Analysis of Afghanistan-Central Asia Relations in the New American Strategy.
Afghanistan’s relations with the five Central Asian countries since the independence of these republics have been on the ups and downs before the US invasion of Afghanistan, and military-security policies have been a priority over economic and cultural relations. After this period, relations between Afghanistan and Central Asia were affected by the US presence and it seems that Washington needs to cooperate and provide Central Asian economic and political capacities in line with its major strategy in this region. Central Asian governments have also tried to look at Afghanistan as a regional partner for the sake of mutual need and, from this perspective, achieve their political goals.
*Ismail Bagheri (Expert on Afghanistan)
Although Afghanistan’s relations with Central Asian countries became official after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fact is that Afghanistan and the Central Asian republics have had many economic and commercial ties since the Soviet Union. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Afghanistan’s relations with Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan were closely intertwined. In fact, the Central Asian republics undertook civilian projects funded by the Soviet Union, mostly concentrated in the northern regions of Afghanistan, and a kind of trade agreement between the northern provinces of Afghanistan and the Central Asian republics was a strategy mainly based on the foundations There were two sides where the central government of Kabul was interfered. The construction of some roads in the northern provinces of Afghanistan, the creation of a railroad and the establishment of the Heyratan port on the Amu Darya shores included the agreements that were made at that time.
This relationship was often carried out by the Soviet Union in order to form a kind of economic and even political integration between Afghanistan and the Central Asian republics. In fact, the Soviet strategy was based on the integration of economic and political ties with geographical, cultural and social ties between Afghanistan and Central Asia. But the security problems and political instability in Afghanistan, on the one hand, and then the intervention of the foreign powers, on the other hand, have the opportunity to promote economic-political relations from the two sets (Afghanistan and Central Asia).
However, if we look at the relations between Afghanistan and Central Asia after the independence of the Central Asian republics from 1991 to 2001 (the US and NATO invasion of Afghanistan), relations between these countries are associated with many ups and downs and security policies – Military, more than economic and cultural relations are central to Central Asia, and security considerations have not allowed the development of all-round relationships between the two sets. The analysis of Afghanistan-Central Asia relations in the context of the new American strategy is the main subject of this paper, but the fact is that Donald Trump did not make clear about US policies and strategies in Central Asia, but given America’s performance in that region after 2001 It seems that the United States needs Central Asia’s economic and political cooperation and economic and political capabilities to meet its major objectives, using the Afghanistan Access Facility to withdraw most of its forces and equipment from Central Asia between 2011 and 2015 it is obvious. It should be noted that Central Asian governments have also consistently tried to introduce Afghanistan as their regional counterpart in Afghanistan in order to benefit both from its political credibility and under the umbrella of Russia. As a result, relations between Central Asian countries and Afghanistan are largely influenced by new US policies and it seems that, given the existing problems between the United States and Pakistan, the role of Central Asian countries in the implementation of Washington’s strategy in Afghanistan is more than ever before.
– The Importance of Relations between Afghanistan and Central Asia
The existence of multiple geographical, historical, and cultural-religious, ethnic, social, and economic links highlights the importance of Afghanistan’s relations with Central Asia ¹. Afghanistan has the closest ethnic-religious and cultural-social affiliations with Central Asian countries, especially Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. As previously stated in the introduction, before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Afghanistan has had the most relations with Central Asian countries. The continuity of nationalities such as Uzbeks, Tajik and Turkmen has potentially been of great importance to Afghanistan’s relations with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, especially as relations between these three countries have a historical background with Afghanistan and the areas of expansion Relationships exist in the economic, political and even security spheres. In fact, the large number of Tajiks, Uzbeks and Turkmens in Afghanistan and the three above-mentioned countries adjacent to Afghanistan, show the close proximity of the ethnic groups and their populations, and in some way inspire a sense of belonging to the said ethnicities.
