatives to shop for her and limiting her movements to a bare minimum. Even then she makes sure she is fully veiled.
“It’s dangerous for me because I did a lot as an artist,” she said.
The Taliban’s attempt to reassure Afghans opposed to their ideology cuts no ice with Freshta.
“We cannot trust the Taliban,” she insisted. “Their actions and speech are totally different.”
Consequently, Israelis are wondering if they can trust the American government. Biden pledged Iran would not get a nuclear weapon. Today, they are wondering if he meant it. They have to worry whether America is dependable.
Not a good situation!
My latest books:
I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II
Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!
by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)
You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.
82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!
You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.
by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)