CHINA / DIPLOMACY
China urges terrorist crackdown by Taliban, as Kabul deadly blasts exemplify US failure
Published: Aug 27, 2021 04:54 PM Updated: Aug 27, 2021 06:23 PM
 
An Afghan woman tries to identify a dead body at a hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Friday, a day after deadly attacks outside the airport. Photo: AP

An Afghan woman tries to identify a dead body at a hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Friday, a day after deadly attacks outside the airport. Photo: AP



China has urged the Afghan Taliban to fulfill its promises, break off with all terrorist organizations, firmly crack down on the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), and address obstacles that hinder regional security and development cooperation, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at the press conference on Friday, after two bomb attacks on Thursday near Kabul airport killed at least 13 US soldiers and more than 100 Afghanis.

We noticed that for the past 20 years, some terrorist organizations have gathered and developed in Afghanistan, posing a severe threat to international and regional security, especially the ETIM, Zhao said, noting that the ETIM has been listed as a terrorist organization by the Security Council of the United Nations and has posed a direct threat to China's national security and the Chinese people's safety.

The Chinese spokesperson said that the Afghan Taliban had clarified to China that it will not allow any forces to harm China through incursions made via Afghanistan, and China urged it to fulfill promises to break off with all terrorist organizations. 

The bomb attacks outside Kabul airport, which have killed 13 US service members and at least 100 Afghans, are the disastrous result of the US' hasty, disorganized and irresponsible withdrawal from Afghanistan, and they are a slap in the face of the US which just noted it was another "mission accomplished" in Afghanistan. 

Two suicide bombers and gunmen attacked people outside Kabul airport on Thursday, leading to 13 US service members being killed and 18 injured, Capt. Bill Urban of US Central Command was cited by CNN as saying. In addition, more than 90 Afghan people were killed and 140 wounded. 

It was the most US troops killed in Afghanistan in a single incident since 30 personnel died when a helicopter was shot down in August 2011, Reuters reported. 

The deadly blast happened amid the US and other Western countries' race to evacuate people from Afghanistan before the US military officially ends its 20-year presence in the country on August 31, which is also the red-line that the Afghan Taliban drew for the US and its allies. In recent days, the US and its allies had been informed about the risks of possible attacks targeting Kabul airport.

Videos of the chaos and tragic scenes of blast at the Kabul airport have circulated on social media with international media giving rolling coverage of the incident. Condolences and condemnation poured in from world leaders following the attacks. 

Speaking from the White House on Thursday after the deadly blast, Biden said that "I bear responsibility for fundamentally all that's happened of late" but continued to pivot to former president Donald Trump's role in striking a deal with the Taliban that set a deadline for American forces to leave the country. 

"The airport terror attacks pushed the US' 20-year-long anti-terrorist war in Afghanistan back to their starting point and also loudly slapped Biden in his face, as he previously said the US accomplished its mission in Afghanistan but the death of US soldiers in terror attacks said the opposite," Liu Zhongmin, a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of the Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times. 

The chaos and terror attacks at the Kabul airport are a disastrous effect of the US' hasty, disorganized and extremely irresponsible withdrawal and showcased its total failure on strategy and implementation and in policies on Afghan, Liu said, noting that the US chose to make a peace treaty with the Taliban without the engagement of the former Ghani government, failing to withdraw troops step by step and leading to the current embarrassing situation.   

The US has already borne enormous international pressure for its irresponsible withdrawal from Afghanistan. The attacks in Kabul airport are another evidence of the US' debacle in Afghanistan, said Li Weijian, a research fellow with the Institute for Foreign Policy Studies of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies and vice president of the Chinese Association of Middle East Studies.

In the past 20 years, the US kept its presence in Afghanistan in the name of counterterrorism, but now the Taliban has come to the center of power in Afghanistan, which is a huge irony for the US. The US dealt a heavy blow to IS in Syria and Iraq a few years ago, but this time IS caused so many deaths, including US soldiers and Afghans. The US failed in both morality and counterterrorism, Li told the Global Times. 

The terror attacks also forced the Afghan Taliban into an embarrassing situation. Zhu Yongbiao, director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies in Lanzhou University, told the Global Times that the Taliban used to promise the international community that it would not let Afghanistan become a place for terrorism, but what happened at the airport may show it is incapable in fulfilling this promise. 

