WASHINGTON, D.C. — Against the backdrop of the U.S. decision to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, followed by a decision to formally end its combat mission in Iraq by the end of this year, international concerns have emerged about the implications of those policy changes for the security of the region and the world.
The United Nations issued a report warning of the deterioration of the security situation in Afghanistan as the United States and international forces from e.g. NATO members Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands withdraw.
As the withdrawing U.S. forces continue to launch airstrikes on Taliban strongholds in Afghanistan, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham commenting about the situation, urged President Joe Biden to continue strikes in support of the Afghan central government to ensure they maintain their tactical advantage against the Taliban. The military of the Afghan central government is too weak to seriously stand up to the Taliban.
Graham’s remarks coincided with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Stoltenberg said the security situation in the country remains extremely difficult and requires a negotiated settlement. He also noted that the alliance will continue to support Afghanistan, particularly through funding and training.
#Afghanistan conflict claimed more than 5,000 civilian casualties in first half of 2021, with increase in killed & injured during May-June as int'l troops began departure & Taliban launched offensive, finds UN report released today: https://t.co/k2sAHzc7cW pic.twitter.com/WBzM52SdcI
— UNAMA News (@UNAMAnews) July 26, 2021
In addition, the report warned the Islamic State could exploit the weaknesses of security forces in Syria, Iraq, and increasingly Afghanistan. Intelligence agencies around the world have warned that the unstable political situation in Iraq and Syria will provide the Islamic State with opportunities to consolidate its presence and expand its influence in the region.
Will Europe face a new refugee crisis?
The story will not end with the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces. The radical Islamist Taliban is on the rise and already controls more than half of Afghanistan. This will have humanitarian consequences. The civil war in Syria and the subsequent refugee crisis have shown that the effects of conflicts in faraway regions can also be felt in Europe, especially in Germany, writes WELT correspondent Alfred Hackensberger.
Since the Taliban launched its offensive on May 1, tens of thousands of Afghans have been displaced and their number is increasing by the day. Turkey is an Afghan refugee transit country and some 200,000 Afghan refugees are estimated to be in Turkey now. Many more have been waiting for weeks in the Iran-Turkish border region to make the final transit to Europe. Their desired final destination is Europe. Will Europe face a new refugee crisis?
— Alfred Hackensberger (@hackensberger) July 20, 2021