devesh wrote:Pakistan is in transition. Their effort will be to negotiate a truce with ISIS, in exchange for becoming an extension of the IS. Watch out for the IS & Taliban reaching an agreement of collaboration.
What we are seeing is Af-Pak becoming more integrated under a singular strategic agenda of global Sunni Jihad.
devesh, you have thrown up interesting stuff.
But, I have a different take.
First, let us understand the current situation. The Afghan Taliban is split into three groups. One that is loyal to ISI and ISI-imposed leadership Akhtar Mansour (dead? or, alive?, certainly grievously injured) who is also supported by Ayman al Zawahiri and Sirajuddin Haqqani (though he seems to be ambivalent but is forced by ISI nevertheless); two the group within the Taliban that opposes the imposed leadership and this comprises such people as Abdul Qayum Zakir (Taliban’s military commander), Tayab Agha (son-in-law of Mullah Omar and who heads the Doha office of the Taliban), Mohammed Yacoub (Mullah Omar's son), Mullah Abdul Manan (Mullah Omar's brother), Qari Baryal (head of the Peshawar Shura Military Commission of the Taliban) et al. In mid-May 2015, a Taliban delegation led by Tayyab Agha visited Teheran, Taliban’s prime enemy, to discuss about the common emerging threat of the IS in the region; three the group that has pledged support to IS which comprises some Taliban commanders and warlords there were reports of Hizb-e-Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar joining this group though it is unclear).
How is the IS placed within Khorasan? On the Afghan side, Helmand, among the most extensive opium-growing sites in Afghanistan, was turning out to be a recruiting ground for IS as reports in January 2015 spoke of a certain Mullah Abdul Rauf doing the recruitment for the IS. Moreover IS flags have been hoisted at several places in Ghazni, Balkh and Zabul provinces. Reportedly, the IS Caliph, al-Baghdadi had ridiculed Mullah Omar calling him “a fool and illiterate warlord undeserving of a religious title.” On April 18, 2015, the IS announced its presence close to the Pakistani border when it detonated four bombs in Jalalabad of Nangarhar Province. The deadliest was a suicide bomb outside a bank. Government authorities said the bombs killed 35 people and injured 125. In clashes between IS and the Taliban in late May 2015 in the Farah province of Western Afghanistan, 27 were killed including 15 IS & 12 Taliban jihadists. There are also reports of other fights between the IS and the Afghan Taliban.
On the Pakistani side, the TTP has a four-way split and considerable leaders pledged their support to the IS. In mid-January 2015, the IS formally announced the leadership team of its Khorasan unit. This borrowed heavily from the split TTP. But, beyond that nothing has happened. Of course, Tahir Yuldashev's IMU also pledged support to IS and moved to the Afghan-Tajikitan borderlands as a result of Zerb-e-Azb operations. However, IMU's support to IS is doubtful at this point.
Therefore, as of now, the IS is *NOT* a serious threat to the Taliban either in Afghanistan or much less so in Pakistan. There is a concerted effort by the 3½ Friends as well as China to recognize the Afghan Taliban as a legitimate stakeholder in Afghanistan whose wishes need to be accommodated. This is an endorsement of the Pakistani position because the Americans and its allies are tired and want to exit. The Taliban/ISI combine is on a strong wicket. The only undoing could be the internecine war among the Taliban.
Therefore, I do not believe that the ISI is facing any danger from ISIS and therefore is planning to strike any truce with them. They will not do so unless they are about to be overrun by them. The fact is that the IS is so embattled in the Levant that it has no time for Khorasan. And, that is good news for the ISI. The same goes for the Afghan Taliban vis-a-vis the IS.
As for the integrated, unified Sunni jihad, I very much doubt such a proposition. These people are too fractious for that. That is an interesting idea though.