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Despite Evacuating 2,000, Dutch Foreign Minister Resigns Over ‘Slow’ Afghan Rescue

Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag
Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag

September 17, (THEWILL) – Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag has resigned over her handling of the Afghan evacuation crisis last month.

The Netherlands managed to evacuate around 2,000 people from Afghanistan in the last two weeks of August.

However, hundreds of local staff and people who had worked as interpreters with Dutch troops were left behind.

She is the first Western government official to step down over the chaos that followed the Taliban takeover.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who was heavily criticised for remaining on holiday as Kabul fell to the militants, was replaced in a government reshuffle this week.

Dutch MPs had passed a motion of censure against her, saying the government was too slow to respond and left behind many Afghans who should have been able to flee.

Ms Kaag said she stood by her actions but accepted the MPs’ verdict.

She acknowledged the government had been slow and muddled when reacting to warnings of a surge by the Taliban.

Ms Kaag admitted the government had acted based on “wrong assumptions”, but insisted the Taliban’s rapid rise to power had stunned everyone, “including the Taliban itself.”

Despite this, Ms Kaag said the MPs’ vote left her with no choice other than to step down from her post.

“Parliament has judged that the cabinet has not acted responsibly,” Ms Kaag said. “The Minister must go if the policy is rejected.”

Ms Kaag remains the leader of the liberal D66 party, and steered it to second place in elections last March. She is due to take part in weekend talks on forming a new coalition government.

A former diplomat, she told MPs on Thursday that foreign affairs were her passion and her role as Foreign Minister a vocation.

However, she is not expected to travel to London with Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Friday for talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Her cabinet colleague, Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld, also received censure but did not step down.