Dominic Raab Hits Back at Afghanistan Evacuation Criticism, Complains 'Time Window' Was Too Short
12:22 GMT 07.12.2021 (Updated: 13:27 GMT 06.08.2022)
A former senior desk officer with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) earlier shared his views on the failures of the British evacuation from Afghanistan, claiming that then-Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was too slow with his decision-making.
Dominic Raab, who at the time of the Afghanistan evacuation was UK foreign secretary, has asserted that he is proud of the British efforts to get vulnerable Afghans out of the country seized by the Taliban*, and even appeared to pique the Biden administration for not providing more time for the evacuation.
He told Sky News that the British government did "everything we could" to get as many people from Afghanistan as possible, touting that the UK "pulled off the evacuation of 15,000 people" in two weeks, with only the United States managing to get more people out.
"It took an absolutely heroic and herculean effort to achieve that, under incredibly difficult conditions", Raab told Sky News, noting, however, that "we would have wanted a longer time window" for the evacuation.
Raab also denied that the UK prioritised the evacuation of animals over saving humans, saying that is "just not accurate" and reiterating the figures of 15,000 people, underlining that London can be "proud" of its evacuation efforts.
His comments come after he discovered himself under fire following damning revelations made by a former Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) staffer, Raphael Marshall, who shared his view on the UK's evacuation from Afghanistan.
Slow Raab, Email Backlog & Staff Shortage: Whistleblower Reveals UK Foreign Office's Afghan Failures
7 December 2021, 06:32 GMT
According to the whistleblower, the evacuation process was hampered by Raab's slow decision-making and lack of staff to examine the thousands of e-mails with cries for help. He additionally alleged the Foreign Office "received an instruction from the prime minister" to use "considerable capacity" to evacuate animals from the country.
Later on Tuesday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also denied suggestions that he intervened in the evacuation from the Afghan capital Kabul, calling the allegations "complete nonsense" and hailing the way the UK airlifted 15,000 people from Afghanistan as "one of the outstanding military achievements of the last 50 years or more".
Marshall suggested that just 5% of Afghan nationals who applied for assistance from the UK actually received it. Raab has refused to accept these figures.
The former FCDO staffer rolled out a 39-page dossier on the failures of the UK's handling of the Afghanistan evacuation. According to the document, staff shortages, vague evacuation criteria, and refusal to work overtime despite the crisis contributed to thousands of people begging mercy from the UK not receiving help.
Then-Foreign Secretary Raab denied these allegations as well, saying that he "regularly checked that we were properly resourced".
Marshall has provided his written statement to British MPs. Tory chairman of the Commons' Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Tugendhat said that the whistleblower's claims raise "questions about the leadership of the Foreign Office".
In September, Marshall resigned from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson carried out a reshuffle in the British government the same month, with Dominic Raab leaving the post of foreign secretary and becoming justice secretary and deputy PM. Raab said he did not believe that he left the Foreign Office due to the Afghan turmoil.
*The Taliban is an organisation currently under UN sanctions over terrorist activity.