Afghanistan The new nerve center of Asian Geopolitics : Saifuddin Ahmed

 Afghanistan History, War, Geopolitics : Episode 1

In general, countries without maritime connections have no geopolitical significance. Surrounded by other countries, the countries are always close to their neighbors.

But this general notion of geopolitics is going to be proven wrong in the case of Afghanistan. After a long twenty years of unequal war, America is returning from Afghanistan empty handed. But even then, the conflict in Afghanistan is not expected to stop in the coming days.

On the contrary, after the departure of the United States, other regional superpowers will want to bring invincible Afghanistan under their sphere of influence. And in this context, a new conflict without the United States will start in Afghanistan.


The countries bordering Afghanistan are Iran, Pakistan, China, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In other words, Afghanistan has South Asia on one side and Central Asia on the other. Just as Dragon China has its eyes on Afghanistan, so does Afghanistan have a border with Persia. Although without a border, Afghanistan is a major factor in the political and religious stability of the Middle East and Russia.

Afghanistan War History

There is a saying that Afghanistan has become a graveyard of foreign countries throughout the ages. In the Middle Ages, King Jaipal's Jayaratha was stopped by Afghanistan. In the modern era, Afghanistan defeated the three superpowers one by one. Britain, the Soviet Union (Russia), and the United States are the only Afghans in the world who have the honor of defeating the three mighty nations of the modern world.

But the chances of peace in Afghanistan are slim! The geographically important location has turned Afghanistan into a hotbed of conflict between superpowers.

The current pro-US Ghani government in Afghanistan and the warring Afghan guerrillas are in a power struggle and the guerrillas are expected to take over the Afghan masons within a year of the US departure. And if that happens, new equations will be added to the geopolitics of the Middle East, South Asia, China, Central Asia.

The famous Bengali writer Syed Mujtaba Ali, who traveled to Kabul a hundred years ago, said that the heart of Afghans is bigger than a mountain. And now the conflict situation in Afghanistan shows that their hearts are bigger than the mountains!


Geographically important position has turned Afghanistan into a battleground of geopolitics in the Asian region! Half a dozen regional and global powers, such as Pakistan, China, India, Iran, Turkey and Russia, are looking to establish a controlled government in Afghanistan after the United States. But why are the eyes of so many superpowers on this state suffering from barren poverty without sea ports?

i) Pakistan 6

Afghanistan has the closest border with Pakistan. The Durald Line between Pakistan and Afghanistan has divided the Pashto-speaking population just as the Bengali-speaking people have been divided along the border between India and Bangladesh.

During the Soviet invasion, the freedom fighters of Afghanistan conducted the freedom struggle from the territory of Pakistan. And so the Pakistani government and intelligence agencies have a significant influence on the guerrilla groups in Afghanistan.

But during the US invasion of Afghanistan, the Pakistani government occasionally resorted to dualism. As a result, a section of the Afghan guerrillas began to have a negative attitude towards Pakistan. So far, however, key members of the guerrillas have maintained close ties with Pakistan's ISI. At the same time, the current anti-US stance of the current Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has warmed the relationship between the Afghan guerrillas and the Pakistani government.

But Pakistan is still worried about its security. Because some Pakistani guerrilla groups influenced by the Afghan guerrillas are engaged in military conflicts with the Pakistani government demanding the implementation of Sharia law, regularly fighting with the Pakistani army. In addition, some guerrillas are being used against Pakistan in various ways by the intelligence agencies of arch-rival India.

Some Afghan militias aim to seize the North-West Frontier Province from Pakistan by inciting Pashtun nationalism. The Pakistani government claims that the militias are being assisted in this task by India and the current Ghani government.

And so the Pakistani government is not at all interested in seeing India and the current Ghani government on the soil of post-US Afghanistan. Pakistan's plan is to bring the government of guerrilla organizations to power in Afghanistan, as well as to make the guerrillas dependent on Pakistan. China, Pakistan's economic ally, also does not want a guerrilla government outside its sphere of influence in Afghanistan.

ii) China 6

Although the land in the north of Afghanistan touches China, the land in this one land has always been a source of anxiety for China.

The Muslim-majority region of East Turkestan (Xinjiang) in western China has been fighting for independence for years. China has used various means to suppress the Muslim Uighur ethnic group in East Turkestan.

But in the last 20 years of Afghan guerrilla warfare, a large number of Uighur Muslims have fought for the guerrillas. If a group sympathetic to the Uyghurs in Afghanistan can once again sit firmly in the masnad, then these Uyghur Muslims are in the throes of independence from Afghanistan.

Afghanistan And China Relation

There have always been fears from China that the lawn could start anew.

