Libmonster ID: KZ-2169
Author(s) of the publication: Sh. I. AKMALOV


Candidate of Political Sciences

Vice-Rector of Tashkent Islamic University

Afghanistan Keywords:US Afghan policy"Al-Qaeda", "Taliban"National Reconciliation Programstability in the Central Asian region

The geopolitical prospects of the Obama administration's plans to withdraw international coalition troops from Afghanistan by 2014 will directly affect the strategic interests of major and regional powers, as well as security and stability in Central Asia.

One of the most significant results of the eleven-year US military campaign in Afghanistan, in addition to the elimination of Osama bin Laden, was the objective realization that the Afghan crisis cannot be resolved by military means. Today's realities show that alternative, effective ways of resolving the conflict are needed, which would simultaneously take into account the problems of ensuring security and sustainable development of the Afghan state and society.


The Obama administration was forced to make serious adjustments to its Afghan policy. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (IRA), not accidentally called the "gravedigger of empires", has become a severe historical test for the United States, which has assumed the burden of "global leadership" in the fight against international terrorism.

Globalization has created many threats that have crossed national borders. Terrorism was just one of the most obvious threats on this list, which includes nuclear nonproliferation and climate change. American power was not sufficient to respond to these challenges.1 As Barack Obama noted in his article "Renewing American Leadership, ""America cannot face these threats alone." 2

After three months of reflection, meetings and endless consultations with NATO allies and other partner countries, on December 1, 2009, at West Point Academy, in his "Address to the Nation", Barack Obama announced a new stage in the Afghan war. By that time, despite the increase in the size of the US armed forces from 32 thousand to 68 thousand people, the Taliban already controlled 11 of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. This trend was not changed by the change of the commander of the US and NATO contingents. The head of the US administration stated that "our goal remains the same: to achieve the destruction of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan and to prevent the threat of attacks on the United States and our allies in the future." 3

To implement this, Barack Obama set the following main tasks::

- destruction of al-Qaeda militants;

- stopping the advance of the Taliban and preventing the possibility of overthrowing the Afghan government;

- Strengthening security forces and State institutions in Afghanistan so that they can take responsibility for the future of their country.

According to the plans announced in December 2009, Barack Obama decided to strengthen the military contingent in Afghanistan. This was prompted by the fact that in the summer of 2009 the overall situation in the country seriously worsened. The Pentagon and General S. McChrystal, appointed in June 2009 as commander of the Coalition and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, were confident of the need to make changes to operational tasks and so on.-

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ticu in the fight against the armed opposition in Afghanistan. Otherwise, as S. McChrystal said at the time, the United States will get bogged down in Afghanistan without any guarantees of victory. Subsequently, the Obama administration said that it was thanks to the increase in the US contingent that they had achieved "incredible success" in the Afghan campaign.

The next important phase of the Obama administration's Afghan policy was the gradual withdrawal of the US and NATO military contingent from Afghanistan: by the end of 2011 - the withdrawal of 10 thousand American troops; by the summer of 2012 - 33 thousand; by 2014 - the complete withdrawal of foreign troops. Thus, it was indicated that the American mission in Afghanistan will gradually be reduced to providing support to the Afghan national army and police, and US military personnel will withdraw from participating in combat operations.


Nevertheless, the practical implementation of American plans in Afghanistan still faces serious security challenges, which continue to negatively affect the military and political situation in the country. Forceful pressure on the armed opposition and the tactics of using special forces primarily to eliminate opposition leaders did not significantly change the balance of forces. Thus, during the anti-terrorist operations in the southern province of Helmand and in the north of the country in the spring of 2009, the losses of Taliban militants were insignificant and did not significantly limit its combat potential.*

This tactic actually resulted in the" squeezing out " of the militants to relatively stable areas. As a result, the armed opposition received additional opportunities and an impulse to expand its geographical location. Moreover, in Helmand, the United States failed to achieve its stated goal of ensuring the leading role of the Afghan armed forces. The Afghan military, according to foreign experts, was unable to act independently - they lacked weapons, logistics support and professionalism. 4

It is impossible not to take into account the almost traditional unreliability of the Afghan army (as it was during the Soviet military presence in Afghanistan), and the spirit of anti-Americanism clearly felt in Afghan society**.

