The current affairs in Afghanistan are quite unsteady and deeply affect the stability of the entire Central Asian region. What is the reason?
Firstly, the analysis shows the construction of democratic Afghanistan, which was carried out under the supervision of and with the active participation of the United States and OtherNATO countries for 14 years, has very modest results. Having spent more than 700 bln. dollars over the years, the international coalition has managed to create all the accoutrements of power in this country. Nevertheless, the power in-situ belongs to the leaders of the tribal groups, and to the Taliban and other anti-government forces in some districts. The Taliban, for example, act openly in the territory of some districts such as the provinces OfBadakhshan, Kandahar, Helmand and Kunduz, and Afghan troops control only their roadblocks and do not cross them. The Taliban collects taxes from farmers and entrepreneurs, supervise the courts and schools in a number of controlled districts. Shariatjudges resolve land and any other disputes between local residents. The Taliban and other anti-government groups in poorly government-controlled areas determine the learning content in local schools.
In essence, the government in Afghanistan, despite the presence of its own army and security forces, persists due to the presence of foreign military forces, led by the United States.
Secondly, the ethnic problems are still unsolved.
Afghan society has historically divided into the ethnic groups, which were in conflict with each other for a long period. In fact, conflict is a struggle for the distribution of power and bears an ethnic nature, since the Pashto is fighting with other ethnic groups, in particular, with the Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras.
Thirdly, the pervasive corruption is a major problem in Afghanistan and this dramatically suspends recovery of the country's economy. The study of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, held in conjunction with the anti-corruption agency of Afghanistan, states that the amount of bribes has increased by 40% in comparison with 2009 .
In the long term, the rich natural resources could constitute the basis for the country’s economic recovery. However, if corruption stays on the current level, there is no point in wagering on this.
Foiirthly, there are very strong positions of drug traffickers, fused with the bureaucratic apparatus at the highest level. According to the UN Special Commission Report, the opium areas hit the record high in 2014 by extending to more than 220 thousands hectares. Meanwhile, the harvest was also a record, i.e. by 7% higher than a year earlier, and 3 times more than in the year 2002. More than 80% of world production of opium poppies grows in Afghanistan . There is an increase of drug use among the country population.
According to the official reports, the United States spent nearly 3 bln. US dollars for diverse law-enforcement measures against drug production. At the same time, the report of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) shows that all US intelligence agencies are annually able to intercept and confiscate pure heroin produced from Afghan raw materials, amounting to no more than 12.7 million dollars .
Pursuant to the compilers of the report from SIGAR Office, more than 410,000 people are being employed in opium production in Afghanistan. Opium is the most valuable and the only commercial crop of the country in fact.
Therefore, the report of US government agency, which is responsible for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, noted that the enormous profits from the opium trade defeat the purpose of development of the legal economy and business for Afghans and threaten the future of the state.
Fifthly, Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world, and grinding poverty pushes a significant part of its population to aiding the Taliban and other anti-government groupings.
As per the experts' opinion, the international assistance amounts to up to 90% of the current costs of the Afghanistan government for the development. Significant reduction of such assistance could have extremely negative consequences for Afghanistan, where more than 70% of the population lives on the breadline (less than $ 2 a day), and most of population is unemployed.
The United States together with other NATO countries are planning to allocate annually four milliard dollars to equip and train Afghan security forces. The amount is serious enough, i.e. almost a fifth part of the country’s GDP The question is the efficiency of its use. According to the experience of previous years, the huge amounts of money allocated to the Afghanistan as international aid were not always used for their intended purpose, notwithstanding the ongoing control from the United States and other countries. This problem became even more acute in the current year, as many Afghan politicians and officials have become accustomed to the big money that came into the country in the last 14 years. Some of them have already started to look for new sources of income and alterna- five sponsors.
