ROAR: Russian Opinion and Analytics Review, Apr.21

Vladimir Kremlev for RT
This Tuesday, ROAR offers two opinions on Afghanistan and Pakistan as targets of anti-terrorism operations.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA publishes an article by Dr. Alexandr Umnov of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, who says that if Moscow hadn’t stopped its aid to Afghanistan in 1989, the government of Najibulla may have survived to this day, as it survived for three years after the aid was stopped, and Najibulla would have offered the U.S an alliance against Islamic extremists and international terrorists.

At first glance, today’s situation in Afghanistan resembles the situation in the time of the ‘limited Soviet military contingent,’ writes the author. As then, the Kabul government controls the Capital and all the bigger cities, while the armed opposition hold the rural areas and the mountains. As then, a foreign state is the guarantor of the government’s power. Even the numbers are comparable if one takes into account the 17 thousand additional troops sent from the U.S., and the fact that with bigger numbers and closer encounters with the enemy, American casualties will grow accordingly.

As then, the main stronghold of the armed opposition is situated in the tribal Pashto area of Pakistan, which the Pakistani government doesn’t control. The difference, says the writer, is in the fact that the Communist government came to power by its own effort, and later called for Soviet aid, while the current government was created by the foreign powers fighting the Taliban.

It is unlikely that the government of president Karzai could remain on its feet if the Americans suddenly decided to leave Afghanistan. However, the current trend in world politics may allow Karzai to remain in power, and maybe even win his fight against the Taliban – not necessarily by military means alone.

The writer says that on the one hand, for the U.S., the war in Afghanistan is more binding than it was for the Soviet Union (Moscow supported a regime for the sake of that regime staying in power, while Washington has set a goal to eliminate international terrorism), while on the other , the multi-polar nature of the modern world, the presence of multiple power centers around Afghanistan (China, India, Russia, and the moderate Muslim states of the Middle East), which are natural allies of the U.S. in the fight against terrorism, may help the U.S.-backed Afghan government win the trust and allegiance of some groups of Talibs (the moderates) and overpower the rest of them.

IZVESTIA’s Ekaterina Zabrodina writes that president Barack Obama has gone much further than George Bush in labeling the frontier area between Afghanistan and Pakistan as the most dangerous place in the world for Americans. This statement by the president of the U.S. has caused a shifting of gears in Washington’s Afghanistan/Pakistan policies, and made the border areas the main targets of anti-terrorism operations, in a de-facto sense uniting Afghanistan and Pakistan into one single operational area or theater of war.

The author says U.S. policies have a strange effect on Pakistan: the more U.S. pressure and involvement, the more the country is sliding into chaos. Over 20 Billion U.S. dollars have gone into the counter-terrorism operations there, so far to no result – or, rather, to a negative result, she writes.

It is also evident that the Bush administration badly miscalculated when it gave up on its long-term ally, ‘dictator’ Pervez Musharraf in favor of a more ‘democratic’ option, which turned out to be prone to corruption scandals.

At the moment, writes the author, the current Pakistani government is rapidly ‘losing’ the country to the tribal groupings and clans which are ready to tear the country into pieces at any moment. Apart from that, the ‘tribal zone’ is also the place where all the terrorist attacks are planned, and most of the world-infamous terrorists dwell.

In such a situation, writes the author, one option attractive to many is a military coup. It is practically inevitable today, she says. The question is: would a military coup in today’s Pakistan be evil or salvation? The U.S. wouldn’t like it – it’s ‘undemocratic.’ Massive financial aid combined with pressure applied to Pakistani intelligence which supports the Taliban and other extremists, and continues drone attacks on the Taliban-held areas is more likely to become the U.S. way of solving the problem.

The author says that the Pakistani nuclear arsenal continues to cause concern all over the world. In times of stability, and even in the beginning of chaos, it is considerably well guarded. In the worst case scenario of the country falling apart, it may fall into the wrong hands. As the chaos gains momentum and destroys the last remnants of stability, that concern is growing.

The U.S. solution may be optimal, but there may be not enough time left to implement it. Especially when all major economies and even some terrorist organizations of the world are suffering from the global crisis, while the terrorists in the border areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan are prospering on ‘drug dollars.’

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT.