Military Review

Central Asia: if tomorrow is war


Political analyst Yerlan KARIN recently returned from Afghanistan, where he was able to talk with local experts and walk along the streets of Kabul. He told about his impressions, the upcoming presidential elections in this country, and preparations for the withdrawal of coalition troops in an interview with the newspaper Vremya.

- Four years ago, when Kazakhstan chaired the OSCE, several press tours to Afghanistan were organized. Colleagues who flew to Kabul, told about the same thing - it is insanely dangerous city and an incredibly dangerous country, especially for foreigners. Weren't you scared in Afghanistan? - Not very scary. The first impression is that Kabul is in a state of siege. American balloons hang over the city, shooting around the 50 km all that happens around, some military helicopters fly all the time, and, of course, even at the airport there are more military vehicles than civil ones. In Kabul itself, many checkpoints, pickups with armed men. The staff of our embassy, ​​who helped us both before arrival and during the trip, carefully instructed us. It is undesirable to walk unaccompanied on the street, shoot a lot, point the camera at people, especially women, and so on. Naturally, all these warnings and instructions could not be configured accordingly. Moreover, two days before our arrival in Kabul, in the Afghan capital, one of the biggest terrorist attacks took place lately - a Lebanese restaurant, popular among foreigners, was blown up. More than 20 people died, among them high-ranking UN staff. Therefore, increased security measures were introduced in the city, and the embassy in connection with this reduced our program - we planned to visit a number of provinces and leave Kabul. Although in general I would not say that after the attack of terrorists, Afghans and foreigners closed in their homes and did not go anywhere. There is a brisk trade in the bazaars, everyone is constantly going somewhere, there are a lot of cars and people on the streets. In Mazar-i-Sharif, it seems to be calm, there are no more soldiers and armed people on the street. And life there is in full swing - roads, schools, factories and business centers are being built. But, in general, Afghanistan is a place where you can not relax, where everything reminds you that the war is not over. From 2002 to 2011, Iraq and Afghanistan accounted for 35 percent of terrorist attacks in the world, and in recent years even more than 50 percent. According to the latest data, only in Kabul in January of this year, there were 16 attacks that killed 150 people. Although you get used to the state of martial law quickly. After a few days we quietly moved around, shot what we wanted. The embassy official, who sometimes accompanied us, admitted: after a while, fear dulled.

“What was the purpose of your trip?” I was not mainly interested in the situation in Afghanistan itself, but in some questions within the framework of my research project on terrorism. The Afghanistan-Pakistan border is one of the regions where all kinds of extremist associations are stationed. According to various estimates, there are more than 15 thousands of mercenaries from 75 countries in the Afghan-Pakistan zone! Going to Afghanistan, I decided not to focus only on the tasks of my topic, but to expand the list of issues and discuss with local experts the situation both in the country and in the region as a whole. I want to emphasize that I am not an expert on Afghanistan, so that people would not think that, having returned from there, I learned and understood everything about this country and now I can tell everything about it. There are stronger experts, but I wanted to personally see the situation myself.

- Did you manage to observe the election campaign? Elections are not far off - in April- No, the campaign has not yet started officially. But it was already known about the main contenders for the presidency: 11 candidates were registered in total. The incumbent head of state, Hamid Karzai, can no longer run, therefore he is trying to somehow influence the political situation. Karzai has not signed a security agreement with the United States, and this is the main topic right now - this is being discussed in offices, at home and on the street. Everyone assumes that this is the last opportunity for the current president to bargain for himself some political dividends or guarantees. There is no clear leader among the candidates; they call completely different people as candidates - the brother of the current President Kayum KARZAY, the former Foreign Minister Abdulla ABDULLU and others. But many are inclined to believe that there will not be a new president in Afghanistan in April. Most likely, it will not be possible to avoid the second round if the Taliban do not disrupt the vote at all. Therefore, local experts are inclined to negative scenarios - to the extent that elections can lead to a split of the country. But at the same time, everyone agrees that even if a new president is elected, he is unlikely to control the whole country.

