In all likelihood, in collusion with Pakistan, China is all set to arrive in Afghanistan in a big way drawn essentially by the huge mineral resources there that remain unexploited and access to the future energy resources of the Central Asian Republics (CAR).
US Plans for Withdrawal
Enunciating American policy objectives in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region at the end of 2009, President Obama flagged important milestones of the new US strategy. The announcement rekindled hopes for troops that were bogged down in a quagmire with prospects for retrieval that till then seemed somewhat remote. Apart from inducting 30,000 troops by way of reinforcements to scale up of the offensive against terrorism in the border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the President went on to speak of enhanced efforts in Afghanistan to reverse the gains by Taliban countrywide. Simultaneously, there would be concerted effort at enhancing security of the civilian population and at assisting the Afghan government to progressively develop the capability to provide for their own security and take over withdrawing American forces.
“¦the entire scheme to create the Taliban to dislodge the Northern Alliance from power was approved by the US as it served their interest immensely to have a strong fundamentalist force in Afghanistan to checkmate Iran especially as Saddam Hussein was no longer available.
These pronouncements were a significant climb down from the fiery rhetoric of March 2009 wherein the President defined the US goal as “to disrupt, dismantle and defeat the Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan and to prevent their return to either country in future”. Perhaps the most significant component of the strategy unveiled end 2009 was the intent to begin withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in July 2011. Eight months later the President turned intent into resolve when in an address to the nation on August 31, 2010, declared July 2011 as the firm date for the cessation of combat operations and the commencement of withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan. Taking a cue from the announcement by the American President, other member nations of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) coalition are also planning to wind up from Afghanistan by 2012.
Despite the most scientifically directed war on Afghanistan for a decade conducted with overwhelming technological superiority, the aims and objectives of the US military campaign, have not been achieved. Operations by the Taliban against the US and ISAF continue unabated and despite the proclaimed elimination of Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda remains as potent a threat as before. The move to withdraw US forces is therefore in no way related to the ground situation in Afghanistan but more on account of domestic policy imperatives. The precarious state of the US economy that appears to be in complete disarray and opposition at home to a war that has turned out to be prohibitively expensive and unpopular, has rendered US position in the region untenable. The process of withdrawal of US forces, albeit slow, is therefore inevitable even at the risk of it being perceived as a military defeat. As per plans made public, the exercise is expected to be completed by 2014 by which time the residual US forces numbering around 20,000, will be limited to non-combat support and advisory role.