Al Qaeda will “come back” as Afghanistan heads for civil war: British minister

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Taliban fighters stand on a vehicle on the side of the road in Kandahar on August 13, 2021.

– | AFP | Getty Images

Al-Qaeda is likely to see a resurgence as Afghan regions continue to fall to the Taliban, the UK Defense Secretary warned on Friday.

Speaking to Sky News, Ben Wallace said he was “absolutely concerned” that unstable nations like Afghanistan are “breeding grounds” for militant groups.

“So I’ve said that I feel this is not the time or the right decision,” Wallace added, referring to the withdrawal of American and Allied troops from the country. “Because al-Qaeda will likely be back.”

He told Sky News that “failed states” around the world – such as Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia – created instability that fueled the rise of terrorist organizations.

“The West needs to learn that you don’t solve problems, you manage,” said Wallace. “You have to go to a country and manage it, there is no immediate solution.”

Wallace also warned Friday that Afghanistan’s fragile state is at risk of engaging in civil war.

“Britain found out in the 1830s that it is a country run by warlords and different provinces and tribes and if you are not very careful you end up in civil war,” he also told the BBC on Friday. “I think we are heading for a civil war that was first shown with zest by the Taliban.”

In April, the White House confirmed that the US would end its military operation in Afghanistan and withdraw all military personnel from the country by September 11.

The Biden administration will send 3,000 US soldiers to the war-torn country to help repatriate workers from the US embassy in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.

The embassy urges American citizens to leave the country immediately as the Taliban continue to take quick steps to regain power they have lost to the US-led forces.

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Most British troops left Afghanistan last month, but around 600 are being sent into the country to help British nationals exit.

Since the US began to suspend its Afghanistan operation, the Taliban, who want to enforce a strict version of Islamic law, have been conquering uncharted territory almost every day.

Three of Afghanistan’s southern provincial capitals were lost after heavy fighting on Friday, AP reported.

The Taliban, who have controlled more than a dozen of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals since August 6, now control more than two-thirds of the country.

On Thursday, Herat – the country’s third largest city – fell to the Taliban, followed by the second largest city, Kandahar, the BBC reported.

The Taliban’s seizure of power in the 1990s supported the growth of al-Qaeda, the terrorist cell that emerged in the same decade and provided by the Taliban as a basis for planning the September 11, 2001 attacks. The attacks led to the first US invasion of Afghanistan almost 20 years ago.

US officials told NBC News on Wednesday they were concerned about a possible resurgence of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Last year, former US President Donald Trump struck a deal with the Taliban that he claimed would bring peace to Afghanistan after nearly two decades of war. On Friday, the British Wallace criticized the agreement as a “lazy deal”.

– CNBC’s Natasha Turak contributed to this article.