Taliban takeover is world's failure, says UK
The Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan is a "failure of the international community", Britain's Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Monday, assessing that the West's intervention was a job only half-done.
"All of us know that Afghanistan is not finished. It's an unfinished problem for the world and the world needs to help it," he told BBC television.
The former British Army officer last week said US President Joe Biden's predecessor Donald Trump had secured a "rotten deal" with the Islamist militants that allowed their return.
He maintained the 20-year intervention by US-led forces in Afghanistan "wasn't a waste, it wasn't for nothing" but accused Western powers of being politically short-sighted.
"If it's a failure, it's a failure of the international community to not realise that you don't fix things overnight," he said.
"I'm afraid when you deal with a country like Afghanistan, that is 1,000 years of history effectively and civil war, you manage its problems and you might have to manage it for 100 years.
"It's not something that you just rock in, rock out and expect something to be fixed."
US former national security adviser HR McMaster meanwhile slammed his country's failure to realise the Taliban would swiftly take control, calling it "wilful ignorance".
The retired army lieutenant general told Times Radio it was "clear that this kind of collapse was going to happen", after the deal brokered by Trump, who sacked him in 2018.
The deal weakened the Afghan government and security forces and strengthened the Taliban, he said, adding: "We stood idly by and we turned a blind eye. This was utterly predictable."
Britain last month withdrew the majority of its 750 remaining troops in Afghanistan, but last week announced that 600 soldiers would return to help with repatriation.
Wallace told Sky News 370 embassy staff and British citizens were flown out on Saturday and Sunday, with 782 Afghans scheduled to leave in the next 24 to 36 hours.
Officials are aiming to evacuate 1,200 to 1,500 people from Afghanistan a day. The first flight arrived back at a British air force base on Sunday night, his department said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said Britain would help some 3,000 nationals to leave but questions are being asked why he did not do more to oppose Washington's withdrawal.
The Times newspaper called the rapid pull-out "unforced and unnecessary" and said it was becoming "the greatest disaster in American foreign policy for almost 50 years".
The head of parliament's foreign affairs committee, Tom Tugendhat, likened it to the Suez crisis of 1956, which laid bare the limits of Britain's global influence.
Parliament has been recalled on Wednesday to discuss the situation, including asylum and support for Afghan nationals who have fled.