Afghan Pilots Who Fled to Uzbekistan Reportedly Transferred to US Base in UAE
Earlier, The Wall Street Journal reported that a group of Afghan pilots who sought safety in Uzbekistan after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban will likely be transferred to a US base in the Qatari capital city of Doha.
A group of Afghan pilots and their families who flew to Uzbekistan were transferred to a United States military base in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, The New York Times reported
, citing the office of GOP Representative August Pfluger, said to be in contact with one of the pilots.
Two other groups are reportedly expected to fly out on Monday, as part of an arrangement made between the United States and Uzbekistan, to transport some 450 Afghans who arrived in the country from Afghanistan out of fear for their safety.
Despite an amnesty pledged by the Taliban* to the pilots, the security forces are still concerned for their safety and that of their families. The Uzbek government was pressured from two sides, both by the militants and the US, with the latter requesting Tashkent let the Afghans depart.
“I’m very happy they’re getting out, but this was not a smooth process,” Pfluger, a Texas Republican and former Air Force F-22 pilot, told the NYT. “The pilots were the most lethal part of the Afghan military, and it’s very important to do whatever we can to protect them.”
Pfluger said that he was in close contact with the wife of one of the pilots, who told her that he eventually landed in the Abu Dhabi International Airport after spending about a month in Uzbekistan. The pilot revealed that he was accompanied by some 175 people on his flight.
According to the pilot's wife, he is currently undergoing necessary coronavirus testings before going to the US.
While there is a goal for the pilots to be transferred to the United States, it is unclear whether they will end up stateside.
The Wall Street Journal estimated
that there are some 585 people that flew over to Uzbekistan from Afghanistan awaiting their transfer. Pilots who fled the war-torn nation reportedly used over 40 helicopters and airplanes to travel to Uzbekistan.
The fate of the military equipment remains unclear, but Pfluger said that "we don't want them to fall into the hands of the Taliban or al-Qaeda*".
8 September 2021, 13:19 GMT
The exodus from Afghanistan
was prompted by a chaotic US troop withdrawal from the country, completed on 31 August, wrapping up nearly 20 years of US military intervention in the nation. Shortly after the US announced the completion of its withdrawal, the Taliban swiftly established control over the country.
Earlier in the month, the militants announced the country's new government, which was criticised by the Western countries for failing to be "inclusive", as the Taliban had initially pledged. The militants, however, noted that the newly-announced government was interim, vowing to make new steps towards inclusivity, particularly to find places for women in the government.
*The Taliban and al-Qaeda are terrorist organizations banned in Russia and many other states.