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“We inherit a deadline, we do not inherit a plan”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on September 8. (Photo: picture alliance via .)

The departure of the United States from Afghanistan was the right decision given the inability of the Kabul government and the risk of having to send more troops to counter the rise of the Taliban, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday.

In an appearance before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Blinken insisted on the arguments outlined by US President Joe Biden about the need to end the largest military intervention in US history.

“There is no evidence that if we had stayed longer, we would have made the Afghan security forces or the Afghan government more resilient or self-sufficient. If 20 years and hundreds of billions of dollars in support, equipment and training weren’t enough, why would one, five, or ten more have been? ”He warned.

Blinken stressed that the US has long achieved “the two objectives that led it to Afghanistan: to do justice to those responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001 and ensure that they would not do them again.”

Specifically, he cited the assassination of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of al Qaeda, in a US military operation in Pakistan in 2011 and the decline in the terrorist group’s capabilities to carry out attacks since then.

At the hearing, Blinken was harshly criticized by Republican opponents, who charged against the hasty departure and scenes of chaos and anguish at the Kabul airport, where thousands of people crowded to try to get on one of the US planes and his allies to escape the country.

“The American people don’t like to lose, especially to terrorists. I never thought in my life that I would see an unconditional surrender to the Taliban, “remarked Michael McCaul, the highest-ranking Republican on the committee.

No plan

Blinken indicated that the Administration had prepared for the “worst possible scenarios”, but noted that “no” intelligence report had predicted that Kabul would fall into the hands of the Taliban in just two weeks.

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He also criticized the agreement reached by former President Donald Trump (2017-2021) with the Taliban to remove US troops from Afghanistan.

“We inherit a deadline, we do not inherit a plan (…) As soon as he came to power, President Biden had to make the decision between ending the war or intensifying it,” the Foreign Minister told legislators. In that sense, he considered that having prolonged the presence in Afghanistan would have meant putting the lives of more Americans at risk.

On the other hand, Blinken reiterated that the terrorist threat against the United States no longer has its epicenter in Afghanistan and now other enclaves such as Yemen, Somalia or Libya are much more dangerous, so it is necessary for the country to relocate its defense capabilities.

He also indicated that Washington maintains its “commitment” to the Afghan people and announced an allocation of 64 million dollars in assistance that will go directly to non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies.

Taliban commitments

In addition, he assured that the Taliban have “committed” to prevent the use of Afghanistan as a base for terrorist operations against the United States or its allies by Al Qaeda and the branch of the Islamic State (IS) group in the region.

“We will hold them accountable for it. It doesn’t mean we’re going to trust them, ”Blinken said. He warned, therefore, that Washington will remain “vigilant” and with a “robust counter-terrorism capacity” in the area.

Between August 14 and August 30, the United States assisted 124,000 people out of the Kabul airport, in what Biden called “one of the largest evacuation missions in history,” and has so far received more than 45,000 Afghan refugees on US soil.

In the midst of this operation, an attack claimed by ISIS at the airfield in the Afghan capital on August 26 claimed the lives of 13 US soldiers and left another 18 wounded, in addition to causing dozens of Afghan victims.

This article originally appeared on The HuffPost and has been updated.

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