Opinion: Islamic State Attack Reinvigorates US Aggression in Afghanistan

Photo credit: Xinhua News Agency

By Jakob Stein

On Thursday, outside the Kabul airport, an explosive attack by a branch of the Islamic State killed Taliban militants and US military personnel alike, in addition to many more Afghan civilians. While the past two weeks have been dominated by the monopoly media and US politicians condemning the Taliban, this attack and the future US strikes against Islamic State militants will likely facilitate a closer working relationship between US imperialism and the Taliban.

A branch of the Islamic State known as ISIS-Khorasan Province (ISIS-K), a self-proclaimed enemy of both the Taliban and the US military, have claimed responsibility for the attack. The attack was a suicide bombing targeting the Kabul airport, where thousands have crowded in an attempt to board evacuation flights, just five meters from the Abbey Gate, a major entrance point to the airport guarded by US troops. The bombing killed at least 170 people, including 13 US military personnel, with an additional 200 Afghans injured.

In the wake of the attack, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen and Joe Biden both condemned the bombing, as well as numerous other leading officials within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). During a press conference in response to the bombings, Biden stated: “We will hunt you [ISIS-K militants] down and make you pay. I will defend our interests and our people with every measure at my command.”

As he faces widespread criticism for the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Biden seeks to posture as ‘tough on terrorism,’ and has promised to launch attacks on ISIS-K, likely through drone or other airstrikes. This calls into question his promise to pull out all US personnel from Afghanistan by next Tuesday, and opens the door for further US military actions in the country.

With a working relationship already established between the US and Taliban in the peace agreements signed in February 2020, the threat to US interests posed by ISIS-K is only further incentive for US imperialists to normalize their relationship with the Taliban sooner rather than later. Though working together against a common enemy, along with the Taliban’s pledge to prevent any groups from “using the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies,” the role of the Taliban as another lackey of US imperialism in the Middle East is becoming all the more certain.

The US originally justified their invasion of Afghanistan under the guise of ‘fighting terrorism,’ and now that they are finally pulling out, ISIS-K has given them another reason to be involved militarily. While a full redeployment of troops is unlikely, the fight against ISIS-K presents a new opportunity to gain leverage over the Taliban as well as an excuse to give diplomatic recognition to their government at a time when most national governments have refused to do so. All of this is in the economic interests of US imperialism, which was laid out clearly in the peace agreement: the US, it says, will seek “economic cooperation for reconstruction with the new post-settlement Islamic Afghan government.”

One aspect that should not be ignored is the way that the monopoly media in the US has largely made their headlines about the 13 US military personnel killed in the attack, while barely mentioning or completely ignoring the nearly 400 Afghan casualties. US imperialism is responsible not only for creating the conditions for the rise of the Taliban and al-Qaeda by supporting the Mujahideen against the social-imperialist Soviet Union in the 1980s, but also for the rise of the Islamic State through their numerous overt and covert military campaigns, especially the invasion of Iraq and destabilization of Syria.

This is the inevitable pattern of imperialism—make trouble, fail, make trouble again, fail again, until their doom—and the world is seeing how this plays out in high definition after decades of US imperialist attempts to secure vital regions in the Middle East for their raw materials, markets, and strategic geopolitical importance. The biggest victims of this cruel game are and will always be the people living in the oppressed nations, in this case the Afghan people.

While the withdrawal of US military is a major victory for the Afghan people, all indications point to the fact that the semicolonial relationship between US imperialism and the Taliban is becoming more concrete. The economic domination by foreign powers and subjection of the Afghan people to the interests of US imperialism is what keeps them in a state of misery and oppression. The reactionary ideology of the Taliban—now the party of the ruling class in Afghanistan—cannot offer the people a way out of this imperialist domination. Only a revolution waged by the workers and peasants of Afghanistan, led by its vanguard Party, can open the door to self-reliance and true national independence.


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