Boris Johnson holds Cobra meeting over deteriorating situation in Afghanistan

13 August 2021, 16:02

In recent weeks the Taliban have made major military gains across the country
In recent weeks the Taliban have made major military gains across the country. Picture: Alamy

By Elizabeth Haigh

A government spokesperson has confirmed that Boris Johnson is chairing an emergency Cobra meeting this afternoon to address the situation in Afghanistan.

This comes amidst concerns about the Taliban’s recent successes and military advances. They are now estimated to hold around two thirds of the country. This week they took Kandahar and Herat, Afghanistan’s second two largest cities.

The Taliban’s offensive is gradually surrounding the Afghan capital, Kabul, weeks before the planned withdrawal of Allied armed forces on 11 September.

On 12 August the government announced that 600 UK personnel would be sent to help organise the withdrawal of UK nationals and former Afghan staff and their families.

Former staff of Allied forces have faced being murdered by the Taliban regime.

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Boris Johnson is under pressure to recall Parliament to debate the situation in Afghanistan, led by a cross-party call from Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey and the shadow foreign secretary for Labour, Lisa Nandy.

Mr Wallace told LBC that the withdrawal, agreed following former President Donald Trump’s deal with the Taliban in February of last year, left the UK no choice but to withdraw. He criticised the agreement as a "rotten deal".

He also refused to rule out British troops returning to Afghanistan. He told LBC: "I'm going to leave every option open. If the Taliban have a message from last time, you start hosting al Qaida, you start attacking the West... we could be back."

It is estimated that the Taliban could gain full control of the country within a few months.

There are fears they will once again impose a repressive regime upon Afghans, including the near-elimination of women’s rights and capital punishment.