US foreign policy ‘totally failed’ amid attacks in Kabul
China urges US to help Afghanistan to control terrorism, end violence
Published: Aug 30, 2021 12:53 AM
A Taliban Fateh fighter (left), a special forces unit, stands guard along with other fighters on a street in Kabul on Sunday, as suicide bomb threats hung over the final phase of the US military's airlift operation from Kabul, with US President Joe Biden warning another attack was highly likely before the evacuations end. Photo: AFP

A Taliban Fateh fighter (left), a "special forces" unit, stands guard along with other fighters on a street in Kabul on Sunday, as suicide bomb threats hung over the final phase of the US military's airlift operation from Kabul, with US President Joe Biden warning another attack was highly likely before the evacuations end. Photo: AFP

US President Joe Biden might find that the first year of his term is going to be completely different from his previous plan, at least in the field of foreign affairs, as the pullout from Afghanistan now becomes a hasty and chaotic situation with heavy casualties of US troops and local civilians that makes the humiliating ending of the US-launched war even more humiliating and embarrassing, said experts amid another explosion that hit a house near Kabul airport and US latest military strike in Kabul on Sunday after a major terrorist attack at the airport on Thursday. 

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday urged the US to take practical action to help Afghanistan to control terrorism and stop violence, rather than engage in double standards or selective fighting of terrorism in a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. 

On Sunday, another explosion rocked an area near Kabul airport following the one that killed 13 US service members and at least 170 others outside the airport on Thursday. Reuters reported the blast appeared to have been caused by a rocket that hit a house in the northern said of the airport. 

Meanwhile, US forces launched a military strike in Kabul on Sunday targeting a possible suicide car bomb that was aiming to attack the airport, US officials said, Reuters reported. 

The strike initially appeared to be a separate incident to the one at the residential property north of the airport, though this is yet to be confirmed, media reported. 

Biden warned on Saturday that another terrorist attack on Kabul's airport is "highly likely in the next 24-36 hours," hours after the Pentagon said two "high profile" ISIS targets were killed and another was injured in a US drone strike in retaliation against the terrorist attack on Thursday, CNN reported. 

"This strike was not the last," Biden said in his statement. He vowed to "hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay." Shortly after Biden's statement, the US Embassy in Kabul issued a security alert, urging all US citizens in the vicinity of Kabul airport to leave the area immediately, citing "a specific, credible threat," the alert read.

A series of attacks in Kabul is continually damaging the US' image as it has failed to protect its troops, Afghan locals and other foreign nationals of its allies who want to leave with Americans. Although the US could launch retaliatory attacks against ISIS-K, who claimed that an ISIS militant carried out Thursday's suicide attack at Kabul's airport, it still cannot effectively improve the situation at the airport, said Chinese analysts, adding that the embarrassing and terrible handling of the Afghan issue would make Biden and the Democrats lose badly in the midterm election next year.

In a phone call with Blinken on Sunday, Wang Yi urged the US to take concrete actions to help Afghanistan eliminate terrorism and end violence and not practice double standards to counter-terrorism. This is the second phone conversation between the two on the issue in recent two weeks after one on August 16.      

"The facts have proven that the US war in Afghanistan has not accomplished the mission to eliminate terrorists in the country. The hasty evacuation of the US and NATO troops will very likely provide new opportunities for terrorists groups in Afghanistan to stage a comeback," Wang said. 

 "The US should take concrete actions, based on the precondition of respecting the sovereignty of Afghanistan, to help the country to eliminate terrorism and stop violence, rather than practice double standards on counter-terrorism or selectively strike terrorists," Wang said.  

Wang said it is necessary for all parties to engage with the Taliban and actively guide them. The US in particular needs to work with the international community to provide much-needed economic, livelihood and humanitarian assistance, he said. 

The situation in Kabul is a complete mess with unnecessary bloodshed as some civilians were not killed by the terrorist attack but were reportedly shot by US troops in the subsequent confusion. 

Secunder Kermani, BBC correspondent in Pakistan and Afghanistan, tweeted on Saturday a video of interviews with the locals and survivors of the attack that "Many we spoke to, including eyewitnesses, said significant numbers of those killed were shot dead by US forces in the panic after the blast."

