(Photo Credit: AP)
Russian presidential envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, claimed that US planners have been supporting Islamic State-Khorasan (ISIS-K), the Afghan offshoot of the notorious terror group which traces its roots to Iraq following the 2003 US invasion of the country.
Iran’s Press TV reported on 11 February that according to Kabulov, the US has been reaching out to the Taliban’s opposition groups, such as ISIS-K, and secretly giving money to them, because US planners “want to avenge their shameful military-political defeat in Afghanistan, and in retaliation they do everything so that peace isn’t established in this troubled land.” Kabulov further linked this to Russia’s security saying, “With the armed opposition in Afghanistan, the Anglo-Saxons are covertly sponsoring Daesh, who are aimed at undermining not only the stability of our central Asian partners . . . But also the security of Russia.”
Afghanistan has been regularly targeted by ISIS-K since the Taliban seized power in August 2021. The Taliban quickly toppled the US-backed Afghan government in the wake of the US military’s pre-planned but chaotic withdrawal from the country the same month, but has had difficulty in providing security as a result of ISIS-K activity.
Thousands of ISIS-K prisoners were released from the US prison at Bagram airbase. US State Department spokesman John Kirby claimed the prisoners were released by the Taliban after the militant group overran Bagram following the US military’s hasty transfer of control of the airbase to Afghan security forces in July 2021.
An ISIS-K prisoner released from Bagram prison allegedly killed nearly 200 people, including 13 US soldiers at the Abbey Gate of the Kabul airport on 26 August 2021 in the midst of the US withdrawal.
One month ago, on 11 January 2023, an ISIS-K suicide bomber targeted the Taliban government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, killing 10 at least 10 people and wounding 53.
The UK-funded watchdog, Action on Armed Violence noted in response that “A string of attacks has targeted foreigners or foreign interests in recent months, at a time when the Taliban is trying to attract investment from neighbouring countries.”
The 11 January attack on the Foreign Ministry building in Kabul came just one day before a meeting between Russian special envoy Kabulov and Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi at the same location. Kabulov and Foreign Minister Muttaqi discussed oil, gas, and wheat imports from Russia and the enhancement of bilateral trade between the two countries. The Russian envoy also stressed that Afghanistan can play an important role in the development of trade between Pakistan, Central Asia, and Russia.
Kabulov stated that “Russia does not want Afghanistan to be isolated from the international community and both countries should make joint efforts in this regard,” while condemning the previous day’s suicide bombing. “The enemies are trying to make Afghanistan unsafe,” he said.
Kabulov’s comments suggest that US planners may be returning to the strategy initiated by US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, who sought to use Islamic extremists in Afghanistan starting in 1979 to destabilize the then Soviet-backed Afghan government.