Afghanistan: On the Eve of a Religious War?by Fatemeh Aman
The Islamic State (ISIS or IS) recently threatened the Shia Hazara minority in Afghanistan with more attacks in retaliation for fighting in Syria in defense of President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. “Unless they stop going to Syria and stop being slaves of Iran, we will definitely continue such attacks,” the message said.
Tensions are rising in Afghanistan over the government’s inability to provide security for its citizens. On July 23, two suicide attacks left at least 80 dead and hundreds injured in a peaceful demonstration held by the Hazara minority. IS claimed responsibility. Demonstrators were protesting peacefully against changes in a government development project that they felt would adversely affect them.
The Islamic State and former Taliban members who joined IS have conducted several bloody attacks against the Hazara minority over the last two years in a likely effort to instigate a religious or ethnic war in Afghanistan. Although Afghanistan is a multiethnic tribal society, no group or faction, including the Taliban, is interested in a religious war. Unlike in Iraq and Arab states, religion has not been a source of major conflict in Afghanistan. As a result, IS remains the sole proponent of a Shia-Sunni war in the country.