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British Lawmakers See Increased Dangers in Iraq, Afghanistan - 2004-07-29

A panel of British lawmakers warns that Afghanistan could "implode" and Iraq become a "failed state," without strong support from the West and neighboring countries.

The British parliament's foreign affairs committee issued its warnings based on six months of hearings and field investigations into the war on terrorism. Among its key findings, the report says Afghanistan could "implode with terrible consequences," unless friendly governments provide sufficient forces and equipment to maintain security.

The senior Conservative party member on the committee, John Stanley, told a news conference, Afghanistan urgently needs support as it prepares for an election later this year. "Afghanistan is absolutely on the knife-edge," he said. "We could end up in a situation in which everything that we have tried to achieve in that country since the removal of the Taleban regime, almost all of that could be set back, conceivably, almost to square one [the start]."

The committee report also expresses concern about the slow progress in curbing opium poppy production in Afghanistan. About 90 percent of the heroin sold in Britain originates in Afghanistan, and Britain is leading a drive to try to eradicate poppy cultivation there by 2013.

Regarding Iraq, the committee says it could become a failed state and spawn regional insecurity, if militants fighting the transition to a free and democratic state are not defeated. Committee members say the al-Qaida terrorist network took advantage of the post-invasion security vacuum to infiltrate into Iraq and launch a campaign of sabotage and suicide bombings.

The committee also commends Pakistan's contribution to fighting terrorism, and it urges the British government to provide moral and material assistance to Pakistan to support those efforts.

The report concludes that al-Qaida continues to pose a very serious threat to Britain, and the fight against international terrorism must remain a top foreign policy priority.