Hamid Karzai has stated that the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group in Afghanistan could threaten neighboring Russia and China if the group is able to gain a strong foothold in the country.
Afghanistan’s torrid history
Afghanistan has, of course, been a focus of foreign policy for both the United States and the former Soviet Union for many years. It is widely considered that the Soviet policy of invading Afghanistan at the end of the 1970s played a significant role in the ultimate breakup of the Soviet Union.
Then the United States made Afghanistan a central theater of the War on Terror, after the country was identified as a possible hiding place of Osama bin Laden. Although the prevailing Taliban regime in Afghanistan denied that they had any form of contact with bin Laden, and also that he was resident in the country, the United States nonetheless engaged in a military intervention which has lasted over a decade.
Regardless of the veracity or otherwise of these initial claims, there is little doubt that the war in Afghanistan has continued for much longer than was originally intended. Indeed, the appetite of the American public for this intervention in a land which apparently has little to do with them must be wearing a little thin. This is particularly catalyzed by the fact that United States continues its military manoeuvres in Iraq, a country which has bore witness to a war that few people wanted in the first place, and which has since been established as almost universally unpopular.
It is before the backdrop of this that Karzai’s comments must be viewed, but the former Afghanistan President is nonetheless adamant that the prospect of the murderous ISIS gaining a foothold in the country is a chilling one. Speaking to the RT television network, Karzai stated that ISIS is alien in nature to Afghanistan, and that if it is able to acquire a prominent position within the nation that it could cause significant instability.
Karzai’s veiled comments on Afghanistan
Karzai also made accusations which seemed to link foreign forces with the ISIS terrorist organization. By stating that ISIS is foreign in nature to Afghanistan, Karzai also indicated that a rise of the group within the region could indicate support and interference from foreign-backed forces. Karzai stated that this would be an explicit attempt to destabilize the region, particularly Central Asia, China and Russia. Karzai was not entirely clear what he meant by these veiled accusations, but it was certainly intended to represent something of a threat to Russia and China.
It is significant that the comments made by Karzai are aimed at Russia and China, as the two nations form the backbone of a prominent power bloc which is gaining international recognition. The BRIC nations have a clear remit to oppose the traditional old word order orthodoxy of the Anglo-American, EU-NATO consensus.
While the BRIC nations have hitherto been unable to undermine the dominant position of the traditional power structure, it is proposed that in the future the nations involved will be able to have a significant influence. According to the IMF, China has now exceeded the United States as the country on the planet with the largest gross domestic product, and the growth of the Chinese economy has been stratospheric in recent years.
By partnering with other nations such as Russia, Brazil and India, China hopes to create a new power bloc of countries which have numerous resource, energy and other advantages that will provide it with a strong bargaining position in the world. Central to the ethos of the BRICs, and the group’s modus operandi, is the opportunity for countries which comprise the group to play a more central role in international economic entities and architecture, such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
Should the BRICs be denied a more central role in the architecture which was set up after the infamous Bretton Woods agreement, then Russia and China could instead decide to set up its own central bank. Indeed, this prospect has been previously reported, and it is also suggested that the BRIC nations are rapidly acquiring gold in order to both hedge against currency wars in the future and possibly as a means of introducing a gold-backed currency. The latter of these notions seems rather speculative, but what is certain is that Russia, China and India continue to accumulate gold at rapid rates.
Russia and China exclusion
The exclusion of Russia and China from the theater of international affairs is quite succinctly illustrated this very week. Russian and Chinese delegates are conspicuous by their absence at the ultra-secretive Bilderberg conference, while the G-7 meeting of Nations is naturally taking place without any Russian or Chinese representatives.
As US foreign policy continues to focus on well-established targets, it is clear that Russia and China could be sucked into these issues. Karzai is pointedly establishing a demarcation between the two existing groups, and warning Russia and China regarding their future conduct. It is a geopolitical theme which will become increasingly prominent in the coming years and decades.
ISIS to fund operations through drugs
Meanwhile, as ISIS continues to expand, it has been asserted that the organisation wishes to fund its operations in the wider world by gaining access to the drugs market. Opium is the major product of Afghanistan, and it has even been suggested previously that that United States has turned a blind eye to the cultivation of this product while operating in Afghanistan. Indeed, this was reported by Fox News.
Regardless of the accuracy of Karzai’s comments, there is little doubt that Afghanistan will remain a geopolitical chessboard for the foreseeable future, and that tension between Russia, China and that traditional Anglo-American empire will continue for many years to come.