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Afghanistan news – live: Even Taliban surprised by their success, says Raab amid fears group may seize UK arms

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Maroosha Muzaffar,Joanna Taylor
Friday 03 September 2021 15:59 BST
UK will not recognise Taliban, Dominic Raab says

Even the Taliban was surprised by the speed at which they took over Afghanistan last month, foreign secretary Dominic Raab claimed while speaking at a press conference in Pakistan.

“I think there was a common widespread surprise at the speed with which the consolidation of power happened,” he told reporters in Islamabad, adding “I suspect the Taliban and ordinary Afghans were taken by surprise.”

Mr Raab has maintained that the the pace of the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul was unpredictable, despite being warned in July that the extremist group could return to power as a result of foreign troops vacating the country.

Meanwhile, experts have warned that millions of pounds worth of British arms exported to Afghanistan could end up in the hands of the Taliban and terrorist groups in the region.

Katie Fallon, a coordinator for the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), called on the government to “urgently investigate which end users now have control over these military goods”, which amount to £151m worth of weapons, ammunition and other equipment since 2008.

Labour has similarly pointed to the risk that of British weapons falling into the hands of the Taliban or the Afghan affiliate of Islamic State, Isis-K. “There is a clear risk of high-tech equipment falling into the hands of the Taliban, or worse, Isis-K and other terror groups,” shadow defence secretary John Healey said.

Sign The Independent’s petition urging the UK to take in more refugees from Afghanistan here.


Taliban showcases its military might in a chilling video

The Taliban has released a terrifying video in which suicide bombers are seen parading and showcasing suicide vests, explosives, rockets and other weaponry.

The parade was held at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan.

Reports said the video was released by the group’s public relations arm to celebrate its “victory” after the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

Maroosha Muzaffar3 September 2021 05:29

In a rare protest against Taliban, women demonstrate against gender-based violence

Dozens of women in western Afghanistan took to the streets on Thursday in a rare public protest against the Taliban rule and restrictions on their right to work and seek education.

They also had a faceoff with Taliban members at one point.

The women also demanded they be included in the government.

One banner read: “No government is stable without the support of women.”

Reports said women chanted “Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid. We are together” as Taliban fighters watched.

Several countries have called upon the Taliban to include women in the government and respect the rights of all Afghan citizens.

Maroosha Muzaffar3 September 2021 05:48

Biden’s approval ratings at an all-time low after the US withdrawal

Joe Biden’s approval ratings have plummeted to an all-time low after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Mr Biden’s approval rating has fallen to 43 per cent, the lowest since he took office, according to a new Marist National Poll with NPR and PBS Newshour.

The poll indicated that the majority of the American citizens believe the US’s role in Afghanistan was a “failure”.

About 61 per cent of responders were against the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to the poll results.

A major chunk of the responders, however, also believed that Afghanistan should now determine its future without US involvement. And 29 per cent said that it was the US’s “duty” to stay involved in the country.

Maroosha Muzaffar3 September 2021 06:26

Taliban to rely on funds from China, spokesperson says

The Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said on Thursday that Afghanistan will rely primarily on financing from China after the withdrawal of foreign troops and its takeover of the country.

Mr Mujahid told an Italian newspaper La Repubblica that the group will fight for an economic comeback with the help of China. He was quoted saying in the interview: “China is our most important partner and represents a fundamental and extraordinary opportunity for us, because it is ready to invest and rebuild our country.”

Mr Mujahid also emphasised that China is “our pass to markets all over the world.”

Meanwhile, earlier this week, the United Nations chief Antonio Guterres had warned of a looming “humanitarian catastrophe” in Afghanistan.

He also urged other nations to come forward and said that “Now more than ever, Afghan children, women and men need the support and solidarity of the international community.”

Maroosha Muzaffar3 September 2021 07:10

Raab to visit Pakistan to push for evacuations

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is set to visit Pakistan as part of a push to help Britons and Afghans stuck in Afghanistan to leave the country.

Mr Raab is set to hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi during the two-day visit.

