US Secretary of State John Kerry began his Central Asian tour with a visit to Samarkand, where on November 1 the first five-plus-one meeting took place. An agreement on which was reached in advance, during the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in September in New York, that is, before the Russian military aviation began operations in Syria. Many experts believe that this voyage of the main American diplomat to Central Asia is a response to Moscow’s military assistance to Damascus. I dare to assume that this is not so or not quite so. What the US Secretary of State in Central Asia is doing, far from the borders of his country, I would call systematic work to maintain world domination and strengthen Washington’s political influence.
FIVE PLUS ONE FORMAT
Central Asia (Central Asia) has always been under the watchful eye of the government and intelligence agencies of the United States, but at the present time the importance of this region is of particular importance to them. First of all, it must be borne in mind that the war in Afghanistan is far from complete, but the states are still determined to defend their political interests in the regions north of Afghan territory. By controlling Central Asia, they can, to varying degrees, influence the processes occurring throughout Asia.
In addition, Washington’s global projects “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership” and “Trans-Pacific Partnership” can be seriously hampered by another international project “New Silk Road”. The US seems intent to intervene here and complicate the implementation of this trans-Asian project. Washington is also very concerned about the active foreign policy of Moscow and, according to the head of the military department Ashton Carter, is taking “new options for action” to contain Russia, including by military methods. And yet, the American administration considers the economic and, accordingly, the military power of China, which, by the way, has a strong influence in Central Asia, a challenge that has significantly increased in recent decades.
What is the newly created organization “five plus one” and what tasks, besides economic, should it solve? The structure of this closed club included five Central Asian countries - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, the role of moderator, of course, goes to the United States. One of the key issues that was discussed at the Samarkand meeting was the issue of security in connection with the situation in Afghanistan.
It is striking that the two powers, whose interest in security in this region is much more pronounced than that of Washington, namely Russia and China, were not present at this meeting. It is likely that the United States intends to create here some alternative to the organization of a collective security treaty (CSTO), which includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. And also, it seems, Washington is going to drive a wedge into the body of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). It can be assumed that the Americans are not so much concerned about the security of this region, as their political and military presence in it.
Over the 13 years of the Afghanistan war, the United States achieved the same result by the end of the 2014 year as the USSR did by the 1986 year. Washington does not control the Afghan territory militarily, although the US military presence remains there. The US military contingent, as well as soldiers of other NATO countries and other coalition member states, whose total number does not exceed 13 thousand bayonets, is aimed mainly at self-defense and support of the allied government in Kabul. Which, despite having its own army, is still held by foreign bayonets. The involvement of the Central Asian countries in the military-political alliance will allow Washington to keep troops in the region, on the territory of non-belligerent countries. First of all, Americans can rely on Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, but with good luck and for more. To fulfill its plan to "contain" Moscow, states, of course, need Kazakhstan bordering on Russia. It is unlikely that they plan to send troops into this Central Asian country, but to create another “Ukraine” near Russia, torn by contradictions, it would be quite suitable for them.
US Secretary of State inspects
sights of Samarkand. Reuters Photos
sights of Samarkand. Reuters Photos
COMPARING RESULTS OF TWO WARS
As Napoleon said, “money is the blood of war,” and we will begin with it. The average annual war costs in Afghanistan for the USSR in 1979 – 1989 were 6,143 billion dollars, for the USA in 2001 – 2014 approximately 10 times more - 60,1 billion dollars. According to American media, only Washington spent up to 5 million per hour Afghanistan, there is still need to add on the budget of the troops of other members of the coalition. The cost of staying a US soldier in this war per year was more than a million dollars for the American treasury.
Losses among personnel, in equipment, armaments of the USSR Armed Forces are many times greater than those of the Americans. But let's face it. Along with Western countries, Pakistan, Iran, China, the Persian Gulf states and some North African countries supported the Afghan opposition, which fought against the troops of the USSR and the DRA. The West at the beginning of the 1980's managed to organize the isolation of the USSR to some extent. The world community blamed Moscow for the war in Afghanistan and the downed Boeing South Korean airline. Against this background, in fact, a coalition of states fought against the USSR in Afghanistan.
During the nine years of that war, the Union lost about 15 thousand military personnel, 118 aircraft, 333 helicopters, 147 killed tanks, 1314 armored vehicles, 433 units of barreled and rocket artillery, 510 engineering vehicles, 11 369 trucks and tankers.
