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Tipsheet

Biden Leaves Americans Behind. Again.

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

On Saturday evening in Washington, President Biden announced that the U.S. military had conducted an evacuation of official personnel from the embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, while admitting he had again left Americans behind in the country after a week of escalating violence. 

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"Today, on my orders, the United States military conducted an operation to extract U.S. Government personnel from Khartoum," Biden said in a statement issued late Saturday night. "I am proud of the extraordinary commitment of our Embassy staff, who performed their duties with courage and professionalism and embodied America’s friendship and connection with the people of Sudan," he continued. "I am grateful for the unmatched skill of our service members who successfully brought them to safety," Biden said. "And I thank Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia, which were critical to the success of our operation."

According to Pentagon officials, the operation began at 9:00 a.m. ET when U.S. forces that had been pre-positioned in Djibouti lifted off for Ethiopia before refueling for a roughly three-hour flight to Khartoum where the evacuation was conducted "in one movement via rotary wing" — including three MH-47 Chinooks — with service members "spending less than an hour on the ground" before successfully evacuating the diplomatic personnel to a "safe and secure" location. 

The mission, according to the State Department and Pentagon, was conducted by "just over a hundred" special operations troops and resulted in "under a hundred people" being evacuated. With the completion of the airlift, there are no longer any U.S. government personnel in Khartoum, nor any U.S. Marines at the U.S. embassy, officials confirmed Saturday night. 

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But, as usual with the Biden administration, there's a catch. 

"I am receiving regular reports from my team on their ongoing work to assist Americans in Sudan, to the extent possible," Biden said in his statement that glaringly neglected to mention the death of a U.S. citizen that was confirmed on Friday, adding his administration is "also working closely with our allies and partners in this effort." 

That is, Americans — as many as 16,000 according to media reports — were not among the less than 100 diplomatic personnel evacuated by Biden, and his administration's latest updates from Sudan suggest there's not much that can be done now to help them other than hope for a ceasefire to hold and violence to subside. 

As the Biden administration pulled up stakes and announced that "the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum suspended its operations" due to "armed conflict, civil unrest, crime, terrorism, and kidnapping," the State Department reiterated after the evacuation of official personnel that it "cannot provide routine or emergency consular services to U.S. citizens in Sudan, due to the current security situation."

"Armed conflict is ongoing throughout Sudan and includes heavy fighting between various political and security groups," the Biden State Department noted again as it left Americans behind. "The situation is violent, volatile, and extremely unpredictable, particularly in the capital city Khartoum," a State Department bulletin issued overnight added. "Electrical and communication disruptions, including internet and cell phone service, can occur at any time." 

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What's more, the State Department reiterated that "Khartoum International Airport and Sudan’s border with Chad are currently closed," meaning Americans there have few, if any, options to get out on their own accord.

In a late-night briefing, Ambassador John Bass, Biden's Under Secretary of State for Management, painted an even more dire picture for Americans now left to fend for themselves in Sudan's "uncertain environment" where there is now an "absence of any commercial air, the absence of any charter aircraft capabilities, and the absence of really feasible overland road routes to get out of the country." 

That reality, according to Under Secretary Bass, is why the Biden administration "concluded the only way" to get diplomatic personnel out of Sudan "was to rely on the capabilities of our military colleagues."

For the private American citizens still in Sudan on Sunday morning, Bass didn't have much hope to give as he reminded them the State Department has had a "notice in place for over a decade cautioning American citizens not to travel to Sudan." Bass, however, added that when violent fighting in Khartoum "first kicked off a week ago," even the Biden administration was required to quickly reevaluate its posture in Sudan that ultimately led to the evacuation of diplomatic personnel and the suspension of embassy operations.

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"We don’t anticipate those security conditions are going to change in the near term," Bass said. "As a result of that uncertain security picture, as a result of the unavailability of the civilian airport, we don’t foresee coordinating a U.S. Government evacuation for our fellow citizens in Sudan at this time or in the coming days."

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