Canada Election 2021: Justin Trudeau Projected to Remain Prime Minister

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s political gamble failed to pay off Monday when Canadian voters returned him to office but denied him the expanded bloc of power he was seeking in Parliament.

Election returns late on Monday showed that while he would remain prime minister, it will again be as the head of a minority government, Canadian broadcasters projected.

In August, with his approval ratings high, Mr. Trudeau called a “snap election,” summoning voters to the polls two years before he had to. The goal, he said, was to obtain a strong mandate for his Liberal Party to lead the nation out of the pandemic and into recovery.

But many Canadians suspected that his true ambitions were mere political opportunism, and that he was trying to regain the parliamentary majority the Liberals had until they lost seats in the 2019 election.

Mr. O’Toole, seeking to broaden Conservatives’ appeal, produced a 160-page campaign platform that essentially turned the party’s back on many once-central positions, like opposition to carbon taxes.

Mr. Trudeau broke ethics laws when he and his staff pressured his justice minister, an Indigenous woman, in 2018 to offer a large Canadian engineering firm a deal allowing it to avoid a criminal conviction on corruption charges. Last year a charity with close ties to the Trudeau family was awarded a no-bid contract to administer a Covid-19 financial assistance plan for students. The group withdrew, the program was canceled and Mr. Trudeau was cleared of conflict of interest allegations.

And while Mr. Trudeau champions diversity and racial justice, it came out during the 2019 vote that he had worn blackface or brownface at least three times in the past.

“Every Canadian has met a Justin Trudeau in their lives — privileged, entitled and always looking out for No. 1,” Mr. O’Toole said during the campaign. “He’ll say anything to get elected, regardless of the damage it does to our country.”

Mr. Trudeau returned the criticism, saying Mr. O’Toole’s willingness to ditch Conservative policies and alter his platform mid-campaign showed it was he who would say or promise anything to voters.

While many voters eagerly bumped elbows and posed for selfies with Mr. Trudeau at campaign stops, his campaign was often disturbed by unruly mobs protesting mandatory vaccines and vaccine passports. One event was canceled out of safety concerns, and Mr. Trudeau was pelted with gravel at another.

Mr. Trudeau did have a strong political challenger on the left nationally with Jagmeet Singh of the New Democrats. Mr. Singh, a lawyer and former provincial lawmaker from Ontario, consistently had the highest approval ratings of all the leaders before and during the campaign. But personal popularity was not enough: His party gained three seats but won only a total of 27.

As before the election, the New Democrats are likely to be Mr. Trudeau’s primary source of support in Parliament.

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Prominent Chinese #MeToo Figure Vows to Appeal After Losing Case

A former television intern who became a prominent voice in China’s #MeToo movement against sexual assault and harassment has vowed to fight on after a court in Beijing ruled that she had not produced sufficient evidence in her harassment case against a star presenter.

The former intern, Zhou Xiaoxuan, told supporters and journalists outside the Haidian District court in Beijing that she would appeal after judges ruled against her claim late Tuesday night.

Ms. Zhou asserted in 2018 that Zhu Jun had assaulted her in a dressing room four years earlier. Mr. Zhu denied that accusation and sued Ms. Zhou, and she countersued him. Their legal battles became a focal case in China’s expanding movement against the sexual coercion of women.

The court in Beijing rejected Ms. Zhou’s case in a terse online statement that did not go into the substance of her claims. She had “tendered insufficient evidence to prove her assertion that a certain Zhu had engaged in sexual harassment,” the court stated.

crack their heads and spill blood” if they tried to stop its rise.

  • Behind the Takeover of Hong Kong: One year ago, the city’s freedoms were curtailed with breathtaking speed. But the clampdown was years in the making, and many signals were missed.
  • One Year Later in Hong Kong: Neighbors are urged to report on one another. Children are taught to look for traitors. The Communist Party is remaking the city.
  • Mapping Out China’s Post-Covid Path: Xi Jinping, China’s leader, is seeking to balance confidence and caution as his country strides ahead while other places continue to grapple with the pandemic.
  • A Challenge to U.S. Global Leadership: As President Biden predicts a struggle between democracies and their opponents, Beijing is eager to champion the other side.
  • ‘Red Tourism’ Flourishes: New and improved attractions dedicated to the Communist Party’s history, or a sanitized version of it, are drawing crowds ahead of the party’s centennial.
  • Since then, the Chinese Communist Party has moved to rein in public protest and contention over women’s rights, and fewer such cases have burst onto the internet.

    An exception was in July, when the police detained Kris Wu, a popular Canadian Chinese singer, after an 18-year-old university student in Beijing accused him of offering young women like her help with their careers, and then pressing them to have sex. He has denied the accusations.

    Mr. Wu was formally arrested last month on suspicion of rape. His case became one in a number of scandals that have prompted the Chinese government to crack down on youth celebrity culture and warn actors and performers to stick to official rules for propriety.

    Ms. Zhou has been barred from Weibo, the popular Chinese social media service where her claims against Mr. Zhu first spread. (His lawsuit against her has still not gone to trial.)

    Traditional state-run media outlets were ordered not to cover Ms. Zhou’s claims and lawsuit, according to three journalists who received the instructions and asked for anonymity because of the risk of repercussions. But word of Ms. Zhou’s loss in court rippled across Chinese social media on Wednesday. Many reactions that remained on Weibo were critical of her, some accusing her of making up her claims and acting as a pawn for forces hostile to China. Her supporters said that, despite the setback, she had set a lasting example.

    “I was very disappointed, but it didn’t surprise me,” said Zheng Xi, 34, a feminist in Hangzhou, in eastern China. “Her persistence in the last three years has educated and enlightened many people.”

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    North Korea Reports Test of New Cruise Missile as Arms Race Intensifies

    SEOUL — North Korea said on Monday it​ had successfully launched newly developed long-range cruise missiles, its first missile test in six months and a new indication that an arms race between North and South Korea was heating up on the Korean Peninsula.

    ​In the tests that took place on Saturday and Sunday, the North Korean missiles hit targets 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) away after flying more than two hours, said the North’s official Korean Central News Agency. The missiles changed their trajectories and made circles before hitting their targets, it said.

    A series of resolutions from the United Nations Security Council banned North Korea from developing or testing ballistic missiles, but not cruise missiles. A cruise missile test by the North usually does not raise as much alarm as its ballistic missile tests. The country’s state-run media also indicated that the nation’s leader, Kim Jong-un, had not attended the weekend tests, though he has usually supervised all major weapons tests in recent years.

    The latest tests showed that North Korea continued to improve its arsenal of missiles while nuclear disarmament talks with the United States remained stalled. North Korea said on Monday that the long-range cruise missile was “a strategic weapon of great significance” and part of an arms development goal announced by Mr. Kim during the party congress in January.

    ramping up its own arms buildup.

    Dosan Ahn Changho-class attack submarine. North Korea began testing its submarine-launched ballistic missiles in 2015, reporting the “greatest success” the following year.

    As international negotiations have made little progress in stopping North Korea from growing its weapons arsenal, South Korea has embarked on building more powerful missiles and missile-defense systems of its own to counter North Korean threats.

    launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile in 2017, Donald J. Trump, then president, lifted the payload limit on South Korean ballistic missiles. During the summit meeting in May between President Biden and his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, the allies agreed to terminate the missile guidelines, leaving South Korea free to develop longer-range missiles.

    North Korea reacted angrily to the removal of the missile restrictions, ​calling it “a stark reminder of the U.S. hostile policy.”

    The removal of the limits allows South Korea to build ballistic missiles with larger warheads that hold destructive power and that can target underground bunkers where North Korea keeps its nuclear arsenal and where its leadership would hide at war, military analysts said.

    When Mr. Moon visited his Defense Ministry’s Agency for Defense Development last year, he said South Korea had “developed a short-range ballistic missile with one of the largest warheads in the world,” an apparent reference to the Hyunmoo-4, which missile experts say can cover all of North Korea with a two-ton payload.

    When North Korea last conducted a missile test, on March 25, it said it had launched a new ballistic missile that carried a 2.5-ton warhead. This month, reports emerged in South Korean news media that the South was developing an even more powerful weapon: a short-range ballistic missile with a payload of up to three tons.

    The tit-for-tat weapons buildup signaled that the rival militaries were arming themselves with increasingly powerful missiles that can fly farther and carry more destructive power, and that are harder to intercept.

    said this month.

    last October and in January, North Korea unveiled what appeared to be newly developed intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles. The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said last month that the country appeared to have restarted a reactor in its main nuclear complex​.

    But North Korea has refrained from​ testing an I.C.B.M. or a nuclear device since 2017. Its most recent military parade, held Thursday to mark the government’s 73rd anniversary, did not feature new weapons.

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    Taliban Appoint Stalwarts to Top Government Posts

    KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban announced a caretaker government on Tuesday, taking a major step in re-establishing their Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and empowering many of the movement’s stalwarts from their regime in the 1990s.

    After weeks of assurances from Taliban leaders that the movement would offer a more moderate and inclusive style of governing, most of the acting appointments on Tuesday were of senior figures who served in similar roles decades ago — a sign that the group’s conservative and theocratic core remain largely unchanged. All were men, and several are listed by the United States and United Nations as global terrorists.

    “I assure all our countrymen that these officials will work hard to uphold Islamic rules and Shariah law,” Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzada, the movement’s supreme leader, said in a written statement handed out at a news conference in Kabul. “The Islamic Emirate needs the continued support of its people to rebuild the ruined country together.”

    The Taliban made clear that more appointments would be coming, extending a process that has already stretched for weeks since the group suddenly seized national control last month.

    “Guantánamo Five.” They were held at the American detainment camp at Guantánamo Bay for 13 years before being exchanged in 2014 for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier captured by the Taliban.

