How we doing hard-chargers!!
February is now amongst us, so may you all enjoy the upcoming day of love in about 12 days. That’s for civilians and also military, but specifically… those who are sending rounds down range. 🙂
So, the Islamic State group and the Taliban are now competing to take credit for the increase in violence in Afghanistan over the past month. Both groups seem to be growing in strength as security forces wither under their relentless attacks. Still, the two insurgent groups embrace different agendas and are at war with each other as well as the Afghan government.
Recent attacks, that included both suicide bombings and small arms fire, have left nearly 200 people dead and hundreds more wounded. Insurgents have targeted heavily secured areas in the heart of the Afghan capital, including an Afghan military academy, on Monday and a hotel, owned by the government and frequented by foreigners.
The tactics behind this particular strike was an ambulance in order to hide deadly cargo, from there insurgents slipped passed checkpoints in Kabul’s heavily fortified center on Saturday to kill more than 100 people.
The insurgents have similar views and goals of delegitimizing the governments they are fighting against. However, in Afghanistan the similarity between ISIS and the Taliban ends there. Beyond toppling the Afghan government, the Islamic State affiliate and the Taliban have divergent goals, the Taliban are seen as possible negotiation partners in a search for peace, the ISIS is not.
(Taliban) I know what you’re thinking… they look the same.
Taliban fighters in northern Afghanistan recently displayed the ISIS flag after the Taliban leadership ordered them to hand over their tax collection revenue to the governing Taliban shura (council).
A major source of revenue for the Taliban is the tax they charge locals for safe passage or to move legal as well as illegal commodities to market. The strongest fighting force within the Taliban that we know of is the Haqqani network, which has been blamed for the most atrocious attacks in Kabul.
The Haqqani network has historical ties to Pakistan’s powerful ISI spy agency and both the United States and Afghanistan accuse Pakistan of providing sanctuary for Taliban fighters, a claim Islamabad denies.
(Jalaluddin Haqqani, head of the dreaded Haqqani)
Meanwhile, the ISIS affiliate known as IS in Khorasan Province, named for the ancient region that once included Afghanistan, parts of Iran and Central Asia, is a toxic mix of Taliban, ferocious Pakistani Taliban, who have sworn allegiance to ISIS against Pakistan, as well as Uzbeks, mostly from the Islamic movement of Uzbekistan terror group.
With the success of the U.S. and its allies driving Islamic State fighters out of Iraq and Syria, this has pushed many toward Afghanistan.
Nearly 3,000 Afghan Uzbeks may have joined the ISIS affiliate already believed to have several thousand Uzbeks from central Asia. The role of Afghanistan’s neighbors further muddies the insurgent landscape.
Pakistan, widely blamed for the Taliban’s longevity as a fighting force, is aided by both Russia and Iran, who fear an ISIS stronghold in Afghanistan.
It’ll be very interesting to see how the secretary of defense will plan the next few moves in order to deal with these heinous groups.
Isaac J. Hall II