Kabul, Afghanistan (GPA) – Russia and Iran have warned the UN that ISIS influence is growing in Afghanistan. An ISIS stronghold in the country could put Pakistan, India, Iran, and central Asian countries at risk for growing ISIS influence.
Iran’s permanent ambassador to the UN, Gholam-Ali Khoshroo, warned on Wednesday that as ISIS presence grows in Afghanistan more effort must be put into stabilizing the Afghan government to combat this issue. “The onus is on the international community to help the Afghan government with its fight against terrorism and extremism as well as the security, political and economic challenges it is grappling with,” he said. As ISIS loses ground in Iraq and Syria, experts are worried that fighters will flow into weaker surrounding states, like Afghanistan. Representatives are concerned that this will put more stable countries like Pakistan and India at risk.
“They continue to recruit people and enhance their combat capabilities. If they are not restrained, the chances are that we will have to face an even more powerful force,” said Zamir Kabulov, an Afghanistan expert from Russia’s Foreign Ministry. Syria and Iraq have seen an influx of fighters from the Caucasus region. An ISIS stronghold in Afghanistan, on the other hand, might see a surge of fighters coming from central Asia where countries have been combating home-grown religious extremism. An estimated 500 citizens of Kyrgyzstan have already traveled the distance to Iraq or Syria to fight with ISIS. Kabulov estimates that there are currently 2,500 ISIS fighters in Afghanistan.
Experts also believe ISIS has their eyes on Iran. And why wouldn’t they? Although Sunnis only make up about 5-10 percent of Iran’s population, ISIS could seek to exploit what they see as an oppressed minority. Iran says ISIS influence has already been creeping into the country. ISIS cells in Iran would be a convenient way for the US and their allies to destabilize the Iranian government; which could make way for a more pro-West and Israeli-friendly regime. So, if Iran needs assistance combating ISIS, Russia had better be quick to step-in.
Now these are some of the more far-reaching consequences of an ISIS presence in Afghanistan, but we’ve already seen what kind of power ISIS has gained in Syria: a country where ISIS and religious extremism is beneficial to the US. Indeed, it helps to destabilize the Assad government and legitimize US presence in the country. Whatever happens next, one thing is clear: terrorism is a useful tool for furthering the reach of US imperialism.
This post was prepared by Randi Nord at Geopolitics Alert.