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Britain Defense Minister Uncertain of Afghanistan's Future

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- What will happen to Afghanistan once coalition forces withdraw their troops in 2014?  Britain’s defense minister is the first to admit he doesn't know.

Interviewed by BBC Radio 4's Today program on Wednesday, Philip Hammond speculated that civil war could erupt in Afghanistan within a few years of the planned U.S. and NATO exodus.

Hammond stressed that Britain never intended to stay permanently, and that its primary goal was to help the Afghans protect their own national security.

However, he acknowledged that it's been a tough mission over the past 11 years because "Afghanistan is an incredibly complex society; a multi-ethnic society that was very fragmented before we started.  Our ability to influence outcomes is very limited."

Britain and its allies did drive out terrorists from Afghanistan who were using it to set up training camps, according to Hammond, and the coalition has been somewhat successful in getting national security forces up to speed.

But as for the future, Hammond said it will all be up to the Afghan people to change their long culture of violence, corruption and lawlessness.

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ABC News Radio