US kills Qaeda leader with drone strike that ‘violates Afghanistan’s sovereignty’
Published: Aug 02, 2022 09:52 PM
Afghanistan Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Afghanistan Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

A spokesperson for the Afghan Taliban on Tuesday condemned a US military strike on a residential house in Kabul, in which the US claimed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed. Chinese experts said the so-called anti-terrorist action is a violation of the territorial sovereignty of Afghanistan and may be a strategy to gain political points at the upcoming midterm elections. 

The spokesperson for Afghan Taliban Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed on Tuesday in a statement that the airstrike on a house in the Shirpur area in Kabul was carried out by US drones, and called it "a clear violation of international principles and the Doha Agreement," which the US signed with the Taliban in 2020 that led to the withdrawal of US forces.

US President Joe Biden announced on Monday that the US "successfully concluded an airstrike in Kabul that killed the emir of al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri," and claimed that "now justice has been delivered," according to a White House statement.

The US did not alert Taliban officials ahead of the strike, reported CNN. 

The White House statement claimed that none of Ayman al-Zawahiri's family members were hurt, and there were no civilian casualties.  

Al-Zawahri was on the balcony of his house on Sunday when two Hellfire missiles were launched from an unmanned drone killing him, according to AP News. 

However, doubts are raised on the authenticity of such claims.  Li Wei, an expert on national security at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said the drone attack in a densely populated area could have caused damage to surrounding buildings or even casualties among local residents considering the large impact of the Hellfire missiles. 

Experts said the US military attack was a violation of the territorial sovereignty of Afghanistan. 

"Any military activities and strikes within the territory of a country without first informing its government will constitute a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country no matter what the legitimacy is," Li told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The Taliban's statement said Afghanistan "strongly condemns this attack on any cause." 

The US has once again openly trampled on Afghan territorial sovereignty after its troops' withdrawal in 2021, which proved that the country has "never really changed" despite its commitment. The strike aimed to show that it still has unmatched influence in Afghan affairs and to expunge the humiliation of having to leave Afghanistan, said a Beijing-based expert on international affairs who requested anonymity.

"The two-decade US-led war in Afghanistan is one of the main reasons why the country is still vulnerable to terrorism. The political chaos and economic depression in Afghanistan have made the whole country and even the region spin out of control for a long time, which has become a hotbed of terrorism and led to Afghanistan becoming a stronghold for many terrorist organizations," said the expert. 

Some experts suspect the airstrike against Ayman al-Zawahiri came because the critical US midterm elections are close. The country has historically conducted anti-terrorism operations as a political tool to serve its political interests at home, Li said. 

Li added the solutions to eradicating terrorism come from addressing Afghan domestic issues, such as economic issues and people's livelihoods, which the US is responsible for. 

The US is widely criticized in the world for illegally freezing $7 billion Afghan central bank assets. The international community has urged the US to unfreeze and return the money that belongs to the Afghan people in full to help overcome the humanitarian crisis in the country especially after a massive earthquake in June.