ISIS and Taliban at war?
As of April 20, 2015, it appears that ISIS and the Taliban have declared jihad against each other. These reports followed an interview with Nabi Jan Mullahkhil, the police chief in the Helmand province. Nabi Jan Mullahkhil claimed that the police department had received documents stating the intention of jihad between ISIS and the Taliban, Khaama Press reported. 
The above two images show: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi  (Top) and Mullah Mohammed Omar  (Bottom).
It is no secret that the two groups do not get along well. In the past, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (the leader of ISIS) has been quoted as calling Mullah Mohammed Omar (the leader of the Taliban) “a fool and illiterate warlord.” In 2014, the Taliban stated that the group felt that ISIS was too extreme of a group while urging ISIS fighters to abide by the Islamic rule of law in its captured territory.  Obviously, when the Taliban declares a group too extreme, it is clear that the group is taking extreme to a new level.
But why the jihad? Is this pointed statement the cause of the jihad declared between the two Islamic fundamentalist groups? No, it appears that alternate motives are behind this. According to IndiaTimes, the driving motivation between this jihad is the opium production in Afghanistan’s Helmand province.  This province is the largest producer of opium in Afghanistan, and the two fundamentalist groups are apparently fighting over control of this opium. This is currently only speculative information by the reporters based on the location of the proposed war in the Helmand province.
The figure above shows the location of the Helmand province in Afghanistan in the red outline. This is the contested territory. Photo taken from Google Maps.
Also according to Khaama Press, the Taliban’s fighters have been told to resist any advances in the province and to not let them occupy the territory.
According to the United Nations office of Drugs and Crime, Afghanistan is the largest producer of opium in the world.  One can see from this that it would be economically advantageous for either group to have control of this opium production for funding of the group. Previously, this area was under the Taliban’s control, but ISIS appears to have an interest in expansion in the area for this reason. This report also claims that 42% of the world’s opium comes from this province alone, which is a greater production than the entire country of Burma, the world’s second largest producer of opium.
There have been many jokes and comments posted on Twitter about this proposed war which were recounted on IndiaTimes. Twitter user AboveTopSecret posted, “#ISIS and #Taliban Announced #Jihad Against Each Other http://goo.gl/H21HE8 #ATS get your tickets before sold-out” and user 1Penny4Thought posted “Apparently ISIS and the Taliban announced Jihad against each other. I say we let them bomb it out and then winner takes on US air drones.” These two tweets appear to be indicative of many of the popular responses to this topic circulating social media, representing public support for this jihad.
There has been no public mention from the United States for or against any intervention or participation in this conflict so far, so we are left to speculate on the outcome of this. As previously stated, the opinions on social media appear to support leaving the war alone while observing from the sidelines, but no official statement has been made by any government agency. This also begs the question: what will happen if the United States supports one side? If the United States provides support for both sides, one could draw a parallel between this situation and Operation Cyclone when the United States armed the Mujahideen in Afghanistan to fight the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan.  These fighters then aided the Sunni groups in fighting off the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003, where the US’s own arms were used against them in the war.
It will be interesting to see the results of this, both from the war directly and the US’s hypothetical involvement.
|||Khaama Press, “ISIS, Taliban announced Jihad against each other,” Khaama Press, 20 4 2015. [Online]. Available: http://www.khaama.com/isis-taliban-announced-jihad-against-each-other-3206. [Accessed 21 4 2015].|
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|||K. Anand, “ISIS and Taliban Have Announced Jihad…On Each Other. We Wish Them Both The Best Of Luck!,” India Times, 21 April 2015. [Online]. Available: http://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/isis-and-taliban-have-announced-jihad-on-each-other-we-wish-them-both-the-best-of-luck-232061.html. [Accessed 21 April 2015].|
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