Afghanistan 'won't mirror Iraq', UK Army officer says

Afghan national army soldiers search a car at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Jalalabad, east of Kabul Lt Gen Lorimer said he was confident in the Afghan National Security forces

Related Stories

The most senior British Army officer in Afghanistan says he does not believe that country will follow Iraq into sectarian conflict when international troops withdraw by the end of the year.

Lt Gen John Lorimer told BBC Radio 5 live the circumstances in Iraq and Afghanistan were "quite different".

Iraqi forces are currently battling jihadist-led Islamist rebels.

The former head of the UK military, Lord Richards, has warned the fighting could be repeated in Afghanistan.

'Unhelpful comparison'

Lt Gen Lorimer, who is the deputy head of the Nato-led mission, is in his last week of service in Afghanistan.

He said he was confident the country would be secure as international troops withdraw, saying the Afghan national security forces were better equipped and trained to deal with the threat of insurgents than Iraqi forces.

Afghan election count Lt Gen Lorimer praised the Afghan forces' operation during the election

"I don't think the comparison between Iraq and Afghanistan is a particularly helpful one", he said.

"The circumstances are quite different, the context is different, I think the important thing about this next mission is that the international troops who were here to train, advise and assess the Afghan national security forces...the Afghans want the international community to remain here."

Lt Gen Lorimer said the Afghan forces had been "pretty impressive" in maintaining security in the run-up to the country's elections.

He added: "There are still gaps in their capabilities, they are working on them, they have recognised what they are, and the international community is helping them fill those gaps."

That community has committed $4bn (£2.4bn) a year for security in Afghanistan until 2017 and $4bn a year for development to underpin future security and stability.

'Wake-up call'

Earlier this month Afghan President Hamid Karzai dismissed the possibility of al-Qaeda linked groups making a comeback in his country in a similar way to Iraq.

Asked whether what was happening in Iraq could happen in Afghanistan, the president told the BBC: "Never, not at all."

But this week Lord Richards, who retired last year as chief of the defence staff, warned the fighting could be repeated in Afghanistan unless the government in Kabul was given the support it needed.

He told Sky News: "For me it's a wake-up call that if we don't just honour our commitments to the people of Afghanistan made in very good faith...I fear what we are seeing in Syria and Iraq could happen in Afghanistan next year and the thing we should be focusing on now is containing this".


More on This Story


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    If a soldier can't walk freely around every inch of the country without being shot at by the Taliban, then it is clearly not secured. Give it a few months after we leave and watch as corrupt politicians let the taliban assert control and it'll go back to how it was before

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    There are hundreds of tribes and thousands of sub-clans that make up modern day Afghanistan and neighbouring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. As such there will be little unity and a return to the old ways will likely ensue. Although much small scale fighting will no doubt ocurr, they are unlikely to unite in such a way ISIS has done in Iraq. It won't be the same, but it won't be good either.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    I work in Afghanistan and we cannot go 50km south of Kabul before it is full on Taliban territory Wardak Province, where no one goes without major security escort. even then it is only ever allowed to have a short stop for an inspection then back out again.
    Afghanistan will fall as soon as the west leaves

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    I've spent seven years in Afghanistan, of course it will fall apart, there are so many different ethnic groups and none of them like each other! The hatred is ingrained in them, it goes back centuries with perceived slights between the tribes. Anyone who thinks it won't fall apart is deceiving themselves.


More UK stories


Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • BooksNew novels

    BBC Culture takes a look at ten new books to read in March


  • A robot holding a table legClick Watch

    The robots who build flat-pack furniture - teaching machines to work collaboratively

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.