It looks as if terrorist organizations in the Middle East are taking complete advantage of the CoronaVirus global pandemic crisis. Should we be surprised? Well, no, but you might be somewhat surprised to what extent. In fact, the Taliban’s efforts to propel its agenda in the middle of this Covid-19 crisis is quite troubling indeed. Perhaps we should discuss this for a moment, shall we?
We must remember that many of these terrorist organizations believe they are fulfilling their self-righteous religious duties to rid the world of the enemy. In this case, the enemy is the West and its view of how the world should be organized. Thus, we shouldn’t be surprised that the Taliban or any other radical Islamic terrorist group is taking advantage of the CoronaVirus outbreak. This is throwing a curveball in the Trump Administration’s attempt to get the Taliban to join in the political process in Afghanistan. This, of course, is the goal of bringing a rebel organization, terrorist group, or a guerilla-style undermining of government to the negotiating table.
It’s hard enough to bring such groups to peace talks, and with the CoronaVirus it’s just that much harder. Plus, when such loosely formed organizations are under stress in their ranks, they bond with a mutual enemy, again, the West. No one is going to agree to 50-people in a room to bring tribal leaders and the Taliban leadership together. No one in the Afghanistan government wishes to have that kind of a group meeting of the minds at this time of crisis either. Further negotiations between the U.S., Afghanistan and the Taliban are temporarily, perhaps permanently on hold.
As of the writing of this article, Pakistan has had a surge in Covid-19 infections and deaths, and Iran has over 45,000 infected with significant death tolls, and those two countries along with China are bordering Afghanistan. You can see why there is trepidation from both sides to get together right now. Still, this window of opportunity might be closing, the longer the CoronaVirus challenge goes on. Meanwhile, the U.S. as promised has started drawing down its 8600 troops, as part of the pre-agreement, but also due to the virus spread.
Terrorist groups are following Iran’s lead in spreading conspiracy theories that the U.S. is spreading the virus. This too has hurt any potential negotiation progress. Both ISIS and al-Qaeda are doing the same, claiming that the U.S. started the Covid-19 virus and God’s wrath is sending it back to attack them as well. A perfect storyline of conspiracy to further divide any potential mutual interests needed to reach peace in the Middle East, which many believe is unattainable anyway.
The Taliban is telling the people that the Afghanistan Government is incompetent and that only the Taliban can protect the people from the bioterrorism virus of the West and the encroachment of the West on their land reports terrorism and foreign policy experts at the Atlantic. The Afghanistan government is indeed weak and it only has some healthcare available and doesn’t control much of the country, most of the rural areas are controlled by the Taliban and other groups.
Afghanistan is made up of 407 districts which the government only really controls about 130 of them, while the Taliban controls some 190 of them, the rest are disputed areas. The rest of the districts could be classified as out of control suggest the most well informed foreign policy thinkers and experts on international terrorism.
As far as the U.S. Army handbook on Guerilla and Asymmetrical Warfare, the Taliban is doing everything right, as they are making a mockery of the Afghanistan Government, NATO, and U.S. involvement during this CoronaVirus crisis note the experts on diplomatic policy, terrorism, and the Middle East. The Taliban won’t be able to conquer the virus pandemic either, but their narrative and conspiracy theories seem to be winning the day in the minds of the Afghan people, or at least it is sure looking that way.
The WHO (World Health Organization) has its hands full, and many other locations of severe outbreaks to deal with. They can’t make a meaningful attempt to stem the spread of the virus in Afghanistan and the organization is stretched too thin as it is right now, explains non-profit foreign policy experts on terrorism think tanks like the FDD. Additionally, sending in volunteers at a time when the peace talks have been all but called off is dangerous and could lead to more bloodshed. There is not the military strength and numbers available to police the streets and guard healthcare volunteers.
When the dust settles over this global pandemic, it’s hard to say where the U.S. will stand as far as their power base inside Afghanistan or even if the current Afghan Government will survive. If the Taliban sees it falling, they will move in and seize the opportunity according to reports and information from leading diplomatic researchers and international terrorism experts. After all, this is a common theme throughout the Middle East. It’s part of the Islamic Terrorism 101 handbook. So, right now things are in limbo, but we risk losing all our previous hard-fought gains.