The world has yet to recover from the sweeping shock of the Taliban’s effortless ascendance to the peak of power in Afghanistan, following a haste and chaotic withdrawal of the United States and NATO troops, in mid-August. The quickly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, exposed the entire world, especially the Muslim-majority Arab countries, to an infinite number of security threats. Most of these threats are posed by internal actors.
The official statements voiced in reaction to the quickly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, by the leaders of the international community, and Afghanistan’s regional neighbors in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, clearly exhibit a state of confusion and apprehension. One day they express “optimism” about the Taliban’s fake promises to respect women’s rights and abstain from terrorizing civilians. Then, the next day, the same officials expressed concern over the Taliban’s mistreatment of women and their shameful record of violating basic human rights under the flag of their so-called Jihad and Sharia.
The general public in Western countries has been applying tremendous pressure on their political leaders to avert their initial unjustifiable optimistic reaction towards the Taliban. Even in the United States, the majority of social and traditional media is frying President Biden and his Administration for inaccurate statements about giving the Taliban a chance because the “new Taliban is different from the old Taliban” and that Taliban rule is what the Afghan people want. The tens of thousands of Afghan citizens who have been jamming Kabul Airport, for over a week, and clinging to planes coming out of the country is the most obvious proof that the Afghan people are scared of the Taliban and, of course, they do not want to live under their rule.
Availing the space for the violent extremist group of Taliban to, once again, dominate Afghanistan, the land that offered a hotbed to terrorists for decades, ensues an infinite number of international security threats. The menace of reviving old terrorist organizations, such as Al-Qaeda, is the least of them.
Other bigger worrying threats include encouraging political Islamist organizations, and the sympathizers of extremist Salafist groups, operating in different Arab countries, to copy the Taliban’s experience in Afghanistan, by using violence to rebel against their regimes. Arab countries with weak political systems and defunct militaries, such as Syria and Iraq, are particularly prone to such a terrible scenario. However, the Arab Gulf countries, which remained intact throughout the Arab Spring, are also under a huge threat. That is not only because of their geographic proximity to the trouble area in Afghanistan and Iran but also because their Muslim-majority citizens are easily fooled by the Islamists’ extremist rhetoric on Jihad and Sharia.
In my own country, Egypt, which has been fighting against Al-Qaeda and ISIS terrorism for years, there is a large segment of people who are shamelessly showing support to the Taliban. The majority of them are sympathizers or members of Islamist organizations, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists. They believe that the Taliban’s rise in Afghanistan is going to revive their movements in the Middle East, as the rhetoric supporting Jihad and Sharia will intensify, and thus give them political leverage by renewing their legitimacy in the eyes of the public.
However, what I found personally shocking is the Egyptian intellectuals, who belong to the left, and yet they are applauding the Taliban’s rise to power. They see the violent extremist militia of the Taliban as a “resistance movement against American Imperialism.” Their ideological hatred of the United States is blinding them from seeing the ugly reality of the Taliban. They reminded me of the many Arab writers, mostly leftists too, who with a bare face applauded Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda for the 9/11 attacks. In a vicious discussion with one of them, he told me that the Taliban is going to make Afghanistan similar to the old version of Saudi Arabia, and then by time, they will become more modernized as Saudi Arabia has become today. The completely unrealistic and illogical comparison left me speechless.
Taliban’s extremist ideology is too strong to abandon, under political pressures from the international community. Sooner or later, the Taliban will show the world its real ugly face. It will turn Afghanistan into a piece of hell and its scattered lava will fly high and far to burn as many countries as possible. Sadly, Muslim-majority Arab countries, especially those inhabiting sympathizers to the Taliban’s extremist rhetoric, are going to be the first victims.
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