By New Delhi Times Bureau
Feb 29th, 2016
Once an up and coming rebel group, the
Islamic State today stands at the frontline of rebel militant groups in the
world. The mounting pile of beheaded corpses and the elongating bloody trails
are just one of the proofs of the surging power of this zealot organisation. With
the world becoming a hotbed for politico-religious expeditions by militant
groups, ISIS is fast gaining stronghold in countries beyond Iraq and Syria.
Decreeing a global caliphate, ISIS has
since 2014 claimed its authority, political and religious, over Muslims across
the world and has been concentrating all its efforts in this direction. While
the organisation has been condemned by religious and political leaders of the
world for its actions against Islam as well as against the orders of the United
Nations, ISIS is busy increasing its foothold in several countries, especially
in Europe and Asia.
One such victim nation of the IS insurgency
happens to be Afghanistan where several estranged members of the Taliban have
begun pledging fealty to ISIS. Hinting at augmenting its presence in the Indian
sub-continent, the Islamic State has been recruiting militants for its
operations throughout Southern Asia, especially in the unstable country of
Afghanistan. The black flags symbolic of the Islamic State have started
becoming a common sight in the nation already terribly afflicted by Taliban.
Violent skirmishes between militants and
the Afghan forces, blazing houses and beheaded cadavers are all indicative of
the gradual rise of the dreaded organisation in Afghanistan. The aggressive
attacks by Islamic State on the more established Taliban point to the increased
influence of ISIS in the region, just as what occurred in Iraq and Syria when
it got involved in scuffles with the already consolidated Al-Qaeda units.
Bearing in mind the establishment of
caliphate as the ultimate objective, the Islamic State has begun to shrewdly
exploit the political tensions rampant in Afghanistan in its own stride. The
public beheadings of security personnel as well as local residents along with
the swelling contingent of foreign militants enticed by the extremist
interpretation of Sharia laws by ISIS has managed to further sabotage the
security of Afghan populace and the peace of the land.
With US winding down its presence in
Afghanistan and the Afghan military occupied in conflicts with Taliban and
al-Qaeda militants, it was an opportune moment for the ISIS to enter the
conflicted land. Much to the chagrin of the Afghan authorities, the emergence
of Islamic State has exacerbated the peace and stability scenario of the
nation, with no visible hopes for improvement in the near future.
The confirmation by American security
personnel that the Afghan Islamic State militants really do have an association
with the main ISIS group has been slightly compensated by their assertion that
the situation is not as grave as it is in the Middle East. Nonetheless the fact
remains that emergence of Islamic State in Afghanistan is a worrying
development, how-so-ever diminutive.
Even though the Islamic State faction in
Afghanistan is a cause of worry, it has been observed that the extent of their
operations in the Afghan land, even after a year, remains very limited. To seek
expansion the extremist group will have to vie with the local dynamics of the
land- ethno-sectarian, militant and cultural. It is such factors more than any
other development or guidance which shall dictate the advancement of Islamic
State in Afghanistan.
While the Islamic State links of Afghan
militants are alarming for the nation, it comes as a small respite that the
organisation failed to make the desired impact in Afghanistan. It is believed
that militants pledging allegiance to the extremist Islamist group are none
other than the antagonized members of the Taliban group. Links with the main
Islamic State or not, the Islamic State faction of Afghanistan is supposedly
recruiting foreign fighters as well as the disgruntled Taliban members for the
expansion of its activities in the nation.
While the IS faction is busy promoting and
expanding its programme for consolidation of its powers in Afghanistan, it has
faced frequent backlash from its rival group Taliban. The skirmishes between
the two groups had had frequently increasingly unrest as the corollary, leading
the path to a relatively precarious future for the nation. With the Taliban
deeply entrenched in Afghan politics and with the emergence of new insurgent
groups, the unpredictable milieu has pervaded the political and security
aspects of the nation. With clashes among the consolidated anti-state
organisations, ISIS and the Afghan military, there has been a considerable
surge in insecurity in the nation.
While the number of militants switching sides
remains comparatively low, nonetheless ISIS is steadily gaining supporters in
Afghanistan who favour Baghdadi’s aim of a global caliphate. With Afghan IS
consisting of former Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistanis and disgruntled Talibani
fighters, the war scenario has becoming more complex, decreasing the likelihood
of a peaceful resolution.
Even though the undeniable existence of
ISIS in Afghanistan has sparked suspicions of the group’s expansion beyond Iraq
and Syria, it is highly unlikely that it will gain a stronghold in Afghanistan
the way Taliban does. While violent struggles between IS and other militant
groups in Afghanistan are likely to continue this year, the Taliban will still
remain the strongest anti-state actor in Afghanistan.
The emergence of Islamic State in
Afghanistan is not only being seen as an existential threat to the existing
insurgent groups, however weak the threat may be right now, but it has also
posed speculations of interruptions at attempted peace talks of the government
with Taliban. Also further fragmentations of the Taliban will likely put
erstwhile Taliban members into IS ranks, exacerbating the current threat. It is
only through forging local cooperative measures that the government can combat
the insurgent forces and hope for a peaceful and secure nation.