Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

AAN in the Media

ISIS Is Blowing Up Mosques in Kabul: Attacks on Shia Hazaras deepens ethnic and religious schisms

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War is Boring, 9 December 2016

The web-based magazine looks into the recent IS anti-Shia violence in Afghanistan. AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted at some length here, somewhat contradicting the hypothesis given in the articles title:

“I actually doubt that the sectarian divide has increased as a result of Daesh violence in Afghanistan,” says Thomas Ruttig, co-director of Afghanistan Analysts Network. Ruttig emphasiszes the difference between the phrases “sectarian divide” — which exists — and “sectarian conflict,” which doesn’t.

“What I see is that Daesh has been trying to to exploit the existing divide, which, at least in the past 15 years, did not lead to any significant Sunni-Shia violence.”

“So far, both communities have not reacted in the way Daesh apparently wishes them to — by starting to hit back, as it has been the case in Syria and Iraq, so there seems to be some resilience,” Ruttig continues.

“The Daesh onslaught has raised awareness over the need for Afghans of all backgrounds to come together against ultra-terrorism, but I would not go that far to state the country has been “united” by this. There are too many old grievances, bolstered by institutionalized impunity over past crimes that are dangerous.” (…)

“The Taliban have changed their policy towards [the Shia] Hazaras,” Ruttig says. “Perhaps they understand now that they cannot alienate a large community, if they ever want to rule the country again. It also plays in their favour that, in comparison, they seem less radical than Daesh.” (…)

“Of course, the element of ‘newness’ and the nature of their atrocities seem to create a fear that Daesh is bigger than the real threat, the Taliban, who remain a strong force,” Ruttig warns, adding that the methods used by Islamic States have also been applied by the Taliban in the past.