A suicide bomber from the Islamic State (IS, otherwise known as ISIS-K) detonated themselves in Afghanistan, somewhere to the north, according to officials who spoke to the Associated Press. 20 people were killed and among the dead lay a Taliban commander who has not yet been named.
Around the same time, a “government commando unit” reportedly rescued 54 people from Taliban confinement in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Helmand is in southern Afghanistan and borders Pakistan, and much of the province is under tight Taliban control.
The Taliban and IS have never been on amicable terms. IS seeks to control the world population of Muslims, while the Taliban just wants Afghanistan and is even considering settling for less, now that peace talks are underway. The Taliban certainly do not want to be under the thumb of IS. The groups are so different in religious ideologies, end-goals, choices for allies they deem acceptable — at this point, it is far more likely for the Taliban to make peace with the Afghan government and maybe even the United States than they would ever consider peace with IS.
Upon the entry of IS into the country, the U.S. was very deliberate in its action against them, as was the Afghan government. However, the Taliban has also been fighting IS and this most recent attack against the Taliban shows that neither parties are in any way interested in uniting against the Americans or the Afghan government whom the Taliban call “puppets.”
The fight against IS could serve to be a uniting force between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Peace talks have taken several strides forward in the last couple of months, the most recent of which was the U.S. coming to the table and offering direct negotiations with the Taliban. While in the country of Afghanistan, it’s unlikely that the U.S. will find peace with the Taliban. However, if they leave then they might be able to broker a lasting peace between the Afghan government and the Taliban — the fight against IS could actually serve to give both groups a common enemy and even help in the peace process.
Some potential problems that the Afghan government may face in prospective peace with the Taliban: many of the Taliban see the Afghan government as puppets and the U.S. as the puppeteer. Should the Taliban leadership agree to terms of peace, others within the organization may not. This is especially true if the government does not allow Sharia Law anywhere in Afghan borders. Sharia may be a “make it or break it” issue.
As time goes on and peace talks continue, the world watches to see what the next practical steps will be.
Featured image: Security personnel patrol near a park where a would-be attacker was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, July 16, 2018. A would-be suicide attacker was shot and killed by police in Kabul before he was able to get close to a gathering of supporters of the country’s first vice president, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, according to police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai. Dostum is currently in Turkey. | AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini