Biden fumbles another evacuation

Published 9:52 am Tuesday, May 2, 2023

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We’ve seen this movie before: a U.S. embassy closes under the supervision of President Biden’s administration. Americans are left behind. Utter incompetence abounds as yet another country descends into chaos.
I have to commend our brave servicemembers for carrying out the courageous mission to evacuate government workers from the U.S. embassy in Khartoum. Few places in the world are more dangerous than Sudan right now, as the nation once again teeters on the edge of becoming a failed state. But what about the Americans the Biden administration left behind? Who will help them?
While fewer than 5,000 Americans in Sudan have requested additional information from the State Department about leaving the country, there were an estimated 16,000 Americans left in the country before the conflict began. At the beginning of the conflict, the Biden administration admitted that it had no plans to save those who sought to leave Sudan. A State Department official told the press on April 22 that they “don’t foresee coordinating a U.S. Government evacuation for our fellow citizens in Sudan…” In other words, they’re on their own. American citizens have already been killed in the conflict; to make things worse, we’ve been told Sudanese leaders are in charge of security in the country. That sounds eerily similar to when Biden told us the Taliban was in charge of security at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, doesn’t it?
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that “some dozens” of Americans want to be evacuated. Given the Biden administration’s loose relationship with the truth last go-around, one can assume the actual number is far higher. In a security alert on April 25, the State Department told Americans still in Sudan, “There are options to depart Sudan, but you must decide the safest and best method of departure…We cannot guarantee your safety in movement.” It is unacceptable to leave Americans behind in a war zone with such little help.
What the administration has done to help Americans flee is lackluster at best. The Biden administration has rescued about 1,000 Americans from the country thus far. Reportedly, the administration used armed drones to monitor between 200 and 300 Americans in a UN convoy on their way to an evacuation point in Port Sudan. The State Department confirmed a second convoy arrived the following day. After waiting over 24 hours, more than 100 Americans were finally brought to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on a U.S. Navy fast transport ship. While this is a good start, the trip to Port Sudan is a dangerous 15- to 35-hour overland trek that no American should have to embark upon. Moreover, on April 28, a State Department spokesman stated, “We cannot guarantee travelers’ safety, nor can we guarantee how long these departure options will be available.” Several other countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain have rescued hundreds of their citizens. Why didn’t the U.S. act faster to do the same? Where are the Biden administration’s priorities? There is no acceptable explanation for this dangerous and embarrassing disaster. The longer the Biden administration waits to evacuate the remaining Americans who want to leave, the greater the likelihood that more Americans will die. One can’t help but remember the 13 U.S. servicemembers killed in an ISIS-K suicide bombing during the Afghanistan evacuation.
Some of the Americans still stranded obviously have little confidence in the Biden administration’s resolve. They saw what happened in Afghanistan, and they’re not taking any chances. Instead, they are hiring private security companies to escort them out of Sudan. According to one company, there are “hundreds” of people waiting to be evacuated by their team. Americans are having to go through dozens of checkpoints on their way out of the country. While all are risking death, some are even evading mortar, artillery, and small-arms fire in their desperate attempt to reach safety. Biden has left these Americans to fend for themselves.
Once again, Biden has demonstrated his weakness to our adversaries around the world. Whether it’s his disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, his administration’s indirect encouragement of Iran cementing new alliances across the Middle East, or the weak response to North Korea’s ballistic missile tests, Biden has indicated to our allies that America is undependable, and made clear to our enemies that as long as he is in the White House, they have little to fear from America.
(Marsha Blackburn represents Tennessee In the U.S. Senate)

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