Petraeus warns US leaving Afghanistan to face ‘bloody, brutal civil war’

The former US commander for Afghanistan, David Petraeus, has told The Times that the United States has abandoned its duty to protect the country and that it will leave the nation to a “bloody, brutal civil war.”

Mr Petraeus, an architect of the counterinsurgency programmes in both Iraq and Afghanistan, warned that the nation is in danger of a takeover by the Taliban. The US is set to leave Afghanistan by the end of this month.

“The rest of the world will see that we are not supporting democracy or maintaining the values that we promote around the world — human rights, particularly women’s rights, the right to education and freedom of speech and press — all very imperfect in Afghanistan, to be sure, but vastly better than if the Taliban reinstates a medieval Islamist regime,” he said.

“The worst-case scenario is we could see a bloody, brutal civil war similar to that of the 1990s when the Taliban prevailed,” Mr Petraeus added. He warned that it could make Afghanistan a sanctuary for al-Qaeda once again.

“I am a little bit unclear why we didn’t think we could maintain 3,500 troops to stop the Taliban from bringing back an ultraconservative Islamist theocracy which is not in anyone’s interest,” he said.

The general is just the latest official to criticise the Biden administration’s exit from Afghanistan. Former president George W Bush said the consequences of leaving the nation will be “unbelievably bad.” Former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton echoed those statements.

Mr Petraeus previously served as CIA Director under the Obama administration but resigned after disclosing an affair and amid revelations had had shared classified information with the woman. He was forced to pay a $100,000 fine and serve a probation period.