By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – America’s top general said Sunday a future civil war in Afghanistan “is likely” as supporters of the previous Western-backed government fought against the nation’s Islamist Taliban rulers.
Without U.S. forces to stop them, the Taliban advanced deep into the last holdout province of Panjshir Sunday, worrying General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“I think there’s at least a very good probability of a broader civil war,” that would offer fertile ground for a resurgence of terrorism, he said in an interview with the Fox News network.
The developments were expected to add to international and domestic outrage over U.S. President Joe Biden’s perceived hasty and chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The Taliban also quickly seized billions of dollars in an arsenal of U.S.-made military equipment when it overran the Afghan army, making it one of the best-equipped forces in the region.
Several Republican members of Congress and former President Donald J. Trump claim the weapons are worth roughly $85 billion.
Critics say it is far less, as $82.9 billion was reportedly spent on the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund since the war began in 2001. Only a portion of that is equipment, they claim.
Despite the controversies, President Biden last week said that he did not want “to extend this forever war” in Afghanistan.
But reports that at least hundreds of Americans and thousands of allies were left behind in Afghanistan led to tensions with even European allies.
There is also concern that it will become extremely difficult for the U.S. military to rescue Americans as the Taliban seeks to crush resistance forces defending the mountainous Panjshir Valley.
Thousands of Christians are also in imminent danger facing potential execution under the Taliban’s strict interpretation of Islamic law or Sharia.
The Taliban rolled into Kabul, the capital, three weeks ago at a speed that analysts say likely surprised even the hardline Islamists themselves are yet to finalize their new regime.
But US General Mark Milley questioned whether they could consolidate power as they seek to shift from a guerrilla force to government.
“I think there’s at least a very good probability of a broader civil war,” said Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a bleak assessment.
Afghanistan’s new rulers have pledged to be “more accommodating” than during their first stint in power, which also came after years of conflict — first the Soviet invasion of 1979 and then a bloody civil war.
They even used popular Western words promising, for instance, to have a more “inclusive” government that represents Afghanistan’s complex ethnic makeup.
However, critics say women are unlikely to be included at the top levels.
And few in Panjshir, a rugged valley north of Kabul which held out for nearly a decade against the Soviet Union’s occupation and also the Taliban’s first rule from 1996-2001, seemed to trust their promises.
Last month Afghanistan’s First Vice President Amrullah Saleh declared himself the country’s new leader and, backed by a resistance movement, vowed not to surrender to the ruling Islamist Taliban group.
His comments came after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country as Taliban insurgents took the capital Kabul.
Pictures emerged of Saleh with the son of his former mentor and late anti-Taliban fighter Ahmed Shah Massoud in Panjshir.
“I won’t disappoint millions who listened to me. I will never be under one ceiling with the Taliban. Never,” Saleh declared, speaking from his hideout in Panjshir Valley northeast of Kabul.
But he urged the U.S. to provide military aid without getting actively involved. This time his calls were apparently not answered as Biden plans to declare the war over.
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