The militants are going north…

The militants’ concentration from various Islamist groups continues in the north of Afghanistan. Experts fear that Central Asian states and China may become a new target for radical attacks.

Rich in natural resources, but politically unstable, Central Asia has continued to receive close attention from the US military and political elite for several decades. The strengthening of American positions in Central Asia creates the conditions for maintaining the US political influence on the continent, even within an ongoing economic growth of China and military power strengthening of Russia.

A key element of the American system of dominance in Central and South Asia is Afghanistan. Its unique geopolitical position allows the Americans, on the one hand, to exert permanent pressure on their main rivals in the region, namely Russia and China, and, on the other hand, to use the country as a springboard for expanding their military and political expansion in Central Asia. The Americans gain important trumps in the Great Eurasian geopolitical game, having sparking the separatist and Islamist sentiments in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Eastern Turkestan (the current Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China).

The main US allies in Afghanistan are traditionally the neighboring Pakistan, as well as the UK, which habitually considers the region as an area of its national interest. For a long time, the main task of the Americans was to suppress the military and political potential of the Taliban movement and establish control of pro-American forces over most of Afghanistan. However, due to the Americans’ inability to build long-term trust relations with the Afghan population, this strategy has failed. Nevertheless, Washington has not given up hope of playing its Afghan card. With the U.S. presidential election, the State Department’s capabilities are very limited. Therefore, the CIA, apparently, turned again to the familiar strategy of “controlled chaos”. If earlier, the basis of the American influence in the region was the NATO bloc forces, now the private military companies are beginning to play an increasing role, and it is planned to use not governmental formations, but re-equipped and trained units of Islamists as the main strike force. Probably, Washington believes that the latter will be more favourable to the local Muslim population.

In order to achieve this goal, Afghanistan has embarked on intensive activities to establish new military camps, concentrate and relocate Islamist detachments to new locations. The core of the new compounds is two thousand corps of al-Qaeda militants and other radical organizations stationed in the provinces of Badakhshan, Jowzjan, Sari Pul and Faryab. Interestingly, the Americans are not squeamish to attract even former militants of the Islamic State. For example, the ISIL prisoners from the groups defeated by the Taliban in Kunduz and Nangarhar provinces in 2019 were included in the forming units.

This is not the only example. In the summer of 2018, ISIL members, surrounded by the Taliban, were evacuated by unmarked helicopters from Darzab and Qo’shtepa districts of Jowzjan, Achin, Kot, Shivar and Nangarhar provinces. A year earlier, the same helicopters rescued the militants from Darzab district of Jowzjan province. Among others, the high-ranking Islamist leaders were relocated to the 209th army corps based in Mazar-e-Sharif.

The British Mi-6 colleagues are also actively assisting the Americans in transporting and training the Islamist militants. Thus, in 2018, about 200 militants from the Central African Republic were sent from the Pakistani port Qasim to military camps. The piquancy of the situation was that the Islamists were transported by British military transport helicopters. The militants were deployed in the Afghan provinces of Nangarhar, Kunar, Jowzjan, Faryab, Takhar, Baghlan and Badghis.

Some of the Islamists, who were recruiting, have already completed the preliminary training in Pakistan. The instructors are the American and Arab military specialists. It is reported that a significant part of the corps is staffed by natives of CIS countries and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. In particular, the eyewitnesses noted that the Russians, Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Kyrgyz, Uyghurs and others are among the militants of military training camps. Central Asians, including the field commanders with experience of combat operations in Syria, are chosen to lead of the groups. This can hardly be considered as a common coincidence, partially given that the units of Islamists consistently move to the north of Afghanistan, closer to the borders of the former Soviet republics and China.

The militant training programme is of considerable interest. It includes the tactics of guerrilla warfare, mine blasting and conspiracy techniques. The trainees are expected to be grouped into 25 people each, who will be deployed to the northern and northwestern provinces of Afghanistan to establish a network of combat cells from the local population. It is these units that will be used for further destabilization of the situation in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, as well as in Muslim-populated provinces of China.

The large-scale troop movement of former Islamists cannot but bother the Taliban, which controls most of Afghanistan. The Taliban militants are the most consistent and persistent opponents of ISIL members in the republic. For this reason, the American representatives are making significant efforts to normalize the relations between ISIL members and the Taliban leaders. During the meetings of the commander of the NATO mission in the United States O. Miller with the head of the Qatar office of Taliban, Mullah Baradar, the American said that Washington is ready to make concessions to Taliban and support their nominations for an interim government in Afghanistan. The American instructors strictly prohibit their Islamist wards to confront the Taliban. In case of a conflict, they are advised to accept Taliban primacy formally. The formation of a united front of the Taliban and Islamist groups, the edge of which will direct to the north, would be an ideal scenario for the USA.

The modernized “controlled chaos” system, being implemented by the US, UK and Pakistan in Afghanistan poses a significant threat to both Russia and China, as well as to all other states in the region, including Afghanistan itself. Moreover, these military “games” can make serious problems for the Americans themselves. Experience has shown, the USA is extremely successful in creating new centers of military and political tension, but is unable to control the radical forces they have formed and armed. Is it any wonder that the militants trained by the Americans will turn back the transferred weapons against their former overseas overlords after some time. Anyway, but the continuing tension rise in the region could create new risks for many Central and South Asian peoples and would reignite the smoldering Afghan conflict.




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Daniel Bootman

Daniel Bootman

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