colonel cassad

Su-35 in Kamyshli
Colonel Cassad, Oct 28 2021

The Su-35 appeared at the Kamyshli airfield in Rojava. Previously, planes of this level were not noted here. Looks like a signal to “friend Recep.” Yesterday, the Russian Air Force chopped Erdogan’s minions in Idlib quite painfully, which did not prevent the continuation of the sluggish conflict between HTS and other militant groups that do not want to obey the power of Julani. However, this is a standard seasonal aggravation when prolonging the positional pause at the front. Boiling energy must be put somewhere, and since the Turks do not allow attacking Assad or the Kurds, it remains to cut each other in the local “squid game.”

What will the Taliban campaign to combat IS in Afghanistan lead to?
Boriz Rozhin, RIA Novosti, Oct 26 2021, also Colonel Cassad, Oct 26 2021

One of the main obligations of the Taliban in consultative negotiations with Russia and China, as well as in negotiations with the US in Doha (including inter-Afghan negotiations with the Ashraf Ghani government, which were unsuccessful) was an active counter-terrorism fight against international terrorist groups. First of all we are talking about IS, represented on the territory of Afghanistan by the autonomous Vilayat Khorasan, as well as Al-Qaida. Since 2019, the Taliban have stated that, being at war with IS, they will seek to destroy Vilayat Khorasan. Therefore, promises to fight the “Islamic State” after the end of the war in Afghanistan were made very easily by the Taliban political bureau. In fact, it only formalized the current state of affairs. The very course of the war in Afghanistan in 2019-20 was regularly accompanied by accusations by radicals against the Ghani and US government that they condone IS in an attempt to use terrorists against the Taliban. This position was partly supported by the opinion of former President Hamid Karzai, who also explicitly stated that the “Islamic State” in Afghanistan is an instrument of American politics. Accordingly, from the point of view of the Taliban and their propaganda, the Taliban were on one side of the conflict on the other side of the conflict, and the US, IS and the Ghani government on the other.

Of course, the picture was somewhat more complicated, as IS, in addition to attacks on the Taliban, carried out terrorist attacks against civilians and government officials, as well as had limited success in battles with government forces in Nangarhar province. The Taliban kept silent about Pakistan’s role in the organization’s activities. But all these scenarios changed in Aug 2021, when the Taliban achieved a complete military victory, the Ghani government completely collapsed and fled the country, the US and NATO shamefully fled from Kabul airport, and the Panjshir resistance collapsed without really beginning. Already in September, the creation of the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” began on the territory of the republic, where the Taliban had a virtually full carte blanche in state-building. Already here it was clear that there could be no rapprochement between IS and the Taliban, if the latter declared the end of the war and the formation of a Sharia-based state, Vilayat Khorasan set its official goal to extend its own power throughout the country and fight the Taliban. The group, according to the leaders of the IS regional cell, betrayed the case of jihad, conspired with the “infidels,” and if so, the war must continue until the victory over the Taliban by any means. That’s how Vilayat Khorasan began to act.

Using cells in major cities that existed before the fall of the Ghani government, terrorists launched a systematic campaign, attacking the Taliban, civilians, ethno-religious groups (Shia, Pashtuns) to cultivate an atmosphere of fear and frustration in the Taliban, which cannot ensure the safety of the population. In addition, Vilayat Khorasan relies on inciting interreligious and interethnic hatred in order to increase the level of radicalism among Muslims in the country and ensure an influx of neophyte recruits. The collapse of the old security apparatus, which at least partially restricted the activities of IS in large cities, provided terrorists with a kind of “time window” when it is possible to prepare and carry out attacks relatively easily. It is important to understand that together with the old government, this apparatus, including the counter-terrorism department, has gone into oblivion, as has most of the police and other law enforcement officers who worked in the field of combating terrorism. Together with them, a significant part of the informants and the agent network were lost. Of course, some security forces went to the service of the Taliban (mainly for lower and occasionally middle-level specialists who did not participate in operations against the group), but it is still far from creating a full-fledged counter-terrorism structure. Of course, the Taliban had their own counter-intelligence before August, and their developments were conducted on opponents from IS, but this could hardly be called counter-terrorism work. The radical movement at that time did not have a systematic task of ensuring security in large cities and preventing a campaign of terrorist attacks. At the same time, the Taliban now has to worry not only about the safety of its militants and supporters, but also about ordinary civilians, who have become their area of responsibility. It would be naive to expect that such a task could be solved by the Taliban in 2 months.

