Sat, 24 February 2024

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By Lord Dannatt
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Defence Secretary Warns Afghanistan "Heading Towards Civil War" As UK Moves To Withdraw Forces

3 min read

The Defence Secretary has warned Afghanistan is heading towards another civil war in the wake of US and UK troops withdrawing.

Ben Wallace has claimed Al Qaeda will "probably come back" in Afghanistan after swathes of territory was captured by the Taliban following the decision to end military action.

The terrorist group has made major advances in the country in recent weeks as they captured several major provincial capitals, including the country's second biggest city, Kandahar.

The UK confirmed on Friday that it was deploying 600 troops to the country in a bid to aid the withdrawal of around 3,000 people, including British citizens and interpreters.

Speaking to Sky News, Wallace chastised a "rotten" withdrawal agreement negotiated by former US President Donald Trump in Doha last year which he claimed "undermined" Afghanistan's government.

"I think that deal that was done in Doha was a rotten deal, I was on record as saying that," he said.

"What it effectively did was told the Taliban that wasn't winning that they were winning and it undermined the government of Afghanistan. Now we are in this position where the Taliban clearly have the momentum across the country."

He added: "We are in a difficult position, the United States are leaving, we are leaving alongside them, and that leaves a very big problem on the ground developing with the Taliban obviously having the momentum, and it is not what we would have liked, not what we wanted."

The Taliban advance has raised concerns that the country could once again become a haven for terror groups, with Wallace saying it would create a "breeding ground" for Al Qaeda.

"I am absolutely worried that failed states are breeding grounds for those type of people," he said.

"Of course I am worried, it is why I said this was not the right time or decision to make, because of course Al-Qaeda will probably come back, certainly would like that type of breeding ground.

"That is what we see, failed states around the world lead to instability, lead to a security threat to us and our interests. We are very clear about that."
His comments come after several senior Conservative MPs hit out at the decision to leave the country, with former army captain Johnny Mercer claiming more "violence" was needed to tackle the Taliban threat.

But Wallace insisted he had attempted to persuade other major countries to support efforts in the country following the US withdrawal but that they were "not interested".

"It is not just about a military operation. Of course we could send 10,000 troops today on our own, the United Kingdom. But the solution is international, the solution has to be international. The history of Afghanistan and other states show that," he told the BBC's Today programme.

"You only get long term solutions, and when I mean long term I mean way past 20 years, if you have an international consortium, because you need international community to deal with things such as regional politics... you need international communites to deal with foreign aid.

"I did try and see if other people were interested and it became rapidly clear that after the other major powers [left] were not that it was not likely, and going it alone doesn't work."

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