Political Observation - European Security Apprehensions Following US Withdrawal from Afghanistan

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Political Observation - European Security Apprehensions Following US Withdrawal from Afghanistan

The events of Afghanistan last week gatecrashed the EU defence ministers’ informal meeting. These events evoked the issue of the European rapid reaction force, which, despite being agreed upon in 2018 and endorsed by NATO in a formula separate from the traditional European defence cooperation in order to accommodate Britain, who had always been averse to establishing a force parallel to NATO, it still lacking the mechanisms of activation which require the consensus of the member states’ leaders, most of whom receive their instructions from the US, such as those Biden met during his last European tour, who blocked Macron’s attempts to build closer relations between the EU and Russia and thwarted Putin’s request to attend a EU summit. Moreover, Italy, Poland, and Denmark have been instrumental in impeding France’s attempts to destabilise or influence the centrality of NATO in European defence and security.

Hence, the US has harnessed the events of Afghanistan and drawn upon the scarecrow of the so-called “terrorism” and illegal migration to corroborate Europe’s impotence and deepen her dependence on the American clout. This was forthrightly expressed by Slovenia’s defence minister who said the setback in Afghanistan had highlighted the EU’s dependence on the US. His statement was seconded by German defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer who said the Europeans were unable to oppose the American decision to withdraw from Afghanistan because they lacked the ability to do so.

For his part, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell told a press conference following the meeting in Slovenia, “Afghanistan has shown that the deficiencies in our strategic autonomy come with a price and that the only way forward is to combine our forces and strengthen not only our capacity, but also our will to act.” He added, “If we want to be able to act autonomously and not to be dependent on the choices made by others – even if these others are our friends and allies - then we have to develop our own capacities.”

This proves that Europe shares with China and Russia the same fears America left them with through her withdrawal from Afghanistan, namely the threat of what they describe as “Islamic terrorism”. It is true the Taliban Movement does not constitute a force that could threaten powers such as China, Russia, and Europe, but it could be recruited once again to act as an incubator and a factory for those they describe as “terrorists", whose operations rattled the cage of the European masses, and were projected as security challenge to their societies and governments, and a threat to their interests, not to mention the threat posed by the presence of an entity embracing a system contradicting international systems, with values different to theirs, and a political model stimulating an Ummah with a message who is yearning to return to her religion in its pure form, independent state, glories, and civilisational heritage. Such a threat represents on the one hand a source of anxiety to the Western world and its civilisation, and an incentive to Western masses to cling to the capitalist systems and lifestyle whose glitter is virtually dissipating, a state of affairs which has been bothersome to Western politicians and intellectuals, and to which the President of the European Council Charles Michel referred on social media by stating that, “the EU and its member states should have a greater weight in the world to defend our interests and values and to protect our citizens.” A senior EU official also stated, “what is in our mind is being able to deploy a rapid intervention force in the event of having for instance a legitimate government in some country, which we fear it would be dominated by a terrorist group.”

However, the European standpoints vis-à-vis the rapid reaction force are but loud wailing and an attempt to save face following the heavy blow Europe has been dealt and after the inability to protect her overseas civil servants has been exposed, while the Americans boasted about having carried out the largest and quickest evacuation operation in the world. Therefore, former President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker commented on the defence cooperation agreement as he urged member states to ratify it, “When France intervenes in Mali, it is European honour they are saving.” The notion of establishing a European rapid reaction force has been unachievable since the beginning of the 1990s, not to mention the “tactical groupings” system of 2007, because the EU has been designed for economic integration rather than political and military union, in order to keep it dependent on the US and under her influence and dominion.

Germany has perceived this reality and decided to proceed in America’s orbit to secure her interests. German defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer set the record straight regarding the notion of activating the European force by saying, “we have to become more independent as Europeans and be able to move more independently. But it is very important that we not act as a substitute for NATO and the Americans."

