Will Afghanistan become a haven for terrorism?: Al-Qaeda supporters are delighted to see the Taliban as a “historic victory” in remote, pine-covered valleys and online jihadi chat forums in Afghanistan’s Kunar province.
The humiliating departure of forces that temporarily deported both the Taliban and al-Qaeda 20 years ago has raised huge courage for anti-Western jihadists around the world.
For Islamic State (IS) group militants looking to find a new base after the defeat of the self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria, the potential hiding places now opening up in the country’s unsanitary areas is an exciting gift.
Western generals and politicians warn that al-Qaeda’s return to Afghanistan is inevitable.
Speaking after the emergency crisis meeting, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that the West needed to unite to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a haven for international terrorist groups.
And on Monday UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the UN Security Council to “use all the means at its disposal to suppress the global terrorist threat in Afghanistan.”
But will the automatic return of the Taliban become the next stage for the return of al-Qaeda bases and international terrorist attacks targeting Western countries?
No need, no.
The search for legitimacy and identity
The last time the Taliban ruled the entire country was from 1996-2001 when Afghanistan was practically a pariah state.
Only three countries, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates have recognized their legitimacy.
The Taliban have brutally tortured Osama bin Laden’s al – Qaeda organization, which carried out the 9/11 attacks on the United States in 2001 and killed nearly 3,000 people.
Nearly 20,000 recruits from around the world passed through al-Qaeda training camps, learned deadly skills, and became known as the “terrorist university” as they were dispersed back to their home countries.
Today the Taliban still see themselves as claimants – if not elected – as the rulers of the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” and they seek international recognition to some extent.
They are already interested in the idea that they have come to restore order, calm, and power after the corruption, civil wars, and waste that have plagued much of the government for the past 20 years.
- Joe Biden defends US pullout from Afghanistan
- U.S. forces shoot in the air to stop Afghans jostling at the airport in Kabul
During the failed peace talks in Doha, it became clear to Taliban negotiators that this desired recognition would come only if they completely separated themselves from al-Qaeda.
We have already done that, the Taliban said. No, according to a recent UN report, this indicates close tribal and marital ties between the two groups.
During the recent dramatic occupation of the entire country by the Taliban, “foreigners” were seen as their ranks, ie non-Afghan combatants.
It is also clear that there is a disconnect between the men before the Taliban – the more moderate, pragmatic words spoken by negotiators and spokesmen on the one hand, and some barbaric acts of revenge on the ground.
On August 12, as the Taliban advanced on the capital, the US Charge de Affairs in Kabul tweeted: “The Taliban’s statements in Doha are not similar to their actions in Badakhshan, Ghazni, Helmand & Kandahar. Attempts to monopolize power through violence. Fear and war only lead to international isolation.”