18 August 2021
Written by Mikhail Falaleev
Translated by Elizaveta Ovchinnikova
The withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan is a strategic failure. The Hindu Kush is not the Balkans.
Yury Zhdanov, President of the International Police Association Russian Section (IPA RS), Lieutenant General, Doctor of Law, Professor, Honoured Lawyer of the Russian Federation, spoke on the dangers of the new American strategy in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the Western coalition forces.
- Yury, the Americans are finally leaving these very foreign for them people – live and let live, so to speak. They are no longer teaching them democracy, are not imposing their way of life, especially same-sex love, but are simply leaving. Moreover, they are running away. Let us remember the video of a hasty evacuation from the roof of the US Embassy in Kabul. Isn’t it a victory for the trend of a multipolar world?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: If only. At first glance, indeed, the Americans, however, like all Europeans prior to them, did not manage to gain a foothold in Afghanistan for a long time. But did they leave Afghans alone, even under the rule of the Taliban (an organisation banned in the Russian Federation)? I doubt it very much.
- So, is it a new maneuver of the United States?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: I think so. In Afghanistan, the United States is now launching a new policy within the global struggle – a strategy of chaos. US President Joe Biden explains the new turn as follows: ‘There is no twenty-year-old world in front of us. Now we must act in accordance with the changing conditions.’ The main goal of the American leadership is to turn Afghanistan into Iraq, Syria or Libya. That is, into the arena of struggle of external forces through civil wars and ethnic and religious conflicts. As a result, the country will be divided into different zones of influence. At the same time, Russia, China, Iran, India, Turkey and Pakistan will be dragged into conflicts. They even use the term balkanisation.
- They have some problems learning from history. In the Balkans, at one time, there were primarily vital contradictions between the great powers – Russia, Turkey and Austria-Hungary, which were practically insoluble by peaceful means. They were superimposed on the liberation struggle of the local peoples. England and France only fanned the flames of conflict and warmed their hands. And here, in fact, there is an internal inter-Afghan showdown.
Mr Yury Zhdanov: Yes, so far the Hindu Kush is not the Balkans, and Russia does not have any desire for expansion southwards. And the neighboring countries do not have deadly contradictions in Afghanistan.
- But could contradictions be created artificially?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: Apparently, that’s the whole point of the American strategy of chaos. They need to put pressure on China through East Turkestan, undermine the influence of China and Russia in Central and South Asia, hinder the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative and destroy the China-Pakistan economic corridor. It is equally important to weaken Russia’s strategy aimed at cooperation within the framework of Greater Eurasia. The Americans want to break the connection between the countries of Central and South Asia with the help of a new wave of terror, prevent India from entering Central Asia through Iran and Afghanistan, deepen the conflict between Pakistan and India and, finally, bring to a new level the strategy to destabilise Iran and Turkey.
Therefore, against possible attacks from the new Afghanistan, Russia is already strengthening its military positions in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. If the threat becomes serious, Russia will most likely act in the same way as in Syria.
Russian Minister of Defence Sergey Shoigu expressed the opinion that the United States wants to unleash a new hybrid war in Central and South Asia through Afghanistan. He even wondered: ‘Why do you step outside the fence if you spy through the peepholes? This means only one thing – they want to gain a foothold in Central Asia.’ I hope that this plan is understood not only in Russia, right?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: In countries that are not vassals of the United States, they understand it. Russia, China and Iran are already conducting intensive shuttle diplomacy with Taliban leaders. China, which is close to Pakistan and has great influence on the Taliban, has held talks with the Taliban in advance. Apparently, China has made them promise that they would not support the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. If the Taliban keeps its word, the opening of the Wakhan corridor with a length of 350 km and a width of 65 km on the border of Afghanistan with China can take place.
As a first precaution, Pakistan closed the 2,611-km border with Afghanistan, stretching from Iran to China, with a four-meter-high fence, placing video cameras and mines everywhere.
And Iran may use the Fatemiyoun Brigade, which operated in Syria against the Taliban.
- So, the American strategy of chaos can be thwarted?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: Probably, the United States will face another big defeat. The idea of balkanisation of Central Asia through ‘new’ Afghanistan and the encirclement of Russia and China through this project is utopian. It is unlikely that they will be able to turn Turkey, Pakistan, Iran to their side in Afghanistan and oppose them to Russia and China on the battlefield in Central Asia. Another ‘American dream’ will turn into a nightmare and a fiasco for the United States.