Afghanistan: Russia’s New Ally?

A not unreasonable analysis of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan published in the hardline newspaper Vzglyad ru today that seems to reflect some understanding of the complicated ethnic tapestry of Afghanistan has, however, a very odd title: “The End of the American Occupation Will Make Afghanistan an Ally of Russia.”

One can just imagine the hysterical reaction to this news from Congressman Adam Schiff and fellow Democrats on the Hill who profess to believe in the Trump-Russia conspiracy and the generals at the Pentagon who would prefer to keep the war going for another couple of decades to prove some sort of point; like the gambler at the casino, desperately hoping that one more turn of the wheel will do the trick.

Whether the author of the article – Petr Okopov – actually composed the title or an intrusive and ill-informed editor is a matter for debate that need not detain us. But the idea behind it betrays a bizarre misunderstanding of the region and Russia’s position within it.

Think for a moment. How grateful was the Afghan population that the Russians invaded in December 1979 to prop up a régime that reflected the lunatic Communist extremism of a few alienated and dysfunctional intellectuals? That one did not work out very well.

And, with the Americans gone, does Vzglyad ru really imagine, one, that the Afghans will ever stop fighting one another; two, that foreigners are unlikely to remain the preferred target of the guns everyone seems to have readily at their disposal; and, three, given that Islamic fundamentalists in the region uniformly back terrorism, if not insurrection, within the southern reaches of the Russian federation and its satellite countries in Central Asia, is it not more likely that sooner or later they will be back on the northern Afghan border ferrying men and arms across into Russia’s backyard? This would make the Chechen war look like a picnic.

This is surely one excellent rationale for the Americans leaving. It kills two birds with one stone. Washington divests itself of an unwinnable war and leaves in its wake an ungrateful, corrupt régime that has gobbled up unseemly quantities of wasted foreign aid. Moreover, it dumps the mess at President Putin’s back door at a time when he is already over-extended abroad. This could suck even more oxygen out of the Russian body politic. Certainly if the expectation of an alliance with Afghanistan becomes a Kremlin aim, an American Machiavelli could hope for nothing better.



Окончание американской оккупации сделает Афганистан союзником России

Само подписание соглашения между США и Талибаном в Дохе выглядело, конечно, символично – с обеих сторон его подписали пуштуны

3 марта 2020, 10:10
Текст: Петр Акопов