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 Overseas Relations Committee, instructed Blinken throughout a committee listening to.
Menendez mentioned the committee would pursue a “full rationalization” of the administration’s selections on Afghanistan since US President Joe Biden got here into workplace in January.
“There must be accountability,” mentioned Menendez, who argued the Biden administration “clearly fell quick” of its acknowledged objective of leaving “a sturdy political association” in Afghanistan.
Practically 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 control of the Afghan capital was marked by chaotic scenes as 1000’s of Afghans converged on the city’s airport, determined to depart the nation amid fears of potential retribution by the group.
No less than 175 individuals, together with 13 US service personnel, had been killed on the Kabul airport in a suicide attack claimed by the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-Ok).
Afghanistan is at the moment dealing with a humanitarian crisis, as provides of meals and medication have gotten scarce with thousands and 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 resolve is, who’s liable for this? Who made the choices?” mentioned Risch, who had been chairman of the committee when former President Donald Trump negotiated the US withdrawal agreement with the Taliban in 2020.
“Whereas I supported a accountable finish to the battle in Afghanistan, no American thinks we should always have left this fashion. America can not finish a battle just by strolling away,” Risch mentioned.
Army officers to be known as to testify
The vital tone of the Senate listening to spells bother 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 state of affairs 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 Protection Lloyd Austin declined to look on the listening to.
“A full accounting of the US response to this disaster isn’t full with out the Pentagon, particularly in the case of understanding the entire collapse of the US-trained and funded Afghan navy,” Menendez mentioned.
He additionally threatened to problem 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 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 targeted 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.
The drone assault killed 10 members of the Ahmadi and Nejrabi households, starting from two to 40 years outdated. “They had been harmless, helpless kids,” Aimal Ahmadi, whose nieces and nephews had been amongst these killed, instructed Al Jazeera final month in regards to the majority of the victims.
“I see these photos of those lovely kids that had been killed in the assault,” mentioned Paul. “You may’t have an investigation after you kill individuals,” he mentioned. “You may have an investigation earlier than you kill individuals.”
Senator Invoice Hagerty, a Republican, instructed Blinken ought to resign. “We’ve got a really important failure right here, a failure of world 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 one thing that was a chance, wasn’t all that it ought to 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 Road Journal newspaper.