In recent months, the Taliban’s efforts to crush the Islamic State in Afghanistan have grown increasingly brutal. Suspected members of the Islamic State have been hung in public or beheaded. The Taliban have increased the tempo of deadly night raids and deployed over 1,000 additional foot soldiers to carry out the fight in Nangahar province. These tactics are ruthless and — unfortunately for the Taliban — they’re not working.
Following their capture of Kabul on Aug. 15 — after waging a nearly two-decade conflict with the Afghan government and its Western supporters — few could dispute the effectiveness of the Taliban’s approach to insurgency. But now, with foreign troops withdrawn, the group seems overwhelmed with the Herculean challenge of maintaining its own cohesion, forming a new government and framework of governing policies, stabilizing the country, and dealing with a collapsing economy and dwindling social services. Additionally, the Taliban are struggling to combat a growing insurgency from the Islamic State in Afghanistan (also known as Islamic State-Khorasan), as illustrated by at least 54 attacks conducted by the Islamic State between mid-September and late October. After enjoying success as insurgents, the Taliban are failing miserably as counter-insurgents, unable to fend off Islamic State attacks against population centers and their own personnel.