A British soldier rests at a base in Helmand, Afghanistan, 2007 (Photo: Marco Di Lauro / Getty)

Shame, confusion, betrayal: UK veterans on the war in Afghanistan

Since the official end of UK combat operations in 2014, the Afghanistan war has felt like a forgotten chapter of recent British history – at least for veterans of the conflict.  Only in recent weeks, as the two decades-long occupation finally collapsed into a chaotic withdrawal, has the country fought over by a generation of […]

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Yunus Khales with President Ronald Reagan at the White House on 12 November 1987 (Photo: Dirck Halstead / Getty Images)

MI6 helped Bin Laden ally get medical treatment

When Osama Bin Laden fled Afghanistan after 9/11, an old friend helped him escape the US manhunt. Yunus Khales, the veteran commander of Afghan mujahideen group Hezbi Islami (Islamic Party), had long supported Al Qaeda’s leader.  In 1996, when Bin Laden was expelled from Sudan, it was Khales who welcomed him to Afghanistan, giving him […]

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Britain supported Pakistan as it helped the Taliban kill UK troops

Last week, British foreign secretary Dominic Raab made his first trip to Pakistan after the botched withdrawal of troops and civilians from neighbouring Afghanistan in August. Raab described Pakistan as a “vital partner” as he sought with his Pakistani counterpart to “prevent Afghanistan becoming a hub for terrorist groups.” Yet known to the British Foreign […]

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Margaret Thatcher receives Prime Minister of Pakistan Zia Ul-Haq at 10 Downing Street in London on October 6, 1980, UK.

Margaret Thatcher’s support for Afghan jihadists covered up by UK censors

Thatcher’s Downing Street dossier on “Aid to the Afghanistan resistance movement” is being retained by Whitehall’s Cabinet Office despite becoming eligible for release to the National Archives under the thirty year rule. Thatcher’s team compiled the file from July 1981 to January 1990 during her time as prime minister when she oversaw a decade of […]

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British intelligence backed Afghan mujahideen from Jamiati Islami in the 1980s.

How MI6 backed ‘right-wing religious fanatics’ in Afghanistan

In 1980, journalist John Fullerton sat down for lunch in London with members of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), better known as MI6. The spooks asked the restless reporter to name five cities where he would like to work. He scrawled the answers unhesitatingly on a paper napkin. “The top one was Peshawar in Pakistan,” […]

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Britain in Afghanistan: Unprepared then, unprepared now

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing,” uttered Dominic Raab, Britain’s foreign secretary, as he tried to excuse himself for being on holiday as the Taliban were taking over Afghanistan. General Nick Carter echoed him, saying “hindsight is an extraordinary thing”. Foresight would have been helpful. It should not have been too difficult. Kabul had become MI6’s biggest foreign station during […]

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Four failed wars must finally force the UK to adopt an ethical foreign policy

“We have no eternal allies and we have no perpetual enemies,” Lord Palmerston famously told the British parliament when he was foreign secretary in 1848. Over a century and a half later, during the so-called war on terror, Britain has abided by Palmerston’s morally ambiguous approach towards international relations, with disastrous results.  The head of […]

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Afghan refugees have asked for sanctuary for a long time — only now do we listen

It was a freezing November day in France 2010 when an Afghan boy approached a parked truck in Calais and showed me how he spent each night climbing under lorries in a bid to slip undetected into the UK. His clandestine travel method was not as suicidal as clinging to the outside of a US […]

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The UK military’s secrecy problem

A new book, revealing abuses by the British army in its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, illustrates how the Ministry of Defence and the military establishment try to censor, bully and threaten publishers and journalists, often successfully.

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Britain’s seven covert wars: An Explainer

The United Kingdom is fighting at least seven covert wars largely outside parliamentary or democratic oversight.

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