New allies: US and Taliban together against ISIS, while Britain abstains
LONDON, ($1=0.72 British Ponds) – In an interview with The Telegraph last week, the Chief of Staff of the Royal Air Force, Air Force Chief Sir Mike Wigston, suggested that despite the withdrawal of NATO – and therefore the United States – from Afghanistan, the British Air Force was ready to strike. if necessary, by Islamic State [IS or ISIS], including its Afghan-Pakistani branch [IS-K].
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“We must be able to play our part in the international coalition to defeat Daesh, whether it is a strike or the relocation of troops and equipment to a particular country, on a large scale and quickly,” he said, insisting that British forces be ready to intervene when a “direct or indirect threat” looms over Britain and its allies. He added: “Afghanistan is perhaps one of the most inaccessible regions in the world and we can act there.”
However, the head of the RAF did not say how he intends to do so, given that Afghanistan is a landlocked country and that there is very little chance that its neighbors will allow fighter-bombers to fly over their territory, whose mission will be to destroy training IS-K or Al Qaeda camps. Moreover, due to the lack of intelligence and intervention resources in the country, the detection of possible threats will be very difficult.
Therefore, the temptation would be to rely on … the Taliban. On September 4, another daily, the Daily Mirror [close to the Labor Party], reported on a plan to call on British special forces to train the Taliban in counter-terrorism missions. However, such a step would only be taken as a last resort.
“The United Kingdom must be pragmatic,” a source told the newspaper. He added that “the point of view of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and 10 Downing Street [Prime Minister] is that if the West does not offer support to the Taliban, then China and Russia will.”
However, such a possibility does not pass into the ranks of British forces, which lost 457 of them in Afghanistan.
“We have no idea what the Taliban would do with our support for them. They can’t be trusted, no matter what they say,” said former Colonel Richard Kemp, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Especially since the links between the Taleb movement and Al Qaeda still exist.
“What the UK government needs to do first is set its strategic goals. Only then will our future actions make sense because otherwise, we will go to a new disaster,” said General Lord Danat, former Chief of Staff of the British Army.
On the other side of the Atlantic, and provided they show a new face, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Millie, did not rule out possible “coordination” between US forces and the Taliban on strikes against ISIS. Which would not be the first time.
In March 2020, days after the signing of the Doha Agreement, General Kenneth Mackenzie, then head of US Centcom, Central Asia, and the Middle East, said US forces had provided “limited support” to the Taliban, who then fighting ISIS in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province.
“In the last few months in Eastern Afghanistan, we have seen the Taliban contain and crush the presence of ISIL on the ground in Nangarhar province, and they have done so very effectively. There was very limited support from us,” he said, without elaborating, during a parliamentary hearing.
Later, when asked about the nature of this “limited support,” a Pentagon spokesman said. “I have no details for you. But this is what we hope for: the hope is that all forces there will fight ISIS, that all forces there will fight al Qaeda because the hope is that Afghanistan will never again become a haven for terrorist operations” he replied to the press.
However, on Fox News on September 4, General Millie calculated that the “conditions for civil war” were “likely to be met” in Afghanistan, which could lead to “the restoration of al Qaeda or the strengthening of ISIL or other terrorist groups”.
The situation in Afghanistan
After a 20-year presence on August 31, US troops left Afghanistan. According to US President Joe Biden, the United States has done what it set out to do: eliminate the al Qaeda terrorist group responsible for the 9/11 attacks and prevent Afghanistan from becoming a center of terrorism.
His words do not correspond to reality. According to a US intelligence report, at least 20 small terrorist groups are currently operating in Afghanistan, radicalized over the past 20 years due to the foreign presence. Various reports suggest al-Qaeda terrorists are joining the Taliban and Islamic State will establish a presence in Afghanistan.
Earlier, the same US report said that Kabul would collapse within six months, but the US president withheld this information. He tried hard to convince the public that there was no such option in front of Afghanistan and cited the thousands of troops and equipment of the Asian country. Despite Joe Biden’s “optimism,” the Taliban took over almost the entire country within a month and entered Kabul. Former President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.
At present, there is only one territory left in Afghanistan that has not been conquered by the Taliban, and that is the province of Panjshir. Anti-Taliban forces and Afghan soldiers have positioned themselves in it. The anti-Taliban coalition is led by Ahmad Massoud.
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