The US withdrawal from Afghanistan will continue having ramifications in the Middle East, specifically on Israel’s relationship with its allies and enemies. It will impact everything from strategic alliances to security.
The US withdrew from Afghanistan on August 31st, 2021; in less than two weeks, the Taliban gained full control. The Soviet Union and the British forces both left Afghanistan (in 1989 and 2014) after losing a war of attrition and warned the US before it entered the territory, making the withdrawal unsurprising. The US seemed to ignore the warnings and is now suffering the consequences.
Israel has also exited contentious regions and leaving them with a power vacuum. For example, Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in 2005, which led to Hamas gaining control of the area, and the withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 which was a key to Hezbollah gaining territory and a factor of the 2nd Lebanon war in 2006.
Now that the US has left Afghanistan, the Taliban believes they have defeated the United States and NATO. “If the Taliban advances militarily, the region will be burned. This war will not be contained within the borders of Afghanistan,” said Nader Nadery, a senior member of the Afghan Peace Negotiation Team in an interview for CNBC.
This failure of defending the Afghan people and defeating the Taliban leads many countries to deem the U.S as an unreliable source of security. Armin Laschet, the head of Angela Merkel’s conservative party has called this operation “the biggest debacle” in the alliance’s history.”
“Regional actors from the Middle East, Europe, and South Asia may look to Israel as a more reliable and committed ally in facing the various security challenges they are confronted with,” said Adam Hoffman, a researcher at the Dayan Center about the future of Israel, following the U.S withdrawal from Afghanistan.
A country that will likely turn to Israel for aid is India. The countries have a well-developed relationship and the withdrawal will most likely create stronger ties as India may rely on Israel for security and safety aid from then on. “Here, again, Israel may prove to be a more reliable security partner than the United States.” Adam Hoffman.
What does this mean about Israel’s relationship with the United States?
When President Biden and Prime Minister Bennett met on August 27th, Biden yet again managed to prove that Israel is still high in his priority list.
“Because the situation in Afghanistan doesn’t really have a direct impact on US-Israel relationship, it’s not something that either side said came up in their meeting,” said Lahav Harkov, Diplomatic Correspondent at The Jerusalem Post in an interview with Fresh Ink. “Bennet was supposed to meet with Biden on a Thursday and right before the meeting took place there was an ISIS bombing at the Kabul airport. Due to the attack, Bennet’s meeting was postponed by a day, so it really overshadowed the meeting in many ways” adds Harkov, “the fact that the Biden administration still met with Bennet, still gave him the full honors of the meeting in the Oval Office, showed that even in a time of crisis they were prioritizing the US-Israel relationship.”
While the US-Israel relationship continues to be strong, the fact that the US looks unreliable in front of its allies and enemies will have a lasting effect on global politics.