Secretary of State Antony Blinken praised the Biden administration’s evacuation efforts in Afghanistan as “extraordinary” this week even as Americans remained stranded in the country now ruled by a Taliban interim government as a sharia-compliant Islamic emirate.
During an interview with Afghanistan’s independent TOLO News early this week, Blinken declared:
The evacuation effort was extraordinary, and overall almost 125,000 people were evacuated in a very short period of time under incredibly difficult conditions.”
And when it came to American citizens in Afghanistan, we evacuated nearly 6,000, virtually all of those who had identified themselves to us as American citizens and who wished to leave.
There remains a small number who apparently still wish to leave, and we are absolutely committed to helping them do so, along with other Afghans who worked with us over the years who may be at risk.
Blinken’s comments came in response to TOLO News reporter Lotfullah Najafizada asking him Tuesday how the Biden administration failed to foresee the collapse of the U.S.-backed government to the Taliban.
Blinken deflected, ultimately blaming Afghanistan’s fall on how fast the Afghan security forces and the government folded.
The security force “as an institution, it collapsed, and the government, worse – the government fled ultimately,” Blinken responded. “All of that happened in a very, very short period of time, and that had a profound impact.”
But you could not even evacuate – but you could not even evacuate Americans from Afghanistan, all of them. And a lot of Afghans, particularly [the U.S. trained and equipped] ANDSF [Afghan National Defense and Security Force], they might feel that they were abandoned, they were let down by their U.S. counterparts.
In the months leading to the Taliban sweeping through Kabul and declaring victory on August 15, the narco-jihadis seized province after province as the U.S.-led NATO troops pulled out of Afghanistan on a timeline announced by President Joe Biden days before the terrorist group launched the aggressive offensive to take over the country.
Blinken’s interview took place on the same day the Taliban unveiled a hardline interim government shared by high-profile figures of the terrorist group, some of whom are notorious for attacks on American forces over the last two decades.
During his August 31 speech, the first after the complete withdrawal of American troops ended the U.S. military’s role in the rescue operation, President Joe Biden also said the evacuation effort was an “extraordinary success,” defying critics of his rushed exit from Afghanistan.
The top U.S. diplomat’s comments about the evacuation of Americans came amid calls for his resignation by Republicans and other critics.
He also spoke to TOLO News amid bipartisan furor over reports that the State Department is delaying the departure of private evacuation flights, an allegation confirmed in an internal email obtained by Fox News.
Blinken insists there is no deadline for the U.S. evacuation efforts, noting that the Taliban has permitted the Biden administration to continue getting Americans and at-risk Afghans out in the absence of foreign forces.
The new Taliban government allowed a plane to leave Kabul for Qatar with 200 passengers on Thursday, including ten U.S. citizens and 11 permanent residents, the State Department confirmed.
On Tuesday, Blinken insisted that “about 100” U.S. citizens remained in Afghanistan, contradicting larger estimates. The secretary has acknowledged that the number of Americans behind enemy lines is unknown, insisting that some chose to stay.