UK Parliament recalled to discuss Afghanistan crisis

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Members of Joint Forces Headquarters get prepared to deploy to Afghanistan to assist in the draw down from the area in this handout photo taken on Friday Aug. 13, 2021 and issued by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). With security rapidly deteriorating in Afghanistan, the United States planned to send in 3,000 troops to help evacuate some personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. Britain and Canada are also sending forces to aid their evacuations. (LPhot Ben Shread/MoD/Crown Copyright via AP)

LONDON (AP) — British lawmakers are being called back from their summer break to Parliament to discuss the worsening situation in Afghanistan.

Authorities said Sunday that Parliament will be recalled for one day on Wednesday to debate the government’s response to the crisis. Prime Minister Boris Johnson also called a meeting of his Cabinet’s emergency committee Sunday as the Taliban advanced into Kabul, the Afghan capital.

Like other NATO allies, Britain began withdrawing its remaining troops from Afghanistan after U.S. President Joe Biden announced in April that the U.S. was leaving by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the Sept.11, 2001 attacks.

The Sunday Telegraph reported that the U.K.’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Laurie Bristow, would be airlifted out of the Afghanistan by Monday evening. The Foreign Office declined to comment on the report.

The defense ministry said last week that Britain was sending 600 troops to Afghanistan to help evacuate remaining U.K. citizens and Afghans who worked with British forces in the country.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace had previously indicated that the soldiers could be there until the end of the month, but given the speed of the Taliban’s advance, that appeared unlikely.

Many British lawmakers have criticized Johnson’s Conservative government of abandoning Afghanistan. Conservative Tom Tugendhat, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said the pullout from Afghanistan was Britain’s worst foreign policy disaster since the U.K.’s failed invasion of Egypt in 1956.

Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labour Party, has urged the government to explain what it planned to do to avert a looming humanitarian crisis and prevent Afghanistan again from becoming a base for international terrorism.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace maintained “we have not betrayed Afghanistan.”

He said he had approached other NATO allies about taking the place of the U.S. mission, but none was willing to do so, and Britain could not “go it alone.”

“It would be arrogant to think we could solve Afghanistan unilaterally,” he said.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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