‘Regional Approach’ in Washington’s Afghanistan strategy

  • Date of Publication : 17/06/2017 at 11:49 GMT
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U.S Defense Secretary James Mattis in a congressional testimony on June 13 spoke about Donald Trump’s regional approach to the ongoing war in Afghanistan. Mattis hinted a change in the status of war in Afghanistan, recommending adopting a “regional approach” as one effective way to break the stalemate in the Afghan war. He made the statement while admitting the U.S is not winning the war in the country.

But what will be the U.S regional approach that is expected to lead the Afghan army to victory in the war against insurgency in the country? Considering the important role of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries, especially Pakistan in the effectiveness of this approach, what policy and approach would the U.S take towards these countries? How can the United States using a regional approach in Afghanistan can convince the rival and hostile regional players to contribute to peace and stability in Afghanistan? Will the U.S threaten them or will it accept their demands and conditions? Will the United States, under the new approach attack the Taliban and their sanctuaries in Quetta, Peshawar or anywhere else in Pakistan or will it give priority to Pakistan’s demands against Afghanistan? What will be the United States’ position towards Russia and Iran in its Afghan regional approach? If it is based on threatening or putting pressure on these countries, won’t Afghanistan turn into a battle for Moscow and Tehran from where they would plot revenge against the U.S?

And if this approach is aimed at providing the condition for the U.S to interact with Moscow and Tehran over Afghanistan, this interaction is unlikely to be possible, given the U.S counteraction policy with Iran and Russia in the Middle East and Ukraine. However, the most logical and easiest way for Washington’s Afghan approach is to create a regional interaction and consensus rather than to threat or keep the conflict going. However, creating a regional consensus would not be an easy task.

Afghanistan, Pakistan and its Arab allies, especially Saudi Arabia, Iran, India and Russia, should be included in this interaction and agreement. Does the U.S have the will and ability to lead and manage such an interaction and consensus? Or are the Americans seeking their interests in continuing the war and in playing regional games under the pretext of resolving the Afghan problem, and fanning the flames of war under a regional approach based on ‘threat’?

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