The head of Britain’s armed forces has said “Everybody got it wrong” on how soon the Taliban will take over Afghanistan.
General Sir Nick Carter told the BBC: “It was his speed that surprised us and I don’t think we have a clear idea of what the Taliban are doing.”
Asked if military intelligence was wrong, he said the government had received intelligence from various sources.
He said it was not about military intelligence.
The last British and American troops withdrew from Afghanistan a week ago, ending their 20-year military campaign in the country.
The West has criticized the way out of Afghanistan, with questions about how the Taliban could gain control of the country so quickly.
Taliban take-over in Afghanistan
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told lawmakers last week that intelligence had predicted that the security situation would “deteriorate” in August, but that Kabul was unlikely to fall this year. However, in mid-August, the Taliban captured Kabul.
Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Sir Nick was asked how the predictions went wrong.
“I think everyone misunderstood and the answer is straightforward,” he said. “Even the Taliban did not expect things to change as fast as they have.”
The Chief of Defense Staff said: “I don’t think anyone was predicting how critical the Afghan government was and how critical it was in terms of command of its armed forces.”
The Taliban are expected to announce a new government in the coming days, meaning foreign powers will have to adapt to the possibility of dealing with the Taliban administration.
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Help of International community needed
Sir Nick said it would be premature to say how the Taliban would rule, but it is likely that the militant group will be less repressive than in the past.
“On his face, it doesn’t look good at the moment. But let’s see what happens. It could change for the better,” he said.
“I also think they are not stupid enough not to know that the Afghan people have changed and they want a slightly different style of government.”
On Sunday, the Taliban were accused of killing a female police officer. The deaths come amid reports that the group is stepping up its crackdown on women.
Sir Nick said it was now up to the international community to persuade the Taliban to govern differently.
“They will need a little help to run the modern state effectively,” he said. “If they behave, maybe they can get some help.”
Asked if military intelligence was wrong, Sir Nick said: “No … many studies have suggested that it will not work during the year and of course that’s right.”
“It’s much broader than just military intelligence,” he said.
“The way it works in this country is that we have a joint intelligence committee that sits inside the cabinet office. We have to gather resources. And a wide range of open source content. “
Currently, Taliban soldiers are fighting resistance groups in the Panjshir Valley, the last remaining part of Afghanistan that is not yet under Taliban control.
On Saturday, the top US general said a civil war was likely to break out in Afghanistan, and that the situation could lead to a resurgence of terrorist groups there.
Gen. Mark Millie told Fox News: “Circumstances are very likely that you could see a resurgence of terrorism from this common area within 12, 24, 36 months.”
Sir Nick told the BBC that the threat of terrorism would depend on whether an effective government could be formed in Afghanistan.
Lisa Nandy, Shadow’s foreign secretary for Labor, said there was a strong possibility that Britain could be less secure now because of the events in Afghanistan.
“The immediate task for the government is to ensure that Afghanistan does not once again become a haven for terrorism,” he said.
He urged Britain to work with other countries – not just its allies – to adopt a common approach to the Taliban, and to take advantage of them to demand the rights of women and girls living in Afghanistan.
Earlier, former MI6 chief Sir Alex Inger, who resigned last year, told Times Radio that the lack of a physical presence in Afghanistan would be a major blow to intelligence networks.
And he added that “turning our backs on a place like Afghanistan” increases the threat to our country.
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The Northern Ireland Protocol ensures that there is no need to check the land border between Northern Ireland (in the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (in the EU).
During the Bridgett talks, all parties agreed that the protection of the 1998 Northern Ireland Peace Accords (Good Friday Agreement) was an absolute priority.
Asked how long the United States would wait while Iran delayed resuming talks on resuming the 2015 nuclear deal, Mr Sullivan said: “We have just heard that Iran is ready to return in a few short weeks. If not, we will need to consult with allies and partners on how to proceed.
“If that happens, we will soon see whether the Iranians are serious at the table or they are just coming to the stall and delaying the time. This is not a game we are going to play.”
Mr Sullivan emphasized that the United States was “committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”
In 2015, Iran struck a deal with six powers – the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany – that saw Tehran limit its nuclear activities in exchange for easing sanctions.
But the United States abandoned the agreement in 2018, fearing it would be broken.