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Evacuation of Afghanistan and the difference between ISIS-K, al-Qaeda and the Taliban

The bomb attacks this week near Kabul airport have so far killed 170 Afghans and 13 US soldiers. The British and American intelligence services had warned the previous day of a possible bomb threat, recommending all foreigners to move away from Kabul airport immediately.

These bombings were carried out by ISIS-K, a terrorist cell of the Islamic State founded in 2015 that operates in Central Asia and has about 2,000 fighters, according to the UN. This Islamic organization has a strong rivalry with the Taliban and oppose the agreements signed with the international coalition that allow the evacuation of foreign citizens and some Afghans.

Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and the Taliban are Sunni Muslims, but all three are strong enemies to each other. Their main differences are the following:

1. Al-Qaeda was born in Pakistan during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Its founder, Osama Bin Laden, established the doctrine of 'defensive Jihad' which basically consisted of waging a guerrilla war against 'unfaithful countries'. They practice also Wahhabism, which promulgates a literal and strict interpretation of the Koran. Additionally, al-Qaeda considers that Jihad is a feeling that emerges individually within each Muslim and with a sense of ethical responsibility.

2. ISIS, or Islamic State, was formally established in 2014 in Iraq and Syria as a split-off from al-Qaeda. ISIS also had a strict interpretation of the Koran, but the difference with al-Qaeda is that ISIS advocated the formation of a totalitarian state with the aim to spread its doctrine to all countries with Muslim places in the world. Furthermore, ISIS intended to use social media as a means of propaganda and to form a conventional army to overthrow non-Muslim countries.

3. The Taliban emerged in Afghanistan from an ethnic group called Pashtun and consolidated in 1994 after a long civil war that broke out with the withdrawal of the Soviet Union. The Taliban have a less extremist interpretation of the Koran than ISIS and Al-Qaeda, their organization is based on clans and they are willing to have formal government relations with non-Muslim countries.

Biden has announced that the withdrawal date will not be extended and that the United States will attempt to evacuate the nearly 1,500 US citizens that are still in Afghanistan by August 31. Countries such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom have requested to extend this date to continue evacuating Afghan citizens who collaborated with the international coalition and their families, but they have made it clear that if the United States withdraws, it will not be possible to continue operating at the airport.

ISIS-K has become a major problem for the Taliban in their quest to gain international credibility, so it is very likely that they will impose a more authoritarian regime in order to preserve security and control in Afghanistan.

Criticism to Biden continues to grow in the United States for the mistakes he has made during the retreat and the suspicion that the deterioration of his mental health disables him from being the Commander in Chief of the armed forces. The figure of Trump is once again strengthening among the US electorate and right now he is the best positioned Republican candidate, while on the Democratic side there are no clear options yet.


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