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12.11.2008

November 06, 2008 (the date of publication in Russian)

Alexander Sobko

AFGHANISTAN TO BE RETURNED TO TALIBS?

Washington is interested in fomenting new havoc at the borders of Russia, China and India

Last week, Afghanistan's Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta claimed that his government is ready for talks with representatives of Taliban. The very idea of such talks had been lately criticized by Afghan officials, including Mr. Spanta. The reason for the change can be explained with advice from Washington.

Expediency of direct negotiations with the Taliban surfaced in September, when top officials of the so-called anti-terrorist coalition admitted that the operation in Afghanistan, lasting for seven years, has turned a failure.

It is true that the strategy of the international operation has not reached its official goals. On the contrary, the allegedly defeated Taliban movement revived on the Afghan and international scene. Today, Americans and their allies fully control only the vicinity of their bases, while Taliban's influence in the population is increasing, and the movement has actually established its own alternative power bodies in several provinces.

The conclusion of the failure could be made months earlier. Why is the diplomatic initiative raised only now?

In the conditions of the global financial crisis, the United States is forced to reduce spending for overseas military operations. At the same time, Afghanistan expects elections of the President in 2009 and the Parliament in 2010. At the face of persisting instability, the coalition could insist that the government of Hamid Karzai (which is routinely characterized as a "marionette regime) to postpone or cancel the elections. However, Washington has made a different choice. Recently, Mr. Karzai officially addressed Mullah Omar, the head of Taliban, proposing to return to Afghanistan and join the new government.

The dissatisfaction of the population with Karzai's rule is likely to result in Taliban's success in the democratic elections. Quite probably, Washington will refer to legitimacy of the procedure and recognize the vote, telling the allies that now, after the opposition does not have to operate in the underground, the situation will stabilize.

However, this promise will hardly come true. The struggle for power is likely to erupt into a new civil war between the Pastuni population, most of which sympathizes with the Talibs, and the anti-Talib minority of the Afghan Tajiks.

In fact, the US side cannot be interested in reconciliation in the country, as a peaceful Afghanistan would immediately fall under the influence of its closest neighbors – China, Russia and Iran. For US strategists, this development, especially in the conditions of the crisis, is definitely inexpedient.

Therefore, the strategy of "managed chaos" is seen as preferable. The US military policy in Afghanistan has already greatly contributed in the split in the Afghan society. The permanent bomb attacks that killed around 400 Afghani during the last eight months have efficiently undermined the authority of Karzai's government.

In October, the US aviation launched a bomb attack not on the oppositionist paramilitary units but on a detachment of the national Afghan army, with eight casualties. The US command even did not apologize for the mistake, trying to deny the very fact of the killing.

In similar cases, the German contingent in Afghanistan not only apologizes but pays compensation to the families of the killed servicemen. However, the US-run Enduring Freedom mission, unlike the international ISAF, does not bother to kill Afghans, displaying spectacular contempt to the population.

This approach is definitely conscious. Under the conditions of crisis, the United States is especially interested in undermining the influence of Beijing, Moscow, Tehran and New Delhi. Therefore, the probable civil war, ensuing after the legitimate success of the opposition, is the tactic of choice, applicable also in other regions of the world. Deliberate assistance to the success of the opposition, assayed in Afghanistan, is likely to be used for maintaining the US hegemony in areas Washington cannot control by other methods.


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