A ‘less secure’ world with Afghanistan under the Taliban: ‘Hostile medieval death cult’ complicates global security

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

This article is part of a Fox News Digital series examining the aftermath of the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan a year ago this week.

The international security landscape is more fragile a year after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan and the United States withdrew its last military forces, according to national security experts.

« America’s primary concern about Afghanistan is that the Taliban is a hostile regime that hunts down American allies, that has made common cause with al-Qaeda and continues to do so, that serially violates all they’ve ever done on human rights and the rights and rights of girls and women in particular, » said Nathan Sales, a former State Department counterterrorism coordinator and current member of the Vandenberg Coalition Advisory Board, to Fox News Digital.

“Other countries doing business in Afghanistan might move the needle slightly in one direction or another, but the fundamental dynamic is that we have a hostile medieval death cult in charge of the country that is openly antagonistic to American values. and American interests. »

The Taliban took control of Kabul – and the country as a whole – after President Biden ordered a hasty withdrawal of US military forces from Afghanistan that ended in August 2021. Meanwhile, the Taliban eroded a number of the most progressive measures that the United States had helped. to settle in the country and has further complicated an already difficult relationship between the United States and Pakistan, one of America’s key allies in the region.


Bill Roggio, a former active duty soldier and current editor of the Long War Journal, argued that the country – and by extension, the international security landscape – is « of course » more dangerous.

« The world is, of course, a less safe place with the Taliban controlling Afghanistan, as we saw with Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul. You know, he wasn’t in the provinces, » he said. Roggio at Fox News Digital. « He was not hiding in the mountains of the northeast or the east or in the deserts of the south. »

Recently slain al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahri speaks on the 11th anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death.
(AP Photo/Mazhar Ali Khan, File)

President Biden announced on August 1 that the United States had killed al-Zawahri, the leader of al-Qaeda, in a « successful » counterterrorism operation in Afghanistan. A senior administration official said the government identified al-Zawahri « repeatedly for prolonged periods on the balcony, where he was eventually beaten. »

However, days later, Taliban officials claimed they were unaware al-Zawahri was in Kabul, questioning the security of the country under Taliban control.


Roggio continued: « He was basically in the heart of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, and he’s not the only al-Qaeda leader there, » he added. “You can be sure of that.

Taliban control of Afghanistan has led to significant complications both within the country and with other nations, particularly regarding the question of legitimacy. No nation has recognized the Taliban as the leaders of Afghanistan, in part because of a sharp regression under their control: women’s rights, including access to education, have almost entirely disappeared; and human rights issues, such as alleged extrajudicial killings, torture and arbitrary arrest and detention, have increased, according to a UN report released in July.

Lisa Curtis, former deputy assistant to the president and senior director of the NSC for South and Central Asia and current member of the Vandenberg coalition’s advisory board, told Fox News Digital that the United States retains some influence – including the promise of recognition and legitimacy – but which they must exercise is much better than he did.

« The Taliban shouldn’t be able to travel to places like Tashkent…to attend an international conference, because that gives them legitimacy, » she added. « I think the first thing the United States should do is lead an effort in the UN Security Council to reinstate the travel ban on the Taliban…obviously there are no more talks of peace, and therefore there is no reason why the Taliban should be allowed to travel around the world where they can gain legitimacy at a time when they deny girls the opportunity to receive an education and harbor international terrorists like Zawahiri. »


Sales argued that the United States could also look to willing partners in the region to build a network of support – similar to the NATO buffer around Ukraine that allowed it to quickly arm and to prepare for an asymmetric war against Russia and to accomplish well beyond expectations.

« You have Central Asian states north of Afghanistan…that could work with the United States, could work with NATO to put pressure on the Taliban and al-Qaeda, » Sales said. « These countries have traditionally been reluctant to align themselves too closely with the United States for fear of angering their northern neighbor, namely Russia…but I think the war in Ukraine and the threat that Russia poses on its former colonies have galvanized countries in Central Asia, and they may be more willing to partner with the United States now, if only quietly. »

Afghan women wait to receive food distributed by a humanitarian aid group, in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 2022.

Afghan women wait to receive food distributed by a humanitarian aid group, in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 2022.
((AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi))

One of the most concerning complications regarding the approach to Afghanistan after the withdrawal lies in the relationship between the United States and Pakistan. Many experts find it difficult for the United States to lean on a nation that at best did not do enough to track Osama bin Laden within its borders and at worst helped him then. that he escaped the army and the American authorities.

« You can forget about Pakistan, » Sales said. « Pakistan has been playing a double game for 20 years, and they are not going to stop playing that game now, especially with the United States out of Afghanistan. The relationship between Pakistan and the Taliban is on and the will remain for the foreseeable future. »


This lack of trust seems at odds with the relationship touted by officials in both countries. The State Department promotes bilateral relations with the world’s fifth-largest country by population, noting that the United States is Pakistan’s largest export market – importing $5 billion worth of Pakistani goods a year last only.

However, in a New York Times op-ed published in December 2021, Brookings Institution fellow Madiha Afzal called on the United States to consider a « reset » of US-Pakistan relations, as the two nations are now united. fragile foot. »


“Resentment is rampant,” Afzal wrote. « America sees Pakistan’s support for the Taliban as one of the reasons it lost in Afghanistan; Pakistan sees the Taliban insurgency it faced at home as a blowback for its partnership with the ‘Neighboring America. In Washington, the bad mood has led to talk of disengagement and sanctions. Neither approach will work or be satisfactory in the long run.’

Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.


Back to top button