What will happen to the Middle East as a result of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan?

People protesting outside the Embassy of Afghanistan in the UK. (Photo by Shutterstock) 
There are potential security and geopolitical repercussions of a failed state in Afghanistan, writes Ahmad Abdul- Rahman​.

The rapid and unorganised US withdrawal from Afghanistan has pushed the country into chaos and a devastating, catastrophic situation that could lead to civil war. This has regional and international security and geopolitical repercussions that will create new political transformations.

The Taliban has pursued a strategy of controlling the largest number of provinces and regions to encircle major cities and has succeeded in controlling the country.  The Taliban then resorted to isolating cities and controlling the means of communication. 

Afghanistan is not the only place where Western interventions have failed to achieve their intended goals. Iraq is also the land of failed hopes, at least when comparing the current situation with the expectations announced during the US invasion in 2003. In Libya, too, hopes were not fulfilled after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, with the support of NATO.

Possible security and geopolitical consequences

-Biden did not listen to the advice of the CIA, nor the Pentagon, which warned that the Taliban would take over the country. This raised a lot of speculation about the goals of a rapid US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Did Biden aim to create a hotbed of tension in Afghanistan that would attract terrorism again, similar to what happened in Syria, and drag Russia and China into Afghanistan?

- The situation in Afghanistan has returned to square one, because the international forces, led by NATO, has not achieved any of their goals. Most notably, the establishment of a hardline caliphate, the exodus of hundreds of thousands of refugees, and the opening of a new chapter in a long-running civil war, the deterioration of the security situation in Afghanistan is likely to lead to a chaotic civil war after the withdrawal of all foreign forces.

 - Afghanistan will be left to its fate, meaning that it is highly unlikely that there will be a new military intervention in Afghanistan by the US, NATO or Europe, due to the disastrous results of the last intervention and the Taliban's control of the country. Developments in Afghanistan would create new shifts in international politics and the distribution of power regionally, in Central and South Asia.

- There is a new wave of refugees and illegal immigrants to Europe, in the wake of the Taliban's control in Afghanistan. This means that the EU is on alert  about the external borders, not to mention the pressures that the Biden administration can exert on Europe and its allies in order to receive Afghan refugees, especially those who worked with US forces in Afghanistan.

-There is a clear contradiction between the demands of the American forces in Afghanistan and the political reality, and this means that the US has failed to form a successful political system in Afghanistan, after more than 20 years. This raises speculation about the American role in supporting democracies and change that are open to chaos; most notably Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Libya.

-The return of al-Qaeda and extremist jihadist groups to Afghanistan, including ISIS, considering the Taliban the umbrella of jihadist groups. It is possible that international and regional terrorist operations may be launched from Afghanistan, with the intervention of regional and international parties in the Afghan scene, especially Iran, Pakistan and Turkey.

- It is expected that the Central Asian countries neighboring Afghanistan will witness the infiltration of extremist groups such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

What should be done is for the UN to assume its responsibilities in maintaining security and stability, by adopting the political option in finding a solution in Afghanistan in parallel with creating a new international and regional alliance to combat terrorism and extremism. This solution must focus not only on the military effort, but also on addressing the true roots of extremism and terrorism.

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Saturday, 30 September 2023