LONDON – London wants an information war with Washington over the deadly Kabul airport explosion to stop – but offers its own opinion first.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Tuesday dismissed reports from Washington suggesting that British demands contributed to the terrorist attack on Kabul airport last week, which left 200 people dead, including 13 US servicemen.
Tensions between the two capitals are already strained by a perceived lack of consultation with the allies by US President Joe Biden on the Afghanistan exit plan. These tensions escalated on Monday after POLITICO announced that US commanders wanted to close the Abbey Gate at Kabul airport before the attack, but kept it open longer to allow Britain to continue to evacuate staff based at the neighboring Hotel Baron.
Raab told Times Radio on Tuesday: “We have certainly taken precautionary measures to limit and mitigate the risk [at Abbey Gate.] And one of them was to remove civilian staff from the Hotel Baron inside the airport. But it didn’t need or need to keep the door open.
The Foreign Minister, under pressure at home because of his own handling of the crisis, added: “We have also taken steps to warn British nationals not to come to the airport and if they are in the area. crowd in line to leave. So I am confident that we have done everything we can to mitigate this risk.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman later told reporters it was “just wrong to suggest that we have pushed to keep the door open.”
“In response to the change in travel advice ahead of last week’s attack, the UK has moved operations out of the Baron Hotel,” the spokesperson added.
Shift the blame
Some members of Johnson’s party weren’t too impressed with the US briefing. “It’s a domestic problem. This is Biden’s complete collapse as he approaches midterm, ”said former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith.
But while the UK has been outspoken in rejecting the request, there is also a desire to calm the rhetoric.
British government sources told POLITICO’s London Playbook that they wanted to end briefings that have already seen British label Biden, among others, “doolally” and “gaga”.
The intervention by former Prime Minister Tony Blair suggesting that the president was prompted to step down by a “fool” slogan about ending America’s “eternal wars” was also viewed as unnecessary in government.
“The United States and its military support allowed this evacuation to occur on such a large scale. Over the past two weeks, British troops have worked alongside the United States to evacuate more than 100,000 people to safety under incredibly difficult circumstances, ”a government source told Playbook.
When asked on Tuesday if he saw the United States as seeking to shirk responsibility for the terrorist attack, Raab would not engage, telling Times Radio he had an “excellent working relationship” with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the House of Commons defense select committee and fierce critic of the US withdrawal, has warned that public bickering will only help opponents of the West.
“What we have seen with these comments spreading through the media is deeply unnecessary. The world certainly looks very different from what it was a month ago, the West seems diminished and humiliated. Now is not the time for any form of blame game, but to come together and determine what our collective strategy and our foreign policy is. ”
He added: “We need politicians on both sides to recognize that we need to do better than this – the United States is our closest security ally. “