Afghan knot in Central Asia

The end of America’s geopolitical dominance in Afghanistan brings to mind the metaphor of Stephan Jay Gould’s “time’s arrow, time’s cycle” (metaphor1987). Bearing in mind that the there is still disagreement over whether Considering the dichotomy whether the international political history resembles a cycle or an arrow, one may assume that Afghanistan does appear to resemble the “time’s circle” is at work in Afghanistan image where a series of domination attempts at domination have alternatedly switch between great powers and the Taliban since the 1980s. The U.S. has completed the withdrawal process by the August 31 deadline, and has now de facto stepped back from the regional status quo. obviously, the sudden collapse of the Afghan government and U.S.-backed national security forces, equipped and trained by NATO over the last 20 years, have shown the limits of American power and strategic mindset. The militant group is now desperately seekings for international legitimacy, as it projects a changed face.seeks to seem changed. IfAs it grows ever more powerful, any possible reversion to the old violent governance patterns of, as in the mid-1990s’ Taliban-led regime, will become clear in the coming days.

Since the group hasr ecaptured the country, the tragic aftermath events, including the troubling scenes which were initially witnessed at the Kabul Airport and followed by then the deadly explosions, have unfolded so fast quickly that they have left the entire world reeling. ,have terrified the whole world. In fact, these events have revealed that significant power shifts are gradually taking en place, and that various regional actors and individual ethnic groups are already on the rise, alongside the Taliban. In more concrete terms, the military victory and expanding role of the Taliban across the country has motivated and prompted Al-Qaida, Daesh/ISIS-K, the Haqqanis and various other ethnic/religious terror militias to take action, not to mention thousands of criminals and terrorists released from the Afghan prisons since the fall of the country government. Worrying ly enough, further attacks are expected, in particular under the threat of Daesh-K, which could lead to much greater humanitarian crises in the landlocked country, unless security and stability are somehow ensured in the short term.


Many, if not the Taliban, see the formation of a new government in Afghanistan as a puzzle and hard to achieve in the current context. Given various factors, including the deterioration of the security environment, economic collapse of the country, ethnic diversity of the population and the lack of diplomatic support, it may take months for a “non-state actor” like the Taliban to establish the necessary state-rebuilding mechanisms. On the other hand, it should be kept in mind that the group has acquired some leverage to achieve that. The absence of state authority, advantage of psychological warfare, possession of many newly-acquired weapons of all kind which were left behind by the U.S. and Afghan military, the close links with other factions in the neighborhood as well as being able to freely move in and out of the country, all provide opportunities for the Taliban to turn these gains into successes in the short run.


Afghanistan, centered situated in at the world’s “heartland”, is a crossroad country with rich natural resources. And yet, under the circumstances, it is undergoing a redistribution of power by both internal and external actors. Uncertainty has now generated a power struggle among various actors. Within this context; more than Pakistan, Turkey and Iran, the two great regional powers, China and Russia, can be said to be theare the new power brokers. Both hold predominant positions in the Eurasian continent, and both are determined to rapidly foster their regional status and political influence in the post-withdrawal period. China approaches its relations with the Taliban strategically and pragmatically so as to promote its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and prevent insurgency from Muslim separatist Uighurs in north-western Xinjiang province. Russia also seeks a working relationship with the Taliban to deter radicalism, mainly in the Central Asian states, and so ensure safety oin its borders. once security is largely provided, it is likely to be more engaged with the country for its geostrategic objectives.

While the U.S. has left the regional dynamics in a state of flux, this does not necessarily mean that Washington will completely abandon the region. on the contrary, the U.S. is expected to follow its hegemonic ideals in the broader sense, for its so-called “Asia-Pivot” strategy towards China, and to contain the growing role of Russia. Nevertheless, the current picture shows that there is a slim chance of the U.S. to be successful in the short term as its foreign policy has become far less imprudent and unpredictable while the others are already playing the major roles. Evidently, the U.S. has not been able to control the Taliban in over two decades, nor does it currently seem ready to deal with its consequences. In contrast, Turkey has negotiated smoothly with the Taliban since the beginning, and has sometimes become a passive spectator. It safely evacuated its troops from Kabul. Negotiations continue for the possible joint Kabul Airport mission of Ankara and Doha, for the time being.

Overall, the Doha-based peace deal between the Trump administration and the Taliban in early 2020 was obviously the calm before the storm. With the removal of NAT• military guarantee in Afghanistan, intense conflict and great-power competition have returned to Afghanistan. Whether a “time’s circle” or a vicious circle exist, it is not hard to predict that a “back to the future” scenario is already taking place in the war-torn country, drifting towards a civil war again. As the country is increasingly plunged into more chaos, the worsening of the situation could even turn into a brutal proxy war that might spread into the Fergana Valley, which isthe most ethnically and culturally diverse area in the north outside of Afghanistan. It is even feared that with the domino effect of the already destabilized Middle East region, a much catastrophic geopolitical crisis may stretch towards the more complicated East Turkestan area where many extremist movements take place in Central Asia reside..

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