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Extra The place He Got here From


By: Salman Rafi Sheikh

The sudden killing of al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri could be a second of satisfaction for the US ‘struggle on terror’. However the drone strike that killed him in Afghanistan’s capital has raised extra questions than solutions on the subject of the opportunity of the top of the struggle.

As an example, the truth that he was residing in Kabul underneath the Taliban’s safety means their safety in all probability extends to many different teams as effectively – teams that don’t have any intentions about ending their jihad. The strike reveals that Afghanistan stays a territorial sanctuary for transnational jihadi networks keen, as al-Zawahiri’s latest video messages shared on social media have proven, to export jihad worldwide.

Whereas al-Qaeda itself might not even have the capability for such a enterprise, it does have associates in Afghanistan, which al-Qaeda’s associates just lately succeeded in capturing – and al-Qaeda helped them – implies that the group’s sources have multiplied.

Certainly, as a July 2022 report of the United Nations Safety Council reveals, “Al-Qaida management reportedly performs an advisory function with the Taliban, and the teams stay shut.” The report additionally mentions al-Qaeda’s plans to increase from the south and east of Afghanistan to northern Afghanistan.

That aligns firmly with the Afghan Taliban’s personal goal to defeat an rising counter-movement within the north led by Ahmad Masoud, the UK-educated son of Ahmad Shah Masoud, who was killed by al Qaeda brokers posing as journalists in 2001. Coalesced across the Nationwide Resistance Entrance, the northerners goal to take again Kabul, though their precise capability to take action stays uncertain at greatest.

Al-Qaeda, nonetheless, doesn’t have the capability to “mount direct assaults” exterior of Afghanistan, the UN report says. Due to this fact, concentrating on Afghanistan and mobilizing sources to strengthen the Taliban and defeat their equally dogmatic ideological rival i.e., the Islamic State in Khorasan (IS-Ok) is sensible, which implies that the group has a future in Afghanistan.

The lack of al-Zawahiri might, nonetheless, trigger inside fragmentation, particularly given the truth that, because the UNSC report additionally mentions, the group “doesn’t seem to have a transparent management succession plan.” Given, nonetheless, that it relies on a “secure haven, improved communications and sources to distribute,” its relationship with the Afghan Taliban will stay unchanged even after al-Zawahiri’s dying.

A key issue strengthening the opportunity of Taliban-al-Qaeda cooperation is Kabul’s personal endless fascination with jihad, together with worldwide. A living proof will be the Afghan Taliban’s ‘mediation’ of talks between the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Islamabad.

Noor Wali Mehsud, TTP’s chief, can be primarily based in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s air strikes in April in two japanese provinces didn’t get rid of him, not to mention do any significant harm to the TTP itself.

Within the ongoing talks between the TTP and Pakistan, the previous has positioned an inventory of non-negotiable calls for that Pakistan should meet for ‘peace’ to prevail within the area. These embody a) de-merging the previous Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province, b) retaining arms and ammunitions, and c) whole amnesty for its commanders and fighters.

The Afghan Taliban help these calls for for guaranteeing ‘peace.’ Whereas the truth that the Afghan Taliban, as a substitute of taking motion in opposition to the TTP and eliminating its leaders according to their promise to not permit their territory for use in opposition to any neighbor, are mediating these talks reveals that Kabul doesn’t intend to behave upon its numerous guarantees of moderation.

The Afghan Taliban’s reversal of girls’s rights apart, their help for the TTP’s jihad reveals the group’s rising urge for food for a territorial and ideological growth of their very own jihad, as accepting the TTP calls for is tantamount to permitting the group to determine a mini-Islamic Emirate in a area bordering Afghanistan.

The UNSC report reveals that the TTP has “the most important” element of “international fighters” (3,000 to 4,000) in Afghanistan and that it presents the best “menace within the area.”

Once more, the Afghan Taliban facilitated the TTP’s energy. After taking up Kabul in August 2021, they launched a whole bunch of TTP fighters captured and imprisoned by the Ghani regime. This launch allowed Noor Wali Mehsud to re-group and re-organize the TTP, making it “extra cohesive” than ever, the report mentioned including that the TTP is well-connected with different transnational jihadi teams, together with al-Qaeda and the anti-China East Turkestan Islamic Motion (ETIM) – a gaggle in search of to liberate Xinjiang from China.

The TTP chief has, up to now, additionally hinted at the opportunity of becoming a member of the IS-Ok in case the Afghan Taliban places an excessive amount of strain on them to just accept Pakistan’s calls for. However the truth that Kabul is brazenly siding with the TTP implies that the Afghan Taliban has no intention of shedding a key ally.

Can, due to this fact, the Afghan Taliban be trusted? This can be a query that has acquired renewed significance within the wake of al-Zawahiri’s killing.

For Pakistan, there’s a key lesson. Permitting the TTP to create an autonomous territory inside Pakistan the place the group can implement its personal model of Shariah rule implies that FATA will turn out to be an extra, official secure haven for all of the teams energetic in Afghanistan.

Relating to the Afghan Taliban, there may be a lot for Beijing to be taught and mirror upon, on condition that China’s international minister mentioned in a gathering in March together with his Afghan counterpart that China is not going to intrude in Afghanistan and can respect Afghan i.e., the Taliban, traditions, and way of life in change for Kabul’s assure that the Afghan territory is not going to be used to assault Chinese language pursuits anyplace.




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