GOP targets Blinken, Sullivan for testimony over Afghanistan collapse

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WASHINGTON – Republican members of the Home Overseas Affairs Committee are calling for “a number of open hearings” in regards to the botched US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan after President Biden declined to carry any senior official liable for choices that led to the mission’s chaos, in response to a report issued by the panel’s rating GOP lawmaker.

The Wednesday report by Rep. Michael McCaul recommends that the complete committee request the testimony of “senior Biden administration officers who have been liable for the choice to unconditionally withdraw and for the evacuation,” together with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Nationwide Safety Adviser Jake Sullivan.

Whereas the US evacuated practically 130,000 People and Afghan allies from Kabul through the weekslong evacuation mission that ended Aug. 30, 2021, 1000’s extra have been left behind, in response to the 115-page interim report. The operation additionally led to the deaths of 13 US service members and greater than 160 Afghans when an ISIS-Okay suicide bomber attacked the evacuation website at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai Worldwide Airport.

Taliban fighters escort ladies as they march in help of the Taliban authorities outdoors Kabul College in 2021.
Bernat Armangue/AP

The hearings can be held partially to research what led to the Biden administration’s resolution to drag out of Afghanistan with out the Taliban having dedicated to sure situations, similar to promising it will not let the nation once more turn out to be an al Qaeda protected haven.

“Way more investigation remains to be wanted to supply a full accounting of what brought about this catastrophe,” McCaul (R-Texas) stated within the report. “And as extra info is revealed, extra questions will definitely come up.”

Together with Sullivan and Blinken, the Republican committee members are asking that USAID Administrator Samantha Energy and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman testify earlier than the complete committee, whereas 33 different officers sit for interviews.

“If the State Division refuses to supply these people, the Committee ought to subpoena them to compel compliance,” McCaul wrote within the report.

Biden gave a number of causes for why he determined to take away the American navy presence from Afghanistan in an announcement on April 14, 2021.

The report tried to debunk a number of of Biden’s claims, together with that the US presence in Afghanistan was not wanted to degrade al Qaeda within the nation; that the Afghan navy was educated and outfitted sufficient to maintain the Taliban at bay with out overseas help; and that the US couldn’t preserve its troops within the nation with out a “return to warfare with the Taliban.”

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken arrives on the press encounter after the 2022 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) assessment convention on August 1.
Yuki Iwamura/AP

McCaul argued that Biden was mistaken to say US troops have been not wanted in Afghanistan to stop al Qaeda’s return, noting that then-Pentagon spokesman John Kirby advised reporters on Aug. 20, 2021 that the terrorist group remained within the nation.

“Whereas it’s true al Qaeda suffered important setbacks because the unique US navy intervention in Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 assaults, together with the loss of life of its founder Osama bin Laden, analysts agree the fear group nonetheless maintains a presence in Afghanistan,” the report stated.

The report additional pointed to the late July US drone strike that killed al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri at a Kabul residence as proof that the fear group’s presence in Afghanistan “had grown much more strong within the wake of the withdrawal.”

“Senior al Qaeda members [are] advising Taliban leaders and sustaining a presence in Kabul, as demonstrated by the presence of al Qaeda’s chief Ayman al Zawahiri in a villa in downtown Kabul,” the report stated.

McCaul additionally stated the Afghan navy was clearly not ready sufficient to maintain the Taliban from overthrowing the Western-backed Afghan authorities in simply 11 days.

“[Then-US Central Command leader] Gen. [Frank] McKenzie testified in September 2021 he had advised the Biden administration if the US lowered its navy presence under 2,500 servicemembers, ‘we might in all probability witness a collapse of the Afghan authorities and the Afghan navy,’” he wrote.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan
White Home nationwide safety adviser Jake Sullivan speaks through the day by day briefing on Could 18.
Susan Walsh/AP

McCaul stated McKenzie’s evaluation additionally recommended that Biden was incorrect in claiming that the US would have needed to deploy extra troops to Afghanistan past the two,500 there earlier than the withdrawal to keep away from a renewed warfare with the Taliban.

Republicans are anticipated to retake the Home of Representatives following this November’s election and examine quite a few points plaguing the White Home — together with the Afghanistan pullout and its aftermath.


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