The Afghan Taliban’s takeover of Kabul that took place in middle August was followed by a horrific suicide attack by the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) in the Afghan capital. Attacks by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have also resurged in recent weeks. There are many around the world who view the Afghan Taliban as allies against ISKP and TTP but many analysts are wary of such prognostications.
According to Muhammad Amir Rana, security analyst and columnist, “The IS-K will be of advantage to the Taliban regime to get legitimacy through acting against it and winning the support of its regional allies. Meanwhile, it will be a major security concern, and IS-K will remain a big ideological challenge as well.”
Rana points out that, “The real potential of the IS-K will be determined by its ability to survive in Afghanistan including through displaying political and ideological flexibility. Since its inception in January 2015, the group’s ideological differences with the Taliban have remained a major bone of contention. It is less likely that the terrorist group will show any flexibility in that regard in the future and allow the entry of recruits from either the ranks of Taliban rebels or from the TTP without their conversion to their brand of Salafism. A recent IS-K statement reflects that the group will not amend its ideologically oriented policy just to gain more recruits. Rather, the group is focusing on expanding its urban network and is hunting for educated youth which was alienated after the Taliban victory and become prone to ideological radicalism.”
As Rana notes “It is interesting that the IS-K and TTP have survived long while living together in the same vicinity in the Kunar and Nangarhar provinces. Neither have challenged the other and even when the Haqqani Network expelled IS-K fighters from some areas of Kunar, the TTP remained a silent spectator. The TTP might have avoided confrontation with IS-K because many of its former commanders are now in the group. Thus, despite having ideological differences both have tried to keep their human resources intact. There are few chances that the TTP will join hands with IS-K as it is an ally of Al Qaeda with allegiance to Mullah Haibatullah, the Taliban’s supreme leader.”