James Forsyth James Forsyth

Our moral obligation to the Afghans who took us at our word

Military helicopter evacuates US staff from the Kabul embassy. (Wakil Kohsar/Getty Images)

The speed of the Taliban’s advance in Afghanistan is remarkable. Even those who thought that the Trump / Biden policy of withdrawal was a folly, did not expect that Kabul would be surrounded before the end of August.

Their only mistake was to believe our assurances about having an enduring commitment to the country

What makes the whole situation, with all the suffering that ordinary Afghans will endure and the damage being done to the US’s reputation for being a reliable ally, so exasperating is that after years of failure the US and Nato had found a relatively low cost way of maintaining a form of stability in the country. This is a self-inflicted blow to America’s reputation which will complicate the Biden’s administration other foreign policy goals, notably its desire to build coalitions in the Asia Pacific to check China’s rise.

Nato countries now have a moral responsibility to offer sanctuary to those Afghans who have helped operations there. This includes not only those who translated for Nato forces but those also who supported the West’s broader mission there. When parliament is recalled on Wednesday, MPs should be putting pressure on the government to, for example, rapidly offer asylum to those who set up schools for girls at our urging. That Afghans who had already been offered government funded scholarships to study here are being told that their visas can’t be processed in time is wrong and a worrying sign about where the policy is heading.

This country has a duty to offer sanctuary to those Afghans who have taken personal risks in an attempt to support what Nato were trying to achieve there. After all, their only mistake was to believe our assurances about having an enduring commitment to the country.

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