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Thu. November 30, 2023
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President Biden is Right in Staying the Course in Kabul
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President Biden is right in staying the course in Kabul. The mission must continue despite the horrific terrorist attack and loss of 13 American military personnel. The ISK threats shall continue unabated. Remember, the Taliban are meeting their part of the February 2020 Doha deal and haven’t attacked any US forces. The Taliban will not do so till September 1. It can be guaranteed. Therefore, evacuating more American citizens/Green Card holders and SIV applicants is certainly doable. Meanwhile, the ISK threat can be managed and it doesn’t require use of massive military force. Much smaller kinetic operations can handle the threat.

Given their ideology, the terrorist entity doesn’t have the support of any country and total number of ISK militant fighting force numbers only a few hundred concentrated in a border area with Pakistan. It is better for the US to work with regional allies, including the brand new Islamic emirate of Afghanistan, as  financial support to ISK comes from within the region mostly. Remember, the Taliban and ISK are sworn enemies and have had sporadic clashes in the past. The ISK is the most hardline and extremist terrorist entity that has attracted disgruntled fighters from other entities like Taliban, al Qaeda, Tehrik Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and others. It exists because of the legacy and culture of Jihad as understood by the extreme Islamic fundamentalists. Jihad against foreign Western occupation and their lackeys is a fundamental postulate of this thinking. The battle of Islam and Kufr (Non-Muslims) is a permanent condition of life, according to adherents of this ideology. Therefore, the Jihad stretches beyond West Asia to other religions, including China and Russia. The Taliban aren’t a global jihadist entity at all. They remain an Afghanistan phenomenon and shall remain local in the future also.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will not support or tolerate terrorist organizations like al Qaeda, TTP and ISK. However, the Taliban will try to neutralize these entities by peaceful means rather than use of military force. In Afghanistan’s history such negotiated means of ending war have happened countless times before and can happen again. Therefore, give the Emirate a chance to sort out this problem by their traditional means.

However, President Biden has mentioned use of massive military force against the ISK. That may not be needed at all. Prudence requires that USA handle the ISK through regional allies and not alone. Despite the tragic loss of precious American lives it would be wiser to be patient on this one. Anyways, the ISK operation cab be only in the a short-term best undertaken after September 1 when the evacuationoperation has successfully ended not before that. The immediate emergency is in Kabul airport. Meanwhile, the Republic attacks on President Biden are unwarranted and just politics as usual. This was to be expected and can be safely ignored. The more significant thing is to focus on Kabul and complete the mission. It bears repetition that it is certainly doable.

Dr. Sohail Mahmood is an Independent Political Analyst based in Chapel Hill NC.

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