Boris Johnson: West Couldn’t Carry on With US-Led Afghan Op Without America
08:57 GMT 18.08.2021 (Updated: 10:22 GMT 18.08.2021)
© AFP 2022 / LEADING HAND BEN SHREADA handout picture taken and released by the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) on August 15, 2021 shows members of the British Army, from 16 Air Assault Brigade, as they disembark from an RAF Voyager aircraft after landing in Kabul, Afghanistan, to assist in evacuating British nationals and entitled persons as part of Operation PITTING
UK MPs have been recalled from summer recess for an emergency debate on the Taliban* takeover in Afghanistan and Western response to the situation
The West was unable to continue the US-led mission in Afghanistan without the US "might", air power and logistics, according to Boris Johnson.
"We came up against this hard reality that since 2009 America has deployed 98% of all weapons released from NATO aircraft to Afghanistan. At the peak of the operation, when there were 132,000 troops on the ground, 90,000 of them were American," said the UK Prime Minister.
Addressing Wednesday’s emergency debate in the House of Commons on the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan, he continued:
"The West could not continue this US-led mission, a mission conceived and executed in support and defense of America, without American logistics, without US air power and without American might."
Boris Johnson has emphasized that it was an "illusion" to believe any member of the NATO military alliance sought to restart military action in Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power.
"I really think that it is an illusion to believe that there is appetite amongst any of our partners for a continued military presence or for a military solution imposed by NATO in Afghanistan," said the UK Prime Minister.
"That idea ended with the combat mission in 2014, and I do not believe ... that deploying tens of thousands of British troops to fight the Taliban is an option," Johnson told parliament.
© REUTERS / Shekib RahmaniHundreds of people gather near a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane at a perimeter at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. On Monday, the U.S. military and officials focus was on Kabul’s airport, where thousands of Afghans trapped by the sudden Taliban takeover rushed the tarmac and clung to U.S. military planes deployed to fly out staffers of the U.S. Embassy, which shut down Sunday, and others
Hundreds of people gather near a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane at a perimeter at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. On Monday, the U.S. military and officials focus was on Kabul’s airport, where thousands of Afghans trapped by the sudden Taliban takeover rushed the tarmac and clung to U.S. military planes deployed to fly out staffers of the U.S. Embassy, which shut down Sunday, and others
When questioned regarding the speed with which the Islamist militant group succeeded in taking control in the country, and if there had been “a catastrophic failure of intelligence", Boris Johnson said that he believed the "collapse" of Afghanistan to the Taliban was "faster than even the Taliban expected".
According to the PM, it had been "absolutely right" to recall Parliament from summer recess to debate the situation in Afghanistan.
‘Proud to Bring these Afghans to Our Shores’
Regarding concerns for the lives of Afghans who were employed by the UK mission in the South Asian country, Johnson assured MPs that the government "will be doing everything we can to support those who have helped the UK mission in Afghanistan". Britain would be deploying an additional 800 troops to secure the return of its nationals and local support staff from Afghanistan, said Boris Johnson on Wednesday.
"The situation has stabilised since the weekend but it remains precarious and the UK officials on the ground are doing everything they can to expedite the movement of people," said Johnson.
The PM said that 306 Britons have been evacuated from Afghanistan, and the rest would be airlifted "as expeditiously as we can", adding that currently the Taliban were "allowing that evacuation to go ahead."
© REUTERS / UK MOD Crown copyright 2021British citizens and dual nationals residing in Afghanistan board a military plane for evacuation from Kabul airport, Afghanistan August 16, 2021, in this handout picture obtained by Reuters on August 17, 2021.
British citizens and dual nationals residing in Afghanistan board a military plane for evacuation from Kabul airport, Afghanistan August 16, 2021, in this handout picture obtained by Reuters on August 17, 2021.
The PM revealed that 2,052 Afghan nationals had been successfully evacuated to date, with 2,000 visas for Afghans already processed.
"We are proud to bring these Afghans to our shores," said Johnson.
Earlier, Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the government’s plans to take in up to 20,000 vulnerable Afghans in the long-term as part of a resettlement plan. The government would be relocating up to 5,000 Afghans in the UK in the first year, according to the scheme. Women, girls, religious and other minorities regarded at risk from the advent of Taliban to power were to be given priority, according to Sky News.
However, critics believe the UK has an obligation to take in more refugees.
Labour MP Chris Bryant reiterated at the Commons debate earlier made calls for the UK to do more. He deplored the pledge to take 5,000 refugees this year.
"What are the 15,000 meant to do - wait around until they've been executed?" queried Bryant.
Leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer said the resettlement scheme must be “generous and welcoming”.
"The scale of the refugee crisis requires an international response, but we must lead it and lead with a resettlement programme that meets the scale of the challenge," said Starmer.
Reality of 'Regime Change'
Boris Johnson said he would be chairing a virtual meeting of the G7 "in the coming days", adding that the UK government has "an enduring commitment to the Afghan people".
"We must face the reality of a change of regime in Afghanistan. As president of the G7, the UK will work to unite the international community by a clear plan for dealing with this regime in a unified and concerted way ... It would be a mistake for any country to recognize the new regime in Kabul prematurely or bilaterally... We will judge this regime based on choices it makes and by its actions rather than by its word," said Johnson in parliament.
*The Taliban is a terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries