Islamic State unlikely to expand in Afghanistan

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The group has failed to win numerous recruits and is now fighting on all fronts

Impacts

  • The Pakistani military is alarmed by the idea of IS militants crossing from Nangarhar and will act to prevent this.
  • Any IS fighters, non-Afghans especially, fleeing Mosul and Raqqa will find Afghanistan a hostile environment.
  • If IS funding falls, those fighters who only joined for the relatively good pay will drift away.
  • IS has benefited from the lack of a general agreement on a Taliban leader, which may be reached this year.

Conclusion

Islamic State’s ‘Khorasan’ or Afghan offshoot emerged in public in January 2015, and brought together disparate elements: Pakistani Taliban, dissident Afghan militants, some Uzbeks and others. It was soon targeted by Afghan government troops, US aircraft and parts of the Taliban which resented the encroachment. That has prevented it from expanding beyond a stronghold in Nangarhar province. US defence officials believe IS’s fighting capacity is severely degraded.

A similar, somewhat separate IS force has operated in northern Afghanistan since at least 2016, and it, too, is battling both the Afghan army and hostile Taliban. The links to IS in Syria are genuine although few combatants seem to have transferred from that conflict.

References

See AFGHANISTAN: Islamic State poses limited threat - September 7, 2016

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