SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)
British troops are coming home from Afghanistan because it is “mission accomplished” in the country, David Cameron has said.
The Prime Minister made the comments after flying into Afghanistan to visit British troops at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province.
The claim came even as senior British military sources warned that Afghan insurgents are planning attacks to disrupt the country’s elections in April.
British troops have been in Afghanistan since 2001, sustaining 446 fatalities in an operation meant to stabilise the country and leave it able to prevent the return of the extremist groups which used it as a base for terrorist attacks on the West.
British troops will end their combat mission next year and have already withdrawn from many of their bases.
Speaking to reporters in Camp Bastion, Mr Cameron said troops are ending their work because they have achieved their goal.
By the end of the year troop numbers in Afghanistan are expected to be 5,200, down from a high of 9,500.
Mr Cameron was asked: “Do they come home with mission accomplished?”
He replied: “Yes I think they do.”
“To me the absolute driving part of the mission is the basic level of security so that it doesn’t become a haven for terror,” he said.
“That is the mission, that was the mission and I think we will have accomplished that mission and so our troops can be very proud of what they have done.”
Mr Cameron’s language echoes a controversial claim made by US President George W Bush in 2003 about victory in the Iraq war. Weeks after the US invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, he flew onto a US aircraft carrier and delivered a speech under a banner reading “mission accomplished”
That event came to be seen as a symbol of American hubris over Iraq, and was followed by years of insurgency and bloodshed in Iraq.
Mr Cameron admitted that Britain would not “leave behind a perfect country or a perfect democracy” after withdrawal from Afghanistan
Afghanistan will next year hold presidential elections to find a replacement for Hamid Karzai, an election that could mark the country’s first ever peaceful transfer of power.
Senior British sources said that Taliban insurgents will attempt to target those involved in the elections, but insisted that Afghan government forces are well prepared.
A source said: “The summary of where we’re at in Helmand is overwhelmingly positive. The campaign here is on track and the Afghans are in a good place in the short, medium and long term.
“The insurgency will have a go, they will still be having goes next year at Afghan government officials and at electoral officials but against the very credible and capable Afghan National Security Force. At the moment the insurgency are just trying to regenerate and reorganise for the next phase.”
The election has drawn warnings of fraud and corruption, and Mr Cameron accepted there could be problems. But he said that Britain should take pride of the work of its troops in the country.
“You know we will not leave behind a perfect country or a perfect democracy,” he said.
“You have to remember that Afghanistan is a extremely poor country with a very very troubled history.”