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Boris Johnson doubtful of Afghanistan's future following withdrawal of most British troops

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows British soldiers in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has conceded that he feels “apprehensive” about the future of Afghanistan just before citing a planned statement to parliament marking the evacuation of British troops after 20 years of deployment to the war-torn country.

Speaking to select committee chairs in the parliament liaison committee on Wednesday, Johnson described the current ground in Afghanistan as “fraught with risks,” citing his doubts as the Taliban attempt to lay control over a third of country’s districts.

He suggested that the UK must be alerted for the prospect of Afghanistan's government reaching a settlement with Taliban.

In a statement to the House of Commons on Thursday, Johnson confirmed that "all British troops assigned to NATO's mission in Afghanistan are now returning home.”

“For obvious reasons, I will not disclose the timetable of our departure, though I can tell the House [of Commons] that most of our personnel have already left”, he added.

Meanwhile, Johnson’s comments followed came on the heels of Taliban’s alleged attack on Qala-i-Naw in Afghanistan's northwestern Badghis province.

Amid fears the departure of foreign soldiers could lead to intensification of militancy in Afghanistan, the UK government justifies the hasty and secretive exit of its remaining 750 troops, due to a loss of protection when 2,500 US forces leave the country.

Previously, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) had stressed that any changes to the UK presence in Afghanistan will be in keeping with the position of its NATO and US allies.

Earlier this month, Alex Younger, the former Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), sharply criticized the UK’s decision to follow the US suit in retreating from Afghanistan, depicting it as an “enormous mistake” if the UK and its allied “neglect” Afghanistan following the formal withdrawal.

According to the US Central Command, 90 percent of the American troops have already been withdrawn from the country.

A total of 454 British service personnel have died in Afghanistan since the UK joined the US in the 2001 invasion of the country.

Following the foreign forces' withdrawal, the UK's military chief, General Nick Carter, described the reality on the ground as "pretty grim," adding that the Afghan government will be fractured, fighting between the Taliban and other warlords.

In spite of the pullout, Johnson confirmed that the UK will continue operating its embassy in Kabul, adding that his government would continue to provide development assistance to Afghanistan.

However, the prime minister’s ideal ambitions come as there is frustration at the US and UK’s inability to realize their purported ambition of rebuilding the Afghan state along Western lines, while grudgingly admitting that the goal has proved “unrealistic.”


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