Hamid Karzai’s allegation of US support to ISIS reinforces suspicions regarding the US presence in the region
To many, the former Afghan President Hamid Karzai may appear to have lost significance since he completed his term as Afghan president. Nevertheless, being a former executive head, he remains an insider to important developments in Afghanistan.
In his latest interview with Russian Television (RT) on October 8, Hamid Karzai alleged that ISIS Afghan chapter was "absolutely" an American construct. He went on to say that the American "unmarked nonmilitary colour helicopters supply these [Daesh] people, not only in one part of the country but in many regions."
Karzai also alleged that on April 13, the American use of mother of all bomb on complex of tunnels and bunkers used by ISIS in Achin district of Nangarhar province in Afghanistan was not meant to defeat terrorists in the country but "…to show to North Korea the US might".
Do these allegations make sense?
The very first question is why would the US need to engender a crisis in Afghanistan? The US needed an excuse, which al Qaeda duly provided, to attack Afghanistan. Obviously, from the outset, when the US attacked Afghanistan, American designs were far larger than simply punishing al Qaeda or the recalcitrant Taliban.
Nevertheless, the validity of the argument that US war on terror was an excuse to secure a long term stay in Afghanistan for reasons other than tackling international terrorism was contingent upon two factors.
First, was the US serious enough to defeat al Qaeda and their protectors, Taliban? The evidence suggests that Washington was more serious in taking on al Qaeda than Taliban as latter were allowed to slip away while Taliban government was collapsing under the weight of invasion back in 2001. Similarly, Washington allowed Taliban to regroup when it diverted its attention from war in Afghanistan to war in Iraq and, as a result, ceded ground to regional states to capitalise on power vacuum.
Second, once al Qaeda was decimated especially after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011, did the US intend to withdraw completely? Of course, it hasn’t shown any such intention.
Don’t Taliban suffice to destabilise Afghan state?
A cohesive militant movement is a nightmare. A divided enemy is a preferable choice. The American plot is to divide not eliminate the enemy. The purpose, which is to stay in Afghanistan, will be defeated if Taliban and militants of their hues are either powerful enough to control urban centres or completely obliterated. Either way, the rationale for American presence will cease to exist. The various splinter groups of Taliban that cropped up in the wake of revelation of Mulla Omer’s death in July 2015 apparently work to the advantage of the US policy in Afghanistan.
A divided Taliban movement has not only fitted one faction fighting against the other but has also offered less as a credible alternative to the US-backed Afghan national government. This way, the rise of ISIS, as a counterweight to Taliban, suits the American policy.
The US policy to engender crisis and capitalise on it has dangerous implications for Afghanistan and the region at large. Firstly, Afghanistan, a place of brewing power struggle among regional states, will remain unstable for foreseeable future. The October 17 devastating assaults on Afghan police and security forces, killing at least 71 people, in Paktia and Ghazni are gruesome reminders to the tragic fact.
Secondly, it has polarised the south and south-west Asian region along pro- and anti-US lines. China, Pakistan, Russia and Iran are nearly on the same page rivaled by the US, India and Afghan national government.
Whether Karzai’s allegation of American support to ISIS is substantiated or not is beside the point, what is important is that these allegations will only reinforce suspicions harboured by regional states regarding the US presence in the region. Not only does the recent past of the US policy in South Asia cast a dark shadow over the veracity of US-led war on international terrorism, skepticism regarding the intentions of a rival state is a norm than an exception in the international political arena. Karzai’s allegations strengthen skepticism. He has cried foul. It makes sense!