Mullah Mansour’s assassination has ended any possible political settlement on Afghan soil, while Mullah Manan’s murder paves the passage for an escalation from both the ends i.e. Afghan forces and Taliban. Yet the question remains unanswered for President Barrack Obama. The Kabul regime has practically no authority beyond Kabul and its outskirts. What would be the end-game for Obama administration in this scenario?
What global political landscape did he get from his predecessor? The crisis was limited to Iraq and Afghanistan when he took the office. He propagated the policy of reconciliation, during his election campaigns, through political means instead of military actions. However, his politics resulted in an endless war across the entire Middle East leading up to the Horn of Africa.
The conflict would further intensify with the recent developments which will definitely create a crisis situation for Obama administration. The demand for more US forces would arise and his plans for keeping a small number of forces confined to their embassy in Kabul, before leaving the office in 2017, does not seem to be achievable.
Last year, following the Taliban’s gains on multiple fronts, Obama announced that 9800 troops would remain stationed in Afghanistan for most part of 2016, to provide training and assistance to Afghan forces. He declared that at the end of 2016, the leftover forces in Afghanistan will stay at Kabul at the US embassy and around 5500 troops will be stationed at four different locations in Afghanistan.
Per contra, to his announcements in 2015, the current crisis might call for a different policy. This we have witnessed recently when President Obama in April this year announced the deployment of 250 additional US military personnel to assist the local forces on ground against ISIL. Moreover, Defense Secretary Ash Carter made an announcement for the deployment of 200 US military personnel to Iraq, in order to support the Iraqi forces combating the ISIL.
Ironically, incase if US goes for more military reinforcements in Afghanistan then it would be disastrous for the regional peace. As with reference to the growing Russian influence across the Trans-Caspian region that includes military exercises on Tajikistan-Afghanistan border and reports of Russia’s relations with the Taliban, US would possibly have to bear a new era of war in Afghanistan, this time with multiple insurgent groups such as ISIL.
On top of everything, one thing United States must learn from its experience of Iraq, installation and backing of an incompetent and unpopular puppet regime could never be a sustainable solution to establish stable democracy. The consequence of such a regime was enormous chaos and anarchy, which instead of dislodging Al-Qaeda, gave rise to ISIL, an extreme radical version of Al-Qaeda.
There is always a vacuum which provides, a pitch to penetrate and space to breathe, to the insurgent groups. It was the anarchic political nature, during the 1990s civil war in Afghanistan, which gave the way to Taliban to step into the Afghan political realm. Already ISIL is getting tremendous support from the radical segments of Taliban groups.
Nevertheless, the recent strikes targeting the Taliban Leader would undoubtedly weaken the position of moderate Taliban who supports the political settlement of the conflict not to mention the strengthening of those who wants to fight the infidel invaders and their supported government in Kabul. Now from whom US is going to negotiate for peace is beyond imagination?
The key prominent moderate figures are dead whereas the Mullah Haibatullah, Taliban’s top judicial executive along, as new Emir of the Organisation, with Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the Haqqani Network and Mullah Mohammad Yaqoub, the eldest son of Mullah Mohammad Omer, as his two deputy officers, would now, without a doubt, go for a mortal head on against the American and Afghan security forces. The legitimate Afghan government is paralyzed in front of Taliban let alone ISIL.
Apart from US’s restrains for the re-introduction of its forces in Afghanistan, one thing is for sure, Afghanistan is on the verge of a lethal civil war. Though, at the moment the war is going at a considerable pace, but from now onwards its scope would get broad probably taking the entire region into its sphere.
Additionally, the main challenge arises for International community, is regarding the potential emergence of Middle Eastern conflict phenomenon into Afghanistan. It is quite possible that like Iraq, Syria and Libya, Afghanistan which historically has porous borders on all sides might lose its International boundaries.
Nonetheless in terms of the contemporary geo-political situation of the region if the Middle Eastern phenomenon started to happen in Afghanistan, then it would instantly incorporate into the Central Asian region where ISIL and Al-Qaeda, unquestionably, has strong support bases. Besides the movement of more foreign fighters from Central Asia into Afghanistan, the incursion of ISIL militants in Afghanistan could be a much bigger threat to U.S. as that would attract transnational actors from all over the Globe towards Afghanistan, as happening in Syria and Iraq.
In addition to the threat, Afghanistan poses to the Central Asia and Pakistan, the story would not remain simple for Iran, China and India. Iran a Shia government an all-out opposition for ISIL and China’s Sing Kian province which has deep-rooted Islamist militancy will have to face the direct consequences of the war or they might have a high intensity conflict into their own land. Last but not the least India, from where reportedly, many people are joining ISIL in Middle East, very much lies into the ISIL’s Khorasan map.
However, for Pakistan, the hatred among the Taliban will increase. But the biggest threat lies in US statements in which they repeatedly says Aft-Pak region which sounds like Iraq and Syria.