The American strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia in 2017 and the reaction of the countries of the region

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The American strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia in 2017 and the reaction of the countries of the region 07.09.2017 12:11

The first speech of D. Trump as commander in chief of the US Armed Forces (US Armed Forces), held on August 21, 2017 at the military base of Fort Myer, in fact, meant a remake of the events of the first decade of the 21st century in the republican performance[1]. There, a new US strategy was announced not only in Afghanistan, but also in South Asia, including India and Pakistan. Nevertheless, the main focus of the speech of the American president was directed to Kabul. At the same time, Washington demonstrated three fundamentally different approaches to the three neighboring countries of a single geographic region, aiming to separate them.

The main message of D. Trump is the return of American and coalition troops to South Asia, at least for the period of his presidency (four/eight years). But the return to Afghanistan is exclusively for a victory that levels out the defeat of the United States in the anti-terrorist campaigns in Iraq and Syria. And for this reason the White House uses all military, diplomatic and economic instruments of the American authorities. But while declaring that Afghanistan is the quintessence of US foreign policy, President D. Trump has changed his approach to Afghanistan, which became a tool or pretext for the United States to squeeze into the eastern region of the world powers of the 21st century -- India, China and Russia. Their policy of rapprochement within the framework of international structures and organizations - the SCO, the BRICS, and the economic growth and strengthening of the defense capacity of each of them, causes Washington's growing concern.

The Chinese initiative "One belt, one way", in particular, its first foreign infrastructure project - the China-Pakistan economic corridor, causes special fears of the White House. Its implementation by 2021 gives Beijing access to the Strait of Hormuz and further to the markets of the Persian Gulf countries, as well as Africa and Europe. But the main thing is control of Beijing for the movement of tankers with crude oil from the Middle East countries for Washington.

The US need to continue the war over the ocean is the reaction of D. Trump to pressure from his own defense complex and civilian establishment. To open a new front of struggle, a weighty pretext is needed, and this is costly in terms of financial resources. Therefore, to begin with, Republicans return to their bases in Afghanistan.

At the heart of the new US strategy for Afghanistan are three fundamental postulates:

a) fight to the final victory;

b) American troops remain indefinitely;

c) the fight against terrorism is not limited to Afghanistan, but goes to the regional level, i.e. starting from Pakistan, and further clockwise: Iran, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and China.

In Afghanistan, the US administration sets a short-term goal: the dismantling of terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State (IG) and Al-Qaida, preventing the Taliban from seizing power in Kabul and preventive actions to prevent mass terrorist attacks against the United States.

To achieve this goal, the US will strengthen military support for the Afghan government and the national armed forces in the field in the fight against the Taliban. The center of the new program includes additional military equipment (deliveries of new types of weapons, including American-made helicopters), training and advising the Afghan National Security Forces, etc.

With the purpose of conducting an effective full-scale struggle, the US commander-in-chief D. Trump provided the American troops with broad powers to make independent decisions on the ground in real time. In addition, he signed orders for their additional funding and an increase in the number of troops to 10,000 US troops in that country (in fact, this is an increase in the total number of only 1,600 troops, which is clearly not enough to solve the task).

D. Trump announced a new American strategy at a time when the Afghan Taliban controls more than 40% of the country's territory. The most disturbing is the spread of their influence on the northern provinces of Afghanistan, which were previously considered relatively calm. And the presence of the IG only worsens the security situation. In this regard, the United States fears that in the event of the seizure of power by the Taliban in Kabul, the terrorist groups IG and Al-Qaeda will firmly strengthen their presence in Afghanistan.

A fundamentally new, different from the previous ones, is the statement of D. Trump about the refusal of attempts to reshape Afghanistan in his image and likeness, shifting the projects of development of democracy and state building to the local administration. At the same time, President D. Trump called on the government of national unity to carry out economic and social reforms and eradicate corruption.

Pakistan, like under President B. Obama, remains part of the South Asian strategy of D. Trump. Following the democrats, the administration of the Republicans accuses Islamabad of the failure of the US / NATO anti-terrorist campaign of 2001-2014. in Afghanistan, namely, in protecting and providing shelter in its territory to terrorists (radicals), including the Taliban, threatening the region and beyond, primarily the Americans. In the US administration, Pakistan is considered a troubled ally, criticized for its links with the Taliban and harboring the militant leaders.

Thus, according to American data, there are 20 terrorist organizations operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan that are prohibited by the UN. Therefore, D. Trump urges US troops to destroy terrorists on the territory of Pakistan. At the same time, the US tightened sanctions against banned organizations in order to deprive them of the very ability to export terror. And all this is done under the propaganda pretext of preventing nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists and using it against America or another country.

In 2017 the administration of D. Trump rewrote the "Pakistan" paragraph from President Obama's strategy, without inventing anything new. The obsolete US approaches to Afghanistan and South Asia in fundamentally new economic and geopolitical conditions only underline the political shortsightedness of the authors of this strategy. To this, Islamabad is developing an adequate response, one of the items of which is the blocking (according to the experience of 2011) of land and air cargo for American soldiers in Afghanistan, which has no access to the sea.

India is called the third country in the new US strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia. D. Trump described New Delhi as the strategic partner of the United States for security and economy in the region under consideration, with whom it is planned to further develop all-round cooperation. At the same time, India's leading role in stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan, which includes billions of Indian investments in the country's economy, is emphasized.

Thus, the US bid for a military solution to the Afghan problem, despite the failure of the anti-terrorist campaign of 2001-2014, excludes a peaceful settlement in a war-ravaged country. And the fault lies in the current administration of the United States.


Natalia Zamaraeva, senior researcher of the Pakistan sector of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, PhD (History).




[1] Recall that the United States and Britain in October 2001 introduced a limited contingent of troops to Afghanistan, since 2003 there were NATO countries and allies within the International Security Assistance Force of up to 100,000 military personnel. In December 2014 the bulk of the military personnel was withdrawn. Currently, there are 8,400 American soldiers and officers in Afghanistan.