Since the past several years, we have witnessed many geopolitical changes in the region and the world. Especially in our region, since the previous two years, it seems that, as during the cold war, the region is divided into two blocs; the difference being that this time instead of ideology, changing regional situation and diverse interests are the origins of the division. Apparently, the first bloc consists of the US and its allies and the other Russia and its partners.
Since Afghanistan is always deeply affected by the changing geopolitics in the region and has always been an important part of these changes, Center for Strategic and Regional Studies (CSRS) chose this issue as the topic of its academic debate program. The seminar was held on 10 May 2017 in the CSRS’s office where tens of academic personalities had participated, and the heads of the three research centers delivered their speech regarding the issue.
The first speaker was the head of the Center for Conflict and Peace Studies (CAPS) Halimullah Kousari gave his speech about the background of the geopolitical changes in the region and the world and the current situation in the region.
He said that in regards to the power distribution throughout the history there were four types of systems in the world (unipolar system, bipolar system, tri-polar system and multipolar system). For instance, before the Second World War, the political system in the world was multipolar, and the US, Japan, Germany, Italy and some other countries were dominant in world’s politics. But after the second world War, during the cold war, the world was bipolar; the western bloc with the US in the center and the Eastern bloc with Russia in the center. Although, there was another bloc, the nonalignment countries, but since it had no important political and economic power, it was not considered important.
He said that the term “cold war” was first used in 1945 by a British writer “George Orwell” and a significant particularity of cold war is that parties do not engage in direct conflict with each other, and the rival countries try to defeat the enemy by third countries a fine example of which is Afghanistan’s war against Soviet Union, which collapsed following its defeat in Afghanistan and hence the cold war ended.
Regarding the current geopolitical situation of the region, Kousari said: currently another particular war (hybrid war) is about to erupt in the region and since the US has a military presence in the region, it will be the primary player in this war. He said that one characteristic of such wars was that the powerful countries will use any possible method to suppress their enemies. For instance, although Russia and the Taliban have conflicting interests, but in order to achieve its goals, Russia is currently establishing relations with the Taliban.
He added that despite the existence of its bases in Arab countries, the US does not really need a military presence in these countries, but the presence of their soldiers in Afghanistan was important for the Americans. In 2001, the countries in the region such as Iran, Russia, China and some other countries backed the US invasion of Afghanistan because they did not want the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and these countries were not active in Afghanistan at the time. However, after 2001 these countries increased their role in Afghanistan and now they are making efforts to evict the US from the region.
He said that after the emergence of the ISIL, the countries in the region have come to a conclusion that the US presence in the region not only has not suppressed “terrorism” but also have promoted it. One important country in the region (China), in order to apply its “one-built, one-road” project, presumes Afghanistan’s security as significant and is concerned that the US presence in the region would create challenges for its economic schemes in the region.
The second speaker in the meeting, head of Regional Studies Center of Afghanistan (RSCA) Rafiaullah Niazi spoke about the impacts of the current and future geopolitical changes on political, economic and security situation in the country. He said that in terms of geopolitics, our region is profoundly affected and many phenomenon has come to the region from Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia; but in Afghanistan, its two neighboring countries are most influential.
He said that Pakistan pursued four objectives in Afghanistan: 1- Forming a pro-Pakistani Government in Afghanistan. 2- Eradicating Indian influence in Afghanistan (control over the foreign policy of Afghanistan). 3- Turning Afghanistan into a market for the Pakistani goods. 4-Eliminating Afghan nationalism. He also added that currently Pakistan believed that its interests were in danger and besides the US, it is also allied with Russia and China, the recent trilateral meeting in Moscow is a good example of its relations with Russia and China. In addition, another factor behind insecurity is the issue of water.
Niazi further added that Pakistan, China, Russia, and Iran in one bloc and the US, India and Afghanistan in the other bloc could have broad consequences for the country. In terms of security, all these countries are involved in Afghanistan and in terms of economy for instance Afghanistan would suffer losses in the areas of transit. But in the meanwhile, the Afghan government needs the US for its huge expenditures and has got no other way.
Niazi stated that both in the past and now Afghanistan does not have specified foreign policy lines nor has it defined national interests, nor has it maintained balance in its relations with the countries in the region (Iran-Saudi Arabia) and (Pakistan-India), these changes could have profound effects.
The third speaker was head of the Center for Strategic and Regional Studies (CSRS) Dr. Abdul Baqi Amin who delivered his speech regarding what Afghanistan should do in the current regional geopolitical situation. Amin said that Afghanistan could not only save itself from the negative consequences of the geopolitical changes in the region but also could benefit from it, but to do so requires a coordinated powerful central government in Afghanistan. He said that in the current situations, the government must weaken the power groups in the country and even eliminate them and positively benefit the regional rivalries.
In his speech, Mr. Amin emphasized that in such circumstances, research centers could provide the government with guidance and consult based on their studies and analysis and as their national responsibility, these center must pay attention to this point.
At the end of the meeting, the participators asked questions regarding the issue, and the topic was further discussed.