Major General (Ret) Sayed Ghoneim, PhD in Political Science – Fellow, Nasser’s Higher Military Academy.
With the decision of former US President Donald Trump in 2018 to withdraw US forces, serious thinking began on setting a date for the withdrawal, and as of March 2020, the Taliban’s military operations against US forces in Afghanistan were reduced, in preparation for the start of the US forces withdrawal in May, but ISIS’s military operations against Taliban increased.
Following the start of the successive withdrawal of US forces and the beginning of the Taliban’s control over Afghanistan, specifically on August 26, 2021, a terrorist affiliated with ISIS blew himself up inside Kabul airport, killing and wounding elements from Taliban and US Marines.
A question arises: What about Taliban’s position toward ISIS and al-Qaeda?
First we have to remember that al-Qaeda came from the heart of Afghanistan during Taliban era. A few days ago, with Taliban seizing power in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda declared its allegiance to Taliban.
On the other hand, ISIS is fighting al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and other places. Al-Baghdadi had defected from al-Zawahiri due to disputes between al-Baghdadi and the leader of Jabhat al-Nusra (formerly) / Hayait Fateh al-Sham (currently) in Syria in 2013/2014.
Hence, it can be concluded that the damage is shared by both, Taliban and al-Qaeda, along with the US.
The ISIS attack on Kabul airport targeting elements of Taliban may prompt al-Qaeda to respond on behalf of Taliban, to whom al-Qaeda in Afghanistan recently declared its allegiance.
This places Taliban between two sides of the road in front of the international community; first: that Taliban depends on and supports al-Qaeda in front of ISIS, which implicates Taliban, because it will be in front of the international community supporting the most important terrorist organization in the world; the second: that Taliban should not rely on, or support al-Qaeda, and confront ISIS alone, this will raise Taliban’s position in front of the international community, especially after its new peaceful discourse, as Taliban will appear as confronting ISIS terrorism without cooperating with another terrorist organization (al-Qaeda).
On the other hand, the US may return to Afghanistan again.