In addition, it is worth considering that, like the Taliban, Vilayat Khorasan had the opportunity to interact with Islamic State militants in Pakistan, receiving weapons and reinforcements from local cells. Of course, without eliminating Vilayat’s external recharge through Pakistan, it will be difficult to eliminate the IS network in Afghanistan. Among the challenges facing the Taliban in building counter-terrorism work is to reorient from previous terrorist attacks to countering them. A vivid illustration of this problem is Siraj’ud-Din Haqqani, Acting Minister of the Interior of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, who practiced suicide bombers for tactical purposes during the war. Today, they will not help the Taliban in solving the problems of combating IS suicide bombers in any way, and here it is necessary to do what the Ghani government was doing with grief in half. This requires the creation of a full-fledged counter-terrorism structure, which should include not only the Taliban, but also specialists from the old government (from among those who are ready to cooperate with militants), whose experience will help to restore the old undercover networks and create new ones in order to defeat terrorist cells in major cities. Also, the Taliban currently has an extremely mediocre level of technical equipment for those forces tasked with fighting IS in cities. The trophies seized from the US and Ghani government only partially solve the problem of low-equipment of the new “security forces,” which in big cities so far mostly represent the same units of militants with small arms, partially disguised as American uniforms for pathetic photos.

Another important aspect. The current economic situation in Afghanistan has steady trends towards degradation, which is fraught with mass disappointment in the Taliban, which promised to govern more effectively than the fallen leadership. Many really believed and believe that the group would end corruption and be able to do something with the economy, which was still on external support under the old government. Disappointment with these expectations can increase socio-economic tensions in the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” and again facilitate the recruitment of new recruits for Vilayat Khorasan. The issue of external legitimization is really important for the Taliban, as the possibility of obtaining financial assistance and infrastructure investments depends on it. This will stabilize the socio-economic situation in the country and show the local population that the Taliban is able not only to fight, but also to manage. In addition, the issue of legitimizing the group opens up opportunities for open interaction between the special services of other states (Chatea, Russia, Iran, Pakistan) with the “special services” of the Taliban along the counter-terrorism line, starting with the banal exchange of information about IS activities in Afghanistan and its neighboring countries. Here all the alleged participants have a mutual interest related to the destruction of the “Islamic State,” although it can hardly be said that in the foreseeable future there will be full confidence in the Taliban (unless Pakistan, which already strongly affects part of the factions of the military intelligence movement).

But all this is a matter of the future, especially the Taliban themselves say that they will need 20 months for the transition period, and countries whose recognition radicals wish set certain conditions for them, which will take months of active work. But terrorist attacks are systematically happening now, and something needs to be done about it. Therefore, on the one hand, it can be expected that the attacks in Afghanistan carried out by Vilayat Khorasan have been, are and will be, and the Taliban’s limited success in defeating IS cells in Kabul, Kandahar or Kunduz at the current stage are unlikely to stop them. As the state security apparatus develops and strengthens the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the organization of terrorist attacks will gradually become difficult, and their number may decrease in the long term. Despite the current tactical successes, IS is significantly losing to the Taliban in terms of resource factors and the number of supporters among radical Islamists. In addition, the Taliban, unlike the Government of Ghani, can even more actively use various extrajudicial methods of struggle, especially since a full-fledged system of sharia courts is still being created and often all justice goes either to newly appointed provincial governors or to field commanders. The latter issue of the fight against the “Islamic State” is perceived simply as the process of killing all the discovered representatives of the competing group.

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