Wednesday 22nd of September 2021

dismal failurer...



Secretary of State Antony Blinken faced bipartisan criticism Tuesday over the botched US withdrawal from Afghanistan — as a top Senate Republican questioned whether President Biden is actually calling the shots in the White House.

Blinken’s second consecutive day of grilling by Capitol Hill lawmakers even saw the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee blast last month’s humiliating exit — which included the killings of 13 American service members — as “clearly and fatally flawed.”

Also during Tuesday’s hearing:

  •  Blinken admitted that officials were still investigating whether a drone strike at a suspected ISIS-K terrorist accidentally killed an Afghan aid worker and nine family members, including seven kids.
  •  Blinken tried to downplay the number of child brides being brought to the US by Afghan refugees.
  •  Blinken’s claim that no one expected Kabul to fall before the US military left was countered by months of intelligence warnings that the situation in Afghanistan was “going to hit the fan.”

Blinken took repeated hits from the committee’s GOP members, including ranking member Sen. James Risch of Idaho, who blasted the withdrawal as a “dismal failure.”

“There’s not enough lipstick in the world to put on this pig to make it look any different than what it actually is,” he said.

Risch also demanded to know who in the White House was in charge of ending the official livestream coverage of Biden’s appearances, as happened mid-sentence Monday during a meeting in Boise, Idaho, about the wildfires plaguing the western US.

When Blinken said that Biden “speaks very clearly and very deliberately for himself,” Risch asked, “Well, are you saying that there is no one in the White House that can cut him off?”

“Because yesterday, that happened, and it’s happened a number of times before that. It’s been widely reported,” Risch said.

“Somebody has the ability to push the button and cut off his sound and stop him from speaking. Who is that person?”

Risch added: “This is a puppeteer act if you would, and we need to know who is in charge and who is making the decisions.”

But unlike during Blinken’s appearance before the House Foreign Relations Committee on Monday — when most Democrats blamed the Afghan chaos on former President Donald Trump’s February 2020 peace deal with the Taliban — some key Senate Democrats excoriated the Biden administration for its failures.

“The execution of the US withdrawal was clearly and fatally flawed,” Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said.

“This committee expects to receive a full explanation of this administration’s decisions on Afghanistan since coming into office last January.”

Menendez — who’s one of a handful of Democratic hawks — added: “There has to be accountability.”

Other Democrats who were hard on Blinken and President Biden included Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), meanwhile, pressed Blinken on who exactly was killed in the Aug. 29 American drone strike that followed the deadly ISIS-K suicide bombing outside Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport three days earlier.

When Blinken said that was still unclear, Paul asked, “So you don’t know or won’t tell us?”

“I don’t — I don’t know, because we’re reviewing it,” Blinken answered.

Paul shot back: “You think you’d kind of know before you off somebody with a Predator drone whether he’s an aid worker or he’s ISIS-K.”

“And the thing is, there is blowback to that,” Paul said.

“I mean, I don’t know if it’s true, but I see these pictures of these beautiful children that were killed in the attack. If that’s true, and not propaganda, if that’s true, guess what? Maybe you’ve created hundreds or thousands of new potential terrorists from bombing the wrong people.”

The New York Times has reported that the retaliatory attack for the Aug. 26 killings of US personnel and scores of Afghans accidentally targeted a vehicle driven by Zemari Ahmadi and carrying nine members of his family.

Ahmadi reportedly worked as a technical engineer for the Pasadena, Calif.-based charity Nutrition and Education International, which had applied for refugee status on his behalf.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) asked Blinken how many Afghan children now being housed at military bases in the US or at transit points overseas were subjected to sexual abuse by older male evacuees, citing reports of child brides being brought to America.

Blinken maintained that everyone involved in the resettlement effort, both in the US and abroad, has exercised “extreme vigilance to deal with any cases or concerns.”

When pressed for the actual number of such cases, Blinken said there was just “a handful” but said he couldn’t provide a tally.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told Blinken that “the most troubling thing” he’d said in his opening statement was the claim that “even the most pessimistic assessment did not predict the government forces in Kabul would collapse while US forces remained.”

“You know, for much of last year I was acting chairman of Intelligence and now I am the vice-chairman of Intelligence. I’ve been tracking this very closely,” he said.

“Just going back to the beginning of this year — obviously, I cannot quote the titles of the pieces — but let me suffice to say that there are numerous pieces that could be categorized as ‘it was going to hit the fan.’”

