UK ministers despair over Taliban advances in Afghanistan

UK ministers despair over deteriorating situation in Afghanistan
3 min read
13 August, 2021
Following the Taliban's rapid surge in Afghanistan, UK ministers launched fresh attacks at the decision to withdraw US and NATO forces.
The Taliban have captured more than a dozen provincial capitals in recent days and now control more than two-thirds of the country [sources: Getty]

UK Ministers voiced their despair and frustration over the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan on Thursday as the Taliban seized 12 of the country’s 34 provincial capitals in a recent surge. 

Conservative MPs, including Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and a former soldier in Afghanistan Tom Tugendhat, slammed the decision to withdraw US and NATO troops for abandoning the country and reversing the work of military and humanitarian missions over the last two decades.  

Tugendhat wrote on Twitter that the decision to withdraw was "wasteful and unnecessary". 

"So you want to know why I’m angry?  Because we don’t need to do this. Because it is about our freedom tomorrow not just Afghanistan today," argued the Conservative minister. 

Tugendhat expressed concerns about the geopolitical rift caused by the withdrawal, allowing nations such as Russia and China to play a more dominant role internationally while the UK looks "untrustworthy" and leaves its allies “exposed”. 

MP Nusrat Ghani, a Conservative MP and former journalist for the BBC World Service, wrote in an article for PoliticsHome that the withdrawal was "undoing any progress made from our intervention, and our own reputation on the world stage". 

Ghani highlighted the plight of women and girls specifically. "I hear from the women and girls I met that under the Taliban, regardless of any peace settlement, they are living in fear." 

A Taliban spokesperson claimed in an interview with BBC’s Today programme on Friday: “We have no problem that [women] have access to education and to work” as long as they wear the hijab. “Our goal is not military take over, our policy is...peaceful settlement,” he added.  

Conservative MP and former soldier Tobias Ellwood MP also wrote on Twitter: "What would Churchill say? This is NOT our finest hour. What happened to Global Britain and America is Back?" 

Last month, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson made assurances that the UK was not “walking away” from Afghanistan. 

Around 600 UK troops have been sent to the country to protect and help relocate UK nationals, Afghan staff and interpreters. This follows an announcement by the UK foreign office last week advising all British nationals to leave the country. 

Ten of thousands of Afghans have been forced to flee their homes due to the escalation of conflict, with many now living in crowded refugee camps. The Taliban have taken over the country’s second and third largest cities, Kandahar and Herat, and many fear Kabul will fall soon.