The August 15th events in Afghanistan caught off guard not only the Afghans but much of the rest of the world. Following intensified negotiations between the Taliban and the US government and Biden’s announcement to withdraw troops by 11th September 2021, many Afghans expected a major shift in the country's political landscape, especially the return of the Taliban in some form. However, no one anticipated what transpired on August 15th, which was largely precipitated by former President Ghani's escape.
Very few expected the Taliban to have reformed since they were deposed from their seat of power in 2001. Amid their two decades-long violent campaign to recapture power, the Taliban leaders themselves reached out to the international media describing how they are willing to forsake their earlier obscurantist image that made them unacceptable to the international community.
Last week was a bad week for the Islamic State. In just three days, the organisation lost two leading figures: one in the Sinai, where key commander Abu Hamza Al-Qadi surrendered to Egyptian security forces, and one in the Sahel.
Twenty years ago today, the US was struck by the World Trade Center attacks. Those attacks had a profound effect on many different levels and marked the beginning of the War on Terror — ushering in a US-led military intervention in Afghanistan in 2001 and in Iraq in 2003. Two decades later, the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan has come to an end, as US President Joe Biden has announced the end of America's "longest war" while the Taliban have taken control of Afghanistan once again.
Twenty years have passed since the 9/11 attacks — an event that had wide-ranging implications from different perspectives: on policy-makers’ decisions in domestic and foreign policy; on collective imaginary and on society; and, not last, on the very jihadi movement and its evolution.
The MED This Week newsletter provides expert analyses and informed comments on the most significant developments in the MENA region and beyond, bringing together unique opinions on the topic and reliable foresight on future scenarios. Today, we turn the spotlight on the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, one of the most significant terrorist acts in modern history and probably the single event that has had the most impact on the history of the 21st century, especially for the MENA region.
Why did jihadism go global? To answer this question, researcher Thomas Hegghammer has carried out a remarkable, decade-long, terrific effort, collecting sources and interviews while discovering new data. Such research began when most researchers were interested in analysing the latest jihadist group, and it led him to the historic and ideological paradigms of “the most transnational rebel movement in modern history”.
The fall of Kabul has taken Afghanistan and counterterrorism experts and non-experts alike by surprise. Commentators were quick to draw parallels with the Sahel and cast ominous premonitions on the fate of a region doomed to be next in the “Western clusterfucks agenda”.
The twenty-year war in Afghanistan (2001 to 2021) has come to an end. This latest conflict was shaped by two fronts: a more explicit one, pitting a long-lasting Taliban insurgency against foreign armies and a national government, which the fundamentalist movement deemed illegitimate; and another, less manifest one, embodied in the struggle to counter jihadist terrorism which has taken root in the country and which is pursued by different groups and acronyms.
When al-Qaida perpetrated the 9/11 attacks, the immediate response from within the group, not to speak of the broader militant Islamist movement, was not unanimously positive. Senior leaders including Said al-Adl and Abu Hafs al-Mauritani opposed the strikes out of strategic concerns. Nonetheless, it was the attacks against the US homeland that catapulted al-Qaida from being one among several militant Islamist groups in the region to become the indisputable banner carrier of Jihadis worldwide.
On the 3rd of July 2013, the Egyptian military, supported by a large part of the Egyptian population as well as the judiciary, political opposition, and prominent religious representatives, ended the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood after only one year in power. Supporters of the Muslims Brothers refused this decision and insisted they would remain in the streets to protest these measures. However, after 40 days, the Egyptian security forces intervened and ended these sit-ins in Cairo and Giza.
The MED This Week newsletter provides expert analyses and informed comments on the most significant developments in the MENA region and beyond, bringing together unique opinions on the topic and reliable foresight on future scenarios. Today, we turn the spotlight on Afghanistan, where the Taliban’s rapid military advance has raised doubts about the domestic and regional implications of the US-NATO exit strategy as well as concerns about the country’s future.