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British politicians slam hasty US withdrawal from Afghanistan

Western governments have in the past given too much hope to ordinary Afghans, who now feel like they have been abandoned.

Britain is sending soldiers back to Afghanistan but only to ensure that its diplomats and citizens can safely get out. (AP Archive)

British politicians have slammed the US and their own government for the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, warning the Taliban’s resurgence would create a breeding ground for Al Qaeda and other groups.

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The chairman of the influential Foreign Affairs Select Committee in parliament, Tom Tugendhat, told the BBC on Friday: “We’ve just pulled the rug from under them,” referring to the Afghan people.

The Conservative MP added that Britain’s need to send in more troops to facilitate its withdrawal was “a sure sign of failure”.

Former international development minister Rory Stewart called the troop withdrawal “a total betrayal by the US and by the UK” that risked triggering a civil war between rival warlords currently battling the Taliban.

The complete withdrawal of foreign troops expected to be completed by next month comes after the US and Taliban struck a deal last year.

Under the agreement, the insurgent group has assured that it won’t allow terrorist organisations to operate in Afghanistan.

But the events unfolding in the war-torn country have made British politicians skeptical.

Johnny Mercer, a Conservative MP and former veterans minister who served in Afghanistan, called the withdrawal “a disgrace”.

“I think it’s humiliating for the UK military, for the families who lost individuals over there but above all it’s a huge tragedy for the people of Afghanistan, who’ve been through so much over so many years,” he told Times Radio.

The leader of Northern Ireland’s Ulster Unionist Party, Doug Beattie, served three tours in Afghanistan with the British Army, said ordinary Afghans would pay the price.

“We raised the expectations of the Afghan people that we would create something better for them,” he told Irish state broadcaster RTE.

“And we’re going to dash it by our inactivity…We have made strategic failures, and the latest one is to leave Afghanistan as quickly as we have and without a political settlement.”

Had no choice

Secretary Ben Wallace on Thursday announced that some 600 troops would help evacuate British nationals from the country, as the Taliban seize more territory.

He told Sky News television the US decision to withdraw troops “leaves a very big problem on the ground”, handing momentum to the Taliban.

He claimed it would benefit Al Qaeda, who were given safe haven by the Taliban before the September 11, 2001 attacks that prompted the West’s 20-year involvement in Afghanistan.

“I’m absolutely worried that failed states are breeding grounds for those type of people,” he added.

“I felt that that was a mistake to have done it that way, that we’ll all as an international community probably pay the consequences of that,” Wallace said of the Doha agreement signed between the US and the Taliban.

The agreement, signed under former US president Donald Trump, left Britain with no choice but to withdraw its troops, he said.

The 600 British troops being sent to Afghanistan to help with repatriation is close to the 750 that Britain had in the country before the withdrawal.

They will help up to 3,000 British nationals leave, Wallace said.

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