UK and US Leave Gap After Taliban Takeover of Afghanistan

The UK Parliament held an emergency meeting on Afghanistan, calling the withdrawal of NATO troops from the country and the unrest in Afghanistan a great political and military defeat for the UK, and condemned the dependence of British foreign policy on the United States. Regarding the situation in Afghanistan, the US president’s decision to withdraw foreign troops from the country was criticised and called catastrophic. Representatives of various political parties blamed the UK’s closest ally for the current crisis in Afghanistan. They accused Biden of destabilising the country with the irresponsible withdrawal of troops.

Biden Strengthens China and Russia in Afghanistan

This is the first time that the UK Parliament has criticised the policy of a US president as its closest ally. Colonel Richard Kemp, a former British commander who had led the troops on the frontlines of some of the world’s toughest hotspots, including Afghanistan and Iraq, also claimed in parliament that the US decision would strengthen the positions of Russia and China in Afghanistan. At the meeting, which was attended by all members of the UK Parliament, MPs criticised Boris Johnson, calling UK’s dependence on the US unilateral decision to leave Afghanistan a major blow to NATO and the UK, as well as its prestige and influence in the world.

The Worst Catastrophe in British Foreign Policy

Members of the UK Parliament have accused Boris Johnson’s government and stated that the fall of Kabul is Britain’s biggest foreign policy disaster since the Suez crisis in 1956. Theresa May, the former prime minister, was also critical of his successor’s handling of the Afghan situation. “Was our understanding of the Afghan government so weak? Was our knowledge of the position on the ground so inadequate?” May asked. “Or did we just feel that we have to follow the United States and hope that, on a wing and a prayer, it would be all right on the night?” May called NATO’s withdrawal “A major setback for British foreign policy”. She said it was “Incomprehensible and worrying” that the UK government had not been able to put together an “Alternative alliance of countries” to continue to support the Afghan government in the absence of US forces.

Boris Johnson, who took a part-time to attend a special session of Parliament, responded that the fall of the Afghan government took place much faster than expected. In response to criticism from members of the UK Parliament, Boris Johnson emphasised the need to accept the harsh fact that since 2009, America has deployed 98% of all weapons released from NATO aircraft in Afghanistan and at the peak of the operation – where there were 132,000 troops on the ground – 90,000 of them were American. He claimed that London had succeeded in its mission in Afghanistan and had taken all necessary steps with the aim of stabilising Afghanistan.

Johnson added that without the United States and its logistics support, a presence in Afghanistan would not have been possible for Western countries. In response to the British prime minister, another Conservative MP and former British Army officer, Johnny Mercer, has claimed that being in the Conservative Party is similar to “working in a really s**t company” with those in charge not having “a clue”. As a sign of the unease in the party’s ranks over the approach to Afghanistan, the Tory MP suggested there was no “Real direction or leadership or responsibility” over the last week as the situation deteriorated. Mercer, who was “forced” to resign as defence minister over the government’s treatment of veterans in April, also suggested politics was a “lonely place” and that he had often thought about his position as an MP.

British Parties Oppose US Policy in Afghanistan

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused Johnson of “staggering complacency”. Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey also said that: the American decision to withdraw was not just a mistake; it was an avoidable mistake, from former President Trump’s flawed deal with the Taliban to President Biden’s decision to proceed—and to proceed in such a disastrous way. The human impact on the lives of millions of Afghans, especially women and refugees, is the most obvious and alarming consequence, but the impact on global politics and on Britain’s national security will be so negative that I fear this mistake will affect the lives of millions around the world for years to come.

The Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, a former soldier who served in Afghanistan, also called Biden’s remarks that Afghan troops had fled to the Taliban shameful. Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the House of Commons Defence Committee, wrote in the Mail on Sunday that the UK was making a “Shabby withdrawal” and, together with its allies, should retain an assistance force of 5,000 troops to give ground, air and intelligence support to the Afghan army in their fight against the Taliban or risk giving up a “Strategically crucial space to an expansionist China.”

UK Defence Secretary Criticises US Policy in Afghanistan

The UK defence secretary has criticised the US decision to leave Afghanistan as a “mistake” that has handed the Taliban “momentum”. Ben Wallace warned that “The international community will probably pay the consequences” and said he was worried al-Qaida would regain a base in Afghanistan. Wallace said the withdrawal agreement negotiated in Doha, Qatar, by the Trump administration was a “rotten deal” which the UK tried to resist. He said the UK had no choice but to pull troops out, because the international community had to act together. “When the United States as the framework nation took that decision, the way we were all configured meant that we had to leave,” Wallace said. Asked how big a mistake it was to withdraw troops, Wallace said:

‘“At the time of the Trump deal, with obviously the Taliban, I felt that was a mistake to have done it that way. We will all, in the international community, probably pay the consequences of that.” He added: “I’ve been pretty blunt about it publicly and that’s quite a rare thing when it comes to United States decisions, but strategically it causes a lot of problems and as an international community, it’s very difficult for what we’re seeing today.’”

US Withdrawal from Afghanistan Insult to Allies

After the United States, the UK sent the most troops to Afghanistan. In 1996, about 10,000 British troops were sent to Afghanistan, mostly to southern Helmand Province. In this area, 475 British soldiers were killed and more than two thousand other soldiers were wounded. Tom Tugendhat, British MP who served in Afghanistan, said in a sharp statement that the US and NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan not only meant handing over the country to the Taliban, but it was also a great insult to the memory and sacrifice of all his comrades who fell in the war in Afghanistan. He described the US withdrawal from Afghanistan as an acknowledgment of its inability to cope with the current situation.

British MPs Worried About the Consequences of Taliban Rule in Afghanistan

Members of the UK Parliament are concerned about the global consequences of the defeat of NATO and the Western world in Afghanistan. “Surely one outcome of this decision must be a reassessment of how NATO operates. NATO is the bedrock of European security, but Russia will not be blind to the implications of this withdrawal decision and the manner in which it was taken. Neither will China and others have failed to notice the implications. In recent years, the West has appeared to be less willing to defend its values.

That cannot continue. If it does, it will embolden those who do not share those values and wish to impose their way of life on others”, said former British Prime Minister Theresa May. Iain Duncan Smith, the former leader of the British Conservative Party, read an excerpt from an article in the pro-Chinese Communist Party paper, the Global Times, in front of members of the House of Commons, explicitly warning Taiwan that from what happened in Afghanistan, those in Taiwan should perceive that once a war breaks out in the straits, the island’s defence will collapse within hours and the US military won’t come to help. The former leader of the Conservative Party concluded by saying that it was the UK’s job to bring the United States back into the world game.

Analysts believe that events in Afghanistan have caused a rift in British and American foreign policy. Just 20 years ago, the UK joined the United States in a military strike against Afghanistan under the pretext of countering terrorism. The tensions between the US and UK as longtime allies show that the UK Parliament is complaining about its dependence on the United States in foreign policy and wants Boris Johnson to pursue an independent and authoritarian foreign policy.

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