Russia Must Become More Assertive on Afghanistan by Dr. Subhash Kapila SignUp
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Russia Must Become More Assertive
on Afghanistan
by Dr. Subhash Kapila Bookmark and Share
 

Russia has strong and legitimate strategic interests in the stability of Afghanistan, but so far it has been a passive spectator. Russia willingly extended political support to the United States military intervention in Afghanistan in 2001 and thereafter. More lately, when Pakistan became an unreliable ally for safe transit of US & NATO Forces logistics needs, Russia once again stepped in to help the United States. Russia stepped in opening the Northern Route as alternative logistics supplies route through Russian territory and the Central Asian Republics. As the domestic public opinion within the United States wavers on Afghanistan and there is a likelihood of weakening of the US resolve to stay embedded in Afghanistan, it is high time that Russia takes a lead in becoming more assertive on Afghanistan in terms of alternative solutions.

The United States has to recognize that even after nine years in Afghanistan it has not been able to insulate Afghanistan against the Taliban and Al Qaeda inroads chiefly because the United States is loathe to surgically disconnect Pakistan from US Afghan strategy.

Political indicators suggest that the United States may be tempted as a prelude to its exit from Afghanistan to outsource Afghanistan’s strategic management to China and Afghanistan. Nothing could be more strategically deleterious to Afghanistan’s stability than to let it slip into China and Pakistan’s control. Such a strategic arrangement would impinge heavily on the national security interests of not only Russia but also of Iran and India’s national security interests.

Pr-emptive action to forestall such a destabilizing development perforce has to be initiated by Russia. It can be safely asserted that in this initiative Russia would find willing political and moral support from Iran and India. Further, if Russia takes substantial steps in asserting itself on Afghanistan’s stability and security then countries like Iran and India which have substantial stakes in Afghanistan would get motivated to assist Russia in terms of more substantial support in the form of international peace-keeping and peace-enforcing forces.

Russia can follow any of the following two paths on Afghanistan, namely (1) Call on the United Nations to hold an international conference on Afghanistan for the purposes of evolving proposals for UN intervention in Afghanistan in the form of deploying UN peace-enforcement forces, peace-keeping forces and humanitarian aid and re-construction (2) In case this becomes a time-consuming process seek the cooperation of regional powers like Iran and India primarily, besides others willing to assist for the same purpose

In the first course stiff opposition can be expected from the United States on internationalization of the Afghanistan issue. On the second course stiff opposition will be offered by China and Pakistan. On both courses Pakistan can be expected to impede the process both politically and more significantly by the use of Pakistan Army affiliates like the Taliban and the Al Qaeda.

Russia has enough leverage to dissuade Pakistan from the use of Islamic Jihadi outfits to destabilize Afghanistan in the event of UN intervention or even in case of regional intervention.

The United States has to recognize that even after nine years in Afghanistan it has not been able to insulate Afghanistan against the Taliban and Al Qaeda inroads chiefly because the United States is loathe to surgically disconnect Pakistan from US Afghan strategy.

Russia, Iran and India cannot be passive spectators to Pakistan’s continued destabilization of Afghanistan in which they have significant strategic stakes just because Pakistan currently enjoys American strategic patronage. It is high time that Russia takes the lead and asserts itself in favor of Afghanistan’s stability and security.

4-Jan-2010
More by :  Dr. Subhash Kapila
 
Views: 1315
 
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