The importance of Afghanistan’s relations with Central Asian countries can be discussed separately, but because Central Asia is located in a geopolitical package, this article also highlights the importance of Afghanistan’s relationship with Central Asia:
– Central Asia is located in a region that is neighbors with three major powers, Russia, China and the United States.
The presence of the United States in Afghanistan has led great powers in Central Asia to face rivalry and sometimes conflict over the reach of its energy and its markets, as well as political influence and dominance. In other words, although Central Asia has been somewhat enclosed in the land and does not have access to the world’s open waters, it is of great importance because of its location among the most important strategic areas – West Asia, South Asia and Eurasia. From the perspective of the United States, Central Asia plays a key role in Washington’s national interests, and oil and gas extraction on the Caspian coast, especially in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, can make a significant contribution to global energy security.
Central Asia has always been important in its history due to the passage of its silk road and the connection of East Asia to West Asia and then Europe. Today, transit and access to South and West Asia through Central Asia plays an important role in developing the trade and economic relations of the region.
– The emergence of Central Asia in the neighboring Afghanistan, one of the main centers of extremism in the region and the world, has affected the impact of these countries on the security developments in Afghanistan.
Particularly, the presence of US forces and the international coalition of NATO-led security in Afghanistan has increased the importance and sensitivity of Central Asia. The existence of extremism over the past years in the region and speculation about the transfer of takfiri groups such as ISIL to Afghanistan and then its transfer to Central Asian countries is not something that has been neglected. However, in the “great game” theory, the Americans are seeking to strike at the best of Russia and even Iran in Central Asia to offset their failures in Iraq and Syria, and so any interactions of extremism and terrorist acts in Afghanistan A kind will also affect the Central Asian countries.
– The reasons for the lack of progress in Afghanistan’s relations with Central Asian countries
The reasons for the lack of progress in Afghanistan’s relations with Central Asian countries should be addressed in several sections:
First, the existence of political crises inside Afghanistan due to ethnic and political rivalries, especially among Pashtun ethnicities, has led to a weak central government formed in Kabul three quarters ago, and ethnic conflicts and tribunals do not allow the spread of sovereignty over Afghanistan. Is. The issue that matters most in this regard is that Afghanistan is composed of a set of ethnic and nationalities, some of which are rooted in the tribes of neighboring countries. This means that a large part of the Pashtun population is resident in Pakistan, and this has affected the relations between ethnicities on both sides of the border, in particular, in the Pashtun ethnic group, the tribal clans and Dorani and … with each other in competition and tension And this has led a tribe to co-operate and sometimes conspire to achieve the rule of Afghanistan with alien powers.
While the majority of the Afghan population is said to be Pashtuns, the same Pashtuns are a minority in Pashtuns across the border in Pakistan; Tajiks in Afghanistan, which are the second largest ethnic minority in Afghanistan, have more populations than Tajiks in Tajikistan. Uzbeks and Turkmens of Afghanistan are also ethnic groups in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, and along with these four important ethnic groups, there are other ethnic groups throughout Afghanistan that have made Afghanistan a country with ethnic mosaics. In fact, each ethnicity is important in determining the political equations of Afghanistan.
As in the introduction section, the former Soviet Union was also due to the ethnic affiliations and the weakness of the government of the Kabul center, which allowed the Central Asian states to expand their relations with the northern provinces of Afghanistan at the economic and cultural levels. Therefore, the existence of different ethnicities and ethnic rivalries has become part of the cause of insecurity and instability in Afghanistan.
It is clear that the Pashtuns, in the history of the country’s emergence, have contributed more than any other ethnic minority to the emergence of political and security impediments because of the claim of sovereignty throughout Afghanistan, and the formation of a communist government and then the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan led to the rest of the days By forming the Mojahedin groups and defending the territory of Afghanistan somehow in their political equations, they will have a place where, since the withdrawal of the Soviet forces from Afghanistan, other ethnic groups, such as Tajik, Hazara and Uzbeks, have been placed in the structure of the Afghan government. So the internal wars over power after the formation of the MKO and then the emergence of the Taliban did not allow the development of relations between Afghanistan and Central Asia.
