Sir John Major criticised the US military’s withdrawal from the Middle East as a move that occurred “abruptly and in my view unnecessarily”, stating that the act will be a “stain on the reputation of the West” for at least a lifetime. He references the decision made by the US President to remove troops from Afghanistan, with the final departure being made on Monday, August 30.
As the US withdrawal is complete, the airport in the nation’s capital Kabul is under control of Taliban extremists and many Afghan citizens, as well as British and American workers, remain unable to leave the country.
The former Prime Minister also said the failure to evacuate all Afghans who worked for Britain was a “shameful” move, and that the decision to leave the Middle East was “wrong morally” and “wrong practically”.
Speaking at the FT Weekend Festival, Sir Major criticised US President Joe Biden for the move which he dubbed “strategically very stupid”.
His criticism came following British and American efforts to evacuate their people, relatives and other vulnerable civilians from the Taliban rule.
It comes as recently, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab returned from his diplomatic tour to try to assist those who had been left behind in the rescue efforts but was unable to confirm how many Afghans were left behind.
At the festival, he said: “I think we were wrong to leave Afghanistan, I think we were wrong morally but we were also wrong practically.
“I think it was shameful that we weren’t able to take out those who had worked for us in one capacity or another, or who had worked carrying out the changes to Afghanistan that the Taliban won’t approve of.
There are estimated to be thousands of Afghans left behind who had helped British or American efforts in the Middle East, and they alongside their relatives are feared to have been left behind following the troop withdrawal.
He said: “The fact that it was left in that fashion will leave a stain on the reputation of the West that will last for a very long time and certainly through the whole of the lifetime of those people in Afghanistan whom we have returned to Taliban rule.”
Over 15,000 people have been evacuated by the UK efforts since August 13, among those are more than 8,000 former Afghan staff and their family members.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan is helping councils and housing associations to find accommodation for some of the refugees across the capital, as the UK Government committed to resettling 20,000 refugees over a long period of time.
The Foreign Secretary has recently held discussions in Pakistan to determine the feasibility of safe crossings of land borders for British nationals and Afghan citizens.
He also visited Qatar for vital discussions about reopening the airport in Kabul, in order to resume evacuations.