0314 GMT May 21, 2022
The UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in an interview with the Daily Mail said that Britain tried desperately to form a military coalition after the US pulled out its troops from Afghanistan – but NATO allies refused to participate.
He said London had urged ‘like-minded’ nations to stay on after US troops withdrew from Afghanistan. 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 now controls more than half the country, having taken six provincial capitals since Friday, and is rapidly tipping the balance of power in its favour.
Wallace condemned the United States’ “rotten deal” with the Taliban, signed last year, which was supposed to end more than 18 years of conflict in Afghanistan.
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.”
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 former US president Donald Trump’s deal with the Taliban early last year convinced the militants they had been victorious.
Under the deal signed by 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 terrorists out. The militants upheld their side of the bargain – but have waged war against Afghan forces.
Wallace said, “The deal was a rotten deal, it is flawed.”
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.”
The US began withdrawing its forces in April this year after Biden re-committed himself to Trump's pledge to end America's “forever war”.
Initially due to be complete by the symbolic date of September 11, sources on the ground say the withdrawal is already all-but over.
NATO's own withdrawal is also thought to be effectively at an end, leaving Afghan security forces under the command of President Ashraf Ghani to defend the country.