Republican Senator Lindsey Graham made an ominous prediction on Sunday when he said the US will be re-deploying troops into Afghanistan ‘like we went back into Iraq and Syria’ because the Taliban will turn the conflict-ridden country into a ‘safe haven’ for radical Islamists.
‘They’re going to give safe haven to Al Qaeda, who has ambitions to drive us out of the Mideast writ large and attack us because of our way of life,’ Graham said on the BBC.
‘We will be going back into Afghanistan like we went back into Iraq and Syria.’
Graham’s remarks came less than a week after the US completed its military evacuation from the country and ended its 20-year engagement in America’s longest war.
‘Hang on – you seriously think the United States will once again in the forseeable future put troops back into Afghanistan?’ BBC host Stephen Sackur pressed.
‘We’ll have to,’ Graham answered. ‘We’ll have to because the threat will be so large.’
Lindsey Graham said the US will and should return to Afghanistan less than a week after the US military completed its evacuation from Kabul
‘Why did we go back to Syria and Iraq? Why do we have 5,000 troops in Iraq today? Because of the caliphate rising, projecting force outside of Iraq, killing Americans, killing the French, attacking the British.’
The South Carolina senator said Afghanistan will soon be ‘a cauldron for radical Islamic behavior.’
Taliban officials have repeatedly sought to project a relatively more modern, revitalized image to the world in their quest for international legitimacy.
In a peace deal struck under former President Donald Trump in 2019, the Taliban pledged it wouldn’t allow terrorist groups to grow and pose a threat to western forces.
Since taking Afghanistan the Taliban promised blanket amnesty to people who worked with the US government and said women would have freedom to hold jobs and go to school.
But grim reports of targeted killings, including the murder of a pregnant Afghan policewoman, reflect brutal treatment and little mercy.
The Taliban promised a more modern, peaceful rule compared to their brutal reign over Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001
Taliban special forces fighters stand guard outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport
And the return of a top Al Qaeda associate to his hometown in Afghanistan after 20 years on the run indicates the Taliban may turn a blind eye to its rebuilding effort.
Amin ul-Haq, a top Al Qaeda arms supplier, returned to his hometown in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province on Monday just over two weeks after the Taliban completed its lightening fast offensive to take over nearly all of the country.
‘The Taliban are not reformed, they’re not new, they have a view of the world out of sync with modern times, they’re going to impose a lifestyle on the Afghan people that I think is going to make us all sick to our stomach,’ Graham said on Sunday.
He suggested the US start aiding the National Resistance Front in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley, which until today was the last remaining region not under Taliban rule.
The Taliban claimed victory in the province but resistance fighters disputed that and said they will continue defending their land.
‘You cannot deal with this over the horizon,’ Graham warned.
Taliban fighters stand guard at a checkpoint near the US embassy that was previously manned by American troops
He expressed doubt the Taliban would remain in control of Afghanistan because he said they are ‘hated by the Afghan people.’
Combining that with the growing threat of ISIS-K, the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, Graham predicted the country and the government the Taliban is trying to build would soon collapse.
‘The entire country is going to fracture in the next year, creating a perfect storm for western interests to be attacked,’ he said.
ISIS-K took responsibility for the devastating attack outside of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul as evacuations were underway. A suicide bomber targeting US and Taliban forces as well as civilians set off an explosion that killed 170 Afghans and 13 US service members.
It was the deadliest attack on US forces in the region since 2011.
And Graham believes it’ll only get worse.
‘You can do one of two things – say thats no longer my problem, let it build, or hit them before they hit you,’ he said.
Meanwhile, the US military withdrawal from Kabul was completed a week ago, and efforts to rescue American citizens still stuck in Afghanistan has reached an impasse with reports that six private charter planes sent there to evacuate at least 1,000 people have been grounded in an Afghan city 260 miles north of Kabul.
This handout satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows satellite imagery of the Mazar-i-Sharif and grounded planes at the airport in northern Afghanistan on September 3
The flights were chartered by Mercury One, a charity founded by right-wing commentator Glenn Beck, Newsweek reports.
Beck’s fleet of two Airbus 340s and four Boeing 737s from Kam Air are sitting empty in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif as their passengers – including at least 142 Americans.
One NGO official told Newsweek the remaining passengers are special immigrant visa applicants and that everyone is ‘waiting in their safe houses for clearance for takeoff from the Taliban’ amid the diplomatic stalemate.
The evacuation flights reportedly cost Beck’s charity $750,000 each.
Harshbarger on Monday said now is the time for Biden to be ‘on the job 100%.’
‘We have people still in Afghanistan, they won’t let our planes leave,’ she said.
On Sunday, Reuters reported that the delay had been caused by Biden administration officials not telling Taliban leaders it had approved the departures of the chartered flights from Mazar-i-Sharif.