UK betrayed by allies’ Afghanistan retreat: Defence Secretary claims Nato countries snubbed plea to stay on after US withdrawal… as Taliban takes control of FIVE provincial capitals
- Nato states all brought their soldiers home together after America pulled out
- The Taliban began an offensive and it now controls more than half the country
- The Taliban is said to be kidnapping girls and forcing them to marry its fighters
Ben Wallace told the Mail the UK had urged ‘like-minded’ nations to stay on after US troops withdrew
Britain tried desperately to form a military coalition to support Afghan forces after America pulled out – but Nato allies refused to take part, the Defence Secretary has revealed.
Ben Wallace told the Mail the UK had urged ‘like-minded’ nations to stay on after US troops withdrew.
But after they declined he decided that Britain could not go it alone.
Consequently, Nato states all brought their soldiers home together and the Taliban began an offensive. It controls more than half the country, having taken five provincial capitals since Friday.
It now threatens to take the city of Lashkar Gah in Helmand, where more than 450 British troops were killed.
Schools have been burned and there have been reports of the Taliban reimposing the ban on girls receiving an education and women working that it introduced when it ruled Afghanistan.
It is also said to be kidnapping girls and forcing them to marry its fighters.
On Friday, the Foreign Office advised all British nationals to ‘leave now’ due to the worsening security situation.
Speaking to the Mail, Mr Wallace condemned the United States’s ‘rotten deal’ with the Taliban, signed last year, which was supposed to end more than 18 years of conflict in Afghanistan.
Nato states all brought their soldiers home together and the Taliban began an offensive. It controls more than half the country
He said it could lead to the Taliban taking over again – and Britain having to return for another military campaign.
Asked if the UK could do more to help besieged Afghan forces, he said: ‘Well, I did try talking to Nato nations, but they were not interested, nearly all of them.
‘We tried a number of like-minded nations. Some said they were keen, but their parliaments weren’t. It became apparent pretty quickly that without the United States as the framework nation it had been, these options were closed off.
‘All of us were saddened, from the Prime Minister down, about all the blood and treasure that had been spent, that this was how it was ending.’
He said the option of a unilateral UK presence was considered, adding: ‘We could have put a force there but we would have had to take ourselves out of a lot of other places around the world. The possibility… was not viable.’
The Defence Secretary said Donald Trump’s deal with the Taliban early last year convinced the militants they had been victorious.
Under the deal signed by Mr Trump and continued by President Joe Biden, the US and Nato pledged to withdraw within 14 months.
The Taliban agreed not to target Western troops and to keep Al Qaeda and other extremists out. The militants upheld their side of the bargain – but have waged war against Afghan forces.
Mr Wallace said: ‘The deal was a rotten deal, it is flawed.
‘It saddens me that the deal picked apart a lot of what had been achieved in Afghanistan over 20 years. We’ll probably be back in ten or 20 years. But acting now is not possible. The damage was done with the deal.’
He said the departure of Nato was an indictment of the short-term strategies of Western states, adding: ‘Again the West has been exposed as thinking you fix problems, not manage problems.’
General Sir Nick Carter, head of the Armed Forces, has urged the UK to stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with Afghan security forces.
Yesterday, Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons defence committee, condemned the ‘shabby withdrawal’, ‘abandoning the country to the very insurgency that drew us there’.
He wrote in The Mail on Sunday: ‘Afghanistan might once again become a terror state. This is the country that brought us 9/11.’
Former Army commander General Sir Richard Barrons told BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend yesterday: ‘We run the risk of terrorist entities re-establishing in Afghanistan to bring harm in Europe and elsewhere.’
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