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As the US-led military coalition’s two-decade presence in Afghanistan ends this month, a majority of the country’s territories are falling back under the control of the radical Islamist Taliban, pushing thousands of civilians and government security forces to seek refuge in neighboring countries, particularly Tajikistan.

Even though Washington continues to reassure the Afghan government that it will resume its airstrikes to support official forces, women, children and the elderly are feeling vulnerable, as they have already been a target of the barbaric militants. Civil war seems to be becoming inevitable, which means that the Taliban will not be the sole threat coming out of Afghanistan.

When the group signed the Doha peace deal with the US in February last year, it vowed to prevent any terrorist groups or individuals from launching attacks against the US, its allies or any other country in the world. But there is no reason to believe that it would ever abandon Al-Qaeda, which was the initial cause of the war.

To win the war against the legitimate Afghan security forces, the Taliban needs as much support as it can get. The fact that Al-Qaeda maintains a presence in about 15 Afghan provinces makes it the best partner to help the Taliban further weaken the Kabul government, easily control the country, and force its own ideology and strict rules on the entire population.

Defending US President Joe Biden’s decision to complete the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, US Department of Defense spokesperson John Kirby emphasized that his country’s goals to deter, dismantle and defeat Al-Qaeda had been accomplished. However, he acknowledged the presence of its operatives and cells. “But they are nothing like the organization they were on 9/11, 20 years ago,” he added.

With the approach of the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Biden’s admission that the conflict in Afghanistan was an “unwinnable war,” the hashtag “The year of running away” was created by Al-Qaeda on its Telegram page to declare its victory over the American “infidels.” It wanted to send a message to its supporters that the time has come to regroup and resume its evil activities. With the radical Islamist leadership reclaiming its traditional safe haven in Afghanistan, it is now ready to rumble.

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