x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Al Qa’eda can’t be defeated, says UK armed forces chief

New British armed forces chief says defeating Islamist militancy is 'unnecessary and would never be achieved'.

The West can’t defeat al Qa’eda and other militant groups, the new chief of British armed forces has warned.

Gen Sir David Richards told UK newspaper The Sunday Telegraph that defeating Islamist militancy was “unnecessary and would never be achieved”.

He said al Qa’eda and its affiliates posed a threat to Britain’s national security for at least another three decades but the threat could only be contained to allow Britons to lead secure lives.

"In conventional war, defeat and victory is very clear cut and is symbolised by troops marching into another nation's capital,” the general told the newspaper. “First of all you have to ask: do we need to defeat it [Islamist militancy] in the sense of a clear-cut victory? 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."

The general also said the British government and its military were "guilty of not fully understanding what was at stake" in Afghanistan and said that the Afghan people were beginning to tire of Nato's inability to deliver on its promises.

However, the sacrifice being made by British armed forces in Afghanistan, where 343 soldiers have been killed since 2001, "has been worth it", as progress was being made, he said