The evacuation from Afghanistan would have been a lot more complicated, perhaps even impossible, without a major role played by GCC states as a stop-off point. Consequently, thousands of foreign nationals and Afghan staff members were able to get away before the Taliban fully secured control of Kabul.
As a major regional transit hub, and with the US fifth fleet based in the Kingdom, Bahrain was central to these efforts. Hence, the US Department of Homeland Security “expressing thanks and appreciation” for the efforts of Bahrain in facilitating the evacuation of Afghans.”
Bahrain’s Gulf Air transported evacuees from Isa Air Base to Dulles International Airport in Virginia. The US Naval Forces Central Command coordinated closely with the Bahrain authorities to facilitate the safe departure of Americans and evacuees from Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is in close proximity to the Arabian Gulf region and developments there have had a direct impact on Arab states, not least the rise of Al-Qaeda and the resulting spread of extremism which was responsible for countless innocent deaths throughout the region.
Bahrain has also taken the initiative in seeking to initiate dialogue among GCC states regarding long-term strategy in response to the developments in Afghanistan.
Gulf states have thus far taken a cautious approach to developments. While the Taliban’s return is widely viewed as a step backwards for the wider region, the Afghan humanitarian situation is of utmost concern, and the challenge of the presence of groups like Daesh and Al-Qaeda will require close liaison among international partners.
The events of 9/11 continue to be a major inflection point for this region and the resurgence of the Taliban demonstrates that we are still living out the consequence of these ill-fated developments.
There has never been greater need for close regional coordination and vigilance to ensure that the threats of terrorism, radicalism and anti-state forces do not reassert themselves.