    In order to govern, the Taliban will need to secure aid, which has been frozen by the United States and other nations. Yet U.S. sanctions against some cabinet members, including Mr. Haqqani and his uncle, Khalil Haqqani, appointed acting minister of refugees and repatriation — both listed as leaders of the terrorist-designated Haqqani network — will make that a difficult proposition.

    Another factor will be foreign governments, lenders and aid organizations who are waiting to see the fate of the opposition and whether the Taliban will respect rights for women and ethnic and religious minorities. Just hours before the Taliban announced their new government posts, in fact, their fighters were on Kabul’s streets violently breaking up a peaceful demonstration for the second time in less than a week.

    their origin story and their record as rulers.

    As they marched on Tuesday morning, they carried a banner with a single word: “Freedom.”

    The protests are happening as the Taliban cement their military grip on the country as well, announcing on Monday that they had seized the capital of restive Panjshir Province.

    Afghanistan also faces a worsening humanitarian crisis. Basic services like electricity are under threat, while the country has been buffeted by food and cash shortages.

    Thousands of Afghans are still desperately trying to flee the country, even as the United States works to evacuate dozens of its citizens. At a news conference in Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said U.S. officials were “working around the clock” to ensure that charter flights carrying Americans can depart Afghanistan safely.

    One senior Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the fact that the Taliban took more than three weeks to announce even a transitional government, despite pressing need to reestablish services and economic functions, could be taken as a sign that “they weren’t really ready, and they didn’t have a plan.”

    The appointed officials, who were all men, were also notable for including only a few non-Pashtuns, despite the country’s ethnic diversity and the Taliban’s promises of inclusive government.

    At the news conference naming the new cabinet, the chief Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, who was named deputy information and culture minister, stressed the transitional nature of the government.

    “This is an acting cabinet appointed to handle current affairs, and we are preparing the foundations of government and state-building,” he said. “In the near future, the role of the people’s participation and the shuras will be developed.”

    Taliban officials said that a nationwide gathering of religious scholars and elders is still being planned in order to confirm Sheikh Haibatullah, a native of Kandahar Province and a widely respected religious scholar within the movement, as Afghanistan’s supreme leader.

    Reporting was contributed by Wali Arian, Sami Sahak, Mujib Mashal, Adam Nossiter, Michael Crowleyand Farnaz Fassihi.

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    Shifting to Governing, Taliban Will Name Supreme Afghan Leader

    On the second full day with no U.S. troops on Afghan soil, the Taliban moved Wednesday to form a new Islamic government, preparing to appoint the movement’s leading religious figure, Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzada, as the nation’s supreme authority, Taliban officials said.

    The Taliban face a daunting challenge, pivoting from insurgence to governance after two decades as insurgents who battled international and Afghan forces, planted roadside bombs and plotted mass casualty bombings in densely packed urban centers.

    Now, with the Taliban’s rule fully restored 20 years after it was toppled by the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, the group is confronted with the responsibility of running a country of some 40 million people devastated by more than 40 years of war.

    There are hundreds of thousands of displaced people in the country and much of the population lives in crushing poverty, all amid a punishing drought and a Covid-19 pandemic. Food stocks distributed by the United Nations will likely run out for much of Afghanistan by the end of September, said Ramiz Alakbarov, the U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan.

    $9.4 billion in Afghan currency reserves in the United States, part of a cash pipeline that had long sustained a fragile U.S.-backed government dependent on foreign aid. Funds have also been cut off by international lenders, including the International Monetary Fund, sending inflation soaring and undermining the weak national currency, the afghani.

    Electricity service, spotty and unreliable in the best of times, is failing, residents say. Fear is keeping many people at home instead of out working and shopping. Shortages of food and other daily necessities have been reported in a country that imports much of its food, fuel and electrical power. A third of Afghans were already coping with what the United Nations has called crisis levels of food insecurity.

    suicide bomber, and at age 23 blew himself up in an attack in Helmand Province, the Taliban say.

    Mr. Baradar filled a similar role during the Taliban’s first years in exile, directing the movement’s operations until his arrest by Pakistan in 2010.

    After three years in a Pakistani prison and several more under house arrest, Mr. Baradar was released in 2019, and then led the Taliban delegation negotiating the troop withdrawal deal reached with the Trump administration in February 2020.

    Other key positions in the government are expected to go to Sirajuddin Haqqani, another deputy and an influential operations leader within the movement, and Mawlawi Muhammad Yaqoub, who is the son of the Taliban’s founder, Mullah Muhammad Omar, who led the group until his death in 2013.

    Mr. Haqqani, 48, who helped direct Taliban military operations, is also a leader of the brutal Haqqani Network, a mafia-like wing of the Taliban largely based in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas along the Afghanistan border. The network was responsible for hostage-taking, attacks on U.S. forces, complex suicide attacks and targeted assassinations.

    The political developments Wednesday injected a jolt of reality into the Taliban, whose members celebrated with gunfire and fireworks after the final planeload of U.S. troops and equipment soared away from the Kabul airport just before midnight Monday. On Tuesday, top Taliban leaders led journalists on a triumphant tour of the ransacked airport just hours after it had been occupied by U.S. troops.

    100 to 200 Americans remain in the country, President Biden said Tuesday. Some have stayed by choice. Others were unable to reach the Kabul airport.

    Tens of thousands of Afghans who assisted the United States or its international partners also remain stranded, according to estimates by U.S. officials. Many are permanent United States residents who were traveling in Afghanistan when the government and military collapsed with stunning speed and the Taliban seized control on Aug. 15.

    Taliban officials have made repeated public assurances that Afghans with proper passports and visas would be permitted to leave the country, regardless of their role during the 20-year American mission in Afghanistan.

    About 6,000 Americans, the vast majority of them dual U.S.-Afghan citizens, were evacuated after Aug. 14, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said Tuesday. Early this spring, the American Embassy in Kabul began issuing warnings to Americans to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible, citing a rapidly deteriorating security situation.

    Mr. Blinken described “extraordinary efforts to give Americans every opportunity to depart the country.” He said diplomats made 55,000 calls and sent 33,000 emails to U.S. citizens in Afghanistan, and in some cases, walked them into the Kabul airport.

    Mr. Biden said Tuesday that the U.S. government had alerted Americans 19 times since March to leave Afghanistan.

    United Nations refugee agency recently warned that as many as half a million Afghans could flee by the end of the year, and urged countries in the region to keep their borders open for those seeking refuge.

    Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for refugees, has estimated that about 3.5 million people have been displaced by violence within Afghanistan — half a million just since May. The majority of them are women and children.

    On the Afghanistan side of the Pakistan border at Torkham, about 140 miles east of Kabul, some families in recent days have been huddling with their belongings, determined to flee the Taliban’s rule. There are also laborers from neighboring Afghan provinces who want to cross to earn a livelihood amid spiraling cash and food shortages.

    Pakistan has said that it will not accept any more refugees from Afghanistan. Border officials are reportedly only allowing crossing by Pakistani citizens and the few Afghans who have visas.

    While Afghan refugees living in Pakistan shuttled back and forth for decades without being asked questions, in recent years, Pakistan has made access more difficult, and built up a border fence 1,600 miles long.

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    Live Updates: Security Threats at Kabul Airport Prompt Multiple Warnings

    U.S. Embassy warned Americans to stay away from the Kabul airport and told anyone outside the perimeter to “leave immediately,” citing unnamed security threats.

    The British and Australian governments issued similar warnings, with Australian officials describing “an ongoing and very high threat of terrorist attack.”

    The warnings came as the last of the estimated 1,500 Americans and countless other foreigners still in Afghanistan try to make it to the airport to leave before the U.S. withdrawal on Aug. 31. Thousands of Afghan nationals are camped outside the perimeter of the airport in desperate attempts to escape on the last flights out, some with documents allowing them to leave.

    A senior U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about confidential assessments, confirmed that the United States was tracking a “specific” and “credible” threat at the airport from the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan, which has carried out dozens of attacks in recent years, many targeting ethnic minorities and other civilians.

    The U.S. Embassy in Kabul cited three areas of particular concern in its advisory.

    “U.S. citizens who are at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately,” the statement said, without further detail.Marise Payne, Australia’s foreign minister, said at a news conference Thursday that the Taliban will allow Australian citizens and visa holders to leave safely but added, “Our travel advice remains: You should not come to Hamid Karzai airport because it is not safe to do so, and if you are in Kabul, you should shelter in place, move to a safe location and await further advice.”

    The U.S. government has been warning about potential security threats at the airport, and access to the airport has been adjusted accordingly, with some gates temporarily closed.

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    Blinken Provides Update on U.S. Rescue Mission in Afghanistan

    Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken gave details on the number of U.S. citizens and Afghan nationals rescued so far, as well as the number of Americans still in Afghanistan who want to leave.

    Since Aug. 14, more than 82,300 people have been safely flown out of Kabul. In the 24-hour period from Tuesday to Wednesday, approximately 19,000 people were evacuated on 90 U.S. military and coalition flights. Our first priority is the evacuation of American citizens. Since Aug. 14, we have evacuated at least 4,500 U.S. citizens, and likely more. More than 500 of those Americans were evacuated in just the last day alone. Now, many of you have asked how many U.S. citizens remain in Afghanistan who want to leave the country. Based on our analysis, starting on Aug. 14, when our evacuation operations began, there was then a population of as many as 6,000 American citizens in Afghanistan who wanted to leave. Over the last 10 days, roughly 4,500 of these Americans have been safely evacuated, along with immediate family members. Over the past 24 hours, we’ve been in direct contact with approximately 500 additional Americans and provided specific instructions on how to get to the airport safely. From my perspective, from the president’s perspective, this effort does not end on Aug. 31. It will continue for as long as it takes to help get people out of Afghanistan who wish to leave.

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    Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken gave details on the number of U.S. citizens and Afghan nationals rescued so far, as well as the number of Americans still in Afghanistan who want to leave.CreditCredit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

    WASHINGTON — About 1,500 American citizens remain in Afghanistan, and about a third of them are in contact with the U.S. government and hope to leave in the coming days, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said on Wednesday.