Rubio added: “I think any analysis of those pieces would have led everyone to that conclusion.”

Rubio also warned that “China and Russia and Iran, they look at this botched withdrawal and what they see as incompetence that they think they might be able to exploit.”

Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) told Blinken that “there must be accountability,” adding: “My office and other congressional offices have heard rumors regarding potential cabinet resignations over the situation in Afghanistan.”

“So, I want to ask you: Have you submitted your resignation regarding this issue?” Hagerty asked.

Blinken answered: “I have not.”


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former FBI agent explains...

“We Lost the War in Afghanistan in 2002”


The war on terror has failed, former FBI intelligence officer Ali Soufan argues in an interview. He believes that the hasty U.S. withdrawal will unleash a wave of fear and strengthen extremists around the world.

Interview Conducted by Britta Sandberg

DER SPIEGEL: Taliban fighters can be seen driving through Kabul in pickup trucks, and they are posing with weapons in their hands in TV studios. Are you having a lot of déjà-vu experiences right now?

Soufan: That’s true, we went back full circle. After 20 years, the Taliban are again in control of Afghanistan. And we have to be aware that the withdrawal of the U.S. from Afghanistan and the way it happened is inspiring for people in the world. It is a massive victory for not only the global jihadist movement but also for all the militants who are operating against the U.S. And this will have consequences for the national security of the United States.


DER SPIEGEL: Because all these terrorist groups will now be able to regroup in Afghanistan unhindered?

Soufan: Not only. What happened is also inspiring for people who are not even Sunni extremists, groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon or the Houthis in Yemen and a lot of other anti-American groups in the Middle East. It could also provide a window of opportunity for al-Qaida to regroup. They now have their headquarters back, even though they have a lot of affiliates in different places around the Middle East. They have people in Somalia, Yemen and Syria. I think it's going to be very difficult to contain the jihadi threat in Afghanistan.

DER SPIEGEL: Isn’t the Afghan branch of the Islamic State (ISIS) far more dangerous by now?

Soufan: Well, I think ISIS Khorasan is a newcomer on the ground in Afghanistan. But yes, they are dangerous and they are dangerous not only against us and our interests. They are also dangerous for the Taliban and al-Qaida. The group attracts all those fighters who broke away from al-Qaida and the Taliban believing that the Taliban are not religiously kosher enough. And it is interesting: Even many factions inside the Taliban have been joining them, believing that there is the promised caliphate they want to fight for.


DER SPIEGEL: President Joe Biden declared in his speech last week that there was no alternative to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Do you agree with that?

Soufan: Let's be clear: We lost the war in Afghanistan, in my opinion, in the fall of 2002. That's when the administration of George W. Bush started shifting a lot of important resources to prepare for the Iraq war at a time when al-Qaida and the Taliban were regrouping in Afghanistan. And that was a significant blow to any constructive efforts. And then we did not deal with a lot of the other issues that have to do with corruption, that have to do with basically respecting the way Afghanistan is. Several U.S. administrations had an idea of how Afghanistan ought to be, but did not understand how Afghanistan is. I think this was one of our biggest problems.


DER SPIEGEL: So, the U.S. failed because they didn’t make a strong enough effort to get to know their enemy better?

Soufan: Absolutely. Afghanistan is a tribal country in so many different regions, with different ethnic groups. Most Afghanis didn’t trust the government because of corruption. When they had a problem, they didn't go to the government. They went to the jirga and they went to the elders to solve a lot of these issues. That is an opportunity that we missed. We would have needed a policy based on the culture of the place, based on the culture in Kabul and the culture in Herat, the culture in Mazar-e-Sharif, but not based on the culture of Washington. I think this was one of the biggest problems.

DER SPIEGEL: The Afghanistan mission spanned four U.S. presidencies. Do they all bear equal responsibility for what happened?

Soufan: I think we can talk of a national failure, a national loss. This loss is because of two Democratic administrations and two Republican administrations. Every administration made a lot of mistakes in this. The Bush administration made a lot of mistakes in moving much-needed resources to focus on Iraq and then focusing on Iraq. The Obama administration even sent more troops in and, for eight years, was hoping that something miraculous would happen. The Trump administration is responsible for not understanding the situation at all and opening negotiations only with the Taliban and disregarding the Afghan government and releasing 5,000 Taliban fighters without asking the Taliban for anything in exchange. Unbelievable.


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