According to the Pentagon, a major security challenge in Afghanistan is the merger of extremist armed groups, whose tactics are being improved on the basis of previous combat experience. Meanwhile, it is hardly possible to consider them as a single and monolithic force. The factor that unites these groups remains the American military and political presence in Afghanistan, which poses a threat to their interests, primarily political and ideological.

According to experts, one of the most "fierce enemies" of the United States in Afghanistan is G. Hekmatyar's group Hezb-e Islami, which has close ties with the Taliban movement. G. Hekmatyar, who received wide US support during the Soviet military presence in Afghanistan, has been actively fighting against NATO and the Afghan Army for the past ten years. in the provinces of Kunar, Nuristan, Kapisa and Kandahar, as well as in the area north and east of Kabul.

Another armed group that the Americans describe as the main threat is the Haqqani Network, which is led by Jalaluddin Haqqani. In the 70s and 80s of the last century, like G. Hekmatyar, he was an ally of the United States in the fight against the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. Subsequently, in 1996-2001, D. Haqqani joined the Taliban and was the Minister of Tribal Affairs in the Taliban government. After the overthrow of the Taliban regime in 2001, he became one of the fiercest opponents of the Karzai government, and his group had closer ties to Al-Qaeda than to the Taliban.5 According to various estimates, the Haqqani network has more than 3 thousand militants who have been given access to-

* For more information, see: Rusakov E. M. Knutom i pryanikom [Knutom and pryanik] / / Asia and Africa Today, 2010, No. 8.

** See: Poya S. The problem with many unknowns / / Asia and Africa Today, 2010, N 8.

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Pakistan, in particular its Interagency Intelligence Agency (ISI), is being supported.

The military-political situation in Afghanistan is also influenced by Pakistani groups, including the Pakistani Taliban, which work closely with their Afghan "colleagues". Pakistani groups, according to analysts, may see the Taliban's return to power in Afghanistan as a factor that can strengthen their influence in Pakistan and strengthen their position in the struggle for Kashmir. One of the main Pakistani groups is the Tehreek-e Taliban, which is trying to challenge the government of Pakistan. Tehreek-e Taliban militants provide assistance to their Afghan "colleagues". In September 2010, the US State Department added the group to the list of foreign terrorist organizations for its close ties to al-Qaeda. Its current leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, who succeeded Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed in a US operation in August 2009, has been named as a terrorist supporter. Another Pakistani group of this kind is Lashkar-e Tayiba, which is an Islamist armed group that has previously conducted anti-Indian military operations.6

It is the Taliban movement that remains the most serious obstacle to the implementation of US Afghan initiatives, primarily in the field of security, which is of paramount importance for the Afghan settlement. In order to reduce the Taliban threat, the Obama administration is taking active political, diplomatic and other measures. In particular, the White House has focused on sources of funding for the activities of the Taliban movement, primarily from the Persian Gulf countries. The task was set to launch an international fight against the financing of the Taliban in general, not limited to countering drug trafficking. American officials, in their dialogue with Gulf partners, emphasize the need for cooperation in this area.

President Obama said that all groups of the Afghan people, including the Taliban, will be able to participate in the political settlement process in Afghanistan. According to him, the participation of the Taliban in the post-war life of the country is possible if they renounce violence and links with Al-Qaeda, as well as obey the Afghan constitution. This tactic is implemented as part of the policy of reintegration and reconciliation, creating and developing channels for dialogue between the Afghan Government and militants.


According to analysts, the military and political efforts made recently by the United States in Afghanistan, coupled with diplomatic steps, have led to certain positive developments. During this period, the following trends are observed::

- a radical change in the strategy of the armed opposition;

- transformation of ISAF approaches to war;

- "transfer of responsibility" for the security of most of the country's territory to the Afghan security forces;

- a sharp decline in the activity of the armed opposition 7.

For the first time in many years, in the autumn of 2011, a number of provinces registered a decrease in terrorist activity, including the number of militant attacks against ISAF contingents (by 17%) and large-scale and coordinated attacks (by 33%). According to the international coalition forces, in some areas along the Helmand River, the total number of attacks on ISAF forces has decreased by 80%.

Recently, however, the situation in the north of the country remains unsettled. According to local authorities, the number of armed groups in this region is still up to 315 units, but a significant part of them are purely criminal formations that are mainly engaged in smuggling, robbery and poaching.

