Afghanistan’s ‘Political Insecurity’ and the Emerging Geopolitical Calculus in Eurasia

DOI10.1177/0020881720934336
AuthorNalin Kumar Mohapatra
Publication Date01 July 2020
Date01 July 2020
SubjectArticles
Afghanistan’s ‘Political
Insecurity’ and the
Emerging Geopolitical
Calculus in Eurasia
Nalin Kumar Mohapatra1
Abstract
The ‘sustainable peace’ is eluding Afghanistan over centuries. This can largely be
attributed to both external geopolitical factors as well as the internal domestic
realignments. Often these two factors operate in isolation and at times collude
with each other, thus accentuating both domestic and regional instability. The
fallout of protracted conflict in Afghanistan in the last few decades has resulted
in the emergence of weak governance structure along with the proliferation of
radicalism and the flow of narcotics to the neighbouring regions. Eurasia is one
such region which has largely been affected by the developments in Afghanistan.
The Eurasian states’ engagement with Afghanistan can be looked both through
the prism of geopolitical developments that took place in the region following
the collapse of the Soviet Union and post-9/11 developments which resulted in
the intervention of external actors. The present geopolitical imbroglio is largely
emanating from the decision of the United States to leave Afghanistan and the
Russian’s desire to fill the vacuum. Iran and China are also engaged in shaping
the geopolitical dynamics of this trouble-torn state. India, on the other hand,
perceives security and stability of Afghanistan are important for greater regional
economic cooperation which will facilitate its effective engagement in Eurasia.
Keywords
Afghanistan peace process, Eurasian geopolitics, regional conflict, sustainable
development, India
1 Assistant Professor, Centre for Russian and Central Asian Studies, School of International Studies,
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.
Corresponding author:
Nalin Kumar Mohapatra, Centre for Russian and Central Asian Studies, School of International
Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, 110067, India.
E-mail: nalin238@gmail.com
Research article
International Studies
57(3) 259–278, 2020
2020 Jawaharlal Nehru University
Reprints and permissions:
in.sagepub.com/journals-permissions-india
DOI: 10.1177/0020881720934336
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260 International Studies 57(3)
Introduction
In recent months, Afghan strategic theatre is getting murkier because there is a
sense of disquiet as well as anxiety in the country with regards to the impending
withdrawal of the US forces. Second, the preliminary presidential election results
have given a slender majority to the incumbent President Ashraf Ghani in the
presidential election which took place in September 2019. This may also
accentuate the social instability of Afghanistan further. Third, due to the security
situation, radical groups are getting ready once again, to capture political power.
Fourth, Russia which has vital strategic stakes in Afghanistan because of
geopolitical reasons along with historical factors is trying to fill the vacuum
created by the US. Fifth, China, Central Asian states, and Iran are also interested
in the Afghan crisis keeping their respective national interests in mind. Finally,
India is also facing a growing threat to its own national security because of
increasing instability in Afghanistan (Astryan, 2019; Adili, 2019; Bloomberg,
2019; Rubin, 2019; Maley, 2018, pp. 2–7; Walsh, 2019; The Guardian 2019).
Keeping some of these strategic developments in mind this article highlights
that smoother political transition is a distant dream, no matter how external
powers, may try to resolve the issue. This will also have an effect on the regional
security of Eurasia and the South Asian region. It posits, the need for multilateral
cooperation between India and Russia along with the Central Asian states to bring
normalcy to this trouble-torn state. Though plenty of analyses are available on the
issue (Colley, 2002; Maley, 2018; Rubin, 2019; Sadr, 2018; Walsh, 2019), the
article attempts to bring out a synergy between domestic ‘political insecurity’ of
Afghanistan and its ramifications for the Eurasian geopolitics in general and
India’s security in particular.
‘Political Insecurity’ and the Conflict Situation in
Afghanistan
Looking at the Afghan strategic scenario it can be stated that the perennial
fratricidal conflict is having an impact on peace and stability of the country.
Going by the academic literature it can be stated that the Soviet intervention in
1979 and the then prevailing geopolitical situation aggravated the situation of
Afghanistan. The Soviet disintegration put the situation in a quandary as rival
political groups tried to capture political power and created an anarchic situation
in the country. This resulted in the ouster of the Soviet-backed Najibullah regime.
However, the constructed stability could not last long. A new political force
Taliban emerged largely thanks to strategic designs of Pakistan (Colley, 2002;
Maley, 2018, pp. 35–44; Rashid, 2002, pp. 1–13; Rubin, 2013, pp. 36–37; Sadr,
2018, pp. 11–21). The cauldron which came into the forefront in the wake of the
Taliban takeover way back in 1995, is still hunting the relative stability of Eurasia
and its adjoining regions (Phares, 2007, pp. 161–162; Rashid, 2002, pp. 3–9;
Sadr, 2018, pp. 15–17).

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