The U.S. has been concentrating on the Middle East, Eastern Europe, the Baltic States and the Scandinavia region to segregate Russia. The U.S. has also been focusing on the Asia-Pacific region to contain China.
In addition, America and its NATO allies ended their combat operations in Afghanistan and pulled back their forces in order to protect the Middle East, Europe and South China Sea.
This implies that America is unable to simultaneously wage war on a number of fronts. Perhaps this is because of a military personnel deficit or lack of funding. However, with this decision, the U.S. lost its land superiority and air supremacy in south-central Asia, especially in Afghanistan, which it enjoyed for more than a decade.
According to a number of intelligence sources, a few months ago a Russian-made helicopter packed with officials from Russia’s Federal Security Committee, Federal Bodyguard Service and Foreign Intelligence Service and as well as from Pakistan’s Inter-Intelligence Service (ISI), Military Intelligence and Intelligence Bureau traveled from Pakistan to Russia thru Afghanistan and crashed in the Taliban-controlled Logar Province of Afghanistan.
The Taliban later handed over the helicopter’s passengers to Pakistan when this secret assignment became public. A statement from Pakistan statement said they wanted to repair the helicopter in Russia.
The information indicates the Russian and Pakistani intelligence officials are most likely discussing possible intelligence and military cooperation between Pakistan and Russia to curb U.S forward policy in the region thru their proxies, especially in Afghanistan.
Moreover, due to lack of U.S. air supremacy in Afghanistan, Russia, Iran and Pakistan continue to supply the Taliban to disrupt U.S. plans for the region.
Before the U.S. decided to reduce their footprint in the region, they developed “Plan B.” Plan B formulated a strategy to further control the region and establish a counter balance against China. This plan was developed to limit dependency of its allies — India and others — on Iranian energy sectors.
The U.S. invented a “tie-binding strategy,” or regional inter-dependency plan. This strategy reflected the U.S.’ desire to attach Central Asia to South Asia and Europe via Afghanistan.
To this end, America launched number of projects:
- A gas pipeline project named TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India) to bring Turkmen gas thru Afghanistan to India,
- An electricity project called CASA 1000 to transfer electricity from Central Asia to South Asia and
- The New Silk Road project to sustain the free flow of goods in the region and connect the region with Europe.
American strategists believe that with such a policy they could enhance Central Asia and South Asia with geo-economic and geo-strategic projects and further isolate Iran, China and possibly Russia.
They assumed that the countries in this region — due to energy needs and economic priorities — would set aside their geo-political objectives and divergences and fully cooperate.
For these reasons, the U.S. abandoned Afghan villages, districts and provinces. Later, the U.S., NATO and their regional allies altered their strategy to control only transit roads, Grand Trunk (GT) roads and major cities.
To accomplish this goal, they have supported the Afghan National Army to secure areas where TAPI, CASA 1000 and the New Silk Road transverse.
As soon as Iran and Russia learned that they were excluded from these major regional projects, they began a series of disruptions. The Iranian and Russian intelligence organizations started by assembling leaders of the Taliban.
For example, it was reported “a few month ago Mullah Mansur (leader of Taliban), after visiting Iran, on his way back to Pakistan, was hunted by U.S. drone.” From time to time, Mansur would pass along plans to take over the major cities and transit roads and GT roads to disrupt U.S. strategy and curtail U.S. geopolitical objectives in the region.
Now, according to some sources at STRATFOR, a U.S.-based private intelligence agency, the Taliban have changed their tactics. In the earlier periods, they were focusing on remote areas. But now, after consulting with Russian and Iranian intelligence networks, the Taliban have launched a massive offensive mission under the title of the Umari Operation (Umar was one of the well-known disciples of Islam’s Prophet Mohammad.)
This year, the Taliban instigated aggressive attacks on major cities and transit roads. They took over the Kundoz province in the north to cut off Kabul from northern Afghanistan. In the meantime, they attacked the Helmand province to bring to cut it off from the Kandahar province.
At the same time, the Taliban began operations in the Maidan-Wardak and Ghazni Provinces to bring to an end to “Kabul rule” in southern Afghanistan. They then launched missions in the Laghman province to cut off Kabul with eastern Afghanistan.
They have also launched major assaults in the Logar province to disconnect Kabul with northeastern Afghanistan. Their overall plan is to control the areas surrounding Kabul to over-throw the Afghan government and interrupt the U.S.’ ongoing plan.
Thus, it is incumbent on the new U.S. administration to rejuvenate its regional forward policy for South-Central Asia before we see a complete loss of over 15 years of effort against the Taliban and other U.S. enemies.
The current adversaries to the U.S., NATO countries and their allies have a growing sense of success. They have no intention of cooperating with the larger plan of these countries and will do everything possible to disrupt and destroy its plans.
If the current situation described above does not change through strong U.S. leadership, the Afghan people will suffer greatly: The Afghan people will never progress and Afghan families will be thrown in to a destructive tailspin.
In addition, the Afghan government’s evolution will never go forward to take a leadership role in the region as the centerpiece of cooperation, trade, diplomacy and commerce.
If America will not invigorate its strategy for the region, the Afghan built/U.S.-supported Kabul regime will collapse and the U.S. “tie-binding strategy” will really be at risk, as it seems the U.S. has no “Plan C.
Ajmal Sohail is leader of Afghan Liberal Party and he is frequently on media outlets as socio-economic, political, national security and intelligence analyst.