Afghanistan and its Future (III)

Afghanistan and its Future (III)

Part I, part II

Washington does not exclude that the repetition of Syria scenario caused by NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan may result in strategic advantage to meet its interests. Controlled chaos is a tried and true method. A would-be war in Afghanistan will enable the Americans to control the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China, maintain instability in the vicinity of Iranian borders and exacerbate the relations between India and Pakistan. Finally, the United States will maintain a springboard to exert pressure on Central Asia. Since 2014 Afghanistan is to become a major security problem for Russia… 

Along with the allies – the members Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) - Russia is urgently planning emergency measures that actually should have been taken long before. By the end of September a CSTO summit was held in Sochi ahead of the schedule with Russia becoming the chairman of the organization before time as well. The leaders of Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan talked shop with regard to planned practical steps aimed at tackling the major aspects of the security problem. Si vis pacem, para bellum (If you want peace, prepare for war). 

On October 1 the lower chamber of Tajikistan ratified an agreement on the status of the Russian 201st military base. Signed on October 5, 2012 at top level, the Russian military base agreement is to be in force till 2042. Together with the Tajik forces the base will guarantee the security of Tajikistan. Russia has started to deliver a $200 million military aid package to the country. Air force equipment and other war material will be transferred to Tajik armed forces gratuitously. 

According to experts, there are urgent steps to be taken, for instance, the deployment of Russian border guards along the almost 1500 km long Afghan-Tajik border guarded by only 16 thousand Tajik servicemen. No way could the Tajik authorities tackle the problem of refugees and armed gangs alone. Eight years ago Russian border guards left the area leaving behind only a few dozen strong operational group. Since then the situation has turned for the worse. New hot beds appear along the Tajik border, the extremists gain influence, the number of training camps for militants coming from the Collective Security Treaty Organization member-states has grown. 

Addressing the Sochi Collective Security Treaty Organization summit the President of Tajikistan Emomalii Rahmon called for combined efforts to strengthen the Afghan border. Many Russian politicians and military support the idea of getting Russian border guards back to Tajikistan. Still Nikolay Bordyuzha, Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, actually opposed the idea. According to him, Tajikistan needs assistance to enhance the professional level of national border forces, including mountain warfare and new equipment deliveries. 

The US-Afghanistan partnership agreement, which is in works now, is expected to leave nine United States military facilities behind maintaining the capability for emergency response and coming to aid the government forces in case the situation gets abruptly worse. The remaining military forces are to stay in Kabul, Mazari Sharif, Jalalabad, Gardez, the Bagram air base and in the provinces of Kandahar, Helmand and Herat. The list is missing the northern city of Kunduz, the capital of Kunduz Province, situated at the Tajik border, no matter it was the first major populated area where security responsibility was transferred to Afghan forces. Some time ago the security transfer ceremony was held with the participation of German defence and foreign chiefs. Kunduz has an important place in the history of German armed forces. During ten years around 20 thousand Bundeswehr servicemen have seen service there. Nowhere else since the days of WWII has the German military suffered comparable death toll than in Kunduz. 

Russian and Kyrgyz parliaments have ratified a status agreement on Russian air-base in Kant. Russian military will stay there for at least 20 years. Russia is going to upgrade the facility transforming it into a real outpost of the Collective Security Treaty Organization in Central Asia, the presence to count with. Today the base is home to Su-24 fighter bombers, SU-25 attack planes, SU-27 SM air superiority fighters and an air group of rotary wing aircraft. Air and ground forces of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan kicked off military exercises the very next day the summit was over on September 24. 

Facing the expected threats from terrorist and extremist activities to intensify in Afghanistan, it is expedient to remember the events of the Uzbekistan’s Fergana valley where the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IDU) conducted subversive activities from the territory of Kyrgyzstan. It should be admitted that Kyrgyz authorities face growing difficulties while exercising control over the south-western part of the country predominantly populated by Uzbeks. Militants are still recruited among local population to fill the IDU ranks. The Afghan drug flows get to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan from Tajikistan and mainly from Kyrgyzstan. 

Kazakhstan stands for strengthening the Tajik-Afghan border and boosting military presence in Kyrgyzstan, the government believes the measures taken are vitally important for the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Of course, Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, is situated far from Afghanistan, still there is concern over the possibility of destabilization affecting Central Asia. Kazakhstan supports assistance to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan because it meets its own national security interests. It also stands for collective defense of Central Asian air space, enhancement of Collective Forces capabilities, spurring the fight against drug trafficking. There have been no bloody conflicts on the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan while Uzbekistan, which left the Collective Security Treaty Organization’s membership some time ago, has become the prime target for terrorists. The country is a party to a strategic partnership agreement with Astana. But Kazakhstan is a CSTO member, while Uzbekistan applies efforts to boost the relationship with the United States. 

Some time ago the relationship between Uzbekistan and the United States appeared to be worsened for good. The White House condemned the government for quelling the Andijan protests in 2005. The final break up seemed to be inevitable. Now Washington has restored the relationship with Islam Karimov considering an option of leaving on Uzbekistan soil some forces withdrawn from Afghanistan. Much talked about democratic values, human rights and the persecution of dissent in Uzbekistan pale in importance before the Washington’s desire to preserve military presence in Central Asia. 

It’s Uzbekistan the Unites States relies on to maintain a springboard for exerting influence of Afghanistan and stymie the process of Russia and Central Asia integration. In any event Tashkent is to be compensated by US guarantees and Western arms supplies as a reward for keeping away from the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Uzbekistan is under West European and US arms supplies embargo, but it does not confuse its leadership. The Uzbek government has approached NATO with a request to bring in the equipment and weapons used in Afghanistan and leave it in the country. Tashkent hopes the United States will support its desire to enjoy a privileged position in the northern part of Afghanistan where the ethnic Uzbeks are a majority. Uzbekistan has experience of being a «key ally» of the United States in Central Asia; it’s hard to predict how long the friendship will last this time, the same way it is hard to predict if the United States would leave Afghanistan without leaving some presence behind. 

The insinuations about NATO pulling out before the «combat season» in the spring of 2014 is a probe to see the outside reaction, including the response of Russia. The Russian Federation preferred not to wait till the ISAF withdraws; the probing raids from the territory of Afghanistan could be expected in the upcoming months. For instance, Kenya, where militants perpetrated a blood slaughter, is not an isolated incident, it’s a tendency. The United States military intervention under the pretext of «fight against international terrorism» has not resulted in peace; Afghanistan today is one of the most vulnerable states in the world. Over and over again we reap the fruits of US military domination. Under the circumstances, Russia has to take on a global mission and use the southern approaches to counter the US-sponsored scenario which envisions the «transition of the Middle East from the axis of instability to the axis of freedom».