    Some of the remaining 1,000 may not want to leave, Mr. Blinken said, describing an ever-changing estimate that the Biden administration has tried to pin down as American troops wind down an evacuation effort that has overwhelmed the airport in Kabul, the capital.

    That number does not include legal permanent American residents or green card holders, he said.

    Mr. Blinken said more than 4,500 U.S. citizens have so far been flown out of Afghanistan since Aug. 14, as the Taliban bore down on Kabul. He said the State Department has sent more than 20,000 emails and made 45,000 phone calls to identify and locate Americans in Afghanistan ahead of an Aug. 31 withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country after 20 years of war.

    But Mr. Blinken sought to assure that any Americans or Afghans who have worked with the U.S. mission and want to leave after that date should be free to do so. “That effort will continue every day,” he said.

    U.S. and allied planes flew an additional 19,200 people out of Kabul in the past 24 hours, officials said on Wednesday, as the Biden administration made substantial inroads into evacuating American citizens and Afghans who worked for the United States over the last 20 years.

    More than 10,000 people were still inside the international airport in Kabul awaiting flights out of the country on Wednesday, and Afghans with proper credentials continued to be cleared into the airfield, Pentagon officials said.

    With President Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline for the withdrawal of American troops rapidly approaching, tens of thousands of Afghans who qualify for special immigration visas are also waiting to be evacuated.

    As of 3 a.m. in Washington, the United States had evacuated about 82,300 people from Kabul’s international airport since the government fell to Taliban forces.

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    ‘We Are Working as Fast as We Can’: U.S. Rushes Evacuations

    A Pentagon spokesman said U.S. and allied forces would work “all the way to the end” to evacuate Americans and vulnerable Afghans from Kabul, but that the priority would shift to flying out American troops and equipment in the mission’s final days.

    Ninety flights total yesterday that left the Kabul airport, that is accounted for 19,000 evacuees now safely out of Afghanistan within a 24-hour period. Since the U.S. and coalition forces began the evacuation, to date, approximately 88,000 have safely departed from Afghanistan. We will continue to evacuate needed populations all the way to the end. If if, if we have to, and we need to, if you’re an evacuee, that we can get out, we’re going to continue to get you out right up until the end. But in those last couple of days, we’re going to try to preserve as much capability as we can at the airport, as you might imagine. So in those last couple of days, we will begin to prioritize military capabilities and military resources to move out. That doesn’t mean that if you’re an evacuee and you need to get out, that we’re not going to try to get you out, but that we will have to reserve some capacity in those last couple of days to prioritize the military footprint leaving. We know there are a lot of desperate people who want to leave, and that’s why we are working as fast as we can. And you saw the numbers that we continue to be able to get out. We’re working as fast as we can to get out American citizens, Special Immigrant Visa applicants and vulnerable Afghans.

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    A Pentagon spokesman said U.S. and allied forces would work “all the way to the end” to evacuate Americans and vulnerable Afghans from Kabul, but that the priority would shift to flying out American troops and equipment in the mission’s final days.CreditCredit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

    John F. Kirby, the chief Pentagon spokesman, told reporters that American officers in Kabul, including the top commander, Rear Adm. Peter G. Vaseley, were talking daily with Taliban counterparts to ensure safe passage of Americans and Afghan allies with proper credentials.

    Experts predict that hundreds of thousands of Afghans will be targeted by the Taliban if they stay, including Afghan security forces, government officials, women’s rights advocates and other defenders of democracy. Those Afghans are desperately hoping to join the U.S. military’s airlift before it begins to wind down, potentially as soon as this weekend.

    For the third time in a week, American military helicopters rescued Americans inside Kabul. On Tuesday, about 20 American citizens who were flown onto the airfield from a location inside the city, Maj. Gen. William Taylor told reporters. A similar flight rescued 169 Americans from a Kabul hotel meeting place last week.

    Though Mr. Biden has vowed to stick to the Aug. 31 exit plan, as the Taliban have demanded, he also has instructed Mr. Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin to draw up plans to push back the date if necessary.

    The Taliban have warned of potential reprisals should the United States renege on its promise to withdraw its forces by the deadline, and Mr. Biden on Tuesday noted the danger to American troops should they remain much longer.

    Beyond the Taliban, extremists affiliated with the Islamic State are also believed to pose a threat to the evacuation effort that has drawn crowds of people to Kabul’s airport gates, clamoring to be allowed on one of the flights that are departing every 45 minutes.

    “I’m determined to ensure that we complete our mission,” Mr. Biden said at the White House on Tuesday. “I’m also mindful of the increasing risks that I’ve been briefed on and the need to factor those risks in. There are real and significant challenges that we also have to take into consideration.”

    But the dwindling hours are weighing heavily on the minds of people seeking to flee Afghanistan and members of Congress who want the United States to retain a presence there until Americans and high-risk Afghans can get out.

    The Pentagon spokesman, Mr. Kirby, said that the military would put high priority on flying out American troops and equipment in the mission’s final days. “There will be a transition more toward getting military assets out as we get closer to the end, but again, we’re going to continue to work the evacuation mission right up until the last day,” he said.

    Zabihullah Mujahid, a senior Taliban official, after a briefing in the Ministry of Information and Culture in Kabul on Tuesday.
    Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

    KABUL, Afghanistan — In his first sit-down interview with a Western media outlet since the Taliban took full control of Afghanistan, one of the group’s leaders on Wednesday offered a portrait of a group intent on rebuilding a country shattered by decades of war.

    “We want to build the future, and forget what happened in the past,” the spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said in an interview with The New York Times. He rejected widespread fears that the Taliban are already exacting vengeance on those who opposed them and want to reimpose the harsh controls on women that made them notorious when they ruled the country 20 years ago.

    The interview came just a day after Mr. Mujahid warned the women of Afghanistan that it might be safest for them to remain home until more rank-and-file Taliban fighters have been trained in how not to mistreat them.

    It was a notable acknowledgment of the many changes to Afghan society that greeted the Taliban when they re-entered a city they had not controlled for two decades.

    Many of those changes involve women. Not only have they been free to leave home unaccompanied — dressed as they see fit — they have also returned to school and jobs, and their images can be seen on everything from billboards to TV screens.

    On Wednesday, Mr. Mujahid suggested that longer-term, women would be free to resume their daily routines.

    Concerns that the Taliban would once again force them to stay in their homes or cover their faces are baseless, he said. He added that the requirement they be accompanied by a male guardian, known as a mahram, was misunderstood. It applies only to journeys of three days or longer, he said.

    “If they go to school, the office, university, or the hospital, they don’t need a mahram,” said Mr. Mujahid, who also serves as the Taliban’s chief spokesman.

    He also offered assurances to Afghans trying to leave the country, saying — contrary to news reports based on his news conference on Tuesday, including in The Times — that those with valid travel documents would not be prevented from entering the airport.

    “We said that people who don’t have proper documents aren’t allowed to go,” Mr. Mujahid said. “They need passports and visas for the countries they’re going to, and then they can leave by air. If their documents are valid, then we’re not going to ask what they were doing before.”

    He also denied allegations that the Taliban have been searching for former interpreters and others who worked for the American military, and claimed that they would be safe in their own country. And he expressed frustration at the Western evacuation efforts.

    “They shouldn’t interfere in our country and take out our human resources: doctors, professors and other people we need here,” Mr. Mujahid said. “In America, they might become dishwashers or cooks. It’s inhuman.”

    For the past decade, Mr. Mujahid had been a key link between the militants and the news media, but remained faceless. On Wednesday, he granted the interview at the Ministry of Information and Culture as Taliban leaders and other Afghan power brokers were engaging in protracted discussions about the future shape of the country.

    Mr. Mujahid is seen as likely to be the future minister of information and culture. Fluent in both Pashto and Dari, the country’s principal languages, Mr. Mujahid, 43, described himself as a native of Paktia Province and a graduate in Islamic jurisprudence from the well-known Darul Uloom Haqqania madrasa in Pakistan.

    Despite the tense situation at the airport on Wednesday, where thousands of people were still crowded around most entrance gates, Mr. Mujahid expressed hope that the Taliban would build good relations with the international community, pointing out areas of cooperation around counterterrorism, opium eradication and the reduction of refugees to the West.

    Although he sought to convey a much more tolerant image of the Taliban, Mr. Mujahid did confirm one report: Music will not be allowed in public.

    “Music is forbidden in Islam,” he said, “but we’re hoping that we can persuade people not to do such things, instead of pressuring them.”

    Matthieu Aikins and

    Selling bread on a street in Kabul on Saturday.
    Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

    The Americans are all but gone, the Afghan government has collapsed and the Taliban now rule the streets of Kabul. Overnight, millions of Kabul residents have been left to navigate an uncertain transition after 20 years of U.S.-backed rule.

    Government services are largely unavailable. Residents are struggling to lead their daily lives in an ecconomy that, propped up for the past generation by American aid, is now in free fall. Banks are closed, cash is growing scarce, and food prices are rising.

    Yet relative calm has reigned over Kabul, the capital, in sharp contrast to the chaos at its airport. Many residents are hiding in their homes or venturing out only cautiously to see what life might be like under their new rulers.

    Even residents who said they feared the Taliban were struck by the relative order and quiet, but for some the calm has been ominous.

    A resident named Mohib said that streets were deserted in his section of the city, with people hunkering down in their homes, “scared and terrorized.”

    “People feel the Taliban may come any moment to take away everything from them,” he said.

    Outside the international airport in Kabul on Wednesday. The biggest immediate threat to the Americans and the Taliban as the United States escalates its evacuation is ISIS-K, the Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan.
    Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

    WASHINGTON — The United States has been battling the Taliban and their militant partners in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda and the Haqqani network, for 20 years.

    But the biggest immediate threat to both the Americans and the Taliban as the United States escalates its evacuation at the Kabul airport before an Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline is a common rival that is lesser known: Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K, the terrorist group’s affiliate in Afghanistan.

