Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

AAN in the Media

Islamic State on the march? What fall of Ramadi tells us

2 min

Christian Science Monitor, 24 May 2015

With extensive quotes from an article for al-Jazeera AAN’s Borhan Osman has written in 2014 under the headline “Afghanistan will not be the next Iraq”:

It is the same situation faced by Afghanistan at the dawn of Taliban rule, suggests Borhan Osman, an analyst for the Afghanistan Analysts Network in Kabul, in an essay for Al Jazeera. In 1979, the Soviet invasion had toppled the Afghan government. After the Soviets left in 1989, the country was ruled by the mujahideen who had fought the Soviets – a period of civil war and ethnic strife that ended only with the arrival of the Taliban in 1996.

“Iraq now appears to be at the same point as when the Taliban – like the Islamic State today in Iraq – rose against the corrupt and powerless government of the mujahideen whose warlords and commanders had regularly oppressed the population,” Mr. Osman writes.

Over time, he notes, Afghanistan’s convulsions gradually grew less deadly, even though deaths under the Taliban drew more attention.

“For example, more than 25,000 people were reportedly killed in a single event in the Herat uprising in 1979. For the past 13 years, the conflict has killed between 50,000 and 60,000 people. By contrast, Iraq’s death toll has reached well over 200,000 people since the US invasion in 2003, according to the Costs of War project,” he writes.

Iraq presents a more difficult problem, Osman argues, since the ethnic tensions or Afghanistan are not as potent as Iraq’s sectarian divides. But in Afghanistan, government has become one important agent of a nascent sense of unity, he adds:

In this sense, if the Taliban try an offensive, the general Afghan population will not see them as saviours from chaos once again and will not concede to their rule. In fact, most indicators point in the other direction. Afghanistan has seen a significant socio-economic and political transformation since the 1990s: an improved economy, growing urbanisation, improved governance, and greater access to health care, schools and universities for the general population.