RAPHAEL Marshall, ex-Foreign Office desk official and now whistleblower, has exposed the way British and US imperialism dumped their Afghan allies and left them to their fate, while they desperately sought to evacuate their own forces.
In fact, US and UK troops did the Taliban’s job for them, policing the lines of Afghans seeking to flee with the beaten imperialists, and turning back those they said did not have proper accreditation.
The UK Foreign Office’s handling of the Afghan evacuation after the Taliban seized the capital Kabul was dysfunctional and chaotic, says Marshall stating the obvious.
He adds that the process of choosing who could get a flight out was arbitrary, and over 100,000 e-mails with pleas for help went unread. The 15,000 people airlifted out of Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of Kabul, included 5,000 British nationals, 8,000 Afghans and 2,000 children.
In written evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committee Marshall however insists that 150,000 Afghans who were at risk because of their links to Britain applied to be evacuated but fewer than 5% received any assistance.
Marshall, who was a senior desk officer at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) until he resigned in September, said there was inadequate staffing at the department’s crisis centre, and staff would not normally be expected to work at weekends or overnight.
Marshall also said the then Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab took hours to answer e-mails and ‘did not fully understand the situation’ creating one where saving dogs was more important than saving people.
He says that an instruction from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to evacuate dogs looked after by an animal charity went against Foreign Office criteria and meant that many people at risk of being murdered were left behind.
He added that junior Foreign Office officials made life and death decisions for which they had no adequate preparation.
Other key issues, according to Marshall, include:
- Nobody in the team dealing with requests had studied, had any detailed knowledge of Afghanistan, or had ever worked there;
- No one spoke any Afghan languages, with calls to people asking for help conducted in English;
- Decisions about who to rescue were arbitrary, and thousands of e-mails pleading for assistance were not even read;
- The IT system was dysfunctional, with eight soldiers drafted in to help having to share one computer;
- Raab was slow to make decisions on difficult cases and did not fully understand the situation;
- Dogs from the Nowzad charity run by a former Marine were not in any danger but they were evacuated leaving Afghans who had supported the UK-US intervention behind to die.
Marshall worked for the team of officials handling a group known as Afghan Special Cases. These included Afghan soldiers, politicians, journalists, civil servants, activists, aid workers, judges – and guards who had worked indirectly for the UK government via subcontractors.
As the Taliban advanced on Kabul, many of these people were e-mailing the FCDO to get permission for a flight out of the country. Marshall said there were ‘usually 5,000 unread e-mails in the inbox at any given moment’ and ‘in thousands of cases e-mails were not even read’, including cases from MPs.
Dogs were more favoured than people. He said the UK government ended up transporting animals ‘which were not at risk of harm at the direct expense of evacuating British nationals and people at risk of imminent murder, including interpreters who had served with the British Army.’
Marshall states: ‘I believe no member of the Afghan Special Cases team had studied Afghanistan, worked on Afghanistan previously, or had a detailed knowledge of Afghanistan … One was clearly scared of being asked to make hundreds of life and death decisions about which they knew nothing.’
Marshall’s report states the FCDO crisis centre sent notes up to Raab’s office to get decisions on difficult cases.
But ‘it took several hours for the Foreign Secretary to engage on any of these notes’ and when he did ‘he could not decide on individual cases’ without seeing all the cases ‘in a well-presented table.’
Marshall said of Raab: ‘the Foreign Secretary declined to make a decision on whether to admit these people without a properly formatted submission with a table setting out multiple cases.’
The relative handful of Afghan collaborators who were rescued have since been settled – many in sub-standard accommodation.
The message from the Afghan debacle is: never ally yourself with imperialism. They will dump you in the end while they rescue dogs!