TEHRAN- A senior researcher at the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore says the Taliban need friendly relations with their neighbors to keep control of Afghanistan.

“Afghanistan being a landlocked country, it would be important for the Taliban leadership to maintain cordial relations with their neighbors,” Asif Shuja told The Tehran Times.

Shuja believes Iran and Pakistan, as Afghanistan’s two main neighbors, can play a leading role now that the United States has withdrawn its forces from the Central Asian country.

“Iran and Pakistan are the two neighboring countries which are expected to play the dominant role in the post-withdrawal scenario of the United States.”

The United States looks forward to redirecting its military resources to the Asia-Pacific to curb China’s rise to power.US President Joe Biden has withdrawn all US troops from Afghanistan, completing the military sortie by the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks that dragged the United States into its longest war.

Political experts say Biden cannot speak the obvious truths about his decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan so quickly. Like the Vietnam War, the United States’ war on Afghanistan will continue to haunt Americans. He lost a lot more than he won in the 20 Years War.

The United States invaded Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban regime for harboring al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, believed to be responsible for the September 11 attacks. However, the Taliban came out stronger, forcing Washington to sit down and negotiate with them.

The Taliban were recognized only by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates before being overthrown by the United States in 2001. From 1996 to 2001, the Taliban held power over about three quarters of the world. ‘Afghanistan.

Shuja says there is a need for Pakistan to “recalibrate” its approach to Afghanistan and not allow the country to move away from the international community again.

“For the sake of the Afghan people, Pakistan must recalibrate its approach to Afghanistan, one in which the country is brought back to the mainstream, rather than alienated from the world again,” notes Shuja.

He adds, “Iran can play a crucial role as it shares good relations with Pakistan and has also successfully developed a working relationship with the Taliban. “

Here is the text of the interview:

Q: How do you read the American withdrawal from Afghanistan? Is it a big defeat for Americans like Vietnam?

A: In the long term, the American withdrawal from Afghanistan would prove to be a positive development for the region as well as for the United States. The occupation of a country is not good for the occupied country or for the region in which that country is located.

Now that the United States is leaving Afghanistan, their people will find the best possible way to stabilize their own country with the help of their neighbors. The withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan also offers the United States the opportunity to optimally reallocate its limited military energy and resources to deal with other emerging challenges emanating from China and Russia that threaten their position. superpower.

The respective withdrawals of the United States from Vietnam and Afghanistan appear comparable in terms of chaos, confusion, public opinion and collateral damage. However, to equate the two events would be to neglect the larger game plans in which the great powers are engaged. It is imperative to note that the American-Vietnamese war took place against the backdrop of the Cold War in which the United States was driven out by the USSR. -China combines. On the other hand, the United States stayed for two decades in Afghanistan as a superpower, and is now withdrawing voluntarily. Nonetheless, the United States is withdrawing due to the high costs involved, and this may amount to calling the United States’ exit from Afghanistan a defeat.

Q: How can Afghanistan’s neighbors help restore stability to the country? Is there a possibility of long term chaos or civil war in the country?

A: As Afghanistan is a landlocked country, it would be important for the Taliban leadership to maintain cordial relations with their neighbors. Iran and Pakistan are the two neighboring countries that are expected to play the dominant role in the post-American withdrawal scenario.

However, for the sake of the Afghan people, Pakistan must recalibrate its approach to Afghanistan, one in which the country is brought back to the mainstream, rather than alienated from the world again. In this regard, Iran can play a crucial role as it shares good relations with Pakistan and has also successfully developed a working relationship with the Taliban. Oil-rich countries in the Persian Gulf such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates can also prove very useful with their monetary aid. If the Taliban take a moderate approach in their domestic and foreign policies, then they can enlist India’s help in its post-war reconstruction as well.

Historically, there have been two reasons for the chaos in Afghanistan. These include the great power rivalry played on the territory of Afghanistan and the lack of national unity. The American withdrawal is well ahead of the first and it is up to the Taliban to unite their nation. Yet there is a new challenge to the stability of Afghanistan posed by ISIS. Under the current circumstances, it seems less likely that Afghanistan will stabilize soon. However, the Taliban can do it sooner if they work closely with Afghanistan’s neighbors.

Q: How important is Afghanistan in terms of security and stability in Asia?

A: As Afghanistan is located in the heart of Asia, its instability negatively affects the entire region. Due to its geographical position, it has the potential to become a trade and transit hub between South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia. Afghanistan can also play an important role in land transport of energy. Afghanistan also has its own vast untapped natural resources, the exploitation of which can benefit Afghanistan as well as countries in the region that engage in such partnerships. Beyond these material considerations, the importance of Afghanistan is also due to its unfortunate position over the past four decades as a center of Islamic extremism, which was a product of the Cold War and whose repercussions are visible to this day.

Q: What can Asian countries learn from the US withdrawal from Afghanistan?

A: One of the main reasons for the US decision to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan is to allow its long-awaited policy of “pivot to Asia”. In other words, the United States is anxiously waiting to redirect its military resources to the Asia-Pacific to curb China’s rise to power. The United States would do this in the name of helping its own allies in this region who feel threatened by China’s assertive position. Asian countries can learn from the US withdrawal from Afghanistan that excessive reliance on a foreign power will not help in this regard. The fundamental lesson learned from the Afghan episode could be that the security and stability of one country cannot be ensured by another country, however powerful that country may be.

Q: Why is the world silent about what is happening in Afghanistan? Is there a secret deal or a plot?

A: When the United States witnessed terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, planned by Osama bin Laden and hosted by Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, the world was sympathetic to the Americans. As a result, the United States succeeded in convincing its allies to join forces to attack Afghanistan.

However, the ensuing American attack on Iraq changed this perception of the United States from a victim of terrorism to an arrogant new superpower. Now that the United States is withdrawing from Afghanistan, there are great concerns about the chaos and the resulting collateral damage to the Afghan people. Nonetheless, the world sees this eventuality as positive for Afghanistan as well as for the region, and therefore, it is silent on the eventual withdrawal of the United States, even if there is shock, grief, frustration and a dissatisfaction with the way this process is currently being carried out.


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