A political commentator says the US plans to expand its presence in Afghanistan using the help of India, which has been asked to make more investment in Afghanistan in return for the assistance it receives from Washington.
Senior Iranian diplomat and political analyst Mohsen Pakaeen has, in a Farsi article in Jame Jam newspaper, weighed on Washington’s plan to have a stronger military presence in Afghanistan. The full text of the analytical piece follows.
One of the United States’ strategies during Reagan’s presidency and even after the former Soviet Union’s withdrawal from Afghanistan was to be present in the country. The plan was aimed at containing Russia, creating instability in Iran, interfering in Tehran’s internal affairs and blockading China. Accordingly, the US has, at different junctures, adopted different strategies with a common principle: a strong presence in Afghanistan.
At one point, the Americans created the Taliban and supported it. The US-backed Taliban established a rule in Mazar-i-Sharif. Nevertheless, from then on, the US decided to confront the terror group that the country had created itself due to the conflict of interests between the Taliban and Washington. Later on, the Taliban expanded its sphere of activities and turned into Al-Qaeda. In other words, they spread terrorism beyond Afghanistan’s borders.
Fast-forward to today. Although Donald Trump announced during his election campaign that he had no intention of increasing US presence in Afghanistan and that he would withdraw American troops from the country, he announced in his recently-published strategy that he intended to remain on the ground and boost the United States’ military presence in Afghanistan.
Based on the approval of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), all NATO troops were to pull out of Afghanistan by 2011, but it did not happen and the UN reneged on its commitment. Now that ISIS has been defeated in Syria and Iraq, the terrorist group is pursuing a new objective. Backed by the White House, ISIS has set its eyes on Afghanistan as its most immediate target. Some of the terrorists of the Takfiri group were transferred to Afghanistan even before the collapse of the terrorist group in Syria and Iraq, and began moving towards the north. They are fighting both the central government and the Taliban. But their objective is to keep moving towards the north and the republics of the former Soviet Union, namely Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
This is the danger threatening Central Asia. Washington seeks to use the US-backed ISIS as a lever to make President Ashraf Ghani and the Afghan government lean towards the United States. This comes as Afghan groups and former militants are not satisfied with Ghani’s performance. So, the new US strategy puts Washington next to New Delhi, prefers India to Pakistan, and seeks to have a stronger presence in Afghanistan with the help of India. In this very strategy, India has been asked to make more investment in Afghanistan in return for the assistance it [New Delhi] receives from the US. Based on the new strategy, the US’ presence in Afghanistan will, on the one hand, rein in China, which seeks to revive the Silk Road passing through Afghanistan. On the other hand, the US is supporting India, which has serious differences with Pakistan, in order to confront Islamabad further. Meanwhile, the White House continues pursuing the policy of containing Russia.
If we look at the region’s makeup, we will see that Russia, Pakistan and China are on the one side, and on the other side are the US and India, which intend to have a stronger presence in Afghanistan. Therefore, given Trump’s strategy, the US is likely to maintain its presence in Afghanistan and keep supporting ISIS. The US also seeks to continue its backing for Ashraf Ghani as long as he maintains his pro-Western policies.