AFGHANISTAN 2014: UNCERTAINTY AND RISKS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE POLITICAL SITUATION IN CENTRAL ASIA
Sergey Masaulov, Ph.D. (Philos.), Director of the Center for Prospective Research (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan)
The continuing destabilization of public life in Afghanistan and far from always successful attempts by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to return it to normal are creating fundamental challenges and threats to regional and global security.
The following problems can be identified:
1. Higher drug production and circulation. This is causing a steady rise in both the number of people dependent on heroin and opiates coming from Afghanistan and the total number of drug addicts (according to experts, 36,000 young people die from drugs in Russia every year).
2. Stronger transnational crime groups in Central Asia (CA). Their activity is closely related to the drug business and movement of drugs from Afghanistan to Russia and Europe through the Central Asian countries.
3. Continued presence of armed U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan and its neighboring states in the form of their network of super bases is not helping to combat the threat of terrorism.
In recent years, it has become obvious that the CA states are facing a complex problem manifested in a dramatic deterioration of the internal situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan; an increase in the fragmentary Talibanization factor; similar situations in the border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan; and an aggravation of the Pashtun issue.
The problem is that some of the former ideas about what is going on in Afghanistan do not correspond to current reality. It is incorrect to take the simplified approach and reduce the entire problem to the existence of the Taliban movement, under which all those drawn into the struggle against the ISAF in the wake of various ideas and slogans are lumped. Several Taliban centers function in Afghanistan and Pakistan (radical, extremist, and moderate).
The policy of the CA states should not be limited to endowing the large nations with the right to resolve the Afghan-Pakistani problems. States with interests in the country that are capable of having an impact on the development of the situation must also be engaged to untie the “Afghan knot”; the matter primarily concerns Russia, China, Iran, and the CA countries.
Key words: Central Asia, Afghanistan, South Asia, regional security, ISAF.