US war in Afghanistan ends or transforms ?
THE most accepted narrative remains that the US withdraws its troops from Afghanistan after a defeat which cost it USD 1 trillion and 3,600 lives.
My question is that why would the US leave Afghanistan when it has thrown the gauntlets against China, declaring it in the US National Security Strategy in 2017, the direct competition to the US established free world order? Perhaps it is pertinent to say that the US and NATO just withdrew their active troops from the Afghan soil transforming the security situation rapidly.
It was inevitable that the Afghan security forces would fall soon without the western support.
However, the US would keep some forces for the security of its diplomatic staff and embassies and also would rely on private security contractors.
The privatization of security has its haunting side too which the world has seen in the form of Blackwater.
Even the private intelligence agencies hold ground which may be an even bigger threat without the restrictions of active military.
The more horrifying phenomenon is of Daesh which seems to be much less active in the Middle East during the last few months. There are reports that the elements of Daesh and Al-Qaeda are already present in Afghanistan.
The enormous strength of the Taliban force delineated by its strategy with which they took control of almost the entire Afghanistan during the last four weeks as Kabul also falls peacefully now into their hands will only be established in the long run if accepted completely by all internal factions.
Though so many political and ethnic factions currently support Taliban even Shias in northern Afghanistan too but it remains a question for how long will this be accepted.
History tells that for the last three hundred years Afghanistan has been divided politically and ethnically denying stability in Kabul implicating regional security also.
In the presence of so many spoilers inside Afghanistan which would certainly get support from the US and its important ally and strategic partner India, which lost maximum in the current scenario, it is hard to say that there will not be any chaos on Afghan soil.
Crisis and chaos in Afghanistan has wide ranging strategic implications for the regional stakeholders.
Certainly Pakistan has the most to face. Pakistan considers India as the biggest spoiler of the situation in Afghanistan with the US support.
China with its established role as a leading power of the world now is equally concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and has involved itself directly in Afghanistan after negotiations with Taliban.
Russia also stands at a position where its strategic and economic interests are closely linked with the evolving situation in Afghanistan.
Central Asian Republics have ethnic relations with Afghanistan too which deepens their interests and threats from Afghanistan.
Turkey emerges to be a leading actor of the region and wants to establish its stronghold in the region for which it requires a prominent position in Afghanistan.
Amid all this situation where all intra-regional and extra regional actors want to capitalize most will create a complex web of divergence and convergence of interests transforming regional security complexes around.
The narrative that the US leaves the region may win but the ground realities plausibly insinuate that the robes are just being changed to not end the war but widen the scope and intensity of the conflict which can directly impede the course of China’s rise projected and materializes in the form of BRI.
—The writer’s (PhD scholar from Punjab University) areas of interest are National Security, Regional Security, Water Crisis and Water Security and Indian Ocean.