By Arab News
By Ali M. Latifi
A string of Daesh attacks on foreigners in Kabul over the past four months shows the group’s efforts to target international interests in Afghanistan, experts said on Tuesday, a day after a deadly strike on a hotel in the Afghan capital.
The Chinese-run hotel and residential complex in central Kabul came under an hours-long attack on late Monday afternoon, when three gunmen entered the multistory building. At least three assailants were killed and another 21 people wounded, including two foreigners.
On Tuesday morning, a regional affiliate of the Daesh — known as Islamic State Khorasan Province, or ISIS-K — claimed responsibility for the assault.
Since September, the group has claimed a number of similar attacks targeting Russian, Pakistani and Chinese diplomats and civilians in the Afghan capital — at a time when the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate continues to court international recognition as the official government of Afghanistan.
Monday’s attack came a day after Chinese Ambassador Wang Yu met officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and asked the Taliban for additional measures for the security of the Chinese Embassy. Beijing is one of the few governments to maintain an active diplomatic presence in Kabul since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021.
Analysts say there is no coincidence in the fact that Moscow, Islamabad and Beijing’s diplomatic and commercial presence has come under attack from the Taliban’s rivals, as the three countries are seen as the most amenable to Afghanistan’s new rulers.
Andreas Krieg, assistant professor at the Defence Studies Department of King’s College London, said the recent string of attacks highlights the difference between the Taliban and Daesh.
“It will be part of ISIS-K’s efforts in Afghanistan to make the environment inhospitable for foreigners of all backgrounds,” he told Arab News.
While the Taliban are trying to get closer to other nations and are seeking recognition, Daesh sees them as “unbelievers who will corrupt the traditional Islamic values of Afghan society,” Krieg said.
The group sees no value in building bridges with these countries and would rather actively work to expel them from Afghanistan as soon as possible.
The effects of these attacks go beyond politics and are likely to bring further down the collapsing Afghan economy.
A source from a leading financial institution in Afghanistan said the attacks could discourage foreign investment, which the Taliban have been seeking since the US and several international bodies placed their government under sanctions and banking restrictions.
The source, who asked for anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said that prior to Monday’s attack, “there was a lot of headway being made with the Taliban on mining, including payments that were due from Beijing.”
The Taliban have counted on the potential of Afghanistan’s mineral and gemstone resources to help uplift the economy. The Chinese, who had a stake in the nation’s largest copper mine, Mes Aynak, were seen as one possible hope for a much-needed financial boost.
But the source said that progress may now be lost, as Chinese businesspeople, many of whom resided or conducted business in the hotel targeted on Monday, will become wearier of bringing their money and people into Afghanistan.
Beijing may also follow Moscow and reduce its physical presence in the country, if even temporarily, which would be another setback to the Taliban’s efforts to gain regional acceptance and international recognition.