World View: ISIS Terror in Afghanistan Highlights Government Chaos

The Associated Press

This morning’s key headlines from

  • ISIS claims responsibility for major terrorist attack in east Afghanistan
  • Afghanistan becomes more ungovernable as US-led coalition withdraws
  • Greece scrapes the bottom of the barrel as bankruptcy talk increases

ISIS claims responsibility for major terrorist attack in east Afghanistan

Site where a suicide bomber on a motorbike blew himself up in front of the Kabul Bank in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on Saturday (CNN)
Site where a suicide bomber on a motorbike blew himself up in front of the Kabul Bank in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on Saturday (CNN)

A suicide bomber on a motorbike blew himself up in front of the Kabul Bank in Jalalabad in Afghanistan early Saturday. Jalalabad is near the Pakistan border, east of the capital city Kabul. 33 people were killed, and hundreds injured.

“ISIS Wilayat Khorasan,” a terrorist group that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) claimed responsibility for the act. ISIS refers to “Khorasan” as a province of the Islamic State consisting of the existing countries Afghanistan and Pakistan. ISIS has been recruiting heavily in the region, and concerns are rising that ISIS is gaining a foothold in the region.

In the past, ISIS groups in Afghanistan turned out to be former Taliban groups who were disillusioned with Ayman al-Zawahiri and the other old geezers running al-Qaeda, and were super turned-on by the young, sexy Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the terrorist running ISIS. Whether or not this is true of the “ISIS Wilayat Khorasan,” terrorists in the Jalalabad bombing, a Taliban spokesman sent a text message to reporters, “The explosion in Jalalabad doesn’t have anything to do with us and we condemn it.”

There was another terrorist attack on Saturday, in a nearby town in Nangarhar province. A magnetic bomb was attached to a parked car and then detonated by remote control, killing one person and wounding two others. CNN and and RAWA (Afghanistan)

Afghanistan becomes more ungovernable as US-led coalition withdraws

This new terrorist attacks come as the United Nations says that in the first three months of this year, 655 people were killed and 1,155 were wounded in suicide attacks throughout the country. Concerns are rising that Afghanistan is becoming ungovernable as the United States coalition withdraws its forces.

Everything seems to be going wrong. The economy is bad, and getting worse as the US-led coalition withdraws.

The government was supposed to be holding “peace talks” with the Taliban in March, but that deadline is now in the past.

President Ashraf Ghani had promised to improve relations with Pakistan, and work with Pakistan to combat terrorism affecting both countries. But so far, little has come of the promised rapprochement between the two countries, and indeed, given the history of the two countries, it is doubtful anything will.

There was a national election last year with results that were so disputed, there was no way to determine with certainty which of the two candidates won. So under tremendous pressure from the United States, they formed a sort of co-presidency. Ashraf Ghani was made President and Abdullah Abdullah was made Chief Executive. There have been incessant squabbles and rumors of rifts, and a full cabinet has still not been formed, although several nominees received approval on Saturday after months of delays. However, many analysts believe that the unity government will collapse before long, with warlords and militiamen growing in confidence and acting with impunity. The National (UAE) and Dawn (Pakistan)

Greece scrapes the bottom of the barrel as bankruptcy talk increases

Alexis Tsipras, the far-left prime minister of Greece, had been hopin’ and prayin’ that Greece’s three creditor institutions — the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Commission (ECB), the European Central Bank (ECB), formerly known by the now-banned word “troika” — would cancel a debt repayment or at least delay it for a while. As you already know, Dear Reader, this is what we call “kicking the can down the road.”

But IMF chief Christine Lagarde firmly rejected that hope this week:

We never had an advanced economy actually asking for that kind of thing, delayed payment. And I very much hope that this is not the case with Greece. I would certainly, for myself, not support it.”

ECB president Mario Draghi was vague, but seemed to be saying that the Europe and the euro could survive a Greek bankruptcy, which would mean leaving the euro currency and returning to the old drachma currency:

The short-term danger of contagion [from a Greek exit] is difficult to assess, but we have enough buffers in place. And even though they were designed for different circumstances, they are sufficient. But we are entering uncharted waters.

By “contagion,” he means that if Greece leaves, then other troubled economies, such as Portugal and Italy, may also have to leave. He is saying that he thinks he has this covered.

Whether Lagarde’s statement is really a firm decision, or just a negotiating stance, remains to be seen, but there is little doubt that Greece is really on the edge of the cliff, about to fall over.

Greece will need to tap from all of its remaining cash reserves, about 2 billion euros, in order to pay salaries and pensions of public sector workers by the end of April. That will leave Greece with no more reserves to pay 1 billion euros due to the IMF in the first half of May, with other payments due following quickly after.

In February, the three institutions gave Tsipras a four-month reprieve, on condition that he come up with a list of reforms to explain how it is going to meet the existing terms of its bailout agreement. The list of reforms would have to address a number of economic issues, including the bloated public sector, curbing tax evasion and corruption, privatizing public businesses, and adjusting generous pension and minimum wage policies.

Now, two months have passed. Tsipras and his garrulous finance minister Yanis Varoufakis keep talking evasively, and saying that the list of reforms is just a day or two away, but it never shows up, and people are beginning to think that he is always going to keep talking about reforms but is never going to actually implement any reforms.

So we have Tsipras and the three institutions playing a game of Chicken. In the 1950s, the game of chicken was played with two cars racing at full speed toward each other until one car turned away, making the other car the winner. But, as everyone knows, sometimes neither car turned away, with explosive results. Irish Times and Reuters and Forbes and Guardian (London)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Afghanistan, Jalalabad, Pakistan, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, ISIS Wilayat Khorasan, al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, Ashraf Ghani, Abdullah Abdullah, Alexis Tsipras, Chicken, Troika, European Commission, European Central Bank, Yanis Varoufakis, International Monetary Fund, Greece, Christine Lagarde, Mario Draghi
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