Tory MP tells Boris Johnson to say sorry for complete ‘shambles’ in Afghanistan

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Mr Baron, himself a former British Army officer, is the only Conservative MP who opposed the Afghan intervention, voting against it when finally able to do so in 2010. Over the years he has been consistently critical of Government and international policy in Afghanistan, including the nature of the withdrawal in the face of the relentless advances made by the Taliban in recent weeks.

Mr Baron was speaking amid reports that Taliban forces were poised to overrun Kabul, the Afghanistan capital, with President Ashraf Ghani reportedly having fled the country.

And the MP for Basildon and Billericay said the West was paying the price for a misguided strategy towards the mountainous country.

He said: “On behalf of previous Governments, the Prime Minister should apologise to the bereaved families of service personnel, and to those personnel who are still paying the price for this folly.

“We also need to examine the lessons from yet another foolhardy intervention – for example, while always maintaining our guard against terrorism, it has distracted us from the bigger threat of hostile nation-states.”

Mr Baron added: “The fundamental error was allowing the initial limited and successful mission of expelling al-Qaeda from Afghanistan in 2001 to morph into the much wider mission of nation-building in the following years, which meant we had to take on the Taliban.

“This wider mission was born of ignorance, was unrealistic in its aims, poorly executed and thoroughly under-resourced – even the withdrawal is a shambles.”

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Mr Baron also warned Mr Johnson of Britain’s responsibilities with respect to the country.

He explained: “In addition to getting our nationals out safely, the international community must now stand by those fleeing the country in fear of their lives, including those who helped British forces.

“As a country, we need to do our bit to reach out and welcome the refugees and asylum seekers. The priority now is to save lives.”

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Mr Baron was speaking on a day in which five people were killed in chaos at Kabul airport according to witnesses, as US troops guarded the evacuation of embassy staff a day after the Taliban seized the Afghan capital and declared the war was over and peace prevailed.

It was not immediately clear how the victims died – a US official said troops had fired in the air to deter people trying to force their way onto a military flight that was set to take US diplomats and embassy staff out of the fallen city.

One witness, waiting for a flight out for more than 20 hours, said it was unclear if the five had been shot or killed in a stampede. US officials at the airport were not immediately available for comment.

Three bodies could be seen on the ground near what appeared to be an airport side entrance, in a video posted on social media.
Another witness said he had also seen five bodies.

The chaos came as Taliban officials declared the war over and issued statements aimed at calming the panic that has been building in Kabul as the militants, who ruled from 1996 to 2001, routed the US-backed government’s forces.

Mr Ghani fled from the country on Sunday as the Islamists entered Kabul virtually unopposed, saying he wanted to avoid bloodshed.

Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said in a message on Twitter their fighters were under strict orders not to harm anyone.

He said: “Life, property and honour of none shall be harmed but must be protected by the mujahideen.”

Earlier, Mohammad Naeem, the spokesman for the Taliban’s political office, told Al Jazeera TV, the Afghan people and the Taliban had witnessed the fruits of their efforts and sacrifices over 20 years.

He said: “Thanks to God, the war is over.”

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