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Review of a British Plan for Afghanistan: Will Afghanistan Disintegrate?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Qasem Rahmani
Expert on International Issues

The British politicians, who have a long record in breaking Eastern countries down into smaller entities, have offered their second plan in the past three years for disintegration of Afghanistan. It was about one month ago when news was broken about a plan offered to divide Afghanistan into eight autonomous regions. Later on, it became clear that the main protagonist behind the plan was a person called Tobias Ellwood who represents the British Conservative Party and is also parliamentary deputy at the British Foreign Office.

Presentation of new plans for the disintegration of Afghanistan dates back to the late 1980s when the former Soviet Union’s intelligence agency, KGB, decided to divide this country into two northern and southern halves. According to that plan, Moscow was supposed to take charge of the northern half of the divided country. The plan was immediately rejected by the Afghan Mujahedeen and it was, in fact, the Soviet Union which broke down into smaller countries after its troops withdrew from Afghanistan. That plan is known as Plan A for the disintegration of Afghanistan. The second plan for breaking down Afghanistan was worked out by the former ambassador of the United States to India, Robert Dean Blackwill, in July 2010. According to his plan, the southern part of Afghanistan was to be ceded to the Taliban with northern part of the country remaining under the rule of the Afghan President Hamid Karzai provided that the United States were allowed to establish military bases in the northern part without any trouble from the Taliban.

Interestingly enough, the main protagonists behind that plan were also the Britons. The plan had been originally forwarded by the then leader of the Liberal Democrat Party Nick Clegg and his party mate, Paddy Ashdown, in September 2009. The plan also asked for the disintegration of Afghanistan. The Plan B for the disintegration of Afghanistan also failed due to strong opposition of the country’s people as well as the Jihadist forces.

In their new effort, the British politicians, who apparently never give up the idea of disintegrating countries, have offered another plan through Tobias Ellwood, which is known as Plan C. According to the new plan, Afghanistan will be divided into eight autonomous regions, each region to be governed by a council under supervision of one or two foreign countries. The head of the central government will not be a president anymore, but a prime minister.

In this way, the presidential system will give way to a parliamentary system of government in which various regions will be governed by federal rulers. The parliament members will be elected from various parts of Afghanistan and, therefore, they will have to be attuned with local rulers in their own regions. The prime minister will be also elected by the lawmakers.

According to the British plan, the Taliban will take control of several regions. This probably means that every branch of the Taliban will be ruling an independent region, especially under present circumstance that their leader, Molla Omar, has become friendly to the Americans. Other groups, however, are still against the presence of the foreign occupying forces.

According to Ellwood’s plan, Afghanistan will be separated into eight economic divisions with major cities such as Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kunduz, Jalalabad, Khost, and Bamyan as their centers. The pretext that Ellwood has mentioned for offering this plan is escalation of tribal conflicts and corruption following withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, which may lead to chaos in the war-torn country. The reality behind the scenes, however, is different. The plan is also direct insult to the sovereign right of the Afghan nation as well as their right to self-determination.

The United States and Britain are worried that after withdrawal of foreign forces, the country may fell into the hands of jihadist forces and Afghan people would chose them as substitute to the current rulers. Let’s not forget that the United States helped the Taliban in 1996 to defeat the jihadist forces in Afghanistan. However, when it saw the Taliban was on the verge of collapse in 2001, Washington moved to occupy Afghanistan and establish a secular government.

Now, the inefficiency of the US-backed government of Afghanistan has been proven beyond any doubt and the people of Afghanistan remember such brave commanders as Ahmad Shah Massoud, Burhanuddin Rabbani, General Mohamad Daud and the likes of them, and want such people to rule their country. The United States and Britain, however, do not consider this to be in line with their interests. Therefore, by bringing forth the issue of “economic federalism” they are bent on providing grounds for the division of the war-torn country along ethnic lines.

Now, the question is will Afghanistan be finally disintegrated and is this option really possible? The answer to this question is a big “no.” The reason for that big “no” is related to the existing ethnic, national, and religious motivations in Afghanistan. According to the available statistics, Pushtus account for about 38 percent (1) of the total population in Afghanistan. Most of them believe in the necessity of establishing a Pushtu state to rule the entire Afghanistan and even certain parts of the neighboring countries. As a result, they are against any form of disintegration of Afghanistan. In this way, the first major hurdle to the disintegration of Afghanistan is Pushtus, especially that part of them which supports “Pushtunism.”

The people of Afghanistan, unlike power-seeking ethnic and religious groups, are not entangled in serious ethnic conflicts with one another. Today, the main priority for the Afghan nation is to get rid of war and bloodletting. However, due to existence of the deep-rooted tribal and clan system in the country, its division will not be a sure remedy for the existing problems, but will only make them more complicated. At the same time, Afghan Mujahedeen, both from Sunni and Shia faiths as well as with different ethnic backgrounds, have always put strong emphasis on the necessity of fostering unity across the country. Therefore, due to high influence of Afghan Mujahedeen, the division of Afghanistan is a dream which will never come true because they will never allow it.

