عنوان مقاله [English]
While ISIS was raised in Iraq and Syria, its founders and followers considered its goals in occupying more territories. However, regarding successive defeats and failures of ISIS in the Middle East, it seems that the group is collapsing more than ever. The situation obliges the leaders of ISIS in trying to find some remedies for surviving the group. Meanwhile, there are three main approaches among them: a) continuing resistance in Syria and Iraq; b) management and programming for sporadic operations around the world; c) occupying new territories. In the context of this approach, getting new base is very important for ISIS. The purpose of this article is to show the importance of the East as a potential base for ISIS and its survival. Here, I mean the East as all places and territories which are located in Eastern Arab lands of the Middle East and Levant including Iran, Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China’s west, and South East Asia.
The main question here is what role the East has played in the survival of ISIS? To answer the question, it is possible to propose this hypothesis that the East contributes to ISIS survival in causal, tactical, and functional terms. By clarifying influential factors on ISIS survival, I will use functional explanatory research method. Accordingly, the role which the East is playing to reach a special function (ISIS survival) is assessed in this research. The East plays an important role in ISIS survival. ISIS terrorists have different reasons to invade the East which includes religious teachings, establishing its caliphate, as an emergent entity and jihadist motives. To achieve its goals, ISIS has applied tactics such as economic supports, propaganda, linkage with the terrorists, opportunism from jihadists, proxy terrorism and gaining allegiance. Lastly, ISIS has different destinations in the East which are as follows: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central Asian countries, India, Philippine, Bangladesh, and China.
The above-mentioned hypothesis has been studied in three steps: first of all, subjective reasons and objective causes of ISIS in enlarging itself to the East have been argued. Religious reasons are among the most important ones which justify the place of the East for ISIS. According to Religious world view, Pakistan as well as Afghanistan is respected by Sunni radical groups; because the army of Mujahedeen in the apocalyptic period would stand up from this region. Another cause is related to realistic ones. It seems that ISIS could equip itself with financial support, jihadi troops, weapons, shelters, and so forth in the region. Furthermore, it seems that emergency of ISIS after its defeats in Syria had forced it to spill over to the East. Now, it is obvious to see ISIS operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Representing ISIS tactics for enlargement has constituted the second step in the article. After clarifying ISIS reasons and motives for enlargement to the East, the question raised here is what tactics have been employed by ISIS for the enlargement. The first tactic is spending funds to attract local troops and followers. Given the severe poverty in the East, the tactic could be successful. Using advertising and propaganda is the second tactic of ISIS. On the one hand, the group has tried to attract isolated and passive Muslims and on the other, separate jihadists who support other radical groups and attract them toward itself. This is a unique opportunity for ISIS to enlarge its recruitment and prepare for its new rise.
After understanding ISIS world view and its transfer tactics, it is necessary to recognize the destination(s) of the group in the East. Until August 2015, ISIS and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi were recognized and accepted by radical jihadists in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, northern Caucasus and in Levant as well. ISIS had selected its destination regarding several factors such as Muslim population, popularity of radicalism, weakness of ruling governments, possibility of military and suicide operations, and abundance of jihadists.
Hence, it is useful to break up potential and actual destinations of ISIS in the East. Some factors including Muslim society, weakness of ruling state and … indicate that a country has the potentials to become a host for ISIS. But, it is not enough. The most important factor which turns a potential host to an actual one is the presence of jihadi troops who have pledged their allegiances to ISIS, directly or indirectly, and are following its path. So, it is possible to remind the following states as potential and actual destinations of ISIS:
a) Afghanistan: given the factors listed above, the country is a potential aim of ISIS which has experienced ISIS and its operations more than others. The first proof of the presence of ISIS in Afghanistan is related to its centrality for Islamic state of Khorasan (IS-k). The second sign of the spread of ISIS to Afghanistan is rooted in centrifugal and autonomous regions which provide a secure shelter for ISIS. IS-K terrorist operations in the provinces of Nangarhar and Kunar constitutes the third indication.
b) Pakistan: the country is another destination for ISIS in the East. Some factors like Muslim population, radicalism, and centrifugal regions do prepare the ground for the growth and recruitment of ISIS. Furthermore, it is possible to list some signs of activities of ISIS in the country: the first is Pakistanis scattered support of ISIS in cities such as Karachi, Lahore, Sialkot, and Hyderabad. The second is the compliance of some Pakistani radical groups like Jundallah, Tahreek-e-Khilafat, Jamaat-ul-ahrar, and Uzbekistan Islamic movement (IMU) with ISIS.
c) Bangladesh: the state is a potential destination for ISIS in the East. There have been some signs of ISIS supporters since the inception of the group. It seems that, in recent years, militant activities have increased in Bangladesh.
Lastly, the findings of the article show that the more the ISIS is subjected to pressure in Levant, the more the East becomes attractive for its growth. So, in recent years, many signs indicate ISIS is operating in the region more actively.