A titanic power struggle in Kabul

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  1. South Asia
    Mar 13, 2010
    A titanic power struggle in Kabul
    By M K Bhadrakumar

    The flurry of diplomatic activity in Kabul during the past week heralded the opening shots of a titanic power struggle, the outcome of which will largely determine the contours of an Afghan settlement.

    In what is shaping up as a multi-layered power struggle, the principal protagonists are the United States and Britain, Pakistan, Iran and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

    The struggle is set to accelerate during the coming weeks and will lead all the way to the Afghan loya jirga (the traditional tribal council), which by present indications is expected to take place in Kabul on April 29. Undoubtedly, the stakes are high for all protagonists and the battle lines are being drawn.

    The sudden dash by Pakistani army chief Pervez Kiani to Kabul last Friday to discuss "matters of mutual interest" with Karzai, the two-day unannounced mission on Monday by US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (whose primary intent was to check out on the intensifying exchanges between Kabul and Tehran), Iranian President Mahmud Ahmedinejad's consultations in Kabul on Wednesday ostensibly to discuss the bright prospects for Afghan-Iranian economic cooperation, and Karzai's own two-day trip to Islamabad from Wednesday - all served to highlight the overlapping templates of the power struggle.
  2. Just finished reading the book Afghanistan by Martin Ewans. It's been a tribal shitehole being fought over since the dawn of time. A good read of the history and politics of the place and the crud that has inhabited it.
  3. Ah what ya means is NATO will fight and die so that
    Iran, China or even Russia may inherit.
  4. NATO has been looking for a role,since The Wall came down.It has yet to find a proper one,to which all members can subscribe.Certainly all members do not subscribe to the Afghan adventure.
  5. I hope NATO will back us up to the hilt if anything kicks off in the Falklands,being as they are British Territory.....they didn,t help much last time....the UK was on it,s own that time!!!
  6. That's as elegant a summary of Kabul's dire predicament as I've seen. Karzai has his strengths. Diplomacy is one of them. He'll need every weasily trick to survive this lions den.

    Our exit strategy is clear:
    Expect to see Karzai's Persian chums play a ever larger role here. He can't really trust an overstretched DC in hock to Beijing. It would be all too easy for a desperate Barry to hand his head to Pindi and call it victory.

    I don't really buy the Great Game with Russia bit at the end, that's an old Pentagon pipe dream now looking utterly unsound, but Kayani and his heavily braided goons may be deluded enough to.
  7. You have'nt got a hope in hell! NATO back Britain over the Falklands! Those other Europeans and the the US still see us as Colonial antiques trying to hang on to past glory. The fact that the fun loving UK population have only an interest in things foriegn such as a cheap pint and egg and chips in the sun, Oh and baked beans as not changed their percetption. The Brits who do take an interest, i personally believe, are a little war wary
    NATO and the EU are not that kean on, as they see us a stooge of Ameriacn foriegn policy, us arrogant Brits and if it were not the fact the the UK is committed to AFPAK the US would also be a doubtful source of support. We need another act of God i'm afraid, the earthquake that decimated Chile (Who prior to the big shake protested against British claims) needs to move a little east. The military cupboard is looking a bit bare i should imagine and all the kit in stock is tropical, not South Atlantic and lastly, the navy as been reduced to fishing trawler off Grimsby :D
  8. "cheap pint and egg and chips in the sun, Oh and baked beans"

    Eh Taff
    You certainly talk the good talk.
    I doubt the UK population are war weary, most are not really affected, War is just something they hear about occasionally on the news.
    Mind you I do agree NATO and the Clock Suckers do still consider The Brits to be old colonialists ( they all have room to talk) and providing Labour is Willing I can't see the Skint Argy's doing anything then make noise for internal consumption.

  9. Hi John,
    By war wary I did not mean being bombed out or that the ration book as been lost. God forbid! I do not think that today's society could handle that sort of trauma. Wary due to the media and press I.E. Political scandels, 24 hour news coverage, Brown and Blair, pointless white washing tribunals etc etc. Nobody, unless they have family and friends serving really take notice of the Wars.
  10. There is one advantage Karzai has over Iran. Iran gets lots of its water from Afghanistan, and when the Taliban were in they turned off the taps. So, Taliban=drought.
    But: The US is spending a lot on Afghan hydro electric projects like the Kajaki and Salma dam projects. That will tie up a lot of water the Iranians need.
    So: It's in Iran's interest to stop the various dam projects, but not to hack off Karzai to a point where he turns the taps off like the Taliban did.

    Tricky, Tricky.
  11. Biped

    Biped LE Book Reviewer

    There appears to be a good deal more to this than meets the eye. Afghanistan, a barren (for the most part' sh!tehole of gargantuan proportions, with no effective military might (as compared to either India or Pakistan, or anyone else), who's major export is opium . . . . . . is dead centre in frantic negotiations between the rival nuclear superpowers of India and Pakistan, with Iran trying to jump in and do things, as well as the biggest superpower in the world stomping the place flat in search of AQ etc etc etc.

    Are we absolutely sure that Afghanistan has no mineral wealth (gas, oil or yellowcake), and are we absolutely sure that there's no plans for gas or oil pipelines through that part of the world?

    Edited to add:

  12. Biped
    I have read in the past that China has started massive investment in a copper mine in Afghanistan and that other strategic metals are known to exist.

  13. And a pipe line through the north.
  14. Bit stuck on pipe dreams I think. Afghanistan is an important bit of real estate but like Iraq it's not resources in the country but what it is near that could matter on the big board.

    Iraq has its own oil but more importantly faces the massive oil reserves of Gulf Kingships and represents a buffer between the Sunni Arab world and revolutionary Iran. The US had a massive military presence in The Persian Gulf before it strayed ashore in Iraq. Oil was an important strategic factor here both because it bankrolled Saddam's military and our energy security was threatened by that instrument. Unfortunately sober strategic calculation wasn't what drove this. Rage and having the proven ability and after 9-11 a political window to take Baghdad made it an irresistible prize.

    Afghanistan has significant mineral wealth but it is the location matters. I'd dismiss smaller commercial factors here and as in the AT article say the salient point is that as in the time of the Raj its a buffer state with Russia along with the other Stans. This isn't why we invaded, we'd have taken the venture a good deal more seriously if it was and not wandered off to find a more target rich environment. At this point I think DC is more concerned with pacifying Beijing and propping up Pindi's power in Pakistan than encircling Russia with bases of dubious worth. Iran may be more on their mind.

    Handicapped by over reach Bush wasn't even willing or able to intervene militarily after Misha invaded South Ossetia. The very strategic BTC pipeline did not save Tbilisi from humiliation. Marked the end of post-Cold War pipe dreams.