Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 20
By Azer Ahmadbayli – Trend:
In early February Deputy Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty organization (CSTO) Valery Semerikov told Interfax News that the IS militants are moving by thousands from Syria to Afghanistan.
According to Semerikov, just recently about 7,000 IS (Islamic State terrorist organization) fighters have crossed into Afghan territory. This figure, as noted by Semerikov, causes serious concern.
It is noted that the majority of the terrorists who moved from Syria to Afghanistan are of Central Asian origin. There is also information that several hundred militants are from the Muslim-populated regions of Russia. Uyghur gangs, which had been boarded up earlier in the northwestern provinces of China, were also seen in Afghanistan, the Chinese media reported earlier.
To prevent Uyghurs fighting in Syria from penetrating back home - the Xianjiang autonomous region in Northwest China - Beijing is encouraging the Afghan government to jointly establish a military base in the narrow Wakhan Corridor of northeastern Afghanistan leading to China.
But this is only part of the threats China might face. The presence of IS militants in the triangle between Tajikistan, China and Pakistan is a factor that threatens the multibillion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
The Gwadar port is the end point of the economic corridor, to where China is laying the highway and railway across the whole territory of Pakistan from North to South. It will allow China to have direct access to the Indian Ocean without making a huge detour through the Malacca Strait.
The project is considered a top priority for China. Hundreds of Chinese specialists are being involved in construction activities on the territory of Pakistan.
If the jihadists start arranging terrorist attacks and the situation destabilizes, the project may be put at risk.
Another IS target may be the Central Asia, primarily Tajikistan, that would entail Russia’s involvement.
Recruiting young Afghans from the marginalized segments of Afghan society as well as from Central Asian republics won’t be so difficult, given the Syrian experience, and can quickly swell the damaged ranks of jihadists.
The Afghan witnesses say: “They are present in many provinces. They are already in Sari-Pul, Mazari-Sharif, Maimana, Badakhshan, Nangarhar, Zabul and Helmand. They have a lot of money. We don't know where this money comes from. They have no problems with the local population and gradually establish relations with them.”
The IS can also strengthen its presence in Afghanistan if it can control at least part of the drug trade and drug trafficking.
Also, the IS supporters have been seen in disputed territory of Kashmir, which makes already fragile relationship between the two nuclear states – India and Pakistan – more unpredictable.
But the worst is that neither the Afghan government nor anyone else can prevent the Islamic State’s growing strong again.