Once serious enemies, the Taliban and Islamic State militants may have brokered a ceasefire deal amongst each other in Eastern Afghanistan.
The Wall Street Journal reports that after a year of fighting amongst themselves, the two had worked out a deal to focus their attacks on the government.
“[ISIS] fought deadly battles with the Taliban before. But over the past two months, there has been no fighting among them,” explained General Mohammad Zaman Waziri, a commander of Afghan troops.
It has been thought that this lull in fighting had allowed ISIS to commit several high profile terrorist attacks, such as the suicide bombing in Kabul that killed more than 80 people last month.
ISIS has reached out to the Taliban for support in the past; however, Taliban forces have remained wary to accept the group’s olive branch given its over-the-top methods of achieving its goals. That hasn’t stopped the militants from trying though — through meetings at mosques with Taliban members, ISIS fighters have attempted to establish mutual relations by discussing the Islamic system of law and offering food at gatherings.
In other cases, ISIS militants have also been trying to gain a sense of trust amongst the community by providing employment for Afghans in impoverished areas. Additionally, by handing out wages to Afghans who agree to fight for them, the militants not only established ties to the community, but are also able to bolster their ranks. Tribal leaders have even claimed that ISIS had managed to recruit around 40 fighters in one district.
Due to its isolated and local nature, however, this fragile agreement doesn’t necessarily mean that it reflects the views of the Taliban or ISIS as a whole.
Army Gen. John Nicholson, military commander of US forces in Afghanistan explains, “There’s still a conflict even though they may have a local cease-fire in place. There’s always been a live-and-let-live dimension to some of the social fabric.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, one of the sources of contention between the two forces stems from the fact that their ideologies differ — while the Taliban are fighting to oust foreign fighters from Afghanistan and establish Shariah law, ISIS still yearns to create a global caliphate.
Even if their ideologies were to hypothetically align, some analysts familiar with the situation still predict a major disagreement from the two groups due to neither of them wanting to relinquish their control.
“The Taliban’s stance is that we are the only group and if you fight you should fight under us,” explains Kunar province’s governor Wahidullah Kalimzai, in The Wall Street Journal. “They see themselves as the owners of the war.”
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