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US troops towards former Soviet Republics and China

Al Qaeda, US President Joe Biden, Taliban, Islamic State's Khorasan chapter, ISIS in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, China, Russia, Soviet Union, Chechnya, Xinjiang, Afghan government

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US troops towards former Soviet Republics and China

US President Joe Biden is on the process of withdrawing American forces from Afghanistan. With the US military’s withdrawal from the country reaches its final states, the Islamic State’s Khorasan chapter remains a serious threat, while according to counterterrorism experts, Afghanistan may now witness rise of other militancy forces from the helms of Taliban as well Al Qaeda. Commenting on the consequence of withdrawing troops, John T. Godfrey, the acting US Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS told reporters, the Islamic State group’s presence in Afghanistan, thought to be severely diminished just a few years ago, is far from completely eradicated.

“Regarding the ISIS-Khorasan branch in Afghanistan, it is a group that we have been focused on for some time. We assess that it constitutes a serious threat. It’s one that we’ve certainly been focused on,” said Godfrey, who also serves as acting coordinator of counterterrorism in the State Department. “And I think that the assessment … by U.S. military leadership of the potential for that group to reconstitute capability within two years is consistent with what we’ve heard from other quarters of the U.S. government, so I think we would echo that”.

The particular threat of ISIS in Afghanistan, meanwhile, is one that cannot be ignored, Godfrey said. While the Taliban remains the largest threat to the Afghan government and has waged offenses against ISIS-Khorasan in the past, the Islamic State has shown a capability for resilience, both in Afghanistan and more broadly.

“They remain quite persistent and quite patient in terms of trying to reconstitute capability and reassert some level of presence, and in some cases control, in areas where they’ve previously suffered setbacks,” Godfrey said.

And while the organization as a whole retains hopes of re-establishing a territorial caliphate in Iraq and Syria, it continues to increase its presence in other Asian and African countries, Godfrey said. That marked a key emphasis in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS’s Ministerial in Rome on June 28.

“One of the things I think is interesting about that is that they have managed to devolve some level of authority to those local wilayat in terms of organization, revenue generation, and in some cases, the authority to plot and execute attacks,” Godfrey said. “And that, I think, is something that is quite troubling and that we remain quite focused on.”

While American troops are being withdrawn from Afghanistan, concerns over the stability of the Afghan government have also significantly increased, news reports, the formal withdrawal of US forces could be complete in a matter of days, though details on where forces will be stationed long-term have yet to be publicly shared.

Meanwhile, Gen. Austin S. Miller, commander of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, offered a bleak assessment of the situation June 29, warning of a potential civil war in Afghanistan.

Some analysts say, US is shifting its base from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan, as Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III met with Uzbekistan Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulaziz Kamilov at the Pentagon on July 1, 2021. Uzbekistan shares a border with Afghanistan and has reportedly already been approached by US officials about potentially letting American forces use bases in the region. Once Washington succeeds in shifting its Afghan base to Uzbekistan, it actually will gain access to China through Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. This is a strategic position for the US troops which is relatively close to Moscow and still close to Beijing.

Although this seems like a mere troop withdrawal, this is in fact a big strategic decision to bring the US troops closer to the China, particularly Xinjiang. Just as the Soviet invasion had once stirred terrorism in Afghanistan, the relocation of US troops may start a course of action that will spread the terrorism virus from Afghanistan to Xinjiang and Chechnya regions.

For the American troops, shifting to Uzbekistan will open a new window of communication with Ukraine. As the US troops will now be based at the heart of the former Soviet Union, it will be easier to counter the growing influence of Turkey and Iran in this region. This will eventually give rise to new militancy groups, like the Taliban, in Xinjiang, Chechnya and the Muslim-majority regions of the former Soviet Union.

Although Joe Biden publicly advocates for arms control, in my opinion, it is his policy for the United States only. For other countries, he is advancing towards expanding the prospect of sales of American weapons to respective newer militancy groups. It is possible that the sales of American weapons in Afghanistan may have become a regular business which will continue for decades, which is why Biden administration is now looking for newer avenues for their arms trade. Moreover, USA needed Pakistan’s help for the sale of arms in Afghanistan, and Pakistan had been milking the US for long in this business. Now that the US troops are moving to Uzbekistan, America and terrorism will no longer remain as Pakistan’s cash-cow.

Shifting of American troops to Uzbekistan is extremely important for geopolitical and geostrategic game plan in that part of the world. New militancy groups shall certainly show up sooner or later.

Take my bet!

An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counter-terrorism specialist, and editor of Blitz. Follow his on Twitter Salah_Shoaib

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