British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has admitted that the UK government did not foresee the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
Raab added that Britain would have to engage with the Taliban in the future in order to hold them to account for their actions.
Dominic Raab said several nations were “caught off-guard” by the quick and hostile nature of the militant group’s takeover, which has prompted Afghans to flee the country.
He added that British intelligence had been tracking what was happening on the ground in Afghanistan “very carefully” after the United States decided to reduce its troops in the country.
Speaking to Sky News, Raab said, “the truth is, across the world, people were caught by surprise. I haven’t spoken to an international interlocutor, including countries in the region over the last week, who hasn’t been surprised.
“We saw a very swift change in the dynamics, and of course, this has been part and parcel of the withdrawal of Western troops, but it has also been the way and the approach of the Taliban.
“Of course, it’s been a test for the Afghan security forces.
“All of those factors have been very fluid.
“But no one saw this coming. Of course, we will have taken action if we had.”
He defended his decision to return from his holiday when he did, adding he arrived back in Britain as soon as the situation deteriorated and demanded it.
In another interview with BBC Breakfast on Tuesday, Raab said Britain believed the Taliban would attempt to move in later in autumn and in a more gradual manner.
Asked if he would sit down with his counterpart in a Taliban Government, the Foreign Secretary said it would not happen “for the foreseeable future” but added there has always been some form of communication between Britain and the militant group.
He told BBC Breakfast that “we’ve always had dialogue of some sort, either indirectly through third parties, or through the Taliban’s political commission in Doha.
“It is important to be able to engage at least in some shape or form to test and to exert as much influence as we credibly, realistically can, and also to try and hold the Taliban to account to the new commitments they made.
“We’ve got to try and use every lever working with our partners, working with the UN, working with NATO, to try and secure a more moderating influence, and a better course for the Afghan people in the months and years ahead.”
Around 900 armed forces were in Afghanistan helping to bring British nationals home and secure the safety of selected Afghans.
Raab said 150 British nationals were flown out on Sunday while last week 289 Afghan nationals were also taken out.
A further 350 British and Afghans would be taken out of the country in the next 24 hours.