Nato Withdrawal From Afghanistan Could Rock Asian Stability

Nov 18, 2013, 10:08 ET from World Review

VADUZ, Liechtenstein, November 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Nato's withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014 is likely to have far-reaching implications for Central and South Asia. And total withdrawal of troops could be devastating for regional security and jeopardise the safety of western nations, writes Asian security and politics expert, Lisa Curtis in World Review.

'If the Taliban were able to re-assert power in Afghanistan, it would embolden militants in Pakistan and increase the risk of extremists gaining access to Islamabad's nuclear weapons,' she says.

Critical talks are taking place in Afghanistan this week (November 18 - 21, 2013), which will determine whether or not some US and Nato troops will remain in the country post 2014.

The Afghan government and some 2,500 tribal elders are discussing a contentious Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) to allow American and some Nato troops to stay in the country. This includes the US demand that would grant American soldiers immunity from prosecution under Afghan law. If the demands are not met, the US could end up leaving zero forces in Afghanistan, similar to the way it completely pulled out of Iraq in 2011.

'Two years later, Iraq is experiencing a major upsurge in terrorist violence from a revived al-Qaeda. A similar situation in Afghanistan would be devastating for regional security and also jeopardise the safety of western nations as they would face an emboldened network of Islamist terrorists with global ambitions,' adds Ms Curtis.

The threat is most acute for Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation of 180 million, where there is real concern over nuclear weapons falling into the hands of extremists. Pakistan's nuclear weapons arsenal is one of the fastest growing in the world today. - It has around 100 warheads.

'There are a variety of terrorist groups based in Pakistan's tribal areas, including the Haqqani network, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), all of which have links to the Taliban and al-Qaeda,' says Ms Curtis.

There is concern that the IMU would use its base in Afghanistan to launch operations into Central Asian states, particularly Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Russia also is concerned that a complete withdrawal of US and Nato forces from Afghanistan could embolden jihadist elements in Afghanistan that would, in turn, export Islamist ideology and violence to the north.

Read the full World Review report here

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About the Author

World Review author Lisa Curtis analyses America's economic, security and political relationships with India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other nations of south Asia as a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, USA.


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