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Weekly Update: US capitulates to Taliban in Afghanistan – emergence of a new Middle East?

19 August 2021

The dramatic capitulation of the United States to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan this week signals the end of decades of US hegemony in the region, and the beginning of a new era of great geo-political instability.

The 20 year campaign that cost the US alone US $83 billion failed to achieve either of its goals: destruction of Al-Qaida and its allies, and the rebuilding of Afghanistan into a democratic state. Instead, Afghanistan has collapsed, the Taliban has returned to power, and Al-Qaida has not been eradicated.

Middle East analysts are grappling to understand what this all means.

Some initial observations. First, the Taliban take-over opens the door for groups like Al Qaida and ISIS and other extremist Islamist forces to gain footholds not only in Afghanistan but also throughout the region of the Middle East, Central Asia and (northern) Africa. It remains to be seen how the Taliban will manage its relationship with Al-Qaida and ISIS, but Afghanistan could now potentially provide a haven for these jihadist movements to pursue their existential war against everything that the United States stands for: freedom, democracy and Judeo-Christian values.

Second, as Yochanan Visser observes, the Afghanistan debacle shows the war on terror is an existential war which can only be ended by military victory; “only the utter defeat of its enemies can prevent future terror and war”.

Third, a new balance of power is being created, in which the “West” is increasingly isolated and emasculated. Already, anti-Western powers like China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey, smelling the sweet bloody odors of the US-defeat, are circling Afghanistan like vultures ready to swoop and take their prey. This needs to be seen in light of the vacuum already being created in many other countries in the region, such as Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Libya.

Fourth, it seems the US and many Western nations are either unaware of the depth and nature of this crisis, and/or hold the view that the war can be managed through diplomatic and other non-military means.

Fifth, all of this has huge implications for Israel. Amongst other things, US withdrawal from the region will inevitably enable regimes like Iran that are hostile towards Israel, and violent anti-Israel groups like Al-Qaida, to increase their influence in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon. The impact on Israel’s friends in the region such as Jordan, Egypt and UAE who are more or less allied to Western interests remain to be seen. For sure, Israel can no longer assume it can rely on the United States or any other Western ally to defend her. Israel stands increasingly alone, and needs to forge her own strategy for managing these threats.

In the midst of chaos and confusion, let us not be downcast, but put our trust in the One who watches over Israel and neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:4).

The Editorial team

Israel & Christians Today

The Taliban Victory and the Lessons for Israel

Yochanan Visser writes for Israel Today: Israel needs to understand what the US no longer does: Only the utter defeat of its enemies can prevent future terror and war.
> Read more..

Unpredictable consequences from the Afghan crisis

Seth J. Frantzman writes in JPost: “The long term consequence may be that the Afghan War symbolizes a global shift away from US power. The US became a global hegemon in the wake of the Second World War and Cold War and that has led to the construction of an American world order based around US allies and partners from South Korea to Israel, from NATO to US bases that used to be in place like Afghanistan.

(…) Insurgent and proxy groups backed by Iran, Turkey or others may increase global chaos in some places and quietly eat away at liberal international structures.”
> Read more..

Who are the Taliban who conquered Afghanistan?

Dr.James M. Dorsey writes at BESA: “The Taliban have so far however left unaddressed their relationship with terrorist groups in Afghanistan such as al-Qaeda, a key factor in the way they will be perceived by all segments of the international community.”
> Read more..

Counter-terrorism expert: ‘Taliban has alliances with Islamist forces in Syria’

According to Yaakov Lapin in JNS, Senior researcher at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism Michael Barak said that Al-Qaeda’s propaganda chatter has risen dramatically along with the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. “Al Qaeda is on the rise due to events in Afghanistan,” said Barak. “Despite the Taliban’s denial of an alliance with Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, this claim is false, with the Taliban harboring some 400 Al-Qaeda operatives in the country.”
> Read more..

Increased Iranian assertion in the region 

Jonathan Spyer writes about the recent murder of Mousa Babakhani, a leading figure in an Iranian opposition party, who was found dead early August in a hotel room in the Iraqi Kurdish capital city of Erbil. According to Spyer, “there is a  pattern of increased Iranian assertion across a number of files and locations in the region in recent weeks.”
> Read more..


Yeshua the Messiah | Video series on
Romans 9-11 with Johannes Gerloff 

To us, the wishes of Paul, Moses and Jeremiah expressed in discussions with the one, true and only God seem to be absolutely unbalanced, even crazy. From a biblical point of view, they mirror what the Messiah Yeshua – Gentile believers use to call him Jesus Christ – actually not just prayed, but lived.

 

Scripture for the week: Luke 21:7-38

“Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”

He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”

10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.

12 “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 And so you will bear testimony to me. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish.19 Stand firm, and you will win life.

20 “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22 For this is the time of punishmentin fulfillment of all that has been written. 23 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

29 He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees.30 When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

32 “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

37 Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, 38 and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.