Western countries, including the United States and Israel, have already taken a stand against Chinese aggression in East Turkestan (Xinjiang) with the aim of suppressing China. And so, with the onslaught of pro-independence Uighurs from Afghan territory, it appears that China will not side with the international powers.

! Economic crisis!

The "China-Pakistan Economic Corridor" is being built by China to reduce trade distances with Europe and Africa. China is keen to use Afghanistan as one of the partners in this corridor and as a route to reach "Stan" states in Central Asia. But the presence of a strong anti-China government on Afghan soil could threaten such a huge Chinese project.

Seeing the uncertainty of sovereignty and future economic routes, the Chinese government is going to deal deeply with the current situation in Afghanistan.

China is in contact with the guerrillas fighting in Afghanistan through various channels. China is proposing to the guerrillas that China will assist Afghanistan in economic development after the guerrillas arrive in Masnad. In addition, China will provide technical and economic assistance for the extraction of minerals from various mines in Afghanistan. In return, China wants Afghan guerrillas not to support the independence movement in Xinjiang (East Turkestan).

Afghan guerrillas do not seem to be able to cast such a bait in China. The Pakistani government, an ally of the Afghan guerrillas, has long pursued Chinese policy on the Xinjiang (East Turkestan) issue.

All in all, China wants a guerrilla government to replace the pro-US Ghani government on Afghan soil. At the same time, China wants assurances that Afghanistan is not a threat to its sovereignty.

iii) India 8

According to India's official map, India shares a border with Afghanistan. But in reality, Afghanistan has no border with India as Pakistan has been able to liberate the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Kashmir. But even then, Afghanistan is an important factor in maintaining India's stability, market and sovereignty!

First, Afghan guerrillas have always had an eye on Indian-occupied Kashmir. And so India has tried in recent decades to prevent guerrilla groups from coming to power in Afghanistan.

Second, Afghanistan is the gateway for India to enter the huge market of Central Asian "stan" states.

Third, India needs to have influence over the Afghan government if it is to hold on to its arch-enemy Pakistan. But if India leaves Afghanistan, the pressure on Pakistan will ease. This will increase Pakistan's surveillance of Indian territory (especially Kashmir).

That is why India has invested heavily in the last two decades behind the Afghan (pro-US and anti-guerrilla) governments. In the last few years, India has invested heavily in Afghanistan in a number of other sectors, including hydropower projects, road construction, construction of parliament buildings, and construction of infrastructure.

But after the departure of the United States, the guerrilla groups in Afghanistan have come to power.

India And  Afghanistan Relation

And so India has decided to establish new contacts (and relations with Afghan guerrillas) through various means. Although it is a violation of India's traditional foreign policy! Because in the past, India has never recognized the government of the Afghan guerrillas and has openly supported the anti-guerrilla governments.

But there is no such thing as a perpetual friend or foe in international politics. After realizing this too late, the Indian Foreign Office has been visiting Russia, Qatar, Iran and holding meetings with Afghan guerrillas. But the Indian authorities themselves are not sure how much work will be done.

Afghan guerrillas, however, have said at various times that they will not listen to the problems of the outside world. But even then India cannot be sure. Because the Pakistani authorities have influence over the Afghan guerrillas. As well as economic and diplomatic reasons, Afghan guerrillas are expected to maintain good relations with China.

And so it would not be a surprise if the Afghan guerrillas, under the pressure of China and Pakistan, adopt an anti-India policy on the Kashmir issue. That is why India is now worried about the future of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan! The new nerve center of Asian geopolitics! (Episode 2)

Iran, Russia and Turkey are keeping a close eye on the complex situation created after the withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan. Let us know in detail about the role of these three countries in Afghanistan.


 Iran 6

Iran has a huge border of nine hundred and fifty kilometers with Afghanistan. Iran is considered by many to be the fastest player in the Middle East.

The besieged country, with its weak economy, has already been able to establish full or partial control over the four countries of the Middle East through its own diplomatic, religious and military skills. Iran has administrative influence and military power in the following countries in the Middle East:

  1.  Yemen,
  2.  Iraq,
  3.  Syria and,
  4.  Lebanon, 

 In addition, with a significant Shiite population, Iran has always sought to increase its influence in Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia (southern) and Afghanistan.

Middle East And Iran


Both the Afghan guerrillas and Iran (post-revolutionary) have long pursued anti-US bloc politics, but they have not been on good terms in the past. Because Iran wants Shiite monopoly in Middle East politics, while Afghan guerrillas are Sunni.

