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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/26/21

Taliban warns against US military bases in region

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The Afghan Taliban warned neighboring countries on Wednesday not to allow the US army to use their military bases and airspace against Afghanistan.

Anadolu News Agency quoted Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid as saying that various media outlets have quoted well-known sources as saying that the US wants to be present in their neighborhood after withdrawing from Afghanistan to carry out operations in their country.

"We urge our neighboring countries not to allow anyone to take such a decision. If such step is taken, it will be a great and historic mistake and disgrace," Mujahid said in a statement written in the Pashto language and shared with Anadolu Agency.

"The Afghan Muslim and Mujahid nation will not remain silent against such heinous and provocative actions, but will fulfill its religious and historical responsibility as it has done in the past," he warned, adding that any country that allows the US to use their space and land against Afghanistan will bear the full responsibility.

He said they have already assured the neighboring countries that Afghan soil will not be used against anyone, and that they also expect their neighbors not to allow the US to use their land or airspace against Afghanistan.

"Foreign forces in the region are the root cause of unrest and war, and the great tragedy that everyone has witnessed in the last 20 years," he added.

The Taliban statement came after some media reports that Pakistan will allow the US military to use its ground and airspace following its withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Last week, US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Affairs David F. Helvey told the US Senate Armed Services Committee that Pakistan has allowed the US military to use its airspace and given ground access so that it can support its presence in Afghanistan, the local English daily Dawn reported.

However, on Monday, the Pakistan Foreign Ministry rejected these reports and said there was no US military or airbase in Pakistan, nor any such proposal envisaged.

America's Central-Asian Dilemma

Fatigued with endless wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, and more sanguine about the prospects for democracy promotion, Washington is gradually disengaging from Central Asia. However, the United States needs the assistance of friendly South and Central-Asian states in extricating its troops from Afghanistan and maintaining regional stability once American and NATO forces have departed, according to the National Interest.

Charles E. Ziegler, professor of Political Science at the University of Louisville, writes: "Biden's foreign policy is likely to retain most of the features of the Trump administration's 'U.S. Strategy for Central Asia,' released in February 2020. The core policy objectives of the strategy are to support the sovereignty and independence of Central-Asian states, reduce terrorist threats in the region, expand support for stability in Afghanistan, promote human rights and the rule of law, and encourage U.S. investment. Washington also seeks to limit Russian and Chinese influence in the region, contain China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), encourage Uzbekistan's reform process under President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and enlist the Central Asian states in fighting terrorism.

"The United States faces a difficult choice of either competing with China, Russia and Iran in Central Asia or retreating from the region and conceding influence. While no major changes in Central-Asian policy have been apparent during the first months of the Biden administration, the new president's willingness to confront Beijing and Moscow over human-rights issues and democracy could increase regional tensions. Moscow appears determined to preserve and expand its regional presence through the Eurasian Economic Union, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and will likely continue to oppose an American presence barring a radical improvement in U.S.-Russian relations. Beijing shares leadership of the SCO with Moscow, and like Russia seeks to reduce American influence along its Western border, but the Sino-Russian relationship in Central Asia is in many respects competitive. Russia has a military advantage in the region but cannot match the financial resources China is committing through the BRI, nor can the United States.

"By working with India in Central Asia, the United States can improve the chances of stabilizing and integrating Afghanistan into the broader region. New Delhi is too protective of its sovereignty to bandwagon with the United States, but shared interests in Central Asia can provide the basis for a productive partnership," Ziegler concluded.

US Military Base In India

In the strategic circles in both the US and India, there are now more voices favoring the idea of India providing a military base to the US Navy, preferably somewhere in the Andaman and Nicobar group of islands, EurAsian Times reported.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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