Tony Blair has spoken out on the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan, writing in an article on Sunday that the removal of troopsfrom the country was done “in obedience to an imbecilic political slogan about ending ‘the forever wars’” – in what appears to be a criticism of remarks made by US President Joe Biden in April.

In the piece, published on the website for his Institute for Global Change, the former prime minister said the world is “now uncertain” about the West’s stance on Afghanistan, because the decision to withdraw soldiers “was driven not by grand strategy but by politics”.

“We did it when the February 2020 agreement, itself replete with concessions to the Taliban, by which the US agreed to withdraw if the Taliban negotiated a broad-based government and protected civilians, had been violated daily and derisively.

“We did it with every jihadist group around the world cheering.

“We must evacuate and give sanctuary to those to whom we have responsibility – those Afghans who helped us, stood by us and have a right to demand we stand by them … We have a moral obligation to keep at it until all those who need to be are evacuated. And we should do so not grudgingly but out of a deep sense of humanity and responsibility,” he wrote.

Blair’s intervention comes after the Taliban gained control of the country last week, with Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, fleeing the country.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Defence said that seven people had been killed near an airport in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, as citizens attempt to escape the Taliban’s rule. The UK has said it will offer sanctuary to just 5,000 Afghan citizens over the next year, as it’s “very rare” for people to abandon their country.

Some Twitter users, including UK politicians, have responded positively to Blair’s remarks:

However, many criticised the comments of the ex-Labour leader, who first led military action in Afghanistan alongside President George W. Bush almost 20 years ago:

In October 2001, almost a month after the 9/11 terrorist attack, Blair confirmed in a statement that military action in Afghanistan by the US had begun, and that UK forces were “engaged in this action”.

“We made clear following the attacks upon the US on September 11 that we would take action once it was clear who was responsible. There is no doubt in my mind, nor in the mind of anyone who has been through all the available evidence, including intelligence material, that these attacks were carried out by the al-Qaida network headed by Osama Bin Laden,” he said.

Biden is yet to respond to Blair’s criticism.

Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)