State Department: US Powerless To Stop Taliban From Grounding Planes

State Department: US Powerless To Stop Taliban From Grounding Planes

After promising to evacuate all American citizens from Afghanistan, the State Department said there is little it can do to help planes grounded by the Taliban. 

“We do not have personnel on the ground, we do not have air assets in the country, we do not control the airspace — whether over Afghanistan or elsewhere in the region,” a State Department spokesman told the Washington Free Beacon. “We understand the concern that many people are feeling as they try to facilitate further charter and other passage out of Afghanistan.”

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said on Sunday that six planes carrying American citizens and Afghan interpreters were waiting at the airport. 

“[The State Department] has cleared these flights and the Taliban will not let them leave the airport,” he told Fox News. “We know the reason why is because the Taliban want something in exchange.”

The Taliban denied the allegations, with spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid calling the claims “propaganda.”  

The six flights awaiting takeoff were chartered by nonprofit groups and others. McCaul said the planes have been stuck at the airport for several days and include citizens trying to flee the Taliban. 

Although Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that the State Department would pursue “relentless effort” to evacuate the estimated 200 Americans left in Afghanistan, the department said it does not have “reliable means” to access information about the six stranded charter flights. 

“Given these constraints, we also do not have a reliable means to confirm the basic details of charter flights, including who may be organizing them, the number of U.S. citizens and other priority groups on-board, the accuracy of the rest of the manifest, and where they plan to land, among many other issues,” the spokesman said.

Since President Joe Biden’s botched withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, reports from the Taliban-controlled region show that some Americans were beaten and harassed by the Taliban. Biden previously said in an Aug. 18 interview with George Stephanopoulos that “if there’s American citizens left, we are going to stay until we get them all out.”

But with six planes stranded, an estimated 200 Americans left waiting for help, and a State Department that can’t confirm a “reliable means” to get its citizens out of Afghanistan, the Biden administration’s promises look empty.

Haley Strack is an intern at The Federalist and a student at Hillsdale College studying politics and journalism. Follow her on Twitter @StrackHaley or reach her at [email protected]
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