There were heavy losses among the armed opposition, as a result of which the militants had to leave a number of counties in southwestern Afghanistan and completely abandon direct clashes with the armed forces of the international coalition. So, from January to October 2011, the militants ' losses amounted to more than 6,8 thousand people, of whom more than 4 thousand were arrested.-

page 49

vanas. In October 2011 alone, 356 militants were killed and 352 arrested. It should be noted that since the beginning of 2011, more than 1.4 thousand militants and commanders of the Haqqani network have been arrested.

The National Reconciliation Program, which is being implemented jointly by the United States and Afghanistan, is playing a growing role in this, with several hundred people joining each month. According to experts, progress has been made for the first time in the last year. So, if in the summer of 2011 the number of participants in the Program was up to 1.7 thousand people, then in March 2012-3.9 thousand people. The program is implemented more effectively in the northern and western provinces of the IRA, where the Taliban's position is weakest8.

There is a positive trend towards expanding the zone of control of the Afghan army over territories in the south-western regions of Afghanistan. This is due to the growing number of trained units of the IRA security forces, which are beginning to demonstrate the ability to independently carry out operations with minimal logistical support from ISAF. In the spring of 2012, it was decided to transfer the functions of conducting night raids to the Afghan special forces. At the same time, the activity of the international coalition forces is gradually shifting to the rear cover of government forces.

Experts note that the armed opposition has recently continued to lose ground in the south-west of the country and has suffered significant losses in battles with foreign and government forces, but is trying to gain a foothold in the eastern provinces and create a long-term springboard for an offensive on Kabul after the withdrawal of foreign troops.9 During his visit to Afghanistan in May 2012, Barack Obama, speaking to military personnel at the Bagram air base, said that the situation had changed over the past three years and the United States had managed to seize the initiative from the Taliban.


President Barack Obama's "unannounced" visit to Afghanistan in May 2012 defined the specific goals and objectives of the US Afghanistan strategy for the future. With this visit, Washington sent a clear message to the international community that the United States is a strategic partner of Afghanistan, will not repeat the "historic mistake" made by the Soviet Union in 1989, and will actively provide comprehensive assistance in strengthening the Afghan state. The main outcome of the visit was the signing of the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the United States of America10 The document defines the nature, level and main directions of long-term cooperation between the two countries before and after 2014.

The main task for Washington and Kabul in the field of security is the transfer of full power in Afghanistan to the Afghan government. The United States is committed to seeking funding to train, equip, advise, and support the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) so that Afghanistan can independently defend itself against internal and external threats, as well as assist in preventing terrorist threats to the security of Afghanistan, the region, and the world. The Afghan government, in turn, will provide access for the US armed forces to sites before and after 2014 in order to fight Al-Qaeda and related terrorist groups, train the ANSF, and conduct joint operations aimed at strengthening security.

The significance of this agreement is given by the fact that the United States will consider with serious concern any aggression against Afghanistan. In this case, Washington and Kabul will immediately hold consultations to jointly develop and implement response measures, including political, diplomatic, economic or military ones.

Of particular importance for the future of Afghanistan is the commitment of the United States in the Agreement to support the economic and social development of Afghanistan. Taking into account Afghanistan's priorities in this direction, Washington intends to help Kabul strengthen the foundations of the Afghan economy, support sustainable development and self-sufficiency, especially in the following areas: agricultural production; transport communications; trade; transit; water resources; energy infrastructure; natural resource management; building a strong financial system that is a prerequisite for development private investment.

Of course, the fact of a steady increase in drug trafficking from Afghanistan is alarming. Obviously, the United States does not pay attention to this, which should be expected from them, whose armed forces in the IRA are called upon, it would seem, to control the situation. During the NATO counterterrorism operation in Afghanistan, this country has become the largest opium producer in the world. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), its production in Afghanistan increased 20-fold from 2001 to 2012 (from 185 tons to 3,700 tons).11

Cooperation between the United States and the IRA in the social sphere provides for joint efforts to improve the quality of education and healthcare in the Afga-

page 50

nistan. In order to solve these problems, the US side confirmed its readiness to provide at least 50% of international socio-economic assistance to the Afghan government. Bilateral cooperation in this area will be regularly discussed within the framework of the US-Afghan Committee established by this Agreement, starting in 2012.12