The chaos and tragedy at the Kabul airport proves that the US' 20-year occupation has completely failed as the terrorists have not been eliminated at all and are even more capable of attacking US troops and civilians, said experts, adding that those Afghans who want to leave their country with the Americans and got shot by US troops have been taught a lesson - the US will let anyone with wishful thinking disappointed.

The Pentagon said Saturday that two high-profile ISIS-K targets were killed in a US drone strike in Afghanistan. 

The Pentagon said the strike targeted two ISIS-K members believed to be involved in planning attacks against US forces in Kabul. Army Major General William Taylor said Saturday that there were no known civilian casualties following the strike, CNBC reported.

Zhu Yongbiao, director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies at Lanzhou University, told the Global Times that "although the US claimed that it can sense the potential attack and launch retaliation against ISIS-K, its intelligence gathering capability on the ground will still be undermined after the evacuation."

"Some information from other sources shows that the two ISIS-K members killed by US drone are not really involved the attack at the Kabul airport, and some even say they are civilians but claimed to be 'ISIS-K members,' so it's hard to completely believe the Pentagon's statement, and maybe the action is just a move to respond to the US public," Zhu said.

But the good news is that the attack would force the US and Taliban to have some pragmatic cooperation on specific issues, such as security around the airport, said observers.

"The Taliban could also use this as a chance to distance itself from terrorists in the country but it won't normalize ties between Taliban and the US," Zhu said.

Jake Sullivan, Biden's national security adviser, said in a TV interview with CBS that the US would continue working with the Taliban to ensure safe passage for those wishing to leave Afghanistan beyond the 31 August deadline.

US forces are set to wind up their evacuation mission in Kabul before Tuesday's deadline but concerns remain about those remaining in the country beyond the deadline. Since August 14, the US has evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of approximately 114,400 people and roughly 120,000 since the end of July.

Going to lose

This is not the only mess the US is handling. The Biden administration previously planned to use its intelligence agencies to "investigate" the coronavirus origins and to politicize the matter to stigmatize China, and now the investigation with an embarrassing result adds another failure to the US. Biden's approval rating is sinking, which makes the president and his party very likely to lose the midterm elections.  

"The warning Biden gave on Saturday suggests that although the US has the ability to anticipate terrorist attacks, the chaos in Kabul has made it unable to guard its own citizens against it, and the administration is urging to speed up the evacuation even before the departure deadline of August 31 arrives," Diao Daming, an expert on US studies and associate professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"The terrorist attack came as Biden has been in office for a full seven months. According to comprehensive poll results of the US public's satisfaction with the incumbent, the dissatisfaction rate has overridden the satisfaction rate among the masses," Diao noted. 

Biden's approval rating hit its lowest as the US-backed Afghan government collapsed in an upheaval that sent thousands of civilians and Afghan military allies fleeing for their safety, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, Reuters reported on August 17. 

A week later, a Gallup poll found that satisfaction rate with the direction the US is going in has also fallen to its lowest since Biden took office, with just 23 percent among 1,006 Americans satisfied, which is in line with increasingly negative reviews of the president's performance in the crisis in Afghanistan, Forbes reported on Tuesday.

In contrast, two of his predecessors, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, were put into such situations much later in their terms - Obama's low approval ratings came a year and a half after he took office, while a similar situation occurred to George W. Bush near the end of his first term, experts noted. 

But analysts said that even so, there will be no impeachment or resignation of Biden or Blinken. Next, pressure from the Republicans and the midterm elections will have significant impact on how the current administration defines their existence in Afghanistan, analysts noted. 

On Friday, US Senator Lindsey Graham and Congressman Mike Waltz issued a joint statement calling on Biden to recognize Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh and representatives of Ahmad Massoud as the legitimate Afghan government and urged on them to "designate the Afghan Taliban as a Foreign Terrorist Organization."

What's more, it is clear to Biden that the midterm elections are almost definitely "a lost cause" for the Democrats, Diao said, and Biden may have already begun to look to the big picture for the long term instead of short-term influences.

Observers believe that the US will continue to consolidate its existence in the region and continue to breed its own powers. "The US' swift actions in finding the high-profile ISIS targets have shown that its intelligence network is still working in the region," experts said. 

The US is likely to continue playing a "destructive role" to create chaos in Afghanistan and disturb the safety and stability of its neighbors, including China. "It will in some way help the US' scheme to target other major world powers," Diao said.