The Islamic State and the Taliban are headed for a showdown in Afghanistan.
Reports of a mutual declaration of jihad may have brought smiles to the faces of American service personnel and veterans of the war in Afghanistan, but the reverberations could be dramatically destabilizing for the country at its most pivotal moment. In many ways, this is like the two biggest bullies in school suddenly bumping into one another in the hallway and deciding to head out to the bike rack at 3 o’clock to settle the score. Only this time, one of the bullies may find himself at a distinct disadvantage. ISIS might have bitten off a bit too much in challenging the Taliban on their home turf. It’s possible that ISIS might finally be headed for its awaited reckoning.
Reports of he growing feud between the upstart ISIS and the established but aging perennial contender Taliban have grown beyond a war of words into open warfare. As ISIS has declared its challenge to the Taliban’s predominant role in opposing Afghan national government rule in the country, the Taliban have reciprocated in kind. In a letter posted in mid-June, the Taliban leadership responded with a thinly veiled warning for ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi:
“Your decisions made from a distance will result in (ISIS) losing support of religious scholars, mujahideen…and in order to defend its achievements, the Islamic Emirate will be forced to react….” (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, June 16, 2015)