The incident may also affect Afghanis' confidence in the Taliban's capability of management and control of domestic situation, and deepen distrust of the international community on whether the Taliban will be capable of fulfilling its previous promise against terrorism, Zhu said. 

The Afghan Taliban, which has been long criticized for its ties with extremist groups, denounced the attack. "The Islamic Emirate strongly condemns the bombing of civilians at Kabul airport, which took place in an area where US forces are responsible for security," Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen tweeted on Thursday.

Kabul airport explosion Photo:VCG

Kabul airport explosion Photo:VCG



Terrorists behind 

On Thursday's speech, Biden warned the perpetrators of the attack will be hunted down and pay for their deeds. He had ordered US military commanders "to develop operational plans to strike ISIS-K assets, leadership and facilities."

Soon after the attacks at Kabul airport, ISIS in Khorasan, known as ISIS-K, claimed that an ISIS militant carried out the suicide attack. 

ISIS-K has always seen Taliban's peace treaty with the US as a betrayal to Jihad and by conducting unprecedented terror attacks, ISIS-K wants to show that it has snatched the military anti-US banner from the Taliban to woo more terrorists to join it, Wang Shida, deputy director of the South Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania Research Institute of Contemporary International Relations Research Academy of China, told the Global Times.

The incident also happened when the Taliban is at crucial period of seeking global recognition and assistance; ISIS-K's actions would make the Taliban's promise to the US and international community become empty and damage its legitimacy as the potential future Afghan government, Wang said.   

ISIS-K is a branch of the Islamic State in Afghanistan and actively operates in eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan's north. It is one of the most violent and extreme terrorist groups in Afghanistan and is believed to be responsible for attacks in hospitals, schools and public areas. 

According to a report from the Security Council of the United Nations, there may be 1,500 to 2,200 members of ISIS-K in Nangrahar and Kunar provinces. But due to its decentralized organization structure, it is self-governed with an unknown number of members. 

  

ISIS-K contains IS members from Syria, young and extremists from the Afghan Taliban and former members of Pakistani Taliban. It has maintained comprehensive competition ties with the Afghan Taliban, Zhu said. 

After the Ghani government's large-scale crack down on ISIS-K in 2017, some of its members fled and scattered in the northern region due to the political vacuum there. They had committed lots of terrorist attacks that were more brutal and bloodier, targeting civilians, Zhu said. 

Unlike the strategic purposes of the Afghan Taliban or the Al-Qaeda, ISIS-K seeks to build a global caliphate by Jihad and turn Afghanistan into a province named Khorasan. It is always seeking places of weak security and political clashes. The Kabul airport became their most recent target, Liu said.

Moreover, ISIS has never stopped stirring religious and ethnic clashes in Afghanistan, for example, by trying to sow discord between the Shiah-majority Hazaras ethnic group and the Sunnite Pashto to disturb the Taliban's efforts on domestic ethnic and political reconciliation, Liu noted.

Uncertain future

The US government and senior officials told the media that the US will continue the evacuation work and there are about 1,000 Americans in Afghanistan. For the past days, the Western countries have evacuated nearly 100,000 people and several thousand may still be there after the deadline of August 31. 

Experts reached by the Global Times said that it would not change the US' evacuation decision. It may take air raid targeting terrorists of the IS in Afghanistan, but due to the withdrawal of intelligence network and troops, the US is unable to take more accurate attacks like actions on killing the leader of al Qaeda's leader Osama bin Laden in 2011. 

Although the large-scale domestic wars have ended, uncertainties remain in the Afghan situation. Terrorist groups that maintain ties with Afghan Taliban, or under its shelter or compete with it, may follow the ISIS-K on making more troubles to avoid the Taliban's reconciliation with the US and the West, experts warned. 

More incidents may happen in the region if extremists from Al-Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban have been incited and the recent terror attacks happened in Pakistan targeting Chinese are lessons, Liu said, noting that ties with the Pakistani Taliban and Al-Qaeda are problems for the Afghan Taliban since if it could not deal with them better, it will be accused of not fulfilling promises and setting obstacles to political reconciliation. 

Wang said that the Afghan Taliban may increase attacks on the ISIS-K to show regional countries that it is a reliable force. 

Terror attacks may decrease after the Afghan Taliban finishes building the government, since previous terrorist organizations used the banner of fighting against heretics and foreign troops, and their targets will decrease after the exit of the US and its allies. The Afghan Taliban will take stronger control than the former government and it may conduct attacks targeting IS and other organizations, Wang said.


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