Hayat Alvi: The Taliban, Salafi Ideology ... Learning from history

Roundup: Media's Take

Hayat Alvi, PhD, is an associate professor at the US Naval War College.

October 7 marked the eleventh year of the Afghanistan war, and American casualties reached 2,000, while many more thousands of Afghans have been killed or maimed by conflict-related casualties as well as terrorist suicide attacks. As US and coalition forces prepare for the 2014 pullout, the International Crisis Group just released a report warning that the Afghan government could collapse, precipitating a civil war.

Most likely that is what the Taliban and fellow insurgents are counting on, allowing history to repeat itself once again. If we were to pull one thread from today’s situation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, we would see it woven into an ideological fabric that goes back to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan era. Very little has changed in the militants’ worldview and strategies since the 1980s. In fact, that very thread is also connected in many respects to the post-Arab Awakening environments in North Africa, where Salafists are asserting themselves in the most unsavory ways.

The Washington Post (October 6) describes the Salafists’ tactics in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt: "As moderate Islamist leaders in all three countries begin to craft post-revolutionary constitutions, the Salafists in their midst are pushing – sometimes at the ballot box, sometimes at the point of a gun – to create societies that more closely mirror their ultraconservative religious beliefs and lifestyles."

What is the relationship between the current Salafist trends and tactics in North Africa and the Taliban in Afghanistan?..

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