Afghan forces in full control of Kabul: Petraeus
"Even in Kabul, although there have been sensational attacks, generally, the frequency of those has been reduced and, in fact, it is Afghan forces who are completely in charge of security in the capital," Petraeus said at a Congressional hearing on Tuesday.
Petraeus said the reason for being in Afghanistan was to ensure that the country served never again a sanctuary for Al Qaeda or other transnational extremists, as it was under Taliban rule prior to the 9/11 attacks --- planned on Afghan soil.
The prospect remained a real concern, and that was why they are working so hard to help enable Afghan forces to secure and govern themselves, he said. The US presence was also meant to ensure an orderly process of transitioning security tasks to Afghans, the director added.
A decade after 9/11, the US continued to face a serious threat from Al Qaeda and its worldwide network of affiliates, he said. Of significance though, heavy losses to senior leaders of the group appeared to have created an important window of vulnerability for the core Al Qaeda organisation in Pakistan and Afghanistan, he remarked.
"Exploiting that window will, however, require a sustained, focused effort. Moreover, as Al Qaeda's core has been weakened, the initiative has been shifting somewhat to its affiliates and sympathisers outside South Asia," Petraeus said.
An iconic figure and the group's only leader since its founding Osama bin Laden's death in May dealt a stunning blow to the outfit, he continued. "We know now that he was deeply involved in directing Al Qaeda's operations and strategy..."
His long-time deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, succeeded Osama in June, but much of Al Qaeda's support base found him less compelling as a leader, according to the former ISAF commander. He believed Zawahiri would have more difficulty in maintaining the group's cohesion.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.