The whole community is kind of watching to see what happens and whether or not al-Qaida has the ability to regenerate in Afghanistan.Sec. of Defense Austin on the future of Afghanistan.
- While overseas visiting allies in the Middle East, Defense Secretary Austin continued: "The nature of al-Qaida and (the Islamic State group) is they will always attempt to find space to grow and regenerate, whether it's there, whether it's in Somalia, or whether it's in any other ungoverned space. I think that's the nature of the organization."
- Meanwhile, the Taliban named a high-profile member of the Haqqani Network (viewed as either a part of al Qaeda or a close ally of it) as a lead official of the new government.
- Sec. Austin says the U.S. will still be able to counter al Qaeda in Afghanistan but it will be more challenging without a presence inside the country.
- Sec. Austin also named China as the number one priority of the U.S.
Why It Matters: 20 years after 9/11, disagreements on "who" is al Qaeda remain.
Interesting to Note: SecDef Austin was expected to visit Saudi Arabia on Thursday as a final part of his trip to the Middle East; that part of the trip was cancelled but no specific explanation given other than "scheduling issues."
by Jenna Lee,