Home World News Tony Blair says withdrawal was driven by imbecilic slogan

Tony Blair says withdrawal was driven by imbecilic slogan

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The US withdrawal from Afghanistan was wrong and based on an “imbecilic” slogan, former PM Tony Blair has said.

He described the decision to withdraw troops from the country as “tragic, dangerous and unnecessary”.

Mr Blair, who sent troops into Afghanistan 20 years ago, said UK involvement in Afghanistan was not a “hopeless endeavour” despite the Taliban takeover.

And the sacrifice made by British troops “was not in vain”, he added.

Mr Blair said achievements in the country over the past 20 years – including a generation growing up without Taliban rule – was a “good cause” that “matters today”.

Speaking to broadcasters, the former Labour leader shared concerns, not only for the Afghan people who he said stood to lose out, but also for the security of Western countries.

He said the Taliban “will give protection and succour to Al Qaeda – you’ve got Isis trying to operate in the country at the same time”.

“You look round the world and the only people really cheering this decision are the people hostile to Western interests,” he added.

In his online article, his first statement since Kabul fell to the Taliban last week, Mr Blair said the decision to withdraw was made “in obedience to an imbecilic political slogan about ending ‘the forever wars'”.

Mr Blair said Britain had a “moral obligation” to stay in Afghanistan until “all those who need to be are evacuated”.

He wrote on his website: “We must evacuate and give sanctuary to those to whom we have responsibility – those Afghans who helped us and stood by us and have a right to demand we stand by them.”

This should not be done “grudgingly but out of a deep sense of humanity and responsibility”, he added.

On Sunday the Ministry of Defence said seven Afghan civilians had died in the chaotic crowds outside the city’s international airport.

The US has a planned deadline of 31 August for withdrawal – but President Biden has said troops may stay past this date to help with evacuations.

Mr Blair admitted mistakes had been made over Afghanistan, but “the reaction to our mistakes has been, unfortunately, further mistakes”. He said while “imperfect”, the “real gains over the past 20 years” were now likely to be lost.

He said the Afghan economy was now three times larger than when the UK invaded the country alongside the US in 2001 and some 200,000 Afghans went to university this year – including 50,000 women.

The withdrawal would have “every jihadist group around the world cheering”, he said.

Russia, China and Iran will take advantage, he said, adding: “Anyone given commitments by Western leaders will understandably regard them as unstable currency.”

 

 

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