Afghan Taliban once an enemy, now a strategic friend of Russia

By M.Tahir Khan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin taking strong decisions, sharing intelligence with Afghan Taliban and common enemy is Islamic State.

Afghan Taliban, once known as enemy to Russia in Afghanistan is getting close to each other. This time its presence of ISIS in Afghanistan that brought them closer and both started to share information. In December 2016, Russian Foreign Ministry stated that contact between Russia and Afghan Taliban only involves intelligence sharing to speed up fight against ISIS.

Russia is worried about the passage of terrorists and insurgents with former Soviet Republics bordering Afghanistan. However, immediately after the publication of news Afghan Taliban denied any contact with the Russians, but it looks President Putin is stepping up against ISIS and showing the world that they are concerned about ISIS presence. Some sections of the media also highlighted that Russia is providing weapons to Taliban, whereas Russian Foreign Office responded that in Afghanistan Russian government is only supplying weapons to Kabul government only.

Russians at war with Afghanistan

Soviet and Afghanistan war lasted for over nine years from 1979 to 1989 and now Russia turns back to their old enemy to get support against joint enemy ISIS.

Foreign Affairs Magazine reported that Russian fear that jihadist from its Caucasus Region and from former Republican States would joins ISIS in Iraq in Syria and then return home more trained, more lethal than before. In Afghanistan Russia sees Islamic State Affiliate Khorasan as the threat where in local Jihadists and Pakistan Taliban are participating.

It is not only Russians who are worried about ISIS presence in Afghanistan, United States and Iran also consider in the same way. Recently on February 2, 2016 as reported by Associated Press, Kabul NATO air strikes destroyed radio station run by Islamic State in Eastern Afghanistan. Radio station known with the name of “Voice of Caliphate” destroyed by US air strikes. It is said that radio was setup in year 2015 to attract more people to join IS and radio is considered to be powerful tool as in most of the areas televisions are not available. This US strike also killed 21 IS Supporters and 5 persons who were working for radio station.

Iran was also blamed for supporting Afghan Taliban with Cash & Weapons. In June 2015, Wall Street Journal reported that Shiite dominated Tehran is supporting Sunni Taliban by providing them cash, arming them and also training them and posing a threat to Kabul’s security. Iran considers twofold, first it can reduce US influence and secondly by strengthening Taliban it can reduce vacuum for the growth of ISIS in Afghanistan. Iran understands if there is space due to weakness of Taliban it will be filled by Islamic State in Afghanistan which Iran doesn’t wants any way. As per Wall Street report, Iranian denied any coordination with the Afghan Taliban for supporting them.

Senator Mc Cain, Chairman of Armed Services Committee, said Iran’s support of Afghan Taliban is the continuation of their aggressive policy in the region. Experts see Iranian policy as the relation of convenience. Historically relation between Shiite regime and hard-line Sunni Taliban never remained friendly.

This all discussion can be concluded at one point that Afghanistan is a play ground for all groups and will remain in the same position for the coming periods as well. All stake holder whether lesser or larger interest will function and invest for safety and security of their interest only.

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