Blinken to testify before US Senate panel next week on Afghanistan

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (right) and President Joe Biden (File photo)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next week to testify about the Biden administration's messy retreat from Afghanistan.

The testimony will take place on Tuesday, September 14, which will be the first scheduled public hearing with Biden administration officials since late last month, when the Afghan government and the US-trained military collapsed as the Taliban reached Kabul.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing will examine “the US withdrawal from Afghanistan." A spokesman for Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) didn't immediately provide details about potential testimony from other Biden administration officials.

Menendez, in a statement last month, slammed President Joe Biden’s hasty exit from Afghanistan, saying that they were "clear policy execution and intelligence failures associated with our withdrawal and its aftermath." 

“The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will continue fulfilling its oversight role with a hearing on US policy towards Afghanistan, including the Trump administration’s flawed negotiations with Taliban, and the Biden administration’s flawed execution of the US withdrawal," he said at the time.

"The Committee will seek a full accounting for these shortcomings as well as assess why the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces collapsed so quickly. Congress was told repeatedly that the Afghan Defense and Security Forces were up to the task. ...The American and Afghan people clearly have not been told the truth about the ANDSF’s capacity and deserve answers," he added.

Senate Republicans on the Foreign Relations Committee also called on Menendez to set up a public hearing with Blinken.

"We need to hear from Secretary Blinken directly, to understand why the State Department was so ill-prepared for the contingencies unfolding before us and what it will take to get the State Department back on track," they wrote in a letter last month.

In addition to Menendez, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) are also scheduled to grill Blinken about the US exit from Afghanistan.

The Taliban are poised to run Afghanistan again 20 years after they were removed from power by American forces following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 and removed the Taliban from power. American forces occupied the country for about two decades on the pretext of fighting against the Taliban. But as the US forces left Afghanistan, the Taliban stormed into Kabul, weakened by continued foreign occupation.

 


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