Afghanistan's strategic landscape is changing as regional powers forge links with the Taliban and vie to outdo each other in what's being seen as a new "Great Game".
Fifteen years after the US-led intervention in Afghanistan, competition for influence - reminiscent of that rivalry between the Russian and British empires in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, and that during the Cold War in the 1980s - is intensifying, complicating an already precarious security situation.
There are two interrelated strategic challenges that continue to impede U.S. efforts in Afghanistan (1) the unity and authority of the Afghan central government and (2) Pakistani intervention.
On August 20, 1998, American cruise missiles pounded six sites in Khost in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. There was
It has been over 15 years since U.S.-led international troops arrived in Afghanistan. Today, beauty salons fill the streets of Kabul and Indian music plays loudly during traffic jams. Yet the news from the provinces is distressing. Afghan security forces are currently engaged in active battle across at least 26 of the country’s 34 provinces. Occasional attacks interrupt the normal daily routine of the chaotic capital, once the center of the Afghan aristocracy, now an architectural landmark of the war business.
On 4 December 2016, the sixth ministerial conference of the Heart of Asia - Istanbul Process (HoA-IP) on Afghanistan concluded in Amritsar, India. The Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi voiced their concern over common issues such as terrorism and trade connectivity in the region in a bid to corner Pakistan. In their respective speeches, they made direct and indirect references to Pakistan’s reluctance to effectively counter terrorism in the region.
The symbolic weight and the cultural residue of the cult of remembrance of things past are embedded in the Russian national psyche. They combined to make it meaningful that Moscow scheduled the trilateral meeting of Russia, China and Pakistan on Afghanistan on December 27, which is a significant anniversary date of its national history that cannot easily be decontextualised or despatialised. The Indian commentators, with their very limited vocabulary, repertoire and portfolio of text, ritual and symbol in Russia’s tumultuous history altogether miss the plot when they impulsively view the ‘trilateral’ as an unmeditated Russian dalliance with our arch enemy, Pakistan.
This month, Donald Trump will inherit the nation’s longest war – the war in Afghanistan. More than 8,000 United States troops remain there, 15 years on, primarily to support Afghan forces in their battle against the Taliban, while the Islamic State, or ISIS, has also gained a foothold.
During the outgoing year, the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP), which once emerged as a formidable threat to peace and security in the AfPak region, was pushed back from several districts in eastern Afghanistan.
The New York Times
At a corner table of the Marriott Hotel in Pakistan’s capital, an emissary from the Taliban’s supreme leader arrived with a message of peace.