Are Syrian jihadis able to take the combat to Afghanistan?

Afghanistan: Islamic State appeals to “educated extremists”

The Biden administration has vowed retaliation in opposition to the Islamic State Khorasan (IS-Okay) for the Aug. 26 assault on the Kabul airport thath killed 13 US armed service members and over 90 Afghan civilians. More violence is probably going. US Marine Corps Gen. and CENTCOM commander Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie mentioned after the assault that “we anticipate these assaults to proceed.”

There are an estimated 10,000 overseas fighters in Afghanistan, over 2,000 IS-Okay members, and maybe simply 200 or so al-Qaeda members in South Asia, in accordance with the Pentagon.

The US army knew that the menace from the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and IS-Okay was on the rise, and that the Afghan authorities could be hard-pressed to satisfy their problem after the US withdrawal. The June 2021 quarterly report of the Pentagon Inspector General concerning the US fight mission in Afghanistan made the next observations, price reviewing right here, in mild of latest occasions:

-“Medium” menace over two years. In June, when requested in a Senate listening to concerning the chance of al-Qaeda or IS regenerating inside Afghanistan and presenting a menace to the US homeland, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin mentioned, “I would assess it as medium. I would also say … that it would take possibly two years for them to develop that capability.” That evaluation could also be upgraded, given occasions of the previous month.

-“No change” in al-Qaeda-Taliban ties. Although the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) mentioned the Taliban is “very likely” to request that al-Qaeda prohibit its actions, per the US-Taliban settlement of February 2020, McKenzie mentioned that if “left unmolested [al-Qaeda militants] are certainly going to rebuild, restrengthen themselves, and we have no reason to doubt they … want to attack us in our homeland.” The DIA assessment was that there has been “no change” in the Taliban-al-Qaeda relationship.

-“Educated extremists.” IS-K this year has been “taking advantage of the political instability and violence in Afghanistan by using the opportunity to bolster its public support and recruitment efforts. … attacks have increased ISIS-K’s public visibility and will help bolster its recruitment of disenfranchised Taliban members and other “educated extremists,” in accordance with the DIA.

The United States and the Taliban share an curiosity in thwarting IS-Okay, however expectations must be low. This shared curiosity doesn’t result in an “enemy of my enemy” logic, or any notion of partnership. The Biden administration will get this. 

Last week we wrote that Afghanistan, even earlier than the Taliban takeover, ranked “as one of many most at-risk, fragile economies on this planet.” in different phrases, a probably failing or failed state, the textbook breeding floor for terrorist teams. And with the Taliban, it simply received exponentially worse.

Russia, Central Asia see safety vacuum

Like the United States, Russia has no religion that the Taliban shall be prepared or in a position to maintain al-Qaeda and different jihadi teams away, or comprise the rising menace from IS-Okay.

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan “poses new challenges for Russia and its Central Asian allies such as Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan,” writes Kirill Semenov. “While the Americans were present in Afghanistan, they could provide counterterrorism measures that benefitted Afghanistan’s Central Asian neighbors. But after the arrival of the Taliban, a security vacuum may emerge, and the Taliban may face serious difficulties in solving this problem.”

Syrian jihadis impressed by Taliban takeover

Given that IS has been territorially defeated in Iraq and Syria, it’s no shock that jihadis and overseas fighters, particularly these skilled in Syria’s battle, may quickly make their approach to Afghanistan.

The US-led coalition ended IS management of territory in Iraq and Syria in March 2019, thereby shifting to the fourth and ultimate part of the mission, termed “normalize, transitioning from training, developing, and assisting partner forces in Iraq and Syria to advising and enabling them.”

IS, in accordance with the DIA, stays cohesive however operates as a “low-level” and “well-entrenched” insurgency in rural areas of Iraq and Syria. The IS technique, in accordance with the June 2021 quarterly Pentagon Inspector General’s report, “is to sustain the group’s notoriety, rebuild influence among the local populace, and reestablish a self-described ‘caliphate’ in the region.”

The relative success of the marketing campaign to defeat IS in Iraq and Syria mixed with the Taliban takeover has been an inspiration and magnet for kindred jihadis, particularly these in Syria, and a few might take into account relocating to select up the combat in Afghanistan. 

In Idlib, Syria, which is primarily dominated by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS, or “Liberation of the Levant”), an al-Qaeda offshoot and US-designated terrorist group, “Jihadi factions are hailing the Taliban’s takeover,” writes Sultan al-Kanj from Idlib.

Even factions hostile to HTS have sung the Taliban’s praises, Kanj experiences. “Statements came from groups many observers believed had been eliminated. Instead, they had been quietly avoiding persecution by HTS, which has been cracking down on groups espousing ideologies similar to al-Qaeda’s.”

HTS and its chief, Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, have been trying a makeover in relations with the West, however the public relations marketing campaign has hit a wall. 

What the Taliban and HTS “share is the West’s deep skepticism of them,” write Kanj and Amberin Zaman. “The suit-wearing Jolani’s dovish overtures fly in the face of his iron grip over Idlib.”

Khaled al-Khateb experiences on the outcry amongst civil-society activists over a slew of unfair detentions and trials. “Such factions capable of transit from Syria to Afghanistan may include, for example, Katibat al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad (not to be confused with the Iraqi group of the same name), consisting of fighters from the Central Asian republics, primarily Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, many of whom came from Russia where they were looking for work,” writes Semenov.

Erdogan weighs determination on airport

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is contemplating a proposal by the Taliban to assist function the airport, however he’s in no rush to decide, as we report right here, after three and a half hours of conferences between Turkish diplomats and Taliban officers in Kabul.

Although Turkish discussions with the United States and NATO over airport safety broke down, “Two Turkish security officials told Reuters that Ankara won’t help run the airport unless the Taliban allows Turkey to maintain a security presence. One official said the Taliban’s security plans, including watchtowers surrounding the airport, are not sufficient to protect Turkish personnel providing logistical support.”

Turkey’s function, if there have been to be one, could be about greater than airport safety. 

“Much will depend on Turkey’s … readiness to provide a corridor for the transfer of foreign fighters from Syria to Afghanistan,” writes Semenov. “Considering the current level of relations between Ankara and Moscow on the one hand and the Central Asian republics on the other, it’s unlikely Turkey will provide assistance to these groups. But their presence in Idlib and the potential for them to move to the Turkish-controlled zones in Syria also threatens Ankara’s security interests.”

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