US sees China, Russia and Iran as key players in Afghanistan

Published December 26, 2018
Afghanistan is to train a mountain brigade in China to patrol the Wakhan Cor­ridor, which borders China’s Xinjiang Province. — File photo
Afghanistan is to train a mountain brigade in China to patrol the Wakhan Cor­ridor, which borders China’s Xinjiang Province. — File photo

WASHINGTON: As Pakistan consults China, Russia and Iran to seek a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan, the United States too recognises that these three countries could play a key role in ending the Afghan conflict.

“China’s military, economic, and political engagements in Afghanistan are driven by domestic security concerns that terrorism will spread across the Afghan border into China, and also by China’s increasing desire to protect its regional economic investments,” says a report the US Department of Defence (DoD) sent to Congress this week.

“Iran seeks a stable Afghan government that is responsive to Iranian goals, the elimination of ISIS-K, the removal of the US/Nato presence, and the protection of Iranian concerns, such as water rights and border security,” the report adds.

“Russia is engaging a wide range of actors in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, to secure its interests in Central Asia and to expand its influence in the region,” the Pentagon tells US lawmakers.

The US report notes that Afghanistan “continues to seek Chinese pressure on Pakistan” to assist reconciliation efforts and eliminate insurgent sanctuaries.

Afghanistan to train a mountain brigade in China to patrol the Wakhan Cor­ridor, which borders China’s Xinjiang Province. China is concerned that Uighur militants transiting through the Wakhan Corri­dor could pose a threat to Chinese interests in the region.

The United States views China’s concern about the growth of militancy as a positive element, which could encourage Beijing to work with the international community to suppress terrorism in the South Asian region.

The Pentagon also recognises Iran’s influence in Afghanistan, claiming that Tehran pursues “a multitrack strategy” of engaging and trying to grow ties with the Afghan government, expanding trade and economic investments, and “providing calibrated support to the Taliban while trying not to alienate Kabul”.

Iranian involvement is most prominent in western, central, and northern Afghanistan, where local Afghans share common history, culture, religion, and language with Iran.

In its review of Russia’s Afghan policy, the Pentagon notes that Moscow seeks to renew arms sales, maintenance, and training to Kabul, which would provide influence with the Afghan government.

“Russia has long supported Afghan power brokers in order to establish a security buffer in northern Afghanistan,” the report adds, noting that Russia has also reinforced the 201st Military Base in Tajikistan to counter a growing ISIS-K threat in northern Afghanistan.

Published in Dawn, December 26th, 2018

Opinion

Pak-Saudi relations
Updated 17 May 2021

Pak-Saudi relations

Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, will be key to Pakistan’s economic recovery in a post-Covid context.
Cuisine and culture
17 May 2021

Cuisine and culture

There is a drive towards the creation of a ‘national cuisine’ landscape as well as greater insight into region-based diversity.
Cooperation or conflict?
Updated 17 May 2021

Cooperation or conflict?

The fear of an economic and technological rival has created insecurities being reflected today in US behaviour.

Editorial

Palestine bloodbath
Updated 17 May 2021

Palestine bloodbath

One wonders whether the right of self-defence allows a country to butcher toddlers and the disabled, as Tel Aviv has done in Gaza.
17 May 2021

Registering madressahs

DURING the past two decades, several attempts by successive governments to standardise and regularise madressahs ...
17 May 2021

LSM growth

THE robust growth in large-scale industrial output since July last year has generated a kind of economic optimism...
16 May 2021

Riyadh-Tehran thaw

SEVERAL official pronouncements over the last few days have confirmed that efforts are underway behind the scenes to...
16 May 2021

Ruthless evictions

FOR a state to deprive residents of their homes without providing for alternative housing for them is a dereliction...
16 May 2021

Wheat concerns

THE new official projections for provisional wheat output suggest that Punjab may harvest around 20.5m tonnes of...