Photo: Collective Security Treaty Organization

CSTO Steady to Counter Rising Security Threats from Afghanistan

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is augmenting measures to counter security threats emanating from Afghanistan amid mounting concerns regarding the potential resurgence of terrorist groups in Afghanistan since the Taliban seized power.

As reported by the Russian News Agency, TASS, the Chief of the CSTO Joint Staff, Colonel General Anatoly Sidorov, has said “As of today, there is no overarching problem regarding military security or military danger coming from the territory of Afghanistan. However, at the same time, we realize that the current leadership of Afghanistan does not yet fully have the situation in the country under control, including in the northern areas that border CSTO member states. Therefore, certain measures are being taken.”

Formed in 2002, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is an intergovernmental military alliance within the Eurasian region. Its membership comprises six post-Soviet states, namely Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.

The Taliban’s seizure of power in Afghanistan has heightened security concerns among its neighboring countries, including CSTO member states. These concerns stem from the potential resurgence of terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda, Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and Jamaat Ansarullah, which pose a significant threat to regional stability.

In March, CSTO Secretary General Imangali Tasmagambetov said that there is an increasing risk that terrorist groups and extremist ideas will infiltrate the territories of CSTO allies and the complex threats coming from Afghanistan are of particular concern. In February, Anatoly Sidorov claimed that the Islamic State – Khorasan province (ISKP) had amassed up to 6,500 members, with 4,000 located along Tajikistan’s southern borders in Afghanistan’s Badakhshan, Kunduz, and Takhar provinces. In September, Tajikistan authorities said that they killed three members of a terrorist group who had crossed into the country from Afghanistan.

Pakistan, Afghanistan’s southern neighbor, has consistently accused the Taliban of harboring TTP militants who carry out terrorist attacks within Pakistan. A UN report revealed that a significant number of TTP fighters enjoy unrestricted movement and safe havens in Afghanistan. Earlier this week, Pakistan’s special envoy to Afghanistan asserted that over 6,000 TTP members, along with their families, reside in Afghanistan. The Taliban and TTP share ideological, operational, and personal ties. The TTP was the first militant group to officially celebrate the Taliban takeover within hours of the Taliban entering Kabul. In a statement released in August 2021, the group declared the Taliban’s return to power as a great victory for the jihadi project. The TTP emir Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud publicly renewed his group’s pledge of allegiance to the Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada and promised to continue unconditional support to the Afghan Taliban.

The Taliban, however, has repeatedly denied the presence of terrorist groups in Afghanistan. The regime claims to have eliminated ISIS and that there is no threat from Afghanistan’s territory to any regional country. Taliban says that the neighboring countries should find their own solution to tackling terror threats, as the Taliban is not responsible for the security failures of its neighbors.