Afghanistan 'feels betrayed' by UK withdrawal says Stewart
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Rory Stewart has said that people in Afghanistan feel betrayed by the decision by the UK Government to follow the US in pulling out troops from the fight against Taliban insurgents. Kandahar, the country’s second-largest city has become the latest in a string of cities to fall to Taliban militants in recent days. Mr Steward spoke with passion in an interview with BBC Radio as he derided the decision of President Biden to withdraw US forces without a “transition plan.”
Mr Steward was asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme how people of Kabul felt towards the withdrawal of western forces from the fight.
He said: “Well they feel totally betrayed
“It would as though you had invited someone from a very fragile background into your home promised you were going to turn their life around, and that suddenly without a moment’s notice slammed the door on them and thrown them out with no transition plan.
“I mean the horror of the thing is there is nothing in place for people.
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“People pin their hopes on us, deep respectful relationships have been built through work of British charities, Americans, Europeans, many people working together over 20 years to try to do health, education, infrastructure.
“Afghanistan is a much much better place than I knew 20 years ago.
“20 years ago when I arrived at the end of the Taliban Kabul was a ghost town, it is now a city of four million people, people trying to live decent lives…connected to the outside world.
“We have completely betrayed them for no reason at all.”
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Mr Stewart then turned on President Biden’s decision to withdraw US combat forces from Afghanistan.
He said: “One of the problems is Biden and others are suggesting this was somehow a $100 billion war, that hundreds of US soldiers were being killed a year.
“That hasn’t been true for five years.
“We have had a very light presence that we could have kept on the ground and if the United States was going to leave it behooved the rest of NATO including Britain to have a transition plan and take over that burden.”
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It comes as Ben Wallace refused to rule out the British Army returning to Afghanistan amid the rapid advance of Taliban fighters across the country.
Mr Wallace told the Today Programme: “If you want to cut out the short-term threat globally, wherever Britain has a threat to her interests and her people, we have a global counter-terrorism capability.
“It is obviously not as perfect as being based in a country as we have been in Afghanistan but we retain military capability to deal with a threat where we face it or we have to deal with it under international law. If there is an imminent threat emanating anywhere in the world. Britain, the United States, France, other countries have the capability to deal with that.
He added: “I will always deploy either force or disruptive capabilities alongside other parts of the British state – or indeed a coalition – to protect our national security and our interests. We will always do that, we will reserve the right to do it, and that is a global capability.”
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