President Biden’s announcement that some 9,000 Afghans who served the United States during our long war in their country will be evacuated and protected is most welcome.
From the New York Times:
President Biden said on Thursday (June 24) that his administration would begin relocating thousands of Afghan interpreters, drivers and others who worked with American forces outside the country in an effort to keep them safe while they apply for entry to the United States.
“Those who helped us are not going to be left behind,” Mr. Biden told reporters at the White House.
That should have been a no-brainer, but our track record isn’t good; we tend to abandon indigenous auxiliaries as soon as their usefulness is finished. Ask the Montagnards in Vietnam, or the Apache Scouts who ran down Geronimo…
As welcome as the news is, it’s also a good indicator as to our level of confidence that the Afghan national government will be able to even pretend to hold onto the country. The Taliban have been on the March for many months, as the Trump Administration and the Biden Administration both whistled past the graveyard of Afghanistan and pretended that there’s no longer a connection between the Taliban and al Qaeda.
In an analysis of multiple possible post-withdrawl scenarios, Bill Roggio of FDD’s Long War Journal writes:
As the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan after two decades, the Taliban is doubling down on its efforts to retake the country by force of arms to restore its Islamic Emirate. The question isn’t whether the Taliban will continue to wage its war against a weakened Afghan government to resurrect its Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, but how.
Because there is no question: a fierce Taliban offensive is coming.
Neither Roggio nor his partner Tom Jocelyn advocate that the U.S. continue our nearly 20-year war in Afghanistan. Neither does RIR. There is no will to carry on, no benefit from doing so.
But the bipartisan attempt to whitewash the Taliban as a legit “counterterrorism partner” and to pretend that al Qaeda will not reestablish its secure base in a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan is the kind of wish-casting that is all too typical of the West. Our memory and our patience is short; those of our enemies is very long.
(Why Biden chose to set our withdrawal date as September 11 I will never understand. He is giving our enemies that symbolically weighty date forever as Victory in Afghanistan Day. Unbelievable.)
The Long War Journal notes that:
The Taliban and al Qaeda “remain closely aligned and show no indication of breaking ties,” according to a new report issued by a U.N. monitoring team. The U.N.’s member states “report no material change to this relationship, which has grown deeper as a consequence of personal bonds of marriage and shared partnership in struggle, now cemented through second generational ties.”
This assessment is found in an analysis of the status of one Sirajuddin Haqqani. You may recall that Haqqani is the Taliban’s deputy emir, whom The New York Times saw fit to give an op-ed column where he could claim that all the Taliban really seeks is peace.
LWJ cited the UN report:
The most intriguing claim is that Sirajuddin Haqqani, the deputy emir of the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, is also a member of al Qaeda’s leadership. This intelligence is cited in a footnote, which states that in addition to being a Taliban leader, Sirajuddin “is also assessed to be a member of the wider al Qaeda leadership, but not of the al Qaeda core leadership (the Hattin Shura).”
The U.N. report does not make it clear what position Sirajuddin is thought to hold within al Qaeda’s “wider” leadership. U.S. officials contacted by FDD’s Long War Journal say it is possible that he holds a seat on one or more of al Qaeda’s shura, or advisory councils.
AQ is alive and in the game, with Taliban ties that are even stronger than they were pre‑9/11 — and we will surely hear from them again.
Note the name of their shadowy core leadership council — the Hattin Shura. There’s your evidence of a long memory — and a long war. They have named themselves in honor of the Battle of the Horns of Hattin, fought on July 4, 1187 on land that is today part of the State of Israel. In that bloody fray, the Sultan Saladin utterly crushed the army of the Crusader Kingdom of the Levant, killing or capturing virtually the entire force. The captives were either enslaved or executed en masse. The battle left Saladin as the dominant force in the Holy Land and led to the Islamic reconquest of the City of Jerusalem.
You see what AQ is getting at there…
We think we’ve been in a long war. Two decades — a generation. The Islamic militants, who remain the enemy of the West whether we want to continue the fight or not, consider that they’re in a thousand-year war. And they will continue to plan a sequel to the Battle of the Horns of Hattin, where a spate of Crusader blood will soak into the desert sands.