LONDON: UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has accused NATO allies of refusing to join a British-led military coalition to support Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US forces this year.
Wallace told the Daily Mail that he believed Washington’s deal to end the conflict with the Afghan Taliban was “rotten.”
Since the beginning of the withdrawal of coalition troops, the Taliban have recaptured great swathes of Afghanistan from government forces, taking control of several provincial capitals since Aug. 6.
Wallace said his efforts to do more to help the country’s beleaguered government had fallen on deaf ears when the UK approached “like-minded” nations asking for cooperation.
“I did try talking to NATO nations, but they were not interested, nearly all of them,” he said. “We tried a number of like-minded nations. Some said they were keen, but their parliaments weren’t. It became apparent pretty quickly that without the US as the framework nation it had been, these options were closed off.
“All of us were saddened, from the prime minister (Boris Johnson) down, about all the blood and treasure that had been spent, that this was how it was ending.”
Wallace said the prospect of the UK remaining alone in Afghanistan had been raised, but was ruled unfeasible given Britain’s commitments to other military theaters and its own national security.
“We could have put a force there but we would have had to take ourselves out of a lot of other places around the world. The possibility ... was not viable,” he added.
Last year, the Taliban agreed a deal with the US not to target Western forces or US interests, or to tolerate terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda and Daesh.
US forces began to withdraw in April this year, with a date set to complete the repatriation by the symbolic date of Sept. 11.
However, Wallace said the US decision to deal with the Taliban had convinced the group of its growing supremacy, which had emboldened it to take on the government in Kabul.
“It saddens me that the deal picked apart a lot of what had been achieved in Afghanistan over 20 years,” he added.
“We’ll probably be back in 10 or 20 years. But acting now is not possible. The damage was done with the deal.”