US’ Afghanistan Plan Under the Shadow of the Civil War Scenarios: The Possibility of a Federation

In the analysis published on CNN International on 30 April 2021 and written by Nic Robertson, it was alleged that Al Qaeda had “declared war on all fronts” against the USA and Robertson based this claim on the meeting of CNN officials with the representatives of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. [1] The aforementioned claim heralds that the sleeping Al-Qaeda cells will be activated again in Afghanistan. This shows that violence will escalate in the country which is mentioned with civil war scenarios.

As it is known, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were organized by the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda and the United States of America (USA) ground its intervention in Afghanistan on the linkage between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Therefore, currently the Washington administration demands that the Taliban terminate its links with this terrorist organization. Despite this, it is tenable that the linkage between the Taliban and the terrorist organization continues and will continue.

Considering this framework, the statement that is reported to come from Al-Qaeda is meaningful in terms of its timing. Because the Taliban asked the USA and its allies to withdraw from Afghanistan by May 1, 2021 on the basis of the Doha Agreement signed on February 29, 2020. However, the schedule for withdrawal set forth with this agreement signed during the Donald Trump period was modified after Joe Biden became President of the USA. The Biden administration decided to postpone the withdrawal of American elements from Afghanistan and announced that the withdrawal would be completed by September 11, 2021. Taliban, on the other hand, describes this situation as “the reason for war”. On May 2, 2021, the Taliban announced that “action path has been opened”. [2]

When the Taliban’s approach to the issue is considered along with the statement of the terrorist organization Al Qaeda, it is predictable that American elements will be targeted in Afghanistan, in the coming period. This situation may have an impact that legitimizes the stay of American troops in the region. Perhaps the Washington administration desires exactly that. Because, if the attacks begin, the instability in the country will increase, and it reveals that the Taliban will want to take over by using violence. This environment of insecurity can also create a political atmosphere that overlaps with the demands of the Kabul administration. As a matter of fact, Kabul thinks that if the USA withdraws, it may cause similar developments following the Soviet invasion to occur. In this sense, President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, warned that if the American elements withdrew, a civil war could begin. In other words, as reflected by the statement of Al-Qaeda, it is possible that terrorist attacks will increase in Afghanistan. However, this situation will constitute a convenient and relatively legitimate ground for the USA in order to maintain its presence in the country.

Considering the statements from American decision makers, it is observed that both Biden and the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken point to the civil war, albeit in different tones. It is very engrossing that the USA is going to start to implement the withdrawal calendar, which will be completed on September 11, 2021 in such an environment. Because the alarm bells are ringing for civil war and the withdrawal process, which is tried to be applied during such days, recalls for the “Iraq” scenario.

As it will be remembered, after the US withdrawal from Iraq, the power vacuum in the country was filled by the terrorist organization State in Iraq and the Levant (DAESH). Turning this into an opportunity, the USA both returned to Iraq and placed its presence here on a more institutional basis. The statements of Biden and Blinken accounting that a civil war is likely to break out and that the decision of withdrawal will be implemented despite this possibility points out that there may be similar developments in Afghanistan as happened in Iraq.

Moreover, not only Biden, Blinken, Kabul Administration, Al-Qaeda terrorist organization and Taliban speak out about the possibility of civil war in Afghanistan; it also referred by the names known as warlords. Moreover, it is observed that these names formed militia groups and declared that they would fight if the Taliban started violent acts.

In short, all de facto actors in Afghanistan say different things yet all point at civil war. [3]  This situation can be addressed in three scenarios for the USA:

  1. The first possibility is that the Washington administration wants to use the tension, that is going to escalate by May, in order to gain a legitimate basis to stay in Afghanistan for many more years.
  2. The second possibility is that the USA, who terminated its presence in Afghanistan by completing its withdrawal by September 11, 2021, will return to region much stronger in the future with the pretext of fighting against terrorism.
  3. Third, less pronounced; But perhaps the scenario, which is the basic plan of the USA, is to led civil wars to dominate Afghanistan and consequentially create an environment for an Afghanistan state that transforms into a federation in the long run. In the current situation, it is seen that grassroots of the Taliban in society is not as strong as before and the authority of the Kabul administration is weakening day by day. Preparations of militia structures may result in a political structure in which various regions are governed by different groups in the medium and long term. Moreover, it is claimed that the Afghan people support the militia structures established in their regions and bears the idea to resist the Taliban. Undoubtedly, such an environment will greatly serve the macro goals of the USA in terms of destabilizing the Belt and Road Initiative. In addition, the third scenario is not only harms China; it will also harm Russia through instability, radicalization and the spread of proxy wars.

This whole picture reveals that civil war in Afghanistan is becoming a much stronger possibility every day. In this environment, it is wondered which scenario the USA will prefer. Although it is not possible to give a clear answer to these possibilities, the third scenario, which is less pronounced, is quite likely to be the main plan of the USA.


[1] Nic Robertson, Al Qaeda Promises ‘War on All Fronts’ Against America as Biden Pulls Out of Afghanistan”, CNN, https://edition.cnn.com/2021/04/30/asia/al-qaeda-afghanistan-biden-intl-cmd/index.html, (Erişim Tarihi: 30.04.2021).

[2] “Afganistan’dan Çekilmeyi Erteleyen ABD’ye Taliban’dan Tehdit: Eylem Yolu Açıldı”, Euronews, https://tr.euronews.com/2021/05/02/afganistan-dan-cekilmeyi-erteleyen-abd-ye-taliban-dan-tehdit-eylem-yolu-ac-ld?utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1619947446, (Erişim Tarihi: 02.05.2021).

[3] Wahida Paikan, “امرالله صالح: قدرت را به یک گروه کوچک واگذار نخواهیم کرد(Amrullah Saleh, non habemus potestatem tradamus ad parva coetus)”, Independent Persian, https://bit.ly/3xFpyr9, (Erişim Tarihi: 29.04.2021).

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