The Slatest

Joint Chiefs Chair: Civil War “Likely” in Afghanistan, Could Lead to Terrorism Surge

Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, holds a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. on September 1, 2021.
Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, holds a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. on September 1, 2021. SAUL LOEB/Getty Images

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said it was “likely” there would be conditions for a civil war to develop in Afghanistan, which could, in turn, lead to a resurgence of terrorist groups. “My military estimate is that the conditions are likely to develop of a civil war,” Milley said during an interview on Fox News. “I don’t know if the Taliban is gonna be able to consolidate power and establish governance—they may be, maybe not.”

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A civil war could then leave an opening to terrorist groups to gain power in the region. “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 a reconstitution of al-Qaida or a growth of ISIS or other myriad of terrorist groups,” Milley added. He added that it was likely there’d be a “resurgence of terrorism” from the region “within 12, 24, 36 months.” Milley had previously told lawmakers terrorist groups were likely to reconstitute in Afghanistan much faster than initially expected.

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In Afghanistan, Taliban forces are fighting against the last pocket of resistance to its rule in the isolated Panjshir Valley. The anti-Taliban stronghold is home to some 150,000-200,000 people and has become a refuge for Afghans trying to escape the Taliban’s grip on the country. “There is no doubt we are in a difficult situation. We are under invasion by the Taliban,” Amrullah Saleh, one of the resistance leaders, told the BBC in a video message. Saleh, who was vice-president of the former government of Ashraf Ghani, warned of an “overwhelming humanitarian crisis” and pleaded for international assistance.  “We call on the United Nations and the international community to do its utmost to prevent the Taliban’s onslaught into Panjshir Province and encourage a negotiated political solution to ensure thousands of displaced and hosting civilians are saved,” Saleh’s office said.

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