Petraeus: Taliban should be held accountable for sheltering terrorist killed in US strike
Retired Gen. David Petraeus, who led U.S. forces in Afghanistan during the Obama administration, on Wednesday said that the Taliban has violated the Doha Agreement and should be held accountable.
Petraeus said that al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri‘s presence in Afghanistan indicates that the Taliban “went back” on their agreement in Doha brokered under the Trump administration.
In an appearance on CNN’s “New Day,” Petraeus said that the Taliban had “completely” violated the pact, in which they said they were not going to give shelter to or allow safe haven for international extremists.
“And here you have the leader of al Qaeda, whom we’ve been pursuing for over 20 years, right downtown, in a house that reportedly was controlled by the No. 2 in the Taliban Haqqani regime, Sirajuddin Haqqani, who, by the way, has a $10 million bounty on his head as well.”
He added that the U.S. will have to continue to focus on Afghanistan to ensure that other militant leaders don’t emerge there.
A senior administration official said Monday that a drone strike with Hellfire missiles was conducted Saturday night Eastern time — Sunday morning in Kabul — that targeted and killed al-Zawahiri, who was standing on the balcony of a safe house in Kabul.
When asked by host John Avlon how the U.S. will hold the Taliban accountable for sheltering al-Zawahiri, Petraeus said that the U.S. would most likely slow the pace of the release of $3.5 billion in frozen Afghan assets, which are now Taliban assets.
He added that discussions had begun to release those assets through some mechanism that “would get to the Afghan people without enriching the Taliban.”
“I suspect that that’s going to move very, very slowly now.”
The retired general added that the U.S. will have to keep a close eye on the ISIS’s Afghan affiliate, which “has been carrying out the most horrific of attacks” and has been “trying to spark a sectarian civil war” in the country.
He added that the strike on al-Zawahiri shows U.S capabilities and assures those that questioned the Afghanistan withdrawal last year that the U.S. can keep a close eye on the country “from over the horizon.”
The strike on al-Zawahiri is a blow to al Qaeda and comes almost a year after the U.S. completed a full military withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of war