Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, June 22nd, 2018

Is ISIL on the Run?

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Is ISIL on the Run?

Losing ground in Iraq and Syria, the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has extended its reach in other parts of the region, including Afghanistan. 2017 has been a deadly year for Afghan nation as the ISIL fighters carried out large-scale attacks across the country. Kabul also came under severe attacks within the two past years. The Thursday’s attack on a cultural center in Kabul, which was claimed by ISIL and left heavy casualties behind, shows that this group has gained firm foothold in the country and pursues its sinister objective in Afghanistan.
Since the ISIL fighters have been targeting ethnic minority groups, it seeks to foment sectarian violence in the country. In other words, fueling sectarian tension was one of the main objectives of the ISIL group in Afghanistan. If Afghans exercise hatred and animosity on the basis of sect or creed, it will support the ISIL militants to approach their aim and exploit sectarian and religious sensitivities. For example, many kings practiced upon the policy of “divide and rule” in the past and aroused the sensitivities of an ethnic party against another simply to prolong the life of their regimes. ISIL intends to pursue the same policy so as to strengthen its foothold in Afghanistan. To view the Taliban’s practices, they colored their regime with the brush of sect and religion during the final years of their regime, to be able to recruit from a certain ethnic group. If the ISIL’s sinister aim of sectarianism comes true, this group will also be able to recruit from certain ethnic groups and gain their support.
Secondly, the ISIL fighters seek to demonstrate their power and show that it is still able to send threat to the world. Political pundits believe that the ISIL’s defeat in Iraq and Syria does not mark its death knell, it is hunting for safe havens and pursues its reorganization. The ISIL’s activities, especially spreading propaganda, continues for the aim of recruiting youths from different backgrounds. Although it acts as a ragtag group in many parts of the world, a large number of its members are likely to have gathered in Afghanistan.
It is self-explanatory that the ISIL fighters exercise a radical worldview and dogmatic mindset. Its only aim is to shed blood, no matter where and whose. That is to say, any reasons will fall on the deaf ears of ISIL members and they will show no flexibility to reason or logic. Therefore, ISIL will never hold negotiation with any states or parties and the only way to campaign against this group is eradicating all its contexts and grounds through military deal. Meanwhile, Islamic clergy are supposed to launch an ideological campaign against the ISIL network and condemn its harsh and inhuman practices from religious perspective.
Afghan government has to be particularly cautious about the extension of ISIL group in the country. The Russian government said earlier that a number of suspected helicopters are landing in northern parts of Afghanistan, which might carry ISIL fighters. Meanwhile, the former Jihadi leader Muhammad Ismail Khan said that the removal of Balkh provincial governor by President Ghani will pave the ground for the firm foothold of ISIL in northern part of the country. So, the government has to consider all the possible issues and prevent from the presence of ISIL in any possible way.
The ISIL’s presence is very serious in Afghanistan. In 2017, it inflicted heavy casualties upon Afghan nation. The Afghan capital came under attack several times in 2017. On March 8, more than 30 people were killed when gunmen dressed in white lab coats stormed a hospital in the center of the city. ISIL claimed responsibility for that attack, but officials considered other groups could have been responsible. On May 31, a truck bomb exploded near the diplomatic district, killing more than 150 people. It remains unclear who was behind the assault. On October 21, ISIL claimed responsibility for killing at least 39 people at a Shia mosque in Kabul. On December 28, the ISIL claimed responsibility for killing more than 50 people and wounding at least 84.
Although Afghan President said earlier that the ISIL is on the run and it has sustained heavy casualties as a result of strong attacks of Afghan soldiers, the fact shows otherwise. It is believed that 2018 will also be a deadly year for Afghans for two reasons. First, the ISIL will continue its terrorist acts against the nation, particularly ethnic minorities. Second, the Taliban show no interest in peace process and will keep on fighting against the government. So, years are passing, but there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
To campaign against ISIL in effective way, Afghan government and its allies will have to intensify their attacks – not only defensive but also offensive ones. Furthermore, the government has to tighten the border security so that militants no more be able to cross the country’s porous borders.

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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