Over the 2015, the Taliban and other antigovernment forces have stepped up their activities against the lack of commitment of the Afghan army and police alone to perform security tasks on almost the entire territory of Afghanistan. The particular concern is their activity in the northern Afghan provinces (Takhar, Kunduz, Badakhshan, Baghlan, Samangan, Batgiz, and Faryab).
The number of militants of international terrorist groups is increased due to the low effectiveness of Afghan security forces in a number of provinces. There are immigrants from Pakistan and the Middle East, Russia, Central Asian and Chinese Xinjiang among them.
In 2015, the activity of the "Islamic state” sharply increased in the various regions of Afghanistan. According to different estimates, the number of militants of the international terrorist organization in the country could reach three thousand people, and their number is constantly growing. 
There was recently active recruitment of Islamic State’s supporters among the non-Pashtu Sunni population on the territory bordered with Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
Now, due to the considerable reduction of number of international military forces in Afghanistan and no need to keep fighting against an external enemy, the Islamic States militants make the supporters to fight against anti-government groups.
During the last two months the clashes between the Taliban groups and non-government troups and even the Islamic State forces have dramatically increased in most of Afghan provinces. Thus, in the first half of October, the Taliban took control of several districts of Kunduz province and captured the provincial capital - the city of Kunduz, then took it lying down. In late October, Dakar district of Takhar province bordering Tajikistan was fell under control of the Taliban. At the end of October - beginning OfNovember this year there were clashes in the provinces OfBadakhshan, Kandahar, Helmand, Paktia, Uruzgan, Paktika and Zabul. In the latter of these provinces, battle between the Taliban militants and Islamic State’s militants (Vilayat Khorasan) is being fought.
All this shows that the situation in Afghanistan is escalating, and the current top country's leadership is unable to control most of the country, despite the presence of US and OtherNATO countries’ troops in the country.
Therefore, the problem of readiness of Afghan security forces to confront the Taliban and other anti-government forces is important.
In order the Afghan army, police and intelligence service to efficiently maintain order and fight against anti-government forces, they should not only have training. The ideological motivation of Afghan soldiers and police officers is not less important, as many of them come to the service only based on a guaranteed income. Numerous facts of transition of Afghan military and police officers with weapons to the militants show still low efficiency of ideological work in the army and police. The continuing desertion of the Afghan army is evidenced hereof.
Therefore, it is too early to talk about the willingness and ability of the country’s leadership to ensure security and peace in the land of Afghanistan without the effective support of the foreign troops.
As it is known, at the end of September 2014, the leaders of the Islamic Movement OfUzbekistan (IMU) announced their joining to the militants of the “Islamic state”. Since the Taliban in several regions of Afghanistan began to perceive the armed Islamic State’s groups as rivals and they are often trying to destroy them, then there are serious concerns that in the event of the defeat, the latter will seek refuge in neighbouring countries, including Central Asia countries. In case of its extending beyond the Afghan territory, there will be a serious security threat to the whole region. The expansion of radical Islam against the background of economic and social problems can significantly exacerbate the existing intrastate instability and local external conflicts over territorial disputes, water distribution, transit of goods, etc.
Militants with experience of the armed struggle in Syria and Afghanistan may filter into the Fergana valley, waiting for the right moment to use the contradictions between its peoples and to provoke a large-scale inter-ethnic conflict.
All of them are well armed, have combat experience and are ideologically grounded. Some of them are now settled in the north of Afghanistan, in the province of Taloqan, the similar groups are present in Kunduz in Afghanistan’s Badakhshan Province. A large group is concentrated in the province of Faryab, i.e. on the border with Turkmenistan, where there are constant clashes. Therefore, the Turkmen-Afghan border could also become one of the possible directions in the destabilization of the Central Asia situation.
It is worth mentioning the fact that a considerable number of people from Central Asian countries now receive real combat experience in Iraq and Syriaunderthe leadership of enough qualified officers in the ranks OfcTslamic State”. Attempts to use combat skills to undermine the situation in Central Asia from the inside are not excluded after their return.
