U.S. suspends diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, moves mission to Qatar

The United States has suspended its diplomatic presence in Afghanistan and will conduct its operations out of Qatar, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday, adding Washington will press ahead with its “relentless” efforts to help people leave the country, even after its troops have pulled out.

Blinken’s statement comes after the departure of the last U.S. plane, leaving behind thousands of Afghans who helped Western countries and might have qualified for evacuation. “As of today, we’ve suspended our diplomatic presence in Kabul and transferred our operations to Doha, Qatar,” Blinken said, adding that Congress would be notified. Blinken said Washington would conduct its Afghanistan diplomacy including consular work and administering humanitarian assistance out of Qatari capital Doha, with a team headed by Ian McCary, the deputy chief of the U.S. mission to Afghanistan. The operation came to an end before the Tuesday deadline set by President Joe Biden, who has drawn heavy criticism from both Democrats and Republicans for his handling of Afghanistan since the Taliban made rapid advances and took over Kabul earlier this month.

Blinken, who was speaking just hours after the final evacuation flights left Afghanistan’s Kabul, said a small number of US citizens remained in the country. He said close to more than 100 Americans were still believed to remain in Afghanistan who wanted to leave but Washington was trying to determine their exact number. Over 6,000 Americans have been evacuated. America’s top diplomat also expressed commitment to helping every American who wants to leave the war-torn country.