The Taliban Are the New Reality of Afghanistan: How Should Russia React?

The Taliban Are the New Reality of Afghanistan: How Should Russia React?

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The Taliban * continues to take control of Afghanistan. True, the Taliban have not yet succeeded in occupying the capital of any of the 34 Afghan provinces, but in 17 battles are already taking place in the suburbs. To postpone the inevitable, the Americans, according to The Washington Post, on Wednesday and Thursday inflicted at least four air strikes on the Taliban: part on Kandahar, part on armored vehicles, artillery systems and vehicles captured by the Taliban from retreating government forces – in the style of you are no one. ” However, the point is that the Taliban will become, if not the power, then an essential part of the new government in Afghanistan. This means that Russia will somehow have to build relations with them.

The Americans promised to peck at the Taliban in the future (which, by the way, violates the bilateral agreement concluded by them), moreover, from bases outside Afghanistan. But, as General Kenneth Mackenzie, who is in charge of US operations in Afghanistan, said, only until the moment of the complete withdrawal of American troops from the country.

When Gorbachev’s Soviet Union did so, abandoning its ally, President Najibullah, the Afghan army did not hold out for very long. To this end, the Taliban took control of a ferry to the Uzbek city of Termez along the Amu Darya River from Hairaton, cutting off the most important supply artery of government troops.

And then – the Afghan army will remain with the gaining strength of the Taliban “one-on-one”, because the militias now being assembled by the Afghan Uzbeks (the former formations of General Dostum) and the Tajiks (the former Northern Alliance) are unlikely to get into an all-Afghan fight, but most likely will confine themselves to defending their territories …

Meanwhile, in order to break the increasingly sluggish resistance of government forces, it is strategically important for the Taliban to cut off the supply of ammunition and fuel and lubricants to Afghanistan. When Gorbachev’s Soviet Union did so, abandoning its ally, President Najibullah, the Afghan army did not hold out for very long. To this end, the Taliban took control of a ferry to the Uzbek city of Termez along the Amu Darya River from Hairaton, cutting off the most important supply artery of government troops.

” When the Americans announced that they would like to deploy their troops in Central Asia, I am 100% sure that they meant this particular crossing,” political analyst Semyon Bagdasarov, an expert on the countries of the Middle East and Central Asia , rightly asserts in this regard. All this speaks of the significantly increased combat capability and tactical skill of the Taliban *, and that the agony of the Afghan government is unlikely to drag on for a long time.

Like it or not, if the Taliban take power in Afghanistan, they will have to somehow build relations with them, because the alternative to negotiations is to shoot each other. We (Russia) are only interested in three things:

1. Afghanistan should not pose a threat to us and our Central Asian allies – Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

2. The new Afghan government is obliged to fight drug trafficking. Which, by the way, the Taliban, when they were in power in Afghanistan for four years, did very successfully and did, reducing the production of drugs by more than 10 times.

3. The Taliban, having won, should not perpetrate the massacre of Afghan Tajiks and Uzbeks in the north of Afghanistan, so that crowds of refugees do not destabilize Central Asia, and refugees from there do not rush to Russia.

The Taliban are limiting their tasks to the expulsion of all foreign soldiers from Afghanistan and the creation of an “Islamic Emirate” there. The goal of ISIS ** is the “world caliphate”, and therefore it is they who, in the event of their victory over the Taliban, can turn Afghanistan into a base for exporting Islamist extremism to Central Asia. 

On all three points, the Taliban made a firm promise during the Moscow talks, the fulfillment of which is now most of all in their own interests. There is no need for them to go to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan: the local population sympathizes not at all with the Pashtuns-Taliban, but with the Tajiks and Uzbeks of northern Afghanistan. And if the Taliban *, having come to power, do not start massacring the latter in revenge for their cooperation with the Americans, then there are no objective grounds for the conflict.

It is also noteworthy that a number of liberal (or simply not very literate) electronic media actively began to frighten us with a possible alliance of the Taliban * and ISIS ** for a joint invasion of Central Asia. What is practically impossible: these two organizations are mortal enemies, actively fighting since 2015 and differing not only in theological terms, but also in goals.

Once Oliver Cromwell, when asked by his subordinates, what instructions would be for crossing the river, replied: ” Hope in God, but keep the powder dry .” So in our case, I think, it is this pragmatic approach that should be guided by.

The Taliban are limiting their tasks to the expulsion of all foreign soldiers from Afghanistan and the creation of an “Islamic Emirate” there. The goal of ISIS ** is the “world caliphate”, and therefore it is they who, in the event of their victory over the Taliban, can turn Afghanistan into a base for exporting Islamist extremism to Central Asia. Moreover, they have their supporters and agents in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It is not for nothing that the Turks and Americans have been actively transferring ISIS members from Syria to Afghanistan lately! So for Russia, the Taliban in terms of fighting ISIS ** (which is also perceived as a “foreign interventionist”) may be very helpful.

“Keep your gunpowder dry”

There is no doubt, however, that such negotiating partners as the Taliban * will carry out the agreements reached only on the condition that the other side will seriously punish them for their failure to do so. Once Oliver Cromwell, when asked by his subordinates, what instructions would be for crossing the river, replied: ” Hope in God, but keep the powder dry .” So in our case, I think, it is this pragmatic approach that should be guided by.

First, to create and strengthen alliances – not only with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, but also with Iran (also, by the way, a completely “Islamic” state), whose interests in Afghanistan, which is safe for its neighbors, fully coincide with ours. It is not without reason that two Iranian warships made a friendly visit to Russia at the Day of the Navy. Another external interest is China, which recently donated a batch of military equipment to the Tajik military to strengthen the security of their border.

And secondly, to build a security system along the Tajik and Uzbek borders with Afghanistan, so that no one has any unnecessary illusions about surprise attacks. This is also already being done: large-scale Russian-Uzbek-Tajik exercises will be held 20 kilometers from the border from 5 to 10 August. The purpose of which, according to military analyst Vladislav Shurygin, is not to prepare for hostilities, but to demonstrate the readiness of the CSTO countries to take the most decisive measures when their borders are violated.

So it is calmer. For, as the cinematic comrade Sukhov also noted, “The East is a delicate matter, ” and the feeling that you, while negotiating, “keep the powder dry” only adds to the desire of your negotiating partner to fulfill the agreements reached.

The original Russian version of the article can be found here


Author

Vladimir Khomyakov is a Journalist, publicist, public figure

Republishing is allowed with copyright credit of the Radical Outlook

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The Radical Outlook

The Radical Outlook is an online news web Portal designed for in-depth news analysis from the Eurasian region and beyond. It is Founded by a geopolitical analyst Shahzada Rahim.
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