Afghanistan: What Withdrawal?

Afghanistan: What Withdrawal?Any idea that NATO and US forces will be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, as President Barack Obama promised, is a chimera, most probably a casualty of the deteriorating situation in the Middle East, where the Islamic State has rushed into the vacuum left by the departing US presence.   The Bilateral…

Iraq Crisis Could Slow Afghan Pullout

Iraq Crisis Could Slow Afghan PulloutThe drama of NATO’s withdrawal from Afghanistan is reaching its climax. Or is it? It seems likely to most observers that with any major drawdown, the Taliban plan a surge of their own that could well mean the loss of country after the 30-nation NATO coalition has lost 3,455 combat troops – the US, 2,179…

Russia Resets its Foot in Afghanistan

Russia Resets its Foot in AfghanistanMore than two decades since a humiliating departure from Afghanistan after a misguided adventure that helped to wreck the Soviet Union, Russia has been gradually making a cautious return, particularly since the drawdown of western troops began in 2012. Since at least 2007, when Russia re-established its embassy, Moscow has been trying to regain its…

Civil War Looms in Afghanistan

Civil War Looms in AfghanistanWhatever the nature of optimistic statements from the NATO command in Afghanistan, or Washington, DC, it is clear that the country is drifting towards civil war, and with no predictable outcome. Should such an eventuality take place, it has the potential to suck in – however reluctantly – any one or more regional states including…

Critical Year Ahead for Afghanistan

Critical Year Ahead for AfghanistanIn less than four weeks, on April 5, Afghanistan’s 12 million voters will get the chance to elect one of 11 candidates to replace President Hamid Karzai, in what observers hope will be the country’s first ever peaceful and democratic handover of power. It will be one of the biggest challenges in a vital year…

Pakistan’s Afghan Conundrum

Pakistan’s Afghan ConundrumWhat if what’s been called the world’s most unstable and dangerous country were to take over the destiny of one of the world’s most impoverished, insecure and fragmented ones? The 13-year Afghan war is expected to wind down this year with the departure of the bulk of NATO troops, with the likelihood that Pakistan will…

India’s Afghan Challenge

India’s Afghan ChallengeOn Aug. 3, a Toyota Corolla carrying three suicide bombers and a carload of explosives attempted to ram the Indian Consulate in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, killing nine bystanders, seven of them children. It was the third time jihadis had tried to blow up Indian government structures. In 2008, a car bomb attack…

China’s Bid to Fill an Afghan Vacuum

China’s Bid to Fill an Afghan VacuumWith the imminent withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan and the presumed shift to full Afghan sovereignty, US influence is inevitably going to decrease -- and it looks increasingly like China will fill the vacuum, given the amount of natural wealth that Afghanistan possesses and the dividends it can pay. This resource wealth has changed…

New Contest Coming for Afghan Resources

New Contest Coming for Afghan ResourcesAlthough the debate  on Afghanistan's post-2014 future centers on the question of emphasis on the question of negotiating with the Taliban, or on the possible strength of the residual force the US is planning to leave, the economic dimension of Afghanistan’s future seems out of the picture. The issue is not merely who would rule Afghanistan…

Women’s Rights Endangered in Afghanistan

Women’s Rights Endangered in AfghanistanEven before the drawdown of NATO troops is expected to begin in 2014, there are increasing concerns that the hard-won political, economic and social gains attained by women in Afghanistan are already being eroded, according to a report issued today by the International Crisis Group. It is abundantly clear that women face threats not just…