Afghanistan at the Centre of the New “Great Game”


Afghanistan is a country with a lengthy history, located at the crossroads of Central South and West Asia. The geopolitically prominent country has had a considerable influence on world actors, especially since the 19th century. At present, everyone is focused on Afghanistan, which is by and by at the cutting edge of world consideration. A power vacuum will bring about Afghanistan because of Biden’s choice to pull out. To fill that void, the Taliban will be vying for control causing a widened civil war, and globally, every state tries to preserve its sole control in Afghanistan. China, Iran, India, Turkey, and Russia, are among the “New Great Game” players, with more distinct stakes in Afghanistan.

Afghans fear a power vacuum that will spread swiftly to adjacent countries. The United States declared troops withdrawal from Afghanistan by September 11, leaving the country bereft of forces, creating a vacuum for which every country, even non-state players are jockeying for control. Far off countries’ expansionist mentality has left Afghanistan in a state of draining since 1978. Afghanistan was depicted in the novel Kim by English journalist Joseph Rudyard Kipling more than a century ago as the cause of geopolitical competition in the “Great Game”. Afghanistan’s present political circumstance is comparable. Both on the national and international levels, actors are endeavouring to fill the power vacuum.

The shift of withdrawal brought significant impact in the form of rising Taliban to power at the national level. As the Council for Foreign Relations likewise asserted toward the start of this current year the “Taliban is currently at its strongest compared to any other point since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.”  This power vacuum might be worsened by a civil war-style clash between the Taliban and Kabul’s leadership, says Madiha Afzal, a Brookings Institution Foreign Policy Fellow. It was reported that in Moscow, an official from the Taliban’s delegation said that they had taken over 250 districts in Afghanistan including 85 percent of the country’s land, as well as major border crossings with Iran and Turkmenistan. This marks the beginning of the Taliban’s evolution and legitimization.

Although the country is undergoing internal turmoil in the form of civil conflict, Afghanistan is once again becoming a popular destination for new great games. China, Russia, Iran, India, and Turkey all have some skin in the game and some maneuvers under their sleeves, as Brookings Institution Foreign Policy Fellow Madiha Afzal accurately highlighted.

Other NATO nations have reported their pullout by September 2021. The Turkish government has said that their military will stay. Because of this move, a few scholastics accept that Turkey was trying to make the most of this opportunity; first, by fortifying its position in international affairs and, secondly, by boosting its relationship with the United States. Turkey additionally promised to shield Hamid Karzai International Airport, which has an essential connection with the remainder of the world. In any case, the Taliban instantly dismissed the thought, taking note that even though Turkey is a “great Islamic country, it is likewise an individual from NATO powers.

In any case, Turkey isn’t the lone country that might step in to fill a power vacuum. Iran asked the Taliban to discuss the Afghan Peace Process at the beginning of the year.  To explore “their intentions towards the country,” the Iranian Foreign Minister met with Taliban negotiators. There is around 700km of border between Iran and Afghanistan that are under Taliban control, making it unthinkable for Iran to disregard Afghanistan’s significance. However, Russia has gotten affirmations that the Taliban won’t utilize Afghanistan’s northern lines as a base for attacks on it. Notwithstanding this Russia is additionally preparing Afghanistan security power cadets.

The US’s hasty pullout from Afghanistan shows reckless behavior. There is a question that emerges: Why did the United States leave so swiftly? “Pivot to the Indo-Pacific” and to defy Beijing are the fundamental explanations for this. The United States realized that partaking in the homegrown issues of different nations would just damage its picture in the worldwide field and subvert its validity.

Now, the United States is engaging with its strategic allies, and India is at the forefront of this endeavor. The United States corporates with India to accomplish its objectives, most strikingly to deal with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The most essential weapon is the launch of B3W (Build Back Better World), an alternative to BRI. As a major worldwide hub, India’s knowledge is in high demand, according to France. Minister of External Affairs Economic Relations Secretary P Harish said that appropriate Indian agencies will analyze the plan and interact with the initiative at a specific period. In this case, India stands to gain the most from this chance. A major role might be played in Afghanistan, with US backing, by building 12 dams along Afghanistan River to improve hydrological capacity, which would allow India to halt water from draining into Pakistan’s Indus River, irrigating three districts.

While the United States attempts to offset Beijing. Afghanistan is in the sights of Beijing. A large copper deposit in Afghanistan makes the city an alluring natural resource for Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Chinese authorities are said to have led conversations with Taliban authorities about the execution of an engagement strategy. To keep away from negative overflow consequences for its drives, Beijing sent its state foreign minister to Central Asia to meet with officials from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Thus, as a result of this, not only will the power vacuum be less turbulent, yet it will likewise further develop relations with Asian countries. As security challenges in the region grow, Beijing’s “help, but don’t interfere” strategy is valuable in tackling them. The spokesman of the Taliban, Suhail Shaheen said in an interview that “China is a friendly country that we welcome for reconstruction and developing Afghanistan,”.

Afghanistan’s political future will be of vital importance in the coming. From Afghanistan’s history, it is clear that no single power can govern the country. Beijing has the advantage among every one of the nations that are keen on filling the force vacuum because of the degree of trust it has built through its “assist but do not interfere” strategy. By making a variety of pronouncements, the Taliban are also demonstrating that they have confidence in Beijing.  However, it’s time for Afghans to take responsibility for their country and stop relying on foreign powers for assistance.

Taliban and the Afghan government should create a coalition administration and accept non-interference support from Beijing to save their nation from further catastrophe. Afghanistan’s people are the only ones who can work for good administrations. For Afghanistan and its neighbors, if the conflict continues on its current course, it will be devastating and chaotic. Refugees will be displaced to neighboring countries, from where they already derive economic benefits. As Mirwais Yasini correctly observed, “A lot to be paid, if you don’t pay enough attention to Afghanistan.”

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