On November 18, the UN announced the presence of Islamic State fighters in almost all provinces of Afghanistan. In general, reports of armed clashes between IS and the Taliban appear regularly enough to state that both organizations cannot get along on the same territory. The question is how long the Taliban will be able to fight with the ISIS and whether they have enough strength.
The new government in Afghanistan is trying not only to defend its legitimacy. Now the Taliban are fighting for the very opportunity to carry out political activities in the country, which is turning into an arena of confrontation between several terrorist groups. UN envoy to Afghanistan Deborah Lyons said today that representatives of IS are located in almost all provinces of the country and “are becoming more active.”
Clashes between IS and the Taliban are taking place not only on the periphery, but also in Kabul. On the night of November 18, Taliban security forces found and neutralized an IS cell in the capital. The authorities killed one militant and detained several more terrorists.
The Taliban and IS have been sorting out relations on Afghan soil since 2015, when jihadists settled in western Afghanistan. The new threat united the Taliban with the Afghan authorities, which made it possible to repel the extremists. However, after the withdrawal of the Americans from Afghanistan, the situation worsened. In October this year, ISIS killed more than two hundred people as a result of a series of terrorist attacks.
According to Andrei Serenko, an expert at the Center for the Study of Modern Afghanistan, several terrorist groups are now operating in Afghani-stan under the auspices of IS, since this organization is a “recognizable brand.”
In reality, various jihadist groups act as opposition to the Taliban and differ from the classical Islamic State in many aspects, the expert said.
“According to my calculations, there are at least five types of IS operating in Afghanistan, which are in no way connected with each other. The growth of their popularity, first of all, reflects the failure of the Taliban’s policy and the growing opposition to their project, “Serenko said in an interview with Gazeta.Ru.
However, full-scale hostilities in the traditional form are hardly possible on the territory of Afghanistan, since neither the Taliban nor other terrorist groups have such an established structure as the armed forces, the Federation Council told Gazeta.Ru .
Terrorist groups are not waging a war, which was characteristic of the past, said Andrei Klimov , dep-uty chairman of the Inte-rnational Affairs Commit-tee in the Federation Council . According to the politician, the sides do not conduct tank battles, and on the territory itself there is no front line characteristic of a full-scale war.
“The opposing sides are somewhat similar. Although the Taliban are a more understandable, organized community, and they are the de facto leaders of Afghanistan,” the senator said.
Answering the question about the possibility of full-scale hostilities in Afghanistan, the chairman of the Duma committee on international affairs Leonid Slutsky told Gazeta.Ru that Russia is primarily interested in the soonest stabilization of the situation on Afghan territory.
“We are interested in the formation of legitimately elected authorities and suppression of possible threats at the regional level, which may come from this country,” Slutsky said.
The only reason why the Taliban are still in power is the lack of an alternative, says Andrei Serenko . However, the expert admits its occurrence next year.
“Nobody knows how the internal confrontation in Afghanistan will end. It is necessary to fight IS, but it is also important to understand that all these groups are the same in terms of threats to the region, ”Serenko said. “Due to frustration with the Taliban, many militants are beginning to drift.”
The expert is sure that at the moment it is impossible to say which ISIS factions are a threat to Central Asia, and which are part of the Afghan political life.
(Not) Going East
In June, the UN published a report that reported that about 10,000 militants from Central Asia, the North Caucasus region of Russia, Pakistan and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonom-ous Region poured into Afghanistan amid reports of American withdrawal from the country. The report mentioned that some of them may have been associated with IS.
A few months later , Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that about 2,000 IS terrorists were deployed in northern Afghanistan. At the same time, the leaders of the gangs are hatching plans to spread influence over the Central Asian states and Russian regions, the president admitted.
Despite the full range of regional threats, Moscow has repeatedly stated that direct interference in Afghanistan is not being considered. According to Senator Klimov, this attitude has been maintained to this day. There are many other tools that allow solving security issues, the senator said.
“In a number of countries in Southeast Asia, there are also facts of massive penetration of terrorist structures, including fragments of IS. But this does not mean that we should send a fleet and strategic aviation there. The domestic tragic experience shows that not everything can be solved by military operations. This was confirmed by the events that took place on Afghan soil for 20 years, when NATO troops were there . The military path with direct participation does not seem to me personally some such inevitable reality, “the senator concluded.
Deputy Slutsky believes that it is premature to raise the issue of any assistance to the Afghan authorities.
“In Afghanistan, as you know, there is a transitional government formed exclusively from representatives of the Taliban movement, which in Russia is still on the list of banned and terrorist organizations. The picture is the same with the UN. We had, as you know, certain contacts within the framework of discussing the issues of an inter-Afghan settlement, but no one asked Russia for help of this kind, let’s start with this, ”the politician said.