How can the West fight terrorism after leaving?

U.S. forces successfully attract soldiers in Afghanistan in October 2010

Western troops have been in Afghanistan since 2001

US, British and NATO combat units will leave Afghanistan this summer. The Taliban are getting stronger day by day, and al-Qaeda and Islamic State groups are making more brave attacks than ever before. So how can we contain them now that the West no longer has military resources in the country?

Western intelligence believes they still want to plan an international terrorist attack from Afghanistan’s hideout, as Osama Bin Laden did on 9/11.

With the deadline for US President Joe Biden’s resignation approaching, the issue is beginning to plague UK policymakers as the deadline for September 11 approaches. “This wasn’t the result we wanted,” said General Nick Carter, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the United Kingdom. Due to the uncertain future of Afghanistan, there is a serious risk that the benefits of combating terrorism over the last two decades could be revoked at great expense.

“The problem is, John Rein, a regional security expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), said:” I can’t keep up. “

Still, for President Biden, this has always been a plan. When he visited the country as Vice President of the Obama administration in 2009 and 2011, he wasted time building the country, and instead the United States stood off against terrorism using air strikes and special forces raids. We conclude that we should focus on the approach. The Pentagon disagreed, and former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in his memoirs that Biden was “wrong about almost every major foreign policy and national security issue in the last 40 years.”

So what will the western anti-terrorism measures in Afghanistan actually be after September?

Drone attack

These can increase enough. To use drones, or to give them their full names, remote pilot aircraft (RPA) or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were strongly endorsed by the Obama administration, where Joe Biden was Vice President.

In the remote tribal areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan and in the wilderness of Yemen, where senior al-Qaeda leaders were hiding in both cases, continuous drone attacks “chilled” the group’s activities, according to intelligence agents. Brought. .. They keep the commander on the move, never stay in one place for more than a night or two, limit communication capabilities, launch Hellfire missiles after the visitor’s departure, and by invisible enemies. I didn’t know at all whether it would be fired. ..

U.S. drone across the Nevada desert

Drone strikes have proven to be a controversial weapon

However, drone attacks are controversial. Dangerous for operators who tend to sit in air-conditioned shipping containers thousands of miles away at airbases in Nevada and Lincolnshire, but dangerous for civilians in the area.

Despite the amazing details found on the operator’s console, there is always the risk of “collateral damage”, as it happened in Iraq and Syria, where civilians arrive at the scene at the last minute.Many times Americans had IS Executioner Mohammed Mwaji, also known as “Jihadi John”In their sight, they only need to stop the strike when civilians are found nearby. Drone strikes are not very popular in Yemen among human rights activists who claim that unmanned tribal gatherings are often mistaken for armed groups. But across the Red Sea in Djibouti, the Foreign Minister there welcomed their use against the al-Shabaab extremists in neighboring Somalia and told me that they were ready to say so on the camera.

Intelligence network

Over the last two decades, the CIA, MI6, and other intelligence agencies will work closely with Afghanistan’s own NDS agency to help identify and avoid threats while curbing the more brutal ways of some individuals. It is said. “We could provide meaningful support to NDS,” said a Western security official this week. “We just need to adapt our operating model.”

It is a fair assumption that the Taliban will eventually form part of the future Afghan government. So are the West ready to share intelligence with them after all these years of fighting them? “It would be very difficult to imagine,” officials said.

Afghan Army in training, April 2021

The West has trained tens of thousands of Afghan government forces

The key question is whether the Taliban really meant that when they told Doha’s peace negotiators that they had cut off their relationship with al-Qaeda. In some cases, these relationships are historical, marital, tribal, and years before the 9/11 attack. The Taliban are well aware that if they were to become part of the internationally recognized future government of Afghanistan, they would not be considered to be on the same camp as the banned terrorist groups. Still, Gavin McNicoll, director of the British think tank Eden Intelligence, believes it’s naive to trust them.

“The US administration seems to live in an impossible dream world where the Taliban cut off al-Qaeda’s relationship with IS and wouldn’t allow them to return. “He says. Believe in their words. “

Special Forces Attack

Night raids based on information gathered directly on the ground by a small team of SBS or US Special Forces caused significant damage to the rebel commanders and their networks. They often arrive by helicopter at midnight and patrol on foot. These “capture or kill” teams worked closely with Afghan special forces to prevent numerous attacks.

However, after September, these raids, if continued, should start from most foreign countries, or at least plan. The risk of time delays and advance warnings being leaked to others is inevitably greater. And the task of finding a new place to launch them is not something that can be fixed overnight.

Find a new location

A secret secret base in eastern Afghanistan, which US special forces used as a springboard for operations against “high-value targets,” has been closed. This is good news for al-Qaeda and IS, who are less afraid of the unexpected arrival of several very large and heavily armed Americans at midnight. So where in the region can we provide a suitable alternative?

Pakistan is the most obvious candidate geographically, but in the West there is deep suspicion that Pakistan’s Secret Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has elements associated with violent Islamist groups. When the CIA launched Operation Neptune Spear to kill or capture Osama Bin Laden in May 2011, the U.S. chose not to notify Pakistan as a team of Navy Seals flew into Pakistan’s airspace on a stealth helicopter. did. They were afraid that someone might give Bin Laden a hint to escape.

Instead, Oman is probably an alternative. Due to the stable pro-Western government, the Sultanate is already hosting a major base in Duqm on the Indian Ocean coast, with Britain already in Tamlate. Duqm is still more than 1000 miles from the Afghan border, and military-carrying aircraft need to fly over Pakistan. Bahrain is another possibility: Britain already has a small naval base (HMS Juffair), and the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet has a very large base.

Then there is always Central Asia, which borders Afghanistan to the north. In the years immediately following 9/11, US troops used an old Soviet base called “K2” or Karshi Hanabad in southeastern Uzbekistan. However, the return would be controversial, even if invited, as it withdrew in 2005 after the relationship between the two countries deteriorated and the base was reported to be heavily contaminated with chemicals and radioactive materials.

The bald fact is that it is becoming much more difficult to “contain” both al-Qaeda and IS in the wilderness of Afghanistan. There is no easy alternative to having resources on the ground and being able to call them with very short notifications. Much will now depend on the ongoing willingness and effectiveness of the Afghan government to confront these banned cross-border terrorist groups.

John Rain, who previously worked at a senior level in the British government, draws a pessimistic picture of where things are heading. There, it could return to a state close to a greenhouse due to the threat of next-generation anti-terrorism. “