A Conversation with Amrullah Saleh(10:07) There are a lot of closely guarded secrets in Afghanistan. The country's former intelligence chief, Amrullah Saleh, knows most of them.

Afghanistan’s Former Spymaster Warns of Civil War

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Afghanistan’s former spy chief Amrullah Saleh spoke to NPR this morning about the new strategic partnership agreement President Obama and Hamid Karzai struck earlier this week. The agreement, as the AP explains, “Essentially gives both sides political cover: Afghanistan is guaranteed its sovereignty and promised it won’t be abandoned, while the U.S. gets to end its combat mission in the long and unpopular war but keep a foothold in the country.”

“It’s a good step towards reassuring the Afghans they will not be abandoned like in 1989,” Saleh told Morning Edition‘s Renée Montagne. “I look at this as hardening Afghanistan so it can’t be played with by either neighbor of us. We are in a bad neighborhood and that’s a very well known fact.”

Saleh has long been critical of Pakistan, and in a FRONTLINE profile last year, he laid out specific allegations about its ties to the Taliban and Haqqani network. (Watch the story above.)

Despite what he sees as the merits of the partnership agreement, Saleh warned of the “strategic mistake the U.S. has committed” in its openness to talk to the Taliban. “By offering to talk to them you legitimize militancy,” he said.

“If [the Taliban] destroy the foundations of a pluralistic Afghanistan which we have created with the U.S. assistance,” he tells NPR, “that is a recipe for civil war.”

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