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Petraeus points to 20 years of 'significant mistakes' in Afghanistan as US withdrawal anniversary approaches

Retired Gen. David Petraeus says that “significant mistakes” were made during the U.S.’s 20-year deployment in Afghanistan as the one-year anniversary of the U.S. troops’ withdrawal from the country nears.

In an op-ed published by The Atlantic on Monday, Petraeus wrote that the outcome of the U.S.’s withdrawal from Afghanistan is “devastating” for the country, citing the fall of the Afghan government and the eventual return to power of the Taliban. 

“In short, a country of nearly 40 million people — individuals whom we sought to help for two decades — has been condemned to a future of repression and privation and likely will be an incubator for Islamist extremism in the years ahead,” Petraeus wrote. 

Petraeus, who served as general in Afghanistan under the Obama administration, also wrote that the U.S. withdrawal from the country led others to look at the U.S. as a not “dependable partner” and a “great power in decline,” adding that the country “underachieved” its goal during its time there.  

“Rather, I mean that it did not have to be this way at all; that despite the selfless, courageous, and professional service of our military and civilian elements, and also of our coalition partners—as well as that of innumerable great Afghans—we underachieved in Afghanistan,” Petraeus wrote in his op-ed. 

“In fact, across our 20 years there, we made significant mistakes and fell short over and over again,” Petraeus added. “Had we avoided, or corrected, enough of our missteps along the way, the options for our continued commitment to Afghanistan would have been more attractive to successive administrations in Washington — and might have precluded withdrawal entirely.” 

It’s been nearly a year since the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan after spending nearly two decades in the country, first arriving in the country in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.  

The troops’ withdrawal led to the Taliban regaining full control of the country, resulting in thousands of Afghan citizens desperately fleeing the country in fear of Taliban rule. 

Recently, Petraeus called out the Taliban for violating the Doha Agreement, brokered under the Trump administration, by sheltering al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in their country, noting that the U.S. still has to ensure that there is no militant presence in the country 

U.S. officials confirmed that al-Zawahiri, who became the leader of al Qaeda after the death of Osama bin Laden, was killed in a drone strike last week. 

Source: The Hill

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