The heads of intelligence services for Iran, Russia, China, and Pakistan discussed ways to combat the threat of the Islamic State in Afghanistan in a meeting in Islamabad on Tuesday.
“The conference reached understanding of the importance of coordinated steps to prevent the trickling of ISIS terrorists from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan from where they would pose risks for neighboring countries,” Sergei Ivanov, chief of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service’s press bureau, reportedly said, according to Iran’s state-run Tasnim news agency.
The nations involved in the meeting have largely failed to contribute significantly to the fight against the Islamic State. While Iran and Russia are active in the Syrian civil war, they are acting in concert to help prop up the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, mostly targeting anti-Assad rebels, leaving the work of fighting ISIS to American and Kurdish forces.
Iran is itself an Islamic theocracy that opposes the Islamic State because the terrorist group is a Sunni organization, while Iran is a Shiite regime. Pakistan, meanwhile, is considered one of the most terror-ridden countries in the world and its border home to the largest concentration of active jihadist groups. Over Easter, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack which killed four Christians in Pakistan’s Balochistan province.
In early June, the Islamic State’s capital in Afghanistan, a town called Deh Bala (or Haska Meyna) on the border with Pakistan, was recaptured after a joint U.S.-Afghan assault that left 167 of the radical Islamic terrorists dead.
Tasnim refuted the group’s Islamic background, writing, “The terrorist groups, which claim to be Islamic but whose actions are anything but, have been committing heinous crimes not only against non-Muslims but mostly against Muslims in the region.”
Tasnim News agency noted that, during Tuesday’s meeting, the top security and intelligence officials present stressed the need for all regional powers to work in concert in the efforts to settle the conflict in Afghanistan. However, Tasnim also noted, using rhetoric that coincides with Iran’s current leadership, that “Takfiri [Sunni] terrorist groups like Daesh … are believed to have been created and supported by the West and some regional Arab countries.”
In 2017, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed the United States created the Islamic State and warned Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi not to trust them. In 2016, he similarly accused America of creating and supporting the Islamic State as part of a scheme to “defame true Islam” and promote Sunni Wahhabism.
US aim of making & backing DAESH is to sow discord in Islamic Ummah, defame true Islam & promote Wahabbi Islam which is far from true Islam.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) August 3, 2016
However, it is the Islamic State of Iran that funds jihadist activity throughout the Middle East including financing Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and Islamic Jihad and Hamas in Israel, just to name a few.
On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise visit to Afghanistan, where he called on Taliban fighters to hold peace talks with the Afghan government.
His July 9 visit coincided with the Tuesday talks that aim to see the end of the Islamic State’s presence in the nation and region at large.
“The strategy sends a clear message to the Taliban that they cannot wait us out,” Pompeo said.” An American role will be important in this, but we can’t run the peace talks. We can’t settle this from the outside.”