Under Taliban, Afghanistan is the address of global jihad
US President Joe Biden has played politics with terror when he claimed mission accomplished in his August 20 speech after taking credit for the decimation of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and 2011 neutralisation of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. The pusillanimous retreat of the US forces from Afghanistan, leaving both weapons and men behind, is nothing short of an abject surrender at the hands of shalwar-kameez-sandal wearing AK-47 rifle-toting Sunni Islamic militia. The unfortunate part is that the Taliban did not even deliver a knock-out punch, the US forces simply chose to run away from the battlefield. The loss of the US credibility globally on the advice of its second-division ally UK with the Pakistan army, of all the people, acting as a broker in the horrible deal with the Taliban, will play out in the coming decade with innocents having to pay the price of terror.
While al Qaeda may not have the organisational structure of the previous decade in Afghanistan, the Salafi organisation with its ideological brother, Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan, is very much alive in the Af-Pak region. So is the Islamic State of Khorasan Province. The Taliban along with Haqqani Network and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) share the same Deobandi ideological platform, which gets inspired from Wahhabism. And the aim of all these boys, as the delusional UK chief of defence staff Nick Carter defined the Taliban, is the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate and global jihad.
With the Taliban now occupying 652,000 square kilometres of Afghanistan Emirates territory barring Panjshir Valley, the global jihad now has an address in Kandahar with a showroom in Kabul. This moment is akin to the Islamic State capturing Mosul in Iraq in 2014 and the world especially the Yazidis and Shias still have nightmares of those brutal days.
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While the US may have washed its hands off playing the global cop and given priority to gender politics, Afghanistan under the Taliban will be the beacon of jihad and will become the galvanising force for other gun-toting non-state actors to take on their governments particularly in Africa and Asia. A weak Taliban may force multiply the clout of its mentor Pakistan but a strong Taliban will press for Pashtun rights way beyond the Durand Line and destabilise Islamabad. A similar ripple effect will also be seen in the Middle East with increase Islamic radicalisation all over the world.
Even though the US and the UK believe the Taliban narrative that they will not export terror to a third country for recognition and funds, Afghanistan will become the new terror factory with more than 40 terror groups in Pakistan sending their cadre for graduation with state of the art US weapons, communication devices, drones and helicopters. With Baloch insurgents and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan already targeting the Chinese engineers working on the CPEC project, there is no Xinjiang insurance policy for Beijing too. Shia Iran will be safe till such time it plays ball with the Taliban and allows passage to Sunni jihadists as it did in the past. As Islamic groups are known to undergo metamorphosis, it is quite evident that new terrorist groups, successors of Harkat-ul-Ansar and HUJI in the 1990s, will spawn from Afghanistan under the watch of the Taliban. India by its geographical location, regional adversaries, democratic polity, and culture will be the first ones to get hit. The world has suddenly lost appetite for Rambo and US Seal Hollywood movies.
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