But the second factor that had somewhat upgraded Afghanistan’s ties with the Central Asian countries was at a point in the interference of powers such as the Soviet Union and other parts of the United States in Afghanistan. Although the Soviet Union, in the time of the invasion of Afghanistan, was struggling to expand its relations with Afghanistan, and economic projects such as road and rail construction, technical assistance for the extraction of gas and oil in Sheberghan, Afghanistan, and … were of Soviet interest, but However, instability and insecurity prevented the development of these plans. During the civil wars, economic and agricultural infrastructure was damaged and destroyed even more than during the Soviet invasion.
But the US invasion of Afghanistan and the formation of a new Afghan government after 2001 provided some sort of ground for the expansion of relations between Afghanistan and Central Asia, but Afghanistan’s security conditions did not allow the re-activation of extremist and violent groups as the expansion of economic relations between Central Asia and Afghanistan. In fact, insecurity and the continuation of assassinations and violence in Afghanistan have led to the development of Afghan-Central Asian relations with security implications. In particular, the governments in central Asia have somehow undeniable effects on the growth of religious extremism in the region due to the centralized power structures of a leader, and the lack of proper dealing with moderate Islamic trends and the elimination of party activities such as the Islamic Movement of Tajikistan Party has led to the To create radical selfish groups more than ever.
Therefore, it can be stated that US involvement in the United States and the lack of integrity in the fight against terrorism by the United States have only led to the growth and strengthening of extremist-terrorist groups in Afghanistan, which has once again turned Afghanistan into the center of the crisis of terrorism and extremism. And Central Asian countries care about security considerations more than any other considerations in developing relations with Afghanistan. It is a fact that the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan increases the security of Central Asian countries due to the threat of terrorist groups.
– US Approaches Near or Far From Afghanistan to Central Asia
Undoubtedly, the US presence in Afghanistan is not only to combat terrorism and create security, but also to achieve its long-term and long-term goals in the region, as well as to control the growing powers of the world, especially Russia, China, India and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Central Asian energy supplies and access to its economic market, political influence and cultural influence in Central Asian countries, and the pressure on Russia and China … are among the goals the United States is pursuing in Central Asia. In fact, the Western military intervention in Afghanistan has several reasons, most of them being secretly pursued and not clearly stated in the new strategy of the United States in Afghanistan (the Donald Trump course), but what is true is that US actions and approaches in Afghanistan play a major role in the proximity or remoteness of Afghanistan to Central Asia.
Afghanistan is in the proximity of countries, each of which is important for some reason. The border with Turkmenistan, which is the third largest natural gas in the world with huge natural gas reserves, is of great importance to the United States, and the transfer of Central Asian gas through the pipeline, known as Tapi, is also an issue sponsored by the United States. Tajikistan is important for Afghanistan because of its energy supply. Uzbekistan is of such importance for Afghanistan as it is of a larger population and has a leading role among Central Asian countries, and it has the most economic and trade relations with Afghanistan in Central Asian countries.
Afghanistan is also considered by Uzbekistan as a transit point for Central Asia to South Asia, especially in terms of exports. The connection between China and other countries of silk through Uzbekistan is one of the most important trade and transit opportunities for Afghanistan.
Undoubtedly, Russian, Chinese and US rivalries over Central Asian gas pipelines and energy resources, as well as its economic market, and even electricity, are serious for the geopolitical control of Central Asia, with Afghanistan, in the neighborhood with the region, A good place to set up a geopolitical struggle over Central Asia. Of course, this will be for the benefit of the United States and the West, with security all over in Afghanistan, and the lack of security due to the presence of the Taliban and other terrorist groups such as ISIS will somehow endanger America’s long-term goals.
Perhaps the only way to defend some of America’s policies is to create security for Afghanistan’s development, which somehow calls for the Islamic Republic of Iran to have security and development and economic growth in Afghanistan. Of course, it should be noted that for the time being, the United States needs a degree of insecurity and continued control of terrorism in order to continue its presence and stay in permanent military bases under the Kabul-Washington security agreement, while US strategies in Afghanistan and Central Asia are long-term And strategic.
