Retired US General Petraeus Warns Taliban 'Has the Momentum' to Take Control of Afghanistan 'Soon'
12:27 GMT 24.07.2021 (Updated: 12:32 GMT 24.07.2021)
© AP Photo / Raumat GulTaliban fighters ride in their vehicle in Surkhroad district of Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, June 16, 2018
© AP Photo / Raumat Gul
The past few weeks have seen a spike in violence in Afghanistan, where the Taliban* has stepped up military activities amid US and NATO troops’ withdrawal from the South Asian country.
Retired General David Petraeus, former commander of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, has predicted in an interview with Fox News that Washington may regret its decision to pull American troops out of the South Asian nation and that the Taliban is most likely to further expand its clout there.
When asked whether the Taliban will soon be in control of Afghanistan, Petraeus said he doesn’t “know about soon”, but that he is “very worried about the trends right now, the trajectory that this is all headed”.
“The Taliban has the momentum. In fact, our Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, General Mark Milley quite forthrightly noted the other day that they [Taliban militants] have the strategic momentum. And it was heartening, I must say, to see that we used some air power outside of Kandahar, the second-largest city and second most important city in Afghanistan to Kabul”, Petraeus added.
He urged Washington “to work with the Afghan government to develop a plan to help them stabilise the security situation, which has indeed deteriorated very significantly since the announcement of the intent to withdraw”.
The general also referred to him recently expressing fear that “we [the US] would come to regret this [troop withdrawal] decision, and it appears that regret could come sooner now rather than later, and that is very concerning”.
Blinken Warns Taliban Takeover May Make Afghanistan 'Pariah State’
The remarks followed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken telling the news network MSNBC that Afghanistan will become a "pariah state" if the Taliban forcefully seizes power in the country.
According to him, if such a scenario takes place, Afghanistan will not receive the support from the international community it is hoping for. Blinken added that Washington does not believe in a military solution for Afghanistan, but is working out a mechanism to put an end to the Afghan gridlock.
© AP Photo / Rahmat GulAfghan security forces arrive at the site of an explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan
Afghan security forces arrive at the site of an explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan
© AP Photo / Rahmat Gul
This was preceded by the US, the EU and NATO urging the Taliban to stop its military offensive in Afghanistan and engage in peace talks. They also called on the Taliban and the Afghan government “to agree on a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire and on foundational principles for the future Afghan State and details of transitional governing arrangements until a final political settlement is reached”.
Afghan Gov’t Rejects Taliban Claims They Control 90% of Country
This came as Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman Fawad Aman rejected the Taliban's claim of controlling 90 percent of Afghanistan's borders as an "absolute lie" and "baseless propaganda", adding that government forces were in control of the country's borders and all "main cities and highways".
Afghanistan has witnessed a rise in violence as US and NATO troops are gradually being withdrawn from the country amid the Taliban’s push for stepping up its military activities. The troop withdrawal was one of the points of agreement that the Taliban and the United States reached in Doha in February of last year.
Earlier this month, US President Joe Biden announced that his country would pull out its troops from Afghanistan by 31 August, updating his former order stipulating that the exit be completed by 11 September, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America.
*Taliban, a terrorist group banned in Russia