WASHINGTON:Secretary of State Antony Blinken beat again criticism of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan on Monday at a contentious congressional listening to the place at the least two Republicans known as on him to resign.
In 5 hours of typically testy exchanges with lawmakers, Blinken defended President Joe Biden’s determination to drag out and pushed again on accusations that the State Division ought to have accomplished extra to assist People and at-risk Afghans to be evacuated, blaming the earlier administration for missing a plan.
He repeatedly famous that Republican former President Donald Trump had negotiated the withdrawal settlement with the Taliban, and mentioned Biden’s administration couldn’t renegotiate due to threats from the group to renew killing People.
“There’s no proof that staying longer would have made the Afghan safety forces or the Afghan authorities any extra resilient or self-sustaining,” Blinken mentioned.
“We inherited a deadline. We didn’t inherit a plan,” Blinken mentioned, referring to the Trump administration’s settlement to take away all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by Might 1.
Members of Congress – Biden’s Democrats in addition to opposition Republicans – have pledged to research because the Taliban seized management of Afghanistan final month after a speedy advance.
Blinken appeared on Monday earlier than the Home of Representatives Overseas Affairs Committee and was to testify on Tuesday earlier than the Senate Overseas Relations Committee, the primary Biden administration official to testify publicly to lawmakers because the Islamist militant group’s takeover.
Fireworks had been anticipated, given the quantity of finger-pointing over how the two-decade-long battle ended. Many Republicans, notably these intently allied to Trump, interrupted and even shouted over Blinken throughout the Home listening to, a departure for a committee identified for bipartisan cooperation.
Others supplied harsh criticism.
“The American individuals don’t prefer to lose, particularly to not the terrorists. However that is precisely what has occurred,” mentioned Consultant Michael McCaul, the panel’s high Republican.
McCaul requested why belongings just like the Bagram Air Base weren’t maintained and why the administration had not reached counterterrorism agreements with neighboring international locations.
“This can be a nationwide safety menace as China strikes in. For all I do know they make take over Bagram,” McCaul mentioned.
Blinken mentioned the US was actively working to determine threats.
Lawmakers requested an extended listing of questions in regards to the speedy collapse of the U.S.-backed Afghan authorities and scramble to evacuate 124,000 individuals.
Democrats expressed concern about People and at-risk Afghans who nonetheless want to go away, however backed the withdrawal as essential, if painful. “I’d welcome listening to what precisely a easy withdrawal from a messy chaotic 20-year battle appears to be like like,” mentioned Consultant Gregory Meeks, the committee’s chairman.
Blinken praised the evacuation as “a heroic effort.” He pledged that the US will proceed to assist humanitarian support to Afghanistan, however by way of non-governmental organizations and U.N. businesses, not the Taliban.
Afghanistan is prone to working out of meals because it faces a horrible drought along with political upheaval. “We have to do all the things we are able to to ensure the individuals of Afghanistan don’t undergo any greater than is already the case,” Blinken mentioned.
He mentioned he had not spoken personally to members of the Taliban management. “Any legitimacy that they might search from the worldwide group … goes to be contingent on their actions,” he mentioned.
Blinken mentioned he would title a senior State Division official to give attention to assist for Afghan girls, women and minorities.
Republicans grilled Blinken about what occurred at Kabul’s airport throughout the evacuation forward of the administration’s Aug. 31 deadline to go away. 13 U.S. troops and dozens of Afghans had been killed in a suicide bombing amid the chaos.
Democrats mentioned they wished to handle not simply the seven months Biden was president earlier than Kabul fell however all 20 years of U.S. involvement within the nation – underneath presidents from each events.
A U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban in 2001 after the Sept. 11 assaults masterminded by al Qaeda leaders primarily based in Afghanistan.
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