Of course, it should be noted that there are huge oil and gas resources in northern Afghanistan. There are also huge reserves of mines and precious metals in Afghanistan, estimated at more than $ 1 trillion. To summarize, Central Asia has a strategic geopolitical and strategic importance for the US and for its competition with Russia and China, and the vast energy resources of Central and Northern Asia have led Central Asia’s geo-economic development to be heavily devoted to the West and Special for America. With this in mind, the United States seeks to expand Afghanistan’s relations with Central Asian countries, but is not optimistic about Kabul’s influence and expansion with Moscow. Because the United States seeks to control its rivals in the region, while paying attention to its energy resources and the importance of Central Asia, it is trying to control and even challenge the interests of Russia and China in Central Asia.
– Leading perspectives
Although Afghanistan and Central Asia are roughly in the same geopolitical environment, they have deep interconnections from different cultural, social, ethnic, religious, political and economic points, but the fact is that the political and security conditions of the region will never provide the necessary premises. It does not provide for consistent and close cooperation between the two sets. The unsustainable economic ties between Afghanistan and Central Asia and the severe needs of the two sets of Western technologies on the one hand, and the lack of political stability and the growing insecurity in Afghanistan, on the other hand, have brought together not only Afghanistan and Central Asia together, But sometimes put together in some way a threat to themselves. This is due to the concern of Central Asian countries about the insecurity of Afghanistan from their countries. While Afghanistan and Central Asia are complementary to each other’s geopolitics, any kind of transformation in Afghanistan has its own special effects on Central Asia, and the opposite is how the governments in Central Asia deal with Islamism, the types of approaches to America, Russia and China, and … somehow affect the kind of engagement with Afghanistan. In any case, given the presence of US forces in Afghanistan, Afghanistan has an impact on Central Asia and vice versa.
Perhaps the capacities and potential of the economy will be significant in the development of Afghanistan’s relations with Central Asia, especially in the field of energy and its transfer, but the lack of appropriate security bases has caused international investments, especially in the area of energy and related resources, to be linked to security considerations in Afghanistan. . In such a situation where ISIL, the Taliban and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and … in Afghanistan are in conflict and the insecurities are continuing and growing, there can be no clear prospect for Afghanistan’s relations with Central Asia in the short term. Although attempts to build a pipeline (transferring from Turkmenistan and crossing Afghanistan and Pakistan to India) and the advancement of projects such as the Casa 1000 (Tajik and Kyrgyzstan transporting electricity from Afghanistan to Pakistan) and … have long started, But anyway, the Afghan-Afghan political situation is crucial for the operation of these projects. The widespread political disagreements between Afghanistan and Pakistan and Pakistan along with India are somehow affecting the implementation of the Tapio pipeline and even the Casa 1000. How are US and Russian approaches to these projects important?
Finally, security and security are key to the economic development and political relations of Afghanistan and Central Asia, and to the extent that security in the region exists, it is equally possible to expand relations, especially that Afghanistan and Central Asia are somehow complementary. Geopolitics is considered as one and if political security and political stability are established in the region, undoubtedly the economic relations between Afghanistan and Central Asian countries will be expanded and geo-economical complementation will be maintained; however, in the new strategy of the United States towards Central Asia, a certain policy will be announced. But this fact should not be forgotten The region plays a key role in providing US national interests and, despite its ambiguous policies in Afghanistan, has so far been able to impose its presence on Central Asian countries, and even Russia and China, and, if necessary, from the capacities of Central Asia for the transit of facilities and It has used its forces as a logistics route, something that has been considered by both Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Central Asia includes the five countries of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, but often some of the neighboring countries with these countries also fall into Central Asia, which are Mongolia, Afghanistan, Sinqiang in western China and southern Siberia in Russia and even north of Iran. The sentence is in these areas.