Ashgabat, 5 March 2012 (nCa) — Some recent news stories in the American and British media suggest that the US and allied forces are negotiating with the Central Asian countries to ensure exit corridor when they leave Afghanistan in 2014.
These stories are superb examples of embedded journalism at its best, regurgitating without chewing the laced candy received from Washington, London and Brussels.
A high power American delegation (Centcom) visited some regional countries and hardly anything came out in the local media.
The British minister for armed forces visited Ashgabat and one were supposed to believe that he was discussing trade and sports.
The land route from Pakistan is closed for the US-NATO forces for nearly three months now and thousands of containers are either lying in limbo or being re-routed through NDN.
Logically, you cannot take something out that has not been taken in already. What has not gone into Afghanistan cannot be taken out of Afghanistan.
The rush here is to take military hardware and personnel into Afghanistan – one need not worry about something that is still a couple of years into an uncertain future.
The counter-argument here is that the bulk of hardware and personnel is already in Afghanistan and the vast quantities of arms, ammunition and other items there need a systematic plan for withdrawal.
This argument stands on stunted legs.
We have reasons to believe that Uzbekistan has probably already played the part of joker in this pack.
The sudden softening of the west on Uzbekistan – even the most hostile bloggers finding something redeeming in Uzbekistan – cannot be a phenomenon in isolation.
Has Uzbekistan given something that the west needed desperately – A military base? An airport? A launching pad for drones? What? What? What?
What has the west, especially America, given in return? The promise to leave most of the military hardware in Afghanistan at Uzbekistan’s disposal and custody? To support Uzbekistan as regional policeman? What? What? What?
Simultaneously, there is also the need to remember that the main branch of NDN goes through Russia, a country that under Putin remains the weakest link in a long chain.
Some regional analysts are of the view that the Americans are using all kinds of stick and carrot techniques to broaden the Turkey-Georgia-Azerbaijan-Caspian-Turkmenistan route to Afghanistan.
It is also believed that a country very friendly to Turkmenistan is trying to play a pivotal role in negotiating this corridor.
If this happens, the consequences would be absolutely disastrous for all, and we shall return to it in a later part of this series.
Seriously, no one is trying to get out of Afghanistan.
Looking at the long term foreign policy objectives of USA and NATO, it can be argued convincingly that their forces will withdraw from Afghanistan but will not go very far from Afghanistan. ——- They would, quite possibly, take a short hop and base themselves somewhere in Central Asia in the classic camel and tent scenario.
If the Central Asian leaders are inclined to protect their vital interests including the peace and stability in the region, they should be doing something on these lines:
- They should refuse any joint border surveillance with any of the western forces
- They should close their skies to any suspicious airplanes or drones
- They should refuse to share any raw data on border crossings with anyone
- They should police their airwaves against any illegal transmissions
- They should refuse to allow any activity that may create misunderstanding between the neighbours
- They study carefully any proposals from any friendly countries if such proposals have any elements of uncertainty attached to them
To be continued . . .