MPs fear Afghanistan civil war after withdrawal

 

Afghanistan could descend into civil war and corruption and drugs trading could continue to cause problems once coalition forces withdraw from the country in less than two years' time, a report from the Defence Select Committee warned today.

In its report the committee also said the Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office "painted a very positive picture of the transition" to the Afghan National Security Forces, but pointed out there were concerns over the capability of Afghan forces to fill the gap left once coalition forces withdraw at the end of 2014, particularly in terms of helicopters, close air support and logistics.

Given there are less than two years before the end of 2014, the committee called on the Government to set out how it sees its future role in Afghanistan.

There needs to be a contingency plan to deal with a breakdown in security as UK troops pull-out, including the possibility of an armed resistance to withdrawal, the group of MPs said.

And they conceded that some ground may have to be given in negotiations with the Taliban.

Conservative MP James Arbuthnot, the committee chair, said: "The UK and its international partners must show the Afghan people that they will abide by their obligations to continue to support them in their efforts."

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said that vision was of an Afghanistan that could "maintain its own security and never again be a safe haven for international terrorism.

"The fact that Afghan security forces are now leading on more than 80 per cent of all security operations across the country shows we are well on the way to achieving that aim," he said, adding that Britain had committed £70million to an international fund to sustain the Afghan security forces after 2014.

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