LONDON: Afghanistan risks becoming a failed state unless government forces can prevent the Taliban’s advance, Britain’s most senior soldier warned on Wednesday.
Gen. Nick Carter, the chief of defense staff, said Afghan forces have to secure a military stalemate in order to start talks between the government and the Taliban.
He also warned the international community against giving credence to the Taliban and its leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, saying there is a risk of giving the group “legitimacy” that it does not deserve.
Carter said the country becoming a failed state “is one of the scenarios that could occur, but we have to get behind the current Afghan government and support them in what they’re 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 recognize that they can’t … 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.”
Carter told the BBC that there is a “real risk” that the West is “giving far too much legitimacy to the Taliban movement.”
He added: “There’s a huge disparity between what Mullah Baradar is saying publicly and … 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’re threatening the population, there are reports of people being forced into marriages.”
Carter said he has seen “grisly videos of war crimes,” and the international community “mustn’t let them get away with this — we’ve got to call them out.”
His comments come as Tobias Ellwood, a Conservative MP and chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, called for the West to “rethink its strategy.”
Ellwood, himself a former British Army officer, tweeted on Wednesday that there is “still time to prevent civil war” by sending “a 5,000-strong coalition force — enough to give legitimacy to the Afghan government & support to Afghan forces to contain and deter the Taliban.” He added: “Otherwise we face a failed state.”