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The tragedy of Afghanistan: Soldiers’ sacrifice, refugees, human rights and strategic blunders – the Liberal Democrats’ Friends of the Armed Forces express shock and horror at the latest news, and call for Government action.

August 17, 2021 10:26 AM

Armed ForcesAfter 20 years of service and sacrifice by our Armed Forces in Afghanistan, the Taliban have swept back to power, risking both British national security and the lives of Afghan civilians, especially women and girls.

Cllr Robin Ashby, an Armed Forces Champion in Newcastle upon Tyne and Convenor of the Liberal Democrats' Friends of the Armed Forces, said "Our thoughts are with the relatives of those British personnel killed in Afghanistan, and those who suffered life changing injuries in body or mind. As a humane and civilised society we must not just do our duty by those Afghans who served us and who are now at risk, but we must be prepared to offer sanctuary to those who fear oppression from the new regime and who able to flee the country, or support neighbouring countries who take them in."

"Many former soldiers and their families are now being forced to ask the awful question: 'was it all worth it?' Hearing their stories has been truly heart-wrenching. No one in our Armed Forces should ever have to question whether their sacrifice and the sacrifice of the fallen was worth it," said Ed Davey MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

"British lives were lost combatting the threat of terrorism in Afghanistan, but now Prime Minister Johnson has made the British people less safe by leaving it to become a breeding ground for Al-Qaeda again. He should have been warning Donald Trump and Joe Biden of the dangers of withdrawal, and done all he could to stop this disaster.

"The nature of our withdrawal has meant that all we set out to achieve in Afghanistan has been lost. Mr Johnson has failed to leverage our relationship with the United States. The management of our evacuation has been shambolic. He must accept his share of responsibility. On behalf of the Government, the Prime Minister must now apologise to our Armed Forces personnel and their families."

"Having served in Afghanistan and having represented scores of others who have too, I am left with an empty feeling given the descent of the country," said Allan Steele, a former RAF officer and now a human rights lawyer, who is Secretary of the Liberal Democrat Friends of the Armed Forces

"I look back on the claims that we would bring security and the rule of law to Afghanistan and I feel let down. I was not convinced at the time and I felt guilty for being cynical.

"That is nothing to the disappointment I feel for those who have now been left to face the consequences - the Afghan people. They are being failed. They are losing their lives and many, many more will die in the days, weeks and months to come. Some will be murdered in circumstances of appalling brutality.

"We underestimate opponents at every turn. We think of conflicts as long term if they exceed WWII periods. We underestimate the tenacity and patience of opponents. We expect things to be done quickly, for we get bored. That is not so in other parts of the world, where the harshness of life has never allowed boredom to take hold.

"We should think very carefully about that prior to using force in anger in other nations. But for now, we should be ready to defend those innocent people who placed their trust in us. And in order to do that, we need Armed Forces that have high morale and a common purpose of doing right by the vulnerable."