Britain’s withdrawal from Afghanistan in August has been sharply criticized as a “disaster and betrayal” in a report by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.
The committee’s report said the chaotic withdrawal showed "systemic failures of leadership, planning, and preparation" despite knowing for 18 months that such an evacuation might be necessary.
The report, released on May 24, was based on an eight-month inquiry during which the committee heard testimony from 20 witnesses and reviewed written evidence from 36 organizations.
It concluded that there was a "fundamental lack of planning, grip, or leadership at a time of national emergency" before and during the Taliban takeover of Kabul in August 2021.
"The manner of our withdrawal from Afghanistan was a disaster and a betrayal of our allies that will damage the U.K.'s interests for years to come," the report said.
It said the "mismanagement" of the evacuation as the Taliban quickly took over the country "likely cost lives."
Hundreds of Afghans who had aided Britain during its military mission were left behind, including many whose lives were potentially at risk after details of employment at the British Embassy were left at the compound in Kabul.
The committee also said that the Foreign Office was “intentionally evasive and often deliberately misleading" in responding to questions from the committee, which had to rely on crucial testimony from two whistle-blowers.
The Foreign Office's top civil servant, Philip Barton, should now "consider his position," effectively calling on him to resign. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said he retained full confidence in Barton.
A spokesperson for the Foreign Office defended the handling of the withdrawal and said it would review and respond to the committee's findings.