France was not too far from the German standpoint due to the rivalry between Paris and Berlin despite Macron’s attempts to break free from NATO’s shackles. The initiative of a European force emanates fundamentally from the attempts of French President Emmanuel Macron to turn Paris into a centre for European foreign and security policy, buoyed by the French nuclear deterrent, which EU member states no longer enjoy now that Britain has left the Union, and by Germany’s lack of this deterrent. Germany for her part is attempting to fill the leadership vacuum with the economic clout and political weight she enjoys among EU member states and within European institutions. Macron called for “consolidating European defence cooperation and establishing a cooperation between the armies of the European states that are willing and capable.” This is also what French defence minister Florence Parly expressed by saying, “the Europeans have to be strong and more capable of defending themselves and their sovereignty… Europe is capable of defending her own security.” And in order to thwart the pretexts of the European states averse to establishing a European force parallel to NATO, the French minister said, “France considers the European force as ‘complementary’ to NATO” and “would not affect it”.

As for the US standpoint, it was expressed by State Department Spokesperson Ned Price who told a press briefing, “we continue to believe that a stronger, more capable Europe is in our shared interests…. Given the overlapping transatlantic challenges, we won’t succeed without enhanced NATO-EU cooperation. And that’s something that we continue to strongly support. When the democracies that make up NATO, when the democracies that make up the EU stick together, they constitute a tremendous force for a stable and open international order.” His statement was designed to corroborate the “strategic partnership”, which in fact is the codename for affiliation, and the centrality of NATO in European defence and security.

It is worth noting in this context that the US has engineered her strategy abroad in a manner allowing her to recycle the outputs and feedbacks of her policies and harness them in achieving her aims and serving her interests, just like she did when she involved Turkey and Russia in the Syrian file, and when she involved them together with France in the Libyan file.

Establishing a European force lacking the effectiveness equal to the American power will only lead to confirming Europe’s impotence and decrepitude, and at best, it will shore up the backseat leadership pursued by the Biden administration, and free further American resources, which could be directed towards what is viewed as concerns pertinent to US national security in areas being currently animated in the world, such as the axis of dealing with China, the Middle East, and the Horn of Africa.

This European impotence was acknowledged by the NATO member states who relied on the US air force and logistical services for the two decades they spent in Afghanistan; and then they were forced to withdraw as well. This was expressed by High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell who told the New York Times, “But in the end, the timing and nature of the withdrawal were set in Washington. We Europeans found ourselves — not only for the evacuations out of the Kabul airport but also more broadly — depending on American decisions.”

What is evident in the unfolding events is that America is reminding the Europeans, through the events she fabricates, of their impotence and warning them against stepping out of line or seeking their interests in isolation of her volition, especially that the European initiatives always come under the threats and the uncertainties which America consecrates in respect of European security.

Moreover, the increased Russian interventions and Chinese ambitions in eastern Europe and Africa, coupled with America’s decision to reduce the number of US troops in Europe, withdraw from the intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles agreement, and back Britain’s exit from the EU, all this has led America to corroborate NATO’s role and compel the European states to fulfil their commitment with the minimum defence expenditure of 2% of their GDP.

The Islamic Ummah’s awareness of world politics and the plotting of colonialist powers and her scrutinising of her leaderships and domestic forces, coupled with the Muslims’ standpoints vis-à-vis the events being referred to their Shari'ah, all this will be the definite guarantee to avoid the traps and avert the setbacks visiting them and their lands. If the Taliban Movement’s accession to power in Afghanistan has set the alarm bells ringing in Europe, China, and Russia and led them to take precautionary measures to protect their interests, the more reason the Ummah should bulwark her domestic front through awareness and doctrinism and avoid being overwhelmed by a guided emotion designed to exploit her children as fuel for battles that do not concern them. Following the bomb attacks attributed to ISIS, aka Daesh, in Kabul, which provided America and the Taliban with the pretext to cooperate between them, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley announced that “it's possible the United States will seek to coordinate with the Taliban on counterterrorism strikes in Afghanistan against Islamic State militants or others.” Hence, the Muslims should be wary of what the media, ignoramus, and spies propagate, lest the rivers of blood the West headed by America have burst in the Muslims’ lands should continue to flow.

“And expose the path of the unrighteous.” [al-Ana’am-55]

29 Muharram 1443h

6 September 2021