Kabul Blasts Give Biden Administration Bloody Nose, May Affect 2022 Midterms Outcome, Observers Say
14:00 GMT 28.08.2021 (Updated: 13:23 GMT 06.08.2022)
A series of explosions which happened outside Kabul Airport on 26 August killed over 170 people, including 13 American military servicemen and 28 Taliban* fighters, amid NATO countries' evacuation effort. Daesh-K* (ISIS-K*) has claimed responsibility for the attack. Will the US return to the country to retaliate?
In the aftermath of the suicide bombing near Kabul Airport, US President Joe Biden has pledged to hunt down Daesh-K* to make them pay for the loss of American lives. For their part, leaders of the UK, France, and Germany have condemned the attack and vowed to coordinate on the emerging challenges amid the evacuation effort. Earlier, G7 states called upon Biden to extend the withdrawal deadline, but the US president opted to stick to 31 August.
US' NATO Allies Deeply Disappointed
"It's a tragedy," says Jeffrey Addicot, a retired US Army lieutenant colonel and expert in national security law at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio. "But my first impression, of course, was this is the consequence of having an artificial deadline to withdraw from the country. And so, our military planners had to comply with what the commander in chief wanted to do, and that's where we're at. So we're in a very difficult situation right now and we're trying to make the best of it in terms of rescuing US citizens and other individuals that want to depart Afghanistan."
The hasty US withdrawal amid the Taliban takeover has prompted criticism from European policy-makers and the EU leadership. Washington's European NATO allies are "very disappointed" that the Biden administration did not provide "a meaningful plan" to withdraw from Afghanistan, assist the Afghan government to stay in power, and prevent the Taliban* from grabbing huge stockpiles of Western-made weapons, according to the retired lieutenant colonel.
"The United Kingdom has made it very clear that it is disappointed with the Biden administration's handling of this entire affair and so that obviously is not a good thing for future relationships," he points out.
Just in a few days, Washington "rattled the trust of the allies that we've had and built relationships with in the past," echoes Alex Stoval, an army reservist chaplain and Arizona congressional candidate.
'As of Yet US Has No Intention of Going Back to Afghanistan'
Biden's pledge to retaliate has raised questions over the US' future in the Central Asian state. On Friday, Former US Defence Secretary and CIA Chief Leon Panetta told CNN that the US is "going back"
to "get ISIS [Daesh]" and will "probably have to go back in when al-Qaeda resurrects itself." Earlier, during a June Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley suggested that al-Qaeda is likely to regroup in two years in Afghanistan after the US withdrawal.
"Obviously, there's not going to be a response [to Daesh-K] before 31 August," believes Jeffrey Addicot. "So we're going to have to rely on our intelligence assets to determine who is behind this heinous attack and then respond with the appropriate proportional force."
At the same time, the retired lieutenant colonel ruled out the resumption of a full-scale military campaign in Afghanistan in the near future.
"We're not going to be going back into the country militarily, in my opinion, unless we can trace an attack from the Taliban to the United States," he notes. "So if that occurs, then we'll assess it. But at the current time, right now, I think when we leave in the next couple of days, we have no intention of going back into the country."
Kabul Tragedy Adds Insult to Dems' Injury
The tragedy near Kabul Airport has triggered a new wave of criticism against the Biden administration, which is already struggling to deal with negative coverage of the "botched" pullout from Afghanistan
to conservative media outlet The Daily Wire, elected Republicans, conservatives, and liberal journalists are lambasting President Biden, who remained silent for hours after the blasts.
The House GOP Twitter account accused
Biden of "hiding" from the American people for at least five hours after the deadly attack. "President Biden has to give a speech in response to today’s tragic events, and has to answer direct questions," tweeted
journalist Ian Bremmer. For her part, Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn called for impeaching the president.
Ironically, it was former President Donald Trump who offered condolences to the families of those killed in the Kabul attack before the incumbent president broke the silence, according
to The Daily Wire.
"I'm not a politician but I can tell you that most of the people that I know, particularly in the military and in my community, are disappointed not with the fact that we're leaving Afghanistan, but in the way that this president planned and executed our departure from the country," notes Jeffrey Addicot. "I think most Americans are disappointed, whether they're Democrats or Republicans."
The unfolding Afghanistan debacle may backfire on the Democratic administration and influence the forthcoming 2022 midterms, argues Alex Stoval. He believes that "more people will vote for policy rather than party, because of the current state of what's going on in the White House." According to Stoval, the Trump administration could have handled the pull-out better than their successors.
"I think it's important that we understand the process and phone calls that we had initially in the previous administrations were going to work," Stoval says. "We stopped the bleeding. We slowed the chaos down by being present, but to pull out like we did, as we did, is going to create a lot of rippling effects that will not only affect this administration but will affect Americans as a whole."
*Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State), Daesh-K (Daesh-Khorasan), al-Qaeda, the Taliban are terrorist organisations banned in Russia and many other states.