Boris Johnson is to set out details of Britain’s final military withdrawal from Afghanistan amid fears the pullout of foreign troops will see the return of the Taliban.
Nearly 20 years after UK and other foreign forces entered the country in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks on the US, the Prime Minister will address MPs in a Commons statement.
It follows the announcement in April by US President Joe Biden that he was finally ending the US military presence in the country.
His decision to bring home the remaining 2,500 American troops by the next anniversary of 9/11 in September effectively meant the end of the international military mission – including the return of the last 750 UK military trainers in the country.
Last week, the US handed over its main base at Bagram Airfield to the Afghan defence forces, effectively signalling that mission was all but over.
While the UK has said it respects the US decision, senior ministers and military commanders have made no secret of their disappointment.
We have to be absolutely realistic about the situation that we’re in and what we have to hope is that the blood and treasure spent by this country over decades in protecting the people of Afghanistan has not been in vain ...Boris Johnson
There are fears the departure of foreign forces will leave the government of President Ashraf Ghani vulnerable in the face of a Taliban advance, rolling back the gains that have been made over the past two decades.
Giving evidence to the Commons Liaison Committee on Wednesday, Mr Johnson said he was “apprehensive” about the future and that the situation was “fraught with risks”.
“We have to be absolutely realistic about the situation that we’re in and what we have to hope is that the blood and treasure spent by this country over decades in protecting the people of Afghanistan has not been in vain and that the legacy of their efforts is protected,” he said.
But the Prime Minister sidestepped questions about whether he would order an inquiry to address the lessons to be learned from the UK’s involvement.