Blinken heads to Sunday shows as Afghan situation deteriorates

Blinken heads to Sunday shows as Afghan situation deteriorates
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Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenBlinken speaks with Sudan's prime minister after African leader's detainment Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Afghanistan reckoning shows no signs of stopping Senate confirms four Biden ambassadors after delay MORE is slated to appear on multiple Sunday morning talk shows this weekend as the situation in Afghanistan rapidly deteriorates.

Blinken is scheduled to appear on CNN’s “State of the Union,” NBC’s “Meet the Press” and ABC’s “This Week” as the Taliban approach the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan's capital and largest city.

The Taliban, which have made astonishing gains since U.S. troops started withdrawing from Afghanistan ahead of President BidenJoe BidenBiden invokes Trump in bid to boost McAuliffe ahead of Election Day Business lobby calls for administration to 'pump the brakes' on vaccine mandate Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Afghanistan reckoning shows no signs of stopping MORE's Aug. 31 deadline, have already taken the country’s second- and third-largest cities.

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Taliban fighters said Saturday they captured the provincial capital of Gardez, which CNN reported would be the 19th of Afghanistan's 34 provincial capitals to be captured by the group if confirmed.

The Associated Press noted that more than two-thirds of Afghanistan is now under Taliban control.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has appealed to the international community for help, saying in a speech on Saturday that conversations were already underway.

“We have started consultations, inside the government with elders and political leaders, representatives of different levels of the community as well as our international allies,” Ghani said, according to the AP.

U.S. troops are arriving in Kabul this weekend as part of an effort to evacuate embassy staff as the Taliban close in on the capital city.

Roughly 3,000 troops already in the Middle East will be sent to Kabul to “provide safety and secure movement of the reduction of civilian personnel out of the embassy,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Thursday.

Blinken's appearance on the weekend talk shows will come two days after the U.S. Embassy ordered staff to destroy sensitive material, including classified documents, as it prepares to scale down its operations.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellManchin backs raising debt ceiling with reconciliation if GOP balks Biden needs to be both Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside Billionaire tax gains momentum MORE (R-Ky.) has called on the U.S. to do more to fight against the insurgent group, saying that the U.S. should start conducting airstrikes to halt the Taliban’s offensive as many begin to worry that Kabul could fall within the next several weeks.

Some Republicans, including McConnell, have voiced their criticism of Biden’s decision to withdraw troops as Taliban fighters have gained ground in recent days.

However, some Democrats, including Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDemocratic senator: Methane fee could be 'in jeopardy' Democrats ready to put a wrap on dragged-out talks Democrats look for plan B on filibuster MORE (D-Conn.), have defended the decision to withdraw troops.

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“The complete, utter failure of the Afghan National Army, absent our hand-holding, to defend their country is a blistering indictment of a failed 20-year strategy predicated on the belief that billions of U.S taxpayer dollars could create an effective, democratic central government in a nation that has never had one,” Murphy said this week on the Senate floor.

Earlier this week, Biden himself continued to defend his decision, pointing to the amount of money spent and the number of Afghan troops trained.

"We spent over $1 trillion over 20 years. We trained and equipped with modern equipment over 300,000 Afghan forces," Biden said at a Tuesday news conference. "And Afghan leaders have to come together. We lost thousands, we lost to death and injury, thousands of American personnel. They’ve got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation."