Internationaland Regional politics in Afghanistan after 2014
Internationaland regional politics in Afghanistan after 2014
Afghanistan’sfuture holds in a balance after the US and NATO forces announcedintentions to reduce military support. The impasse prevailing incontemporary US and Afghan negotiations project a situation wheremilitary support is set to decline as the US delegates much of itsinfluence to Afghan authorities (Jones, 2013). The assessment of theimplications of the Western forces exit from Afghanistan relative tointernational and regional politics as well as the economic, socialand security implications of the pullout will offer the neededdynamics and contexts to understand international relations.
Theimplication of the US and NATO forces pullout in 2014
Itis a well accepted fact that the relative stability in Afghanistanhas been as a result of extensive Western military support andfinancial aid. President Obama’s announcement in 2013 to reducemilitary presence in the country may be a mark to the end of the longUS led war against the Taliban, which began 13 years ago (TheEconomist 2014 Jones, 2013). However, this does not imply to an endof the Afghan War as the country’s security forces have been knownto flounder amid attacks from remnants of the Taliban regime. The USforces are basically leaving as a result of domestic pressures in theUS culminating from divergent political views, military spending andcontinued casualties in the US army operating in Afghanistan.
Thesituation arising from the proposed US and NATO pullout presentsAfghanistan with a bleak future. The Obama administration is toreduce the presence of its troops on the premise that Afghan forcesnow have the capability in terms of resources and trained militarypersonnel to ensure stability in the country (Jones, 2013). However,this is far from the truth.
Accordingto Smith (2014), the UN provides that civilian casualties continuedto plague the country’s stability during much of 2013 representinga 16% increase compared to 2012. This comprehensively negates thePentagon’s perception of the situation on the ground and as suchpresents an escalation in insurgencies further deteriorating theprospects of a stable Afghanistan after the withdrawal of Westernforces. Afghanistan being an expansive country has many local leaderspensive about the large territories in the countryside stillcontrolled by remnants of the Taliban regime (Jones, 2013). Thiscalls for the need by the USA and NATO forces to continue operatingin the Afghanistan and more so assisting with much needed militaryand financial forces to the Afghan security forces to counter attacksfrom insurgents.
The2014 Afghan elections
TheUS and Afghan governments continue to discuss the far reaching issuesprivy to the proposed bilateral agreement (Jones, 2013). The Afghan2014 elections outcomes present monumentous implications to thefuture relations between the two countries, the entire region as wellas international relations with other countries.
TheAfghan 2009 elections were marred with corruption and violence and assuch the 2014 April elections are said to have been marred withnumerous accounts of fraud (The Economist 2014). Dr Abdullah Abdullahand Ashraf Ghani both contenders of the country’s top seat wereseeking to be key determinants of Afghanistan’s future. AshrafGhani supported by former president Hamid Kharzai attained 56%percent of the total vote, which was disputed by the Dr. Abdulahafter his vote count stagnated at 45% while Ghani’s votes surgedfrom 31% to 56% (The Economist 2014).It took the intervention ofthe US Foreign Secretary to ensure that peace prevailed by promisingan audit of the entire election process. This however resulted in apostponement of presidential inauguration ceremony by a month.
Accordingto the Economist, this has presented the country with a temporary fixto its political woes. This is because in the past two elections, thepresidential powers were to expansive overshadowing credibility ofthe election process (The Economist 2014). Centralization o0fpresidential powers presented a scenario whereby Karzhai had theabilities to form a structure of political patronages based onpolitical loyalties as well as close social ties. The 2014 electionshave necessitated the call for a government of national unityproviding a power sharing structure involving the two presidentialcandidates. This will appeal greatly to the ethnically diversecountry, as it will limit corrupt political practices and provide anavenue away from violence by those parties to the political structurewho have previously felt sidelined. Though the political future isstill riddled with uncertainties, a government of national unitypresents a step in the right direction towards realizing a stablepolitical structure in Afghanistan after the western forces pull outat the end of 2014 (The Economist 2014). Without a politicalconsensus among the Afghan leaders, the proposed pullout of Westernforces could remain a simple pipe dream.
13years ago, the US military intervention saw Afghan embrace atransition from the dark decades of Taliban rule. The eminenttransition with regard to Western forces pullout and internal Afghaninterventions towards meeting its own domestic challenges are boundto be a milestone of a similar magnitude (Nadery, 2013). The recentelections have proved to be a test on the ability of the country torealize democratic institutions and more so the Afghan defense forceswill be the country’s only pillar towards realizing securedemocratic institutions.
Thistransition, which relates to security and political structures, isbound to have an effect on the socioeconomic gains attained in thecountry over the past decade. It is important to note that thepullout of Western forces will also translate into reduced presenceof international development organizations and agencies, lowereconomic aid packages as well as a largely uncertain economicinvestment climate (Nadery, 2013). Some of the expected socioeconomiceffects on Afghanistan are bound to be relative to higher investmentrisks, capital flight, and major shocks to economic growth driverssuch as logistics, transportation, and reconstruction. For instance,women rights, women empowerment, and all-inclusive economicparticipation have been significantly appraised after the fall of theinhibitive Taliban regime (Nadery, 2013). It is expected that gainsrealized in this field may be lost to backlash stemming fromconservative circles further negatively affecting socioeconomicdevelopment.
Thesedangers are bound to be compounded if the country’s political elitelacks the motivation and inherent desire to offer the much-neededcertainty with respect to long-standing partnerships previouslygained with the regional and international players (Nadery, 2013).This is especially the case with the country’s security sectorwhich has been largely dependent on the US and NATO forces. Forinstance, in Afghanistan’s Balkh province where much economicgrowth has been recorded, property values are said to have fallengreatly upon the announcement of the intended foreign forces pulloutscheduled for 2014 (Markey, 2013). This has been sparked by poorconfidence with regard to future security, political andsocioeconomic stability. It is, therefore, expected that for regionsto the east and the south of the country where conflict is rife andsecurity has been ensured by international military interventions,the socioeconomic situation will deteriorate immensely.
Thesolution to mitigating the adverse effects of the intended foreignmilitary pullout solely rests from goodwill from the internationalcommunity (Markey, 2013). It is a well accepted fact that the futureeconomic stability and economic growth is dependent on theinternational community’s commitment towards long term economicdevelopment projects as opposed to short term economic projects. Forinstance, long term support mechanisms for the already establishedNational Solidarity Program, which aims at supportingself-government, availing employment opportunities and encouragingsmall and medium sized enterprises among the Afghan rural communities(Markey, 2013). Afghanistan is known to grapple with one of thehighest youth unemployment rates in the world lack of economicdevelopment would result on the youth migrating to other countries asopposed to staying committed to national development.
Accordingto Rahmanullah (2013), the withdrawal of the Western forces fromAfghanistan could plummet the region into an all out war as Talibanelements as well as insurgents with Al Qaeda links could restructureand reorganize in the country affecting regional peace. For instance,after the defeat and subsequent withdrawal of Soviet forces after1988 saw many fighters take interest in the volatile India Pakistanborder (Rahmanullah, 2013). Fighting in the Kashmir region has been asource of tension for decades between India and Pakistan and theprospect of an unstable Afghanistan is of concern to both countries. South and Central Asia therefore has a stake in ensuring there ispolitical stability and affective Afghan defense force to ascertainpeace in the region.
Pakistanhas a longstanding border dispute with Afghanistan over the Durandline (Markey, 2013) (Menon, 2012). Furthermore, Pakistan has beengrappling with the Pakistani Taliban in its tribal regions. There arefears among the Pakistani intelligence community that their localTaliban units may draw strength from insecurity in Afghanistanstemming from the pullout of Western forces. In an effort to realizeits own security, it is expected that the Pakistani intelligencecommunity will play a huge role in influencing the outcome of thepolitical structure in neighboring Afghanistan (Menon, 2012).
Accordingto Ilmoittautumisen (2014), other countries in the South and CentralAsia region such as Kazakhstan are committed towards ensuringstability in neighboring Afghanistan. Kazakhstan employs soft powerin influencing development agendas in Afghanistan through officiallyestablished development assistance initiatives. These includeinfrastructure developments in the Afghan education sector, hospital,and humanitarian assistance efforts. More so, the country is bound togain positively from stability and economic development inAfghanistan as this will translate to fewer illegal immigrants,eliminate extremist elements, as well as improve its owninternational image (Ilmoittautumisen, 2014).
Russiais also heavily involved in the regions political structures as it isconcerned with the possibility of a rise in Islamic extremism, whichmay spill over, to its Northern Caucasus regions (Menon, 2012).Furthermore, the Czarist Russian Empire and the former USSR have longhad important strategic and economic interests in South and CentralAsia. Russia presently still has substantial strategic and economicinterests in the region, which it views closely and would like toprotect, in case of a collapse in the region’s stability.
