What is the difference between the Taliban and Isis?

Who are the two groups?

The Taliban and Isis are both Sunni Islamist extremist groups seeking to form authoritarian states under strict sharia law and ready to use violence to achieve their goals.

However, the two forces are actually enemies who have been fighting bitterly since 2015, when Isis formed the Islamic State-Khorasan province (ISKP) in Afghanistan at a time when it first sought to expand its geographical reach beyond Iraq and Syria.

The Taliban first emerged in 1994 during the Afghan Civil War, its ranks consisted mainly of students – from whom the group got its name from Pashto – many of whom had been mujahideen resistance fighters who had fought against the occupation of the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

A fundamentalist Islamist Deobandi movement originating in the Pashtun territories of eastern and southern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan, the Taliban led by Mullah Mohammed Omar and first conquered the province of Herat and then the entire country in September 1996, overthrowing the Burhanuddin Rabbani regime , the establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and making Kandahar the capital.

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Its tyrannical rule, marked by the massacre of opponents, the denial of UN food supplies to starving citizens and the oppression of women, was brought to an abrupt end by US-led coalition forces in December 2001 in retaliation for Osama Bin Laden’s devastating al-Qaeda terrorist attack. at the World Trade Center in New York City, which killed 2,996 people and left 25,000 wounded.

Since then, Taliban fighters have regrouped as a rebel and have continued to fight to retake Afghanistan from US peacekeepers ever since.

Isis, meanwhile, was first formed by Jordanian jihadist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in 1999, before rising to global prominence when it drove Iraqi forces out of key cities in the western part of the country in 2014 – after declaring itself a worldwide caliphate – and later conquered parts of eastern Syria before eventually surrendering Mosul and Raqqa in 2017 when international forces intervened.

It established the ISKP in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan in January 2015, and actively recruited defectors from the Taliban, especially those dissatisfied with the failure of their own leadership on the battlefield.

How have their respective factions interacted?

The formation of the ISKP prompted Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour to write a letter to his Isis counterpart, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, urging him to abandon his recruitment of the dissidents and arguing that any war for their comparable case in Afghanistan should have been carried out under the leadership of the Taliban.

Fighting broke out between the two sides in June 2015 and between two separate factions of the Taliban in Zabul province in November over whether to merge with Isis.

Several fighting broke out in April 2017, when ISKP captured three drug traffickers selling opium to raise money for the Taliban in the northern Afghan province of Jowzjan and again in May 2017, when 22 militants were killed in clashes between the two sides along the Iranian border. .

The Taliban launched an offensive to clear Isis out of Yowzjan the following summer, with the Islamic Movement in Uzbekistan joining the latter, with up to 7,000 people being driven from their homes.

The July conflict ended in a significant defeat for the ISKP, which suffered further setbacks in clashes the following year, before being almost completely eradicated by the United States and the Afghan military in late 2019, although the Council for Foreign Relations estimates that 2,200 members of the ISKP are still active in Afghanistan.

In February 2020, the Donald Trump administration signed its dubious peace agreement with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, in which the latter group promised to keep other Islamist extremists, including Isis, out of the country.

Why are we asking about it now?

Afghanistan is again in a state of unrest after the Taliban recaptured the capital Kabul on Sunday and declared the country an Islamic emirate again, after President Ashraf Ghani left the presidential palace and fled to Tajikistan.

The operation followed shortly after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country last month by order of U.S. President Joe Biden, and their exit came nearly 20 years after the U.S. military drove the same faction out of Kabul in early George W Bush’s war on terror in response to 9/11.

Biden expressed his willingness not to hand over responsibility for policing Afghanistan to a fifth commander-in-chief after the end of his own term in the White House and had confidence in the Afghan military, in which the United States had invested nearly $ 1 billion over two decades to keep the Taliban at bay.

“The thing is, we have seen that this force has not been able to defend the country … and it has happened faster than we had expected,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken lamented on Sunday.

In the midst of the chaotic scenes in Kabul as people fled to the airports, the alarming sight of 5,000 escaped prisoners leaving the Pul-e-Charki prison at Bagram Air Base, occupied by Americans until recently, with alleged Isis and al-Qaeda fighters present among their number.

Talking about NPRs All things Considered Last week, former US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta gave this direct assessment of the disaster that unfolded: “The Taliban are terrorists and they want to support terrorists. If they take control of Afghanistan, there is no doubt in my mind that they will provide a safe haven for al-Qaeda, for Isis and for terrorism in general. And it’s frankly a national security threat to the United States. “

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