Al-Qaeda ‘will come back’ as Afghanistan heads for civil war: UK minister


Taliban fighters stand on a vehicle along the roadside in Kandahar on August 13, 2021.

– | AFP | Getty Images

Al-Qaeda is likely to have a resurgence as Afghan regions fall to the Taliban, Britain’s defense minister warned Friday.

Speaking to Sky News, Ben Wallace said he’s “absolutely worried” that unstable nations like Afghanistan are “breeding grounds” for militant groups.

“It’s why I said I felt this was not the right time or decision to make,” Wallace added, referring to the withdrawal of American and allied troops from the country. “Because al-Qaeda will probably come back.”

He told Sky News that “failed states” around the world — such as Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia — lead to instability that fuels terrorist organizations.

“The West has to learn that you don’t fix problems, you manage problems,” Wallace said. “You have to go into a country and manage it, there’s no such thing as an instant fix.”

Wallace also warned on Friday that Afghanistan’s fragile state meant it was at risk of teetering into a civil war.

“Britain found out in the 1830s that it is a country led by warlords and led by different provinces and tribes, and you end up, if you’re not very careful, in a civil war,” he told the BBC. “I think we’re heading towards a civil war, initially shown by a Taliban with momentum.”

In April, the White House confirmed that the U.S. would end its military operation in Afghanistan and withdraw all military personnel from the country by Sept. 11.

The Biden administration is set to deploy 3,000 American troops to the war-torn country to assist with the repatriation of workers at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital.

The embassy has been urging American citizens to leave the country immediately, as the Taliban continues to make rapid moves to regain the power it lost to U.S.-led forces.

Most British troops left Afghanistan last month, but around 600 will be sent to the country to help British nationals leave.

Since the U.S. began winding down its Afghan operation, the Taliban — which seeks to enforce an austere version of Islamic law — has been seizing new territory on an almost daily basis.

Three of Afghanistan’s southern provincial capitals were lost after heavy fighting on Friday, AP reported.

The Taliban, which have taken control of more than a dozen of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals since Aug. 6, now controls more than two-thirds of the country.

On Thursday, Herat — the country’s third largest city — fell to the Taliban, followed by second-biggest city Kandahar, the BBC reported.

The Taliban’s rise to power in the 1990s assisted with the growth of al-Qaeda, the terror cell that emerged in the same decade and was provided a base by the Taliban to plan the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The attacks prompted the initial U.S. invasion of Afghanistan nearly 20 years ago.

U.S. officials told NBC News on Wednesday that they were worried about the potential resurgence of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Last year, former U.S. President Donald Trump made a deal with the Taliban that he claimed would bring peace to Afghanistan after almost two decades of war. On Friday, the U.K.’s Wallace slammed that agreement as “a rotten deal.”

– CNBC’s Natasha Turak contributed to this article.



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