Flagging economy will force Britain to withdraw from Afghan war: Analyst

Britain has announced its plans to withdraw more than 4,000 troops from Afghanistan in 2013 with the remaining 5,000 to be withdrawn the following year.

US-led forces have suffered in the past 12 months with ‘green on blue’ killings where NATO-trained Afghan security forces have turned against and fired upon Western forces in some cases killing them.

Press TV has interviewed Mr. Conn Hallinan, Foreign Policy and Focus, Berkeley about military withdrawal from the NATO-occupied country.

What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: Does this decision by the British government come from a deep rooted belief that the Afghan security forces are capable of taking over security or is this scramble to pull out because of the costs and the unpopularity of this war?

Hallinan: It’s the latter. I don’t think that anybody is particularly confident about the ability of the Afghan security forces to take charge at this point.

But the war is extremely unpopular in England, I believe it is now close to or may be over 70 percent opposition; you’ve got a terrible austerity program going on. There is absolutely no support for it whatsoever.

The current conservative government is way far down in the popularity polls so they obviously are trying to do something here to raise their profile a little bit and that’s the reason why they’re getting out.

Press TV: But then, there have been a lot of promises made earlier on about ending this war responsibly both from the American and the British sides. Where does this leave that then?

Hallinan: I don’t think they are going to end it responsibly, I think they’re trying to get out; they’re trying to get out as quickly as possible. The New York Times had a very long editorial today in which it said why are we waiting until 2014, why aren’t we out in 2013?

So I think what has happened is that everybody sort of looked at the situation; they don’t see any reason to stay as long as 2014. It’s only going to mean more deaths of allied soldiers; it’s going to mean more civilian deaths in Afghanistan. There isn’t any particular reason to stay.

Essentially what happened was NATO invaded Afghanistan and like most empires that invade Afghanistan, they lost. So stringing it out at this point doesn’t make any sense and I think that that’s what is happening.

I think we should also keep in mind that Europe at this point is tipping into a recession and the idea of maintaining this war and the billions and billions of dollars that it requires at a time when your economies are going into recession is just not going to cut it with most Europeans.

Press TV: The US has alluded to maintaining a strategic presence on Afghan soil even after the 2014 promised pull out. Do you think the British will do the same i.e. leave a number of their forces behind as a strategic presence to keep their interests in Afghanistan in line?

Hallinan: Well, they may leave some Special Forces behind. I wouldn’t be surprised if they try and do that. And certainly the Americans intend to do it. Is that going to be a permanent situation? Not in my reading of it.

My reading of it is that when it comes time to have some sort of diplomatic and political resolution of the current civil war going on in Afghanistan that a key component of that will have to be that foreign troops are withdrawn. I can’t imagine any other outcome than that.

So, even if troops stay in for a short time I don’t see those troops going beyond 2015 or 2016, I can’t imagine that the Afghans are going to let them go beyond that point.

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