The Blind Men Of Capitol Hill: Kabul Bombings Are America’s Self-Inflicted Wound
The US has admitted that 13 of its troops died in the Thursday (August 26) evening Kabul bombings, which perhaps is the highest number of US military casualties suffered in a single day in many years. Many more may have been injured as well, and it’s quite possible that their number may never be disclosed.
US President Joe Biden says America will “hunt down” those responsible and retaliate with force. But the question is where and when will America respond, with what, and how many would they kill, and what is envisaged in the intervening period? Doesn't Biden know how many years it took to hunt down al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and what all happened between 9/11 and the killing of Osama?
Since the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISIS-K) has claimed responsibility for the Kabul bombings, where is the US going to retaliate against them – Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan or its affiliates in multiple countries? Can Washington deny that the rise of ISIS was engineered and abetted by the US and the UK by releasing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi from jail in Iraq and training and arming the Islamic State (ISIS) under Baghdadi in NATO-ally Turkey? They also allowed Turkey to act as the conduit for worldwide terrorists to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
For America, the Taliban are now 'good' terrorists or no terrorists, while ISIS and al-Qaeda are 'bad' terrorists. The American semantics of ‘terrorism’ and ‘violent terrorism’ is laughable indeed.
Afghan lives don’t matter to the Biden administration anyway. Afghans are abandoned to the savagery of the Taliban despite the Afghan National Army (ANA) suffering 66,000 casualties over two decades in America’s so-called war on terrorism. The biometrics of Afghans supporting the US were allowed to fall into Taliban hands, the list of Americans and Afghan supporters to be evacuated was handed over to the Taliban, and now Biden says every Afghan cannot be evacuated.
The game about ISIS and ISIS-K continues to be played despite there being no difference between them. A US intelligence report released in February 2016 stated that the Khorasan branch of ISIS is an “amalgamation of primarily disaffected and rebranded former Afghan Taliban and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) members”, and that both Taliban outfits have come together and would test overstretched Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).
In July 2016, James B Comey, Director FBI, stated, “Eventual victory against the Islamic State could well lead to an uptick of terrorist attacks in the West, not a reduction in them … ….. hundreds of really dangerous people, and they are going to flow primarily to Western Europe, but some could well end up in the United States”.
The US would not like to acknowledge that the ISIS-K was configured at Pakistan’s Peshawar by the country’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and then pushed west into Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan. It was in the same way that the Taliban were first established in Peshawar, not in Afghanistan’s Kandahar as the west would like everyone to believe.
It is also on record that some ISIS cadres were released from prisons in Iraq and Syria, courtesy of the US-UK and sent to Afghanistan through Pakistan to the Badakshan region (some even airlifted from Pakistan), as a consequence of which Russia was forced to increase its military presence in Tajikistan.
Faulty US strategies
After handing over Afghanistan to the Taliban, the Biden Administration is getting ready to leave Iraq to the mercy of ISIS by the yearend. The apparent grand strategy is that ISIS and Taliban will fight and kill each other – the same way ISIS and al-Qaeda were supposed to kill each other. But there have been instances where ISIS and al-Qaeda supported each other. At least in one instance, airdrop of weapons by the US for ISIS landed up with al-Qaeda “by mistake”.
The US has been playing the Sunni versus Shia divide for decades. But apparently, it is missing the phenomenon of both getting together because of American shenanigans.
Iran and Turkey have formally aligned to support Palestine against Israel. al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri is suffering from tuberculosis, but his son is headquartered in Iran. al-Qaeda is alive and kicking in Afghanistan as well, and in cahoots with the Taliban and the Haqqani network.
The blind men of Capitol Hill continue to back Pakistan despite western scholars raising the alarm once more about the possibility of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into terrorist hands. That may happen sooner than expected before Washington can say Jack Robinson. The movie Nostradamus did show a turbaned guy with a beard nuking New York. One feels sorry for the US military but the US administrations led by politicians will likely continue to play the blind man’s buff.
Finally, the US has given the biggest boost to global terrorism - and will eventually have to face the consequences. A coupling between the ISIS and Taliban should not be considered an impossibility to bring America down on its knees. In fact, China and Pakistan would already be working on it.
-- Lt Gen P. C. Katoch (retd)
(The author is an Indian Army veteran. The views expressed are personal. Published by arrangement with SAM.)