Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to be grilled Monday by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the United States’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan.
This will be the first of two scheduled testimonies this week from Blinken, who has been forced in recent weeks to defend the government’s grave mishandling of the military withdrawal. Hundreds of U.S. citizens were reportedly left behind after President Joe Biden pressed the military to pull out of the country by his Aug. 31 deadline. Blinken has overseen continued efforts to rescue and return those still seeking to escape the newly instituted Taliban regime.
“As part of our ongoing commitment, today we facilitated the departure from Afghanistan of 21 U.S. citizens and 11 Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs),” Blinken wrote on Saturday in an address. “We continue to make good on our pledge to U.S. citizens, LPRs, and Afghans to whom we have a special commitment. We will be relentless in helping them depart Afghanistan if they choose to do so.”
However, despite promises from the Taliban that those who wish to leave the country would be allowed to do so unimpeded, Blinken has stated that U.S. efforts to extract U.S. citizens and allies have been repeatedly blocked by Taliban forces .
“As of now, the Taliban are not permitting the charter flights to depart,” Blinken said Wednesday from Ramstein Air Base. “We’ve made clear to all parties, we made clear to the Taliban, that these charters need to be able to depart, and we continue every day, virtually every hour, to work on that.”