The Complexities and the Necessity of Confronting ISIS-Khorasan

Strategic Council Online - Note: With the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the issue of ISIS-Khorasan, the conflict between these two groups, and the expansion of the scope of their security threats in the region have become more critical than ever before, as the terrorist activities of this terrorist group disrupt regional security. In addition to this, support for suicide activities and armed individuals in the region has also put the security of Iran at risk. Therefore, ISIS-Khorasan is recognized as a significant threat to the eastern security of our country. Dr. Hossein Ebrahimnia - Regional Issues Expert

The initial formation of ISIS-Khorasan began with the activities of several jihadist groups, including some members separated from the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda, Islamic movements from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and other jihadist groups who had gathered under the leadership of Hafez Saeed Khan, one of the prominent former commanders of the Taliban in Pakistan. Hafez Saeed Khan, the first Amir of this group appointed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the former leader of ISIS in Syria, was tasked with providing the groundwork for the growth and expansion of the operational activities of this group in the region, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, eastern Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and even Russia. However, the intensity of the attacks and the display of power by this group began when international forces left Afghanistan, and a series of political and security changes occurred in this country.
The competition between ISIS-Khorasan and the Taliban as one of the main challenges whose security domain has spread to Iran, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan is essential because the role of the Taliban in containing the activities of ISIS-Khorasan and influencing terrorist movements in Afghanistan is crucial. These competitions and interactions between ISIS-Khorasan and the Taliban indicate the complexity and fluctuations that have emerged in the security environment of the region. This issue has profound implications for the security and stability of the region, including the Islamic Republic of Iran, both now and in the future, which must be given more attention than ever by decision-makers in the country’s security sphere, as the potential for confrontation between Iran and ISIS-Khorasan will be greater than ever in the future. This confrontation may be due to the effects of ISIS-Khorasan’s activities on the security of the region and Iran, as one of the countries with common borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan, and influenced by the events of this region. If the activities of ISIS-Khorasan continue to grow and security threats increase, the Islamic Republic of Iran will face these groups more in the future. Therefore, the security implications of ISIS-Khorasan for Iran can be summarized with a future-oriented perspective in the following cases:
First, Border Security Threat: The activities of ISIS-Khorasan in border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan can pose a direct threat to the security of Iran’s borders, leading to increased pressure on border security and the need to strengthen protection and monitoring of borders.
Second, Terrorism Expansion: The activities of ISIS-Khorasan will undoubtedly lead to an increase in terrorist activities within Iran, which can result in more terrorist incidents in cities and various regions of Iran and have negative impacts on internal security.
Third, Regional Security Impact: ISIS-Khorasan’s activities can weaken regional security and arrangements. This could increase insecurity and regional concerns, necessitating regional and international cooperation to counter these threats.
Fourth, Impact on Development and Trade: Security threats arising from the activities of ISIS-Khorasan will undoubtedly lead to a reduction in trade and investment in border areas and even across the country. This issue may result in a decrease in economic growth and development in Iran.
Fifth, Political Implications: The presence of ISIS-Khorasan in the region has led to changes in regional political relations. This terrorist group, through its terrorist activities and threats to the security of countries, has raised significant concerns in regional countries. Moreover, this presence may have adverse effects on the political relations of the Islamic Republic of Iran with other countries.
In a general summary, although the Taliban claims to combat this group and defines itself differently from an ideological standpoint, relying solely on the Taliban’s fight against this group can cause this group to be disregarded from a security perspective. However, two fundamental points must be considered: firstly, the Taliban still faces challenges in governing the entire country of Afghanistan, and secondly, many members of the Taliban may be attracted to ISIS-Khorasan if they offer more incentives. While the Taliban has managed to eliminate some of the financial resources of ISIS-Khorasan, branches of this group still operate in most regions, about 11 provinces of Afghanistan (such as Nangarhar, Kunar, and Khost), and contribute to recruiting and financing.
In this regard, the Islamic Republic of Iran needs to strengthen its security cooperation with neighboring and international countries. It should emphasize enhancing its internal and external security system and increase security efforts more than ever to contain the threats of this group. However, necessity dictates that the Islamic Republic of Iran continuously reviews its strategy in confronting ISIS-Khorasan, considering the regional and global conditions, as the support resources of this group consist of regional and international governmental and private actors. For example, this matter may depend on factors such as changes in the role of the Taliban and other existing groups in Afghanistan, international agreements, and domestic events in Iran.
In conclusion, given the possibility that ISIS-Khorasan may strengthen by focusing on the Taliban and finding suitable opportunities to increase its power due to the withdrawal of international forces, regional and international cooperation of the Islamic Republic of Iran, including with Russia, China, and India, is of great importance in the current period.

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