Rather than overthrow the Taliban, western allies should have focused instead on Al Qaeda, according to a retired Canadian general who led NATO forces in Afghanistan in 2006.

“We thought, naively, that regime change was the solution to the problem, retired major-general Dave Fraser said in an interview with journalist Murray Brewster of the Canadian Press. “…Looking backwards, I would have actually left the Taliban government in power and said (to them): ‘Stay out of the way. We’re here to find Al Qaeda.”

It was a mistake which the allies repeated in Iraq and later on in Libya and the reason why the west is “not pushing for a regime change in Syria,” he said.


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Fraser was commander of the Multinational Brigade for Regional Command South in Afghanistan’s southern provinces in 2006. He took over from U.S. Gen. Karl Eikenberry on February 2006 and served in that capacity until October 2006. Apart from this, he also commanded Canadian and international troops in Bosnia, Cyprus and other parts of the world.

After his retirement, Fraser joined INKAS Armoured Vehicle Manufacturing as a member of its board of directors.

At the time he commanded in Afghanistan the west was four-and-a-half years into the Afghan war and three years into the conflict in Iraq after Saddam Hussein was deposed.

Fraser said the Al Qaeda was the reason the allies were in Afghanistan in the first place, not the Taliban.

His comments come as the Afghanistan government is about to resume talks with Taliban leaders next week in Pakistan.

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