The Americans left Bagram, their largest base in Afghanistan , and the withdrawal of Western forces entered the final stage. By Sunday, that is, by the Independence Day of the United States , a little more than a thousand American servicemen will remain there, providing security for the Kabul airport and the embassy.
But by agreement with the Taliban, the Americans must withdraw all their military in general – violation will lead to the breakdown of the entire treaty. So the Americans will have to leave before 9/11 – like the rest of the Western military. Only the Turks can stay (or rather, return): the United States is asking them (like Muslims who do not arouse the Taliban’s rejection as Western “crusaders”) to e-nsure the safety of the Ka-bul airport, that is, to keep it under control in a country torn apart by a civil war if you need to provide emergency assistance to the Ka-bul government. After all, i-ts immediate future is under a huge question – even the American special services are not sure that it will last until the end of the year.
Already now, Washington is negotiating with the governments of a number of Central Asian states, but not about the deployment of American troops (there is no chance for this – even their former ally Pakistan refused to the United States ), but about a temporary refuge for several thousand Afghan citizens who helped the Americans. That is, the United States wants Tajikistan , Kazakhstan and Uzbekistansheltered about nine thousand collaborators, whom the Americans themselves are in no hurry to take to the New World. Then they may be given American visas or residence permits – or they may not. Central Asian countries are likely to accept these accomplices of the American occupation – just as they are now accepting Afghan border guards fleeing to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan from border areas seized by the Taliban this week. But the main question for all of Central Asia – and for Russia as well – now is what will happen next in Afghanistan and how the situation can be influenced.
Afghanistan’s future is uncertain – and this is not a figure of speech. After 20 years of American occupation and more than forty years of civil war, only one thing is clear: power in Kabulwill change very soon. Afghans must govern their country themselves – but so many contradictions and problems have accumulated in it that no one has a recipe for a new formula for a united and calm Afghanistan. The complex national and tribal structure of this mountainous country, plus the consequences of foreign occupation, are not the best conditions for an intra-Afghan dialogue. Ideally, Afghanistan should be federal and neutral, governed by a coalition government – but this will require tremendous effort and patience, both from the Afghans themselves and from outside forces.
Yes, external forces, because the Afghans on their own will not be able to agree – not because they have lost the habit of independence or hate each other, but because Afghanistan is too important for many neighboring countries to refuse to participate in determining its future. Moreover, among these countries the strongest regional and world players are China , Pakistan, India , Iran . And of course, Russia – for which the future of Afghanistan is of fundamental importance.
Russia has considerable influence in Afghanistan – and responsibility for the security of Central Asia. But in order to influence the future, you need to correctly understand what is happening now – and even with this, everything is very difficult.
Americans are leaving Afghanistan to blow up Central Asia and set fire to Russia from the south – such performances are not so rare in our country. Well, that’s not why they leave, but the consequences will still be catastrophic for Central Asia, others say. Uzbekistan and Tajikistan will light up with the efforts of Afghan Tajiks and Uzbeks! It is necessary to stop the fire already on the Afghan-Tajik and Afghan-Uzbek border! No, we won’t have time, everything is lost – we must already strengthen the border with Kazakhstan!
Panicked “prophecies” are no better than a hat-making. The Taliban, overthrown but not defeated (because it was impossible in principle) by the Americans, will indeed very soon become power in Kabul – either peacefully as part of a coalition government, or (if the current Kabul authorities persist in their unwillingness to share power) sole power after a military victory … At the same time, they will not be able to control the whole of Afghanistan at once – they will negotiate with local authorities, provinces and tribes (especially in the areas of residence of Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras, that is, national minorities). The Taliban (Pashtuns by nationality) do not need any expansion to the north, they would have to deal with their country, they have publicly stated this more than once.
Individual free local units that have sworn allegiance to ISIS or Al-Qaeda pose the same threat to the Taliban (especially those who have become power) as they do to the current authorities, and will be destroyed. If they try to break through to the north, to the Central Asian republics, they will be hit by the Tajik and Uzbek (and there is also the Turkmen border) military. Naturally, with the help of Russia – which will strengthen both its military bases in the region and the supply of weapons to its Central Asian allies.
So this is also the American “cunning plan” – to lure Russia into Afghanistan! To begin with, we will be drawn into battles on the Afghan borders, and then we will imperceptibly find a new “limited contingent” of our troops in Afghanistan itself. Such warnings are also voiced – but one should not understand Russian foreign policy at all in order to assume even the minimal likelihood of such a scenario.
And to believe in the existence of such American calculations – despite the fact that the Anglo-Saxons, of course, would gladly set up a “big Central Asian trap” for Russia. But now they simply do not have the opportunity for this. And on the whole one should not consider the same Americans as ingenious manipulators and cunning planners. After all, even the circumstances of their withdrawal from Afghanistan speak of something completely different: their influence in the region has not simply not grown, it has been radically undermined.
No, this is not about the fact that they cannot gain a foothold in Kyrgyzstan or Uzbekistan – these countries, even when they provided the Americans with bases for the Afghan campaign, continued to remain in the military and geopolitical orbit of Russia. During the years of the Afghan war, the Americans practically lost Pakistan (a nuclear power and one of the largest Muslim countries in the world), which recently became a member of the Russian-Chinese SCO . Was this also part of a cunning US plan to destabilize Central Asia ? Nothing to achieve and leave, having lost the closest ally in a neighboring country?
Of course, Central Asia is not immune from destabilization – the post-Soviet republics have many internal problems, there are border disputes and conflicts. But it is still not worth overestimating the impact of Afghan problems on the security of these states, especially since all of them (not even members of the CSTO ) are under the military-political umbrella of Russia. Which is not going on a new Afghan campaign – but, of course, is able to provide protection for its allies if the sparks of the Afghan fire start flying too hard across the borders.
Which, however, is far from predetermined, and the Afghans themselves have a chance to go through the period of post-American rehabilitation with relatively little blood. Russia not only can, but is obliged to help them in this – for the sake of our common security. That is why on Friday in Moscow, Secretary of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev received his Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib , and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sharply criticized the “irresponsible behavior of some officials of the ruling structures of Afghanistan, trying in every possible way to further delay the process of preparing real peace talks” with the Taliban. stating that they “must reflect on the implications of these actions for their homeland.”
Although, perhaps, part of the Afghan leadership is deliberately playing for time – hoping to simply escape from Afghanistan after the Americans.