The ISIS factor and the Taliban movement in Russia’s policy on Afghanistan and in the broader region

The ISIS factor and the Taliban movement in Russia’s policy on Afghanistan and in the broader region
// Pathways to Peace and Security. 2017. no 1(52) Special Issue: ADDRESSING TERRORISM, VIOLENT EXTREMISM AND RADICALIZATION (perspectives from Russia and the United States). Edited by Ekaterina Stepanova,. P. 213-237


DOI: 10.20542/2307-1494-2017-1-213-237


Abstract

The article’s main focus is on Russia’s assessment of the scale and nature of the ISIS threat within and around Afghanistan, Moscow’s comparative approach to the Taliban movement and the ISIS factor, and Russia’s policy on countering transnational violent extremism in the Central Asia-Afghanistan context. ISIS’ limited presence has not only become an additional factor complicating security situation in and around Afghanistan, but has also led to a certain reassessment of the Taliban role in the region. At present, terrorist threats emanating from Afghanistan for Russia’s allies, partners and neighbors in Central Asia are not very large and are hardly confined to ISIS, especially as the latter has been gradually losing control over its main territorial base in the east of the country. However, in the coming years, external threat from ISIS to Central Asian states may increase, in case of possible accumulation in northern ghanistan of foreign fighters of the local, including Central Asian, origin, returning to the region from Syria and Iraq.  Russia does not have any major direct leverage on the intra-Afghan situation, but has a genuine interest in stabilization of Afghanistan – something that years of large-scale U.S. and NATO military presence failed to achieve. In this context, in addition to strengthening its security cooperation with Central Asian states, Russia has focused on stepping up contacts and coordination with all key regional powers. Overall, relative stabilization in Afghanistan can only be achieved as a result of intra-Afghan political settlement that involves, in one form or another, the Taliban and accounts for some legitimate interests of regional neighbors. This process has to be coupled with more consolidated international efforts against such explicitly transnationalized forms of violent extremism as ISIS. The United States under the Trump administration can play a major or lead role in such efforts in Afghanistan.


Keywords

Afghanistan, armed conflict, terrorism, IS/ISIS, “Vilayat Khorasan”, Taliban, Russia, Central Asia, peace process, Pakistan, United States


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For citation:

Stepanova E. The ISIS factor and the Taliban movement in Russia’s policy on Afghanistan and in the broader region. Pathways to Peace and Security, 2017, no 1(52) Special Issue: ADDRESSING TERRORISM, VIOLENT EXTREMISM AND RADICALIZATION (perspectives from Russia and the United States). Edited by Ekaterina Stepanova,, pp. 213-237. DOI: 10.20542/2307-1494-2017-1-213-237