On Tuesday, Townhall covered Secretary of State Antony Blinken's insistence that there were no private evacuation flights being blocked by the Taliban. "We have been assured, again, that all American citizens and Afghan citizens with valid travel documents will be allowed to leave,” stated Blinken. “It’s my understanding that the Taliban has not denied exit to anyone holding a valid document."
Roughly 24 hours later, Blinken has reversed his position and admitted that the Taliban is, in fact, blocking chartered evacuation flights from departing Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport in northern Afghanistan.
"As of now, the Taliban are not permitting the charter flights to depart," Blinken confirmed in remarks from Ramstein Air Base in Germany. "They claim that some of the passengers do not have the required documentation," he added without explaining why the United States was taking the Taliban's claim that some evacuees were lacking proper documentation as an acceptable excuse for blocking the flights.
Biden Secretary of State Antony Blinken: “The Taliban are not permitting the charter flights to depart.”— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) September 8, 2021
These flights include American citizens. pic.twitter.com/HbJVMAsFHt
Stating the obvious, Blinken admitted that "there are limits" to what the Biden administration can do "without personnel on the ground" but insisted the administration is "working to do everything in our power to support those flights and to get them off the ground."
While Blinken, Biden, and Pentagon officials insisted that there would continue to be a diplomatic presence at the U.S. embassy in Kabul in the days leading up to Kabul's fall to Taliban fighters, Biden's humiliating and deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan meant that no military or diplomatic presence could remain in-country. So yet again, President Biden and his administration are left to rely upon the Taliban's goodwill which, as highlighted by the hostage situation in Mazar-i-Sharif, has worn out.
And again, without any American troops or diplomats remaining in Afghanistan, it's unclear what exactly Blinken is referring to when he said his department and the Biden administration are doing "everything in our power" to get those flights and the evacuees aboard them safely out of Afghanistan. If the Biden administration failed to get them out of the country while American troops and diplomats were still on the ground in Afghanistan what could he do to rescue them now after pulling all assets from Afghanistan? Is a diplomat in Qatar all the hope Biden has to offer those being held by the Taliban?
Blinken's reversal also exonerates Representative Michael McCaul's statements on Sunday — for which he was criticized by Democrats — when he warned that Americans and other evacuees were being held hostage by the Taliban at the airport.
STUCK ON PLANES: @RepMcCaul says Americans and Afghan interpreters have been held hostage by the Taliban for days at the Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport in Afghanistan. #FoxNewsSunday pic.twitter.com/2gJfxNTIfJ— FoxNewsSunday (@FoxNewsSunday) September 5, 2021
As Blinken finally concedes to reality, the fact that there's now what most would consider to be a hostage situation with Americans held by the Taliban is yet another nail in the coffin of President Biden's insistence that his withdrawal from Afghanistan was an "extraordinary success."