US doesn’t have as big a problem with ISIS; Turkey, Europe should do more
On Thursday the top US commander in Afghanistan announced that he was “seeing reports of some recruiting” by the Islamic State terror group there.
"There have been some night letter drops, there have been reports of people trying to recruit both in Afghanistan and Pakistan, quite frankly," Gen. John Campbell, commander of the Resolute Support mission, told the Army Times.
Earlier officials in Afghanistan’s’ southern Helmand and western Farah provinces said there have signs of the ISIS presence been noted.
RT:The comments from General John Campbell appear to contradict what President Obama said recently that Afghanistan is not going to be a source of terrorist attacks. Again – who and what should we believe?
Ivan Eland: I think they both may be correct. The ISIS group there is recruiting fighters probably to go to Syria, and that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll end up as terrorists in the West, or even Afghanistan. Apparently this guy in ISIS has set up a base and is recruiting fighters to go to Syria, and he also may be doing some fighting against the Afghan Taliban. So, I think the Afghan Taliban might try to get rid of the ISIS person and we’ll see if that happens. But of course the Taliban is bad enough there. But it doesn’t necessarily translate into terrorism against the West. Eventually they may migrate back to the West, as these people in France have. But it doesn’t necessarily have a direct correlation.
RT:If the Islamic State is gaining a foothold in Afghanistan, do you think the US might reconsider pulling its military?
IE: I don’t think so. Even in Iraq we see there’s trepidation for putting in ground forces. The US has pretty much had it with Afghanistan and Iraq. I mean, we’re already leaving a residual force in Afghanistan. And I think that most of this ISIS activity is aimed at recruiting Afghans for going to Syria rather than to fight in Afghanistan, so I think that’s probably unlikely.
RT:Do you think these coalition airstrikes, which we’ve heard much about in Iraq and Syria – do you think they’ve been effective?
IE: No, I don’t think they have. They usually aren’t. You’re going to have to have forces on the ground. And it really has to be local forces – not US forces. If you’re using US forces in any counter-insurgency, you’re more apt to lose. What you need is local forces that know the opposition; know who an opposition fighter is, and who isn’t. The local forces there aren’t any good: the Peshmerga [Kurds] are the best, the Iraqi army is bad, and the Shiite militias are friendlier to Iran, so the United States is not too thrilled with them – and of course, the last is the moderate Syrian opposition, but they’re very weak. So, I think what we really need to try to do to get out of there – and I think the US should get out of Syria and Iraq – is to try to get the Turks to do something: it’s really in their security interest to do it; they’re much closer to there. Most of these ISIS fighters might be traveling to Europe – maybe the Europeans should do more as well. The US doesn’t have as big a problem with ISIS as it thinks it does.