Fresh questions raised about Dominic Raab’s role in Afghan rescue debacle | Dominic Raab

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The unusual allegations contained in the testimony of a young State Department whistleblower about the chaos of the Afghanistan withdrawal will raise new questions about Dominic Raab’s leadership of the department — and not just while he is away on vacation.

Rafael Marshall’s most damning claim refers to the period when Rapp was directly in control of the eviction, the week after his return.

Marshall was a desk clerk who told MPs on the Foreign Affairs Committee that he worked on the State Department’s Afghanistan Crisis Response Team.

In a 39-page statement submitted to the deputies, he described to them how he loved the department and how he hoped to spend his career there.

However, he said that during the past August, he witnessed unrest, incompetence and irrationality with potentially deadly consequences for those Afghans who sought help from the FCDO.

During the fall of Kabul in mid-August, Raab was vacationing with his family on the island of Crete. With the country descending into chaos, Raab was forced to deny that he was actually paddle boarding at the time the Taliban entered the capital. He claimed that he was kept informed all the time and that he participated in key meetings.

But he also admitted that he had delegated crucial tasks, including asking another minister to make a call to help evacuate former British military interpreters.

That moment made him the focal point of conservative MPs’ outrage at the spectacle of the Taliban’s humiliating withdrawal after 20 years of military intervention.

However, Marshall’s testimony indicated that there was a slight improvement in the situation once Raab returned from vacation on August 16. He described how junior staff with no experience or knowledge of Afghanistan were asked to make life-changing decisions.

In the final days of the evacuation effort, with a very limited ability to remove, Rapp was asked to personally approve exceptional cases. But Marshall claimed that Rapp took “hours to get involved” – and then returned the files, requesting that they be sent in a different spreadsheet format.

“No one has much time left to enter the airport, so the choice of the Secretary of State to cause a delay indicates that he did not understand the desperate situation at the Kabul airport,” Marshall told committee deputies.

However, according to Marshall, Rapp still refused to defer the sentence to officials. “Under the circumstances, it is hard to explain why he kept the decision to himself and failed to make it immediately.”

Marshall said he believed the delay meant some did not make it to the airport.

The behavior of the prime minister was also questioned.

Few visas were granted after August 25, except for those granted to employees of the animal rights charity Nowzad, which became a célèbre affair, upon direct intervention from Boris Johnson.

Marshall claimed that intervention to bring some animals into the UK endangered soldiers and that British Army personnel took precedence over British Army interpreters.

Raab insisted that everyone was surprised by what happened in Afghanistan and that his criticism was irresponsible. He also defended himself on vacation, saying that he had been in constant contact with the deteriorating Afghan situation prior to his return.

Despite his protests, it can be argued that Raab paid some price for his leadership during those weeks following the fall of Kabul, as he was demoted from foreign minister to justice minister – with a consolation prize for the title of deputy prime minister.

The role so far appears to have had little consequence, aside from the unmediated disagreement over whether Rappe’s successor, Liz Truss, or Rappe should have access to the home of grace and grandiose Chevening interests.

Governmental reviews, which may be for Raab, such as an investigation into measures to prevent small boats from crossing the canal, have been handed over to Cabinet Office Minister Steve Barclay.

But Neil Coyle, a Labor member of the select committee that heard Marshall’s testimony, believes Raab did not pay a sufficient political price for what happened.

“There is so much talking about this government that the minister who is ultimately responsible for the chaos, deaths and dysfunction of the Afghanistan evacuation attempt has been promoted to deputy prime minister,” he said.

Raab was once seen as a potential future leader of the Conservative Party, and spoke about him at the same time as Truss and Rishi Sunak, especially after his interim leadership during the prime minister’s hospitalization with Covid.

The Afghanistan debacle likely means the end of this ambition – although Johnson himself managed to beat a botched mission in the same role.

It would be uncomfortable for those whose emails sat in OCFA inboxes, asking the Secretary of State to save their children’s lives.

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