The conclusion of the Agreement can be seen as a rather successful step. B. Obama consolidated the priorities of the Afghan strategy, which is designed to ensure not only a "dignified exit" from Afghanistan, but also a long-term geopolitical presence of the United States in the country located at the junction of Central and South Asia. 13

It should be emphasized that the attitude of States with strategic interests in Afghanistan is not at all enthusiastic, if not suspicious. A number of experts view the situation mainly through the prism of US geopolitical plans in the regions of Central and South Asia, the Middle and Middle East, implemented within the framework of the so-called mega-projects "Greater Middle East" and/or "Greater Central Asia"14.

The geopolitical significance of Central Asia and Afghanistan for the United States is undoubtedly very high. Thus, according to the expert of the Center for Political Studies (Uzbekistan) R. Makhmudov, "...for the United States, Central Asia is the most important region from the point of view of geopolitics. This is certainly a lucrative springboard that provides access to Afghanistan, where Washington and its allies have been waging a war against the Taliban for the tenth year. In addition, Central Asia and Afghanistan provide access to the sensitive and geopolitically important points of China (XUAR) and Russia (the Ural-Siberian geopolitical core), Iran (the problem of extremism in Balochistan). and Pakistan (Pashtunistan and Balochistan). The United States, being a non-regional force, has been defining a number of key trends in the region for a decade, thanks to the presence of a serious NATO military group in Afghanistan, numbering more than 100 thousand people. " 15

Today's developments in Afghanistan, largely due to the implementation of Barack Obama's Afghanistan strategy, will largely determine the prospects for further developments in Central and South Asia, as well as in the Middle East. It is obvious that the future of Afghanistan, the geopolitical role of this country located between these regions, causes different attitudes of neighboring regional states to the plans announced by Washington in Afghanistan and the vast region that is experiencing a turbulent period in its recent history.

The results of the May 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago confirmed that the Afghan issue will remain one of the main issues in Western foreign policy for at least the next decade, despite some differences in the transatlantic community. In particular, an agreement was reached in Chicago that $4.1 billion of financial assistance, including $2.3 billion, will be provided annually to Afghanistan for the needs of the national armed forces. - Washington, and the rest - its NATO allies and the Gulf states 16.

At the same time, two key US allies, Britain and Germany, said that "NATO will not abandon the Afghans even after the withdrawal of its troops in 2014." British Prime Minister David Cameron stressed that "the allied countries do not just want to complete their mission, they intend to invest in the future of Afghanistan." 17.


The geopolitical presence of the United States and its NATO allies in Afghanistan, which will probably have a long-term character, is ambiguously assessed in the capitals of major players. A conflict of interests, both strategic and geopolitical, is inevitable. The proximity or commonality of security interests caused by dangerous threats, such as terrorism, extremism, or drug trafficking, will take a back seat in the US dialogue with Russia, China, Iran, and Pakistan. This will be facilitated, inter alia, by the current nature and level of relations between these states and Washington.

Experts believe that Russia will more aggressively promote its international political strategy, including on the Afghan settlement, defending its own geopolitical interests in Central Asia. In this context, the key factor will remain the so-called "basic question", which continues to affect Russian-American cooperation on Central Asian-Afghan issues. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that it is unacceptable for Russia to maintain a foreign military presence in Afghanistan in forms that can be used against third countries. According to him, Moscow raises questions about the fact that, after announcing their withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014, the Americans are engaged in creating military bases in this country "without any deadlines and clearly announced goals."18

China's position on the US military and political presence in Afghanistan and Central Asia remains broadly similar to that of Russia. Beijing is concerned about the potential impact of the "basic" factor on stability and security in Xinjiang, which shares borders with Afghanistan, Pakistan and three Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan). China is interested in early stabilization and establishment of long-term peace in neighboring Afghanistan. At that

page 51

At the same time, due to suspicions about US plans in Afghanistan, Beijing refrains from accepting Western calls for more active involvement in the Afghan settlement, adhering to the principle of deepening cooperation with Kabul mainly in a bilateral format and, mainly, in the socio-economic sphere.