    Created six years ago by disaffected Pakistani Taliban, ISIS-K has carried out dozens of attacks in Afghanistan this year. American military and intelligence analysts say threats from the group include a bomb-laden truck, suicide bombers infiltrating the crowd outside Hamid Karzai International Airport and mortar strikes against the airfield.

    These threats, coupled with new demands by the Taliban for the United States to leave by Aug. 31, probably influenced President Biden’s decision on Tuesday to stick to that deadline. “Every day we’re on the ground is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both U.S. and allied forces and innocent civilians,” Mr. Biden said.

    The threats lay bare a complicated dynamic between the Taliban, Al Qaeda and the Haqqani network, and their bitter rival, ISIS-K, in what analysts say portends a bloody struggle involving thousands of foreign fighters on both sides.

    A United Nations report in June concluded that 8,000 to 10,000 fighters from Central Asia, the North Caucasus region of Russia, Pakistan and the Xinjiang region in western China have poured into Afghanistan in recent months. Most are associated with the Taliban or Al Qaeda, the report said, but others are allied with ISIS-K.

    “Afghanistan has now become the Las Vegas of the terrorists, of the radicals and of the extremists,” said Ali Mohammad Ali, a former Afghan security official. “People all over the world, radicals and extremists, are chanting, celebrating the Taliban victory. This is paving the way for other extremists to come to Afghanistan.”

    Adam Nossiter contributed reporting from Paris.

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    Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Germany would continue to support Afghans remaining in the country after the U.S. withdraws troops and ends its evacuation mission.CreditCredit…Tobias Schwarz/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    Germany will maintain support for Afghans who remain in their country after the deadline for the U.S. troop withdrawal and evacuation mission passes in six days, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday. She also called for talks with the Taliban to preserve progress made in Afghanistan in the last two decades.

    Speaking to a session of Parliament convened to discuss the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan, the chancellor defended Germany’s decision to join the international intervention there in 2001.

    “Our goal must be to preserve as much as possible what we have achieved in terms of changes in Afghanistan in the last 20 years,” Ms. Merkel told lawmakers. “This is something the international community must talk about with the Taliban.”

    She cited changes such as improved access to basic necessities, with 70 percent of Afghans now having access to clean drinking water and 90 percent having access to electricity, in addition to better health care for women.

    “But what is clear is that the Taliban are reality in Afghanistan and many people are afraid,” Ms. Merkel said. “This new reality is bitter, but we must come to terms with it.”

    Germany pulled its last contingent of soldiers, about 570 troops, out of Afghanistan in June, but several hundred Germans were still engaged in development work funded by Berlin, and the German government believed they would be able to remain in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of U.S. and international forces.

    Ms. Merkel defended her government’s decision to leave development workers on the ground, saying that they had hoped to continue to provide essential support for Afghans after the troop withdrawal, and that an earlier retreat could have appeared as if they were abandoning people.

    “At that time there were very good reasons to stand beside the people in Afghanistan after the troops were gone,” Ms. Merkel said.

    But the opposition leaders criticized her government for not developing a plan to bring people to safety in the spring, when other European countries were evacuating citizens and Afghan support staff.

    “The situation in Afghanistan is a catastrophe, but it did not come out of nowhere,” said Christian Lindner, the head of the Free Democratic Party, which together with the Green Party petitioned Parliament in June to begin evacuations of German staff and Afghans who could be in danger.

    Ms. Merkel did not apologize, instead calling for a deeper examination of where the West went wrong in Afghanistan and what lessons could be learned. That will be the work of the next government, as she is stepping down after the German elections on Sept. 26.

    “Many things in history take a long time. That is why we must not and will not forget Afghanistan,” said Ms. Merkel, who was raised in communist East Germany.

    “Even if it doesn’t look like it in this bitter hour,” she said, “I remain convinced that no force or ideology can resist the drive for justice and peace.”

    A C-17 military transport plane taking off from the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday.
    Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

    When President Biden briefly referred to the Berlin airlift — the operation 73 years ago to feed a city whose access had been choked off by the Soviet Union — in describing the United States’ evacuation efforts in Afghanistan, he was revealing the inspiration for a broader plan to redeem America’s messy exit.

    After 10 days of missed signals, desperate crowds and violence around Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Mr. Biden and his team are eager to shift the narrative about the chaotic end of America’s longest war.

    Jake Sullivan, his national security adviser, said on Monday that the scores of rescue flights the United States was initiating each day were likely to be regarded as “one of the largest airlifts in history.”

    “There is no other country in the world who could pull something like this off — bar none,” he said.

    As of Tuesday evening, 12,000 people had been evacuated from Kabul during the previous 12 hours, Biden said. That brought the total number evacuated since the end of July to 75,900 people, the president said.

    The comparison to the rescue operation in Berlin is not a bad one. Berlin had been divided since the end of World War II, and tensions were growing. The United States and Britain took to the sky to carry in material by plane.

    The two countries managed to get just shy of 300,000 flights into Berlin over 11 months, from June 24, 1948, to May 11, 1949, and the State Department’s record notes that “at the height of the campaign, one plane landed every 45 seconds at Tempelhof Airport,” which until recently was Berlin’s main air hub.

    People protest the situation in Afghanistan in front of the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva last week.
    Credit…Martial Trezzini/KEYSTONE, via Associated Press

    The United Nations leadership faced growing anger from staff unions Wednesday over what some called its failure to protect Afghan co-workers and their families, who remain stuck in Afghanistan at the mercy of the Taliban even as the majority of the organization’s non-Afghan staff have been relocated to other countries.

    Many of the Afghan employees, their foreign colleagues say, are in hiding or are reluctant to keep working, fearful of reprisals by triumphant Taliban militants who may perceive them as apostates, traitors and agents of foreign interference.

    That fear has persisted even though the Taliban’s hierarchy has indicated that the U.N. should be permitted to work in the country unimpeded during and after the forces of the United States and NATO withdraw, a pullout that is officially scheduled for completion in less than a week.

    An internal U.N. document reported by Reuters on Wednesday said Taliban operatives had detained and beaten some Afghan employees of the United Nations. Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for Secretary General António Guterres, did not confirm or deny the report but said it was “critical is that the authorities in charge in Kabul and throughout Afghanistan realize that they have the responsibility to protect U.N. premises and for the safety of U.N. staff.”

    Mr. Guterres has repeatedly said the U.N. fully supports the Afghan staff, who are said to number between 3,000 and 3,400, and that he is doing everything in his power to ensure their safety. Mr. Dujarric said about 10 percent of those Afghan workers are women, who are especially at risk of facing Taliban repression.

    The secretary general reiterated his assurances during a private virtual town hall meeting on Wednesday with staff members, said Mr. Dujarric, who told reporters that Mr. Guterres “understands the staff’s deep anxiety about what the future holds.”

    But rank-and-file staff members of the United Nations have grown increasingly skeptical of Mr. Guterres’s pronouncements. A resolution passed on Tuesday by the U.N. staff union in New York urged Mr. Guterres to take steps that would enable Afghan staff members to avoid “unacceptable residual risks by using evacuation from Afghanistan as soon as possible.”

    U.N. officials have said they are powerless to issue visas to Afghan personnel without cooperation from other countries willing to host them. U.N. officials also have said the organization remains committed to providing services in Afghanistan, where roughly half the population needs humanitarian aid. Such services, including food and health care, are impossible to conduct without local staff.

    The town hall was held a few days after a second batch of non-Afghan U.N. staff had been airlifted from Kabul. Many of the roughly 350 non-Afghan U.N. personnel who had been in the country, including Deborah Lyons, head of the U.N. Assistance Mission for Afghanistan, are now working remotely from Almaty, Kazakhstan.

    The unequal treatment of non-Afghan and Afghan personnel working for the U.N. has become an increasingly bitter sore point between management and staff at the global organization. An online petition started this past weekend by staff union members calling on Mr. Guterres to do more to help Afghan employees and their families had, as of Wednesday, garnered nearly 6,000 signatures.

    Correction: 

    An earlier version of this item misidentified the U.N. staff union organization that passed a resolution urging the U.N. secretary general to help Afghan employees evacuate Afghanistan. It was the U.N. staff union in New York, not the coordinating committee of the association of staff unions.

    A defaced beauty shop window display in Kabul on Sunday.
    Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

    When the Taliban were last in power, Afghan women were generally not allowed to leave their homes except under certain narrowly defined conditions. Those who did risked being beaten, tortured or executed.

    In the days since the Taliban swept back into control, their leaders have insisted that this time will be different. Women, they say, will be allowed to work. Girls will be free to attend school. At least within the confines of their interpretation of Islam.

    But early signs have not been promising, and that pattern continued on Tuesday with a statement from a Taliban spokesman that women should stay home, at least for now. Why? Because some of the militants have not yet been trained not to hurt them, he said.

    The spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, called it a “temporary” policy intended to protect women until the Taliban could ensure their safety.

    “We are worried our forces who are new and have not been yet trained very well may mistreat women,” Mr. Mujahid said. “We don’t want our forces, God forbid, to harm or harass women.”

    Mr. Mujahid said that women should stay home “until we have a new procedure,” and that “their salaries will paid in their homes.”

    His statement echoed comments from Ahmadullah Waseq, the deputy of the Taliban’s cultural affairs committee, who told The New York Times this week that the Taliban had “no problem with working women,” as long as they wore hijabs.

    But, he said: “For now, we are asking them to stay home until the situation gets normal. Now it is a military situation.”

    During the first years of Taliban rule, from 1996 to 2001, women were forbidden to work outside the home or even to leave the house without a male guardian. They could not attend school, and faced public flogging if they were found to have violated morality rules, like one requiring that they be fully covered.

    The claim that restrictions on women’s lives are a temporary necessity is not new to Afghan women. The Taliban made similar claims the last time they controlled Afghanistan, said Heather Barr, the associate director of women’s rights at Human Rights Watch.

