Britain will be forced to turn to Russia and China to exercise ‘moderating influence’ over the Taliban, admits under-fire Dominic Raab
- Raab said ‘we’re going to have to bring in countries with moderating influence’
- Taliban seized power last weekend from a US-backed government in Afghanistan
- British forces have evacuated 3,821 people from Kabul since August 13
Britain would have to turn to Russia and China to exercise a ‘moderating influence’ over the Taliban despite a mistrust between the UK and those governments, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said.
‘We’re going to have to bring in countries with a potentially moderating influence like Russia and China, however uncomfortable that is,’ Raab told The Sunday Telegraph newspaper.
The Taliban seized power last weekend from a US-backed government, sending thousands fleeing and potentially heralding a return to the militants’ austere and autocratic rule of two decades ago.
It comes after Mr Raab was plunged into a fresh row over his holiday after sources told the Mail on Sunday he refused an order by No.10 to return from the Mediterranean to deal with the crisis.
Sources said Mr Raab had been told by a senior Downing Street official on Friday 13th August that he should return to London immediately as the situation in Kabul deteriorated, and that there had been ‘much gnashing of teeth’ when he delayed his homecoming until the early hours of Monday morning.
The claim is strongly denied by friends of Mr Raab, who insist that he was assured by Boris Johnson that he could stay with his family until the end of the weekend.
‘We’re going to have to bring in countries with a potentially moderating influence like Russia and China, however uncomfortable that is,’ Raab said
The Taliban seized power last weekend from a US-backed government, sending thousands fleeing and potentially heralding a return to the militants’ austere and autocratic rule of two decades ago
A flight of 265 people is evacuated out of Kabul by the British Army
Britain and China have recently been at odds over various issues, including Hong Kong and alleged human rights abuses against China’s Uyghur ethnic group.
Ties between London and Moscow also have been on ice since the 2018 poisoning with a Soviet-developed nerve agent known as Novichok of ex-double agent Sergei Skripal, a mole who betrayed hundreds of Russian agents to Britain’s MI6 foreign spy service.
Relations between Britain and Russia deteriorated further after a BBC journalist working in Moscow was told to leave the country.
British forces have evacuated 3,821 people from Kabul since August 13, according to Britain’s Ministry of Defence, including 1,323 who have made it to the UK.
This includes embassy staff, British nationals and those eligible under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy programme.
Evacuations have been underway in Afghanistan since the Taliban took control on August 13 after American troops were pulled from the country.
Evacuations have been underway in Afghanistan since the Taliban took control of the country on August 13 after American troops were pulled from the country
A US Navy corpsman hands out water to children during an evacuation at the airport in Kabul
Reports have since flooded in of death squads hunting Afghans, who helped the British or American armies, in their homes and killing them.
Operation Pitting, involving 1,000 British soldiers, has been deployed to help repatriate those stranded in the country and desperately needing escape.
Chaos has ensued at the airport ever since the Taliban took control and the Armed Forces are in a race against time to evacuate as many as possible.
British troops at the airport in Kabul told Sky News that the mayhem at airports, including mass crushes which have killed at least four women, were the worst scenes they saw during their service.
It is unclear exactly when evacuations need to be finished by but US President Joe Biden has indicated he wants them finished by the end of the month, meaning Britain will most likely have to follow suit.
A US Airman embraces a mother after she helped to reunite their family at the airport in Kabul
A US Airman high fives a child after helping to reunite their family at the airport in Kabul
It comes as Defence Secretary Ben Wallace declared that ‘no nation will be able to get everyone out’.
In a powerfully emotive article for The Mail on Sunday, Mr Wallace warns that time is ‘ticking along, impossible to stop’ towards the imminent end of the UK’s mission to rescue thousands of Afghans entitled to come to the UK.
While acknowledging that ‘no nation will be able to get everyone out’, Mr Wallace also announces that a series of ‘processing hubs’ will be set up in countries neighbouring Afghanistan for refugees who manage to escape. If they can establish their right to come to the UK, they will be flown to Britain.
The MoD is looking at establishing hubs in countries such as Pakistan and Turkey – but, startlingly, is also exploring whether the Taliban might allow the UK to retain a ‘presence’ in Kabul after the Americans have gone.
Mr Wallace makes a veiled plea for Washington to delay the US leaving date beyond August 31, writing: ‘Perhaps the Americans will be permitted to stay longer and they will have our complete support if they do.’
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