Politics

‘Fund the Taliban’ Labour MP Kim Howells suggests UK can influence Taliban financially

UK troops board the final military flight out of Afghanistan

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The bizarre suggestion from the Labour MP came during a discussion on LBC about how the west can move forward as the Taliban take control after 20-years of western intervention. Dr Howells claimed that financial support from the UK would ultimately benefit the Afghan people and not leave them behind, despite the Taliban’s brutal regime plans and the chaos that has unfolded in recent months as the west has evacuated the country. But his comments sparked debate over how sensible financial support of the Taliban is given they are the UK’s enemy in the country.

Dr Howell was asked whether he would support an inquiry into what went wrong in Afghanistan as it falls to the Taliban after 20-years of western intervention. 

The MP said he was not sure that an inquiry would change anything in regards to the conflict and said his scepticism was rooted in numerous inquiries of the past. 

But in a surprising moment, the Labour MP instead suggested the UK should set about supporting the Taliban in their new role as leader of the country.

He said: “Quite frankly I think we should be concentrating now on how we deal with the Taliban, on how we try and help people inside Afghanistan by other means.

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“And one of them of course is finance.”

He said how the Taliban are “going to need money” in order to rebuild Afghanistan and suggested the UK should help with such an effort.

Dr Howell added financial support for the Taliban would also mean they can “govern effectively”.

He went on to claim that as part of the UK’s commitment to the Afghan people, financial support was important alongside forms of “pressure” placed on the Taliban to make sure the UK does not leave Afghanistan behind.

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He said: “If we don’t put those kinds of pressure on them then all this talk and rhetoric about people who have been left behind is just hot air.

Dr Howells said there are “levers to pull” with the terror group but stressed it will take the United Nations and the international community in order to carry that out.

But Dr Howells’s comments sparked a debate as to the consequences that such a move would result in.

One Twitter user commented: “Didn’t George Bush Sr try this tactic look where that ended up 20 years ago.”

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A second said: “They don’t need money. They have China. This changes the complexity of everything.”

While another plainly said: “No. Keep out of Afghanistan.”

The comments come as the UK has finally left Afghanistan after 20-years in the country as the last British troops to leave Kabul touched down at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on Sunday.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden warned that a second deadly terrorist attack on Kabul Airport from ISIS-K is “highly likely” to happen in the next few days amid concerns the country has become a failed state.

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