Dushmans who fought against the Shuravi received over $ 10 billion worth of weapons from their sponsors. During this war, special forces of the United States and Great Britain carried out a number of secret operations against our troops and armed forces. By the end of 1982, the United States had established a supply of explosives and mines, various small-caliber rifles. weapons, grenade launchers, mortars and MANPADS. According to the Pentagon, the Afghan guerrillas received 1000 Stinger MANPADS, of which fewer were used 350 units. A certain amount of Stinger was later bought out by the US Department of State from the local bureaucrats, but more than 400 complexes remained in Afghanistan.
The coalition led by the United States during the invasion of Afghanistan, compared with the Soviets, was simply in greenhouse conditions. In fact, she fought only against the Afghan partisans (mainly against the Taliban), who received weapons from the Afghan National Army (ANA), from China and very limited quantities from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia (and some other Gulf countries and North Africa) . But despite this, having spent over 13 years of war more than 715 billion dollars, the coalition came to the same result as the “shuravi” in 1986, that is, the need to curtail this unpromising military campaign as soon as possible. On 1 November 2014, at the time when the operation with the ridiculous name “Enduring Freedom”, and in fact the long war that lasted from 2001 to the end of 2014, was declarative, but not actually completed, the coalition’s losses were 7442 people killed. I do not know on what principle Washington determined the end of this war. In reality, it is not complete, and so far it has no end in sight. But it seems that now the American leadership simply does not want to bring the duration of this war to a tragic mark in 15 years. They don’t like this number in Washington, it reminds of the ingloriously lost 1959 – 1975 war in Vietnam. But no matter how cool, the new coalition operation led by the United States with the pathetic name “Resolute Support” is nothing more than a continuation of the Afghan war launched in 2001, but in a more sluggish mode.
AFGHAN NATIONAL ARMY
As you know, since January 1, 2015, the alliance declaratively does not fight the war in Afghanistan, NATO is only carrying out Operation Decisive Support. That is, with 1 in January, it is believed that Kabul is fighting on its own. Currently, there are 178-thousandth army and police forces at the disposal of the government of Afghanistan, which number up to 150 thousand people, besides there are self-defense detachments in which up to 30 thousand people are involved.
After the withdrawal of the Soviet troops, the regime of Najibullah had a smaller, but better armed army under its gun. The Soviet Union then left at the disposal of Kabul 763 tank, 129 BMP, 1225 BTR and BRDM, 2609 units of receiver and rocket artillery, 226 aircraft and 89 helicopters (including shock and transport), about 13 thousand vehicles.
The modern army of Afghanistan (ANA), in fact, remained without attack jet aircraft. As for combat helicopters, their number has more than doubled compared to 1986 a year. The armament of the ANA was carried out from the arsenals of the NATO countries, the states that were former participants of the Warsaw Pact, the former Soviet republics and now is a very heterogeneous mixture created according to the principle “from the world out ...”, no systematic and planned character, mixed European, American, Chinese , Soviet, Russian samples, the list goes on. Such diversity in armament creates many problems in the provision of ammunition, spare parts, and HMS. In addition, there is a significant reduction in the fleet of armored vehicles, primarily due to the problems of supply, the unsatisfactory repair base and the lack of trained personnel to operate it. The number of barreled, recoilless and rocket artillery units has decreased by approximately five times (compared to the 1986 year). The United States, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Turkey, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Albania, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania took part in the supply of weapons and equipment for the ANA. I’ll add one more touch finally: c 2013, Georgian military instructors were involved in training Afghan soldiers.
Despite the efforts made by the coalition, the low fighting capacity of the Afghan troops, poor discipline, general desertion remained at about the same level as it was in 1979 – 1989 years. In addition, there is currently a large shortage of qualified commanders and specialists in the ANA.
Organizationally, the Army of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (IRA) consists of seven brigade corps, whose headquarters are located in major cities: Kabul, Gardez, Kandahar, Herat, Mazari Sharif, Lashkar Gah. In 2011, special commando forces were created, which are currently the most combat-ready part of the ANA. If you believe the published data, their number is about 12 thousand bayonets.
There is another interesting detail - this is the national composition of the ANA. According to the information provided by the experts, the majority of servicemen of the ANA are representatives of the northern peoples of Afghanistan, more than 35% are Tajiks, less than 10% are Uzbeks, a little higher than 10% are Hazaras, about 5% are Turkmen, aimaks and other nationalities. The share of Pashtuns remains no more than 40% of the total personnel, although traditionally the army of Afghanistan was mainly formed from Pashtuns. This is explained by the fact that the modern army was created on the basis of the Northern Alliance units, the backbone of which were the Tajiks and Uzbeks. This detail is very interesting, and we will return to it.
