Congressman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and his republican Friends on the House Foreign Affairs Committee used the opportunity of the messy withdrawal from Afghanistan by the Biden government to release an initial report titled “A ‘Strategic Failure’: Evaluating the Administration’s Afghanistan Pullout.”
However, even before the study was made public, the White House sent a note to “Interested Parties” criticizing its contents. The document, sent by spokeswoman for the National Security Council Adrienne Watson, was marked “Re: Recently Released Partisan Report on the Afghanistan Departure.” The letter asserted, among other things, that the Republicans report had several “erroneous classifications… and incorrect statements.”
One of the reportedly incorrect statements in the study, according to the White House document, was that “the departure has made us less secure since al Qaeda has reorganized and Afghanistan has turned into a terrorist safe harbor.”
Contrary to what was indicated in the report, the intelligence community had determined that al Qaeda had not regenerated in the nation. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the group’s former commander, “was the sole significant al Qaeda person who sought to reconstitute their presence in country,” the letter added.
Indeed, it claimed that “fewer than a dozen of the key al Qaeda militants are still in Afghanistan, and they were presumably there when Kabul fell.” Al Qaeda was not equipped, it was emphasized, to launch an assault from Afghanistan against the United States or its allies.
The Doha deal between the United States and the Taliban on February 29, 2020 included no expectations from the militant group other than that it not allows terrorists to operate within its borders, making this subject particularly delicate for the government. Particularly, the Taliban made five obligations regarding the prohibition of terrorist activities from Afghan territory in Part II of that agreement, which highlighted their assurances to Washington.
The Terrorists problem
It is evident that the Taliban has not upheld these promises. To begin with, it is no more likely that Pakistan was uninformed that Osama bin Laden was living within its borders than it is that the Taliban were not hosting al-Zawahiri in one of the few affluent areas of Kabul.
Additionally, if the “few than a dozen” al Qaeda militants were present in Kabul prior to the city falling, the Taliban would have known where they were and were required to eliminate them in accordance with the Doha Agreement.
Actually, all signs point to Afghanistan continuing to be a safe haven for terrorist organizations. They include the Islamic State-Khorasan, or ISIS-K, which has concurrent goals with the governments of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which strives to overthrow the regime in Islamabad and thereby constitutes a significant threat to South Asian security, and the Islamic State, which contradicts the Taliban as well as American and Western preferences.
However, the Haqqani network, which has long collaborated with both the Taliban and al Qaeda, is of considerably more concern to the US. Since the Taliban took control of the country, Sirajuddin Haqqani, the senior commander of the network, has held dual positions in the Afghan government: acting interior minister and de facto deputy head of the Afghan state.
Attacks on American soldiers and explosions by terrorists are directly Haqqani’s fault. In fact, the Department of State’s Rewards for Justice program continues to award a $10 million reward for data that results in Haqqani’s capture.
He, his network, and his friends still pose a serious danger to American interests across the world.