Tony Blair has spoken out on the crisis in Afghanistan, branding the decision to pull out US troops as “imbecilic”.
Blair’s scathing judgement on the US President came as chaotic scenes in Kabul saw the US calling on its remaining citizens in the country not to approach the airport.
In a damning verdict on the unfolding tragedy Blair, who ordered UK troops into Afghanistan 20 years ago, also claimed the crisis reveals the UK risks being relegated to “the second division of global powers”.
The ex-Prime Minister said Britain has a “moral obligation” to stay until “all those who need to be are evacuated”.
In a 2,700 word article on the threat of “radical Islam”, Blair called the decision to withdraw troops “tragic, dangerous, unnecessary” and that the move had “every Jihadist group round the world cheering”.
He said: “The abandonment of Afghanistan and its people is tragic, dangerous, unnecessary, not in their interests and not in ours.”
In a brutal attack on President Biden’s abrupt withdrawal of US troops, he claimed it is obvious that the decision to withdraw was not driven by grand strategy but by politics.
Blair said: “We didn’t need to do it. We chose to do it. We did it in obedience to an imbecilic political slogan about ending ‘the forever wars’.”
He added: “For Britain, out of Europe and suffering the end of the Afghanistan mission by our greatest ally with little or no consultation, we have serious reflection to do.
“We don’t see it yet, but we are at risk of relegation to the second division of global powers.”
His comments come as US President Joe Biden signalled he wanted evacuations from Kabul airport completed by the end of the month as he prepares to withdraw all American troops – a move that would likely force Britain to wrap up its operation at the same time.
But Blair urged for there to be “no repetition of arbitrary deadlines” – a reference to Washington’s Doha agreement with the Taliban, committing to vacate Afghanistan in time for the 9/11 anniversary – in the rescue mission.
“We must evacuate and give sanctuary to those to whom we have responsibility – those Afghans who helped us and stood by us and have a right to demand we stand by them,” said the former Labour Party leader
Blair added: “There must be no repetition of arbitrary deadlines. We have a moral obligation to keep at it until all those who need to be are evacuated.
“And we should do so not grudgingly but out of a deep sense of humanity and responsibility.”