Horrific suicide bombings in Kabul underline western impotence in Afghanistan

News Letter editorial of Friday August 27 2021:

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

Last night as this paper went to press, details on a bomb attack in Afghanistan were still emerging.

At least 12 American military were killed in two suicide bombs at Kabul airport.

A simple phrase in our news report on page 10 underlines the horror of the situation: “The Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan [which carried out the atrocity] is far more radical than the Taliban.”

Only a truly deranged group could be far more radical than the Taliban extremists. IS, as the world has discovered in recent years, is such a repulsive and murderous outfit.

In the 20 years since the September 11 attacks in the United States the jihadi threat has increased, albeit not in a linear fashion. Some of the territory taken by IS in Syria was later taken back, such as Raqqa in Syria, which for three years was their ‘capital’ and a place of horrific rule, including public beheadings, and Mosul in Iraq.

While there must be some comfort to be drawn from the fact that even the Taliban have condemned the bombings at Kabul, the circumstances in Afghanistan are atrocious.

Not only has the world’s only (and declining) superpower been humiliated by the speed of the Taliban advance, and the unravelling of the gains of the US-led invasion of October 2001, but it is unable to protect its own troops.

Western impotence was further reflected last night when Boris Johnson vowed to continue the evacuation from Kabul airport despite the bombings. The Taliban had in any event made clear that the August 31 deadline was a rigid one.

The arguments against open ended occupation in Afghanistan were strong ones, made on these pages by the former Taoiseach John Bruton earlier this week (see link below). But it is also clear that signalling the withdrawal of US troops emboldened the Taliban and led to a moral collapse in the Afghan army.

Now the world faces the challenge posed by swathes of territory coming or staying underline hardline Islamist rule, from Iran to Pakistan in the Middle East, and parts of northern Africa.

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