Despite Opposition from the Taliban, Islamic State Is Thriving in Afghanistan

According to Taliban officials, Islamic State’s Afghanistan offshoot (known as the “Khorasan province,” or ISKP) has but a negligible presence. American diplomats, for their part, have claimed that the new jihadist government in Kabul can provide a bulwark against the group, which opposes what it sees as the Taliban’s relative religious moderation. But, Oved Lobel argues, the evidence supports neither interpretation:

In Jalalabad, . . . there have been near-daily shootings, bombings, and assassinations targeting the Taliban. . . . ISKP suicide bombers have also continued to target the Shiites of Afghanistan, with a massive suicide bombing at a mosque in Kunduz and another at a mosque in Kandahar, attacks which killed and wounded hundreds.

The simple fact is that despite U.S. attempts to pass intelligence to the Taliban as well as backing from Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran, the Taliban seem fundamentally incapable of containing, much less eliminating, ISKP. . . . In addition to the abundant recruitment potential created by economic, ideological, and sectarian factors, there is boredom. The Taliban have never really been a governing entity; their raison d’être was always jihad and martyrdom. Interview after interview with Taliban rank-and-file since their victory in August has exposed complete listlessness and lack of discipline, with many lamenting the transition to civilian life and their failure to get themselves killed.

As there’s no work, no money, no food, and most importantly nobody left to fight, there is a substantial risk of Taliban fighters joining ISKP just to have a chance to continue waging jihad.

Even under combined pressure from the U.S. Air Force, Afghan special forces and the Taliban, all of whom occasionally cooperated against ISKP prior to the Taliban takeover, the group retained the capability to conduct mass-casualty attacks and assassinations at will. Without the former two, ISKP is now operating and recruiting in an extremely permissive environment and is likely to remain and expand throughout the country.

Worse still, a U.S. Defense Department official stated that, unchecked, ISKP will be able to launch attacks outside of Afghanistan within a year.

Read more at Australia/Israel Review

More about: ISIS, Taliban, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign policy

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security