Monday, April 20, 2015

Turkmenistan Seen Threatened by Rebel Advance in Adjoining Afghan Province

Paul Goble


            Staunton, April 20 – A large portion of the Afghanistan province adjoining Turkmenistan has fallen under the control of Taliban militants with links to the IS and IMU, according to Kabul security officials, a development that presents a serious security challenge to Ashgabat because the IS militants have not been shy about saying that it is among their targets.


            Fathulla Qaisar, who represents the region in the Afghanistan national parliament, said at the end of last week that the security situation in Faryab is so bad already that the entire province may soon be lost to Kabul, a view he said was shared by Afghan security and military leaders (,, and


            Eighty percent of the border province is already in the hands of militants, Qaisar said, and Taliban activists are using scare tactics to extract money and submission from the population. Many officials and their families are already cooperating, and some officials have already gone over to the radicals, who are in a position to decide whether they can retain their jobs.


            Qaisar added in what must be especially worrisome for Turkmenistan and other Central Asian states that “the militants have gathered extremists” from throughout the region, including the Islamic State and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, whose goals are hardly limited to that province or even to Afghanistan as a whole.


            The deputy said that no one should be fooled into thinking thhe IS and the Taliban are distinct groups with differing agendas.  They have “one and the same ideology. Today they may raise black flags [of IS] and tomorrow again white ones [of the Taliban].”  But many in Kabul prefer to ignore that reality.


            “That is a big error because there are no essential differences between the Taliban and the radicals from the Islamic State,” he added, and Qaisar concluded by observing that the countries of Central Asia and especially of neighboring Turkmenistan should begin cooperating with Kabul to ensure their own security.



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