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Afghanistan Geostrategic Importance

Keywords: afghanistan tactical location, afghanistan history

When Allah had made the rest of the world, he noticed there was a lot of rubbish left over, equipment and things that didn't fit anywhere else. He collected all of them mutually and threw them down on the planet earth. That was Afghanistan.

- A vintage Afghan Expression.


The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is a landlocked country in South-Central Asia. It really is variously referred to as being located within Central Asia, South Asia, or the center East. It really is bordered by Iran in the western world, Pakistan in the south and east, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far off northeast. The geographic entity now known as Afghanistan has an extremely long record, and has been an ancient focal point of the Silk Street and migration. It really is an important geostrategic location, hooking up East and Western Asia or the Middle East. The land is a target of varied invaders, as well as a source from which local powers invaded neighbouring parts to form their own empires. Ahmad Shah Durrani created the Durrani Empire in 1747, which is considered the start of modern Afghanistan.

In the overdue 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer express in The Great Game played between the Uk Empire and Russian Empire. Because of its strategic positioning Afghanistan became the center point of strong rivalry between Tsarist Russia and Britain during the nineteenth century. On August 19, 1919, following a third Anglo-Afghan war, the united states regained self-reliance from the uk over its international affairs. Through the ensuing issue, the war-weary British isles relinquished their control over Afghan international affairs by putting your signature on the Treaty of Rawalpindi in August 1919. In commemoration of the event, Afghans rejoice August 19 as their Freedom Day. Afghanistan continued to be at the centre level of international politics as a theatre in the frigid war games of super capabilities with Pakistan acting as the frontline express of USA for channelling its financial, materials and military supplies to the Afghan Mujahedeen. Because the past due 1970s Afghanistan has experienced a continuous point out of civil warfare punctuated by overseas occupations in the forms of the 1979 Soviet invasion and the 2001 USA led invasion that toppled the Taliban administration. Afghanistan has assumed importance due to its potential to effect the societies and politics in its bordering countries. (Refer fig 1)

Historical Perspective

The geography of any nation decides its background, politics and the type of its people. Afghanistan has been called by many labels from being "the center of Asia" by the great Indian poet Mohamed Iqbal, to "the cockpit of Asia" by Lord Curzon. The geo proper location of Afghanistan has been significant because the earliest Aryan invasion it being proudly located on the crossroads between your Arabian Sea and India and between your central Asia and South Asia, the country has indeed stood safeguard on the land routes to the Indian subcontinent. Even the ruler of Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh, experienced recognised that the main element to the security of the plains of India lay in Kabul.

Afghanistan has always continued to be an area of imperial aspirations, differing perceptions and competitions both in middle ages and contemporary times. Even before Afghanistan surfaced as a geo politics entity, the spot had seen competition for effect by the Mongols, Persians, the Mughals as well as local tribal chiefs. Though Afghanistan as a state been around since 1747, its current politics borders developed only toward the end of the previous century (1880-1901) as an final result of rivalry between English India and Tsarist Russia. Creation of a buffer state between the two giant capabilities in Asia was a politics and armed service compulsion. Politically speaking, it was the problem of security between British India and Russia that decided Afghanistan as circumstances more than the factor of its sovereignty since Afghanistan's spatial location refused it the resources for it to be a viable express. Successive Afghan rulers have taken care of stableness by sourcing revenue (i. e. plundering) from its neighbours.

Afghanistan performed a pivotal role in the security perspective during the time of the fantastic game in the Nineteenth century when Russian and English imperial powers appeared to be over a collision course in Central Asia. The history of Nineteenth century is subsequently a history of movements and counter progresses the part of the Russians and the English Empire, which eventually led to the introduction of the land locked Afghanistan as a buffer express in the demarcation of frontiers. Thus, it was mainly this "Great Game" being performed out in Afghanistan, which led to growing its current political borders, alternatively than its dependence on sovereignty. Since its stableness was an integral factor in keeping the delicate security balance in the region, the external power continued to supply rulers of Afghanistan with reassured resources to preserve control and inner balance. Thus, Afghanistan became really the only country to hold off both Russian and United kingdom expansion in the last century without aligning itself with either. The demarcation of Afghanistan's boundary with Russia commenced in 1887, however Russians never lost eyesight to the fact that they had a need to have their effect in your community, and this resulted in the putting your signature on of the 'Treaty of Companionship' between your two in 1921. The British too, completed the demarcation of the boundary with Afghanistan by creating the Durand range, known as after Sir Mortimer Durand in 1893, without giving any thought to the tribal affinities and traditional affiliations.

