With Afghanistan’s Fall, the World is Even Less Stable

August 25, 2021  

In order to understand the last 40 years of Islamic struggle in Afghanistan, up until the hasty withdrawal of American troops, we must first look at the legacy of Abdullah Yusuf Azzam. He was born in a small Palestinian village near Jenin in the West Bank, and moved to Jordan after the 1967 Six-Day War.

He joined the Muslim Brotherhood and orchestrated attacks together with the Palestine Liberation Organization against Israel. After completing his studies at the Al-Azhar University in Egypt and spending a short time in Saudi Arabia, he made his way to Islamabad, where he met the local Mujahideen fighting the Soviets.

A charismatic leader, Azzam led thousands of Muslim volunteers to war, including one of his closest disciple Osama bin Laden. His vision was simple: to “fight and defeat our enemies and establish an Islamic state on a piece of land like Afghanistan… Jihad will spread and Islam will fight Jews in Palestine and establish an Islamic state in Palestine and elsewhere. Then, all these countries will unite into one Islamic state.”

In his vision, which greatly influenced Hamas as well, Azzam marked Islam’s victory in Afghanistan as the starting point of the Islamic struggle, ending in the liberation of Palestine. In this respect, Taliban’s speedy takeover of Afghanistan can be perceived by many as an inspiration to press ahead with the struggle.

The Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan has implications when it comes to Israel. And the United States, which seeks to disengage from the Middle East, must pay attention to these developments too. America used to have a hegemony in the region, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union. That is what prompted Israel’s former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to sign the Oslo Accords, despite the obvious risks.

Back then, it seemed that the world was headed towards more stability. The Arab world was in a state of crisis at the time, which peaked after the US victory in Iraq after the first Gulf War in 1991. America was not only superior because of its technological abilities, but also due to its ability to lead the anti-Iraq coalition, which included Arab forces like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Both PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and King Hussein of Jordan, who supported Iraq, found themselves in a crisis after the Gulf War. This state of affairs is what led to the Oslo Accords.

However, everything has changed since then. The United States is no longer as powerful in the Middle East, while Russia’s role has become more influential. Small and ongoing wars have been breaking out around the world under a new paradigm that has been undermining the new world order: radical Islamic forces – from Afghanistan to Yemen, and from Syria to Libya – have realized that their very inferiority to the West is what gives them the fighting potential to uproot the stability the West so desperately needs. Iran has managed to fully tap this potential through its regional meddling. The world that brought about the Oslo Accords no longer exists, and it is something Prime Minister Naftali Bennett should make clear to the Biden administration during his upcoming trip to Washington.

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