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Afghanistan in the geopolitical dimension of security of Eurasia
Material posted: Publication date: 14-11-2014

The paper examines questions about the role of Afghanistan's security issues in the Middle East and Central Asia. Reveal the geopolitical and strategic interests of leading countries such as USA and China, as well as regional leaders in the Middle East, such as India, Pakistan and Iran. Analyzes the political and military situation in Afghanistan at the moment 2014, the impact of processes in the field of ensuring security and stability in the country on the CIS and the Russian Federation as a whole.

Eurasia – the largest continent on Earth. Area – 53,893 million km2, which is 36 % of the land. The population is about 5 billion, which is about ¾ of the population of the entire planet. Eurasia in its dimension contains two parts of the world: Europe and Asia. It is the only continent on Earth, washed by the four oceans: the South – Indian, North – the Arctic, on the West by the Atlantic, on the East – Pacific. Eurasia stretches from the West to the East to 18 thousand km, from North to South – 8 thousand km, with an area of 54 million km2. More than one third of the total land area of the planet that includes more than 100 countries in the world. One of the States of Eurasia is the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Today, this country has become one of the most painful and problematic world in the southern part of the Eurasian continent. The processes in this country, directly affecting many States the vast Eurasian region. This in turn relates to problems of security, stability, and increasing drug trafficking, which affects more than 100 countries in the world members of the UN.

Geopolitical position of the country. In the Afghanistan national anthem has the line: "This country will eternally Shine as the sun in the chest of Asia. She will always be her heart." These lines ― the exact definition of a true geopolitical position of this country. Without a fundamental, lasting peace in this country will never have any stability in the Middle East, nor Central Asia, nor on the southern borders of the Russian Federation.

Conflicts and wars that shook Afghanistan for many years, coming from its territory of a threat that contributed to the emergence of practical interest in this country, generated a serious orientalist knowledge. This, in turn, has awakened the attention of the famous Russian geographer and military researcher Andrei E. Snesarev (1865-1937), in his work "Afghanistan", released in 1921 and still has not lost its value.

His work A. E. Snesarev devoted to the study of military geography. He noted that "military geography is a description of people, country and nation are experiencing a moment of history under military and political perspective, there is a General geographical description of the situation at the angle of the assumption that the territory of such state or in the neighborhood, you may experience one or the other war, whether war-whether offensive, or defensive, or even a purely guerrilla war, a little". [1]

To date, the Afghan issue is a sore point of Eurasia, "a large and instructive topic", closely associated with the new and the newest history of our country, the fight against international terrorism. In this context, it contains instructive and cautionary lesson, mastering of which will keep us from repeating mistakes that will bring undoubted benefits, both in the present and in the future.

As part of the Eurasia, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the regional dimension involves such countries as China, Pakistan, India, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. And in the international dimension the U.S. and the countries in NATO that are involved in operations in Afghanistan.

The importance of Afghanistan to the modern system of international security due to the fact that the situation in Afghanistan for many decades is a source of threats and challenges both regional and global scale. A series of wars that led to the destruction of the economic infrastructure of the country and poverty of the population, which was during the middle ages, created the conditions for permanent economic and social crisis, which has aggravated the military actions of the USA and NATO, conducted without regard to national character of the peoples of Afghanistan and the history of this country. This has created a favorable environment for the resistance of foreign aggression, religious extremism and drug trafficking.

Afghanistan is located in the South-Western part of Central Asia in the Middle East. The country is landlocked. The shortest distance from its borders to the Arabian sea about 500 km, it is estimated that 655 km2, which is approximately equal to the area of France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark combined. The state border of Afghanistan has a total length of 5579 km, of which 2384 (over 40 %) States included in the CIS, namely Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

From a geopolitical point of view Afghanistan is surrounded by countries such as China, Pakistan, India and Iran, with countries determined to acquire nuclear weapons. [2] On the North by Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, the countries comprising the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Organization of the Collective Security Treaty (CSTO). It should also be noted that from a military point of view, neighboring countries have a strong and relatively well-equipped armed forces and, especially, China, Pakistan, Iran and Uzbekistan.

