Senior Democrat’s spokesperson disputes Blinken’s feedback about flights grounded in Afghanistan


Talking at a information convention in Qatar on Tuesday, Blinken mentioned that with out personnel on the bottom, they “haven’t got the means to confirm the accuracy of manifests, the id of passengers onboard these planes, aviation safety protocols, or the place they plan to land, amongst different points. And these elevate actual issues.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s communications director disputed the assertion, saying that the Connecticut Democrat’s workplace had submitted info for passengers on two of these planes that “goes above and past what was required for journey out of (Hamid Karzai Worldwide Airport) simply in the future earlier.”

“If what we now have submitted shouldn’t be enough, then the State Division’s message is that they won’t assist Afghans to depart the nation. That runs counter to the guarantees that Secretary Blinken and President Biden have made to our allies — to the Afghans who risked every little thing for our nation — and we hope it is not true,” Maria McElwain mentioned in a press release Tuesday.

“We’re desirous to work with the administration to make sure the secure take off of those flights,” she mentioned.

Tensions are rising between the administration and lawmakers and advocacy organizations over the flights in Mazar-i-Sharif which haven’t been permitted to take off.

Talking to the press in Doha, Blinken mentioned that the State Division was “working across the clock with NGOs, with members of Congress and advocacy teams, offering any and all info and doing all we will to clear any roadblocks that they’ve recognized to guarantee that constitution flights carrying People or others to whom we now have a particular accountability can depart Afghanistan safely.”

He additionally rebutted GOP claims that the Taliban is holding People “hostage,” and mentioned that the Taliban had assured the US that every one Americans and Afghan residents with legitimate journey paperwork might be allowed to depart an airport in northern Afghanistan.

Blinken spoke after Rep. Michael McCaul, the highest Republican on the Home Overseas Affairs Committee, mentioned Sunday that he has acquired categorized briefings that “a whole bunch” of Americans and Afghan allies are caught on the Mazar-i-Sharif airport in Afghanistan.

The Taliban “aren’t clearing the airplanes to depart,” McCaul instructed Fox Information, saying that “that is … turning right into a hostage scenario the place they don’t seem to be going to permit Americans depart till they get full recognition from the USA of America.”

‘Not conscious’

Blinken instructed reporters in Doha that he has heard nothing of the type. “We aren’t conscious of anybody being held on an plane or any hostage like scenario in Mazar-i-Sharif,” he mentioned. The highest US diplomat added that he intends to carry the Taliban to their promise to let flights depart the airport in Mazar-i-Sharif. “They’ve upheld that dedication in at the least one occasion within the final 24 hours with a household that was in a position to depart via an overland route,” he mentioned.

Blinken defined that a difficulty had come up on the airport with individuals who didn’t maintain legitimate paperwork.

“There are teams of people who find themselves grouped collectively. A few of them have the suitable journey paperwork and American passport, a inexperienced card, a visa, and others don’t,” Blinken mentioned. “And it is my understanding that the Taliban has not denied entry to anybody holding a legitimate doc, however they’ve mentioned that these with out legitimate paperwork, at this level, cannot depart.”

The State Division instructed Congress on Saturday that constitution flights have been grounded in Mazar-i-Sharif, however had permission to land in Doha. The message mentioned it was the Taliban’s determination to floor the flights.

Blumenthal’s communications director mentioned his workplace “has been working intently with a small group of NGOs, veterans, advocates, and journalists to safe secure passage for 2 of those planes.”

“I can solely communicate for our two planes, however we supplied the State Division with the manifest for our flights as early as August 30 and as late as yesterday,” McElwain mentioned within the assertion Tuesday. “The knowledge we supplied the State Division is above and past what’s normally required for journey in Afghanistan.”

“Though a few of our passengers are young children who, admittedly, don’t but have a full suite of documentation that an grownup may need, in these instances we offer shot information and supplied to assist confirm their id every other means that we may. The State Division has had this info for 8 days. On Friday, September 3, the State Division formally acknowledged that they’d no objection to our planes touchdown in Doha, which is what third-party governments require to permit plane to land,” she mentioned.

“The State Division clearly can not confirm passengers on the bottom as a result of the U.S. authorities withdrew its consular presence. The State Division can also be not permitting the airline to confirm passengers as was its earlier coverage. In consequence, it appears as if they’re indicating that the Taliban must be within the place of verifying the passengers who would fly on these plane. The truth is that we now have extraordinarily weak Afghans on these flights and it appears clearly problematic if the State Division expects the Taliban to individually confirm our passengers,” she famous.

