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The great Afghan carve-up

Posted by The Agonist on April 27th, 2011

From our partners at The Agonist

Brian M Downing | Apr 26 | Asia Times

The United States is seeking a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan. It hopes to reverse the Taliban’s momentum and bring them to the bargaining table through a counter-insurgency program, diplomacy with indigenous tribes and foreign powers, and the attrition of Taliban forces. This, the US expects, will give it an important if not central role in a settlement.

But regional powers – primarily Pakistan and China, with the support of Iran and Turkey – see the lone superpower as overextended, weary, and nearing a fiscal crisis – a situation they seek to turn to their advantage. These four regional powers are in a good position to play crucial roles in a settlement and in an
excellent position to benefit from one.

First, the regional powers, especially Pakistan, will use their influence with the Taliban to convince them to limit their ambitions to the south and east and accept a settlement with President Hamid Karzai at the helm in Kabul.

Second, the regional powers, especially Iran and Turkey, will press reluctant Afghan peoples to accept the settlement.

Third, the regional powers will help to form a rentier state to govern the country. Karzai will receive substantial revenue from foreign powers then allocate it to keep various peoples of the country in a loose but viable political framework.

Fourth, the regional powers will cooperate in the development of Afghanistan’s resources – largely to the exclusion of other powers – and accrue substantial geopolitical goals as well.

This holds the promise of peace, stability and prosperity, but nothing is without pitfalls in this part of the world.

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