10:20 GMT17 January 2021
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    The solution to the US's 16-year-long fruitless war in Afghanistan would require the participation of China, Russia and Iran, which have direct security concerns in the conflict, geopolitical analyst Shahid Raza told Radio Sputnik, explaining why this peace scenario would be unacceptable to Washington.

    It appears that the only winner in the US 16-year-long fruitless war in Afghanistan is the Taliban terrorist organization that has proclaimed itself the "true defender" of the country, Shahid Raza, the director of the geopolitical research project for Command Eleven consulting in Islamabad, told Radio Sputnik.

    Raza underscored that the US is seeking to win the war it started 16 years ago by all means possible. Washington's military presence in Afghanistan doesn't command the public support in the country especially in light of the steadily rising civilian death toll.

    Neither does the US-backed government in Kabul control the situation on the ground, given the fact that the Taliban continues to hold about 45 percent of the Afghan territory, the expert emphasized.

    "There can be only one winner from this situation in the end — the Afghan Taliban," Raza said. "[They] would successfully brand themselves as the one and only true defender of the Afghan land and liberty against the foreign forces."

    According to the Pakistani expert, the only one way out of the current stalemate is to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.

    Additionally, solving the crisis would require the participation of all the countries "that have direct security interests in Afghanistan," Raza stressed.

    "You have to bring all the powers [concerned] to the table: you have to bring China, you have to bring Russia, you have to bring Iran…. They should be part of this peace process," the expert pointed out.

    However, while this scenario is advocated by "the highest echelons of the Pakistani intelligence" and the government, it remains unacceptable to Washington, he noted.

    The crux of the matter is that the Taliban's major demand is that "foreign forces should leave Afghanistan, there should be no military occupation of the country and only then there could be fair and free negotiations."

    The US is unlikely to withdraw its forces from the region, Raza says: Washington is interested in Afghan natural resources and the strategic location of Afghanistan in the Asian mainland, which allows the US intelligence services to keep an eye on Pakistan, China, Russia and Iran.

    Afghanistan has turned into "the listening post" and a sort of bulwark against Beijing, Moscow, Tehran and Islamabad, which are about to form an influential Asian bloc, he noted.

    Things could change if the Americans finally realize that their presence and occupation of Afghanistan are actually making things worse, Raza believes.

    "It all comes down to what they intend to do: Do they want to give up their interest in Afghanistan? Do they want to give up all the natural resources they are looking for? So these two questions, in my mind, would decide the future of Afghanistan," the expert concluded.

    Afghan Atiqullah Amarkhel, a military analyst and retired general from the Afghan Air Force shares a similar opinion.

    Speaking to Sputnik Afghanistan the military analyst surmised that one of the purposes of the US military presence in Afghanistan is to undermine the security of Central Asian states, such as Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and pose a challenge to its geopolitical rivals — Russia, China and Iran.

    In this context it is doubtful that the US will seek to bring the war to a halt as soon as possible, quite the contrary: Washington is interested in protracting the conflict, Amarkhel believes.

    The US's war in Afghanistan has been going on for 16 years, following the invasion of the country in 2001. Although the previous US administration pledged to bring the war to an end and reduced the number of troops in the Central Asian country, America's incumbent president, Donald Trump, announced a new Afghan strategy on August 21, envisioning the beefing up of US military presence in Afghanistan.

    Meanwhile, the number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan continues to rise, prompting fears that the expansion of the US air campaign in the country would further exacerbate the situation. 

    On August 30, the Afghan local media reported that at least 28 civilians, including women and children, were killed in an US airstrike in Afghanistan's eastern province of Logar.

    On Monday an airstrike conducted by NATO forces killed two people and injured three others at a wedding ceremony in Afghanistan's eastern province of Ghazni, according to local media.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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    NATO military presence, civilian casualties, US military presence, natural resources, Afghanistan War, Taliban, Donald Trump, Eurasia, Afghanistan, Iran, China, US, Russia, Kabul, Pakistan
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