Geographical Location

Afghanistan is the world's 41st-largest country (after Burma) and comes with an section of 245, 000 square miles. It is landlocked and mountainous, with plains in the north and southwest. Afghanistan with a noticeable sizeable chunk of geometrically regular territorial settings is at the intersection of the Indian Sub-Continent (Pakistan), the center East (Iran), Central Asia (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan) and China (The Wakhan Corridor). In terms of International borders, the details are Pakistan (2430 km); Iran (936 km); Tajikistan (1206 km); Uzbekistan (137 km); Turkmenistan (744 km), and China (75 km). The northern and southern part of Afghanistan is divided by the significant Hindu Kush hill ranges. The Pamir Mountains to the northeast also known as "the roof covering of the world" by Marco Polo are the junction between Tajikistan, Afghanistan and China. Inside the east, the moves in Suleiman hill range like the famous Khyber Pass have provided usage of the Indian subcontinent.

Geo Strategic Relevance since World Warfare II

The post World Battle II observed the collapse of the English colonial rule in the Subcontinent and Soviet Union appearing as a Super Power with USA led european bloc and Soviet Union led eastern communist block. With the United kingdom departure from India Afghanistan lost its importance, possibly because the european bloc found an ally in Pakistan to counter the Soviet extension. However, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 brought the united states to the limelight once again and the proper balance of the subcontinent was transformed dramatically with involvement of extra regional powers. The geo tactical relevance of Afghanistan in the above mentioned backdrop cannot be overlooked and it gained further importance with the breakup of Soviet Union. Infact the country has surfaced as a fresh centre for terrorism.

Post Cold Warfare Era and the brand new Great Game

The drawback of Soviet Union from Afghanistan once more transformed the geopolitical and geo tactical importance of Afghanistan. The resultant ability vacuum, infighting among the Mujahedeen commanders, weak authorities of Najibulla at Kabul, and having less USA support to Pakistan, were to a big extent in charge of the state of affairs in Afghanistan. In conjunction with an indifferent world community, it developed a sure shot menu for devastation.

Surrounded by two nuclear states (China and Pakistan), a threshold nuclear status (Iran) and having two other nuclear powers in its near vicinity (India, and Russia) places Afghanistan in a hard situation with its neighbours as well other power vying to obtain a foothold in your community to spread their influence in the region and the subcontinent.

The introduction of new Claims in Central Asia in 1991 brought to limelight the vast Hydrocarbon resources available in your community and once again Afghanistan acquired the critical need for the land route from Central Asia to Arabian Sea. It could be asserted that despite its landlocked location, Afghanistan is important in geo-economic conditions too both in terms of substantial deposits of essential oil and gas (assessed but not tapped) as a energy corridor for Central Asia energy produce. The recently independent claims of the Central Asian region have been desperately looking for method of communication to export their coal and oil riches, so as to end their isolation and financial reliance on Russia. Turkmenistan's desire of reviving plans to place the pipeline across battle torn Afghanistan to Pakistan and then to India exposed the desperation facing these says.

Taliban and the Effect on the Geo Strategic Environment

When Russia eventually withdrew from Afghanistan, the US-supported Mujahideen got control. Instead carrying on the support for the buffer point out, America's subsequent drawback from the spot caused a vitality vacuum, allowing sectarian interests (the Taliban) to seize control. As Afghanistan had been abandoned by both Russian and the Western, the Taliban acquired no curiosity about behaving as buffer, and pursued their own plan. Afghanistan, aside from being the land bridge to central Asia has also turn into a home to the fundamentalist ranging from the Jihadi's from Kashmir to the Uighur separatists and provided a suitable kick off pad for such activities in Central Asia. Afghanistan's geo-political and historical backdrop further complicated the problem.

The Taliban were at first welcomed by the war torn population since they promised a finish to the prevailing anarchy. However, the next quest for vitality and their change in stance from having no political ambitions, to a set refusal for electric power sharing pressed Afghanistan into another period of instability. Afghanistan, till Dec 2001, can therefore be referred to as having been a officially undivided place of fragmented electric power. Soon Taliban as a bunch to Al Qaida and its leader, Osama Bin Laden, turned into reality the risk of Islamic Fundamentalism encountered by the Central Asian state governments since 1991. The building up of links between militant organisations like Islamic Movements of Uzbekistan, Al Qaida, the Chechen rebels, Uighur separatists and the Taliban, further compounded the security situation in your community. The bombings of the US embassies in 1998 brought USA and the Taliban over a collision course. However, it was the 11 Sep 2001 episodes on the World Trade Centre, which roused the world community and obligated them to cope with the menace posed by Taliban and its own associates.

The Relevance Post 11 Sep 2001

The global warfare on terrorism (GWOT) launched by USA and it's allies has added great deal of turbulence in the region. Existence in Afghanistan provides USA an chance to influence the spot and keep a check on Russian, Chinese, Pakistani, Iranian and the Indian affect, the nuclear expresses in your community, employment it has recently commenced, as is evident from the pressure on Pakistan and the Iranians. The United States however is at a strategic problem as it made its Afghanistan strategy totally reliant on Pakistan Army's cooperation. A tactical denouement is underway presently. The United States geopolitically stirs a witches cauldron in Afghanistan by giving primacy to Pakistan Army's strategic sensitivities to regulate Afghanistan. Any US leave from Afghanistan could create a political vacuum which would most likely get crammed in by Russia, Iran and India.

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