The above title kind of sounds like a 1940’s movie with Bing Crosby and Bob Hopebut, but in this case and in today’s world it has to be about the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the crumbling situation in the Central Asian nation of Afghanistan.
The big news is that the United States of America has implemented an exit policy in the Afghanistan conflict. Well, not so much. U.S. troops are leaving a considerable force behind to help both the Afghan police and government make the transition, but I fear the forces will soon be returning to the country…
It all began rather slowly. First there were reports that an ISIS unit had attacked in eastern Afghanistan. Locals in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province have reported another round of fighting between Taliban forces in the area and militants calling themselves fighters from ISIS’ “Islamic State”. 10-15 Taliban were reported slain in the latest clashes. After this attack, the Pentagon had to get involved somehow.
Pentagon officials are increasingly willing to discuss the growth of ISIS into Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, saying it is an expansion “of great concern” to US commanders there. (Antiwar)
Spokesman Rear Admiral Kirby has downplayed the significance of the current ISIL presence in the Islamic republic, reporting the movement is largely “aspirational,” and that some of them are just Taliban members trying to re-brand themselves for the sake of more support.
Other Pentagon commanders are less sure about this hypothesis, saying there’s a serious danger that the Afghan-Pakistan border region could serve as another safe haven from which the Middle Eastern-based ‘caliphate’ could recruit.
NATO, taking its lead from the Pentagon, had to issue a report on ISIS in Afghanistan. Commander Gen. John Campbell recently reported that ISIS is making some inroads recruiting in both Afghanistan and Pakistan with “money being passed back and forth”. All these reports came out about the time that al-Baghdadi was showing some success on the battlefield and, frankly speaking, I was looking for a request for additional funding.
I guess the question now is: is Daish truly trying to make inroads in Afghanistan? Or is this just propaganda designed for another purpose other than information?
While I was pondering on this, word came out from the leadership of the Taliban in Afghanistan that they had contacted the faction of ISIS within the country. The ‘students’ have released a letter to ISIL in Afghanistan after recent clashes, calling on the group to stop “interfering” in the nation, and admonishing them that the nation has only room for one Islamist faction resisting the foreign (NATO) occupation.
And again, while writing this article, word has come out that ISIS is making itself known within the Taliban ranks.
Facing growing pressure from a fledgling ISIS affiliate, Afghanistan’s long-standing Islamist group the Taliban is struggling to remain united, with a pair of commanders quoted in NBC News as saying there is a growing three-way split among the faction’s leadership.
“The Afghan Taliban who want to continue to fight are led by Mullah Omar,” the commander claimed, saying there was also a group that had already defected to ISIS and were fighting alongside them, and a third group that is pushing to see peace talks with the Afghan government. (Antiwar)
If this turns out to be true, then the Taliban leadership is concerned over competition. The main problem is, ISIS is younger and more organized. Will it come to direct fighting between the two? Will Afghanistan become next year’s Iraq or Syria? Will the headline read: “Afghanistan, the new Iraq”? Or should we call it: “Afghanistan: America’s Next Nightmare?”.
Op-Ed from the over-caffeinated mind of Chuq