‘Al-Qaeda’ Threatens to Continue War, But Group Barely Exists in Afghanistan Anymore

Speculation about tiny remnant still informing overdue pullout

With the May 1 deadline date for pullout from Afghanistan come and gone, the media is paying less attention to the Taliban, with whom the May 1 date was negotiated, and focusing instead on al-Qaeda, which the Afghan War hasn’t been about for many, many years.

Al-Qaeda is still keen to get attention though, and allegedly issued a statement to CNN promising “war on all fronts” against the US. They are taking advantage of the one thing they can still reliably do, which is get media coverage.

This necessarily means a focus on the possibility of an al-Qaeda comeback. Decades of fear has driven US foreign policy, but as a practical matter, al-Qaeda hasn’t been a functioning force in Afghanistan in a long time, and estimates of 400 to 600 fighters remaining in Afghanistan, which came from the UN Security Council, are almost certainly on the high side.

The threat from al-Qaeda is broadly in the minds of hawks looking for an excuse to continue America’s wars. The media coverage tries to reassure that the group’s threat is limited, but even that is putting it mildly, and if common sense on al-Qaeda was really dictating policy, these wars would’ve ended long ago.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.