You think this is just about Afghanistan? Think again

World

You think this is just about Afghanistan? Think again

As the Taliban takes over the country, other jihadist groups are already carrying out attacks in the region

Ruth Pollard

The spillover began before the Taliban had even reached Kabul. City after city fell this past week, and now the Islamist insurgents have entered the capital. It will only get worse as the conflict expands beyond Afghanistan’s borders. 

Jihadist groups based in the country, some with transnational agendas like Al-Qaeda, now have a template for defeating governments backed by major powers and have been emboldened by the Taliban’s lightning-fast advance. This is happening as the jihadi ecosystem is experiencing the lowest counter-terrorism pressure in the last two decades, effectively getting free rein. Asfandyar Mir, South Asia security analyst for the US Institute for Peace, says it’s a dangerous combination when threats go up at the same time efforts to combat them go down.

“Central Asian jihadists have been flexing their muscle, anti-China jihadists have attacked Chinese personnel in Pakistan, more regional violence is extremely plausible — the threat is ongoing, and we are just talking about an escalation from this point onwards,” Mir said. The collapse of the Afghan republic after the US departure will have regional significance on a level akin to the post-9/11 invasion, or the withdrawal of Soviet troops and fall of the communist regime they’d backed. “This is a seismic shift that will change politics in this part of the world in ways” hard to foresee...

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