The Taliban, especially those factions of it which are opposed to the United States, is another obstacle to division of the country. Those groups, which do not consider themselves as part of the Taliban anymore, have a claim to govern over the entire Afghanistan. The Islamic group of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (who heads the Islamic Party of Afghanistan), is one of those groups which is strongly opposed to the US presence in Afghanistan and calls for the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country. They also call for the current government to be dismantled followed by holding a reelection without any interference of the United States.

Another impediment to the division of Afghanistan is the country’s natural resources. The lion’s share of the country’s natural resources is located in northern, western, northwestern, and generally in the northern half of the country. If Afghanistan is divided in northern and southern parts, most of its people will not have any access to the country’s rich natural resources. Therefore, the Afghan people are sure to oppose the plan. According to available statistics, 95 percent of Afghan industries along with 70 percent of the country’s trade, as well as 70 percent of agricultural and livestock breeding activities are focused in the northern half of Afghanistan.

Countries with a federal system established, need a powerful economic system as well as a strong army. Afghanistan will have neither of them before 2014. Therefore, under these conditions, the prime minister will be only a titular official with no real authority. As a result, conflicts among various regions as well as internal conflicts in every region will lead to ultimate chaos in the absence of a powerful central government and a strong army. Therefore, Afghan people and officials will certainly never give in to such a dangerous plan.

Perhaps it was for this reason that the mastermind of Afghanistan division plan finally went back over his initial stance and noted that his plan had been just a confidential report based on the varying political tendencies of the Afghan people. He added that he has not sought the division of Afghanistan by any means. A federal system of government would need its own specific constitution. Formulation of such a constitution in Afghanistan, taking all the aforesaid problems into consideration, would be well-nigh impossible in the short period of time which remains before 2014.

The Western countries seek to pacify the general atmosphere in Afghanistan by any means in order to have more latitude to pursue their other plans in the Central Asia. Meanwhile, the United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Refugees has announced that immigration of Afghans to the neighboring Tajikistan has increased. This implies that the United States may use this phenomenon as an excuse to expand its presence in the Central Asia on ground of fighting terrorism which has been transferred from Afghanistan to Central Asia. Some analysts say that the United States will be trying to increase its influence in the southern neighbors of Russia and the western neighbors of China by 2013. Therefore, the situation in Afghanistan should be calmed down, even if temporarily.

The bottom line is that even if such plans fail to lead to the division of Afghanistan in the short run, they will, at least, keep anti-occupation fighters tightly entangled in political debates. The British politicians have always sought to divide Afghanistan, but they may have brought up this plan at the present juncture just to distract the public opinion from their main purpose. On the other hand, due to powerful role played by Germany in Afghanistan’s affairs, of course with the United States’ green light, the British officials, who consider themselves as owners of this country, are doing their best to have the upper hand in the political equations of Afghanistan.

The people of Afghanistan hate the United States and consider the existing government as a lackey of Washington, especially after it has been proven that the central government in Kabul is not able to improve the situation in the country. At present, the fuel price is too high due to profitable trade that middlemen are having with the NATO forces. As a result, the prices of other commodities have greatly increased. Financial and administrative corruption is rife in state-run bodies as insecurity is sweeping the country. The Americans have announced that their troops will continue to be present in Afghanistan for a long period of up to 2024. The Afghan government, on the other hand, has shown the green light to foreign forces to stay in the country because Kabul will not be capable of establishing security in the country for the next 15 years.

The plan offered for negotiations with Taliban is also directly related to division of power. In fact, the Western countries managed to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table by promising control of certain areas of Afghanistan to them. Of course, the Taliban here means those groups which are opposed to the US presence in Afghanistan. Other Taliban groups like those headed by Molla Omar have already forged a deal with the United States and many others have laid down their arms many years ago and have been engaged in various lines of trade since that time. However, the remnants of the former Jihad with the Soviet Union, who are called the “warlords” and have dealt the most drastic blows to the United States in the past 10 years, will never sit at a negotiating table with the United States and will never allow their country to fall apart.

Due to their steadfastness, a number of their leaders have been assassinated in the past few years in order not to impede the US plans. However, there are still many people who continue on their path. The Afghan people and Mujahedeen have obliterated all grounds for the division of Afghanistan for good. Therefore, the region should get ready to recognize a jihadist government in Afghanistan in the near future.

Endnotes:

(1) http://www.afghanpaper.com/info/joghrafia/jameiat.htm

Key Words: British Plan, Afghanistan, Disintegration, Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Taliban, Pushtunism, Warlords, Rahmani

Source: Borhan News Site
http://borhan.ir/
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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