Thousands of Afghans who aided British efforts in Afghanistan and their families are feared to remain trapped.

Although preliminary evacuation efforts have ended, the prime minister hopes that more people will be able to leave Kabul in future, which he says likely depends on engagement with the Taliban and collaboration between other powers.

Joanna Taylor3 September 2021 07:26

Refugees to be held in hotels indefinitely as councils left ‘in dark’ over housing plan

Thousands of Afghans evacuated to Britain in recent weeks are set to be placed in temporary hotel accommodation for an indefinite period as local councils say they have been left “in the dark” about how they can help.

Charities warn that the mental health of already traumatised people is likely to suffer as a result of the use of hotels, and that this will be exacerbated by the lack of information given to them about when and where they will be permanently housed.

The lack of clarity was causing “unnecessary worrying and anxiety,” to new arrivals, said one charity working with refugees.

No housing for 6,000 Afghan refugees in UK

Refugees ‘desperate for information’ about where they will live

Joanna Taylor3 September 2021 07:40

Raab: UK must have ‘direct engagement’ with the Taliban

Britain will not recognise the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan, but will start to engage with the Islamist group on issues such as evacuating people from the country, the foreign secretary has said.

Dominic Raab spoke of a need to “adjust to the new reality” during a visit to Doha in Qatar, where the UK has transferred its Kabul embassy.

“We will not be recognising the Taliban. But we do see the need to be able to have direct engagement, otherwise we can’t provide messages, we can’t listen to the response,” he said.

“We need to adjust to the new reality and our immediate priority is to secure the safe passage of those remaining British nationals, but also the Afghans who worked for the United Kingdom and indeed others who may be at most risk.”

Joanna Taylor3 September 2021 08:04

Refugees to be taught about ‘British values’, reports say

Afghan refugees settling in the UK are to be taught about ‘British culture and values’ and receive English language tuition, reports say.

The programme would be aimed at introducing new settlers into the workforce as quickly as possible and demonstrating that Britain has its own “values and rules”, according to communities secretary Robert Jenrick.

“We’re looking at how can we have an enhanced level of English-language training, how can we ensure people will get into the workplace as quickly as possible and how can we comprehensively introduce people to British culture, civic and political life, increasing people’s knowledge and understanding of the country and its values, so they can contribute fully to British life,” he told The Times.

‘We want to warmly welcome and support Afghan families, particularly those who stood shoulder to shoulder with our armed forces, while being clear that the UK is a country with its own values and rules.”

The programme would reportedly expand on the policies already in place for newcomers to the UK.

Joanna Taylor3 September 2021 08:23

UK will provide £30 million aid package to stranded refugees

Shelters and sanitation facilities for Afghans who have fled the country but are stranded without permanent housing will be provided as part of a £30 million UK aid package, the foreign secretary has said.

£10 million is expected to be made available to humanitarian organisations to bring supplies to refugees in the countries bordering Afghanistan.

A further £20 million will help these neighbours, including Pakistan, Tajikistan, Iran, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, process new arrivals and provide them with essential supplies.

On a visit to the region, Dominic Raab stressed the importance of these “life-saving supplies”.

“They will provide Afghans who have left everything behind with essential kit offering shelter and basic sanitation as they seek to pick up the pieces of their lives.” he said.

Joanna Taylor3 September 2021 08:40

UK has no coherent plan for refugee crisis, Sir Mark Sedwill warns

The UK and its allies have no coherent plan when it comes to dealing with the looming refugee crisis, former cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill has cautioned.

Sir Mark said the emergency airlift over the past two weeks “can’t and shouldn’t conceal that overall, we do not yet have a coherent policy and plan in place to deal with refugee flows out of Afghanistan”.

Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, has similarly warned that the end of the evacuation operation in Afghanistan was “only the beginning of a new stage of chaos”.

Read more:

‘No coherent plan’ for Afghan refugees, UK warned as Raab goes to Pakistan

Foreign secretary on two-day visit in bid to secure safe passage for Afghans coming over border

Joanna Taylor3 September 2021 08:59

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