False hopes and beautiful but artificial news cannot win the war. War can only be won by facing the reality and embracing the unavoidable risks. Afghanistan with the current complexity of the war, United States impatience to remain in the country, competing interests of the major powers and its neighbors, lack of balance of power, and its important but fragile geo-strategic location, is faced with dangerous situation ever.
Afghan government and some idealist have been beating the drums of harbinger of peace, citing the three days ceasefire in June, 2018, and the current peace efforts. But, the fact is that peace still seems too distant. On one hand Taliban don’t have a united front, rather they are divided into various factions while on the other hand both Afghan government and International Community has been raising concerns about the presence of around 20 different terrorist groups in the country. As of now there has been conversation about starting peace negotiations with one insurgent group, i.e. the Taliban. Thus, Peace talks are not likely to yield long term result or an end to the ongoing insurgency. Terrorist groups like ISIS, hardcore Taliban, and other terrorist groups present in the country will continue fighting.
Unfortunately, strategists and politicians have failed to grasp the precision and reality found in the chemistry of the country. Afghanistan lavish mineral resources worth trillions of dollars are important for the world. Countries like China, U.S. and Russia have eyes on these resources. Russia in the 1970’s and the US recently surveyed Afghanistan’s mineral resources, where both found that the country has widespread untapped resources. While China signed a million’s dollars agreement to mine copper in the east of Kabul.
Similarly, Afghanistan geo-strategic location is important for influence and control of the region for various countries particularly major powers like China, Russia, and the United States. Due to its strategic location, the country has been used by various empires of the time for influence and invasions. Currently, major powers like China, Russia, and the United States have maintained their rivalry in the region in order to increase their influence especially since September 11.
Hobbesian culture defines international system in anarchical terms; it implies power competition and a perpetuation of the images of mutual enmity held by neighbors. Afghanistan has been fighting an undeclared war by Pakistan from decades while on the other hand the country has been fighting neighbor imported or transferred wars too. For instance, India and Pakistan have been able to transfer its Kashmir war into Afghanistan. Pakistan and India have been fighting each other in Afghanistan through their proxies. With the emergence of ISIS, Afghan war has stretched to Syria and Middle East. Where fighters are imported from Middle East. Most of ISIS attacks on Shittie minority in Afghanistan are linked to war in Syria. Iran has been perpetuating its agenda of instability by providing weapons to the Taliban insurgents, in order to give tough time to the U.S. in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan situation is best defined by the Greek historian Thucydides statement “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” As long as Afghanistan remains weak, the country will be faced with competing and often conflicting interests of various powers.
Afghanistan needs a long-term strategy and a rational approach through which peace could be achieved from a position of strength and force by bringing a relative balance of power. So better the peace process is kept on the back burner and more focus is made on strengthening the country security situation, armed forces, institutions, and economy.
It is time the self-proclaimed patriots come out of their ivory tower and learn to make a realistic appraisal of the ground realities. The country needs to rely on a balanced diplomacy aimed at reducing enemies rather than increasing them. Considering the dangers on the horizon, Afghanistan should have a more successful long-term strategy. With the presence of the U.S. and NATO forces and majority of the world countries supporting Afghanistan, here is the widest window of opportunity to stabilize the country. Realism is about “if you want peace, prepare for war,” mindset. Afghanistan being in the conflict zone should be more realistic in its policies. National interest of the country should comprehend hard security terms and maneuvering for its stability, irrespective of normative concerns like morality.
The current Afghanistan security apparatus outlook is a classic case of the tail wagging the dog. Security sector has been in the hands of incapable leadership that further add to the problem. Security policy drives overall foreign policy rather than the other way around. Only a strong and committed security sector leadership that can stabilize and help the ANDSF stand on its feet in accordance to the need of the day will result in a long-term stability, thus boosting economic development and prosperity of the country.
This week two experienced and professional’s individuals Assadullah Khalid and Amrullah Saleh were nominated as Defense and Interior Ministers respectively. Though critics have linked their nomination as a setback to the peace talks because of their anti-Pakistan and anti-Taliban stance and a presidential campaign tactic by President Ghani. However, long-term peace can’t be achieved from a position of weakness. If not victims of short-term politics and are left for a long term in the security sector, both Khalid and Saleh can bring robust reforms and garner the support of donor countries especially the United States, where their links are deep rooted. Hope the leadership leaves the security sector up to its business independent of politics and neighbor influence.
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Khaama Press News Agency. We welcome opinions and submissions to Khaama Press Opinions/Exclusives – Please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr. Ahmad Shah Katawazai is the member of the Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan and former at Afghan Embassy Washington D.C. Mr. Katawazai has a master degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University and a master in International Legal Studies from American University. Katawazai is a published writer. You can follow him on twitter @askatawazai