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UK’s Afghanistan withdrawal a disaster, inquiry concludes

·2-min read
Dominic Raab (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)
Dominic Raab (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

The UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan was a disaster and a betrayal of our allies, a scathing report by the Foreign Affairs Committe has found.

The report said a fundamental lack of planning and preparation by Dominic Raab and senior officials meant there had been an “appalling mismanagement” of the situation in Afghanistan with “systemic failures of intelligence, diplomacy, planning and preparation”.

They said the incompetence may have cost lives, and that the evacuation plans “failed to deliver the bare minimum”, with Foreign Office staff relying on Google to decide who to save.

The MPs are demanding the resignation of the Foreign Office’s top mandarin Sir Philip Barton.

In addition, they have suggested that senior figures may not be “telling the truth” about the airlift of animals from a shelter run by former Royal Marine Pen Farthing.

Ahead of the fall of Kabul, they found the UK Government did “too little to lay the groundwork” with countries neighbouring Afghanistan to secure their help for an evacuation effort.

In the eight months leading to the Taliban’s takeover, Mr Raab, who was foreign secretary at the time, made just one call on the subject to a neighbouring country.

“Though the UK Government saw a rapid collapse in Afghanistan as a plausible scenario, the Foreign Office failed properly to prepare for it,” the MPs said.

“As the situation deteriorated, the Foreign Secretary should have taken the lead on contact with third countries, making intensive efforts to put in place evacuation routes. Instead, he delegated meetings to junior ministers, only stepping into action once Kabul had fallen.”

Labour MP David Lammy, who is the Shadow Foreign Secretary, said the report “highlights the scale of the government’s incompetence, laziness and mishandling” of the withdrawal.

“The Conservative government has badly let down Britain’s reputation on the global stage and those responsible for this calamity should be held accountable,” he said.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “This was the biggest UK mission of its kind in generations and followed months of intensive planning and collaboration between UK government departments.

“We carried out a thorough review to learn lessons from our withdrawal from Afghanistan and have drawn on many of the findings in our response to the conflict in Ukraine, including introducing new systems for managing correspondence and increasing senior oversight of our operational and diplomatic response.”

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