Despite Opposition from the Taliban, Islamic State Is Thriving in Afghanistan

According to Taliban officials, Islamic State’s Afghanistan offshoot (known as the “Khorasan province,” or ISKP) has but a negligible presence. American diplomats, for their part, have claimed that the new jihadist government in Kabul can provide a bulwark against the group, which opposes what it sees as the Taliban’s relative religious moderation. But, Oved Lobel argues, the evidence supports neither interpretation:

In Jalalabad, . . . there have been near-daily shootings, bombings, and assassinations targeting the Taliban. . . . ISKP suicide bombers have also continued to target the Shiites of Afghanistan, with a massive suicide bombing at a mosque in Kunduz and another at a mosque in Kandahar, attacks which killed and wounded hundreds.

The simple fact is that despite U.S. attempts to pass intelligence to the Taliban as well as backing from Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran, the Taliban seem fundamentally incapable of containing, much less eliminating, ISKP. . . . In addition to the abundant recruitment potential created by economic, ideological, and sectarian factors, there is boredom. The Taliban have never really been a governing entity; their raison d’être was always jihad and martyrdom. Interview after interview with Taliban rank-and-file since their victory in August has exposed complete listlessness and lack of discipline, with many lamenting the transition to civilian life and their failure to get themselves killed.

As there’s no work, no money, no food, and most importantly nobody left to fight, there is a substantial risk of Taliban fighters joining ISKP just to have a chance to continue waging jihad.

Even under combined pressure from the U.S. Air Force, Afghan special forces and the Taliban, all of whom occasionally cooperated against ISKP prior to the Taliban takeover, the group retained the capability to conduct mass-casualty attacks and assassinations at will. Without the former two, ISKP is now operating and recruiting in an extremely permissive environment and is likely to remain and expand throughout the country.

Worse still, a U.S. Defense Department official stated that, unchecked, ISKP will be able to launch attacks outside of Afghanistan within a year.

Read more at Australia/Israel Review

More about: ISIS, Taliban, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign policy

The U.S. Is Trying to Seduce Israel into Accepting a Bad Deal with Iran. Israel Should Say No

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its quarterly report on the Iranian nuclear program. According to an analysis by the Institute for Science and International Security, the Islamic Republic can now produce enough weapons-grade uranium to manufacture “five nuclear weapons in one month, seven in two months, and a total of eight in three months.” The IAEA also has reason to believe that Tehran has further nuclear capabilities that it has successfully hidden from inspectors. David M. Weinberg is concerned about Washington’s response:

Believe it or not, the Biden administration apparently is once again offering the mullahs of Tehran a sweetheart deal: the release of $10 billion or more in frozen Iranian assets and clemency for Iran’s near-breakout nuclear advances of recent years, in exchange for Iranian release of American hostages and warmed-over pious Iranian pledges to freeze the Shiite atomic-bomb program.

This month, intelligence photos showed Iran again digging tunnels at its Natanz nuclear site—supposedly deep enough to withstand an American or Israeli military strike. This tells us that Iran has something to hide, a clear sign that it has not given up on its quest for a nuclear bomb.

Meanwhile, Antony Blinken today completes a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia, where he is reportedly pressing the kingdom to enter the Abraham Accords. This is no coincidence, for reasons Weinberg explains:

Washington expects Israeli acquiescence in the emerging U.S. surrender to Iran in exchange for a series of other things important to Israel. These include U.S. backing for Israel against escalated Palestinian assaults expected this fall in UN forums, toning down U.S. criticism regarding settlement and security matters (at a time when the IDF is going to have to intensify its anti-terrorist operations in Judea and Samaria), an easing of U.S. pressures on Israel in connection with domestic matters (like judicial reform), a warm Washington visit for Prime Minister Netanyahu (which is not just a political concession but is rather critical to Israel’s overall deterrent posture), and most of all, significant American moves towards reconciliation with Saudi Arabia (which is critical to driving a breakthrough in Israeli-Saudi ties).

[But] even an expensive package of U.S. “concessions” to Saudi Arabia will not truly compensate for U.S. capitulation to Iran (something we know from experience will only embolden the hegemonic ambitions of the mullahs). And this capitulation will make it more difficult for the Saudis to embrace Israel publicly.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Antony Blinken, Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship