US withdrawal from Afghanistan: Kiss of life for birds of darkness
US President John Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan is a kiss of life for al-Qaeda and the Taliban movement, which dreams of returning to power again, heralding a civil war that leads to destabilization and extremism in the region.
The US administration did not notice the expansion of terrorist elements after the end of the Soviet invasion in 1989, when Washington imagined that its mission ended with expelling the Russians until the events of September 11, 2001, after which former President George W. Bush declared the war on terror.
Once the unconditional withdrawal of US forces was announced, terrorist attacks have increased, although the Taliban denies responsibility. At the same time, the Talian refuses to agree to a ceasefire that includes all of the country, which raises doubts about its intentions, especially as it refused to attend the Istanbul conference that was scheduled to be held April 24, which prompted Turkey to postpone it, threatening to enter the country into a dark tunnel.
The withdrawal of US forces and Washington's failure to finance the Afghan army financially and militarily puts the country at the mercy of the militias, especially as it depends entirely on American support.
An auditor of the Afghan scene finds that the country will become a hotbed of terrorism after the US withdrawal. The Taliban will not be the only beneficiary or the only threat to the Afghan state, as there are militias and other groups threatening it, such as ISIS.
Afghan MP Rehana Azad previously warned of the danger of these groups, saying, “The Taliban movement is now stronger than before, and ISIS and other terrorist groups have found a foothold, so a hasty and irresponsible withdrawal will have serious consequences not for Afghanistan, but for the whole region and the world.”
US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said after the briefing, “There are no good options in Afghanistan... The moment the Taliban flag flies over a part of Afghanistan, a shot of steroids will be sent to every jihadist in the world that the Taliban are defeating the West, that they have beaten us.”
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitted that the ability to gather American intelligence in Afghanistan will diminish when forces withdraw from the country, but he said that there will be sufficient capacity to know if al-Qaeda is re-emerging before it is too late, especially since the United States will not have a military presence in Afghanistan except to protect the embassy.
Lisa Curtis, who served as the most prominent White House official in Afghanistan and Pakistan during the administration of former US President Donald Trump, said that the reason why al-Qaeda is so weak now is that America was exerting pressure on it, and without the American presence then the terrorists would be free to do what they wanted.
One of the biggest challenges that will emerge with the withdrawal of US forces is how to effectively monitor extremist groups in Afghanistan and perhaps strike them, as the country is landlocked and far from any major US base. American planes can launch flights from the air base in Qatar, which is the main air axis of the United States in the Middle East, but Qatar's remoteness from Afghanistan, plus the need to fly over Iran, makes it an expensive option.
These concerns confirm the Taliban’s anger over the US retreat from its pledge to withdraw on May 1 and postponing it to September. Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem said in a tweet after the US withdrawal was announced that “the Islamic Emirate will not participate in any conference to make decisions regarding Afghanistan as long as foreign forces do not completely withdraw from the country,” referring to the conference that was scheduled to be held in Istanbul, which was an essential part of the Biden administration’s plan regarding Afghanistan, while the United Nations entered the crisis line with the escalation of efforts to launch peace talks and reach an agreement between the regional powers and their proxies in the country.
An intelligence report warned the Biden administration that Afghanistan could fall largely under Taliban control within two or three years after the withdrawal of international forces if US forces leave before a power-sharing settlement is reached between the Taliban and the Afghan government, opening the door for al-Qaeda to rebuild its strength in the country.
The report warned of the outbreak of a civil war in Afghanistan after the US withdrawal in the event that no agreement is reached between the two parties.