US to house Afghan interpreters at bases in Qatar and Kuwait: Reports
The United States will use military bases in Qatar and Kuwait to temporarily house thousands of Afghan interpreters and translators who assisted the Pentagon during the war and now face retribution from the Taliban.
Media reports quoting a congressional source said on Wednesday that arrangements with the two Arab countries are “basically done deals.”
Neither country has approved Washington’s request to host the Afghans, but an agreement is “close,” according to a US official whose name was not mentioned in the reports.
The White House has also considering evacuating the Afghans to a third country until their US visas are granted.
According to Press TV, US State Department Spokesman Ned Price said on Tuesday that the Fort Lee base in Virginia will serve as “the initial relocation site for the pool of applicants who are closest to completing special immigrant processing.”
On Monday, the Pentagon Press Secretary, John Kirby, said Fort Lee will briefly host up to 2,500 applicants and their families who have completed the security vetting process. Kirby added that the Defense Department was considering relocating another batch of 2,500 Afghan nationals at separate military installations.
In recent weeks, the administration of President Joe Biden has come under intense bipartisan pressure to fast-track thousands of pending applications for the Special Immigrant Visa program.
The Biden administration was reportedly also looking at US bases elsewhere in West Asia, Europe and the Asia-Pacific to house additional applicants at different stages in the process.
Meanwhile, the White House has opened talks with the government of Uzbekistan to temporarily house the Afghan nationals it had employed for its campaign in Afghanistan.
Before talking to Uzbekistan, the White House had made a failed attempt to resolve the matter through Tajikistan.