A new article by Khalil Nouri in the HuffingtonPost illustrates how integrated are the issues in Afghanistan and the wider region of Central Asia. Locally the to-and-fro of negotiation is between Afghanistan and Pakistan, but the interests of the respective parties actually include China, India, Russia, and of course the United States. Not much will happen without those and other parties engaging in the discussions. Afghanistan and its neighbors, once isolated and marginal to the current of world affairs, now commands a prominent place in world concerns. A civil war that is a surrogate international war; nuclear arsenals in the region; vitally needed reserves of gas, oil, and vital minerals; transport lines and pipelines that must remain open if the great populations centers of the world are to be supplied — these issues force the interests of the Eurasian powers to converge in Central Asia.
But in a sense there is no “Central Asia” without the wider configuration of nations whose interests now clash in this region as well as a few key places elsewhere. The Indian Ocean, the Gulf, Iran, East Asia, eastern Africa — these regions are likewise involved in the concerns of Central Asians.
I repeat myself on the pace of world change, but the process seems so awesome, as the emergence of new situations generates a plethora of unforeseeable possibilities. Crucial to this process is the ever-faster pace of technological development. The technologies of communication and transport are enabling social interchanges to trip relays of influence and interest all around the world, at an ever faster pace. New localities take on significances they have never had before, or at least not for a long time. This is the relevance of these developments for Central Asia. What was formerly marginal is now becoming more fully engaged with other places and peoples — and in certain respects becoming inescapably crucial to whatever happens next. [For a link to the source of the Nouri article click on the title above.]
A Paradigm Shift on the Chessboard of the Afghan “Great Game”
HUFFPOST: Posted: 05/17/11 12:29 PM ET
Ever since Pakistan began lobbying against Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai’s efforts to build a long-term strategic partnership with the U.S., urging him to look to Pakistan instead — and its Chinese ally — for help in striking a peace deal with the Taliban and rebuilding the Afghan economy, it was perceived to be Pakistan calling the shots for a new move on the chessboard of the Great Game.
However, despite how attractive that move may seem to them, it cannot come to fruition when few to even none of the players will consent to an all Afghan initiative; but in actuality, they are keeping the Afghan majority at bay from asserting their desire for such a plan. That said, this Pakistani rush to stack the deck in their favor in Afghanistan will fail due to the fact that there can only be one legitimate way to obtain stability in Afghanistan; through an all Afghan national ratification of a reconciliation process put forth for a genuine endgame to this decades-old grinding war in Afghanistan.
Subsequent to Pakistan’s clandestine call in Kabul, the Kremlin announced a three-day official visit by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to Russia at the invitation of President Dmitry Medvedev. This was scheduled ahead of Zardari’s trip to Washington, which has already been postponed; and now seems quite unlikely to take place anytime in the near future. Meanwhile, Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasoul was immediately sent to Beijing for a quick rendezvous with his Chinese counterpart. And, thereafter, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi was due to arrive in Moscow last Thursday on an official visit.
It seems, by all appearances, that this quartet is attempting to make strides towards an effort to introduce a model initiative initially engineered by Pakistan’s craving for a prime leadership status in Afghanistan’s forthcoming endgame.
However, in the wake of the May 2 killing of Osama Bin Laden and the Great Game players’ interlaced stopovers in Moscow and Beijing, along comes another keen contestant in the game, but a solitary one; the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh must nowconsider steps to advance his partnership cajolement with Hamid Karzai in Kabul.
These interwoven trips are all a push for strategic positioning by the aforementioned Great Game playing quartet in a post U.S. troop drawdown environment starting in July 2011 and ending in 2014. It also boils down to acrimoniously preventing a long term U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. Pakistan, as the frontrunner to this antagonism, seeks to legitimize this notion where all parties have yet to give their endorsements. On the other hand, the underrepresented by majority, inept and weak government of Hamid Karzai who seems to have grown closer to Pakistan over the last year, cannot weather an outcome where all the key players have the decisive upper hand in this Great Game. Therefore, Karzai, whether he likes it or not, will have to abide by any outcome dictated to him by the major players. ….
[For more, click on the title above.]