Afghanistan’s Ahmad Massoud says civil war possible as US troops rush to leave

US President Joe Biden says May 1 withdrawal will be hard to achieve but has not cancelled it

Ahmad Massoud, son of late Afghan commander Ahmad Shah Massoud poses during a photo session in Paris on March 22, 2021. / AFP / JOEL SAGET
Powered by automated translation

An Afghan leader said the country could be on the brink of another civil war as American troops prepare to leave.

Ahmad Massoud, son of a respected commander who was killed by Al Qaeda days before the 9/11 attacks in the US, said he was concerned over US plans to leave by May 1, a date agreed to by the Trump administration.

US President Joe Biden has said that the May 1 withdrawal deadline will be hard to achieve but he has not cancelled it.

Mr Massoud believes that having the withdrawal date agreed to between the US and the Taliban has upset wider peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Speaking on France 24, he accused the US of rushing for the door.
"The deal that has been signed between the Americans and the Taliban, which was premature and a rushed decision, destroyed the balance of negotiations," Mr Massoud said.

“Regarding the Americans leaving Afghanistan, we want them to have patience and we do not want another rushed decision.”

He did not say whether he wanted US troops to stay beyond May 1 but feared another civil war could be approaching.

"If they leave with a rushed decision, with a premature peace process, Afghanistan is going to fall to chaos and violence and civil war," Mr Massoud said.
"We are going to do everything we can to bring lasting peace.

"At the same time, if the peace process is used to fuel the war machine, then the people are ready to pick up arms one more time.”

In 2019, Mr Massoud was declared the successor to his father Ahmad Shah Massoud – a politician and mujaheddin leader celebrated as a national hero and nicknamed the "Lion of Panjshir".

Among the achievements of the elder Massoud was the creation of the Northern Alliance, a multi-ethnic force fighting the Taliban, after his initial efforts to include them in a peace process failed.

His son's political approach is summarised in one word: decentralisation. He says there must be a focus on the division of power between the country’s 34 provinces instead of a Kabul-based government stronghold – something his father supported.

Mr Massoud said on Wednesday that he supported a proposal set out by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to form a transitional government that will lead the country towards elections.