Tyrants across the world are set to exploit America’s weakness following the shambolic fall of Afghanistan, experts warn.
As Joe Biden’s US retreats, countries such as Iran, China, Russia and North Korea are forging ahead with ramping up their military at a pace that until recently would have sparked alarm bells in Washington DC.
After Al-Qaeda hijackers slaughtered nearly 3,000 people on September 11, 2001, the US instantly launched its “war on terror”.
Soon after President George W Bush launched his battle against “weapons of mass destruction” and the “Axis of Evil” which included Iran and North Korea.
But nearly 20 years on, the chaotic fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban has shattered the image of the once invincible US megapower.
Emboldened foes of the West such Russia, China, Iran and North Korea can now smell blood in the water and are circling.
Already, they are racing to create massive weapons arsenals just as American pulls back as the world’s policeman.
Dr Nigel Gould-Davies, a senior analyst with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told The Sun Online, the chaotic fall of Afghanistan would be seen as American weakness.
He said: “Of course if your adversary shows who shows these negative qualities then of course you will take advantage.
“They will feel embolden and try to test whether Americans really do maintain resolve and strength and commitment.”
Dr Gould-Davies, added: “We are entering an unsettled condition. There will be more contests rather than less. It could get quite turbulent for a while.”
“Whether it is a new world order, it might be more like a ‘new world of disorder’.”
Meanwhile, strongmen including Vladimir Putin are flexing their military muscles and bolstering their arsenals.
His navy has now added two more nuke submarines to Russia’s growing arsenal — with missiles capable of wiping out US cities.
Moscow even offered warm words for Afghanistan’s new rulers, with Putin’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, praising the Taliban for “immaculately” upholding its side of the Doha peace agreement.
Relations with the West have plunged to post-Cold War lows after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea.
Fears are now growing for the rest of Ukraine, which run by a pro-West government.
Dr Gould-Davies said there was a “degree of satisfaction and gloating”‘ about the Taliban rout of the US-backed government — and what that shows about the limits of American power.
He said: “Influential voices that are saying well look, this has implications for American resolve and commitment elsewhere.
A case in point, Dr Gould-Davies says, is a hardliner called Nicolia Patrochev, who is a secretary at the Russian security council.
He said: “He has very expressively warned Ukraine and said ‘Ukraine well look you may find yourself in due course in the same situation as Afghanistan: America may simply disappear’.”
Former White House military adviser, John Bolton said the West’s main global adversaries were already seeking to reap advantages from the gaping power vacuum.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, he said: “The results are already deeply negative, and China and Russia are invested in making them worse. Over to us.”
Like Russia, China seems to be cozying up to the Taliban, with the country’s foreign minister Wang Yi holding a profile meeting with nine jihadi representatives at the end of July.
The unprecedented gathering saw Chinese state councillor Wang publicly recognise the terror group as a legitimate political force in Afghanistan.
Taliban leaders have confirmed they hope to work with their “great neighbour” China in a further blow to the West.
“We are ready to exchange views with China on how to forge ahead in terms of boosting our mutual relations, establishing peace in the region, and its assistance in the reconstruction of Afghanistan,” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told This Week in Asia.”
The Taliban spokesman added: “China, our great neighbouring country, can have a constructive and positive role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and also in the economic development and prosperity of the people of Afghanistan. It is expected [that] China [will] play its role”
As America’s prestige as the invincible superpower takes a knocking, Beijing is busy launching what is thought to be its biggest nuclear expansion ever as it builds a second missile base in the desert.
In the desert, 1,200 miles west of Beijing, the Chinese government has been digging a new field of what look to be 110 silos for launching nuclear missiles — the second such field discovered by analysts surveying commercial satellite images in recent weeks.
Add to this, was an estimated 13,000 troops from the People’s Liberation Army joining the Russian Army for huge war games.
KIM REOPENS NUKE FACTORY
Meanwhile, it is feared the fall of Kabul into the Taliban’s hands could encourage North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
At the start of July, Kim Jong-un appeared to restart operations at his nuclear reactor that’s been shut down for three years — around the same time the US fully vacated its largest military base, Bagram Airfield, handing control to Afghan forces.
The plutonium-producing reactor at Yongbyon has stood inactive since December 2018 — but last month was reportedly seen discharging cooling water, according to a watchdog.
Plutonium — one of the two key ingredients used to build nuclear weapons along with highly enriched uranium — is produced at the complex, which has a 5-megawatt reactor.
The complex, which North Korea calls the heart of its nuclear program and research, has been at the centre of international concerns for decades.
A report by the International Atomic Energy Agency reveals this and other activity indicates Kim’s nuke site is back in action, in a development branded “deeply troubling” by the organisation.
The Asian country also looks set to use the crisis to press its anti-US rhetoric, by demanding American troops leave South Korea.
IRAN: AMERICA MUST BE DEFEATED
Afghanistan’s neighbouring country Iran, meanwhile, welcomed the departure of US forces – which it branded a “defeat” — and pledged to work with Taliban leaders.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said: “America’s military defeat must become an opportunity to restore life, security, and durable peace in Afghanistan.”
In a show of force, Iran’s Air Defense Force has been testing a new high-speed missile system.
Second Brigadier General Mohammad Youssef Khoshqalb, deputy chief of operations at the Army’s Air Defense Force, said for the first time the “new generation” system was put under the control of the integrated air defense network to intercept, identify, engage and destroy designated targets, reports PressTV.
The missile system, Mersad-16, is capable of travelling at high speeds and low altitudes, with a more optimised version set to be unveiled.
In June fake footage of the US Capitol being blown up was released by Iran as Joe Biden comes under increasing pressure to take action from a GOP senator.
The video leaked on state-controlled Iranian TV before Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s speech depicted a missile being fired as the Washington DC building is engulfed in flames.
And this this month, Iran resumed fuel exports to Afghanistan as relationships grow between Tehran and the Taliban.
Iran sits on the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves, but the latest round of US sanctions imposed by former President Donald Trump in 2018, has significantly reduced Iranian oil exports.
But the Taliban’s willingness to trade with Tehran gives the country rare access to US dollars needed to import essential goods, while the arrangement also aids the jihadi army who are cut off from international trade.