Joe Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered remarks to the press on Wednesday updating Americans on the recent takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban.
In one of his most disturbing statements, Blinken admitted the U.S. relying completely on the Taliban for the safe evacuations of U.S. citizens and personnel.
“The Taliban, whether we like it or not, is in control,” said Blinken.
“There is no deadline on our work to help any remaining American citizens who decide they want to leave to do so,” the secretary of state added.
“That effort will continue every day past August 31,” Blinken said referring to the Biden administration’s deadline for withdrawing all U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
When asked by reporters on whether the Biden administration would take responsibility for the fall of Afghanistan, Blinken replied, “I take responsibility, I know the President has said he takes responsibility.” However, Biden has repeatedly blamed President Trump for the botched pullout of Afghanistan that resulted in the tragic deaths of 13 U.S. soldiers and injuries of at least 18 more.
“I bear responsibility for, fundamentally, all that’s happened of late,” Biden said during a national address on Thursday. “But, you know as well as I do that the former president made a deal with the Taliban to get all American forces out of Afghanistan by May 1.”
The Trump administration previously brokered a deal with the Taliban and U.S.-backed Afghan government that would lead to the withdrawal of the U.S. military which has occupied the country for 20 years. However, the plan was contingent upon the Taliban keeping up their end of the deal.
In the event that the Taliban could not keep their promises and peace talks failed, U.S. troops would stay put in Afghanistan. When Biden took office, peace talks fell flat and Biden chose to stay in the agreement without renegotiating, which ultimately led to the Taliban’s complete takeover of Afghanistan, prompting emergency evacuations of Americans.
The Biden administration has since restarted negotiations with the Taliban to secure the safety of Americans while they evacuate.
“The Taliban have made public and private commitments to provide and permit safe passage for Americans, for third-country nationals, and Afghans at risk going forward past August 31st,” said Blinken.
The secretary of state’s statement came shortly after the Taliban stopped people with documentation, including women, SIVs, Afghans, and Americans with papers, and turned away from the airport. Many U.S. planes have been blocked from landing or taking off from the Kabul airport.
“Our focus right now is on getting our citizens and getting other – our partners – Afghan partners, third-country partners who have been working in Afghanistan with us – out of the country and to safety,” said Blinken. “And for that purpose, first, the Taliban, whether we like it or not, is in control – largely in control of the country, certainly in control of the city of Kabul.”
“And it’s been important to work with them to try to facilitate and ensure the departure of all those who want to leave, and that has actually been something that we’ve been focused on for – from the beginning of this operation, because as a practical matter it advances our interests,” Blinken continued.
At least 13 U.S. troops, two Britons, the child of a British citizen, and at least 90 Afghan civilians seeking evacuation have been killed following a series of explosions at the Kabul airport on Thursday, five days before the Biden administrations withdrawal deadline. ISIS-K has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attacks.