The catastrophic collapse of the U.S.-backed Afghanistan government following the total withdrawal of U.S. forces, and the Taliban takeover of most all of Afghanistan has threatened the lives of over 200,000 Afghans who had stood for 20 years side-by-side with U.S. forces and supported U.S. anti-Taliban policies and counter-insurgency activities.
Tragically, the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan – including from the formerly safe operational haven of Bagram Air Force Base – left the U.S. government without the capability to move the 200,00+ Afghans to the sole remaining exit portal: “inside the wire” at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. Five thousand specially-deployed U.S. Forces retained control of and operated this single airport to make possible the airlift evacuation of such massive numbers of Afghanis up through August 31.
A heroic group of private individuals and organizations who had affinity with Afghanistan and its people stepped in to fill the void on the ground – to do all things possible using private resources to move friends and colleagues to and through the gates of Hamid Karzai Airport and onto emergency evacuation flights to dozens of points in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and North America.
Over the past two weeks, Aliant attorney Timothy Mills (managing partner of the Washington, D.C.-based international law firms Asia & Middle East International Law Group and Mills Law Group) provided urgent and significant U.S. government relations assistance to the private groups who were working to evacuate Afghanis from harm’s way.
Drawing on more than 30 years’ experience in advocacy at the highest levels of both the U.S. government, including the White House and the Congress, and 17 years of advocacy experience at the United Nations, centering on the Office of the Secretary General, Attorney Mills performed an essential coordinating role with those highest level authorities, including Congressional and Senate offices, the U.S. Central Command 4-star Commanding General’s office and the United Nations Secretary General’s office, to get the U.S. gatekeepers at the Hamid Karzai International Airport to admit Afghans into the airport and onto evacuation flights – even when they had been turned away previously.
The teams assisted by Attorney Mills led to the evacuation of more than 150 Afghans who otherwise would have been left behind – including 42 who were among the last to be evacuated. Consequently, we are part of a network that extends to the highest levels of the Governments of Qatar, the UK, France, Germany, Mexico and the United States.
To continue the important work of evacuating the more than 100,000 Afghans still are left behind, Attorney Mills and his law firms are moving to establish an international Coordinating Council to capture and institutionalize the involvements of private sector volunteers who were instrumental in evacuating larger numbers of Afghans, with a view to securing funding that will allow this work to continue by converting the volunteer network to a paid professional organization that involves those people and entities.
Any Aliant member who knows of any at-risk Afghans who need assistance in fleeing Afghanistan should immediately make this known by emailing Attorney Mills at firstname.lastname@example.org to secure his assistance.