Foreign Minister Blinken describes Taliban as “de facto government of Afghanistan”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken virtually testifies before a House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on September 13, 2021.
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WASHINGTON – Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said during a controversial hearing in Congress on Monday that the Taliban were the de facto government of Afghanistan, a statement that marks the seemingly end of a Western attempt to create stable democracy in the war-weary country.
“It [the Taliban] is the de facto government of Afghanistan. Those are just the facts, “Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee when asked whether the government recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government.
“Unfortunately, this is the product of a side that prevails in a civil war,” added the nation’s top diplomat.
During the three-hour hearing, Blinken defended the Biden administration’s withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. At least three Republican MPs told him to resign during the hearing.
“We made the right decision to end America’s longest war,” said Blinken emotionally.
“We made the right decision not to send a third generation of Americans to Afghanistan to fight and die. We have done the right thing of our citizens and worked feverishly to get each of them out. We have the right thing out of 125,000 Afghans done but “to get them to safety and now we are working to do the right thing to keep the Taliban up to the expectations of the international community to ensure people can continue to travel freely to ensure that the Afghans’ rights will be respected, “he said.
Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) (2nd-L) speaks at the State Department hearing with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Capitol Hill September 13, 2021 in Washington, DC.
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Earlier this month, reporters urged Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin whether the US would recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.
“It is difficult to predict where this will go in the future with regard to the Taliban,” Austin said during a September 1 press conference.
“We don’t know what the future of the Taliban is,” said General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, alongside Austin.
“I can tell you from personal experience that this is a ruthless group from the past and whether it changes or not,” Milley said, adding that he and Austin both fought the group during their military careers.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley attend a news conference at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia on July 21, 2021.
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The US began its war in Afghanistan in October 2001, weeks after the 9/11 attacks. Back then, the Taliban offered refuge to al-Qaeda, the group that launched the devastating terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Since then, around 2,500 US soldiers have died in the conflict, which also killed more than 100,000 Afghan soldiers, police officers and civilians.
Now the Taliban are back in power.
In the final weeks of a planned exodus of foreign troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban achieved a number of shocking successes on the battlefield. On August 15, the group captured the Presidential Palace in Kabul, prompting Western governments to speed up the evacuation of vulnerable Afghan nationals, diplomats and civilians.
After the Taliban came to power, President Joe Biden defended his decision that the US would leave the war-torn country.
“I am fully behind my decision. After 20 years I have learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw the US armed forces,” said Biden a day after the Taliban collapsed Afghanistan.
“American forces cannot and should not fight in a war and die in a war that the Afghan armed forces are unwilling to wage for themselves,” Biden said. “We gave them every chance to determine their own future. We couldn’t give them the will to fight for this future.”
Biden ordered thousands of US troops to be sent to Kabul to help with the colossal humanitarian airlift and secure the area around the airport.
In the last week of evacuation efforts, ISIS-K terrorists killed 13 US soldiers and dozen of Afghans in an attack outside the airport. US forces hit back and launched strikes to thwart other attacks.
The US military mission in Afghanistan ended on August 31 after around 125,000 people were evacuated from the country. Of these, approximately 6,000 were US citizens and their families.
Blinken informed lawmakers on Monday that there are fewer than 100 Americans in Afghanistan looking for an evacuation.