In economic terms, the country is also surrounded by States that are economically more developed, such as Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Iran, have large global reserves of strategic raw materials: gas, oil and uranium, and China on a number of indicators of economic development ahead of the United States and the developed countries of Europe.

Thus, the importance of the geopolitical position and strategic importance of Afghanistan is:

  • in close geographical proximity to the CIS and CSTO, where Russia has direct strategic interests;
  • in the location near the largest populous countries of the world having different social and political order: China, India, Pakistan and Iran;
  • in proximity to sources of strategic raw materials of global significance, primarily oil, gas and uranium (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran), which explains the increased interest of the leading powers of the world to the region, and with it to the neighbouring Afghanistan.
  • the presence in Afghanistan of the shortest land communications from India to Pakistan, Iran, CIS countries (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Russia).

When evaluating the geographical position of Afghanistan should be considered negative factors. So, the lack of direct access to the ocean largely isolates the country from the outside world, limiting economic activity of the state, puts the country in dependence on neighbors.

According to estimates of the state border of Afghanistan, we can draw the following conclusions:

  1. All parcels boundaries demarcated in accordance with accepted international agreements;
  2. Afghanistan was deleted from the World ocean and has the only land border;
  3. Land borders between Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan marked conventionally and do not have special equipment, in fact, are open;
  4. With increasing political and economic role of Central Asian States (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan) on the world market significantly increases the role of Afghanistan as a major transport and economic hub for transporting goods and energy to the ports of the Indian ocean and the Persian Gulf.

According to various sources, the population of Afghanistan is over 30 million people. Approximately 13-14 million people have settled, and about 2-3 million nomadic or semi-nomadic way of life. 51% of the population are male and 49% female. The vast majority of the settled population of Afghanistan – and 84.6 per cent – lives in urban areas. The vast majority of the urban population (61.2 per cent) is concentrated in four cities: Kabul, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar – I-Sharif.

Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is a multinational state, which is home to more than 30 peoples of Iranian, Turkic and other ethnic groups. This is mainly Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras.

A. E. Snesarev on this occasion noted that they are fragmented, do not form one overall and close-knit family that, for example, between the Afghans and the Uzbeks is such a gap, through which it is impossible to throw any bridge. As for the Tajiks, and this kind of vicious people live their secluded life.[3]However, to date, you can cancel that, for example, the Uzbeks of Afghanistan are basically bilingual, in addition to her native Uzbek and Tajik also speak the language and such processes are among Tajiks. In the Northern provinces of the country along with compact ethnic accommodation, Uzbeks and Tajiks also live dispersed and mixed, which causes interference and bilingualism of these two Nations. [4]

Afghanistan is a multiethnic state. Its population consists of various ethnic groups belonging to various linguistic families – Iranian, Turkic and others. The most numerous ethnic group is the Pashtuns – their number varies, according to various estimates, from 39.4 to 42% of the population. The second largest group is the Tajiks – from 27% to 38%. The third group – the Hazaras – from 8 to 10 %. The fourth largest ethnic group, the Uzbeks – is from 6 to 10 %. Smaller ethnic groups include the aimaks, Turkmen, Baloch are 0.1 %, 1-3 % and 0.5-2 %, respectively. Other ethnic groups comprise from 1 to 4 %. [5]

In studies of A. E. Snesarev it was noted that if the Afghan group in the face of Pashtuns plays a major role in the political life of the country, the rest of the Nations in the face of the Iranian and Turkic groups (Tajiks and Uzbeks) are secondary. [6] currently the situation in Afghanistan has changed significantly. Nowadays the Tajik and Uzbek population of the country has become an influential political and, if necessary, military force. These ethnic groups certainly have a strong influence on the socio-political situation in the country. Suffice it to say in the modern history of the country such individuals of Afghanistan, Ahmad Shah Masoud, Burhan-UD-DIN Rabbani, Abdul Rashid Dostum, etc.

