Afghanistan crisis: We were caught by surprise, says British foreign secretary


Dominic Raab, British foreign secretary, says the UK government did not foresee the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

Taliban fighters had on Sunday invaded Kabul, and took over power after Ashraf Ghani, the Afghanistan president, fled.


In an interview with Sky News, Raab said the UK government would have taken action if it foresaw the actions of the militant group.


“The truth is, across the world people were caught by surprise,” he said.

“I haven’t spoken to an international interlocutor, including countries in the region over the last week, who hasn’t been surprised.


“We saw a very swift change in the dynamics. And of course, this has been part and parcel of the withdrawal of western troops, but it’s also been the approach of the Taliban, and of course, it’s been a test for the Afghan security forces.


“All of those factors have been very fluid. But no one saw this coming. Of course, we’d have taken action if we had.”

In another interview with BBC, Raab said the UK believed the Taliban would attempt to move in later in the year and in a more gradual manner.


Asked if he would sit down with his counterpart in the Taliban-led Afghanistan, the foreign secretary said it would not happen “for the foreseeable future” but added there has always been some form of communication between the UK and the militant group.


“We’ve always had a dialogue of some sort, either indirectly through third parties, or through the Taliban’s political commission in Doha,” he said.


“It is important to be able to engage at least in some shape or form to test and to exert as much influence as we credibly, realistically can, and also to try and hold the Taliban to account to the new commitments they made.


 “We’ve got to try and use every lever working with our partners, working with the UN, working with NATO, to try and secure a more moderating influence, and a better course for the Afghan people in the months and years ahead.”


Raab said about 900 British armed forces were in Afghanistan to help bring British nationals home and secure the safety of selected Afghans.

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