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Netherlands. Defense Minister Resigns Due to Afghanistan Evacuation Crisis

Ank Bijleveld

After the Dutch Foreign Minister, Sigrid Kaag, resigned due to the evacuation disaster in Afghanistan, this Friday was the turn of the Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld.

As reported by the Guardian, Dutch ministers are believed to be the first Western officials to step down due to the chaos that followed the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban. Kaag resigned on Thursday and Bijleveld, who initially refused to resign, resigned this Friday.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has declared Bijleveld’s resignation “extremely regrettable” but that he respects the decision.

The Netherlands evacuated more than 1,500 people, including Dutch and Afghan nationals, in the days before US troops left Afghanistan on 31 August. However, many Afghans stayed behind, including 22 interpreters, despite appeals from parliamentarians and diplomats in Kabul.

Kaag defended his way of dealing with the crisis, but admitted that the government had some “blind spots” about the situation. In a debate on Tuesday, Dutch lawmakers from across the political spectrum accused Kaag, Bijleveld and the government of “slowness and imprecision.”

In the United Kingdom, Dominic Raab, transferred to justice minister, refused to resign despite being on vacation on a Greek island as the British government struggled to evacuate British citizens and Afghan officials in the face of Taliban advances in August.

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