Now that the President has revealed the numbers of American troops to withdraw from Afghanistan, people are asking, What will happen when we’re gone?
Every regional warlord and high-ranking public official has essentially hedged his bets when it comes to the future of Afghanistan. That is, they’ve played both sides. Now some people think this is reasonable; after all, everyone wants to be on the winning side. However, when the central government of Afghanistan essentially refused to throw all of its chips into the pile, refusing to do everything it could to destroy the Taliban insurgency and root out corruption, the government essentially guaranteed that it would lose. It wanted ISAF to do all the work.
So now Afghanistan will reap the whirlwind from its half-hearted and duplicitous actions. Nothing I’ve seen here leads me to believe that Afghan security forces can defeat Taliban, Hezb-i Islami and Haqqani insurgents. On many occasions, entire district centers in the northeast of the country were overrun by cross-border Taliban raiders, without the police firing a single shot. The Afghan security forces simply hid until American airpower could come to the rescue.
Recent reports have Afghan President Karzai surrounding himself with anti-American advisors beholden to pakistan and Iran. He has already admitted to taking “bags” of cash from the Iranian government and he’s also attended a security meeting in Iran.
In the east, the Haqqani Network is determined to grab its piece of the pie: Khost, Paktia and Paktika Provinces. The Pakistani government refuses to put real pressure on Haqqani in the tribal areas, and so the Haqqanis are able to freely attack and withdraw.
In the north, Hazaras and Tajiks still hold old grudges against Pashtun tribesmen. In the south, true Taliban believers still control rural areas and exact taxes from many of the farmers.
China, Iran and Pakistan all have interests in controlling or influencing areas of Afghanistan. It is my estimation, that when America leaves Afghanistan for good, civil war is almost inevitable. Pakistan will always see Afghanistan as a place to build strategic depth, and will always fear giving India anything of value.
Expect a similar civil war as to what took place in the early 90s, with multiple warlords, backed by various state powers, vying for power and land. Afghanistan, doomed Afghanistan. Only under the power of heavy-handed Islamic extremists, such as the Taliban, will Afghanistan find homeostasis.