Making Sense of Afghanistan
Events in Afghanistan of the past few weeks have left many bewildered. The Peace Deal , we were made to believe was just a signature away. Then came Trump’s ‘Dead’ Tweet and the sacking of Bolton. What was so serious that forced Trump to take these decisions? To start with , the Trump-Bolton divide begins with Iran and Imran Khans visit to Washington. Bolton a blatantly open pro Israel American, made no bones that he wanted Trump to bomb Iran to the Stone age. Trump wants Iran to come to the table. Similarly Both Pompeo and Bolton were not in favour of IK’s visit to meet Trump, it was a White House initiative . Trumps actions of putting the BLA and the head of the TTP on the blacklist was welcome. IK’s visit meant that Pompeo, Bolton and CIA were not ‘in’ on the visit. Trump was advised for a Camp David type meeting with the Taliban which was fiercely opposed by Bolton . Coming to Zalmay Khalilzad it seams he was not playing straight . For improving his own stature amongst the Taliban , he gave away far more than his mandate. His briefs to the White House were not wholly convincing. Trump sensed something amiss, the Camp David talks was cancelled as was the Doha ones. Concurrently, with sacks of unending Narcotics money available in Afghanistan,
Bolton encouraged elements of CIA, Blackwater, RAW and Mossad agents to organise the Daish, TPP, BLA, ex AQ elements and Chinese dissidents for future use. The attack in Kabul a week ago in the Green Zone was on the Headquarter of this complex. Nearly 30 killed and over 100 injured. Reports of a US senior officer being a casualty surfaced. A furious Trump reportedly ordered all funds for these operations be ceased, this included , as per talk, a large sum of Indian money for the project .The money was funnelled back to Washington. The ‘Dead Tweet’ is off this time frame.
Much earlier two prominent attacks in Kondoz in the North and Farah (facing Iran) are significant. Both locations have Daish elements and their tutors. Trump had visions of the South American Noriega type of backlash where the CIA used narco money to bankroll chaos. Bolton had to go!
The Taliban during the last Doha meetings made no bones of their joy that another Superpower was about to succumb. Taliban were uncompromising on the number of residual US troops . Trump decided that this was not a good time to sign any deal where the Taliban gain.
I believe there is a US – India Agreement of 2008/9 where Indian troops will deploy in support of US and Kabul. The US wants a substantial number of Indian Army troops , some say a minimum of 50,000, to prop up the Afghan National Army. New Delhi is in a fix.
IK is to meet Trump twice during his forthcoming visit to the US. Kashmir and India will figure prominently. IK will be asked to re facilitate the Taliban-US talks again. Secondly Trump has an eye on the elections, bulk of the US troops in Afghanistan are White. Trumps vote bank is White. Why should US troops bear the fury of the Taliban due to Blackwater and CIA operations? He will ask IK to tell the Taliban not to target US troops. What about the future of Blackwater , its trainers and advisors? Daish? What of them? Has Trump decided to sideline them? Daish are now a legitimate target for the Taliban, Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan .
Kabul Govt has shown a desire for the talks to restart, the US will want to see the end of war in Afghanistan and will again re engage. Pakistan has to convince the Taliban . The Taliban are now wary of Pakistan. They feel Pakistan has a deal with The US as it has blacklisted BLA and head of TTP , which favours Islamabad. They feel Pakistan will sell them down the river! Pakistan cannot allow this perception to take hold.
Afghan Elections, however must be held in my view.
Our region has generated much activity. China-Iran cooperation is a mega mega agreement that has no parallel. Its oil and gas will be pumped into the CPEC pipeline all way to China. Alternatively other routes are through CARs , making it difficult for the US to interfere. Taliban delegation has visited Moscow with the major point being The Daish threat to the Taliban and Russia. The Chinese and Taliban should also be in agreement how to jointly deal with the threat. Pakistan must become part of this team. The Dilemma for the US is to orchestrate an exit without turning Afghanistan into another tragic story. It needs Pakistan.