Analysts: Terror Networks Likely to Grow Stronger in Afghanistan Under Taliban, Could Fuel Civil War
© AP Photo / Raumat GulTaliban fighters ride in their vehicle in Surkhroad district of Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, June 16, 2018
© AP Photo / Raumat Gul
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The Taliban* takeover of Afghanistan could provide opportunities for terror groups to flourish and threaten targets inside and outside the country, analysts told Sputnik.
On 15 August , Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, prompting the United States and other foreign missions present there to scramble to evacuate their citizens. Subsequent terror attacks at the Kabul airport carried out by the Daesh-Khorasan** terrorist group killed 13 US service members.
The US military withdrew leaving hundreds of Americans and thousands of Afghan allies who had applied for the requisite visas to relocate to the United States.
Meanwhile, the Taliban could possibly already have a civil war on its hands given the remnants of the former Northern Alliance are holed up in the Panjshir Valley in the country’s northeast prepared to fight.
A WIDER WAR
The northeastern province of Panjshir is the stronghold of the National Resistance Front, led by Ahmad Massoud, the son of late legendary guerrilla commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, and former Ghani administration Vice President, Amrullah Saleh, who declared himself caretaker president. However, earlier, Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem told Sputnik that the movement was not going to take Panjshir by force.
1 September 2021, 21:06 GMT
Although the Taliban consider Daesh-K a threat, questions still loom over its ties with al-Qaeda***. The prospect of these terror groups joining is also something analysts think should be considered.
"Will al-Qaeda and its cousin, the Islamic State, turn their anger against the United States and its allies or will they turn it inwards by subjecting Afghanistan to civil war? It's a toss-up," historian and political commentator Dan Lazare told Sputnik. "In any case, the humiliating United States pullout via the Kabul airport marked a victory not just for Afghan nationalist forces but for extreme jihadis around the world."
After 20 years of the war on terror, Lazare added, the "terrorists have won."
"I would say that, yes, the terror threat is rising," Lazare said. "Basically, the jihadis have won their greatest victory since the fall of Constantinople in 1453, so if this doesn't put wind in al-Qaeda's sails, I don't know what will."
But the world is also threatened by another major terrorist entity, Lazare explained.
"As for the other source of terror, the United States, it's also on the upswing," he said. "Biden has made it clear that he'll continue raining down bombs on Afghanistan for as long as he wishes. This means more horrors like the SUV full of children that went up in flames on Sunday, more wedding parties bombed, and so on."
Even worse, he added, now that the United States has been thrown on the defensive, it is likely to strike out ever more blindly against Russia, China, and Iran.
"This could mean war on an even wider scale than we've seen so far, which is terrifying and hence terroristic. The irrationality quotient is rising, which is why I think the outlook is for greater turmoil rather than less," Lazare warned.
STUDY IN FAILURE
Eurasia Center Vice President Earl Rasmussen agreed that the entire two-decade US war in Afghanistan had been a study in failure with confused, conflicting and shifting goals.
"The United States and its allies spent over $2 trillion and thousands of lives in pursuit of its mission. Initially, we were told it was to pursue Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda but once al-Qaeda was defeated or rather tamed we remained and began a conflict against the Taliban," he said.
© REUTERS / STRINGERTaliban walk in front of a military airplane a day after the U.S. troops withdrawal from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 31, 2021.
Taliban walk in front of a military airplane a day after the U.S. troops withdrawal from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 31, 2021.
Nearly half of the Afghan population of around 40 million today had lived under a democratic albeit corrupt government but at the same time surrounded by endless conflict and war, Rasmussen noted.
"One wonders why so much effort and so long a conflict for a landlocked country halfway around the world," he said.
If stability could be achieved and forever wars ended, Afghanistan still had the seeds for future growth and prosperity, Rasmussen suggested.
"The question is will the new leadership and the people see this future and will global governments work together with Afghanistan to promote a peaceful and successful future?" he asked.
It remained to be seen how the Taliban would rule and how they would adapt to the population changes and their expectations of government, Rasmussen concluded.
*The Taliban, Daesh-K (also known as ISIS-K) and al-Qaeda are terrorist organisations outlawed in Russia and many other countries.