    “The explanation was that the security was not good, and they were waiting for security to be better, and then women would be able to have more freedom,” she said. “But of course in those years they were in power, that moment never arrived — and I can promise you Afghan women hearing this today are thinking it will never arrive this time either.”

    Brian Castner, a senior crisis adviser at Amnesty International who was in Afghanistan until last week, said that if the Taliban intended to treat women better, they would need to retrain their forces. “You can’t have a movement like the Taliban that has operated a certain way for 25 years and then just because you take over a government, all of the fighters and everyone in your organization just does something differently,” he said.

    But, Mr. Castner said, there is no indication that the Taliban intend to fulfill that or any other promises of moderation. Amnesty International has received reports of fighters going door to door with lists of names, despite their leaders’ public pledges not to retaliate against Afghans who worked with the previous government.

    “The rhetoric and the reality are not matching at all, and I think that the rhetoric is more than just disingenuous,” Mr. Castner said. “If a random Taliban fighter commits a human rights abuse or violation, that’s just kind of random violence, that’s one thing. But if there’s a systematic going to people’s homes and looking for people, that’s not a random fighter that’s untrained — that’s a system working. The rhetoric is a cover for what’s really happening.”

    In Kabul on Wednesday, women in parts of the city with minimal Taliban presence were going out “with normal clothes, as it was before the Taliban,” said a resident named Shabaka. But in central areas with many Taliban fighters, few women ventured out, and those who did wore burqas, said Sayed, a civil servant.

    Ms. Barr, of Human Rights Watch, said that in the week since the Taliban said the new government would preserve women’s rights “within the bounds of Islamic law,” the Afghan women she has spoken to offered the same skeptical assessment: “They’re trying to look normal and legitimate, and this will last as long as the international community and the international press are still there. And then we’ll see what they’re really like again.”

    It might not take long, Ms. Barr suggested.

    “This announcement just highlights to me that they don’t feel like they need to wait,” she said.

    The New York Times’s Afghanistan staff and their families arriving at Benito Juárez International Airport in Mexico City on Wednesday.
    Credit…Azam Ahmed/The New York Times

    A group of Afghans who worked for The New York Times, along with their families, touched down safely early Wednesday — not in New York or Washington, but at Benito Juárez International Airport in Mexico City.

    Mexican officials, unlike their counterparts in the United States, were able to cut through the red tape of their immigration system to quickly provide documents that, in turn, allowed the Afghans to fly from Kabul’s embattled airport to Qatar.

    The documents promised that the Afghans would receive temporary humanitarian protection in Mexico while they explored further options in the United States or elsewhere.

    “We are right now committed to a foreign policy promoting free expression, liberties and feminist values,” Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said in a telephone interview.

    He cited a national tradition of welcoming people including the 19th-century Cuban independence leader José Martí, German Jews and South Americans fleeing coups, and he said that Mexico had opened its doors to the Afghan journalists “in order to protect them and to be consistent with this policy.”

    But the path of the Afghan journalists and their families to Mexico was as arbitrary, personal and tenuous as anything else in the frantic and scattershot evacuation of Kabul.

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    A group of former mujahedeen fighters and Afghan Army commandos rallied 70 miles north of Kabul in the Panjshir Valley, the last area of Afghanistan not under Taliban control.CreditCredit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

    Just days after the Taliban swept into Kabul and toppled Afghanistan’s government, a group of former mujahedeen fighters and Afghan commandos said they had begun a war of resistance in the last area of the country that is not under Taliban control: a narrow valley with a history of repelling invaders.

    The man leading them is Ahmad Massoud, the 32-year-old son of the storied mujahedeen commander Ahmad Shah Massoud. And their struggle faces long odds: The resistance fighters are surrounded by the Taliban, have supplies that will soon start dwindling and have no visible outside support.

    For now the resistance has merely two assets: the Panjshir Valley, 70 miles north of Kabul, which has a history of repelling invaders, and the legendary Massoud name.

    Spokesmen for Ahmad Massoud insist that he has attracted thousands of soldiers to the valley, including remnants of the Afghan Army’s special forces and some of his father’s experienced guerrilla commanders, as well as activists and others who reject the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate.

    The spokesmen, some of whom were with him in the Panjshir Valley and some who were outside the country drumming up support, said that Mr. Massoud has stocks of weapons and matériel, including American helicopters, but needs more.

    ‘‘We’re waiting for some opportunity, some support,” said Hamid Saifi, a former colonel in the Afghan National Army, and now a commander in Mr. Massoud’s resistance, who was reached in the Panjshir Valley by telephone on Sunday. “Maybe some countries will be ready for this great work. So far, all countries we talked to are quiet. America, Europe, China, Russia, all of them are quiet.’’

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    Pelosi: ‘Real Concern’ Over Lawmakers’ Kabul Trip

    Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged lawmakers not to travel to Afghanistan against government advisement, after Representatives Seth Moulton and Peter Meijer, both veterans, secretly flew to Kabul unauthorized to witness evacuations.

    There’s a real concern about members being in the region. And so, with the, shall we say, shall we say, knowledge of the Secretary of Defense as to what the risk would be to these members, the resources necessary to facilitate their visit and to protect them was an opportunity cost of what we needed to do to be evacuating as many people as possible. Point is, is that we don’t want anybody to think that this was a good idea and that they should try to follow suit. Again, I haven’t — I’ve been busy — it’s an important thing we want to make sure they were safe for themselves, but also for what consequences could flow and ramification if something happened to them while they were there. So they have to make their own case as to why they went and this or that. But it is, it was not, in my view, a good idea.

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    Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged lawmakers not to travel to Afghanistan against government advisement, after Representatives Seth Moulton and Peter Meijer, both veterans, secretly flew to Kabul unauthorized to witness evacuations.CreditCredit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

    Two members of Congress secretly flew to Kabul without authorization on Tuesday to witness the frenzied evacuation of Americans and Afghans, infuriating Biden administration officials and prompting Speaker Nancy Pelosi to urge other lawmakers not to follow their example.

    The two members — Representatives Seth Moulton, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Peter Meijer, Republican of Michigan, both veterans — said in a statement that the purpose of their trip was “to provide oversight on the executive branch.” Both lawmakers have blistered the Biden administration in recent weeks, accusing top officials of dragging their feet on evacuating American citizens and Afghan allies.

    “There is no place in the world right now where oversight matters more,” they said.

    Credit…Erin Schaff for The New York Times
    Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

    But administration officials were furious that Mr. Moulton and Mr. Meijer had entered Afghanistan on an unauthorized, undisclosed trip, arguing that efforts to tend to the lawmakers had drained resources badly needed to help evacuate those already in the country.

    The trip was reported earlier by The Associated Press.

    Mr. Moulton and Mr. Meijer said that they had left Afghanistan “on a plane with empty seats, seated in crew-only seats to ensure that nobody who needed a seat would lose one because of our presence,” and that they had taken other steps to “minimize the risk and disruption to the people on the ground.” They were in Kabul for less than 24 hours.

    Still, Ms. Pelosi pressed other lawmakers not to do the same.

    “Member travel to Afghanistan and the surrounding countries would unnecessarily divert needed resources from the priority mission of safely and expeditiously evacuating Americans and Afghans at risk from Afghanistan,” Ms. Pelosi wrote in a letter. She did not refer to Mr. Moulton and Mr. Meijer by name.

    In their statement on Tuesday night, the congressmen sharpened their criticism of the administration’s handling of the evacuation, saying that “Washington should be ashamed of the position we put our service members in” and that the situation they had witnessed on the ground was more dire than they had expected.

    “After talking with commanders on the ground and seeing the situation here, it is obvious that because we started the evacuation so late,” they wrote, “that no matter what we do, we won’t get everyone out on time.”

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    Apple and Google’s Fight in Seoul Tests Biden in Washington

    WASHINGTON — For months, Apple and Google have been fighting a bill in the South Korean legislature that they say could imperil their lucrative app store businesses. The companies have appealed directly to South Korean lawmakers, government officials and the public to try to block the legislation, which is expected to face a crucial vote this week.

    The companies have also turned to an unlikely ally, one that is also trying to quash their power: the United States government. A group funded by the companies has urged trade officials in Washington to push back on the legislation, arguing that targeting American firms could violate a joint trade agreement.

    The South Korean legislation would be the first law in the world to require companies that operate app stores to let users in Korea pay for in-app purchases using a variety of payment systems. It would also prohibit blocking developers from listing their products on other app stores.

    How the White House responds to this proposal poses an early test for the Biden administration: Will it defend tech companies facing antitrust scrutiny abroad while it applies that same scrutiny to the companies at home?

    executive order to spur competition in the industry, and his top two antitrust appointees have long been vocal critics of the companies.

    The approach the White House chooses may have widespread implications for the industry, and for the shape of the internet around the world. A growing number of countries are pursuing stricter regulations on Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, fragmenting the rules of the global internet.

    American officials have echoed some of the industry’s complaints about the proposal, saying in a March report it appeared to target American companies. But trade officials have yet to take a formal position on it, said Adam Hodge, a spokesman for the United States Trade Representative. He said officials were still considering how to balance the claim that the legislation discriminates against American companies with the belief among tech critics in South Korea and America that the legislation would level the playing field.

    “We are engaging a range of stakeholders to gather facts as legislation is considered in Korea, recognizing the need to distinguish between discrimination against American companies and promoting competition,” Mr. Hodge said in a statement.

    Apple said that it regularly dealt with the United States government on a range of topics. During those interactions it discussed the South Korean app store legislation with American officials, including at the U. S. Embassy in Seoul, the company said in a statement.

    The company said the legislation would “put users who purchase digital goods from other sources at risk of fraud, undermine their privacy protections, make it difficult to manage their purchases” and endanger parental controls.

    A Google spokeswoman, Julie Tarallo McAlister, said in a statement that Google was open to “exploring alternative approaches” but believed the legislation would harm consumers and software developers.

