Opinion: Trump and Biden were both foolish about Afghanistan. Now we’re all paying the price
The 25-page report says that the Taliban “remains close” with al Qaeda, which now has “increased freedom of action” in Afghanistan.
Underlining that increased freedom of action, the leader of al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, “has issued more frequent recorded messages,” appearing in eight videos since the Taliban took over Afghanistan last August, according to the UN report. And al Qaeda has renewed its pledge of allegiance to the leader of the Taliban.
The UN also points out that an astonishing 41 members of the Taliban who are on the UN sanctions list have been appointed to the cabinet and other senior-level positions in Afghanistan.
All of this demonstrates how deeply flawed a strategy it was for the Trump administration to negotiate a “peace” agreement with the Taliban — and how misguided it was for Biden to abide by that agreement once he assumed office.
The Trump team signed the agreement with the Taliban in 2020 and Biden, who said he was forced to either abide by that deal or escalate the fighting in Afghanistan, chose to pull out all US troops in August last year.
It’s worth noting this agreement wasn’t ratified by the US Senate, and instead was a deal negotiated with a terrorist/insurgent group that failed to stick to their end of the agreement. It was also a deal that had been struck without any substantive involvement of the elected Afghan government.
As the new UN report makes clear, the Taliban did not break with al Qaeda, noting that the terrorist group has instead “used the Taliban’s takeover to attract new recruits and funding” while the core al Qaeda leadership “is reported to remain in Afghanistan: more specifically, the eastern region from Zabul Province north towards Kunar and along the border with Pakistan.”
And of course, the Taliban didn’t come to a peace agreement with the Afghan government. As the Americans hastily withdrew from Afghanistan, the Taliban instead overthrew the elected Afghan government.
The UN report states that the Taliban “are, in large part, the same Taliban movement that was deposed in 2001.” The UN also notes that the top posts in the Taliban government “have been given to the Taliban’s ‘old guard.'”
Meanwhile, the Taliban continue to allow foreign terrorist groups to use Afghanistan as a base. The largest such group is the Pakistani Taliban, which numbers several thousand fighters, according to the UN.
The UN report does have some qualified good news, concluding that the Afghanistan branch of ISIS and al Qaeda are not believed to be “capable of mounting international attacks until 2023 at the earliest.”
That said, the Taliban is in a stronger position today than the last time it was in power. That was before the 9/11 attacks, when it was fighting the Northern Alliance, a not insignificant opposition force.
The Taliban today hasn’t significantly changed any of its social policies, nor has it abandoned its alliance with al-Qaeda. We have seen how this movie plays out in the past. To paraphrase an observation attributed to Mark Twain, while history may not repeat itself, it certainly may rhyme.
Quoted from Various Sources
Published for: Ipodifier