British MP says it’s time to ‘reopen’ embassy in Kabul

File photo. Source: Reuters

British MP and chair of the defense select committee Tobias Ellwood said Sunday that the UK should reopen its embassy in Kabul and engage with the Taliban.

In an opinion article in The Telegraph, Ellwood said he is far from being a “Taliban appeaser” but that it is time for Britain to “rethink and re-engage” with Afghanistan and the Taliban.

Ellwood said that during a recent trip to Afghanistan, he “witnessed unreported compromises the war-exhausted nation is currently willing to accept” along with improved security, free travel and the disappearance of widespread corruption. He also said the black market opium trade is “seemingly gone”.

“This war-torn nation has not experienced relative peace like this since the 1970s.

“This, to put it mildly, was not what I was expecting.

“After a dozen visits to the country urging NATO and the UN to do exactly what the Taliban have now achieved, I had to grapple with the harsh reality of the West’s strategic missteps,” he said.

According to him, the first step to rethinking and reengaging with the Taliban would be “reopening our embassy”.

“The second is to get real. Afghanistan’s future could be war again or life as a Chinese vassal.”

He said the British Embassy is closed for political rather than security reasons and that “this boycott endures because of the Taliban’s regressive laws against women’s education and employment.

“If the West continues to sulk we could be making another blunder which pushes the nation to a fiscal cliff, potentially igniting another cycle of instability, terrorism and mass migration.

“A more pragmatic strategy is needed. The Taliban’s restrictions on women’s rights may well serve as a negotiation tool for shared understanding. But such a possibility will remain unknown until we wake up.”

The UK closed its embassy in Kabul in August 2021 after evacuating its personnel during the Taliban take over of the country.

More than 150,000 British servicemen served in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2021, with the last one leaving the country on August 28, 2021.