The death toll for UK troops is Afghanistan has continued to steadily rise and now sadly it is 397. Other countries are also struggling with the deaths of members of their armed forces in Afghanistan.
Yesterday the French announced that their draw down of troops in Afghanistan will be brought forward to the end of 2013. Canada no longer has a fighting force in Afghanistan but does still have some people in a training role. The US is to leave by the end of 2014, as is the UK. The US drawdown could change depending on the 2012 US election result.
Whilst we all want our troops home there are a few causes for concern and unanswered questions.
- By the time 2014 draws to a close Mr Karzai's term of office will have ended. That is assuming that he does not simply stay on as a puppet for the West and that a form of democratic election takes place.
- Cameron has already said that the UK draw down of troops is not cast in stone. Therefore if the situation demands it UK troops will remain. What about those of other countries?
- In that case where will Cameron get the money and the troops from. This week job cuts announced by the UK Ministry of Defence seem set to reduce our fighting capabilities considerably.
- If we, the West, leave Afghanistan in a volatile state what have the last 10 years plus been about? Have those who gave their lives done so in vain.
The UK still has around 9,500 troops in Afghanistan but currently we are expected to leave by 2014. It now looks as if we could be left literally holding the baby. That must not happen. We went to war on 9/11 in support of America. As a war against terrorism. The world remains as volatile as ever in spite of the death of people such as Osama Bin Laden. More countries are conflict torn than ever.
As the meeting at Chequer's between Karzai and Cameron drew to a close the Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai "thanked the British people for sacrificing "blood and treasure" for the future of his country". He went on to say, "The Afghan people recognise that, respect that and remember that".
Both leaders signed an agreement detailing how the two countries would work together after UK combat troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan in 2014. David Cameron stressed that the relationship would be based on diplomacy, trade and aid.Right now though many people in the UK feel that we are going to be left high and dry in Afghanistan in the short term. Many more feel we should simply follow suit of other countries are bring our troops home now.