Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives flew unannounced to the airport in the Afghan capital of Kabul. Their action drew the ire of the State Department and the Pentagon, which were forced to distract their staff to ensure security and provide information requested by the congressmen. The AP reported on Tuesday, August 24, citing officials.
They are talking about Democrat Seth Moulton (Massachusetts) and Republican Peter Meijer (Michigan). Both flew in on a charter flight and spent several hours inspecting the airport in Kabul. They also returned to the U.S. on a charter, taking seats that were meant for other Americans or Afghans seeking to leave the country.
According to two agency sources familiar with the situation, the trip of the two lawmakers was not coordinated with the diplomats or military commanders in charge of the evacuation and caused serious discontent in the White House administration and the foreign policy and military departments of the United States.
It is noted that the visit became known only when the plane with Meijer and Moulton landed in Kabul. The situation looks especially strange if you consider that the latter served in the Marines in the past.
The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden viewed the congressmen’s inspection as useless, and some officials considered it a diversion of troops and commanders leading the evacuation of thousands of Americans and Afghans at risk.
Earlier Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the United States had withdrawn several hundred U.S. troops from Afghanistan. He added that the relocation of U.S. troops would not affect the implementation of the evacuation of Americans and Afghans from Kabul.
In addition, a number of countries’ embassies are evacuating their employees. Foreign citizens and Afghans working for foreign missions can leave the country only through the only airport in Kabul, which is controlled by the United States and its NATO allies.
The large-scale attempt by Afghan citizens to leave the airport in Kabul created turmoil, crushes and gunfire could be heard. The country’s civil aviation authority suspended all flights to and from Kabul airport Aug. 23 until further notice because of the large crowds in the airport.
As of August 24, more than 25 people were killed near the airport. In addition, human remains were found in the landing gear compartment of a U.S. aircraft that was flying out of Kabul. The crew members needed help from psychologists.