Washington -

In response to the fall of Kabul to the Taliban in the middle of last month, President Joe Biden assured his citizens that his country would continue to neutralize any threats from "terrorist groups" such as al-Qaeda and ISIS-K.

Observers believe that the Taliban's good relationship with al-Qaeda raises doubts about the feasibility of the agreement signed between the United States and the Taliban in the Qatari capital last year, in which the movement pledged not to turn Afghanistan into a safe haven for "terrorist" groups, a condition under which Washington agreed to a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan.

However, Biden's speech, which came on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, confused many commentators with what he meant, and the implications for Washington's "counter-terrorism" strategy.

"We can't invade every country where al-Qaeda is," says the US president, before adding, "Can al-Qaeda come back? Yes, they have already returned in other countries."

"What is the strategy? Do we invade all the countries where al-Qaeda is located and leave our forces there?" he asks.


Pursuit of terrorists "from a distance"

Biden's words have caused a lot of confusion among the so-called "anti-terror experts" at a time when Americans' fears are increasing following the completion of the military withdrawal from Afghanistan, which came as chaotic, as some believe.

With the US media focused on commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, experts were divided over the fate of the "fight against terrorism" after the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the country where the attacks were said to have been planned 20 years ago.

All of the above raises questions related to how Afghanistan will become a different environment from what it was before the withdrawal, in terms of intelligence gathering, dealing with local agents, and carrying out some missions and combat operations by human or by drone.

Biden vowed to pursue "terrorists" and punish them "along with anyone who seeks to harm the United States."

He said that his country "has developed its ability to combat terrorism from a distance, allowing us to keep our eyes fixed on any direct threats to the United States in the region, and to act quickly and decisively if necessary."

While Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said, “Since September 11, 2001, our ability to deal with terrorism effectively in places where we don't have soldiers on the ground has grown dramatically, and we are now able to do things we couldn't do 20 years ago. This threat has appeared again in Afghanistan, we will deal with it."

As for opponents of the withdrawal, they considered it an American abandonment of its necessary war on "terrorism" with the expectation that Afghanistan would turn into a mecca for the "terrorists" of the world.

While supporters of the withdrawal see that the "war on terror" continues without the need for a presence in Afghanistan, and they cite US attacks on targets in Somalia, Libya, Yemen and other countries where they have no forces.

The United States withdrew its forces from Afghanistan after 20 years of presence there (French)

Expert reservations

Heritage counter-terrorism expert Laura Reese disagrees with Biden and Blinken's view, saying that Americans "rightfully feel exposed to increased terrorist risks, thanks to the decisions and policies of this administration."

Reese questioned the identity of the thousands of Afghans who came to the United States in recent weeks, and warned that "Americans should not trust that there are no terrorists among the Afghans that this administration has actually brought to the United States."

For his part, Peter Brooks, a national security expert at the same institution, said, “Our invasion of Afghanistan was aimed at preventing further attacks similar to the attacks of September 11, but, unfortunately, Afghanistan could once again become a safe haven for terrorist groups under the control of the Taliban or in areas outside the country. their control."

Brooks stressed that the positions of the Biden administration "do not bode well for maintaining homeland security, or American interests, as we are no longer safe from international terrorism that is escalating from Afghanistan."

In contrast, the Atlantic Council's intelligence expert, Jennifer Conte, said that the most important question about the effectiveness of a counterterrorism strategy relates to the efficiency of remote intelligence gathering, and whether it will be effective enough to monitor "terrorist groups" and prevent attacks against the United States and its allies.

Comte acknowledged that "the most effective way to understand the dynamics in a country is through physical presence on the ground. Nothing takes the place of recruiting local elements and building an ongoing relationship with sources from which valuable intelligence can be accessed and communicated to decision makers."


The Taliban has not abandoned al-Qaeda

An expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Thomas Joslin, believes that the relationship between the Taliban and al-Qaeda is as close and strong today as it was on September 11, 2001. He noted that al-Qaeda in Afghanistan today enjoys the full support of Taliban rule, and that “the claims that al-Qaeda are He left Afghanistan under false pretenses."

Jocelyn cited a report issued by the United Nations Security Council last June, which confirmed an active presence of al-Qaeda in at least 15 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.

For his part, Seth Jones, a security expert at the Center for Political and Strategic Relations, noted what Biden said, "Our only vital interest in Afghanistan remains today as it has always been: preventing a terrorist attack on the American homeland."

Jones emphasized that "more than 10,000 foreign fighters are already in Afghanistan, from groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, and soon the US administration will need an armed surveillance strategy that involves the use of intelligence and air power to target terrorists."

And he considered, in an article published in the Wall Street Journal, that "Biden's withdrawal from Afghanistan may be the most important foreign policy failure of his presidency, and among the most important foreign policy failures of any American president since the Vietnam War."

"The current counterterrorism strategy should, at the very least, limit the ability of terrorists to hide in Afghanistan and threaten America," he said.

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