In a blistering assertion Monday, Blumenthal, who sits on the Senate Armed Providers Committee, mentioned he has “been deeply pissed off, even livid, at our authorities’s delay and inaction.”

“There might be loads of time to hunt accountability for the inexcusable bureaucratic purple tape that stranded so a lot of our Afghan allies. For now, my singular focus stays getting these planes within the air and safely to our airbase in Doha, the place they’ve already been cleared to land. I count on the White Home and State Division to do every little thing of their energy — completely every little thing — to make this occur. These are People residents and Afghans who risked every little thing for our nation. We can not depart them behind,” he mentioned.

Marina LeGree, whose group is making an attempt to get 34 at-risk girls out of Afghanistan on these flights, instructed CNN Tuesday that the planes have been nonetheless grounded.

She instructed CNN that the Taliban has mentioned that these with visas might be permitted to depart, however these with out won’t be able to depart Afghanistan.

LeGree, who runs a nonprofit known as Ascend, mentioned the ladies in her group don’t have visas, and that this was not a difficulty when the US authorities was manifesting the flights. LeGree instructed CNN she was discouraged by Blinken’s remarks and felt as if the State Division was handing them over to the Taliban.

CNN reported August 17 that American personnel on the embassy in Kabul had destroyed the passports of some Afghans once they have been eliminating all delicate supplies in preparation for a full evacuation, in keeping with a message Rep. Andy Kim’s workplace was sharing with folks looking for assist with evacuations from Afghanistan.
Taliban accused of murdering pregnant Afghan policewoman in front of her family

It’s unclear why the passports have been destroyed, however it’s attainable diplomats decided it could have been harmful for the paperwork to fall into the fingers of Taliban militants who may then goal these Afghans. However being with out a passport creates main issues for Afghans who’re nonetheless making an attempt, desperately and urgently, to get in a foreign country.

Blinken’s journey to Qatar, the place he arrived Monday and was joined by Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday, is an element of a bigger “thanks” tour that may embrace Germany. Each nations have been key to the US effort to execute the most important airlift in US navy historical past, pulling about 125,000 folks out of Kabul, and each nations are internet hosting intense diplomacy about Afghanistan.

Qatar has develop into a hub for diplomatic efforts, with the nation mediating between the US, its allies and the Taliban. In Germany, Blinken will co-host a ministerial assembly on Afghanistan because the US and allies work to determine a unified place on Afghanistan and their strategy to the Taliban as studies emerge of the group’s violent crackdown on protestors and deepening fears about their remedy of girls.

The ministerial agenda will nearly actually embrace a evaluation of the Taliban’s interim authorities, which provides key roles to veterans of the Taliban motion and their allies within the Haqqani Community, which the US has designated as a Overseas Terrorist Community for its lethal assaults on US and coalition navy and civilian personnel and its ties to al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Authorities officers with bounties on their heads

The interim authorities line-up introduced at a information convention in Kabul by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid additionally consists of Haqqani Community members who’ve been individually designated by the US for terrorist exercise.

The brand new Prime Minister might be Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, a long-time member of the Taliban and chief of the group’s Shura or Management Council for about twenty years. He’s seen as an influential and revered spiritual determine within the motion fairly than a navy chief. His deputy might be Mullah Baradar, the top of the Taliban’s Political Bureau who spent eight years in jail earlier than being launched as a part of the Trump administration’s efforts to carry peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar.

The interim authorities additionally consists of two senior Haqqani Community figures who’re on US and United Nations terrorism lists. Khalil Haqqani, the appearing Minister for Refugees, was named a Specifically Designated World Terrorist in 2011 by US officers who positioned a $5 million bounty on his head.

The Haqqani Community’s chief, Sirajuddin Haqqani, who has been named appearing Minister of the Inside, can also be beneath US and UN terrorist designations. The State Division has additionally positioned a $5 million bounty on his head.

Sirajuddin Haqqani has been one in every of two deputy leaders of the Taliban since 2016. The opposite deputy chief of the Taliban, Mullah Yaqoob, is a son of the Taliban founder Mullah Omar and has been named appearing Minister of Protection.

This story has been up to date with extra particulars Tuesday.

CNN’s Tim Lister, Jonny Hallam, Daniella Diaz, Nicky Robertson, Sonnet Swire, and Lauren Fox contributed to this report

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