In Afghanistan Islam is professed by more than 98% of the population. The devotion to Islam of most of the peoples are quite combined with the use of customary law – ADAT, which in some cases are given preference. The emergence of Islam in the territory of modern Afghanistan belongs to the boundary of the 7-8 centuries. The bulk of the population of modern Afghanistan (about 80%) profess the Sunni, others mainly Shia (mostly Hazaras).

The mineral reserves in Afghanistan are large enough. Currently there are over 600 known deposits and occurrences of minerals, most of which as a result of previous developments have been exhausted. Of all the minerals are coal, iron, chromite and lead-zinc ore, gold and silver. If modern estimates of the Ministry of defense Afghanistan's untapped mineral deposits valued at almost 1 trillion. dollars.

Currently the problem of Afghanistan is due,

firstly, the geopolitical struggle in the region, the manifestation of attention to it from the world and regional powers of the Middle East;

secondly, the protection of Russian national interests in the region and in Islamic State of Afghanistan, as the country bordering on the CIS;

thirdly, the presence of a large military contingent of the USA and other NATO countries seeking to stabilize the situation in the country and use it for their own geopolitical interests;

fourthly, almost all the territory bordering Afghanistan, represent a corridor of transportation of opium and heroin. Today the drug traffic is an important source of funding of militants. The transit of Afghan heroin scale affects almost 100 countries on all continents. In 2012, Afghanistan was the opium poppy grown by 154 thousand ha.

According to the Federal drug control service of the Russian Federation, on the territory of Afghanistan there are about 50 laboratories of heroin production capacity of about 30 kg per day. Most of them are located in remote mountain areas. Among these laboratories there are even mobile. They work in highly trained chemists, which are often representatives of other, including European, countries. Supply these laboratories with raw materials and organization of export of finished products established clearly enough. According to a UN report, nearly half of drug production is accounted for by two out of 33 Afghan provinces: Nangarhar and Helmand, those where there are groups of American and British troops. [7]

Geopolitical interests of foreign countries. In virtue of the current geopolitical processes in the region, Afghanistan is an important country from the point of view of ensuring stability and security in the wider region of the Middle East and Central Asia. In turn, on the security situation and stability of Afghanistan affected by external factors and features, such as the geopolitical interests of the leading countries and the countries of the Middle East.

At the present time in the struggle for influence in Central Asia the interests of many States, however, the interests of the United States, China and major regional actors, such as Pakistan, Iran, because of the nature of the impact and specificity of the applied methods clearly dominate. This, in turn, is connected both to the power of global interests (especially the U.S.) and due to the fact that these States are geographical neighbors.

Clearly that the situation in the country particularly directed American influence.The events of 11 September 2001 have created in the Central part of Eurasia is fundamentally new geopolitical situation. The war against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan allowed the U.S. using terrorism as a geopolitical technology of control of space, in a relatively short period of time to strengthen their military and political positions in this vast region of the Middle East and Central Asia.

The American interests in Afghanistan based on the need and development of far-reaching plans related to securing access to oil and gas resources of Central Asia, receiving support bases in Eurasia to realize its global interests and the preparation for the potential confrontation, particularly with China, and given the turn of events with Russia.

Military-political penetration of the USA in Afghanistan following the events of 11 September 2001, gave an opportunity to try to democratize the country and simultaneously undertake measures for the gradual withdrawal of this country from the context of Central Asian and Eurasian overall system security and integration. Naturally, with this approach, the stabilization of the political life and socio-economic development in Afghanistan may not be speech, no matter how invested funds for the normalization of the socio-economic life in this country.

Having military bases in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, as well as the strategic control point in Afghanistan, the US began to have a negative impact on what is happening in the socio-political processes that, in turn, has created certain threats and risks in the process of preserving stability in the region. Subsequent events in 2005 in Kyrgyzstan, which ended in the ousting of the President Askar Akaev, and Uzbek Andijan in spring 2005 became a real confirmation. Analyzing such impacts, we can assume that in case of successful development of events according to the scenario of velvet revolution, the new puppet governments in the region can then raise the question of withdrawal from the CIS, CSTO and SCO. As a result, in Central Asia may be Pro-American Alliance that will be a serious challenge to Russian national interests, with absolutely no regard for the people of the States of the region.


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