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 a minimum of two Republicans referred to as on him to resign.
In 5 hours of typically testy exchanges with lawmakers, Blinken defended President Joe Biden’s determination to tug out and pushed again on accusations that the State Department ought to have executed extra to assist Americans 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 stated Biden’s administration couldn’t renegotiate due to threats from the group to renew killing Americans.
“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 stated.
“We inherited a deadline. We didn’t inherit a plan,” Blinken stated, referring to the Trump administration’s settlement to take away all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by May 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 House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee and was to testify on Tuesday earlier than the Senate Foreign 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 warfare ended. Many Republicans, notably these carefully allied to Trump, interrupted and even shouted over Blinken through the House listening to, a departure for a committee recognized for bipartisan cooperation.
Others supplied harsh criticism.
“The American individuals don’t prefer to lose, particularly to not the terrorists. But that is precisely what has occurred,” stated Representative 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 nations.
“This is a nationwide safety risk as China strikes in. For all I do know they make take over Bagram,” McCaul stated.
Blinken stated the United States was actively working to determine threats.
Lawmakers requested a protracted record of questions concerning the speedy collapse of the U.S.-backed Afghan authorities and scramble to evacuate 124,000 individuals.
Democrats expressed concern about Americans and at-risk Afghans who nonetheless want to depart, however backed the withdrawal as crucial, if painful. “I might welcome listening to what precisely a easy withdrawal from a messy chaotic 20-year warfare seems to be like,” stated Representative Gregory Meeks, the committee’s chairman.
Blinken praised the evacuation as “a heroic effort.” He pledged that the United States will proceed to assist humanitarian assist to Afghanistan, however via non-governmental organizations and U.N. businesses, not the Taliban.
Afghanistan is susceptible to operating out of meals because it faces a horrible drought along with political upheaval. “We have to do every part we will to verify the individuals of Afghanistan don’t undergo any greater than is already the case,” Blinken stated.
He stated 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 stated.
Blinken stated he would title a senior State Department official to concentrate on assist for Afghan girls, women and minorities.
Republicans grilled Blinken about what occurred at Kabul’s airport through the evacuation forward of the administration’s Aug. 31 deadline to depart. Thirteen U.S. troops and dozens of Afghans had been killed in a suicide bombing amid the chaos.
Democrats stated they needed 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 based mostly in Afghanistan.
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