Right-wing media are attacking the Biden administration for evacuating the U.S. embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, as rival groups in the military and government have brought the country to the verge of civil war. Biden critics have created a false comparison to the American military’s 2021 withdrawal from Kabul, Afghanistan, in an attempt to manufacture a new scandal for the president.
As negotiations deteriorated between two warring factions vying for control of Sudan, fighting broke out in Khartoum. There have reportedly been over 400 deaths and over 3,000 injuries so far as the conflict threatens to displace thousands more in a country that already has one of Africa's largest refugee populations.
The Biden administration announced the evacuation of the U.S. embassy on April 22. After a successful evacuation operation, there is no longer any official American government presence in Sudan. However, an estimated 16,000 Americans, many of whom are dual nationals, remain in the country. As the combatants have agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire, the U.S. government is working with international partners to evacuate those that wish to leave.
Despite the successful evacuation of the embassy and the operations to evacuate additional American civilians, right-wing media have attempted to paint the situation as a scandalous failure for the Biden administration. Many have evoked a comparison to the military withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, which was used to attack Biden at the time and has since been used as a cudgel against the administration to suggest the U.S. appears weak on the international stage as a result.
Unlike in Afghanistan, the American evacuation from Khartoum does not affect the political infighting of the factions seeking control in Sudan and was done to ensure the safety of American government officials, other personnel, and their families. Additionally, many of the American citizens who remain in Sudan do not wish to leave. Embassy evacuations like this are a routine occurrence for the diplomatic corps, which often finds its work overseas interrupted by local threats or civil unrest. With rescue missions still ongoing, right-wing media were nonetheless quick to deploy a shaky comparison between the evacuations of Khartoum and Kabul.
- On April 24, while talking to Fox News contributor retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, America Reports co-anchor John Roberts compared Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s comments on the Afghanistan withdrawal to his comments on evacuating U.S. citizens in Sudan: “That sounded awfully familiar to me, so I went back to August 25 in 2021, what he said about Afghanistan.” Kellogg remarked “You shouldn't retreat from embassies. It sets a clear example to the rest of the world that America is willing to retreat, a little pressure, you’re going to pull back.”
- Roberts later added in an interview with Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL), “Echos of Afghanistan here. The embassy in Khartoum is closed and there’s still thousands of people who might want to get out.”
- On the April 24 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy proclaimed, “This has echos of what happened in Afghanistan. After we got the, you know, the official personnel out. And we heard from the State Department and the White House, ‘Everybody that wanted to leave, left.’ That was not true.” Fox anchor Dana Perino did add, “It is slightly different, given that America was obviously involved in the war.”
- The April 24 guest host of Your World, Sandra Smith, provided no pushback as Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) said, “I hear more of the same that we heard in Afghanistan. And honestly it starts breaking my heart. I get evacuating the embassies. Sometimes you have to do that. But we probably wouldn't if we had a strong leader. A weak leader invites this kind of devastation around the world.” Smith then moved topics to what she referred to as “the rise in terrorism that we have seen since our botched Afghanistan withdrawal.”
- On April 24, right-wing self proclaimed social media strategist Chuck Callesto tweeted: “REPORT: White House TURNS THEIR BACK on close to 16,000 US citizens in Sudan after brutal fighting between rival military factions – Says it's NOT SAFE to evacuate Americans out.. DOES THIS SOUND FAMILIAR?”
- An April 24 headline from the far-right blog Breitbart read, “Another Kabul? Citizens Feel Abandoned as Diplomats Airlifted Out of Sudan.”
- On April 23, right-wing Twitter account Amuse tweeted: “Biden has no immediate plans to evacuate the 16,000 Americans trapped in Sudan. It is a repeat of Afghanistan.”