Afghan exit heralds ‘new stage of chaos’, MP warns

2021-09-03 01:56:51

The autumn of Afghanistan is “solely the start of a brand new stage of chaos” that would see the US and China drawn into battle, a number one parliamentarian has warned.

The chair of the Overseas Affairs Choose Committee, Tom Tugendhat, mentioned it was “completely predictable” that Taliban victory would result in regional instability and the export of terrorism to international locations together with the UK.

However he additionally warned that Beijing might see the show of American weak spot as a second when China ought to “flex its muscle mass” militarily, resulting in the hazard of confrontation in a flashpoint like Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Mr Tugendhat, a former soldier who served in Afghanistan, informed a seminar hosted by the Coverage Change assume tank that the US president, Joe Biden, can be fallacious to imagine that the withdrawal of the ultimate American troops from the nation meant the struggle was over.

“This isn’t over,” mentioned the MP. “That is solely the start of a brand new stage of chaos.”

Inside Afghanistan, the Taliban was already “turning on itself”, with indicators of disunity between completely different components of the motion elevating the prospect of “chaos streaming over the border” into neighbouring states, mentioned Mr Tugendhat.

And he warned: “Each time you could have an Islamist extremist motion proudly owning a chunk of territory – whether or not it’s a nation state or whether or not it’s solely a partial piece of 1 – we all know what follows.

“It’s completely predictable we find yourself with a violent extremist terrorist group harboured there exporting violence, and a few of that violence involves us. I see completely no motive to count on that what we’re going to see out of Afghanistan goes to be completely different.”

The Taliban victory would encourage terrorist violence in areas like Xinjiang, Chechnya and North Africa, he mentioned.

However he mentioned he was “very involved” over China’s interpretation of the retreat as an indication of failure and weak spot on the a part of the US.

“There’s a risk that China reads this weak spot and decides that that is now, subsequently, the second at which it could flex its muscle mass,” he mentioned. “And the US, feeling that in any other case it’ll look weak, will really feel that it has to reply.

“There’s additionally in fact the likelihood that the US, feeling that it has to reveal that this isn’t a second of weak spot, will search to speculate better efforts into alliances, which China will learn as aggression.

“So that is a kind of moments the place it’s not the steadiness of energy that triggers battle, it’s the imbalance of energy. It’s the second when events have a unique notion of one another’s strengths and weak spot that battle is more likely to come up, and at a second like this, there’s the sturdy risk that that’s precisely what we’re going to see.”

Mr Tugendhat mentioned that defeat in Afghanistan was “a selection that we’ve made” and which was contributed to by three successive US presidents – Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

“The truth is defeat was not inevitable. Defeat is a selection in a battle like this and it’s a selection that we’ve made,” he mentioned.

“The truth is this can be a choice made by not solely this president however two former presidents, to successfully announce the departure, signal the devices of give up after which withdraw in three completely different phrases. That’s a unprecedented factor for 3 successive US administrations to do.

“This can be a staggering second … however let’s not faux that is solely an American failure, as a result of the fact is that this was a Nato operation.”

The previous nationwide safety adviser Mark Sedwill informed the seminar that the withdrawal of worldwide troops from Afghanistan was an act of “strategic self-harm” that might “gasoline” terrorism worldwide.

“That is for my part a foul coverage, badly carried out. It’s an act of strategic self-harm,” mentioned Lord Sedwill.

“It was not inevitable that both this choice needed to be taken or certainly it needed to be carried out in the way in which it was.”

The previous cupboard secretary, who served as an envoy to Afghanistan, mentioned: “The Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan will undoubtedly gasoline extremism and terrorism worldwide, whether or not or not it’s directed from there.

“So the safety threats have undoubtedly gone up and naturally the broader geopolitical penalties are apparent.

“In case you are one in every of our authoritarian adversaries you can be proper now going round the remainder of the world to these international locations which might be in play and saying to them, ‘You see, we informed you so. Now we have the strategic persistence they usually don’t’.”

The previous Nato secretary normal George Robertson, who led the alliance when the Taliban was initially toppled within the wake of the 9/11 assaults, mentioned that it was time to reassemble the coalition of western and regional powers that united efficiently in 2001 to root terrorism overseas.

Lord Robertson informed the seminar that he felt “disgrace, dismay and plenty of disappointment” to see advances in Afghanistan undone by what he termed “a hasty, crassly dealt with give up to the folks that we fought and defeated 20 years in the past”.

He mentioned: “Nato and the west, no matter we wish to assume, have been weakened. That outstanding solidarity of 20 years in the past has been broken. And the mighty United States of America has been humiliated.

“The coalition of self-interested neighbours, which we assembled in 2001 with a United Nations mandate was fairly extremely through the years allowed to wither. I believe it’s mandatory that it’s reassembled, as a result of no person – even these international locations who’re cheering in the present day – might be secure with Isis-Okay, al-Qaeda and the final ragbag of jihadi extremists who’ve now assembled in Afghanistan.

“The tentacles of radical jihad is not going to keep in only one nation.”

Lord Robertson warned that European members of Nato should take the lesson from the US retreat that they will not depend on Washington for his or her defence.

“Nato, and certainly the European Union, have gotten to look very, very significantly on the safety world post-Afghanistan,” he mentioned.

“It’s a reality – and this utilized throughout the Trump administration in addition to this one – that we can’t any longer depend on the American umbrella being there in all conditions, always.

“Due to this fact a way more critical method has now received to be taken to the concept of alliance solidarity, and the European function inside it, if we’re going to maintain our individuals secure.”

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