The US has come to the end of the Greater Middle East Project

by Sami Burgaz
Jeyhun Alakbarov

Mr. Jeyhun Alakbarov has a PhD in History of International Relations from Institute of History of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences. He has 10-years’ worth of experience as a columnist on history, politics, and international relations in the leading media resources. He has authored numerous articles in Russian, English, French, Turkish and Azerbaijani.

Ulviye Filiyeva ERKEC
Redacted by Sami BURGAZ

The developments in Afghanistan continue to engross the world agenda. In an environment where the unity of the chain of command is subdued and the armed forces are dispersed, the Taliban is waiting for foreign forces to leave the country in order to establish a new government.

Among other things, the effectiveness of Taliban’s governance in the future, the consistency within its beliefs and the potential of averting being a regional security threat are being heftily discussed.

In this regard, Azerbaijani political expert Jeyhun Alakbarov, to whom we asked our questions about the subject, associated the US’ withdrawal from Afghanistan with the end of the Greater Middle East Project.

Dear Mr. Alakbarov, experts disagree on the reasons for the US’ withdrawal from Afghanistan as much as they agree on a common ground. How do you evaluate the reason for this withdrawal?

The withdrawal from Afghanistan is the final stage of the Greater Middle East Project led by the US. This project, which began following the terror attacks of 9/11, led to the invasion of Afghanistan in December 2001 and continued with Iraq, the change of government in many Arab nations through the means of Arab Spring, ISIS and other issues. This mission has been going on for 20 years, however stability is yet to be proven. For the project to be realised, the region had to be shaped by ousting the Taliban in the first place. In contrast, the project semed to have ceased with the return of Taliban to the world stage.

At this stage, I do not think that the US is making any financial gains from Afghanistan. The purpose was purely political. I do not agree with the ideas that associate the US’ activity in the Near East with the interests of the oil mafia or with aim to control the region since Afghanistan is neighbouring Iran. Neither do I believe that the USA wanted to be close to the borders of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) members led by Russia.

USA’s presence in Afghanistan was political upper hand which is no longer needed. Although Trump voiced the departure from Afghanistan, the democrats effectuated it. This is a policy conducted as the general line of the US.

By withdrawing from Afghanistan, what kind of situation did the US leave Russia face-to-face with?

Because of NATO’s blockade of Russia, Russia is already “in trouble”. By withdrawing from the region, the US indicates that there is no danger for itself, and that all its attention is now to create problems for Russia and to confront Russia with the Afghanistan problem. Although Russia has always been seen as the troublemaker, this time a problem is caused for Russia. Such an experience has happened before. The war in Afghanistan, which lasted for 10 years, caused the USSR to struggle so much that as a result, the USSR did not obtain any gain, and even the process of the collapse of the union accelerated.

Russia persistently wants to add Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to the CSTO with the pretext of defending it. But it is only present in Tajikistan, which is ethnically close to the Pashtuns. Taliban’s any move to the countries that are bordered with Afghanistan will cause trouble for Russia. Russia is already struggling on numerous fronts – in the Caucasus, Eastern Europe, and the Far East. A new conflict spot will cause more trouble for Russia.

On July 9, 2021, the political office delegation of the Taliban movement visited Moscow and held a number of meetings. How do you evaluate these meetings?

Yes, on the other hand, there is the situation of the Talibs getting closer to the Russians. Although the Taliban was considered as a forbidden organization in Russia before the full takeover of Afghanistan, the Taliban held some meetings in Moscow, and Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov tried to create a positive image about the Taliban. I think that Russia and the Taliban can prove good relations, but I do not think that Russia will have any claim to dominate the region with it. Iran and Pakistan will not allow this to happen either.

Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The Asia Today.


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