After Afghan Events, Raab Says Britain Must 'Look At Our Own Capabilities'
By RFE/RL September 01, 2021
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has told a parliamentary committee that the country must assess and develop its own military capabilities to allow for specific missions without the United States.
But he stressed that such an effort shouldn't undermine the close U.K.-U.S. relationship.
Raab was appearing on September 1 before a select foreign affairs committee reviewing British actions in Afghanistan, where the recently completed international troop pullout and an Afghan military collapse have left Taliban militants in control after a two-decade conflict.
He told lawmakers that the United Kingdom had to withdraw its own troops from Afghanistan as there was no reasonable alternative once U.S. President Joe Biden announced in April that he was drawing down the American troop presence over the next five months.
"We need to look at our own capabilities," Raab said.
"One of the things we talked about was the importance and ability to operate in a more agile way," Raab said. "This is already part of the strategic analysis notwithstanding that, of course, the U.S. will remain our closest ally."
The United States and United Kingdom each regard their bilateral relationship as their "most important," and they work closely within the NATO transatlantic alliance.
Biden staunchly defended the pullout as "the best decision for America" in a televised speech on August 31 and said the choice was between "leaving or escalating."
But the speed of the Taliban advances leading up to the fall of Kabul in mid-August caught many observers off-guard.
Raab told lawmakers that "The central assessment that we were operating to...is that the most likely, the central proposition was that, given the troop withdrawal by the end of August, you would see a steady deterioration from that point, and that it was unlikely Kabul would fall this year."
The last Air Force airlift took off from Kabul airport shortly before midnight on August 30, the eve of Biden's self-imposed deadline for the U.S. troop pullout.
Raab said he was leaving for the region around Afghanistan later on September 1 for talks on how to evacuate people left behind there as the Taliban consolidates power.
Based on reporting by Reuters
Copyright (c) 2021. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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