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 United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“The execution of the US withdrawal was clearly and fatally flawed,” Senator Bob Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, instructed Blinken throughout a committee listening to.
Menendez mentioned the committee would pursue a “full explanation” of the administration’s selections on Afghanistan since US President Joe Biden got here into workplace in January.
“There has to be accountability,” mentioned Menendez, who argued the Biden administration “clearly fell short” of its said aim of leaving “a durable political arrangement” in Afghanistan.
Nearly 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 1000’s of Afghans converged on town’s airport, determined to go away the nation amid fears of potential retribution by the group.
At least 175 folks, 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-Okay).
Afghanistan is at present going through a humanitarian disaster, as provides of meals and drugs 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 the things we need to get to the bottom of is, who’s responsible for this? Who made the decisions?” mentioned Risch, who had been chairman of the committee when former President Donald Trump negotiated the US withdrawal settlement with the Taliban in 2020.
“While I supported a responsible end to the war in Afghanistan, no American thinks we should have left this way. America cannot end a war simply by walking away,” Risch mentioned.
Military officers to be known as to testify
The important tone of the Senate listening to spells hassle forward for the Biden administration because it seeks to recuperate from a tough month in 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 scenario in Afghanistan with US allies.
On Tuesday, Menendez mentioned he intends to name US navy officers to testify earlier than the committee and expressed disappointment that US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin declined to seem on the listening to.
“A full accounting of the US response to this crisis is not complete without the Pentagon, especially when it comes to understanding the complete collapse of the US-trained and funded Afghan military,” Menendez mentioned.
He additionally threatened to problem subpoenas to witnesses and to carry again Senate affirmation of Defense Department political nominees. During 20 years of US involvement in Afghanistan, “Congress has been misled”, Menendez mentioned.
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 support employee in a drone assault on August 29.
Blinken was unable to say whether or not the goal was an support employee pending the outcomes of a US investigation. Residents instructed the AFP information company the US raid had killed 10 civilians together with numerous kids.
“I see these pictures of these beautiful children that were killed in the attack,” mentioned Paul. “You can’t have an investigation after you kill people,” he mentioned. “You have an investigation before you kill people.”
Senator Bill Hagerty, a Republican, recommended Blinken ought to resign. “We have a very significant failure here, a failure of global proportion,” he mentioned.
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 something that was a possibility, wasn’t all that it should have been,” Kaine mentioned.
US diplomats in Afghanistan had warned Blinken in a secret cable in July of a possible fall of the Afghan authorities in Kabul, in response to a report in the Wall Street Journal newspaper.