Over the past decade, Irantowards the US military and political presence in Afghanistan has undergone a qualitative change. If after the terrorist attacks in September 2001 in New York, the Iranian leadership gave tacit consent to the NATO intervention in Afghanistan and assisted in the formation of the Afghan interim government in December 2001 in Bonn, then in 2002 the Iranian leadership abruptly changed its position after the former US President J. R. R. Tolkien and former US President John Kerry took part in theBush referred to Iran as one of the countries of the "axis of evil." As a result, Tehran has begun to pursue a "complex" policy towards Afghanistan.19

As tensions in Iran-US relations escalate, including over the nuclear issue, as well as due to the events of the "Arab Spring" in the Middle East, Iran is increasingly concerned about the geopolitical realities when a strategic ring of US military bases is formed around the country/NATO - in the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean, Iraq, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, and now Afghanistan 20.

Obama's Afghanistan strategy directly affects Pakistan, which has been declared one of the most important strategic partners of the United States in the fight against terrorism. However, Islamabad's recognition of the activities of various armed (extremist) groups that play an important role in the country's internal political processes 21 hinders more active participation in the anti-terrorist war in Afghanistan, especially after the elimination of bin Laden in May 2011. Subsequent deterioration of Pakistan-US relations (possibly temporary) it doesn't seem illogical. The new leadership of Pakistan after the presidential elections in 2013 will have to take more decisive steps in the country's foreign and security policy in order to promote its strategic interests in Afghanistan and in the regions of South and Central Asia that are part of the New Silk Road project.

* * *

In general, the practical success or failure of Barack Obama's Afghan strategy is due to internal and external factors that affect the degree of internal political stability in Afghanistan. As the British expert M. Hart notes, with the current weakness of the Afghan national state, endemic corruption and economic dependence on international aid, the survival of any future regime seems doubtful.22

The United States is likely to make focused efforts to create a regional security structure around Afghanistan that would ensure the United States ' geopolitical presence in the Middle East, South and Central Asia regions. Trying to advance its interests, Washington is likely to rely on regional players -its strategic partners-Turkey and India.

Such a geopolitical trend in Central Asia can have an impact on the situation in the sphere of regional security, especially against the background of the consequences of the global crisis, which have seriously affected the national economies of the countries of the region. It is no coincidence that as 2014 approaches, when the withdrawal of the NATO military contingent from Afghanistan is planned, international political and expert circles express growing concerns about the prospects for stability in the Central Asian region.

Lindsay J. 1 George W.Bush, Barack Obama and the future of US global leadership // International Affairs. Vol. 87/July 2011. N 4. P. 772.

Obama Barack. 2 Renewing American leadership // Foreign Affairs. July-August 2007. P. 2 - 16.

Pakhomov A. 3 The Afghan war of Obama / / Kompas-ITAR TASS. 2009. N 51. pp. 3-31.

4 See: Arunova M. Afghan politics of the USA and interests of Russia // Formation of the image of Russia in the context of the Afghan crisis. Moscow, 2010, pp. 9-11.

Partlow J. 5 In Afghan War, Haqqani Group is "Resilient" foe // Washington Post. May 30, 2011.

PerlezJ., Schitt E., Gall C. 6 Pakistan is said to pursue foothold in Afghanistan // New York Times. June 24, 2010.


8 Ibidem.

9 Ibid.

10 artnershi

11 Afghanistan Drug Industry, p. 25 // United Nations Office on Drug and Crime. The World Bank - AfghanistanDrugIndustry.pdf; Afghanistan Opium Survey 2012, p. 3 // UNODC. United Nations Office on Drug and Crime. Islamic Republic of Afghanistan - Afghanistan/Summary_Findings_FINAL.pdf

12 Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the United States of America.

13 http://www.

14 See sub-section: A new big game in greater Central Asia. Bishkek. 2005.

Makhmudov R. 15 Iran and the West in the struggle for cargo and gas flows from Central Asia. 30.05.2012 - news iran. php?act-news_by id&_n= 1 &news_id=80887


17 Ibidem.


Mandana Tishehyar. 19 A Review of Iran's concerns about NATO' presence in Afghanistan. Report at an international conference in India, 2011.

Makhmudov R. 20 Decree. Op.

Fair Cristine С.21 Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the Pakistani State // Survival. August-September 2011. P. 13.

Hart M. 22 West's Afgan hopes collide with reality // The National Interest. N 118. March-April. 2012. P. 9.


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