Saturday September 18, 2021

Afghanistan risks becoming a failed state: Sir Nick

Pa
August 05, 2021

LONDON: Afghanistan becoming a failed state is “one of the scenarios that could occur” unless government forces can resist the Taliban, the head of the UK’s armed forces said.

General Sir Nick Carter said the Afghan forces had to reach a military stalemate with the Taliban, at which point peace talks could occur. The Chief of the Defence Staff also warned the international community not to legitimise the Taliban and its leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who has recently held talks with senior figures in China.

There has been intense fighting for Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, as the Taliban seeks to gain a major city rather than maintain its presence in largely rural areas.

Afghan government forces responded with air strikes, backed by the US, in a desperate effort to defend the city. The fall of Lashkar Gah would be a major turning point in the offensive the Taliban have waged over the recent months as US and Nato forces complete their pullout from the war-torn country.

Helmand province was the location for some of the fiercest fighting involving British troops during the Afghanistan war, with Lashkar Gah the site of a major military base.

Asked whether Afghanistan could again become a failed state, Gen Carter said: “That is one of the scenarios that could occur, but we have to get behind the current Afghan government and support them in what they are trying to do.

“And if they can achieve a military stalemate, then there will have to be a political compromise. Even the Taliban at the level of Baradar recognise that they can’t – in inverted commas – conquer Afghanistan.

“There has to be a conversation. And the important thing is to achieve the military stalemate that can then bring on that conversation.” Gen Carter told BBC Radio 4’s Today there was a “real risk” that “we’re giving far too much legitimacy to the Taliban movement”.

“There is a huge disparity between what Mullah Baradar is saying publicly, and what he’s doing publicly in travelling around countries like Russia and China, and so on and so forth, and a disparity between what’s actually happening on the ground.

“And the international community has got to do much more about calling out the way that the people on the ground are trashing government buildings, they are threatening the population, there are reports of people being forced into marriages.”

He said there have been “grisly videos of war crimes” and “we mustn’t let them get away with this – we’ve got to call them out”. Gen Carter also acknowledged the UK had a “huge moral responsibility” to the Afghans who helped British troops by acting as translators. There was a “serious moral commitment that we have to those who’ve helped us”, he said, with no cap on the numbers who can come forward for help.