A New Era in the Fight against Terrorism?


The fight against terrorism became more relevant after the 9/11 attacks against the World Trade Center towers in New York City, attributed to the al-Qaida group and Osama bin Laden, attacks which changed the world and affected the security of developed Western nations.

As a result of this momentous event, the United States finished off the al-Qaida terrorist cells, and to do so, it decided on military intervention in Afghanistan. For years the United States progressed towarad returning Afghans to a life with a future, supporting the newly constituted government and its armed forces to fight against terrorist groups that operated in the country.

What is certain is that President Joe Biden has announced the withdrawal of Western troops from that country as of Aug. 31 after two decades and the expenditure of huge financial resources. This has created total turmoil in internationally as the U.S. flees Afghanistan. Equally serious is the number of people the U.S. will not be able to evacuate, both the troops and diplomats as well as people from allied countries, let alone the Afghans who desperately want to leave the country.

According to Biden, the withdrawal of the U.S. troops is not due to a failure to construct a solid and democratic Afghanistan, which was not what the United States promised. Biden recently noted that the United States’ purpose in its incursion into Afghanistan was the fight against terrorism. The U.S. mission was never meant to create a unified and centralized democracy in Afghanistan, but intended to avoid terrorist attacks on American soil. The United States never intended to build a new nation.

One can see the contradiction raised by this issue in he following question: Is it perhaps that the United States is withdrawing because it achieved its anti-terrorist objectives, winning the war with the Taliban? Obviously, no. Those objectives have not been reached. In their accelerated conquest of Afghan territory, the Taliban have grown stronger after two decades, which demonstrates how the United States failed. Isn’t the departure of the United States acknowledgement of a failure to reach the objectives that have been set in the fight against terrorism? The answer appears to be yes, at least at this stage.

It’s worth asking if this withdrawal guarantees that the U.S. and the other Western countries will avoid new terrorist attacks around the world. The most logical answer is no. Moreover, it is possible to believe that attacks will intensify, taking the form of revenge for the death of bin Laden and so many other actions.

This withdrawal, in addition to the announced terms being a surprise — despite the fact that it had already been underway since the Donald Trump administration — even raises the question of whether behind the scenes, some strings are being pulled that involve Russia and China, perhaps by the showing of support they have lent the Taliban, including geopolitically there and elsewhere around the world.

It has been noted that another of the wars the U.S. lost was the one to stop opium production, the primary source of income for the terrorists. Far from decreasing, production has strongly increased.

In sum, it appears clear that the world of the future (and the present) will be complicated, as the Taliban will look to build on its victory given the withdrawal of the foreign forces, and will seek to recruit new followers to their cause and work to impose their beliefs.

Events are still developing, and many things may happen, from calls for Biden’s resignation or dismissal to higher-scale conflicts with Russia and China. At a minimum, it appears a new era in the fight against terrorism is beginning.

Aug. 31 will not be the end of the story. Aside from the differences existing between internal groups fighting for power in Afghanistan, including the Islamic State and the Taliban, there will be a struggle against the West. In this context, it is probable that the U.S. will act with force from outside the Afghan territory — a sort of about-face and “eye for an eye” — as occurred in 2001, once the U.S. is able to evacuate as many people as possible.

It would seem that the choice left to the United States and the West is either to begin acting against the Afghan rebel forces immediately after the withdrawal, or resign itself to foreseeable terrorist attacks.

This last option doesn’t appear to be a credible one, nor is it convenient for Western interests. Additionally, it is possible that the U.S. will be able to negotiate an agreement with the Taliban, something people have suggested. However, even if this were to happen, it is highly possible the Taliban will not comply, given the radical positions among people in the country, and it is unlikely to happen, at least as a permanent solution.

Finally, a new migratory wave and humanitarian crisis is also in the offing, and these pressures will generate additional paths — and obstacles for the West to overcome.

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About Robert Sullivan 111 Articles
Ex-Foreign correspondent who lived and worked in Argentina and Brazil, among other (non-Latin) countries.

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