BILLIONS are spent each year by the UK and USA on site observers, sophisticated listening posts, spy satellites etc. It is inconceivable that the CIA and the UK security services would not advise their country’s leaders of the regrouping of the Taliban in preparation for a new invasion of Afghanistan once the coalition military numbers were at a low level?

It is reasonable to believe that President Trump was given this information. Trump had two choices – either flood Afghanistan with military personnel or make a “deal” with the Taliban.

Option one would not have been well received by the American population. This prompted Trump to arrange face-to-face meetings between US officials and the Taliban.

READ MORE: Tony Blair calls for UK to remain in Afghanistan until evacuations done

The Taliban would have agreed to some power sharing, easing restrictions on women and girls regarding work, education and having a part to play in politics, as well as promising that terrorists would not be allowed to train or operate from Afghanistan.

These vague promises were enough for Trump to announce a departure date for all coalition personnel of Easter 2021.

In the interim Joe Biden became President of the USA. He agreed to adopt President Trump’s policy to leave Afghanistan but, unfortunately, merely to put his stamp on an agreement made by Trump, extended the leaving date by six months – signalling to the Taliban that the new government were perhaps having second thoughts about the “deal”.

The Taliban therefore chose to invade quickly while the coalition forces were at their weakest and before any change to the “deal”.

READ MORE: UK troops face challenges ‘nobody has seen before’ in Kabul airport evacuation

The question arises: did Boris Johnson’s government know all this but didn’t understand the implications and consequently did nothing about it? Is the catastrophe unfolding in Afghanistan another illustration of a dysfunctional government at Westminster who, when told to jump by the USA, asks how high?

We should not forget that successive Tory governments had already denied access to the UK for many of the Afghan people who had risked their lives for 20 years assisting British soldiers and diplomats.

Mike Underwood

SO, which is the more politically damaging? Being on holiday when the Taliban “unexpectedly” and rapidly retook Afghanistan, or acting the responsible authority figure working tirelessly from behind your desk in your UK Government ministerial office(s), whilst the takeover ensued? It’s a rhetorical question, but reportedly three “relevant” permanent secretaries, a secretary of state and Mr A Johnson (PM) were on holiday at the time.

There was also a report by the BBC in March 2014, titled “Is Afghanistan really impossible to conquer?”, which said: “The economics means that it is impossible to get Afghanistan to pay for its own occupation – it is, as the then Emir said as he surrendered to the British in 1839, ‘a land of only stones and men’.

“Any occupying army here will haemorrhage money and blood to little gain, and in the end most throw in the towel, as the British did in 1842, as the Russians did in 1988 and as Nato will do later this year.”

READ MORE: Taliban insurgency was no surprise to those who know their history 

This latest, albeit later than predicted, rapid final overrun of Afghanistan in August 2021 by the Taliban was reportedly preceded by China evacuating hundreds of Chinese businessmen back from Afghanistan in July 2021. China does indeed have a presence in Afghanistan, not unrelated to Afghanistan’s reportedly relatively yet untapped oil, lithium and copper reserves.

Given that there are reportedly Uygur fighters among the Afghan Taliban, and the relationship between the Uygurs and China being reportedly at a low ebb, the early evacuation would appear to have made good sense.

To state the obvious, albeit somewhat callously, China has Uygur skin in the game, the Taliban need to gain from Afghanistan’s relatively untapped wealth, and China has the means to facilitate both extraction of resources, to develop transport connectivity across Asia, and the refurbishment of material left behind by Nato forces.

Some will likely take exception to an apparent omission above, as to the expected suffering envisaged for the children, women and men left behind in Afghanistan (indeed I would certainly hope so). Their predicted suffering indeed shouldn’t be understated, and not simply added to the roll call of Iranian, Iraqi, Libyan and Syrian misery following earlier failed Western interventions.

Scotland as a future independent EU nation state needs to help/drive the UK with the immediate refugee crisis right now but plough a very different furrow in the future. If 85% of the Yes movement is backing the SNP lead in the governance of Scotland, then May 4, 2022, should not be simplistically discounted for indyref2.

Stephen Tingle
Greater Glasgow