UK general: Cannot defeat al-Qaeda

Chief of defence staff says defeating al-Qaeda is "not possible" and "unnecessary" as long as fighters are contained.

     General David Richards underlined Britain's aim to end its combat role in Afghanistan by 2014-15 [Reuters]

    Britain's most senior officer has been quoted as saying that al-Qaeda can never be completely defeated.

    David Richards, chief of the defence staff, said on Sunday that outright victory is "unnecessary" as long as governments are able to contain the fighters.

    "First of all, you have to ask: 'Do we need to defeat it (al-Qaeda) in the sense of a clear cut victory?'" Richards told British newspaper the Sunday Telegraph.

    IN DEPTH

      Inside Story: The Taliban's counter-strategy
      Focus: To win over Afghans, US must listen
      Timeline: Afghanistan in crisis

    "I would argue that it is unnecessary and would never be achieved ... but can we contain it to the point that our lives and our children's lives are led securely? I think we can."

    His comments are the latest from western military leaders and politicians who have been paving the way for coalition forces to exit Afghanistan over the coming years, even though the Taliban remains a significant threat to security there.

    Barack Obama, the US president, and David Cameron, the British prime minister, hope to start bringing troops home next year.

    Richards underlined Britain's aim to end its combat role in Afghanistan by 2014-15 but did not estimate how much longer after that coalition troops would need to support Afghan security forces.

    Richards, who became head of Britain's armed forces last month, said the region should be stabilised before any withdrawal is completed.

    "We are equally clear that we have got to support the operation thereafter to make sure that our legacy is an enduring one," he said.

    British soldiers have been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001 as part of a US-led force.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Take a tour through East and West Jerusalem to see the difference in quality of life for Israelis and Palestinians.

    Stories from the sex trade

    Stories from the sex trade

    Dutch sex workers, pimps and johns share their stories.

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    As the stigma associated with being childless persists, some elderly women in India risk it all to become mothers.