The former Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (better known as MI6), Alex Younger, has sharply criticized the UK’s decision to follow the US in retreating from Afghanistan.
In his first-ever television interview, Younger said it would be an “enormous mistake” if the UK and its allied “neglect” Afghanistan following the formal withdrawal.
To make his point Younger drew comparisons with the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in February 1989.
Younger, who headed MI6 between 2014 and 2020, claims “terrorist” groups such as al-Qaeda can gain ground in Afghanistan following the US and UK withdrawal.
"I think if terrorist groups are allowed to regenerate somewhere like Afghanistan, it will lead to more threat on the shores of our country and our allies", Younger told Sky News.
The former MI6 Chief made no mention of the fact that terrorism has in fact gained ground in Afghanistan in the past 20 years, as demonstrated by the rise of the Afghan chapter of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.
More broadly, Younger expressed concern that Russia could “exploit” the “crisis” in Afghanistan to “harm” the UK and its allies. However, he didn’t specify how Russia might attempt to do this even if the Kremlin harbored that intention.
Furthermore, Younger expressed frustration at the US and UK’s inability to realize their purported ambition of rebuilding the Afghan state along Western lines, and grudgingly admitted that goal has turned out to be “unrealistic”.