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Blinken defends Biden in testimony before the US Congress

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is set to defend the Biden administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years in front of questioning from bipartisan lawmakers in Congress who reject the chaotic departure, according to The Hill.

Blinken will appear before the House Foreign Affairs Committee after an evacuation effort that has flown 124,000 people out of the country - but that has left many vulnerable Afghans behind.

Blinken is expected to say, according to his written opening testimony shared before the hearing: “There is no evidence that staying longer would have made the Afghan security forces or the Afghan government more resilient or self-sufficient. If it weren't for 20 years and hundreds of billions of dollars of The support, equipment and training are sufficient, so why would another year, five, or ten make a difference?”

The hearing is set to be the first of many oversight efforts by lawmakers to get answers from the State Department as well as the Department of Defense about a swift withdrawal and the administration's plans to help allies who have worked alongside the military.

In his opening remarks, Blinken largely blamed the Trump administration for disrupting processing of Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) granted to interpreters and others who assisted the military, along with their families.

“There hasn’t been a single interview for an SIV applicant in Kabul in nine months, back in March of 2020. The program was basically in a stalemate. Within two weeks of taking office, we resumed the SIV interview process in Kabul.”

The Biden administration has repeatedly defended its planning by saying that no one expected such a rapid downfall for the country.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters earlier: "There was nothing that I or anyone else of us saw that indicated the collapse of this army and this government in 11 days."