Matthew writes for the Lincolnshire Echo

Despite the current focus on Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, we should remember that they haven't attacked the UK directly yet, while the Taliban and related jihadi groups have killed hundreds of British soldiers and in 2005 attacked our mainland.

We may be talking about Islamic State now, but the problem is not that different from Afghanistan which after the US surge in 2010/11, became a less favoured destination for would be jihadists.


As the jihadi franchises re-emerged in Iraq, Syria became a preferred destination for aspiring jihadists. Part of the reason for grotesque beheadings is to promote IS as a jihadi destination of choice.

As ISIS is degraded by western bombing and less sectarian politics in Baghdad, we need to ensure that Afghanistan does not become (as it was in the 90s and the 2000s) the destination du jour of aspiring jihadists.


Afghanistan will return post-2014 to what it was: a complex patchwork of villages, tribes, networks and warlords with a separate and relatively distant government and international class in Kabul. These groups will fight for complex combinations of power, security, pride, money and in some cases religion. Whoever rules in Kabul, even if in theory they represent the Pashtun majority of the south, will not command authority over the whole country. There will be areas of Afghanistan that (like the equivalent areas in Pakistan) will be ungovernable. We can't keep an overtly military presence to monitor them, but we do need to keep a sense of what is going on and we need to keep our attention on them.

Whilst we cannot keep a significant troop presence, we do need to beef up our political involvement and intelligence focus. Islamic State is the crisis of the moment, but neither we, nor the United States, can afford to ignore Afghanistan.


To allow the gains made to slip would be a disservice to the Afghan people and the sacrifices of our soldiers. Further, in an age of international jihadism, terrorist attacks can come from anywhere, but we have to recognise that some areas have a history of instability and that collectively taking our eyes off them is always going to lead to trouble.

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