    The proposal was approved by a committee in the Korean National Assembly last month, over the opposition of some in the Korean government. It could get a vote in the body’s judiciary committee as soon as this week. It would then require a vote from the full assembly and the signature of President Moon Jae-in to become law.

    The proposal would have a major impact on Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store.

    The Google store accounted for 75 percent of global app downloads in the second quarter of 2021, according to App Annie, an analytics company. Apple’s marketplace accounted for 65 percent of consumer spending on in-app purchases or subscriptions.

    One way software developers make money is by selling products directly in their apps, like Fortnite’s in-game currency or a subscription to The New York Times. Apple has insisted for years that developers sell those in-app products through the company’s own payment system, which takes up to a 30 percent cut of many sales. Last year, Google indicated it would follow suit by applying a 30 percent cut to more purchases than it had in the past. Developers say that the fees are far too steep.

    After South Korean lawmakers proposed the app store bill last year, the Information Technology Industry Council, a Washington-based group that counts Apple and Google as members, urged the United States Trade Representative to include concerns about the legislation in an annual report highlighting “barriers” to foreign trade. The group said in October that the rules could violate a 2007 accord that says neither country can discriminate against firms with headquarters in the other.

    Apple said that it was not unusual for an industry group to provide feedback to the trade representative. The company said the government had explicitly asked for comment on potentially discriminatory laws. In a statement, Naomi Wilson, the trade group’s vice president of policy for Asia, said that it encouraged “legislators to work with industry to re-examine the obligations for app markets set forth in the proposed measure to ensure they are not trade-restrictive and do not disproportionately affect” American companies.

    When the trade representative’s report was published in March — just weeks after Mr. Biden’s nominee to the position was sworn in — it included a paragraph that echoed some of the tech group’s concerns. The report concluded that the South Korean law’s “requirement to permit users to use outside payment services appears to specifically target U.S. providers and threatens a standard U.S. business model.”

    The American report did not say the law would violate the free trade agreement with South Korea. But in July, the managing director of a group called the Asia Internet Coalition, which lists Apple and Google as two of its members, pointed to the report when he told Korea’s trade minister that the law “could provoke trade tensions between the United States and South Korea.”

    “The Biden administration has already signaled its concerns,” the director said in a written comment in July.

    American diplomats in Seoul also raised questions about whether the legislation could cause trade tensions.

    “Google said something like that, and a similar opinion was expressed by the U.S. Embassy in Korea,” said Jo Seoung Lae, a lawmaker who backs the legislation. He added that the embassy had been in touch with his staff throughout June and July. Park Sungjoong, another lawmaker, also said that the embassy had expressed trade concerns about the law.

    Mr. Jo said that a Google representative had visited his office to express opposition to the proposal, and that Apple had also “provided their feedback” opposing the legislation.

    Mr. Jo said that he had requested that the United States provide its official position, but he said he had not received one yet.

    American trade officials sometimes defend companies even when they are criticized by others in the administration. While former President Donald J. Trump attacked a liability shield for social media platforms, known as Section 230, his trade representative wrote a similar provision into agreements with Canada, Mexico and Japan.

    But Wendy Cutler, a former official who negotiated the trade agreement between South Korea and the United States, said that it would be difficult for America to argue that the Korean rules violate trade agreements when the same antitrust issues are being debated stateside.

    “You don’t want to be calling out a country for potentially violating an obligation when at the same time your own government is questioning the practice,” said Ms. Cutler, now the vice president at the Asia Society Policy Institute. “It weakens the case substantially.”

    South Korean and American app developers have run their own campaign for the new rules, arguing it would not trigger trade tensions.

    In June, Mark Buse, the top lobbying executive at the dating app company Match Group and a former board member of a pro-regulation group called the Coalition for App Fairness, wrote to Mr. Jo, the Korean lawmaker, supporting the proposal. He said that the Biden administration knew about concerns around the tech giants, making trade tensions less likely.

    Later that month, Mr. Buse attended a virtual conference about the app store legislation hosted by K-Internet, a trade group that represents major Korean internet companies like Naver, Google’s main search competitor in South Korea, and Kakao.

    Mr. Buse, who traveled to Seoul this month to press the case for the legislation on behalf of the Coalition for App Fairness, made it clear that his employer considered it a high-stakes debate. He listed the many other countries where officials were concerned about Apple’s and Google’s practices.

    “And all of this,” he said, “is following the leadership that the Korean assembly is showing.”

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    Clark Construction Group Partners with Other Industry Leaders to Launch Construction Inclusion Week

    BETHESDA, Md.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Clark Construction Group is proud to announce the company’s participation as a founding member of Construction Inclusion Week, an initiative to build awareness, celebrate diversity and equity, and foster inclusion across the construction industry.

    In 2020, Clark joined fellow general contractors DPR, Turner, Gilbane, Mortenson, and McCarthy, to form the “Time for Change” consortium to identify ways to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion within the construction industry. Through this effort, Construction Inclusion Week was created. The inaugural week-long event, which kicks off on October 18, 2021, is open to the entire industry.

    The theme for this year’s Construction Inclusion Week is “Building the Foundation for Inclusion.” Topics will include leadership commitment and accountability, unconscious bias, supplier diversity, jobsite culture, and community service and outreach.

    “As business leaders, we have a unique opportunity to leverage our collective voices and resources to identify and solve key industry and societal challenges,” said Robby Moser, president and chief executive officer for Clark Construction. “Clark is honored to be part of this industrywide journey to build and foster a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion, where our people and communities can thrive.”

    Clark is continuously evaluating ways to strengthen its Inclusion & Diversity strategy, which is anchored by four key tenets.

    These pillars inform the company’s efforts to foster meaningful change and yield a more diverse and inclusive business, industry, and society.

    Like Construction Safety Week, Construction Inclusion Week demonstrates how a united industry can collectively set expectations for behaviors that foster positive and lasting change. Participating firms will have access to materials and resources such as toolkits and conversation guides to bring awareness to diversity, equity, and inclusion concepts for jobsites, teams, and organizations.

    Visit www.constructioninclusionweek.com to sign up and learn more.

    About Clark Construction Group

    Clark Construction Group is one of the nation’s most experienced and respected providers of building and civil construction services companies with annual revenues of approximately $5 billion. Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, the company has offices strategically located to serve clients throughout the country. For more information, visit www.clarkconstruction.com.

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    Afghanistan Live Updates: Biden Says U.S. Forces Will Stay in Kabul to Get All Americans Out

    Norwegian Center for Global Analyses, a group that provides intelligence information to agencies of the global organization. It was shared internally at the United Nations and seen by The New York Times.

    Members of the Afghan military and the police, as well as those who worked for investigative units of the toppled government, were particularly at risk, the document said.

    It contained a reproduced letter dated Aug. 16 from the Taliban to an unnamed counterterrorism official in Afghanistan who had worked with U.S. and British officials and then gone into hiding before the insurgents came to the official’s apartment.

    The letter instructed the official to report to the Military and Intelligence Commission of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in Kabul. If not, it warned, the official’s family members “will be treated based on Shariah law.”

    The Taliban have repeatedly issued assurances that they will not use their victory to wreak revenge on those who opposed them. The report adds to the growing doubts about that pledge, and suggests that the Taliban may indeed engage in reprisal killings, as they did when they took over in Afghanistan more than 20 years ago.

    On Wednesday, a public display of dissent in the northeastern city of Jalalabad was met by force. Taliban soldiers fired into the crowd and beat protesters and journalists.

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    Gunfire in the Streets: Protests Met by Force in Afghanistan

    The Taliban faced off against protestors in the northeastern city of Jalalabad. Taliban soldiers fired shots into the crowd and beat protesters and journalists.

    [gunfire] [gunfire]

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    The Taliban faced off against protestors in the northeastern city of Jalalabad. Taliban soldiers fired shots into the crowd and beat protesters and journalists.CreditCredit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

    The Taliban faced the first street protests on Wednesday against their takeover of Afghanistan, with demonstrations in at least two cities, even as they moved to form a new government.

    A public display of dissent in the northeastern city of Jalalabad was met by force. Taliban soldiers fired into the crowd and beat protesters and journalists.

    The Taliban had taken control of the city, a commercial hub east of Kabul near the main border crossing with Pakistan, four days earlier without much of a fight after a deal was negotiated with local leaders. This week, the Taliban have been out in large numbers, patrolling the city in pickup trucks seized from the now defunct police force.

    Despite the risks, hundreds of protesters marched through the main shopping street, whistling, shouting and bearing large flags of the Afghan Republic. Taliban fighters fired in the air to break up the crowd, but the protesters did not disperse, video aired by local news media outlets showed.

    When that failed, the fighters resorted to violence. At least two people were killed and a dozen injured, according to Al Jazeera.

    For the new Taliban government, the jarring images of violence at the protest — as well as images of chaos and people being beaten while trying to approach Kabul’s airport in an attempt to flee the country — have undermined their efforts to present themselves as responsible stewards of the government.

    In Khost, in the southeastern part of the country, there were also demonstrations, with dramatic photos and video showing hundreds of people taking to the streets.

    The outpouring of public anger came as the Taliban prepared to offer details on the shape of their government, naming ministers and filling key positions.

    The younger brother of a top Taliban leader met in Kabul on Wednesday with former President Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the Afghan delegation to the recent peace talks in Qatar. He was accompanied by the speaker of Afghanistan’s upper house of Parliament.

    The meeting was further evidence of the group’s determination to gain international acceptance.

    It followed a news conference on Tuesday in which the Taliban offered blanket amnesty, vowing no reprisals against former enemies.

    “We don’t want Afghanistan to be a battlefield anymore,” Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s longtime chief spokesman, said. “From today onward, war is over.”

    While many were skeptical of those assurances, in Kabul the rhythms of daily life started to return — but they were in many ways circumscribed.

