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Daily News Analysis

Afghanistan and Central Asian dictators’ fears

Crescent International

On August 27, the US regime-financed RFERL radio program reported that hundreds of Tajiks asked their autocratic ruler in Tajikistan to allow them to join militias in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley.

The above report is one of the Western media’s fluffs among many recently witnessed when reporting on the defeat of NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Those familiar with the nuts and bolts of politics and economics in Central Asia know well that all regimes in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia do not take steps which run counter to Russia’s geopolitical interests.

It should be clear to level-headed observers not influenced by Western media tabloid style headlines of the situation in Afghanistan that Russia does not desire to interfere in Afghanistan for the time being.

This position was clearly articulated by Russian President Vladimir Putin on August 24.

Putin also implicitly framed Moscow’s current approach to the evolving situation in Afghanistan.

If the ruling authorities in Kabul, whoever they may be, retain a strictly internal agenda, Russia does not care who rules Afghanistan and how.

By now it should be evident to seasoned observers that the Taliban’s focus is on ruling Afghanistan.

It has no desire to export its vision of Islam abroad and will not support internationalist groups.

Russian political and security establishment understands well that the Taliban do not have the political, economic, and social leverage to topple pro-Russian regimes in Central Asia.

However, the autocratic regimes of the former Soviet Union probably fear that their own domestic Islamic opposition groups can be inspired by Taliban’s success in Afghanistan.

They may renew their push to topple the kleptocratic regimes in Central Asia.

While the immediate fears of unelected rulers in Central Asia are not based on reality, being family run kleptocracies, they calculate ahead and aspire to leave stable treasuries for their clans to plunder once they die.

All powerful players involved in Afghanistan now know that the Taliban will do all they can to not allow an internal conflict to breakout.

This is the primary reason why they managed to retake the country, as they showed themselves to be the dominant socio-political force above petty politics.

Everyone, including the Taliban, understand that the movement’s primary external goal is political recognition.

While it is unrealistic to expect NATO regimes to recognize the new Taliban constructed government in Kabul, gone are the days when a government needed Western support to survive.

The experiences of Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, and Syria clearly show this.

The Taliban understand this new geopolitical reality well.

While the Taliban will do their outmost to eliminate the fears of Central Asia’s autocrats, they will be a difficult bunch to convince.

Paranoia is a hallmark of all autocratic rulers.

However, even if they are not convinced, they will not make any move on the Afghan theater without Russia’s approval.

As long as the new emerging authorities in Kabul keep Moscow convinced of their non-interventionist regional politics, Taliban will not face any serious challenge from Central Asian dictators.

This is precisely the reason why any anti-Taliban militancy which the Western corporate media is trying to brand as “resistance” is destined to fail.

Without logistical support from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, no internal anti-Taliban militia can last.

The reason Ahmad Shah Masoud, head of the Panjshir Valley militias was able to hold out against the Taliban in the 1990s was because of support from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Moscow approved of such assistance.

It will be difficult to repeat the same scenario with today’s geopolitical realities.

As the situation continuously evolves, it is naïve to assume that NATO regimes will sit idle and allow Afghanistan to become stable.

Naturally, Russia and its Central Asian satellites will adjust their policies accordingly.

The key aspect in understanding future developments regarding the impact of events in Afghanistan on Central Asia is to keep track of statements coming from Moscow, not Dushanbe or Tashkent.

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