Afghanistan: Surge of Daesh, Taliban violence planned?
Afghan analysts increasingly suggest surge of violence near borders with Central Asian states is work of foreign powers.

For over a decade, it has been the southern regions of Afghanistan that were considered the most volatile and vulnerable to militancy but, recently, there has been a northward surge of violence; one that experts argue was inevitable.

Just last week, more than 40 people were killed in two major attacks in the north, shattering the image of its relative stability.

The first attack saw militants, disguised in army uniforms and armed with suicide jackets and automatic rifles, storm the provincial prosecutor's office in Mazar-e-Sharif, in Balkh, one of the country's most prosperous provinces, killing 10 and injuring 60 others.

Northeastern Badakhshan province was the target for the second attack of the week when, according to Afghan officials, foreign militants killed, wounded or kidnapped more than 30 soldiers. Locals claim the casualties may have been at least double the official stated figure.

Apart from both being focused on the north, the attacks allegedly shared another feature; the involvement of foreign fighters, including Arab, Uzbek, Tajik, Uyghur and Chechen militants.

Afghanistan’s former spymaster General Abdul Wahid Taqat claims he forecasted this apparent shift of focus by the militants years ago.

Taqat said an alliance of local hardliners, claiming loyalty to the Iraq- and Syria-based militant group Daesh, and recent unrest in northern Afghanistan was part of a "bigger game.”

"You see, like in the '80s and '90s when they [the U.S.] used the Mujahedeen against the former Soviet Union, they are doing it again in a different way through [Daesh] and others to make its way from Afghanistan to the energy rich Central Asian states and up to the eastern Europe,” Taqat told The Anadolu Agency.

He added that the north of Afghanistan is the gateway to Central Asia and China, countries already apprehensive about a spillover of militancy into their territory.

"It is not the Cold War anymore, it is the war for resources now, Turkmenistan has already asked the U.S. to help against extremists and even the nuclear deal with Iran is part of the scramble,” Taqat said.

Many of the fighters in the north have reportedly ditched their former Taliban allegiances and sworn their loyalty to Daesh. Though it is seen as a largely symbolic move, many in Afghanistan view it as part of a ploy to unsettle their neighbors.

Earlier in the year, Abdul Karim Khuram, an adviser to former president Hamid Karzai, wrote in an op-ed that the purported presence of Daesh in Afghanistan "represents the beginning of a new phase of war."

"New slogans, new forces and new operating areas requires a new group of fighters to advance the war. It is difficult to fight under the name 'Taliban' in Central Asian states," Khurram wrote.

Similarly, Abdul Wali Neyazi, a former fighter who is now a lawmaker, told AA in February that these fighters were a western creation to "take a grip on Central Asian countries and easily confront some nuclear nations like Iran and China."

Afghanistan's serving Chief of the Army Staff told parliament on Tuesday that issues with leadership in the Afghan army were causing troubles while fighting the growing militancy in the north.

General Sher Mohammad Karimi told the house that security forces were also in dire need of air support.

"Soldiers fought bravely but there are issues in the leadership, the commander of the unit was not available at the time of the attack,” he said.

The Afghan unity government, formed between President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah after last year's long and disputed elections, has been in place since September but is still without a fully-formed cabinet.

General Karimi was himself fielded for the important Ministry of Defense but was rejected by parliament, alongside other cabinet nominees, arguably due to differences between Ghani and Abdullah.

That is something that worries many Afghans, including former Chief of Air Staff General Atiqullah Amarkhail.

"You see, now it seems as if we have two heads of the state. This is creating more problems than solving them,” he said.

Amarkhail said he fears a power struggle between the rulers may have caused a hike in militant activities.

"I have heard that whenever they disagree on a matter they call the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for the final word,” Amarkhail said.

He also pinned responsibility on Pakistan, accusing it of allowing militants to use Pakistani territory, despite Pakistan's insistence that it does not.

"In fact, they have allowed the foreign terrorists to regroup and enter Afghanistan’s north for this fighting season,” he asserted.

Last Modified: 2015-04-15 09:37:48
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