    There were noticeably fewer women on the streets. Some of those who ventured out did not cover up in the traditional burqa, the full-length shroud that covers the face that was required the last time the Taliban ruled. At homes and businesses, a knock on the door could stir fear.

    It remains to be seen whether the pragmatic needs of a nation of 38 million will continue to temper the ideological fanaticism that defined the group’s rule from 1996 to 2001. But the country the Taliban now control is vastly changed from two decades ago.

    The progress of women — women in critical roles in civil society and millions of girls in school — is the most visible example. But years of Western investment in the country also helped rebuild a nation that was in a state of ruin when the Taliban first emerged.

    The protests offered early signs that many Afghans will not simply accept Taliban rule.

    The Afghan government’s failure to meet people’s basic needs helped fuel support for the Taliban. That allowed them to sweep across the country swiftly — often not by military force, but by negotiation with frustrated local leaders.

    On Wednesday, at a riverside market in Kabul, Jawed was selling apples. Born the year the Taliban were ousted from power, he was not old enough to remember their brutal reign.

    His concern this week was getting supplies of fruit from Pakistan. That was now easier, he said.

    “The roads are clear now — they are quiet,” said Jawed, who goes by one name. For now, the Taliban meant more order in the traffic, and wholesale prices had dropped. But business was not better.

    “The people are afraid right now — they’re not buying,” he said. “But at least it is better than yesterday. Things will slowly improve. The mullahs have arrived.”

    The arrival of the Taliban mullahs — a reference to group’s religious leaders — also set off widespread fear.

    Tens of thousands are still trying to escape. People lined up early at the banks, worried that there wouldn’t be money to feed their families. And the deployment of soldiers at checkpoints across Kabul made it clear that Taliban have a monopoly on the use of force and would decide how and when to use it.

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    Taliban Fire Gunshots Outside Kabul Airport

    Gunshots rang out as thousands of Afghans crowded outside Kabul’s international airport attempting to flee the country. The Taliban controlled the chaotic streets surrounding the airport, while the U.S. military established control inside.

    [gunfire] [sirens]

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    Gunshots rang out as thousands of Afghans crowded outside Kabul’s international airport attempting to flee the country. The Taliban controlled the chaotic streets surrounding the airport, while the U.S. military established control inside.CreditCredit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

    Chaos erupted outside Kabul’s international airport on Wednesday as thousands of people tried to make their way there to flee Afghanistan. The sound of heavy gunfire echoed through the streets leading to the facility.

    There were conflicting reports about what exactly was happening on the streets outside the airport, which the Taliban now control.

    A NATO security official at the airport told Reuters that 17 people had been injured in a stampede at one gate to the airport.

    People were still camping out near the airport’s gates. Whole families sat under rows of pine trees lining the main airport road, while others, carrying sparse belongings, were still trying to gain entrance, to little avail. The Taliban still had their men stationed at the entrances. There were volleys of rifle fire, pushing, pulling and beating with wooden sticks, Kalashnikovs and pieces of cut hoses.

    At one gate, Taliban members had positioned themselves on concrete road dividers overlooking the crowd. Their commander, Kalashnikov slung around the shoulder and megaphone in hand, told the people: “This gate is closed. Only foreigners and people with documents allowed.”

    Although the U.S. military has established control inside the airport and military flights have resumed, the situation outside on Wednesday was volatile.

    The Taliban have sought to present a kinder and gentler image of an Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to the world, but scenes near the airport offered a bloody counterpoint. Taliban members at times beat people with rifle butts and clubs to force back the crowd trying to get in.

    Images taken on Tuesday by Marcus Yam, a photographer for the Los Angeles Times, were graphic: a man cradling a child with a bloodied forehead. A woman who appeared to be unconscious lying in the road a few feet away, blood streaming down her cheek.

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    Prominent Afghans in the Panjshir Valley, which the Taliban do not control, do not recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan’s rightful leaders and have begun challenging their authority.CreditCredit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

    A group of Afghan leaders are trying to rally a force to resist the Taliban from the same strategic valley that two decades ago held out against the militants — and provided American spies and special forces operators a launchpad for the invasion that drove the Taliban from power in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

    Yet the parallels with that earlier fight in a pocket north of Kabul known as the Panjshir Valley, however intriguing, are limited, and even Afghans sympathetic to the effort expressed deep doubts about its prospects.

    Unlike 20 years ago, the resistance leaders do not control the territory they would need to open a supply line through Afghanistan’s northern borders, nor do they appear to have any significant international support.

    How many men and how well supplied they are material is also an open question. Former Afghan officials put the number of fighters holed up in Panjshir between 2,000 and 2,500, and they are said to have little beyond assault weapons.

    And the leaders, while well-established Afghan political and military figures, lack the charisma and military prowess of the man who led the old Northern Alliance that resisted the Taliban in the 1990s, Ahmad Shah Massoud. He was killed by assassins from Al Qaeda two days before the Sept. 11 attacks, and is now a mythic figure among the ethnic Tajiks who populate northern Afghanistan, and who made up the bulk of those who first fought Taliban rule.

    For now, though, the leaders of the movement insist that their goal is to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban on behalf of the now-defunct Afghan government, said Amrullah Saleh, one of the men organizing the resistance.

    Mr. Saleh was Afghanistan’s first vice president until Sunday, when President Ashraf Ghani fled Kabul ahead of the Taliban’s advance into the city, and he is now claiming to be the “caretaker president” under Afghanistan’s U.S.-brokered 2004 Constitution.

    “We have lost territory but not legitimacy,” he said in an interview conducted over text message. “I, as caretaker president, upholder of the Constitution, don’t see the Taliban emirate either as legitimate or national.”

    Mr. Saleh has been joined in Panjshir by Ahmad Massoud, the son of the assassinated resistance leader, and Gen. Yasin Zia, a former Afghan army chief of staff and deputy defense minister.

    Afghanistan will have “peace and stability,” said Mohammad Zahir Aghbar, an Afghan ambassador to Tajikistan aligned with the holdouts in the Panjshir Valley, “if the Taliban who are in Doha and Pakistan agree to a settlement accepting what the world is asking for.”

    Mr. Saleh said the group believed “in a genuine peace process, which doesn’t exist at the moment.”

    “Should the Taliban be ready for meaningful discussions, we will welcome it,” he said. “If they insist on military conquest, than they better read Afghan history.”

    The Panjshir Valley features prominently in that history.

    The deep and narrow gorge at the valley’s mouth was tailor-made for obstruction and ambush, and the valley held out not only against the Taliban in the 1990s but also the Soviets in the 1980s. The first Americans to enter Afghanistan in September 2001, a small Central Intelligence Agency team, went to Panjshir to secure the Northern Alliance as allies.

    Mr. Saleh said he survived “two attacks and one ambush” by Taliban fighters as he drove to Panjshir on Sunday.

    Mr. Saleh, who also previously ran Afghanistan’s spy service, the National Directorate of Security, was cagey about what size force was in Panjshir, saying that he did not want “compromise our military secrets or operational security.”

    “But we are on the top of the situation and organizing things,” he said, adding that his team was in touch with other Afghan leaders who fought the Taliban 20 years ago, though he would not name them.

    Still, it was far from clear what outside help might arrive or whether Mr. Saleh’s claim to continuity of government under the Afghan Constitution would gain traction.

    At least one place has bought in: the Afghan Embassy in Tajikistan. In the carpeted meeting rooms of the building, off a dusty, taxi-clogged street in Dushanbe, Mr. Ghani’s photographs have come down, and Mr. Saleh’s have gone up.

    Farnaz Fassihi contributed reporting from New York.

    Evacuees from Kabul are tested for Covid-19 upon their arrival at Tashkent Airport in Uzbekistan on Tuesday.
    Credit…Marc Tessensohn/Bundeswehr, via Getty Images

    World Health Organization officials warned on Wednesday that the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was impeding efforts to address the coronavirus pandemic and other dire health crises.

    Gauging the spread of the coronavirus in Afghanistan has always been difficult because of a lack of testing. The average daily number of reported new cases peaked in late June at more than 2,000 and has since fallen sharply, according to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. But it is likely that the figures do not reflect the actual spread of the virus.

    Afghanistan’s vaccination efforts have struggled since they began in the spring, beset by corruption, limited public health resources and widespread public skepticism. According to Our World in Data, less than 2 percent of Afghanistan’s population has been vaccinated.

    “In the midst of a pandemic, we’re extremely concerned by the large displacement of people and increasing cases of diarrhea, malnutrition, high blood pressure, probable cases of Covid-19 and reproductive health complications,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the W.H.O., said at a news conference.

    He said that W.H.O staff are still in Afghanistan and are “committed to delivering health services to the most vulnerable.”

    Many Afghans are vulnerable to diseases like polio, which has been eradicated in most of the world but is still endemic there. Fourteen million Afghans are suffering from hunger, United Nations officials said on Wednesday.

    Aid groups are struggling to provide humanitarian assistance inside Afghanistan, as well as to the tens of thousands of refugees a week who are fleeing to neighboring countries.

    “The utter desperation for a way out of Afghanistan speaks powerfully to the sense of fear and uncertainty among many Afghans,” said Caroline Van Buren, a representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

    Refugee camps, with their crowded and often unsanitary conditions, can become incubators for the virus, though many camps have fared better than experts initially feared they would.

    U.N. officials said that their agencies in Afghanistan were in contact with the Taliban in an effort to coordinate aid and immunizations. Ms. Van Buren said the Taliban had so far provided protection for all of the refugee agency’s offices in the country.

    At the same time, though, the Taliban have resumed some of the practices common when they held power 20 years ago. Ms. Van Buren said officials had received reports of women being prohibited from going to work, and, in some areas, barred from leaving their homes without being accompanied by a close male relative.

    Some U.N. employees are pulling out. Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesman for the United Nations secretary general, said a group was leaving Kabul for Kazakhstan on Wednesday to set up a remote office there for the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. Mr. Dujarric declined to specify exactly how many were leaving, though he said the office in Almaty was expected to employ up to 100 people.

