September 23, 2021 Special Dispatch No. 9560

Cartoons In Arab Press On U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan: The U.S. Has Fled The Country, Defeated; The Taliban Has Not Changed, Terror Will Flourish In Afghanistan

September 23, 2021
Special Dispatch No. 9560

In the recent weeks, the Arab press has published many cartoons responding to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover of the country. Some of the cartoons convey that the Taliban defeated the U.S. and booted it out of the country, causing it to flee in humiliation and to abandon the Afghans who helped it. The cartoons highlight the blow to America’s standing in the world, and also suggest that the heavy burden of the 20-year war in the country will continue to haunt it.

It should be noted that many of the cartoons celebrating the Taliban victory and expressing contempt for the U.S. withdrawal were published in the Qatari state press, [1] and reflect the pro-Taliban stance of the Qatari media. This country, which presents itself as a fair and neutral intermediary in talks between the Taliban and the U.S., effectively supports the Taliban and other terror movements, and has hosted Taliban leaders on its soil in recent years.[2]

Other recent cartoons in the Arab press express concern for Afghanistan’s fate following the U.S. withdrawal, conveying that it is now a ticking bomb waiting to explode with escalating violence. Some warn that, although the Taliban tries to portray itself as more moderate than it was in the past, it has not really changed, and the Afghans are bound to suffer under its rule. Others predict that Afghanistan under the Taliban will become a haven for other jihad groups, such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS.

The following is a sampling of the cartoons.

The U.S. Was Defeated By The Taliban And Fled, Humiliated

As stated, some of the cartoons focus on what they portray as the Taliban’s triumph and America’s undignified flight from the country. The Qatari-owned London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi published three cartoons by cartoonist Osama Hajaj  depicting what he perceives as the declining global image of the U.S. in light of its Afghanistan exit. One shows a Taliban fighter sweeping the tattered remains of the U.S. flag off a map of Afghanistan.[3]

Another depicts the U.S. as a ship hitting an iceberg in the form of a Taliban mullah.[4]

The third cartoon, titled “Biden and Afghanistan!!”, shows the American president trying in vain to flee the Taliban octopus.[5]

Another cartoon in Al-Quds Al-Arabi, by Omayya Joha, shows the Taliban kicking the U.S. out of “Afghanistan.”[6] 

The Qatari daily Al-Watan published a cartoon by Elie Saliba depicting “Afghanistan” as the “graveyard of empires.”

The Al-Sharq daily, also from Qatar, published a cartoon by Ahmed Rahma in which “history” records the annals of Afghanistan: “The British withdrawal in 1919, the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, and the American withdrawal in 2021.”[7]

The Emirati daily Al-Khalij published a cartoon by Haroon showing the U.S. flag dropping off the mast of “Afghanistan.”[8]

Afghanistan After The U.S. Withdrawal Is A Ticking Bomb

Other cartoons express concern for Afghanistan’s fate now that the Taliban has taken over it. They convey that, under the control of the Taliban, violence and terror will escalate and Afghanistan will explode.   

The Saudi Makkah daily published a cartoon by ’Abdallah Jaber showing a plane, representing the U.S. withdrawal, taking off and pulling  the pin from a grenade labeled “Afgahnistan.”[9]

A cartoon in a similar vein by Fahd Al-Khamisi, in the Saudi daily Al-Iqtisadiyya, shows the Statue of Liberty, representing the U.S., walking away and leaving the Afghanistan bomb to explode.[10]

The Taliban’s Devilish Nature Has Not Changed; Afghanistan Will Suffer

Some of the cartoons stress that, although the Taliban tries to portray itself as moderate, it has  not really changed. A cartoon by ‘Ali Al-Ghamdi in the Saudi daily Al-Madina, captioned “Kabul today,” shows the “Taliban” fighter taking off his mask and revealing the face of a devil.[11] 

Another cartoon by Al-Ghamdi in Al-Madina  is captioned: “The Taliban: We will  impose laws that conform to our values.” It shows the Taliban writing these laws in blood with its rifle.[12] 

In a cartoon in the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm, Anwar Jbr drew a Taliban fighter using ISIS as a scarecrow. Presenting a giant “ISIS-Khorasan” fighter, the Taliban gunman says: "So that you'll believe that I'm cute."[13]

A cartoon by Hasan Bleibel in the Lebanese Al-Mudun  shows, on the left, “the Taliban before [the establshment] of the government” and on the right “the Taliban after [the establishment] of the government.”[14]

Al-Qaeda, ISIS Will Flourish Now That The Taliban Has Regained Afghanistan

Yet other cartoons convey that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan will only help the jihad groups gain power there. An Al-Sharq Al-Awsat cartoon by Ahmad Rasmi shows the tail of the buried “ISIS” devil starting to poke out of the ground in “Afghanistan.”[15]1

A cartoon by Yaser Ahmad in the Emirati daily Al-Arab depicts “Al-Qaeda and its sisters,” represented by two crows, gaining power with the help of the “Taliban.”[16]

In a cartoon by Anwar Jbr in the Egyptian Al-Masri Al-Yawm daily, “the American withdrawal from Afghanistan” provides the jihad movement with oxygen.[17]

[1] The Al-Quds Al-Arabi daily, published in London, is owned by the Qatari regime. It was purchased in 2013 from its previous owner, journalist ‘Abd Al-Bari Al-Atwan, by the Qatari Emir (then crown prince), one month before he assumed the throne (See Al-Akhbar, Lebanon, July 11, 2013).

[2] Following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, many regional players sponsored by Qatar – including Hamas leaders, the MB and reporters  for the Al-Jazeera channel – expressed satisfaction over the “American defeat” and praised the path of jihad. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 9537, “Qatari Government-Owned Daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi Mocks U.S.: It Wanted To Overthrow The Taliban And Now It Has To Rely On Its Help; U.S. Is Responsible For Emergence Of ISIS,” September 7, 2021.

Qatar | Special Dispatch No. 9537

[3] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), September 5, 2021.

[4] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), September 3, 2021.

[5] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), August 30, 2021.

[6] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), September 2, 2021.

[7] Al-Sharq (Qatar), September 2, 2021

[8] Al-Khaleej (UAE), September 1, 2021.

[9] Makkah (Saudi Arabia), August 29, 2021.

[10] Al-Iqtisadiyya (Saudi Arabia), September 1, 2021.

[11] Al-Madina (Saudi Arabia), August 18, 2021.

[12] Al-Madina (Saudi Arabia), August 19, 2021.

[13] Al-Masri Al Yawm (Egypt), September, 2 2021.

[14] Al-Mudun (Lebanon), September 8, 2021.

[15] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), Septepber 3, 2021.

[16] Al-Arab (London), September 4, 2021.

[17] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), August 30, 2021.

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