Secretary of State Antony Blinken will testify twice to Congress this week in regards to the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, as lawmakers kick off what may very well be a protracted sequence of high-intensity hearings in regards to the chaotic finish to America’s longest battle.
Members of Congress – President Joe Biden’s fellow Democrats in addition to opposition Republicans – have deliberate hearings for the reason that Taliban seized management of the nation final month after a speedy advance.
Blinken will seem on Monday earlier than the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee and on Tuesday earlier than the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the primary Biden administration official to testify publicly to lawmakers for the reason that group’s takeover.
Fireworks are anticipated, given the quantity of finger-pointing over how the two-decade-long US presence within the nation ended. Some Republicans have referred to as on Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Blinken to resign.
“We expect a confrontational hearing,” a Senate aide mentioned.
Members of Congress ready a protracted record of questions for the veteran diplomat in regards to the speedy collapse of the US-backed Afghan authorities and the Biden administration’s scramble to evacuate greater than 142,000 individuals, together with Americans, at-risk Afghans and others wishing to flee the Taliban.
“I imagine there will be a lot of questions on what decisions were being made leading up to the withdrawal, including why the White House pressed DOD (the Defence Department) to withdraw troops before we evacuated American civilians and our Afghan partners,” Representative Michael McCaul, the highest Republican on the House committee, mentioned in a written reply to a request for touch upon the listening to.
He mentioned he additionally needed to know why belongings just like the Bagram Air Base weren’t maintained and why the administration had not reached surveillance and counterterrorism agreements with neighbouring international locations.
McCaul added that he anticipated questions on what occurred at Kabul’s airport through the evacuation forward of the administration’s Aug 31 deadline to depart the nation. Thirteen US troops and dozens of Afghans have been killed in a suicide bombing amid the chaos.
“We all want to know what State (Department) is doing to fulfill President Biden’s promise to get the remaining Americans, green card holders and our Afghan partners out of the country before it’s too late,” McCaul mentioned.
20 years involvement
Democrats mentioned they needed the listening to to handle not simply the seven months that Biden was president earlier than Kabul was captured by the Taliban however the complete 20 years of US involvement within the nation – underneath 4 presidents from each events.
A US-led invasion toppled the Taliban in 2001 after the Sept 11 assaults that have been masterminded by al Qaeda leaders based mostly in Afghanistan.
“My fear is that Republicans are going to turn this into a circus and try to put the blame on Joe Biden for 20 years’ worth of mistakes in Afghanistan,” Senator Chris Murphy, a Democratic member of the overseas relations panel, informed reporters on a convention name.
Murphy, who agreed with the choice to withdraw somewhat than “stay forever,” mentioned he didn’t need the listening to to focus solely on the evacuation.
“The real question is why did we stay in Afghanistan for another 10 years after we knew that there was going to be no way we could build an Afghan military, an Afghan government that was capable of holding the country against the Taliban once we left,” Murphy mentioned.
Another committee Democrat, Senator Chris Van Hollen, famous that Republican former president Donald Trump had pushed to get out of Afghanistan much more shortly and criticised Biden for remaining so long as he did.
“It’s a little hard to take and listen to Republican colleagues who strongly supported the Trump decisions to now be attacking President Biden for decisions that they had previously supported,” he mentioned on the identical name.