In one of his interviews, the former governor of Kunduz, Muhammad Umar Safi, said that the IG (the Islamic State terrorist group is banned in Russia) noticeably intensified in the provinces of Kunduz, Takhar, Badakhshan, in the counties bordering Tajikistan, in the province of Baghlan, where they are recruited supporters among Tajiks, as well as in the province of Faryab, which borders with Turkmenistan, with a predominantly Uzbek population. According to General Zaman Vaziri, IS recruiters in particular have succeeded in recruiting young people to their ranks in Kunar province. In Nuristan, the IG found fertile ground for the dissemination of their ideas. The fact is that the Nuristanis were not Muslims for just any 130 years and called them kafirs (“cockroaches” - a swear word for infidels), and only at the end of the XIX century they were converted to Islam by Pashtuns, and this appeal was not bloodless. The Islamists skillfully take advantage of the fact that there are some interethnic contradictions between the Nuristanis and the Pashtuns, the Tadzhiks and the Pashtuns, etc. The IG has the greatest success in regions with a non-Pushtun Sunni population.
The Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, Anatoly Antonov, confirmed that the IG has recently significantly intensified in areas near the north-western borders of Afghanistan. In particular, he said: “We are celebrating the growing influence of the Islamic State in Afghanistan, which has already settled in 25 from the 34 provinces of the republic. At the same time, the group is trying to gain a foothold in neighboring Pakistan, on the territory of which we record attempts by emissaries of the “Islamic State” to conduct recruitment work and establish contacts with other terrorist groups. ”
According to the publisher Al Jaseera in the IG battle groups there are a lot of non-Afghans. Combat detachments of the province of Khorasan (a province of the “Islamic state” banned in the Russian Federation) are waging a fierce war with both government forces and other rebel organizations that do not recognize the supreme power of the caliph (al-Baghdadi). Policemen captured by captives, soldiers of the ANA, fighters of self-defense detachments and the Taliban are subjected to cruel executions. The militants of the IG are armed with small arms, and possibly light artillery, I admit that they have grenade launchers and MANPADS. They also have explosives in their arsenal, use partisan tactics characteristic of the Islamists, in which suicide bombers play an important role. According to information leaked to the media, IG enjoys the support of Pakistan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. And here it is necessary to make a very substantial reservation. For example, in Sinai, the “branch” of the IG is the local militant Islamist organization Ansar Beit al-Magdi, which in fact is only affiliated with the IG, that is, its members swore allegiance to the caliphate. The same thing happens, for example, in Libya, where a number of completely independent Islamist groups, such as Ansar al-Sharia, swore allegiance to the IS and operate under its banner, the same happened in Nigeria, where the local Islamist organization Boko Haram "declared itself part of the IG. In Afghanistan, the "branch" of the IG - the Vilayat Khorasan - of course, did not arise from scratch, representatives of various local Islamist groups joined its ranks, but it was organized purposefully precisely as an IG structure. There are too many foreigners in the current combat squads, Arabs dominate among the leaders. In addition, there is a strong organizational impact on this group from the outside, and the central structure of the Islamic State can hardly provide assistance from Syria (and Iraq) to its Afghan “branch” now.
Oddly enough, the emergence of the IG in Afghanistan was at an opportune moment at a difficult moment for the coalition forces of NATO countries and allies of the alliance. One would like to exclaim: “Yes, this is nothing but the American famous system of checks and balances, projected onto international relations!” For Kubul to be more compliant, there is a horror story for him - the Taliban, for which another horror story is created - the IS. Honestly, this method is as old as the world. In ancient Rome, it sounded like this - Divide et impera (divide and conquer). Using this principle, the British Empire reigned supreme for about 100 years, from the date of the Battle of Waterloo (July 18, 1815) to the beginning of World War I (formally, July 28, 1914, the day of the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo). Now it is used by the dominant modern empire in the world (I really don’t know which Rome is) - the USA.
