Understanding The Threat Posed By Islamic State To South Asia

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18-03-2015_Middle East, South & Central Asia Map

 

Arif Ansar

Mixed reviews have emerged on the threat posed by IS to South Asia. One of the arguments postulates that the group will not be able to make significant inroads because the socio-political and religious terrain of the Middle East and South Asia are fundamentally different. Others have pointed out to the geographic reasons for why IS may not be able to fully penetrate South Asia; the two regions are obviously separated by Iran, a Shia power. The most dangerous development can be the coming together of AQ and IS in the future.

In its past analysis, PoliTact has projected that the affairs of Middle East, especially related to extremism and Iran’s nuclear program, were likely to dominate the affairs of South Asia at some point. Associated with this assessment was an alarm that if the Afghan reconciliation process lingers on for too long, as it has, the dynamics of the Arab politics may start to complicate the Afghan affairs, including Pakistan and India, in a manner they have not in the past. Now we feel it is beginning to happen in the form of Islamic State (IS).

Core Al Qaeda (AQ) has long had a presence in the region and has morphed in to a phenomenon known as AQ and Associates. The introduction of IS in to the extremist mix has considerably raised the stakes for the region. In a series of articles, PoliTact is examining the various facets of the threat posed by IS to the South Asia region, which will ultimately project towards Central Asia. Speaking at a conference held at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC on March 17, Kazakhstan’s Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Yerzhan Ashikbayev, noted that his country is deeply worried about the reports of IS presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan and is closely monitoring the situation.

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