Trump administration is planning to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan. Hereby discussing the role of USA in Afghanistan, challenges after its withdraw and impact on the India.
Afghanistan, landlocked multiethnic country located in the heart of south-central Asia. Lying along important trade routes connecting southern and eastern Asia to Europe and the Middle East, Afghanistan has long been a prize sought by empire builders, and for millennia great armies have attempted to subdue it, leaving traces of their efforts in great monuments now fallen to ruin. The country’s forbidding landscape of deserts and mountains has laid many imperial ambitions to rest.
- Afghanistan has historically been a difficult place for external invaders, thanks to its complex tribal equations and its rugged mountainous terrain. It’s a classic example of a country whose geopolitical destiny is defined by geography.
- The British Empire sent troops to Afghanistan in 1839 as part of the ‘Great Game’. They feared that the Russians would take over Afghanistan and be at the border of India, “the jewel in the British Crown”. To pre-empt that, they conquered Kabul, toppled the Emir of Afghanistan, Dost Mohammad Khan, and installed their protege Shah Shujah Durrani in power.
- When the invasion became unsustainable in the wake of the violent resistance by tribal fighters, mainly the faction led by Dost Mohammad’s son, Akbar Khan, the British decided to withdraw. But while withdrawing, all their troops but Brydon were massacred, and Dost Mohammad went on to recapture Kabul.
- The Soviets sent troops to Afghanistan after an intra-party coup in the country. The Soviets were wary of Hafizullah Amin, who captured power and assassinated Nur Mohammad Taraki, the leader of the 1978 communist coup.
- In December 1979, Leonid Brezhnev deployed troops to Afghanistan. The Soviets staged another coup, murdered Amin, and installed Babrak Karmal, a Moscow loyalist, as President.
- Given their defeat in the Vietnam War and their loss of Iran following the 1979 Revolution, the Americans saw the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan as an opportunity.
- They began supporting the mujahideen, the tribal warriors who were fighting both the communist regime and its Soviet backers, with help from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, which were worried about the expansion of communism to the Muslim world. A decade later, the Soviets realised that the occupation had become unsustainable and pulled back.
- When Taliban, who controlled Afghanistan, refused to hand over Osama Bin Laden – who said he had organized the 11 September attack – then US President George W Bush launched a military operation to find Bin Laden and remove the Taliban from power.
- US special forces eventually found and killed Bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011. American-led combat operations in Afghanistan officially ended in 2014.
- But in the years since then, the Taliban’s power and reach have soared – and US troops have stayed on the ground in an effort to stabilize the country. Before his election,Trump repeatedly publicly advocated leaving Afghanistan, describing it as a waste of money.
- However, last year he indicated he would keep boots on the ground indefinitely to prevent the country’s collapse, and said the US would send 3,000 extra troops to the country.
- The strategic location of Afghanistan makes it a crucial aspect of not only India’s look west policy but of serving India’s economic and security interest.
Impact of Withdrawal
- A rollback of U.S. forces in Afghanistan will be a boon for the Taliban, Islamic State and other extremist elements, which continue to exert increasing territorial and population control.
- It would also enhance the odious geopolitical influences of China and Russia — the latter of which has consistently worked against American and Afghan interests by directly arming the Taliban.
- While Afghan security forces have increased their ability to repel insurgents through U.S. assistance, capacity deficitsremain rampant.
Impact of withdrawal on India
- India’s engagement in Afghanistan is crucial for the Afghan state’s long-term viability and India has done well to continue its engagement despite facing the wrath of its adversaries. But New Delhi will also have to figure out a way of protecting its nationals and other assets at a time when the Afghan security situation is getting worse by the day. The challenges for India are only going to grow and New Delhi cannot forever continue to rely on the benevolence of others.
- Besides the need to counter Pakistani influences, Afghanistan will serve a major link to India’s ambitious Chabahar port in Iran which has been built to counter Gwadar port by the Chinese in Pakistan.
- TAPI Gas Pipe Line (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) ,which aims to connect central Asia to South Asia will serve its purpose only when Afghanistan has a more stable political and social fabric.
- Afghanistan will help India overcome chain’s OBOR (One Belt One Road) initiative. A stable Afghanistan and smooth implementation of the Indian project at Chabahar should be seen complementary to the OBOR as it would improve the infrastructure in the region via which the OBOR shall pass, thereby cementing ties with China.
- Afghanistan stability will serve as a gateway for the North-South Corridor for India. An unstable Afghanistan will dampen India’s larger strategic interests as well as economic. The instability will become an impediment to tap Afghanistan’s mineral resources and give a major blow to India’s energy demands.
- However, Afghan state’s capacity is under siege and insurgents are doing all they can to underscore its growing vulnerabilities. Regular attacks on government ministries and the organizers of October’s parliamentary and district elections underscore the ability of the insurgents to take on the government forces at a time and place of their choosing.
- As it is, less than 60% of Afghanistan is being controlled by government forces, according to various estimates. As per the latest report of Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the Afghan army and police together have 36,000 fewer personnel today than they did last year, as a result of desertions and casualties.
- Hence stability of the region is must for India.
- The recent agreement between India and China to work in Afghanistan to work on growth and development and the million dollars of investment on India’s part in Afghanistan will materialize only when there is peace in the region. Else, every penny goes in vain along with the energy invested in civilizing the Afghani society via social aids.
- India has to collaborate with the other nations to maintain peace and stability in the region.