There is one more detail that should not escape our attention. The fact is that potential recruits for IG in Central Asia are Sunni Muslims: Tajiks, Uzbeks, Turkmen, Nuristanis, but by no means Pushtuns. More precisely, there cannot be a massive influx of Pashtuns into this Islamist organization, let's see why. Sunnis in Afghanistan make up roughly 80% of the total population. In this country, as, indeed, almost everywhere in Central Asia, the Hanafi madhhab (religious and legal system) and the theological school Deobandi predominate. In addition, in this region, the Nakshbandi Sufi Order is very influential in spiritual terms. Let me remind you once again that it is in Syria and Iraq, where the Sunnis also adhere to the interpretation of Shana law in Hanafi and where the Naqshbandi Tariqah has a great influence, the Islamic State has emerged. But in the IG, the Salafi ideology predominates, which, in fact, denies all madhhabs (the Sunnites have the greatest influence on four madhhabs) and orders to resolve legal issues and regulate their life and relations among members of the Ummah (Muslim community), as well as all domestic and foreign policy issues Guided only by primary sources, including the Al Quran, Sunnah (Prophet’s life), Haditha and Fatwa (governing orders), issued by the first two righteous caliphs. Salafis, for example, believe that the Kaaba in Mecca must be destroyed as a pagan pre-Islamic religious object. As we can see, the alliance between the adherents of the Salafi ideology, the followers of the Hanafi madhhab and the adherents of the Naqshbandi tariqah is quite possible.
DO NOT REMEMBER THE TALIBAN CALCULATION
Yes, the Pashtuns (overwhelmingly) are Sunni, adhere to the Hanafi madhhab and the views of the Deobandi theological school, some of them are adherents of the Naqshbandi Sufi Order. But they are also very strictly guided by the Pushtunwali (the unwritten law of the life of the Pashtun), much more strictly than the North Caucasian peoples, they adad (local traditions). Perhaps one of the Pashtuns was in the ranks of the IG, but this state will continue until the ideology of the IG comes into conflict with Pashtunvali. Further, the choice for everyone will be obvious, a person will either want to be Pashtun (to do Pashtunvali), or to give up his roots (which is impossible for Pashtun) and become a Salafi. Of course, there are outcasts in any nation, some of the Pashtuns (namely, the Pashtuns are the backbone of the Taliban) can abandon their kind, tribe, people, but these will be few.
October and the beginning of November of this year were marked by the intensification of the military actions of the Taliban. They are fighting in most Afghan provinces against government forces and IS troops. This time, the areas where the Tajik and Uzbek population hostile to the Taliban were subjected to bold attacks. In early October, the Taliban took control of several counties of the province of Kunduz and the city of Kunduz itself (which was then left by them without a fight). Further, in the Dakar district, the Afghan province of Takhar, bordering Tajikistan, the Taliban attacked army positions, roadblocks, police cordons and stations on the night of 27 on October 28, and administrative institutions were attacked. By morning, the county was completely under the control of the rebels. In late October - early November, small battles took place in the provinces of Badakhshan, Uruzgan, Kandahar, Helmand, Paktia and Paktika. In the province of Zabul (where the majority of the population are Pashtuns), local fights have been going on for a week between the Taliban, with military success, and the provinces of Khorasan (IG). Military operations engulfed Arghandab, Khaki-Afghan and Daichopan counties. Here the paramilitary groups of the IG are defeated on all counts.
There were many criticisms of my article “Kabul needs urgent help” (see “NVO” No. 39). The veteran officers of the USSR Armed Forces who fought in Afghanistan indicated that they could not support the Taliban and believe the statements that the goal of the Taliban was only to restore sovereign Afghanistan as an emirate within the borders of the 1989 of the year. I want to emphasize once again - I am not pleading for the support of the Taliban, but only point out that the backbone consists of Pashtuns. Of course, there is no agreement between them, the tribes and clans of this anthropologically non-identical people are constantly at odds with each other, but at some point, if there is a common threat, they are able to consolidate. Do not forget about the law of "blood feud" among Pashtuns. According to Pashtunvali, revenge must be committed, no matter how long it takes (a year or a century does not matter), and this is an honor for Pashtun. Why, tell me, does Russia multiply for itself “bloodlines” when there is no vital need for this? I can say this about rendering possible military assistance to this movement: the weapons transferred to the Taliban can be in anyone’s hands (as the Americans say - only business, nothing personal). In addition, if Russia openly engages with the Taliban, for the West this will be another reason to accuse our country of "supporting terrorists." And this despite the fact that the representative of the US military department, Captain Jeff Davis, told reporters two weeks ago during a briefing about plans of the American command, which provides for operations against Islamist groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda, the IG is also viewed as a possible opponent. but not the Taliban.
Moreover, he stressed that Washington views the Taliban as an important reconciliation partner. True, it is not entirely clear which of the Taliban groups, in whose ranks there is no unity, was meant by the representative of the Pentagon.
