The Taliban is preventing a plane carrying Americans from taking off from Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport in Northern Afghanistan, Republican Texas Rep. Michael McCaul said Sunday.
“We had six airplanes at Mazar-i-Sharif airport. Six airplanes with American citizens on them as I speak, also with these interpreters, and the Taliban is holding them hostage for demands right now,” McCaul told Fox News’ Chris Wallace.
McCaul added that “zero” Americans have been able to leave the country since U.S. military forces left on Aug. 30.
CBS News’ Eena Ruffini also reported Sunday morning that the State Department had begun notifying members of Congress that Taliban approval was preventing chartered planes from taking off from Mazar-i-Sharif for Doha, Qatar.
An email from the State Department to members of congress — and viewed by CBS — acknowledged that charter flights are still on the ground at the Mazar-i-Sharif airstrip and have permission to land in Doha “if and when the Taliban agrees to takeoff. 2/
— Ruffini (@EenaRuffini) September 5, 2021
A United Nations (UN) Security Council resolution passed on Aug. 30 called on the Taliban to “facilitate safe passage for people wanting to leave Afghanistan,” but the group did not do so even before American and NATO military forces withdrew from the country on Aug. 31.
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said on Sept. 1 that the Taliban would have to “manage the country in a manner that lives up to those standards” if “they want to be welcomed into the international community.” (RELATED: Psaki Claims Administration Doesn’t ‘Trust The Taliban.’ Reports Say Officials Gave Taliban Names Of Americans, Allies)
However, McCaul told Wallace, the Taliban “are not clearing the airplanes to depart [Mazar-i-Sharif airport]. They’ve sat at the airport for the last couple of days, these planes, and they’re not allowed to leave. We know the reason why is because the Taliban want something in exchange. This is really … turning into a hostage situation, where they are not going to allow American citizens to leave until they get full recognition from the United States of America.”
State Department spokesman Ned Price has previously declined to comment on whether or not the U.S. would recognize a Taliban delegation to the UN.
When the Taliban held power from 1995-2001, only Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates recognized the group as the official government of Afghanistan. No country has yet announced official recognition of the Taliban, but China will offer financial investment to the group as part of its New Silk Road initiative, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Thursday.