Iraq repeat: US pullout in Afghanistan?

Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal said Friday the latest resurgence of al Qaeda in Iraq should be considered a “warning” if the United States pulls all troops out of Afghanistan later this year. 

In an interview on “CBS This Morning,” McChrystal was asked if he’s concerned a total troop withdrawal in Afghanistan could revive al Qaeda there.

“I think it should be a warning. No two situations are exactly the same, but I think we should take a clear lesson from what has happened in Iraq,” McChrystal said.

The former general led the Pentagon’s operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He resigned in 2010 after he criticized Vice President Biden and other administration officials in an interview in Rolling Stone magazine.

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai, meanwhile, has refused to sign a bilateral security agreement with the United States, which outlines how many U.S. residual forces would remain there after 2014. Officials in the administration have been mulling pulling all troops out if Afghanistan fails to cooperate. Biden has advocated a complete withdrawal.

McChrystal said that option could be a concern when asked if Afghanistan would then become a haven for terrorism.

“I think there’s every possibility that that would occur. I don’t think the Taliban are strong enough to sweep in and take over a unified Afghanistan. I think it’s more likely that it would break into areas of conflict,” he said.

Maintaining an American presence in Afghanistan, McChrystal said, would prevent that outcome.

“I am biased about Afghanistan and I admit that up front. I think what Afghanistan needs is a demonstration of commitment and partnership and friendship. That doesn’t mean many, many thousands of troops, but I think it means some presence that reassures them that unlike 1989 when we walked away, we would not do that.”