US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken confronted bipartisan anger and criticism on Tuesday from senators sad with the Biden administration’s dealing with of the US’ withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“The execution of the US withdrawal was clearly and fatally flawed,” Senator Bob Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate International Relations Committee, instructed Blinken throughout a committee listening to.
Menendez stated the committee would pursue a “full clarification” of the administration’s choices on Afghanistan since US President Joe Biden got here into workplace in January.
“There must be accountability,” stated Menendez, who argued the Biden administration “clearly fell brief” of its acknowledged purpose of leaving “a sturdy political association” in Afghanistan.
Almost 20 years after invading Afghanistan in 2001 following the September 11 al-Qaeda assaults, the US navy accomplished its withdrawal from the nation on August 30.
The US evacuation from Kabul after the Taliban took management of the Afghan capital was marked by chaotic scenes as hundreds of Afghans converged on town’s airport, determined to go away the nation amid fears of potential retribution by the group.
A minimum of 175 individuals, together with 13 US service personnel, have been killed on the Kabul airport in a suicide assault claimed by the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-Ok).
Afghanistan is presently dealing with a humanitarian disaster, as provides of meals and medication have gotten scarce with hundreds of thousands of individuals in danger.
Senator James Risch, the highest Republican on the Senate panel, known as the US withdrawal a “dismal failure” and charged the Biden administration with “ineptitude”.
“One of many issues we have to unravel is, who’s chargeable for this? Who made the choices?” stated Risch, who had been chairman of the committee when former President Donald Trump negotiated the US withdrawal settlement with the Taliban in 2020.
“Whereas I supported a accountable finish to the struggle in Afghanistan, no American thinks we must always have left this manner. America can’t finish a struggle just by strolling away,” Risch stated.
Navy officers to be known as to testify
The crucial tone of the Senate listening to spells hassle forward for the Biden administration because it seeks to get well from a troublesome month through which the president’s ballot numbers have dipped.
It additionally factors to future challenges for the administration in negotiating with the Taliban, in addition to on its efforts to handle the state of affairs in Afghanistan with US allies.
On Tuesday, Menendez stated he intends to name US navy officers to testify earlier than the committee and expressed disappointment that US Secretary of Protection Lloyd Austin declined to seem on the listening to.
“A full accounting of the US response to this disaster shouldn’t be full with out the Pentagon, particularly in terms of understanding the whole collapse of the US-trained and funded Afghan navy,” Menendez stated.
He additionally threatened to difficulty subpoenas to witnesses and to carry again Senate affirmation of Protection Division political nominees. Throughout 20 years of US involvement in Afghanistan, “Congress has been misled”, Menendez stated.
Blinken confronted extra sharp questioning from a number of members of the Senate committee, together with Senator Rand Paul, who demanded to know whether or not the US navy mistakenly focused an assist employee in a drone assault on August 29.
Blinken was unable to say whether or not the goal was an assist employee pending the outcomes of a US investigation. Residents instructed the AFP information company the US raid had killed 10 civilians together with a lot of youngsters.
“I see these footage of those lovely youngsters that have been killed within the assault,” stated Paul. “You’ll be able to’t have an investigation after you kill individuals,” he stated. “You will have an investigation earlier than you kill individuals.”
Senator Invoice Hagerty, a Republican, steered Blinken ought to resign. “Now we have a really vital failure right here, a failure of world proportion,” he stated.
Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat and political ally of President Joe Biden, additionally challenged Blinken on why the administration had not been higher ready for a collapse of the US-backed authorities in Kabul.
“The contingency planning for one thing that was a chance, wasn’t all that it ought to have been,” Kaine stated.
US diplomats in Afghanistan had warned Blinken in a secret cable in July of a possible fall of the Afghan authorities in Kabul, based on a report within the Wall Road Journal newspaper.