Live: Blinken Is Grilled on Afghanistan in Congress


Secretary of Condition Antony J. Blinken looked after the Biden administration’s choice to withdraw American makes and diplomats from Afghanistan on Monday, saying there was clearly no evidence that the nation would have stabilized had the usa remained, and that there was absolutely no way to predict its fall as the Taliban advanced.

In his first public comments to Congress, Mr. Blinken enumerated the efforts the usa has made to extract Us citizens from Afghanistan since the charge closed and the military left at the end of August. More than fifty American citizens and legal inhabitants have departed Afghanistan during the last several days alone, about what Mr. Blinken described as the mission with no deadline.

This individual also repeated his dedication to Afghans who got worked for the United States or perhaps openly advocated its guidelines during the 20-year war plus who now are susceptible to Taliban retribution.

But , Mister. Blinken said, “it had been time to end America’s greatest war, ” and he provided no indication that Mister. Biden had ever reconsidered that decision.

“There’s no proof that staying longer might have made the Afghan protection forces or the Afghan authorities any more resilient or self-sustaining, ” Mr. Blinken informed the House Foreign Affairs Panel, in a live teleconference contact. “If 20 years and numerous billions of dollars in assistance, equipment, and training failed to suffice, why would an additional year, or five, or even ten, make a difference? ”

In the opening remarks, Mr. Blinken also briefly described several weeks of threat assessments, planning to clarify what the administration expected would happen once American soldiers left. “Even the most depressed assessments did not predict that will government forces in Kabul would collapse while Oughout. S. forces remained, ” he said.

He or she maintained that the Biden management would not abandon Afghanistan, observing continued diplomatic efforts as well as the nearly $64 million within humanitarian aid that the Oughout. S. Agency for Global Development announced Monday intended for relief agencies working in Afghanistan. Ninety percent of Afghans are living on less than $2 each day, according to the International Rescue Committee, and the looming threat of financial sanctions from the Taliban could further doom Afghanistan’s economy.

But it was clear that his message did not blunt the criticism by some lawmakers that have pointed to renewed terror threats, a sluggish visa processing system and the setback of Afghan women’s rights in demanding answers for why a military withdrawal that was 18 months in the making turned into a deadly crisis.

“We are now actually at the mercy of the Taliban’s reign of terror, ” said Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the panel.

Another Republican, Representative Steve Chabot of Ohio, said, “the administration’s bungled pullout from Afghanistan just may be the worst foreign affairs disaster in American history. ”

The committee’s chairman, Representative Gregory W. Meeks, Democrat of Nyc, said ending the war was “never going to be easy for my friends who presume a clean solution for the withdrawal existed. ”

But he also suggested that the Trump administration bore responsibility for the deal that outlined the withdrawal and that the current outcry of criticism carried a partisan tinge: “Once again, you’re seeing domestic politics injected into foreign policy, ” Mr. Meeks said.

Ongoing diplomacy has continued, but from Doha, the capital of Qatar, and Mr. Biden has pointed to alleged “over the horizon” strikes in an effort to keep terrorists from gaining ground in Afghanistan. The Taliban has consented to refuse refuge to terror groups as a condition of the U. S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, that has been brokered during the Trump administration.

However , it is widely believed that Al Qaeda’s most senior leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, is living in Afghanistan, which means “the Taliban is harboring Al Qaeda today, ” Michael J. Morell, a former deputy and acting director of the C. I. A., told the CBS News program “Face The Nation” on Sunday. “I think that’s a very important point, ” Mr. Morell said.

Top C. I. A. officials, including William J. Burns, the agency’s director, have acknowledged that they are searching for new ways to collect information in Afghanistan, and that their ability to gather home elevators terrorist activity is diminished.

Even Democrats who supported Mr. Biden’s decision to get rid of the 20-year war have said they viewed the withdrawal with mixed feelings.

The vast number of American citizens, legal U. S. permanent residents, and Afghan allies who have been not evacuated before the military departed on Aug. 30 are now vulnerable to Taliban “targets on their backs, ” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut.

“We’ve lost time precious time, ” Mr. Blumental said on a call with reporters on Friday. “The situation of the individuals is desperate and urgent. ”

Over the last a couple of weeks, Mr. Blinken and other U. S. diplomats have urged allies in the region to restart commercial flights from the Kabul airport, which was badly dilapidated after the mass evacuation efforts, so that people with valid travel documents could leave.

The Taliban has agreed to let American citizens and residents depart, following a barrage of negotiations with U. S. officials. But the group has blocked Afghans — many of whom were stranded without evidence of their employment with the American government when the U. S. Embassy in Kabul closed on Aug. 15.

Mr. Blinken has vowed that the United States would continue steadily to pressure the Taliban to make certain safe passage for anyone who would like to leave Afghanistan. But the State dept. has not said how it’ll provide clearances for tens and thousands of Afghans who worked for the government, and therefore qualify for special immigrant visas.

The Biden administration also has promised to safeguard Afghan women who were critical of the Taliban’s brutal limit on their rights throughout the 1990s when they last ruled Afghanistan. Many of them were left out in the U. S. military’s evacuation of 124, 000 people — what officials have called the biggest airlift in human history.

Mr. Blinken acknowledged that the Taliban had fallen “very short of the mark” of making a government that includes women or ethnic minorities — a mandate for inclusivity that was demanded by the international community.

He will have two days to make the administration’s case — before the House panel on Monday and in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.


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