Lessons from History: ISIS of our Days, is Taliban of the Last Century

“History repeats itself” one of the most controversial sayings out there that has lead to many debates and to lots of digging in our history just to prove it right or wrong. Whether it is true or not is a debate that will go on forever, but for now I will focus on an incident that is alarmingly similar to a historic predecessor and maybe, just maybe it will support the believers of that saying.

The whole world seems to be consumed and shocked with the uprise of ISIS and claiming that its ways and its brutality were never seen before. I beg to differ; for as brutal and unusual their acts might seem, they are not new because some 35 years ago a predecessor movement called “Taliban” emerged in Afghanistan and tried to implement the same plan that ISIS is trying to implement now in the Middle East. Not only their goals are similar, but how they came to power, how they were created, what was their role, and what they did are almost typical as if they were exact twins.

A few days ago, I came across a documentary that was once aired on The History Channel titled “The Taliban Declassified” and the similarity between Taliban as depicted in the documentary and ISIS is so striking that at one point you just can’t tell who’s who.

Here’s why I find both guerrillas to be of the exact genetic pool:

  • To begin with, little is known about the background and history of Mullah Omar, the leader of Taliban; even less is known about Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS which strikes me as very odd since we are in the era where nothing can be hidden from the internet (you might want to check the facebook pictures from your “latest event” to verify my sayings) – Many rumors link both man to secret services.
  • Pakistani secret services are believed to be the creators of Taliban – in the case of ISIS, there are many “Godfathers” who fit that profile. Maybe someday we will know the true father.
  • Back in the 80’s Mujahidin flocked from all over the world to support Taliban because they believed that it was there to implement what they viewed as the true Islamic teachings – in 2014 a main export item should be added to Europe’s GDP because they are the biggest exporters of fighters going to Syria to join ISIS.
  • ISIS performs flogging, crossing, beheading, stoning and takes extreme measures to perform their view of Shari’aa. They banned music, forced men to grow their beards, imposed the religious police, put the 5 prayers a day law into effect, they also forced women to be fully veiled, and banned them from driving cars. Moreover, they changed school books and the teaching curriculum, punished men who were caught eating during Ramadan fasting days. They are convinced that the whole world is fighting Islam and it is their job to protect it. A quick look into Taliban’s history and dogma shows that they were exactly the same, albeit ISIS seems to believe more in sexual freedom because they believe that a cow’s boobs are sexually provocative and should be covered – all of you heartless people who accused them of being sexually intolerant should rethink your accusations after this piece of information!
  • On October 21st 2014, and as US air force fighters were dropping military support to Kurdish Guerilla fighters defending Kobani they “mistakenly” dropped some supplies inside ISIS controlled territory. Of course the official account from US officials was that it was made by mistake but given all the technology and GPS systems makes it hard to believe such a “mistake”. What adds to my doubt is a piece in the documentary where US ambassador Peter Tomsen who was at one point a US special envoy to Afghanistan between 1989-1992 says, and I quote his exact words: “while the Soviet Military was still in Afghanistan there was every reason for the United States to continue supporting the Pakistani approach of providing the extremists with the greatest bulk of American weaponry. However after the soviets moved out in February of 1989 we should have readjusted our policy and provided weapons to all groups not only the extremists but the moderates and other groups in Afghanistan.” Perhaps this time the Americans have learned from their previous mistake and this is why they dropped the supplies “by no mistake”
  • ISIS does not tolerate any other military faction next to it and this is why we see them fighting with Al-Nusra most of the time. Back in the days, Taliban also eliminated all competition to reign on the Afghani scene.
  • There were always indirect talks between the USA and Taliban through many channels since after all they were their “Godfathers”. Mrs. Clinton admits in her memoirs that ISIS also is the offspring of American secret intelligence but it probably is a more refined version of Taliban. They probably sat down and learnt from all the mistakes committed in the Taliban era and tried to avoid them this time with ISIS. I believe it is safe to say that there will be no September 11 this time.
  • Taliban was created for the sole reason of fighting the Soviet Union back then; both the USSR and USA led a proxy fight on Afghani territory with little attention to the real needs of the Afghani people. Both were looking into increasing their territories, have access to more resources and in cheaper ways and stop the other side from doing so. The whole war in the region today is to try to cut off Russia’s access to the Mediterranean and also to try to find cheaper ways to get oil and gas to Europe in an attempt to break Russia’s monopoly.
  • In 1985 and in the height of the fight between Russia and Taliban, an unexplained surge in oil production made a downward push on the prices. This initiative was lead by Saudi Arabia and it hit right in the heart of Russia’s economy. Today oil prices are at an all time low and have hit lows never seen before ( I still can’t believe that gasoline prices are down to just $20 / 20 liters in Lebanon, it definitely must be a dream!) Saudi Arabia has reiterated many times that they have no plans to cut production which means prices are not going to go up again anytime soon – Another hit to the Russian and Iranian economy this time.
  • Just as Taliban became out of control, the USA eliminated it and Mulla Omar just disappeared into thin air – Just as ISIS became a threat to Kurdistan (USA’s protégée) the USA stepped in and hit ISIS with airstrikes to stop its march towards that state.

What I find to be extremely interesting is how accurate and effective where the hits performed by the US airforce against ISIS when they were threatening Kurdistan and how much less effective they became when ISIS was marching towards Kobani.

USA, Russia, oil seem the theme words of this decade just as they have been since the 50’s of the last century. This here is another model of the ongoing economic fight between the 2 global superpowers; they still lead their proxy wars on territories that aren’t theirs in the first place, innocent casualties still die and along the way they are creating more and more beasts. The question is how long will the life span of ISIS be this time? We surely hope it will be short because we are getting tired and frustrated of it.

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