Shiites make up 15% of Afghanistan's population. Among the Afghan ethnic groups, the Hazaras are predominantly Hazara. They are mainly used as Iranian chess pieces on Afghan soil. Iran backs thousands of Shiites in Afghanistan. [2]

And the Afghan guerrillas have taken a hard line against these thousands of Shiites in the past, and the Afghan guerrillas have attacked thousands of Shiites at various times in the past. [3]

When the guerrillas came to power in Afghanistan in 1996, Saudi Arabia was one of the four countries that recognized them. At that time, Saudi Arabia was trying to promote Afghan guerrillas by suppressing Iran, one of its rivals. In 1998, Afghan guerrillas killed nine diplomats at the Iranian embassy in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan.


In other words, the Afghan guerrillas did not have warm relations with Iran in the past. Iran's allies are also at odds with India and Afghan fighters. In that sense, it is possible that relations between the Afghan guerrillas and Iran will continue to deteriorate in the future. But considering the geographical reality, the Afghan guerrillas have moved away from their previous fierce Shia opposition. Shia governors were also appointed in a district controlled by the fighters. [5]

Iran also wants to establish its strategic alliance with the Afghan guerrillas. As part of this, Afghan fighters met with the Afghan government on Iranian soil this year. [6]

On the face of it, relations between the Iranian government and Afghan fighters are beginning to improve. But there is still a psychological distance between Afghan fighters and Iran, which is busy establishing Shiism in the Middle East. Fighters will also always cast doubt on Iran's expansionist foreign policy. Iran will also want to reap the maximum benefits from Afghanistan at home, and that is only possible if a weak government dependent on them is in power.

And so even if the US wants to leave its own borders, Iranian policymakers will never want a powerful guerrilla group to return to power in Afghanistan. [7]

Iran has always wanted to see Shiite groups loyal to it at the center of power in Afghanistan. Since this is now almost impossible, Iran is seeking to escalate tensions between Sunni groups.


 Russia 7

Although Afghanistan shares a border with the Soviet Union, Afghanistan has no borders with Russia, which was born after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But even then, Afghanistan is important to Russia for Russia's internal security.

→ The Caucasus region of Russia has five Muslim-majority provinces, including Chechnya and Dagestan. Although the independence movement was strong in these provinces in the nineties, it is now quite silent.

But Russia believes that a militant government in power in Afghanistan could lead to a resumption of the independence movement in the region. Although Afghanistan does not have borders with the regions. But traveling across the huge unprotected borders of Central Asia is not that difficult.

Note that the distance from the Russian capital Moscow to Chechnya and Dagestan is the same as the distance from the Afghan border to the Caucasus. Afghan fighters also helped in the independence movement in the region in the 1990s.

Afghan fighters, however, are now demanding that they no longer interfere in foreign affairs. Also, for strategic reasons, the fighters are now expected to maintain good relations with Russia.

Russia is home to a large number of Kazakh, Uzbek, Turkmen, Tajik and Kyrgyz people from the "Stan" countries of Central Asia. In addition, these countries are dependent on Russia in the military, economic, commercial and educational sectors. If a new conflict breaks out in Afghanistan, Central Asia will also become unstable. And its effect will fall on Russia. [8]

While Russia is unlikely to be involved in the military conflict in Afghanistan at all, Russia will always keep an eye on the political situation in Afghanistan for its own stability. And so, with the rise of Afghan fighters now, Russia has taken the initiative to forget its old enmity and establish contact with them. [9]

Russia has even moved away from its old ally India in order to strengthen its position in the region and is now maintaining closer ties with Pakistan. [10]


 Turkey 7

Currently outside Afghanistan

Among the states, the most speculation is about Turkey's position. Although Afghanistan does not have a direct border with Turkey, Afghanistan is important for Turkey for many reasons!

Hundreds of Turkish troops have been stationed in Afghanistan for nearly 20 years as members of the US-led "NATO" alliance. Although Turkish troops have not been directly involved in the war against Afghan militants, they have been tasked with training Afghan government forces and building various government infrastructure.

According to the Doha agreement, NATO is scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan by September this year. He also said that Turkish troops should leave Afghanistan.

But Turkey offered NATO to keep Turkish troops in Afghanistan, citing security concerns at Kabul airport. At the same time Turkey offers some more conditions. E.g.

* To buy the Russian defense system S-400 so that the United States does not block Turkey. [11]

* Turkey will accompany Hungary and NATO non-NATO Pakistan as allies of Turkey.

* NATO will provide financial, logistical and intelligence assistance to Turkey in Afghanistan.

The US administration has given some green light to Turkey's proposal. On the other hand, Afghan fighters have naturally reacted angrily to Turkey's role. Pakistan has so far not agreed directly. Because in doing so, they have to share their influence in Afghanistan with Turkey. Again, the Imran government does not have the psychological capacity to say no directly to Turkey. [12]

(Note: The United States has been opposed to Turkey's position in Turkish Cyprus from the beginning, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will pay a visit to Cyprus on July 19-20. Maybe.)

