Milley says civil war ‘likely’ in Afghanistan
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said he believed it was “likely” that conditions for a future civil war could develop in Afghanistan following the U.S. troop withdrawal.
The general also stated that civil war in the region could lead to the resurgence of groups like al Qaeda and ISIS, among others.
During an interview with Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin in Ramstein, Germany, that aired on Saturday, the reporter asked Milley if the U.S. was safer today since the country had withdrawn its troops from Afghanistan.
“Well you know this is something that I’ve thought a lot about. And I personally think that my military estimate is is that the conditions are likely to develop of a civil war. I don’t know if the Taliban is gonna be able to consolidate power and establish governance – they may be, maybe not,” Milley told Griffin.
“But I think there’s at least a very good probability of a broader civil war, and that will then in turn lead to conditions that could in fact, lead to reconstitution of al Qaeda or a growth of ISIS or other myriad of terrorist groups,” Milley added, who noted that officials do not yet know for sure the fate of Afghanistan.
Milley noted that it would be a “very difficult policy choice” when asked if he could envision a situation in which U.S. troops would have to return to Afghanistan.
“I wouldn’t say yes or no to anything actually. I think those are, it’s too early to say anything like that at this point,” Milley said, adding that they needed to continue to monitor the intelligence situation.
The general’s comments came after a chaotic August, in which the international community watched the rapid deterioration of the Afghan government at the hands of the Taliban. The insurgent group consolidated power in a matter of days, and on Aug. 15 took the capital city of Kabul.
The U.S. withdrew its troops on Aug. 31, marking an end to a 20-year conflict that was sparked by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on American soil.
Nineteen members of the terrorist group al Qaeda boarded and highjacked planes that were used in attacks on New York City, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon. About 3,000 people were killed that day.
The withdrawal became chaotic after the Taliban’s takeover, and the end of U.S. involvement was punctuated by violence, a bombing, deaths and acts of desperation on the part of Afghan citizens who wished to flee the country.
Officials and lawmakers stateside are concerned that Afghanistan could be a hotbed for terrorist following the U.S.’s withdrawal given that there is no longer American or allied military presence on the ground.
The Taliban maintained that it has evolved since its former rule in the late 1990s, stating that the group will not go after enemies and will respect the rights of women under Islamic framework, but many in the international community and in Afghanistan itself remain skeptical.
President Biden has defended his decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, arguing that he did not want to lengthen an already long-running war in the country.
“To those asking for a third decade of war in Afghanistan, I ask: What is the vital national interest? In my view, we only have one: to make sure Afghanistan can never be used again to launch an attack on our homeland,” Biden said on Tuesday after the last troops left Afghanistan.
Milley made similar predictions to those aired Saturday to the Senate in August, warning lawmakers of a possible rise of terrorist groups in Afghanistan amid the Taliban’s takeover of the country.