OUR REGIONAL IMPLICATIONS BEYOND YEAR 2014
By Mansoor A Malik
The period following the 9/11 catastrophe is coming to a closure with the withdrawing of the American and NATO troops from Afghanistan towards the end of the next year. Perhaps, a token presence of US troops may still be held back as a back up emergency support force but the curtain is certainly going to fall after the major withdrawal of Western troops is completed by December, 2014. The world in 2014 would be much different than in 2001. Firstly, the American White House has been cleansed of the most ultra-conservative Republican Government in its history under the Bush-Cheney combine and would be in the middle of the second term of the first Afro-American Democratic US President Barack Obama. Secondly, a newly elected President in Afghanistan and duly elected Prime Minister of India would be in office. Thirdly, fresh peoples’ mandated governments in Iran and Pakistan are fully functional. This Near Regional Stability could be maintained only after seeing the new faces of power in Kabul and Delhi. The Far Regional Stability would depend upon the equilibrium to be established in the Middle-East after the cessation of the present crisis in Syria and a political settlement in Egypt.
America’s knee jerk reaction in Afghanistan after the 9/11 tragedy to un-leash their War on Terror with the questionable one dimensional cliché “Are you with us or against us?” would continue to haunt them for a long time to come just as their Vietnam Syndrome. This was their first war of the 21st Century which they had earlier declared as their American Century. Pakistan was also sucked into this quagmire, thanks to the commando dictator General Musharraf who was then in power after deposing a duly elected Prime Minister. The recently elected government of Pakistan has taken a bold decision to open negotiations with the extremists/militants who have been fighting on the opposite side for the last twelve years or so. This window of opportunity available to our government would hardly be there for a year or so till the American/NATO troops are withdrawing; since after that, the Western Governments are likely to loose their interest in our region and would be a by-stander to our melt-down, god forbid. This would be a billion dollar challenge to all our regional governments to manage the damage control on their own without any external spoon feeding.
The second American war of this century in Iraq in the midst of the Afghan campaign is also in doldrums. For this, the Americans succeeded in drawing in the Iranians in this war as a major stake-holder. The representatives of the Old Persian Empire in Tehran very wisely planned to keep the American ignited fires in Iraq away from ever reaching into the borders of Iran unlike the military dictator in Islamabad who got Pakistan un-wittingly into the thick of the Afghan imbroglio. After the withdrawal of American/NATO troops at the end of 2014, Iran and Pakistan would be left with picking up the pieces and building a strategic regional consensus for peace, economic progress, justice and freedom for all.
This would be the most daunting task after seeing the destruction of both Afghanistan and Iraq by the two American Wars. A whole new generation there has matured who have seen only fighting and destruction during the last decade or so. Left on their own, Iran and Pakistan’s responsible and representative governments could finally establish regional stability but in this equation the next elected government in Delhi could be very crucial. The recent elevation of Mr. Narendra Modi, the butcher of Indian Muslims in the not so distant Gujarat Riots as the Prime Ministerial candidate of the Fundamentalist Hindutva Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may sound danger bells for our region. A new leadership may emerge in the Indian National Congress (INC) in the face of the suave Mr. Rahul Gandhi to fight for the coveted office of the Indian Prime Minister. The people of India would have to decide in 2014 general elections between the INC led by Rahul Gandhi or Narendra Modi of BJP. Their choice would decide whether our region would yearn for peace or turmoil.
Where does America go after the two wars it un-leashed in Afghanistan and Iraq for most part of this new century, comes to an end? The diplomatic victory, if achieved, by the Lavrov/Kerry parleys in Geneva on the Syrian crisis would be a good omen for our region stretching from the Middle-East to South-West and Central Asia. Would it symbolize the emerging of a new twist in the American Policy where American Politics and Diplomacy would now take a front seat while the American War Machine can go and take a break on the shores of Darwin in Northern Australia for what is known in their jargon as Rest and Recreation (R&R) to fight another day?
All through the 1980s’ when the Cold War was at its crescendo, the American War Machine was expanding its tentacles in all four dimensions, Land, Air, Sea and Space. The trillions of dollars of American tax payers’ money which was spent on building this colossal war capability would remain almost intact and operational till the year 2030 before their service life is over. Any new US President in the White House as the Commander-in-Chief of these un-limited resources may not be constrained to try out new adventures in the ASIA-PACIFIC and CENTCOM Military Command Regions where most of these resources are positioned for their rapid response.
At the end of the two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and a near third war in Syria, a lot of soul searching has to be carried out by the regional leaders affected by the decisions taken elsewhere. Several million people lost their lives or were severely wounded and many more were internally displaced in the countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Lebanon during these three adventures. Political maturity against heavy odds as shown by of Mr. Putin of Russia all along during the present crisis in Syria has to be closely studied by all our worthwhile regional leaders. Russia may have re-established itself on the World Stage in general and in the Muslim World in particular. The big five Democratic Muslim Countries i.e. Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia, some of whom may be presently under the American Influence should take a lead and establish their own independent camp with their specific intrinsic strengths for a long term strategic alliance and provide leadership to the fifty seven member OIC Muslim Countries. This would give us combined strength in future to keep the hunters away from the hunted through our united political posture. It would be our contribution for establishing peace and justice in the 21st century in the near and far regions of our world.