"The only" states "in Central Asia are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan, with the exception of Tajikistan, and the other four states with a larger Turkish population. Turkey therefore always strives to increase its influence in these states. But Turkey has no border with any Central Asian state.

Turkey's relations with Azerbaijan, another state of the Turkish people, have been very good in recent times. But Turkey has not been able to deepen its relations with the Turkish states in Central Asia. And so Turkey is trying to enter the geographical and political field of Central Asia by creating the influence of Afghanistan, a country bordering Central Asia.

Turkey, plagued by refugee burden. About three million Syrian refugees live in Turkey. After Syria, the country with the highest number of refugees in Turkey is Afghanistan. There are currently about 1.5 million registered Afghan refugees in Turkey. There are many more unregistered refugees.


If there is a renewed conflict between different ethnic groups in Afghanistan after the departure of the United States, the refugee tide will recede. And then a large part of these refugees will go to Turkey through Iran for the purpose of taking refuge in Turkey. (Although most will not be able to go to Europe. Because the Turkish-European border is now fairly sealed.) And so a new conflict in Afghanistan will increase the flow of refugees to Turkey.

Most of the Afghan refugees are currently living in Pakistan and Iran. Refugees, mainly Pashtuns and Hazaras, have taken refuge in Pakistan and Iran. If a new conflict breaks out in Afghanistan, the Turkish population living in the northern part of Afghanistan will be the most displaced and a large part of them will be destined for Turkey.

While maintaining military presence in Balkan, Caucasus, North Africa, East Africa, various countries in the Middle East, Turkey does not have a military presence in Central Asia and South Asia. Turkey is also trying to increase its power by keeping troops in Afghanistan.

Analyzing the above reasons, it can be seen that Afghanistan is very important for Turkey for strategic reasons.


How do Afghan groups view Turkey's position?

The Afghan government (Ghani government) is outwardly happy with Turkey's position. Because the Turkish army's position in Kabul will be primarily conducive to its survival.

On the other hand, Afghan fighters have been condemning Turkey's position from the beginning. While Afghan fighters praise Turkey as a strong Muslim country, Turkish military presence on Afghan soil has always been opposed to NATO's umbrella.

Afghanistan is virtually now divided into two parts. Although Afghan fighters control more than 70% of the country, the Ghani government still controls key cities, including Kabul. The two sides have met several times in Iran and Qatar to reach a political agreement, but to no avail. The idea is that after the withdrawal of NATO, Afghan fighters will try to take control of the whole of Afghanistan through military conflict.

Turkey is currently trying to reach a compromise between the Ghani government and Afghan fighters (although a political settlement is unlikely). But while the Ghani government has accepted Turkey as a mediator, Afghan fighters have so far refused. Attempts by Turkey to remain a mediator could be futile.

 Will Turkey be involved in military conflict in Afghanistan?

Turkish troops will not be involved in the conflict in Afghanistan under any circumstances. Turkey will not open a new front before the Turkish national elections in 2023. If efforts to reach a political settlement in Afghanistan fail, Turkish troops will not join the war on behalf of anyone, even if a military conflict breaks out.

 If the military conflict in Afghanistan starts, Turkey will be in crisis from both sides. And so Turkey is trying, inside and outside, to reach a political settlement in Afghanistan.

Can Turkey be trusted by Western groups and Afghan fighters at the same time?

Turkey is already on the verge of gaining the confidence of the Western alliance by announcing the adventure of keeping its troops in Afghanistan (where no other NATO country is willing to stay alone after the departure of the United States). At the same time, Turkey's image in the West has been enhanced by the inclusion of EU and NATO member Hungary in Afghanistan.

(Note: Turkey's goal is to capture Hungary's growing arms market. Hungary is one of the observer states of the Turkish-led "Turkish Council". Hungary has always opposed the European Union's proposal to impose a blockade on Turkey.)

But the sudden announcement to keep troops in Afghanistan without any historical context is not well received by many ordinary Afghans as well as Afghan fighters. In this case, there is a risk that Turkey's image will be in jeopardy.

But it should also be borne in mind that the current president of Turkey, Erdogan, is a carrier of populist politics. He has not made any decisions in the past to reduce his popularity, whether inside or outside Turkey. The fronts on which Turkish troops have been involved in the conflict, including Syria, Libya, Azerbaijan and Iraq, have the support of the Muslim world and the majority of the region. And so it is expected that he will not take any marginal decision by tarnishing his own image in Afghanistan. (Note: Speaking on Victory Day in Cyprus, Turkey today, Erdogan said that there is no ideological conflict between us and the Afghan fighters. We will stay in Afghanistan by negotiating with the fighters.)… [14]

Ultimately, the instability in Afghanistan will certainly have an impact on the political and social spheres of the whole of South Asia. And so I wish peace in Afghanistan again.

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