AS part of the Great War in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai has convened a farcical show of hand-picked cronies in Kabul, called Loya Jirga, to endorse plans for long-term strategic relationship between the United States and Afghanistan that, among other things, would legitimize establishment of six US permanent military bases in the strategically located country.
Reports trickling down both from Washington and Kabul in January this year indicated interest of the US in setting up permanent bases but these were publicly denied by senior US officials. But later developments and now holding of the Jirga clearly show that the two countries were about to enter into the deal that would sow seeds of permanent instability and security concerns in and around Afghanistan.
An aerial view of Bagram Airbase near Kabul, Afghanistan. (Photo: http://www.hanscomfamily.com/2009/04/02/detention-at-afghan-base-is-subject-to-us-courts/)
The day the United States invaded and occupied sovereign Afghanistan, it became crystal clear that the super power has long term designs about that country but announcement of President Obama to start withdrawal and hand over security of the country to Afghan forces by 2014 raised expectations about possibility of peace and security returning to the war-ravaged country.
However, the plan to establish permanent bases would not only be a threat to Afghanistan but also to its neighbours especially Iran, Pakistan, China, Russia and Central Asian Republics. This also shows that the protracted war in Afghanistan is not being waged to defeat “terrorism” or promote democracy, but to secure US hegemony in Central Asia, one of the most energy-rich and geo-strategically vital regions of the globe.
Karzai is trying to dupe his own people by telling them that the move would bring stability and economic prosperity to Afghanistan as the fact remains that the US invasion in 2001 has produced only destruction, carnage and impoverishment. An indefinite military occupation will perpetuate the devastation.
The bases the US wants to occupy permanently are in strategically critical parts of the country: Shindand, in the west not far from the Iranian border; Camp Dwyer, in the southwest near Pakistan and Iran; and Mazar-i-Sharif, in the north, close to the former Soviet Central Asian republics and Russia. Another major US air base is at Bagram in the northeast, not far from borders with China and Pakistan. From the Afghan facilities, US air force bombers, surveillance flights and predator drones can dominate the region.
Afghan resistance is fighting war of liberation and permanent presence of the US forces would be seen as a symbol of loss of sovereignty and independence as Americans would be able to not only influence domestic policy of Afghanistan but also control its foreign affairs and this would be a cause for perpetual war in that country.
Pakistan and other neighbouring countries have legitimate concerns about American plans as they can’t afford permanent instability on their borders.