ISKP’s Power Exaggeration
The Islamic State in Khurasan Province – also known as IS-K, ISIS-K or ISKP – operates in Afghanistan in the most mysterious way possible.
When the name ISKP first came to the fore, doubts arose. First, the Khorasan region, which covers measurable parts of Afghanistan, parts of Iranian Khorasan, and parts of Central Asia, is far from Iraq and Syria in West Asia, and the connection between this sub-branch of ISIS and its core through Iran is difficult; Second, ISKP does not rely on the widely used ethnic and tribal tactics in Afghanistan; Third, the Salafi School which ISIS members believe is opposite to the Hanafi school that the majority of people in Afghanistan believe; Fourth more, the branch has strong rivals among the Afghan tribes, specifically the Taliban and Pashtuns, Mujahideen parties and ethnic groups.
In addition, the essence of events was questionable. Those who raised the ISKP flag had a history of collaborating with Pakistani intelligence. Mostly are from tribal people in Afghanistan’s, eastern border, with many similarities to the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s, with no trace of an ideological tendency toward jihadist Salafism.
But from the very beginning, the previous Afghan government and its international partners paid special attention to the fight against ISKP, due to Western concerns about the emergence of a new base for international jihadists, and endangering the security of their countries. Afghanistan’s intelligence sources at the time were arresting individuals and groups from various areas under that name, without any solid proof and finding any trace of the original ISIS. The armed groups were scattered and heterogeneous, with facilities belonging to the intelligence services of various countries in the region. The uproar is, of course, part of ISKP’s main tactic of exposing its weaknesses. Some blamed the Americans to destabilize Central Asia by using ISKP threat; while, Russian-made weapons and facilities were sized from the arrested suspects.
The number of ISKP members was also constantly exaggerated, as government security officials as were reporting several hundred fighters as thousands of fighters. It was being believed that magnifying ISKP would guarantee the US presence and aid. Pakistan, on the other hand, tried to use the expansion of ISKP as strategic approach to lobby for legitimization of the Taliban.
With the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, ISKP has once again become a propaganda tool in order to legitimize the Taliban and oppress their opponents. Some of the propaganda targeted former Afghan army officers, others targeted non-Pashtun anti-Taliban fighters, and some target Taliban insurgents who were eliminated in the name. Bloody attacks on Hazaras and Sufis can also be analyzed in this context, another managed attempt to magnify ISKP. The ISKP exists in Afghanistan, but studies show that: first, its actual members are very small; Second, there are no prominent figures who have the ability to lead its fighters; Third, the group’s influence among the Afghan people is far less than significant. The ISKP and the Taliban are both dangerous, but the threat of several hundred of ISKP members in Afghanistan is in no way comparable to the threat posed by the 80,000 Taliban to the people of Afghanistan and regional security.
What so ever the game players label the insurgent groups, the reality that Taliban has enabled the ground for their emergence and gaining power cannot be out of the discussions and imagination. Throwing every single fragile security related issues to ISIS-K’s ground are nothing more than politics being played by the proxy war actors in the region and Taliban is the very right tool to be used.
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Source: Hasht-e Subh Daily