“And how high is the probability that the vote will smoothly flow into a civil war?” “I would not frighten it, but everything is not easy, of course. On the one hand, in the current elite few people are interested in a new civil war. Many would like to maintain the status quo. Politicians, businessmen and the military are satisfied that there is strong financial support from the West. From Kabul airport almost daily flights depart to Dubai and Istanbul. Influential Afghans have real estate abroad, foreign bank accounts are open, in general, everyone is happy. And it is noticeable that the standard of living of the ruling elite has seriously increased in recent years. Although the common population lives just as bad as 10, and 20, and 30 years ago. People say this: Yesterday I had breakfast with a flat cake and tea, and today - with tea and a cake with butter! But if something bad happens, I will always have tea with a flat cake. In general, people seem to want stability, but they are preparing for the worst. For example, we were told that lately it has risen in price weapon, and all more or less wealthy citizens feverishly make themselves visas to any countries. By the elections, everyone expects an increase in terrorist attacks in Afghanistan. And on the first day of the beginning of the election campaign in Herat, the head of the campaign headquarters of the presidential candidate Dr. Abdullah in the province was killed. Officials from the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Interior during the meetings confidently said that 400 thousands of military can provide security in more than 6 thousands of polling stations across the country. We'll see.

- It was in 2014 that the coalition forces should leave Afghanistan. What are the Afghans waiting for from this event? ”“ The same as from the elections, they are buying automatic weapons and arming them. The upcoming withdrawal of the coalition forces and the development of the situation after that is now the main topic in political consultations and expert discussions. From Washington to Almaty, in London, Moscow, Tashkent, Shanghai, the last 2-3 of the year only discuss the prospects for Afghanistan after the 2014 of the year. Everyone cares about the question: how will the region live without American soldiers? Of course, mostly negative forecasts prevail. Most experts are confident that after the withdrawal of troops in the country, the deterrent will disappear and the bickering will begin, which will escalate into another war, and Afghanistan will again become a world refuge for all radicals, as it was under the Taliban. Of course, this scenario cannot be ruled out. The Afghans themselves say that they will be able to keep the situation under control: ostensibly today, 90 percent of military operations are planned and carried out by the local army. But I would still like to clarify: the American army will leave Afghanistan, but the military will remain. There will be a contingent from 20 to 30 thousand people, plus all the members of the coalition, some of the soldiers will also be based in Afghanistan. So far this is explained by the need to conduct local operations against individual groups of al-Qaida. In addition, the so-called PMCs, private military companies, will continue to operate in the country. Simply put, mercenaries. The most famous company is BlackWater. But even the reduction of the contingent does not mean that the political influence of the United States will decrease. Speaking figuratively, if Americans leave, it is not far and not completely.

- If Afghans are actively buying up weapons, how should the countries of Central Asia behave in anticipation of the withdrawal of troops from the region? After all, we are frightened with all our might that the drug traffic will increase, extremists will come in from all sides, the number of terrorist attacks will increase. And we are in full swing preparing for this. All recent exercises, including under the auspices of the CSTO, are linked to the Afghan scenarios. In addition, of course, there will be a revitalization of terrorist groups already operating in Central Asia. And to this, of course, also need to be prepared. By the way, speaking of the drug threat: the volume of opium plantations in Afghanistan has not diminished all these years, but only increased. From 83 thousand hectares in 2003 year to 209 thousand hectares in 2013 year! But, speaking of tension in Central Asia, it is necessary to understand that not only Afghanistan affects it. The first is affected by the deterioration of relations between the countries of the region. There is no need to go far for examples - recently, at the Tajik-Kyrgyz border, they have already fired at each other not only from machine guns, but now also from mortars. Please note that the number of conflicts between Central Asian countries is constantly growing, territorial disputes and disassembly of resources cannot be resolved. In short, the situation in the region is not the best. And it is in the hands of those who come to us from Afghanistan to recruit militants and train suicide bombers. In general, I believe that when there is no consolidation in the region, anything can be a source of conflict, not just the notorious Taliban from Afghanistan. Please note - the countries of Central Asia are increasing their combat power, they are actively purchasing military equipment and weapons, preparing for the possible consequences of the withdrawal of coalition troops. But in the end, these weapons are used against each other. I talked on this topic with one of the candidates for the presidency of Afghanistan. And he said an interesting thing: indeed, the forecasts of almost all are negative, all with fear are waiting for the withdrawal of troops and are afraid of returning to the past. But at the same time, if you just wait for what happens, then all these gloomy forecasts can come true. And in order to prevent the development of bad scenarios, we have to work day after day, to develop relations, and not to mine borders. By the way, Kazakhstan is one of the few countries that provides real assistance to Afghanistan, and these are not just humanitarian supplies, they are also educational grants for Afghan youth in 12 specialties. And this is a real contribution to the future of this country. Tomorrow, the citizens of Afghanistan will find a good job and will not take up arms. And we need to think about it now, and not when the coalition troops leave.
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  1. mountain
    mountain 7 February 2014 06: 57
    I agree, we must not think about war, but how to organize peace.
    1. Boris55
      Boris55 7 February 2014 07: 00
      Quote: mountain
      I agree, we must not think about war, but how to organize peace.