    Germans and Afghans arriving in Frankfurt, Germany, on Wednesday after being evacuated from Kabul.
    Credit…Armando Babani/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    The fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban has sent thousands of panicked Afghans scrambling to flee the country, but panic is also being felt in some other quarters: Some European politicians are terrified of another mass movement of Muslim asylum seekers.

    An influx of migrants, they fear, may fan the embers of the far-right and populist movements that reshaped European politics after a wave of asylum seekers sought refuge from the wars in Syria and Iraq in 2015.

    In Germany, even before the first group of 19 Afghan refugees landed on Wednesday, the line was making the rounds in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative camp: “2015 mustn’t be repeated.”

    Armin Laschet, who wants to succeed Ms. Merkel as chancellor after next month’s elections, said it on Monday. A party official used the same words shortly after. And then a government minister repeated them yet again.

    Support for anti-immigrant parties has been falling, along with the number of migrants. But with important elections looming in Germany and France, the line being drawn by European leaders is early and firm.

    That means Afghans may be facing a compassion deficit in Europe that may be insurmountable.

    It is not just Europe.

    Other countries, especially the United States, faces a similar quandary over accepting Afghan asylum seekers.

    Almost everywhere, governments have expressed general willingness to accept Afghans who worked alongside American forces or international aid groups. But they are wary of committing to the many thousands more who might seek to leave to avoid life under the Taliban.

    For now, the number of migrants over land routes has been relatively low.

    “We’re talking about thousands, not hundreds of thousands, who need and deserve our help, people who are on lists because they worked with us,” said Gerald Knaus, the founding chairman of the European Stability Initiative.

    Given the overall drop in migration numbers in recent years, he said, it is “a straw man argument” to raise fears of another wave.

    A Taliban fighter in Kabul on Wednesday. According to intelligence officials, the warning that the demise of the Afghan government was days away never came.
    Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

    Intelligence reports presented to President Biden in the final days before the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan this past week failed to predict the imminence of the Afghan government’s collapse, even after warnings had grown more grim in July, senior intelligence officials acknowledged on Wednesday.

    The intelligence agencies had been stepping up their warnings about the deteriorating conditions in Afghanistan throughout the summer. Their reports grew more specific in July, noting how the Taliban had taken control of roads leading to Kabul and how the group had learned lessons from their takeover of the country in the 1990s.

    But senior administration officials acknowledged that as the pace of White House meetings on Afghanistan grew more frenzied in August and in the days leading up to the Taliban takeover this weekend, the intelligence agencies did not say the collapse was inevitable.

    Over the past year, intelligence agencies shrank their predictions of how quickly the Afghan government would fall, from two years to 18 months to six months to a month, according to current and former officials. But, according to intelligence officials, the warning that its demise was days away never came.

    “As the president indicated, this unfolded more quickly than we anticipated, including in the intelligence community,” Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence, said in a statement to The New York Times.

    Still, senior officials noted, the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies had throughout the fighting season in Afghanistan identified the risk of a rapid collapse and issued increasingly pessimistic reports about the Afghan government’s survival, particularly as President Ashraf Ghani resisted changing military strategies or creating a more inclusive government.

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    Flights took off from Kabul’s international airport as world governments worked to evacuate refugees and their citizens from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.CreditCredit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

    During the frenzied first 48 hours after the collapse of the Afghan government, the desperate scenes at Kabul’s international airport early this week drew parallels to the fall of Saigon.

    Now, even though the airport is under the control of the U.S. military and evacuation flights have been stepped up, tens of thousands of Afghans are still struggling to find a way to escape Taliban rule.

    And the American experience in Vietnam is being invoked again — as an illustration of how much more the United States could be doing if it had the political will and international support that followed the American exit from Vietnam.

    After the war in Vietnam, a bipartisan consensus and collective sense of moral responsibility helped provide the framework for Operation New Life, which swiftly evacuated 130,000 vulnerable, mainly Vietnamese, people to a makeshift refugee camp on the island of Guam. From there, they were processed and moved to temporary migration centers across the United States.

    Over the course of years of sustained efforts, 1.4 million Vietnamese people eventually settled in the country.

    Now, the United States is trying to provide safety for a far smaller number, and has struggled in that effort.

    Pentagon officials said that the pace of the current flights had quickened after more American troops arrived to secure the Kabul airport, with military planes and a smaller number of commercial flights operating.

    “There are important parallels between the aftermath of the Vietnam War and the current situation, with implications for addressing current humanitarian needs,” said Alexander Betts, a professor of forced migration and international affairs at the University of Oxford.

    “The parallels should be inspiring,” he said, “and show that with political will and international leadership, large-scale resettlement is possible.”

    But he said there was now unlikely to be the same degree of political support for admitting large numbers of refugees.

    “The politics of refugee assistance is also very different in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, including public concerns relating to security and refugees from predominantly Muslim countries,” he said.

    António Guterres at the U.N. in August.
    Credit…United Naitons/EPA, via Shutterstock

    The United Nations said Wednesday that it was temporarily relocating some of its aid workers from Afghanistan to Kazakhstan to work remotely, but stressed that it intended to maintain a presence in the country.

    “The U.N. is committed to stay and deliver in support of the Afghan people in their hour of need,” a spokesman for Secretary General António Guterres said in a statement Wednesday.

    The organization said a group of staff members was en route to Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city.

    “In light of security and other constraints in Kabul and other parts of the country at the moment,” the statement said, “it was decided to move part of the U.N. staff out of the country. Personnel will return to Afghanistan as conditions permit.”

    The announcement came as humanitarian groups that also provide badly needed aid to the people of Afghanistan were regrouping. Many indicated that they intended to stay in the country, with the Taliban assuring them that their staff would not be harmed.

    “At this point, we have not received any specific threat for any of our offices,” Hassan Noor, Asia regional director for Save the Children, said in a briefing on Wednesday. He said Taliban representatives had met with the charity’s staff and told them they would not face consequences for delivering services.

    The organization, which offers health, education and nutrition support to Afghan children, said that its staff members — almost 1,800 people working across 10 provinces — would remain in Afghanistan to try to deliver services, depending on how the situation unfolded, and that many humanitarian organizations had also opted to stay.

    But as of Saturday, Save the Children programs, which reached about 1.6 million Afghans in 2020, were temporarily suspended, and Mr. Noor said the group had been working on safeguarding workers, some of whom had already been relocated.

    “We are extremely concerned about our staff,” he said, “and that is our top priority at the moment.”

    Information about the situation on the ground in Afghanistan remains “very murky,” said Mr. Noor, but even before last week, some three million people had already been reported displaced. About 14 million people were having trouble meeting daily food requirements because of an enduring drought in Afghanistan, and some two million children depended on nutrition services to survive.

    Girls at a school in Sheberghan, Afghanistan, this year.
    Credit…Kiana Hayeri for The New York Times

    The previous Taliban rule in Afghanistan, from 1996 to 2001, was a bleak period for Afghan women, who were barred from working outside the home or leaving the house without a male guardian. The Taliban eliminated schooling for girls and publicly flogged people who violated the group’s morality code.

    The question now is whether the Taliban’s interpretation of Islamic law will be as draconian as when the group last held power.

    Taliban officials are trying to reassure women that things will be different this time. In a news conference in Kabul on Tuesday, a Taliban spokesman said that women would be allowed to work and study. Another Taliban official said that women should participate in government.

    “We assure that there will be no violence against women,” the spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said. “No prejudice against women will be allowed, but the Islamic values are our framework.” Pressed for details, he said only that women could participate in society “within the bounds of Islamic law.”

    But there are scattered signs that, at least in some areas, the Taliban have begun to reimpose the old order.

    Women in some provinces have been told not to leave home without a male relative escorting them. In Herat, in western Afghanistan, Taliban gunmen guarded the university’s gates and prevented female students and instructors from entering the campus on Tuesday, witnesses said.

    In the southern city of Kandahar, women’s health care clinics were shut down, a resident said. In some districts, girls’ schools have been closed since the Taliban seized control of them in November.

    Women there said they were starting to wear the head-to-toe burqa in the street, partly in fear and partly in anticipation of restrictions ordered by the Taliban.

    At Kabul University, in the capital, female students were told they were not allowed to leave their dorm rooms unless accompanied by a male guardian. Two students said they were effectively trapped because they had no male relatives in the city.

    In Mazar-i-Sharif, in northern Afghanistan, Aliya Kazimy, a 27-year-old university professor, said that women shopping alone in the city’s bazaar had been turned away and told to return with male guardians.

    “I am from the generation that had a lot of opportunities after the fall of the Taliban 20 years ago,” she said in a text message. “I was able to achieve my goals of studying, and for a year I’ve been a university professor, and now my future is dark and uncertain. All these years of working hard and dreaming were for nothing. And the little girls who are just starting out, what future awaits them?”

    China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, right, with the Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, during a meeting in Tianjin in July.
    Credit…Li Ran/Xinhua, via Associated Press

    For China’s leaders, the chaotic scenes unfolding in Afghanistan have served as stinging vindication of their hostility to American might. But any smugness in Beijing could be premature.

    China is now left scrambling to judge how the American defeat could reshape the contest between the world’s two great powers. While the Taliban’s rout has weakened American prestige and its influence on China’s western frontier, it could also create new geopolitical dangers and security risks.

    Officials in Beijing worry that extremists could use Afghanistan to regroup on China’s flank and sow violence around the region, even as the Taliban look to deep-pocketed countries like China for aid and investment. The American military withdrawal could also allow the United States to direct its planning and matériel toward countering Chinese power across Asia.

    “There should be anxiety rather than glee in Beijing,” said John Delury, a professor of Chinese studies at Yonsei University in Seoul. “Ending the military presence in Afghanistan frees up resources and attention to focus on the long-term rivalry with China.”

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