Areasonable question arises: are the leaders of Central Asian states aware of the danger of the invasion of armed groups and militias, and are their law enforcement agencies willing to deal with them?
Demonstrative refusal of Turkmenistan to take part in any integration projects in the post- Soviet space, as well as changing position of Uzbekistan in accordance with a certain balance of forces in the region hardly provides guaranteed protection of the independence of these countries. It rather creates a threat to independence. However, the situation wifi not be changed until the external factors get catastrophic character.
Meanwhile, Turkmenistan, whose border with Afghanistan is more than 740 km, has to rely on barbed wire and ditches established on the border. How much it will be a serious obstacle to Islamist armed groups, especially in the wilderness, in the desert is a rhetorical question.
Uzbekistan, whose border with Afghanistan is much smaller (137 km), also takes all measures to strengthen it. To provide practical assistance in ensuring the reliable protection of the border, the groups “Border guards” were formed to assist the frontier troops from among the local people.
Tajikistan, whose border with Afghanistan is about 1,350 km, faces the most difficult problem. In many areas, it runs in a remote mountainous area and it is extremely difficult to ensure its reliable protection. Therefore, it is extremely complicated to put a reliable barrier to illegal crossing of the state border, the transit of drugs, the penetration of armed groups and terrorist groups. Moreover, Tajikistan intelligence services have lately reported on attempts to establish cooperation of criminal groups involved in the transit of drugs, militants of armed formations on the territory of Afghanistan.
Kyrgyzstan, as well as Kazakhstan, have no common border with Afghanistan and suffer no immediate threat from its territory. However, it can also be attacked by militants over weak border protection in other Central Asian countries, as it has been in the Batken region. In addition, one of the transit routes for Afghan drugs to Russia and Kazakhstan lies through this country.
Based on all indicated above, we can conclude that a comprehensive approach to security in the region should be aimed at solving some of the problems.
Firstly, the international assistance to the Afghan leadership is needed for the establishment of a viable government at both the central and the regional and local levels. Settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan firstly depends on the solution of the power distribution between the various ethnic groups, as well as between the central government and the provinces with the appropriate decentralization of authority. The solving of these contradictions is possible through negotiations.
Many groups that support the “Taliban” are much more concerned with their local problems and are not strong supporters of global jihad. They are willing to negotiate, and they can be involved in the amicable settlement by transferring a part of the political power, giving more autonomy and having determined what economic benefits they may have. In addition, it will significantly limit the influence of extremists on the Afghan population.
Secondly, the meaningful recovery of war- ravaged Afghan economy requires the international assistance.
In order to maintain a normal life in Afghanistan, which remains one of the poorest countries in the world, the assistance in the amount of not less than 5.5 milliard dollars a year is needed. This is significantly less than the amount the US spent annually during the Afghan campaign.
Eight years ago, in the year 2006, the priority social and economic projects and perspectives of revival of the Afghan economy were formulated at the London Conference on Afghanistan . These projects continue to be actual as of today.
Central Asian countries together with the Afghan side carry out a number of projects in the energy, transport and communication sectors, assist in the construction of social facilities and training.
As part of the “Istanbul process”, launched in 2011, the countries of the Western coalition, considering the withdrawal of its troops and the reduction of military expenditures, could provide practical assistance in implementing a number of programmes aimed at the creation of industrial enterprises and improving the efficiency of agricultural production in the country. How soon the Afghan people begin to live a peaceful life depends largely on this fact.
Thirdly, the active international impact on the management of a number of countries is required including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who are involved in financing and logistical support of anti-government groups in Afghanistan, including the movement “Taliban” and “Islamic State”. This wifi greatly reduce the capacity and motivation of a large number of armed groups opposed to the official Kabul.
Fourthly, the cooperation in the fight against drug production in Afghanistan between all the countries concerned is important despite the ideological differences between them.