Chinais another major player in the region and as such has enjoyed astrong economic presence without worrying about the security aspectas the western forces have contained it all along. For instance, from1992 to 2009, Chinese trade with the regions five nations increasedfrom 527 million dollars in 1992 to 25.9 billion dollars in 2009(Menon, 2012). China has expansive interests in the oil and gassector in the region. As the deadline for the Western forces topullout draws near, Beijing will have to do more to ensure stabilityin the region is achieved in an effort to protect its vast economicinterests. More so, China has some restive regions bordering Centraland Southern Asia, which have been a matter of concern in the recentpast (Menon, 2012). For instance, Beijing has consistently requiredthat the Central Asia states do more to suppress the Uighurnationalist movement plaguing development in China’s Xinjiangprovince.
Atpresent, there is a lot of conflict stemming from the growth ofIslamist groups in war torn countries such as Iraq and Syria. Thesehave appraised the need for more efforts to ensure that these groupsdo not have safe havens in which to train members and merge withother terrorist organizations. The growth in strength of theseinsurgent elements are said to have motivated similar elements allaround the world calling for Islamic extremism. World peace istherefore by extension dependent on a secure and table Afghanistan
TheUS has had a broad geopolitical agenda in South and Central Asia fora very long time. These have been based on the strategic quest toensure a global presence by investing in the regions huge oil and gasreserves in an effort to circumvent gains made by Russia in theregion (Nopens, 2014). The signing of the Bilateral SecurityAgreement between the US and Afghanistan governments will necessitatethe US to employ a counterbalancing measure to continue realizing itseconomic agenda in the region.
TheEuropean Union on the other hand aims at realizing a successfulcompletion to the Cooperation Agreement for Partnership andDevelopment (CAPD) (Nopens, 2014). Under this agreement, the EUmember countries will donate over a billion dollars to the Afghangovernment in an effort to finance the country’s National Policetraining programs, supporting the healthcare sector, border control,agriculture, and governance as well as counter narcotics initiatives.
TheEuropean Union also has key strategic interests in the region an aimsat seeing the Strategy for a New Partnership with Central Asia cometo fruition (Nopens, 2014). This initiative seeks to enhancepolitical dialogue, education, human rights, rule of law, wareresources, energy, trade, and economic relations. Other countriessuch as Turkey and the Arab nations also have interests in Afghanstemming from a common religious heritage.
Theinternational community is considered as having abandoned Afghanistanafter the defeat of the Soviet forces in 1988 leading to the rise ofthe Taliban regime. With the proposed pullout of Western forces,regional as well as international communities are focused towardsensuring stability is upheld in the post 2014 Afghanistan. Many gainshave been realized in the country after US and NATO’s militaryintervention introducing democracy, a new constitution, as well associoeconomic developments. The risk of insurgents affectingnegatively on Afghanistan’s future is real and thus the need formore from the regional and international community to do more toensure that democracy thrives in Afghanistan.
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Jones,S, G, (2013) “Presidential Candidates Need Multiethnic Consensus”,Accessed July 18, 2014 fromhttp://www.cfr.org/afghanistan/prospects-afghanistan-2014/p32094
Markey,D, S, (2013) “Pakistan Will Continue to Meddle”, Accessed July18, 2014 fromhttp://www.cfr.org/afghanistan/prospects-afghanistan-2014/p32094
Menon,R, (2012) “When America Leaves: Asia after the Afghan War”,Accessed July 18, 2014 fromhttp://www.the-american-interest.com/articles/2012/04/05/when-america-leaves-asia-after-the-afghan-war/
Nadery,N, (2013) “Economic Downturn Threatens Social Gains“, AccessedJuly 18, 2014 fromhttp://www.cfr.org/afghanistan/prospects-afghanistan-2014/p32094
Nopens,P, (2014) “The Impact of the Withdrawal from Afghanistan onRussia’s Security”, SecurityPolicy Brief, No 54.
Rahmanullah,(2013) “US-NATO Exit from Afghanistan: Challenges and OptionsBeyond 2014”, Accessed July 18, 2014 fromhttp://frc.com.pk/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Research-Paper-4.pdf
Smith,G, (2013) “Afghan Forces Cannot Go it Alone”, Accessed July 18,2014 fromhttp://www.cfr.org/afghanistan/prospects-afghanistan-2014/p32094
Smith,W, “Vote of Confidence: The United States Mission after the AfghanElections”, Accessed July 18, 2014 fromhttp://harvardpolitics.com/world/vote-confidence-united-states-mission-afghan-elections/
TheEconomist (2014) “Afghanistan’s election: A useful crisis”,Accessed July 18, 2014 fromhttp://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21607857-fudge-between-two-feuding-presidential-candidates-may-offer-political-road-map-useful