A year after US forces withdrew from Afghanistan, Washington is now counting on its drones to continue the fight against the radical Islamist groups that drew them to invade the country 21 years ago.
Still, experts say that won’t be enough to counter the rise of Al-Qaeda, or its jihadist rival Islamic State, inside the country now back under military rule. Islamic Taliban.
US forces entered Afghanistan on October 7, 2011, to remove the Taliban government from power as it protected Al-Qaeda and its founder Osama bin Laden, responsible for the attacks. September 11 entered the United States.
Criticized for his decision to end the US military presence in the country, President Joe Biden promised that the US military and intelligence agencies would be able to continue the fight against the two jihadist groups through operations. “cross the horizon” movement.
It refers to the ability of the US military and CIA to survey the country through high-flying drones that operate from remote locations and, when necessary, use drones to attack. attack targets, as the US did on 31 July when it fired two. The missile killed Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri at his home in Kabul.
But aside from that, there is little indication that the horizon approach can prevent jihadists from re-establishing Afghanistan as a base to launch attacks around the globe, as Al-Qaeda has done. until 2001.
For retired General Frank McKenzie, who served as commander of US Central Command overseeing operations in Afghanistan through last year’s pullout, Zawahiri’s presence in Taliban-controlled Kabul presents difficulty. How to fight Islamic extremists without a U.S. presence on the ground. there.
“I have said publicly that counterterrorism operations from all over Afghanistan will be difficult but not impossible,” McKenzie told the BBC in a recent interview.
“We’re going to have to keep putting pressure on, and that’s going to be very difficult,” he said.
No more secure after withdrawal
McKenzie’s predecessor at Central Command, retired General Joseph Votel, said the Zawahiri attack showed the US was capable of putting pressure on Qaeda and the Islamic State from outside Afghanistan.
However, he told Voice of America, “I don’t think we’re in a safer place.”
“Whether we will find ourselves back in Afghanistan, like we went back to Iraq just over three years after leaving, I don’t know. I hope not,” he said.
“But I think we have to be prepared for that.”
The Pentagon insists that it does not share those worries.
Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder said: “At this stage, we assess that in terms of foreign planning, operations outside of Afghanistan, I think we are in a situation where safe situation”.
“We absolutely have the means to respond wherever and whenever we need to, around the world, to any counterterrorism threat,” he said.
With no forces inside Afghanistan, it’s “more of a challenge,” but it’s “not something insurmountable,” Ryder said.
According to Defense Secretary Colin Kahl, US intelligence believes that both Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State arm in Afghanistan intend to carry out attacks from outside, including against the United States, but currently lack the capacity to do so.
However, he told Congress, the Islamic State could develop that capability “in a period of six to 12 months.”
Doug London, a former official at the CIA, which is believed to have carried out the Zawahiri attack, “America left Afghanistan at its peril.”
London, now a professor at Georgetown University, wrote on the Just Security website that instead of relying entirely on a drone strategy over the horizon, Washington needs to communicate more directly with the Taliban.
“There’s always something to hit the ground and talk to your opponent about, whatever their intentions,” he said.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a collaborative feed.)