Most Britons believe 'nothing achieved' in Afghanistan: poll

Over 50% of Britons believe nothing achieved in UK's 20-year mission in Afghanistan: poll
3 min read
14 August, 2021
A poll, published just hours after the Taliban seized Afghanistan’s second and third-largest cities, revealed that the majority of British adults surveyed believe the UK’s 20-year mission in the country achieved nothing.
The Taliban now hold half of Afghanistan's 34 provincial capitals and control more than two-thirds of the country [source: Getty]

Over 50 percent of British adults surveyed in a recent poll believe the UK’s 20-year mission in Afghanistan failed to achieve anything. 

The YouGov poll, published on Friday, found that of 4,514 British adults asked whether the deployment of US, UK and other western troops "did or did not achieve anything", 53 percent responded that it "did not achieve anything".

This compares with 23 percent who said it had achieved something and 24 percent who did not know. 

The poll was published just hours after the Taliban seized Afghanistan’s second and third-largest cities - Herat in the west and Kandahar in the south. It is feared that Kabul will fall soon, as insurgents swept across a province just south of the capital. 

On the same day, a number of UK ministers expressed their concerns about the uncertain fate of Afghan civilians and slammed the withdrawal of foreign troops

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the Doha agreement signed between the US and the Taliban was a "mistake" and added: "We'll all as an international community probably pay the consequences of that."

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Wallace announced on Thursday that around 600 UK troops will be deployed temporarily to support the evacuation of British nationals from Afghanistan.

Thirty percent of the British adults surveyed, according to YouGov, "strongly support" and 36 percent "somewhat support" the move. Only 6 percent said they "strongly oppose". 

UK MP Tom Tugendhat, chairmain of the Foreign Affairs Committee and former soldier in Afghanistan, has been one of the most outspoken critics among his Tory peers on the situation of Afghanistan

"It's wasteful and unnecessary [for US and UK troops to withdraw]. And why it's personal? Because I've seen what it cost and what sacrifices are being thrown away," he wrote on Twitter on Thursday. 

"It is about our freedom tomorrow not just Afghanistan today."

In July, Boris Johnson announced the end of Britain's military mission in Afghanistan following a hasty and secretive exit of the last remaining troops 20 years after the post-9/11 invasion that started the "war on terror" and claimed the lives of 457 British soldiers.

In response to the announced, UK's Labour Party warned Britain was leaving without having secured the gains of the past 20 years.

Angela Rayner, the party's deputy leader, said that while nobody wanted to see British troops permanently stationed in Afghanistan, "if we simply wash our hands or walk away it is hard to see a future without bloodier conflict and wider Taliban control".

Johnson has also resisted calls to hold a public inquiry into the war along the lines of the Chilcot report on Iraq, which Tobias Ellwood, the chair of the defence select committee, called for in parliament.

It would take too long, Johnson said, adding that the Chilcot inquiry had taken seven years and "cost millions".