March 12, 2014
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said Wednesday that al-Qaeda’s network in that country is in “survival mode,” but warned that a full American military drawdown after the end of the year would allow the terrorist group to regenerate there.
Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford’s remarks to the Senate Armed Services Committee appeared intended to shape the White House’s deliberation over whether to leave behind a contingent for training and counterterrorism missions beyond 2014 or pull out entirely. The decision has been delayed by the Afghan president’s refusal to sign a security pact with Washington.
“A withdrawal, in my mind, means abandoning the people of Afghanistan, abandoning the endeavor that we’ve been here on for the last decade, and then providing al-Qaeda the space within which to begin again to plan and conduct operations against the West,” Dunford said.