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World View: ISIS Influence Spreads in Asia, as Pakistan Taliban Pledges Support

World View: ISIS Influence Spreads in Asia, as Pakistan Taliban Pledges Support

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Hong Kong protests may be losing strength
  • ISIS influence spreads in Asia, as Pakistan Taliban pledges support
  • Biden continues apologizing, this time to UAE

Hong Kong protests may be losing strength

Hong Kong protests - live shot at 10 am Monday Hong Kong time (BBC)
Hong Kong protests – live shot at 10 am Monday Hong Kong time (BBC)

Only a few hundred exhausted pro-democracy protesters were in thestreets on Monday morning, the deadline for the Hong Kong government’sultimatum to clear the streets. The protesters have withdrawn fromprotest sites that formerly were blocking access to governmentbuildings, schools and businesses, and the government has sofar not ordered the police to clear the remaining protestsites.

The government strategy is to stand back and hope that the protestsfizzle, and to avoid clashes and violence which might motivatethousands of protesters to return. Quartz

ISIS influence spreads in Asia, as Pakistan Taliban pledges support

The leaders of the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban – TTP), anumbrella group comprising some 100 jihadi groups in Pakistan, hasdecided to switch sides and support the Islamic State of Iraq andSyria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) instead the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra(Nusra Front) in Syria. According to TTP leader Mullah Fazlullah:

“We consider the fighters in Iraq and Syria as ourbrothers and are proud of their victories. We are their part andparcel in times of joy and sadness.

The Muslim nation has great expectations from the fighters in Iraqand Syria. We are with you in the hour of trial and will supportyou in all possible ways.”

However, TTP itself has splintered, and a number of its member groupshave split away, so it seems unlikely that TTP will be able to provideany help to ISIS. Conversely, ISIS has little organizationalinfluence in Afghanistan, Pakistan, or India, where the Talibanoperate.

The more profound effect is that it continues the increasinggenerational change among the world’s jihadists. Today’s youngjihadists, from the Caucasus to North Africa to Pakistan to Indonesia,are more drawn to ISIS because it appears to be winning, led by theyouthful Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. This is in contrast to al-Qaeda’saging leaders, most of whom are holed up in the Pakistan – Afghantribal belt to save themselves from drones, and who are more and moreseen as tired, ineffective and uninspiring.

According to Fawaz Gerges, of the London School of Economics:

The Islamic State’s appeal extends beyond the MiddleEast. Their strategy is anchored on the simple premise that it isa winning horse. It has promised the entire ummah — the Muslimcommunity — that it could deliver victory andsalvation.

Thus, there have been reports of jihadi support for ISIS fromAustralia, India and Pakistan. China is also concerned about theinfluence of ISIS in its disaffected Muslim Uighur community,according to an article in the Beijing mouthpiece Global Times:

They not only want to get training in terroristtechniques, but also to expand their connections in internationalterrorist organizations through actual combat to gain support formore terrorist activities in China.

Even if the TTP cannot provide any real support for ISIS, the TTPannouncement is a worrisome development for Pakistan. The subject ofsending Pakistani fighters to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS is atouchy subject for Pakistan’s government in Islamabad, becausePakistani authorities have repeatedly denied that any such movementshave ever taken place. However, Pakistan jihadi groups themselveshave claimed that they’ve sent thousands of fighters to Syria andIraq. India and The News (Pakistan) and The Diplomat and USA Today

Biden continues apologizing, this time to UAE

As we reported yesterday,U.S. Vice President Joe Biden had to apologize on Saturday to Turkey’spresident Recep Tayyip Erdogan for saying in a speech on Thursday thatTurkey, Saudi Arabia and the UAE had funded and armed the IslamicState of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) and contributed to itsrise. Biden was trying to pin the blame on Mideast states in order todefuse the scathing criticism from the Obama administration’s formerdefense secretary, Leon Panetta, whose new book blames administrationpolicy for the rise of the ISIS.

Dr. Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs for UnitedArab Emirates (UAE) hit back at Biden on Saturday:

[These statements] are far from the truth, especiallywith relation to the UAE’s role in confronting extremism andterrorism and its clear and advanced position in recognizing thedangers, including the danger of financing terrorism and terroristgroups…

[Biden had] ignored the steps and effective measures [taken by theUAE], which comes as part of a more comprehensive political standagainst this plague.

On Sunday, Biden called General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan,Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and apologized tothe UAE for any implications in his recent statements that wereunderstood to mean that UAE has backed the growth of some of theterrorist organizations in the region. Biden added that the UnitedStates appreciates the UAE’s historic role in combating extremism andterrorism as well as its advanced position in this respect.

And so, right now, Leon Panetta’s statements blaming the U.S.administration for the rise of ISIS still stand. Khaleej Times (Dubai) and The National (Abu Dhabi)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Hong Kong, Turkey, Leon Panetta,Joe Biden, United Arab Emirates, Anwar Gargash,Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL,Pakistan, Tehrik-e-Taliban, TTP, Pakistan Taliban, Mullah Fazlullah,Fawaz Gerges, China, Uighurs, al-Qaeda
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