Testifying at a congressional hearing on Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken strongly defended the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan last month that ended a 20-year war, the longest in US history.
If US President Joe Biden had decided to maintain an armed force in Afghanistan, this “would have required the deployment of more US troops to Afghanistan to defend themselves and prevent a Taliban invasion, with casualties – and at best, re-establishing a stalemate and endless stalemate in Afghanistan, under threat of attacks. said Secretary Blinken before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“There is no indication that a longer stay would have made the Afghan security forces or the Afghan government more resilient or resilient,” he said. “If 20 years and hundreds of billions of dollars in support, equipment and training were not enough, why another year, five or 10, would be different?”
Taliban insurgents invaded the country in mid-August as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled into exile in the United Arab Emirates. The United States evacuated 124,000 people, mostly Afghans, along with about 5,500 Americans, from Kabul airport in the last days of August, leaving behind about 100 Americans.
Some Americans have been able to then leave the country, through ground exits or a few flights allowed by the Taliban.
Secretary Blinken said U.S. officials had not anticipated the fall of the Afghan government so quickly, even as the Taliban advanced across the country.
“Even the most pessimistic estimates did not predict that government forces in Kabul would collapse while US forces were still in place,” he said.
Although the main evacuation is over, the US diplomat said: “We are continuing our relentless efforts to help the remaining Americans, as well as Afghans and citizens of allied and partner countries, leave Afghanistan if they choose to do so. ”.
“As we have done throughout our history, Americans are now welcoming families from Afghanistan to their communities and helping them relocate as they begin their new lives,” said Secretary Blinken. “This is also something to be proud of.”
Secretary Blinken is likely to face tough questions before the House of Representatives panel, and again Tuesday when he appears before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Republican opposition lawmakers and some fellow Democrats have criticized President Biden’s handling of the withdrawal of troops, U.S. citizens and thousands of Afghans who worked for U.S. forces as translators and advisers during the war.
Criticism escalated especially after 13 members of the US service were found dead in a suicide attack at Kabul airport in the final days of the withdrawal. The Islamic State-Khorasan, an Afghan branch of the terrorist group operating in the Middle East, claimed responsibility for the attack.
National opinion polls show widespread support for President Biden’s decision to end what he calls a “permanent war” in Afghanistan, but not the way the withdrawal was made./VOA
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