As the free world comes to grips with the Taliban once again controlling Afghanistan, some diplomats and watchdogs of extremism expressed guarded optimism.
They naively believe that the new extremist regime has evolved, now fearing the wrath of the American military and appreciating the demands for a more compassionate and tolerant governance mandated by the infidels in the West.
Taliban-controlled Afghanistan was the incubator for one of the world’s most impactful terror attacks in modern history.
It's a sad fact that the Taliban leaders learned to be more insidious from their failures and from ours.
To this end, they have marginally altered their political rhetoric, but not their creed nor their methods that rely on medieval cruelty and a virtually literal interpretation of the Quran.
After the fall of Kabul, the Taliban immediately issued a statement that their new government would be "inclusive."
It wouldn’t take too long to understand what Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, meant by the word "inclusive."
The first red-flag appointment came with Sirajuddin Haqqani being named Afghanistan’s Interior Minister. Mr. Haqqani has a $5 million bounty on his head — courtesy of the FBI— and is a member of FBI’s Most Wanted list. It is believed the notorious Haqqani Network, blamed for many deadly attacks and kidnappings, still holds at least one American hostage.
In addition to Haqqani, the new interim prime minister is Mullah Hasan Akhund.
The notorious Mullah Akhund led the Taliban government during the time al Qaida used the country as a planning and training ground for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
In fact, the total count of the appointees in the new "inclusive" Taliban government draws from the dominant Pashtun ethnic group and represents an assembly of hardline veterans from the brutal Taliban’s rule of the 1990s, including Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, the son of Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar.
This return to power of the old-guard Taliban hard-liners shouldn’t be misconstrued as a return of the group’s 1990s capabilities.
Not only has the Taliban become more evil, but it has also become more capable.
The new Taliban leadership and rank-and-file (think: Taliban 2.0), represents a battle-hardened, ultra-survivalist, ideological cult with superior weaponry, courtesy of approximately 30 years of war with both the former Soviet Union and the U.S.-NATO forces and the Biden administration’s abandonment of advanced U.S. weapons.
Ironically, these new military capabilities and appreciation for business alliances are perhaps the only links that the Taliban has to the modern world.
Further, the new Taliban government, despite its devotion to Sharia-dominant nationalism, has learned from its past isolationist policies and is actively forging alliances within the region, even as it hurls new threats at the West.
In the early days of its reign, the Taliban has forged alliances with both the Chinese and the Iranians, two of the United States’ most potent adversaries.
In fact, the Taliban has designated the Communist Chinese as a "main partner" in rebuilding the newly proclaimed Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
"China will be our main partner and represents a great opportunity for us because it is ready to invest in our country and support reconstruction efforts," Mujahid said in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
As to the Iranians, even though the two nations are separated by the dogmatic gulf between the Shi’ite and Sunni rivalry in Islam, Tehran’s Shi’ite regime has strategic, economic, and ecology-driven reasons for establishing a friendly economically beneficial relationship with the new Taliban-controlled Afghan government.
One significant reason for Iran’s desire to embrace the Taliban is its need for the water that flows into the country from across the border.
Mike Martin, a former British Army officer who worked extensively in the Helmand Province, said, "[C]ontrol of Helmand, and particularly upper Helmand . . . means control of a series of dam canals — built by [the US Agency for International Development] in the 1950s-70s — that allows control of the output of the Helmand river, which empties into Iran’s Sistan region where it waters around a million people."
With an aggressive, well-armed and trained Taliban now in control of Afghanistan, how does the West — and specifically the U.S., mitigate the enormous threat future terror attacks that the Taliban will spawn?
After 20-years of inroads into scattering, infiltrating and combating the terrorism of radical groups emanating from the Mideast it appears we are facing a more potent and insidious threat than pre-Sept. 11, 2001.
The Biden administration will, like the Bush administration before it, have to abandon its transformative agenda, to prioritize tackling the threat posed by a reconstituted and more capable cult-like militant group with an ideology that justifies terrorism.
This re-alignment of priorities will require international cooperation and the crafting of a united front — globally — to disrupt, compromise, and infiltrate terror organizations.
Sadly, the Biden administration isn’t in a position to lead.
Its dramatic failure in the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan has resulted in the leaders of the free world condemning America’s ineptitude.
With the U.S. hobbled by political failures, it appears the extremists have the upper hand, and that represents a threat to all of us.
Yuri Vanetik is a private investor, lawyer and political strategist based in California. Read Yuri Vanetik's Reports — More Here.
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