The measures for reducing the flow of Afghan drugs are ineffective. Production of opium and heroin is one of the main income items and financing of a number of anti-government groups in Afghanistan. It is estimated that daily production of drugs in Afghanistan is more than 400 million individual doses.
The Central Asian countries with the support of Russia are taking steps to strengthen their borders and combat drug trafficking. Nevertheless, this is passive defense measures. As the analysis shows, only a small part of the drug is withdrawn from the market, since state borders are quite easily penetrated by closely interacting drug groups operating on both sides of the border.
In recent years, our countries have repeatedly offered to international anti-drug agencies to collaborate to destroy drug plantations in Afghanistan, but Western countries did not accept such cooperation by finding the amazing excuses. One of them is: if we destroy the majority of opium poppy cultivation, then we bereave the source of the existence of Afghan farmers.
There is no doubt that the efforts and resources for combating drug trafficking firstly should be concentrated in the territory of Afghanistan.
Fifthly, the SCO with potential capabilities of member states and observer states is able to play an important role in stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan and the strengthening of security in the region. That entails, first of all, China and Russia, as well as India, Iran and Pakistan.
Strengthening the stability and security, combating terrorism, separatism, extremism, drug trafficking, economic cooperation and energy partnership are all these tasks of the SCO shall be relevant to Afghanistan and Central Asian countries. All these countries have their own interests in Afghanistan and Central Asia. Therefore, the Afghan problem is to get the new content in the SCO activity.
Currently, CSTO performs a major role in ensuring the security of CAR. Through membership in CSTO, Tajikistan receives assistance of the Russian Federation in the amount of 200 million dollars for rearmament. At the same time, Russia carries out military assistance of about 1.1 milliard dollars to Kyrgyzstan.
In the event of tension involving the penetration of IMU militants and other armed groups on the territory of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, CSTO will perform the main role in providing security, in particular, the Collective Rapid Deployment Forces of the Central Asian region (CRDF) of about 4 thousand people as well as the Collective Rapid Reaction Forces (over 20 thousand people), which are components of permanent readiness and include highly mobile troops of the armed forces of state - members as well as the formation of special forces.
Since Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are not members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, they wifi have to rely increasingly on their own strength. The time will show how effective will be the isolationist policies of these states.
Thus, in the present circumstances, when the main part of the international coalition forces is withdrawn from Afghanistan, ensuring the stability of the country firstly depends on the support of the Western coalition, financial assistance, the participation of neighbouring countries and international organizations in the reconstruction of the country’s economy and the fight against drug production.
There is no doubt that the development of the affairs in Afghanistan has a direct impact on the overall level of security in the region. All Central Asian countries can provide their own security, but with the support from the leading states of the world, international organizations and the allied states, as well as by strengthening its defense capabilities through increasing the qualitative parameters of its armed forces and other security agencies.
- Source: electronic resource http://newsland.coin/news.
- UN: Number of land with opium poppy plantations reached record values //electronic resource http://3mv.ru/pubFoon.
- Luke Jolmson, Alexander Gostev. Opium failure of Wasliington in Afghanistan// source http://rus.ozodi.org/content/article
- Address by the Cliief of the General Staff AF RF General of the Army V. Gerasimov at the International Conference OnAfghanistan, on October 8-9,2015// electronic resource http://mil.ru/.
- V.G. Korgun. Conference on Afghanistan in London // electronic resource http://www.iran.ru/news/analytics
The article deals with the modem situation in Afghanistan, which is characterized by the activation of anti-government forces in most part of the country. Based on the above, the conclusion about the necessity of an integrated approach to the solution of the Afghan problem and regional security had been drawn. It is relied on financial assistance, the participation of countries concerned in the reconstraction of Afghanistan’s economy and the fight against drag production. At the same time, the support from the leading states of the world, international organizations and the allied states, as well as strengthening its defense capabilities are urgent issues for the countries of Central Asia.