ISIS in Afghanistan
Summary: ISIS reported activity inside Afghanistan
I remember when the map of Taliban activity in Afghanistan looked as sparse as this like (circa March 2002). As yet there is not much to go on, making patterns weak and analysis tricky. The clusters in the south and east are perhaps unsurprising, suggesting they are based around extant groups of Taliban and other insurgent-held territory. These areas might form the most obvious potential support bases, particularly amongst disgruntled “soon-to-be former” Taliban fighters, wearying of the lack of tangible progress in the now 14 year-old war, but still ready for jihad against infidels. We should also start considering the extent to which the ISIS brand might be penetrating into neighbouring Pakistan.
The northern areas might be responsible for the triggering of reports of anti-ISIS militia – “Marg” – emerging in Afghanistan. But militia forces that are beyond government control should be at least as worrying as the Taliban themselves as the country attempts to move forward in 2015, given their potential to destabilise and disrupt development and governance efforts.
The most interesting aspect for me are the areas marked “Islamic State and Taliban clashes”. Although they are likely at present to be little more than inter-Taliban turf squabbles, it could still suggest in the longer term that the ISIS advances to expand into “Khurosan” might be unwelcome and resisted and also that a fragmentation of the Taliban in the medium term should be at least considered as plausible.