US lawmakers to probe Biden administration over 'horrifying' Afghanistan withdrawal

Afghans gather outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport to flee the country on Aug 17, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Members of the US Congress, including many of President Joe Biden's fellow Democrats, said on Tuesday (Aug 17) they were increasingly frustrated with events in Afghanistan, vowing to investigate what went wrong.

"The events of recent days have been the culmination of a series of mistakes made by Republican and Democratic administrations over the past 20 years," Senator Bob Menendez, Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.

"We are now witnessing the horrifying result of many years of policy and intelligence failures," Mr Menendez said.

Mr Menendez said his committee would hold a hearing on US policy toward Afghanistan, including negotiations between former Republican President Donald Trump's administration and the Taleban and the Biden's administration's execution of the withdrawal.

Committee Republicans said they wanted Secretary of State Antony Blinken to testify, "to understand why the State Department was so ill prepared for the contingencies unfolding before us", according to a letter sent to Mr Menendez.

"Updates from the State Department have been inconsistent, lacked important detail, and not be responsive to Members and the American people," the Republicans wrote.

The date of the hearing was not immediately announced.

Senator Mark Warner, the Democratic Intelligence Committee chairman, had said on Monday he intended to work with other committees "to ask tough but necessary questions" about why the United States was not better prepared for the collapse of the Afghan government.

Republicans continued their harsh criticism of Biden's policies.

"The security and humanitarian crisis now unfolding in Afghanistan could have been avoided if you had done any planning," Republicans on the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee wrote in a letter to the White House on Tuesday.

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