Biden wants to save face, but Kabul airport attacks prove his incompetence: Global Times editorial
Published: Aug 27, 2021 07:33 PM
Biden Photo: VCG

Biden Photo: VCG

Terror attacks occurred on Thursday outside the Kabul airport, resulting in the deaths of at least 170 people including 13 US service members. This is the biggest single-day casualty of the US military in Afghanistan since 2011. The attacks show that the US finds it difficult controlling the chaotic situation at the airport.

The Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the terror attacks. This was also confirmed by the US. The Taliban strongly condemned the "gruesome incident" and said it "will take every step to bring the culprits to justice." This explicit statement has received a lot of attention.

When the bloody attacks took place on Thursday, it was five days before the US withdrawal deadline set by Biden. The US has predicted more attacks. This will obviously affect the US withdrawal, making it a risky and desperate mission.

Biden is unlikely to stop withdrawing. If he is dragged back to Afghanistan due to the latest terror attacks, he is making a political dead end for himself. Therefore, he has no option but to continue with his withdrawal plan. But the terror attacks by the ISIS will only make the Biden administration's withdrawal more miserable and infamous. The repeated incompetence of the Biden team is clear to all.

Biden has vowed to retaliate. The US army is likely to bomb some targets suspected to be IS bases so as to comfort US opinion. But the US army has given up all spots except the Kabul airport. The intelligence network supported by the Ghani government has collapsed. Cooperation between the US and the Taliban has yet to begin. The precision of the retaliation of the US will be questioned. Its effect is expected to be much lower than previous strikes.

The quasi-regime of ISIS once emerging in some parts of Syria and Iraq has been eradicated, but the extremism it represents is far from over. The group is scattered now and is looking for a chance to re-emerge in a certain chaotic region. Apparently, it is eyeing Afghanistan. 

ISIS needs chaos and space generated by confrontation between main forces. The US finds it hard to withdraw, and the fight between the Taliban and the US army could brew the condition for the spread of ISIS forces. Previously, the US army, Afghan government forces and the Taliban all fought ISIS, but didn't manage to wipe it out. This is telling.

That's exactly where the complexity of Afghanistan lies. The mountains have become the graveyard of one empire after another. They also block the country from modern governance. Tribalism enables extremism to find a shelter and a new starting point.

The Taliban has stated that it does not allow any force to use Afghanistan to target a third country. This is viewed as a declaration of a breakup with terrorism. But terrorism does not only exist in Afghanistan. Afghanistan's role is special because it has to make more efforts to eradicate terrorism. It also requires maximal cooperation between the international community and the local government, so that peace and stability can find their ground in Afghanistan so that there is no room for terrorism.

The bloody attacks at Kabul airport leave many uncertainties. Will the US army cooperate with the Taliban in regards to withdrawal and retaliation against ISIS? The Taliban has its own thoughts about how to stabilize the national situation and engage in reconstruction. They have called for domestic reconciliation and demanded intellectuals to stay in the country and participate in the reconstruction. But the fleeing-like withdrawal of the US and the West is destructive - they took no consideration of Afghanistan's reconstruction at all.

Some Western countries advocated sanctioning the Taliban-led regime, which will open a new frontline with it outside the military sphere. Washington has no clue what path the region will take after its withdrawal. It seems unclear what it wants from an Afghanistan that has no presence of the US military. Apparently, Biden wants his face and fewer losses generated from the shameful withdrawal from Afghanistan in next year's mid-term election. Nothing else so far. The Taliban may let him go, but not ISIS.

Then will Biden go back to Afghanistan? He dares not, because it may bring more shame to him. It is difficult to leave, and it is even more difficult to leave gracefully. The fundamental reason lies in the incompetence of the current US government, and the inability of the US national strength in coping with complex situations. Nowadays, it is hard for the US to unreasonably expect all desired outcomes.