      If you want peace, prepare for war.
      With radical Islamists, with the Taliban, with mercenaries - it will not work out.
      1. mountain
        mountain 7 February 2014 07: 08
        We must always be ready for war, but it would not be bad to be able to negotiate, our history says that our ancestors did well.
  2. Horst78
    Horst78 7 February 2014 07: 08
    in order to prevent the development of bad scenarios, we must work day after day, develop relations, and not mine borders. By the way, Kazakhstan is one of the few countries that provides real assistance to Afghanistan, and this is not just humanitarian supplies, it is also educational grants for Afghan youth in 12 specialties. And this is a real contribution to the future of this country. Tomorrow, the citizens of Afghanistan will find a good job and will not take up arms. And we must think about it now, and not when the coalition troops leave.
    So it is necessary to continue to work, otherwise all finances are invested in weapons.
  3. Lk17619
    Lk17619 7 February 2014 07: 11
    In my opinion, if the USA REALLY leaves the region, then for a while there will be a kapets ... BUT! It’s all quickly settled down and these Taliban and other Islamists themselves. Remember what happened after the withdrawal of the USSR troops, so everything seemed to break loose, but quickly calmed down. And then the USA pushed on you ...
    1. Arhj
      Arhj 7 February 2014 13: 41
      When the body begins to fight the infection, there is a crisis first and only then a full recovery. But if the Americans settle somewhere in Uzbekistan, peace will not come. It's just that the "peacekeepers" will not allow it. Only the complete removal of the infection from the body leads to recovery. And Central Asia should be viewed precisely as an integral organism.
    2. alone
      alone 7 February 2014 18: 43
      Quote: Lk17619
      In my opinion, if the USA REALLY leaves the region, then for a while there will be a kapets ... BUT! It’s all quickly settled down and these Taliban and other Islamists themselves. Remember what happened after the withdrawal of the USSR troops, so everything seemed to break loose, but quickly calmed down.

      hmm .. a very dubious statement. Until the American invasion, there were fights between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban in Afghanistan. For 13 years there has been an uninterrupted war, a civil war. The last 35 years in Afghanistan the war did not stop for a minute.
  4. Anatole Klim
    Anatole Klim 7 February 2014 07: 11
    If the American contingent of 20-30 thousand people plus PMCs remains in Afghanistan, then the Taliban will not have time for Central Asia for a long time, but now we need to prepare for the worst.
  5. ia-ai00
    ia-ai00 7 February 2014 07: 11
    Americans, all over the Middle East - will stir up the "beehive" - ​​and fly away, glad that they "profited" - stuffed their pockets on it. I would like this "hive" to fly on the trail of the "troublemaker" of the calm, so that it would not be common anymore.
  6. svskor80
    svskor80 7 February 2014 07: 14
    Tomorrow, the citizens of Afghanistan will find a good job and will not take up arms. And we must think about it now, and not when the coalition troops leave.

