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UCSB Global Studies expert on U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan: ‘This is about as good as it gets’

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - There is a delicate balance taking place right now in Afghanistan and the Taliban is at the center of it.

For the second time this week, NewChannel 3 spoke via Zoom with Mark Juergensmeyer, Interim Director of the Orphalea Center for Global and International Studies at UCSB. 

The renowned professor is also an expert on ISIS.

"I also have a sense about how these different groups claim to be part of ISIS that are not. And the ISIS Khorasan (ISIS-K) group in Afghanistan is really an outgrowth of the Taliban. They're an extreme group of the Taliban. Now, believe it or not, Taliban is not the most extreme group in Afghanistan, there are several more extremists. And one of them is a group of disaffected Taliban leaders who didn't like the idea of the Taliban making all these negotiations, doing all the compromises, including what they're doing right now."

Juergensmeyer said ISIS-K is behind Thursday's deadly attacks outside the airport in Kabul.

"What you saw yesterday (Thursday) with the explosion at the gates that killed a dozen or more of our military and dozens of Afghans, very cruel, double suicide bombing was an act perpetrated by enemies of the Taliban. In part, to discredit them as well as to try to hasten the American withdrawal. So, these are no friends of the Taliban, they've been fighting them for years and they will continue to fight them and by the way, they're been many attacks by ISIS Khorasan before the events of yesterday."

He said President Biden's message following Thursday's attacks was empathetic and strong given the President's desire to track down those responsible with the Taliban's help.

"In terms of losing a war and withdrawing gracefully, this is about as good as it gets. I know there are a lot of complaints about how chaotic and so forth. I don't know of any ending of a war that's not messy. And most endings of the war are savage and cruel and this is actually remarkably smooth." 

Juergensmeyer cited the fall of Saigon after Vietnam, which he described as "much more chaotic." He called airlifts for 100,000 people out of Kabul at the end of war, "stunning."

Extended Interview: Mark Juergensmeyer

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Beth Farnsworth

Beth Farnsworth is the evening anchor for KEYT NewsChannel 3. To learn more about Beth, click here

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