Afghanistan1

On August 26, 2021, a terrorist attack struck the area outside of the US-occupied Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K), a regional offshoot of Islamic State (ISIS), has officially taken responsibility for the bombing. The blasts killed more than 180 Afghan civilians. Thirteen US servicemen, two British nationals and the child of another British national also died. Hundreds more were injured.

BBC has claimed that US military forces killed “significant numbers” of Afghan civilians. Afghans “were shot dead by US forces in the panic after the blast”. Instead of acknowledging this, US President Joe Biden has adopted a tone of revenge: “We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.”

On August 28, 2021, the US conducted a retaliatory drone strike. According to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, two “high profile” terrorists, described as the “planner” and the “facilitator” of the Kabul airport attack, were killed in the strike. Another terrorist was left injured. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid strongly condemned the US strike as a “clear attack on Afghan territory”.

The logic of American actions is murderously contorted. Justin Podur, a Toronto-based writer, remarks: “Are you impressed with their confidence in knowing they killed the right Afghans with their drone, when they were unable to keep their part of the airport safe and their first response to the explosion was to kill a huge crowd of Afghans?”

American imperialism is the furnace in which chains of violence are formed. ISIS was born in the chaos of post-invasion Iraq; its core was made of highly skilled battlefield commanders of Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army, which had been dismantled in 2003 by Paul Bremmer, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority. Baathists soon morphed into hardcore Salafis, receiving ideological and military assistance from Saudi Arabia.

At the same time as ISIS made rapid advancements across northern Iraq against a Shia chauvinist government in Baghdad, it captured portions of eastern Syria. Feeding off the turmoil of the 2011 uprising and aided by funds from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel and the US, ISIS waged a brutal war against Bashar al-Assad.

ISIS-K attempted to expand the influence of ISIS from Southwest Asia to the crossroads of Central and South Asia in Afghanistan. Founded in January 2015, the jihadist organization gained territorial control in several rural districts in north and northeast Afghanistan. By 2018, it had become one of the top four deadliest terrorist organizations in the world.

Taliban and ISIS-K are bitter enemies. The latter regards the former as apostate for being willing to talk to Americans. In May 2021 – while negotiations were underway in Doha – ISIS-K used a car bomb to kill 85 Hazara schoolgirls at the Sayed ul-Shuhada High School. ISIS-K’s ferocity may have increased due to the meeting that was held in Kabul on August 23, 2021, between the Taliban leader, Abdul Ghani Baradar, and the CIA director, William Burns.

While the Taliban remains opposed to American military operations in Kabul, it may rebrand itself as an anti-ISIS force to win legitimacy, international recognition and acquire desperately needed economic aid. As a partner in the War on Terror, Taliban’s Afghanistan will become another authoritarian state like Saudi Arabia or Egypt, whose human rights abuses are systematically ignored in favor of valuable security cooperation.

Torn apart by insufferable realities, Afghans are searching for genuine peace. The American empire, as is customary of all imperialist powers, has chosen to look the other way, deploying an insensitive language of counterterrorism to hide its own historic role in spawning cruelties.

Commenting on USA’s interventionist strategy in Afghanistan, John Wojcik – Editor-in-Chief of People’s World – writes: “You can’t interfere in the internal affairs of another country, overthrow a progressive government, install right-wing religious fundamentalists in their place, and then replace them with a corrupt puppet government to do your bidding and expect sunshine and rainbows when it’s all over.”

Yanis Iqbal is an independent researcher and freelance writer based in Aligarh, India and can be contacted at yanisiqbal@gmail.com.


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