GOVERNMENT OF AFGHANISTAN
First of all, I want to note that Afghanistan has an observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). There are also a number of signed formal intergovernmental agreements between our countries, including an agreement on cooperation in the fight against illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors. There are other nongovernmental agreements. Here, perhaps, is all that can be said about official partnership relations between Moscow and Kabul. At the international conference on Afghanistan that went on 8 – 9 in Moscow in October, Army General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, said it was necessary “to assist the leadership of Afghanistan” (see the article “Kabul needs urgent assistance”, “NVO” No. 39). Intention is good, but let us, before drawing conclusions, see what the present government in Kabul is.
The IRA was represented at the Moscow conference by the Vice-President, General Abdul-Rashid Dostum. The name in our country is well known, this military leader at one time fought for the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA), one can say that he sympathizes with Russia. It should be noted that nothing anti-Russian was said from the lips of the current president and prime minister of the IRA. But we must not forget that this government, like the previous one, came to power thanks to the intervention of the military coalition led by the United States. That is, Kabul is entirely under the influence of Washington. It is not difficult to guess which side the current ruling elite of Afghanistan is in in the Russian-American contradictions. I am sure that Kabul does not take a single decision without consulting with Washington, since it depends entirely on him. For example, only for the maintenance of the Afghan security forces is required up to 8 billion dollars annually, which is already several times higher than the budget of the country, add here considerable expenses for the army. It is not only about foreign bayonets that are vital for the protection of the current Afghan leadership; without financial support from the United States, Kabul will not last a week.
In the last election, a large number of the country's population did not participate, this is evident from their results. It is no secret that most of the Afghan Pashtun tribes (and not only Pashtuns) simply do not recognize the power of Kabul. Not long ago, the heads of the Pashtun tribes, a number of Afghan politicians, former ministers, suggested Kabul to assemble a “great tribal council” - the Loya Jirga, as it was done in the distant past, on which to consider the government of Afghanistan, to which there was no answer. Most likely not follow.
It is no secret that the current Afghan leadership does not control most of the country, despite the fact that NATO troops are still present in Afghanistan. Consider the option when these troops leave the country. Naturally, the ruling elite can really rely only on the armed forces loyal to it, the army, the police, special services, the militia. Much has already been said about the fighting qualities of the armed forces of Afghanistan. I don’t undertake to predict how long the current government will hold out without the military presence of the West, but I know for sure that it’s not for long. When the pro-American government falls, what will happen in this case with the armed forces of Afghanistan?
Now it's time to return to the national composition of the ANA. But first I want to remind you that in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and other countries of the Central Asian five (how do you like this new term? I propose to introduce it into circulation, for accuracy of understanding, I inform you that it includes five former Soviet Central Asian republics, and now five independent states, namely Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan) there are already Islamic illegal organizations affiliated with the IG. And these are the northern neighbors of Afghanistan.
If we talk about the Pashtun part of the army of Afghanistan, then this is 40% of its composition, potential deserters, those who can easily go over to the Taliban side. The rest, most of the armed forces of Afghanistan (Tajiks, Uzbeks, Turkmens, aimaks, who profess Sunni Islam, but unlike the Pashtuns are not guided by the Pashtunvali) may well be in the ranks of the IS fighters. It’s logical that these fighters will easily go to war to the north, beyond the borders of Afghanistan - to their “historical homeland ”(Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, etc.) in order to return its brothers to the bosom of“ true, primordial, Salafi Islam. ”
We return to the question of the possibility of supplying Russian-made weapons to Afghanistan: if this is a business, the possibility of making a profit prevails here; and if we are talking about free deliveries, then ... there is something to think about. Well, say for God's sake, why donate your weapon free of charge into the hands of your potential enemy?
Let me remind you that the ANA is now in a miserable state, to put it mildly, and despite this fact, it (in the event NATO’s final withdrawal from Afghanistan) can pose a significant potential threat to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan (as, indeed, to other Central Asian countries). ). It is not difficult to assume that the United States can use the current (or deliberately created) situation to deploy its troops, air defense systems, missile defense, as well as launchers of medium-range missiles in these countries. For example, Tashkent or Ashkhabad will be intractable (which is unlikely), then an invasion from the south, the overthrow of secular rulers and the establishment of Islamist power awaits them. And the IG in this regard is a great horror story, this organization is already famous for its bloodthirstiness (this image is intelligently cultivated from the first days of the IG existence, and in this the influence of Western “marketing” culture is noticeable).