Ben Wallace 270821 CREDIT ZUMA PRESS ALAMY cover image
Afghanistan

Ben Wallace: US' Afghanistan withdrawal deal was 'rotten'

Following a Taliban takeover, the UK Defence Secretary has criticised the 2020 agreement brokered by the Trump administration.

Ben Wallace 270821 CREDIT ZUMA PRESS ALAMY cover image

The Defence Secretary has said the US' Afghanistan withdrawal deal led directly to the Taliban gaining power. 

Ben Wallace told MP’s on the Defence Committee that the Doha Deal was "rotten" while reiterating his praise for British personnel who helped evacuate people from Kabul. 

The February 2020 agreement was made between the US and the Taliban - excluding the Afghan government. 

Taliban representatives agreed to halt attacks and hold peace talks with the Afghan government, in exchange for a US commitment to a complete withdrawal, originally by May 2021.

The deal included UK and other NATO forces deployed to the country and its results "ended up with the Taliban taking hold of Afghanistan," said Mr Wallace.

"I’ve talked about it being a rotten deal," he said – adding that the conditions failed to hold back the Taliban.

"It rapidly became clear the conditions were not going to be met and, indeed, I think they were removed, at one stage, in entirety.

"I think, when that was done, I remember saying in a meeting with colleagues, 'The game is up.'"

Soldiers on ground, Op Pitting ongoing to evacuate British nationals and eligible Afghans from Afghanistan following the 2021 Taliban offensive 20210822 CREDIT MOD.jpg
British personnel on Operation Pitting, helping to evacuate individuals safely away from Kabul, Afghanistan (Picture: MOD).

Mr Wallace said NATO forces could have stayed on in the country but chose to leave.

"I spoke to a number of our allies to explore whether there was an appetite to stay, quite early on after the deal," he continued.

"That was not forthcoming and there are certain allies that, once they’re not interested, frankly we’re in a place where we don’t have any options."

Warning that there was now a danger of a resurgent terrorist threat from al Qaida in the country and praising the work of personnel themselves, he added:

"I don’t think that we were defeated. Our resolve was found wanting, I would say, rather than defeated," he said.

"NATO were there to enable a political campaign and I think that is what failed. The military were there to put in place the security environment in order to try and deliver that.

"When that is withdrawn, that is when you find out whether your political campaign has worked. What we discovered is it didn’t work."