The US has finally opted to withdraw from Afghanistan. There is a sure implausible deniability regarding failure of a super power in its longest war.
Unfolding of events in Post-US withdrawal is any body’s guess. Crystal-gazing is on and each day new possible scenarios are being churned. All scenarios hold ominous consequences for the unfortunate region of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The regions which have remained disturbed for over two centuries of modern history are yet again standing at cross roads.
In the multidimensional global transitions, the most serious lies in emergence of China as a challenger to the US status of super power. It is critical for the US to block rise of China at the max or retard it’s rise to the min. This in view, the most serious retrospection is needed in certain key questions. What is strategic significance of the region in Sino-US Rivalry?Notwithstanding its withdrawal, can US totally delink from this region? And, on the part of US is it change of heart or strategy?
Rise of China is predicated mainly in two main domains, integration of Eurasian Landmass and mitigation of Malacca Dilemma. The first needs critical land routes through CARs and the second needs direct access to Indian Ocean. Kazakhstan happens to be the linchpin for integration of Eurasian Landmass and Pakistan forms linchpin for access to Indian Ocean. Afghanistan lies in the middle of CARs and Pakistan. While stability in these key regions is critical for China’s ambitions; instability in these regions is equally critical for the US to stop China from rising. Afghanistan can serve to radiate instability in all directions. That much about first question. Now I move to the second.
Based on strategic importance of the region, it can be safely presumed that total delinking from this critical region can not be in the interests of the US. Incase, US totally abandons this region, then China will have an easy run for its ambitious plans. Direct involvement through physical presence may no more suit the US, however, indirect involvement through other ways may be essentially required.
Third question is the most critical and warrants serious deliberations. Does US have a change of heart or strategy. Change of heart can imply that the US, in its heart has accepted failure and has given up on its objectives vis-a-vis Afghanistan and the region. While change of strategy may imply that mode is being changed but objectives are not being abandoned. Instead of direct strategy of fighting and suffering, the US may adopt an indirect strategy to achieve its objectives. 21st Century Warfare has brought to fore the role of Non-state actors. It has been same non-state actors which have humiliated a super power.
What if? the US employs same very non-state actors to create chaos in the regions critical for Chinese ambitions. Conduct of peace talks, concessions to TTA, indications to carry out air strikes only against ISIS in Afghanistan raise suspicions regarding purity of intentions of the US. The above cited video seems to serve as an incitement to TTP for carrying out operations in Pakistan. TTP leader has been given an opportunity for an interview on CNN.
If the US and CIA unfolds such plans, the region is up for a bigger chaos than we have witnessed earlier. Malicious role of non-state actors in Afghanistan can give fillip to ETIM in Xinjiang, IMU in Uzbekistan and TTP of Pakistan. These non-state actors if not well managed can serve interests of the US better than its physical presence in Afghanistan.
Stability in Afghanistan may be more critical than any time in the past. Regional countries must join hands to defeat designs of inimical forces and to prevent instability which will radiate its ill effects in all directions.