Russia’s intelligence apparatus, in cooperation with the intelligence services of Central-Asian countries, seek to prevent the growth and infiltration of extremist groups, especially the ISIL, like reported by thekabultimes.gov.af. The history of extremism in Central Asia dates back to the previous years. Especially after the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the independence of the Central Asian republics, extremist groups were formed in collusion with the West to disrupt border security with Afghanistan and to create a problem for the Russian Federation, which had just emerged from the crisis, and the existence of these groups with contemplative and radical ideas have always been a major challenge to security in the region. Russia is struggling with the two southern and eastern fronts to prevent the growth of extremism through preventive measures. For this reason, it has always referred to Central Asian countries as an “Iron Wall” and backyard of its security zone.
At the moment, electronic devices such as ISIL have been configured to bypass Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan, through the Hindu Kush harsh mountains of the East and the South, to reach the border of Central Asian countries. This ring, if completed, will be a new phase of Western and Russian rivalries that will lead to the emergence of fresh battlefields between these powers. Some Central Asian countries, such as Tajikistan, are suffering from a particularly fragile security situation, and fears that this is likely to occur in the event of the smallest terrorist movements and the ISIL-led and other extremist-led warfare, West and Russia. The presence of multinational radicals in Pakistan and Afghanistan will further increase that risk, which is the next ISIL plan, a war in the near and nearer Russian squares. The issue is heavily worrying Russia and the Central Asian states, and both sides are taking measures in advance to set up a barrier and a “Wall of Iron” to prevent unrests in the territory of their own countries.
Uzbek National Security Organ has recently warned of terrorist attacks on Uzbekistan’s territory in 2018 and acknowledged that more than 4,000 ISIS-led extremist fighters are now struggling to launch a new battle at the borders of these countries.
There are reports of the spread of radical extremists in Central Asia and the presence of at least 4,000 people in the region in the form of terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq, which are at least described as creating a security challenge for this dangerous region. ISIL is struggling with the belligerent countries in struggling to bring new areas of the region to its main caliphate, turning it into direct battlegrounds and confronting the countries of the region.
Two Central Asian countries are now considered to be vulnerable to the growth and displacement of extremism: First, Ferghana valley is a regional frontier between Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, which is heavily exposed in the pursuit of ISIL and other radical groups. The second point is the northern border of Afghanistan with Central Asian countries, such as Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, which is at first is in danger of a possible expansion of ISIL. ISIL is preparing to unleash the northern frontiers of Afghanistan, with plans already made by supporting countries. Perhaps the presence of other extremist groups currently present in the region may help to accelerate this process. Other radical groups, in the name of allegiance to ISIL and the caliph, would turn into newly-formed forces and ISIL base for the creation of strong strongholds in the region.
The ambiguous picture of the security situation in the aforementioned areas illustrates the complexity of the situation and the necessity of forming a counter-terrorist and anti-terrorist front in the region. In the meantime, Russia’s role in curbing the crisis is one of the main issues that may in the long run become the main pillar of its foreign policy. At present, Russia is not in a position to re-align itself on a third front with a dual conflict with the West. Perhaps, with the security situation getting darker, the member states of Shanghai, especially China and India, play a more important role in thwarting these threats and help Russia. The role of the member states of Shanghai in this new battle will mean the “Iron Wall” of the East against the West is similar to the Cold War. Both China and India are afraid that in the event of the spread of extremism, the insecurity and intensification of terrorist attacks will be paved in their dominated territories, and the emergence of insecurity alongside strategic and military-political rivalries will lead to heavy burden add to their shoulders.
Regarding the Ferghana Valley, there are many concerns about the deteriorating security situation and its transformation into a new focus on extremism. This area may start from the withdrawal of western coalition forces from Afghanistan to Pakistan as a second and a base for terrorism and extremism because the presence of militants in the area among ISIS members increases the risk that they will begin with the first, terrorist bombing of their own regions. On the other hand, radical Islamic movements, especially the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, are reviving in the region. If Uzbekistan delayed taking preventive measures to repel Uzbek terrorists like the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Ferghana would turn into a confrontation between the East and the West, and the situation would be similar to Ukraine. This unrest in Ferghana will become serious in the event of a possible deterioration of situation in the Uzbek government, which has significant control over the area.
In addition, Moscow considers the borderline between Afghanistan and Tajikistan the main borderline between the CSTO and IS-IS. In the calculations of Moscow and its allies, the area is called the “Iron Wall”. If the wall breaks down, there will be serious dangers and unfortunate consequences for the collapse of the security of Moscow and its allies. The United States, in collusion with its partners, is pushing for pressure from Russia on the three axes of the East, the South, and the Treasury and Economic Affairs. The Ukrainian battle gave the opportunity for Washington and the West to squeeze the arm of Moscow and to use the pain caused by it.
The West intends to tighten the siege of Moscow through the spread of global extremism, and use this means to reach untapped Middle East oil resources. The growing expansion of extremism on the frontiers of the countries of this area is indicative of bad news in the future. Currently, according to statistics, there are about 5,000 ISIS ally in Tajikistan and about 2,000 ISIL militants on the border with Turkmenistan, which is indicative of the unprecedented concentration of extremist groups in the region. Based on a previously prepared plan, Afghanistan is the first road ahead and the next steps will be the neighboring countries.
At the same time, ISIL introduced the Amir and the 12-member council of the Khorasan Provincial Command. The group announced that it had gathered 10,000 gunmen on the Pakistani-Afghan border. It seems that the army is projected to attack the historical land of Khorasan from ISIS perspective, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, north and east of Iran, five Central Asian countries, West China and India. The aforementioned countries is much more vulnerable in the future.
The vulnerable areas of Afghanistan are provinces like Balkh, Herat, and Kunduz, which will turn into ISIL’s militant extremism in the event of the start of the ISIL movement. It is noteworthy that both parties in the battle (Afghanistan and Tajikistan) are vulnerable. Afghanistan is currently fighting the Taliban. The strategic depths of the countries involved in Afghanistan’s case do not allow them to continue to fight continuously, including its allies. On the other hand, Tajikistan suffers from such vulnerabilities as shaky legitimacy and widespread government corruption. The underdeveloped economy enhances the ISIL rebellion to combat indigenous troops. The tyrannical regime of Imam Ali Rahman has become more and more dashed over time, and the possibility of its collapse with the onset of the movement of the front of the West by ISIS.
If Russia, as the most powerful country in the region, does not devote its long-term strategy to curb extremism, ISIS’s immediate opportunity will be one of the main challenges facing the newly-empowered Russia. The United States and the West have steadfastly supported ISIL and used this tool to curb Russia’s power in the region. The result, if this plan is to be achieved, will make Russia inevitably come to terms with the West and neglect Central Asian oil resources, which is at least impossible for the time being.
In the past, Putin demonstrated similar actions in Georgia and Ukraine in particular, which is a man of action and defends Russia’s security interests rigorously. Putin’s performance is, in fact, a graph of a new rivalry between Russia and the West and the new face of the Cold War between these powers. The current Russian leader, despite the internal challenges and economic crises caused by Western economic sanctions, is struggling to strengthen the security wall of his barbed wire and, on the other, survive the sanctions imposed by the West.