Afghanistan crisis RECAP What is happening in Afghanistan today | Joe Biden speech reaction | Dominic Raab defends UK Government
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Scottish veterans who served in Afghanistan and the families of their fallen comrades have questioned the legacy of Britain’s two decade-long engagement in the country, with one grieving mother fearing their sacrifice has been “for nothing”.
Defence Secretary admits ‘some people won’t get back’ from Afghanistan
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has admitted “some people won’t get back” from Afghanistan as a desperate struggle to get UK nationals and local allies out of the country continued.
Mr Wallace, who previously served in the Scots Guards, appeared to choke up while appearing on the LBC radio station on Monday morning as he spoke about the evacuation effort from the country, which has fallen to the Taliban following the withdrawal of Western troops.
British troops are racing against the clock to get remaining UK nationals and their local allies out of Afghanistan following the dramatic fall of the country’s Western-backed government.
But becoming emotional while speaking to LBC, Mr Wallace spoke of his regret that “some people won’t get back”.
He said: “It’s a really deep part of regret for me … look, some people won’t get back. Some people won’t get back and we will have to do our best in third countries to process those people.”
UK military cannot return to Afghanistan, says former Nato head
The former head of Nato has said the UK military cannot return to Afghanistan after the country was retaken by the Taliban on Sunday.
Lord Robertson, who served as general secretary of the military alliance between 1999 and 2004 – and issued a statement invoking article five of the treaty that provides for collective defence after the attack on the World Trade Centre on 9/11 – said on Monday that the UK should focus on increasing its defences against terrorism at home.
The Taliban marched into Kabul on Sunday, taking the presidential palace with little resistance while President Ashraf Ghani was forced to flee.
Lord Robertson said on Good Morning Scotland on Monday that the speed of the takeover showed a “failure of intelligence” from allied forces.
He said he was “sad and sickened” by the scenes from the country, where coalition forces had been stationed for 20 years.
“I find it ironic at best but tragic at worst that the anniversary of 9/11 is going to be commemorated in a few weeks’ time with the Taliban back in control of Kabul – that is deeply, deeply depressing,” he said.
But he added that the time for military intervention in the country is over and the focus must shift to stopping terrorist acts on British soil.
“I don’t think we’re going to be back in there again. We can’t go in there militarily – that’s over, that’s finished.
“That’s an episode we’ll have to reflect on and learn lots of lessons from.
“But what we have to do is to make sure that our own defences are much more resilient as a consequence of this particular failure, and we’ve got to watch what the international ramifications are going to be – they will not be good.
“That’s why I think it’s tragic that we will commemorate the disaster that was 9/11 with the Taliban back in control of the presidential palace in Kabul.”
Crossbench peer, former Cabinet secretary and former national security adviser Lord Sedwill said it was a “humiliating moment for the West” and warned “extremists everywhere will be emboldened”.
Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood compared chaotic scenes at Kabul airport to “Saigon 2.0”, referencing evacuations as the North Vietnamese army captured the southern capital and ended the Vietnam War.
On US President Biden’s leadership over Afghanistan, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The die was cast when the deal was done by Donald Trump if you want my observation.”
It was “amazing” and “staggering” that the Foreign Secretary was on holiday as Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, Lord Robertson has said.
Ministry of Defence of British Embassy staff and British Nationals walk towards the terminal after they disembarked the first flight of evacuated personnel that arrived back from Afghanistan to the UK at RAF Brize Norton.
The UK should support Afghan citizens who helped British forces in the past 20 years and reverse cuts to the aid budget, Lord Robertson has said.
The former Nato secretary general told Good Morning Scotland that those who aided the allies in the last two decades should be treated “swiftly and generously”.
“We should certainly accept those who were helping us during that 20 years of conflict,” he said.
“We also need to reverse the aid cuts that would involve the humanitarian aid to the area being cut back at the present moment.”
He added: “What we’ve also got to do is to build greater resilience in this country against a terrorist threat which is likely now to increase in the future.”
Tobias Ellwood, a former British Army captain and current chairman of the Defence Select Committee, tweeted: “Chaotic exodus from Kabul airport. Apaches used to clear the runway.
“If this is not Saigon 2.0 I don’t know what is. Is this how we thought we’d depart Afghanistan? I repeat my call for a UK inquiry.”