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Even though Delhi is busy with Demonetisation upheaval, it is too slow in Coping with new Strategic Dynamic engulfing the Region!

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New Delhi, January 1, 2017: While New Delhi is busy with the demonetisation upheaval, it may find itself paces too slow in coping with the new strategic dynamic engulfing the region.

Neither Kabul nor New Delhi can be sanguine about the high-level meeting in Moscow on Afghanistan to which China and Pakistan were invited. This follows Moscow’s declaration that it does not consider Taliban as the enemy. In fact, Afghan Taliban can be allies against Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

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A piqued Ahmad Shekib Mostaghni, spokesman for the Afghan Foreign Ministry, said “even if such talks are organised with goodwill, they cannot yield substantial results because there is no one from the Afghan side to brief the participants about the latest ground realities”.

New Delhi, preoccupied otherwise, has not reacted to the Moscow meet. Apparently, the Russians took the Indian Foreign Office into confidence that “it was only about the internal situation in Afghanistan”. Russians are concerned about the rise of the Islamic State in Afghanistan, a diplomatic source said.

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Does New Delhi accept Moscow’s anxieties about ISIS in Afghanistan? And does it go along with Moscow and Beijing’s evaluation that Taliban are possible allies against the more infectious ISIS? But Washington has invested blood and treasure fighting the Taliban for 14 years. Is New Delhi at a trijunction?

In diplomacy, friendly gestures come with disguised ambiguity. With the Trump Presidency, a new chapter may be opening in US-Moscow relations. In preparation for this phase, Moscow would like to retain some pressure points to determine the pace of new equations. Kabul may be one such pressure point.

Should Trump turn upon Tehran over the nuclear deal, there is something in the Afghan cauldron for Iran to stir too.

So, the New Year begins with many new events to juggle with. Of the scattered scratches on my mind that 2016 leaves behind, the deepest one was etched in New York. At my friend’s DUMBO loft in Brooklyn on the night of November 8, an assortment of friends from every walk of life, left champagne bottles uncorked because the ground from under their feet moved when Hillary Clinton lost.

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If you make Bernie Sanders impossible, I said then, you make Trump inevitable.

American exceptionalism notwithstanding, the popular mood globally across liberal democracies was the same — a disgust with establishments foisted on them by globalisation and crony capitalism.

The assault on the establishment has come from the Left as well as the Right. Establishments, like the skilled matador, have deflected the people to the Right. This is their preferred fallback position. Hence, No to Bernie Sanders. Yes, to Trump. And now they are beating their breasts!

Well, let it be recorded, the American establishment did try to write itself into the script too. Clinton, after all, was nothing if not the establishment. Yes, people think I am untrustworthy. Yes, they think I am dishonest. Yes, I goofed in Benghazi… but still vote for me because Russians have hacked into my email. Bill Clinton went one better. Did I not tell you, he said to an interviewer, that Boris Yeltsin was a much better President than Putin.

Who knows the new Trump team from Forbes Who’s Who may reassert an old motto: the Business of America is Business. This encourages one to conclude that Trump would like to restore America as the land of unvarnished capitalism minus the hegemonic distortions, one which has made the US the world’s most hated nation even in influential enclaves of Europe.

Whatever else Trump may achieve, will he ever succeed in weaning away the Occupy Wall Street youth Bernie Sanders had mobilised? If not, he will begin to look like a semi finalist until the next elections in 2020.

Establishments may be able to channelise popular preference away from the Left, once or twice, but they cannot make a habit of it.

Ultimately, all speculations will be tempered by a Realpolitik, like the one opening up to India’s north. Counter-moves will come as soon as Trump finds his feet in the White House. As he surveys the scene from the Oval office, he will notice a new bounce in the Russian tread in Islamabad, Beijing, Damascus, Ankara, Manila, Kuala Lampur.

To be counted among Putin’s possible friends could well be French Presidential candidate, Francois Fillon, who defeated Nicolas Sarkozy in recent Republican party elections. Trump has already held out his hand to Putin. How firmly will he clasp it? And will the clasp last over Afghanistan too? Will New Delhi have respite from the unfolding demonetisation drama to attend to all of this? (IANS)

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The Taliban situation after it urged US to quit Afghanistan

“end the invasion as it is the only solution to the conflict in Afghanistan”

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Afghan Taliban have pressed the world community to ask the United States and its Western allies to leave Afghanistan instead of asking them to stop their armed struggle.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid was responding to a question about the latest call for peace talks by foreign ministers of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan at trilateral dialogue held in Beijing on December 26.

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A joint statement

In a joint statement, the three sides had called on the Afghan Taliban to join the peace process “at an early date”, while reaffirming that a broad-based and inclusive peace and reconciliation process, which, they said, was “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned”, and fully supported regionally and internationally.

Aftermath

The Taliban seemed unconvinced with the trilateral meeting’s demand and instead advised the international community to press the US and NATO to “end the invasion as it is the only solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.”

“The world community should put pressure on the US to quit our country and end its brutality. War has been imposed on us. The US wants to continue the war,” the Talibani spokesman said.

“Reconciliation could start when foreign troops leave Afghanistan. The presence of the US military is a threat to the whole region,” he said, in reply to a question posted on his WhatsApp account.

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Taliban’s stand

The remarks are an indication that Taliban have not shown any flexibility for talks with the Afghan government, which they consider as powerless. However, they insist they are ready for talks with the US to discuss with them “timing” for the withdrawal of the foreign troops.

“There is no change in the Taliban stance about the talks with the Kabul administration as any such act will be considered a deviation from the set principles of Mullah Omar and Mullah Akhtar Mansour (former Taliban chiefs),” a Taliban leader argues. He requested not to be identified by name as no Taliban leader is authorised to speak to the media and only the spokesman can make comments.

Reason

  • US forces have increased airstrikes against the Talibani positions after President Donald Trump unveiled his strategy for South Asia and Afghanistan in August that mainly focuses on war and little on political option. Trump’s policy
  • This was not received well by regional stakeholders and even divided Afghan leaders and former president Hamid Karzai slammed Trump’s approach. Trump has also reportedly called for closure of the Taliban office in Qatar, which is the lone address to contact the Taliban political envoys.
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A deadlock

Nazar Mutmaeen, a Kabul-based commentator and author of a book ‘Six days with Talibani leaders’, says all efforts for political negotiations face a deadlock at present in the wake of Trump’s new strategy.

“I think as the (Trump) policy builds up pressure on the them, they have also changed their war strategy. Now they largely focus on guerrilla war tactics instead of fighting in groups. At the same time the Afghan government too prefers war. So there is no chance for peace talks,” Mutmaeen told Daily Times from Kabul. (IANS)