Power play in Afghanistan; International competition intensifies?

Alwaght-While Afghanistan is about to become a stage for deadly and serious confrontation between the world powers, some news sources reported that recently Afghan Taliban commanders in the northern Afghanistan have secretly met the Russian authorities in Tajikistan, which suggest the possibility of a “power-play” initiated by Moscow in Afghanistan.

On the other hand, the US-led coalition in Afghanistan has ended its military mission in the country almost after 13 years, in 2014, and since then the military forces of Afghanistan backed by US and NATO military forces have the responsibility to protect the country. But last month, President Barack Obama announced that due to increased attacks by the Taliban, the United States continues its military presence in Afghanistan and keeps 9,800 troops in Afghanistan. However, the US had promised to withdraw its troop from Afghanistan before the end of Obama’s second term in January 2017. Under the new program, the number of the US troops in Afghanistan would decrease to 5500 troops by 2017.

Not long ago, the United Nations released new information about the Taliban in Afghanistan and warned about the deteriorating security situation in the country and called the US military officials to be more truthful about the events and situation in Afghanistan.

It should be noted that at the end of last month, the Taliban seized the strategically important town of ‘Kunduz’ which was supported by the US security forces; this way, the Taliban achieved its greatest achievement in recent years. After the fall of the northern town of Kunduz to the Taliban, some worrying developments have happened in the security situation in Afghanistan. The items that are most important and relevant to each other include:

1. The influence and advance of the Taliban in northern Afghanistan

2. The recent movements that have gone beyond the Pashtun ethnic group in southern Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan.

Reports suggest that while the Afghan Taliban in its new round of fights, compared to those in last year, has made considerable progress, the national unity government in Kabul keeps secrecy about the group’s advances in the country.

On the other hand, while world public opinion, especially in Afghanistan, is concerned about the presence of ISIS terrorist group in Afghanistan, the Afghan national unity government does not take it serious, and has prompted sharp media criticism about the secrecy of the government and even its alleged compromise. ISIS terrorist group in Afghanistan, despite its short life of several months, with the help of intelligence agencies of Pakistan, the US, the Israeli regime, Saudi Arabia and Turkey has been creating the necessary infrastructure required for a long-term presence in Afghanistan. ISIS is making use of the poor security situation in Afghanistan to expand its activities in different parts of the country.

Reasons for Moscow’s intervention

Certainly, Russia will not tolerate terrorism of the Taliban, ISIS, etc., along the borders of Central Asian countries as its backyard and sphere of influence and interests. For long, the Russians traditionally evaluated Afghanistan’s northern neighbors as its influence areas. Increased terrorist activities in northern Afghanistan and the growing clashes between the security forces and the terrorists in formerly secure areas, have added to Russia’s concerns. As the Taliban seized the town of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan, these concerns have particularly added to complexity of the issue, and since then the Russians have made efforts to put pressure on the Afghan government to strengthen the role of regional countries to fight terrorism in Afghanistan. Kunduz is among very sensitive and strategic regions in northern Afghanistan.

The town is of great importance for the Taliban, the Afghan government and the northern neighbors, especially Tajikistan and also Russia. Strategic Shir-Khan port which connects Afghanistan to Tajikistan through Amu Darya, is in the same province.

In addition, Kunduz for all parties in Afghanistan, is the security gate to the north and if the Taliban in Kunduz establishes its presence, it will make ground for the expansion of terrorism to other provinces in northern Afghanistan. That is why, as Kunduz fell, Taliban elements in some provinces especially in Takhar, Badakhshan, Baghlan and Sar-e Pol broke out some clashes also had some temporary achievements. Meanwhile, after the fall of Kunduz, the Taliban has launched major military operations to seize the northern town of Maimana. Accordingly, it is clear why the Russians are more than ever, concerned about the spread of terrorism to northern Afghanistan, and it is important for them that they can eventually open their way to Central Asia and the Caucasus.

In addition, the fact that a significant number of terrorists who supported Taliban were from Uzbek and Tajik nationals of Central Asian countries, increases the risk of their influence on Russia. Thus, the Russians are now trying to convince the Afghan government to permit Russians to expand their security measures to large parts of northern Afghanistan, and create a military partnership between Kabul and Moscow, to prevent the development of terrorism to the North and jeopardizing the security of the Central Asian countries.


In current circumstances, if Afghanistan fails to manage the battle and the US implements its own plan to fight terrorism, Russia and other countries will make efforts to intervene in the conflicts and make Afghanistan a place for their international conflicts.

To adopt any improper or unclear policy on the fight against the Taliban terrorist group, will lead the national unity government and the Muslim people of Afghanistan into a tragic situation. Therefore, the national unity government should immediately make attempts so that Afghanistan does not become the battleground for the deadly confrontation between regional and world powers.

While Afghanistan, as a country in a transitional state, needs reliable partners to resolve its regional security issues. Nevertheless, it appears that foreign troops will not leave Afghanistan, while a new competitive battleground is being created in Afghanistan between the US and Russia. However, due to financial constraints and future exchanges between Russia and the West, Russia is unlikely to be able to have a large-scale and long-term present in Afghanistan. Besides, considering the conflicts and hostility between the Russians and the US, NATO, and the Arab allies of the US in the region, any likely involvement of the Russians in Afghanistan will have dire consequences for the Muslim people of Afghanistan and neighboring countries and the region, and would make the situation very complex.

In the current circumstances, the support of the national unity government and the neighboring countries for continuing the fight against Taliban or making a deal with the Taliban to establish peace in Afghanistan, to some extent can drive out the superpowers from Afghanistan.

By Alwaght