You and your daddy are about to be taken to the graveyard in Afghanistan.
Spy chiefs from Russia, Iran, and China huddle in Pakistan
Four spy chiefs huddled in Pakistan to discuss the emergence of the Islamic State in Afghanistan, a Russian intelligence official said Tuesday.
“The discussions focused on the dangers arising from a buildup of the Islamic State on the Afghan territory,” Russian Foreign Intelligence Service spokesman Sergei Ivanov told TASS, a state-run media outlet.
Russian Foreign Intelligence Director Sergei Naryshkin attended the meeting, along with officials from China and Iran. Their talks follow months of Russian diplomats alleging that the U.S. is supporting ISIS in Afghanistan; that accusation dovetails with the Russian and Chinese-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization hinting they might take a larger role in the country.
“The conference reached understanding of the importance of coordinated steps to prevent the trickling of IS terrorists from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan where from they would pose risks for neighboring countries,” Ivanov said.
That outcome would be consistent with U.S. interests in Afghanistan, but American diplomats regard Iran, Russia, and Pakistan as often-dangerous forces in the South Asian state.
“Russia is not helping at all … Iran is not helping at all,” Kay Bailey Hutchison, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a U.S.-backed outlet. “We hear this when we’re in Afghanistan, and we hear from the military leaders. They talk about the enablers — those who have the money and the capacity to be helpful but instead are really propping up the terrorist networks that are killing innocent people.”
Meanwhile, Russian diplomats have stepped up their allegations that the U.S. is supporting ISIS, despite an intense barrage of U.S. airstrikes targeting the terrorist group’s members.
“ISIS has grown stronger over the last couple of years, despite a really withering military campaign, principally from U.S. forces, but with strong support as well from Afghan forces,” a State Department official, on condition of anonymity, told the Washington Examiner during a recent interview.
The rival intelligence officials met days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise visit to Afghanistan, where he touted a recent ceasefire as evidence of a possible peace with between the central government and the Taliban.
“We have been very encouraged following the ceasefire to see how the Afghan people have responded to that,” he said. “We think that bodes well for the peace process.”
U.S. officials and analysts believe that hopes for peace have been undermined, particularly in recent years, by Russian and Iranian support for the Taliban. The Pakistan meeting might have presented an opportunity for an intensification of those operations. “I’m afraid Pakistan and Iran might try to sell Russia and China on [what they see as] the ‘lesser of two evils,’” Behnam Ben Taleblu, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Washington Examiner.
“The Pakistani and Iranians [could] say, ‘here’s the network in place; here’s how we funnel arms; here’s how we offset advances by ISIS, while keeping the central government weak; while making sure the country remains fractured and destabilized, so that our agents and assets can operate freely and that the U.S. can get sucked into a couple trillion [dollar] war later without any making material gains,” he continued. “They would present that network and that network might be superficially attractive because it’s less the [Russians and Chinese] bearing the material costs and yet still having some of their initial needs met.”