The Malta Independent 25 June 2024, Tuesday
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Afghanistan pullout: Just more territory for the Islamic State to swallow up

Wednesday, 29 October 2014, 08:30 Last update: about 11 years ago

As concern increases about the presence of an Islamic State offshoot in Darnah, Libya, the last troops are pulling out of Afghanistan as the US Marines and UK military pull out of Helmand province.

The US and UK led war in Afghanistan lasted 13 years and has left thousands of casualties in its wake... some of them young western soldiers, some of them radicalised young Afghgans, some of them innocent men, women and children.

After 13 years, Afghanistan is seeing some degree of stability, but how long will that last once security is handed back to the Afghan military? There were numerous incidents throughout the war when Afghan soldiers turned their guns on their western mentors. There were others where they turned guns on each other. And there were other incidents where they just lay down their arms and left.

The Taliban still has a presence in Afghanistan - as does Al Qaeda. But what about the bigger threat of Islamic State. IS continues to grow. It's brutal ideology knows no bounds. IS really came into being in 2006 as Iraqi Sunni Muslims waged a sectarian violence campaign against the dominant Shia branch of Islam in the region.

In June 2014, the CIA estimated that IS had between 20 and 30,000 fighters in its ranks in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon. It has literally overrun parts of the Middle East and has already produced numerous propaganda videos in which it says it will not stop. IS wants a Caliphate that stretches from Africa to the Far East, also spreading up into Europe.

The fact that it has enticed young disillusioned men from France, the UK, the US and other places to fight its battles shows just how strong its allure can be to young men who feel they have no future.

So just imagine what will unfold in Afghanistan. The prospects for young men there are bleaker than in any other place in the Middle East and it is only a matter of time before IS turns its attention there.

Afghanistan straddles Iran and Pakistan. Iran has a 90% Shia majority with only some 9% of the population being Sunni. In Pakistan to Afghanistan's East, the situation is different with a 70-odd percent Sunni majority. Pakistan's tribal regions have already joined forces with Afghanistan's and have waged insurgency campaigns in both countries.

With a 92% majority Sunni population, Afghanistan is a likely candidate for Islamic State expansion. Oddly, it is only Iran, one of the few stable societies (albeit with many flaws and shortfalls in human rights) that can be the galvanising force that is needed to root out the Islamic State. The IS the world's enemy. It is the enemy of Muslims and it is the enemy of Christians. It is the enemy of Eastern people and Western people. Many are calling for an international solution. But is there one? This is about ideology, not culture and not the rule of law. As long as we live in a world where people can be seduced by such horror, we are going to get nowhere fast.



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