Withdrawal from Afghanistan ’embolden’, ‘inspire’ terrorists targeting US and Israel, experts warn

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The rapid build-up of power by the Taliban in Afghanistan, following the botched withdrawal of US-led NATO troops, has raised concerns among experts that the possible proliferation of terrorism in the region will constitute a direct threat to America and its ally Israel. .

The United States invaded Afghanistan 20 years ago after the 9/11 attacks in order to eradicate al-Qaeda, the terrorist group hosted by the Islamic militant group the Taliban across the country.

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The Taliban, who have played the long game for 20 years, have now taken control of Afghanistan due to the withdrawal of Western troops, increasing fears among the international community that the country will become a safe haven for d other radical terrorist groups, including the Islamic State. (ISIS), further promote the rise of Al Qaeda in the region and embolden other actors, such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

Foreign policy experts warn that the terrorist risk for Israel and the United States will increase because the Taliban in Afghanistan are now likely to favor terrorist groups that will plan attacks against Western countries and their allies, as they have done historically.

Former Assistant Deputy Secretary of Defense for East Asia Heino Klinck told Fox News in an interview that the “humiliating” US withdrawal would inspire terrorist groups and opponents who now consider the United States and its allies, including Israel, as weak.

“When America’s power, credibility, and reliability are seen to be diminished or weakened, the threat to all of our friends, allies and partners increases. And this is certainly the case with Israel too because what appears to be a Defeat of the Untied States in Afghanistan, which are internationally described as, in essence, a truly humiliating withdrawal, will only serve to embolden and inspire the enemies of Israel who are also enemies of the United States. terrorists such as Hamas and Hezbollah. “

Due to the rapid takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, there is likely to be an increase in Israel-focused terrorist activity by emboldened jihadists in the long run. Our allies aren’t so sure “America is back,” Klinck told Fox News, referring to a slogan previously used by President Biden to tout his foreign policy strategy to his international partners.

Taliban fighters pose for a photo in Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday, August 19, 2021. The Taliban celebrated Afghanistan’s Independence Day Thursday by saying they were defeating the United States, but challenging their rule. of running a cash-strapped country and bureaucrats potentially facing armed opposition began to emerge. (AP Photo / Rahmat Gul)

Klinck also said he foresaw that without a U.S. presence in the region, it is likely that the Taliban will revert to their “old ways,” including maintaining relations with al-Qaeda and even encouraging ISIS, even despite the historical animosity between the two groups. .

Former Deputy Under-Secretary of Defense for European Policy and NATO Michael C. Ryan said the “ill-advised” US decision to withdraw from Afghanistan had failed to be carefully considered. took into account the geostrategic ramifications and instead made life more difficult for the United States. and its allies.

“The biggest winners in all of this are the terrorists who thrive relatively unnoticed in an ever-growing set of ungoverned spaces,” Ryan said in a statement to Fox News.

“Firstly, their willingness to play the long game was rewarded with a victory, which will encourage the rookies, fill their coffers and improve their position. Second, in the developing world, collaboration between terrorists, traffickers and corrupt officials will appear to many to be a more effective formula than well-funded Afghan-style Western democracy, encouraging imitators while dashing the hopes of thousands of people. . “

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New Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is due to meet Biden at the White House next week, amid the escalating crisis in Afghanistan. Israel has not openly criticized Biden’s troop withdrawal, but it has legitimate concerns about the Taliban working with terrorist groups inside and near the state, including Hamas and Hezbollah.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz was talking with US Secretary of State Lloyd Austin on August 6 about the increase in Iranian aggression and its state-sanctioned terrorist group Hezbollah. Ganz told Austin that Israel “will continue to operate against Hezbollah and any other Iranian proxies in order to defend Israeli citizens,” according to a reading of the appeal.

Boris Zilberman, director of public policy and strategy for Christians United for Israel (CUFI), told Fox News in an interview that the fall of Afghanistan would directly increase the threat against Israel, especially since it could become a refuge for jihadist training camps.

He explained that Hamas leaders met with the Taliban recently, raising the question of whether there will be Hamas camps in Afghanistan and whether they could replace the organization’s fighters, and security forces in Kabul. also have close ties to al-Qaeda. Besides, “[Afghanistan] has housed Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders in the past, which has been pragmatic in undermining the United States. “

Zilberman also said that Biden’s next meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will be a crucial opportunity for leaders to strategize on how to deal with these emerging threats, because “what is happening in Afghanistan will not remain. not in Afghanistan “.

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The Pentagon confirmed on Friday that Al Qaeda still had a “presence” in Afghanistan, despite a contradictory claim made by President Biden in a speech moments earlier.

“We know that Al Qaeda is a presence as well as ISIS in Afghanistan,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said at a press conference. “And we’ve been talking about it for a while. We don’t think it’s outrageous, but we don’t have an exact number for you, as I think you might understand.”

The agency’s statement came moments after Biden told reporters al Qaeda had “left” Afghanistan, causing confusion.

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The State Department recently defended its commitment to Israel when asked at a press conference this week whether the United States was concerned that adversaries could use the troop withdrawal to become more belligerent in its foreign policy. .

“You have seen us supporting our partners, whether it is Taiwan, whether it is Israel, whether it is another country, any other entity with which we have a strong partnership and commitment,” said the spokesperson for the department. ‘State, Ned Price. .


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