The World Today for September 16, 2021



The Forever Insurgency

The Taliban claimed victory after the recent end of the US-led NATO occupation of Afghanistan. Now, while they face serious challenges governing their traumatized nation, as Deutsche Welle explained, they at least won’t have to deal with the terrorism that they inflicted on foreign troops and their own people during 20 years of war, right?


The Taliban faces their own insurgency in the form of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Khorasan, or ISIS K, a name that derives from a western region of Afghanistan. As the Guardian reported, ISIS K advocates “jihadi Salafism,” a brand of ultra-extremist Islam that originates in the Persian Gulf and is even more radical than the Taliban’s mix of religious reactionism and folk traditions.

The Taliban seek to create an emirate within the borders of the internationally recognized state of Afghanistan, for example, whereas ISIS K wants to inaugurate a worldwide caliphate, according to the Interpreter, a publication of the Lowy Institute, an Australian think tank.

The two groups have been fighting for years while the Taliban were also fighting US-led NATO forces. In 2018, the Institute for Economics and Peace’s Global Terrorism Index ranked ISIS K alongside the Taliban among the four deadliest terrorist groups in the world.

ISIS K took credit for the Aug. 26 bombing at the Kabul airport that killed around 170 civilians and 13 American troops, an attack intended to undermine the Taliban’s legitimacy, to prove that the victors in the long war were unable to provide security and to demonstrate the tenacity of ISIS K to Afghans and the world.

Before the attack, CNN correspondent Clarissa Ward interviewed an ISIS K leader who claimed to command 600 men. He told her he was “lying low and waiting to strike,” she said, adding that he could easily pass through checkpoints and enter the capital city of Kabul. A former Taliban fighter, he broke with his colleagues because, he claimed, they were not orthodox enough.

Despite the best efforts of Western governments to stamp out the terrorist group over the years, ISIS K has managed to attract sufficient fighters and assemble enough material to remain a small but potent killing force, wrote Abdul Sayed, an expert in radical militant groups in the region, in the Washington Post.

The airport attacks, for instance, were also surely meant as recruiting tools, especially for veteran Taliban fighters reluctant to turn their swords into ploughshares, claimed US Military Academy terrorism expert Amira Jadoon and George Washington University research fellow Andrew Mines in the Conversation.

American generals are now suggesting they could potentially work with the Taliban to destroy ISIS K, Politico reported.

And so goes the story of Afghanistan.

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