    This is certainly wonderful, but where will they find work? In Afghanistan, if they find it, then not for long - terrorist attacks, war, etc. So you need to work abroad, that’s the whole contribution to the future. In my opinion, during the USSR, all this was completed; it does not work in Afghanistan. Extremists and radicals from the Arabian Peninsula should not be allowed into Afghanistan, and the Afghans themselves should be left alone, even if they live in their mountains under a feudal system.
    1. Kasym
      Kasym 7 February 2014 16: 15
      Good day, Sergey ! With the beginning of the Olympics YOU! We will cheer for OUR!
      By training, the Afghans themselves indicated which specialists are needed. These are doctors, teachers, agronomists, etc. .. Quotas for up to 1 students annually, divided into 000-4 courses. This is 5-200 specialists every year - not many, but this is at our expense. They themselves understand that hiring will be even more difficult. Who will go to the troubled region?
      It was always believed that accepting students from other states meant influencing the elite of this country. USSR, USA, Europe. Now China has begun to pursue such a policy (there are now 3 students from the Republic of Kazakhstan, ours say that there are no less from Russia). In vain, Sergei, you think that the study of Afghans in the USSR does not affect our relations in any way. At least 000% of specialists in Afghanistan are our graduates. So, in theory, they would now be united and created a party out of them, total. traffic . In short, a force that would be "ours" and support it in every possible way.
      And I don’t remember in the entire history of Afghanistan that they attacked anyone. To be distinguished by special belligerence. And until the 80s it was a pretty secular state. After the withdrawal of the main contingent, a civil war will begin. multinational state. The last time we went out, it got to the point that they were ready to accept the Taliban just to end the war. Only Masoud and Dostum in northern Afghanistan resisted them. Who will take power this time? Or will Afghanistan split (although this is unlikely - everyone will unite against the "pinched off")?
      There is no vacuum in the political arena. There will be no our influence, there will be Chinese, European or state (although the Afghans are now allergic to them). Hindus are super-active. Afghanistan is a strategic place in Asia (on the map China, India, Pakistan have huge markets; Iran, Central Asia, Russia to the north - rich in energy and natural resources. The denouement of Asia cannot be called otherwise. Therefore, it will always be in the spotlight. hi
  7. Stinger
    Stinger 7 February 2014 07: 16
    Lovers of planting democracy did not break off. The satellites of the NATO members, embroiled in an adventure, themselves screwed up. It turned out a complete zilch. But some fundamental goals have been achieved:
    Influential Afghans have real estate abroad, open accounts in foreign banks, in general, everyone is happy. And it is noticeable that the standard of living of the ruling elite has seriously grown in recent years.

    There is a small nuance:
    ordinary people live as poorly as 10, and 20, and 30 years ago.

    If the operation Take the legs off is successful, then the remaining contingent will be cut in less than a year, and the pack of vultures has already prepared for the drape. The Afghan people will be very grateful for science. As they say in advertising Spin will be grateful to you.
  8. ed65b
    ed65b 7 February 2014 08: 11
    Nothing is really clear from the article, the author went to Afghan, joked around Kabul, told us the latest market news and fears. In general, the article is not valid. There is nothing in it that we would not know. Without leaving Termez, I collect the same amount of information. And the name is not at all in the subject. It should be called "How I saw Kabul, a view from the market square"
    1. Lindon
      7 February 2014 16: 37
      Next time we will wait for your article.
      Actually, the guy was collecting information for a terrorism project. And the journalist wrote the article with his words. There is no analytics here. So watch out for criticism when the draft on terrorism issues is published.
      In one thing, you are right - a trip to Afghanistan has already become such a platitude - especially for the closest neighbors in the region.
  9. KG_patriot_last
    KG_patriot_last 7 February 2014 13: 00
    Commemorated in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic after the introduction of US troops in Afghanistan, there were problems motivated by religious extremism.
    They simply squeezed everyone out to neighboring countries, and now, after 10 years, when they took root, they want to leave the affected area and see how these newly-charged places get involved in a common Afghan cauldron.
    1. Lindon
      7 February 2014 16: 32
      The cause-effect relationship is far-fetched and is not supported by anything.
      Yes - the growth of Islamism was - especially after 11.09.2001 and the Americans immediately flew in. But this surge was a reaction to the invasion of strangers in an Islamic country - jihad received another reason. The roots have been planted long ago since the war in Afghanistan - what we saw was already shoots.
      1. KG_patriot_last
        KG_patriot_last 7 February 2014 17: 10
        do not you think that you wrote what I did? belay