By Khalil Nouri STAFF WRITER / EDITOR
Afghanistan: The destroyer of communism, defender of Western interests against the Soviets, a crossfire victim of the cold war; did serve for over a century as a buffer zone between British colonial India and Russian czarist regimes. It was the superpowers contentious great games that empowered the Jihadist; and that empowerment still perpetuates them today. However, Afghanistan may once again find itself falling victim or prey to an outsider, but this time only to an outsider’s misguided ideas. The idea of having Afghanistan sacrificed as a bifurcated state has been proposed blindly by a politically twisted neoconservative politician, by the name of Robert Blackwill; who fails to understand the inner feelings and desires of the Afghan masses. All Afghans who live inside the region are now forced to contemplate the exact symptoms of the intertwined cultural phenomenon that is Afghanistan, whereby now as the result of foreign occupier’s wrong policies, a tombstone is being engraved for another empire awaiting burial in its renowned graveyard.
Clearly Mr. Blackwill fails to envision an Afghanistan on life support and in critical condition, desperately in need of elongated recovery from its post trauma years of Soviet occupation, civil war, atrocious Islamic radical reign, and freshly, a victim of the failed Washington policies and ungifted leadership in Kabul. And yet, the assumed savvy diplomat publically calls for a half body amputation of this patient [Afghanistan] by salvaging its fabricated good parts from the bad. However, Mr. Blackwill’s mythical hypothesis is designed to segregate the country into Pashtun (South and East) and non-Pashtun (North and West) areas for a quick fix; attached with a minimum U.S.-NATO troop requirement to defend the North from the South. But this impracticality is guaranteed to engulf the region in an infinite war and the establishment of many more hostile, unmanageable, smaller and isolated states.
Evidently, this will lead to the creation of Pashtunistan, which is now only a “border” region –with its 55 million inhabitants heartland—a nation that is not suppose to ever exist – but after all, the Durand Line was a British invention to split the Pashtuns; however every Pashtun has interwoven webs of Pashtun “cousins”, and everyone is still “family” despite artificial borders. That said, a domino effect is sure to follow any Afghanistan disintegration, resulting in the disintegration of Pakistan as well; and eventually a remapping of the entire region only to save Northern Afghanistan of the Hazaras, Uzbeks, Turkmens and Tajiks from the stubborn Pashtuns in the South and East. Furthermore, such a policy would seriously undermine Afghanistan by fuelling inter-ethnic war.
Needless to say, there are millions of Pashtuns living in the North and West and non-Pashtuns in the South and East. Even if this partition were to take place, the North will be reluctant to share power amongst themselves and, hence, an escalation of further ethnic strife and civil wars would result. Furthermore, there are millions of Pashtuns that have no affiliation with the radicals, and abandoning those people would be a replication of the post Russian withdrawal abandonment that the U.S. has already experienced once before. In addition, the creation of new Pashtunistan would become the home for the world’s most notorious Jihadist.
In hindsight, delinking this ancient land from its century old shared history, culture and norms just because Washington failed in its obligation from the outset would be untenable; therefore, never should anything be sufficed for this uncalled-for decision. Moreover, this bifurcating doctrine was studied previously by the Russians, Iranians, and Tajikistan but never propped up as a realistic idea; and rest assured that it never will because a unified Afghanistan is the glue that keeps the region from descending into total hell.
On the other hand, Mr. Blackwill’s timely “out-of-the-square” thinking to split Afghanistan falls more than 2 months before U.S. President Obama’s Afghanistan strategy review. But undeniably, the President will not join the fool’s paradise when there is not even one Afghan to support this notion.
Blackwill also says, “How many people really believe that Kandahar is central to Western civilization? We did not go to Afghanistan to control Kandahar.” In fact, this notion is best described in an Afghani cliché, “A fox numerously failed to reach some hanging grapes from a high vine to eat, he finally gives up and says, they were too sour anyway.” Mr. Blackwill also quits in reference to Kandahar because it is a lost cause, knowing the fact that Kandahar is the key to winning Afghanistan but has no solution on the table. To his response I would also add, “British may experience a short memory of Kandahar, but not the Russians.”
If Blackwill’s plan to allow Washington to focus on a broader picture for its vital national interests–the rise of Chinese power, the Iranian nuclear program, nuclear terrorism and the future of Iraq–and keep a minimum force in the North in the expense of bifurcation of Afghanistan, then it is a delusional notion on his part because every Pashtun is guaranteed to fight to the end to disrupt, dismantle and defeat this policy on their soil.
There is no doubt that this policy would poison the well for generations to come by dividing people on the basis of ethnicity, religion and tribe, as the British did when their empire began to disintegrate.
“The Taliban are winning, we are losing,” he said. “They have high moral and want to continue the insurgency. Plan A is going to fail. We need a Plan B.”
Bear in mind Mr. Blackwill, Afghanistan is inseparable, and at the end of the day, the only Plan B is an Afghan solution.
Khalil Nouri is the cofounder of New World Strategies Coalition Inc., a native think tank for nonmilitary solution studies for Afghanistan. www.nwscinc.org
Khalil Nouri was born in an Afghan political family. His father, uncles, and cousins were all career diplomats in the Afghan government. His father was also amongst the very first in 1944 to open and work in the Afghan Embassy in Washington D.C., and subsequently his diplomatic career was in Moscow, Pakistan, London and Indonesia. Throughout all this time, since 1960’s, Khalil grew to be exposed in Afghan politics and foreign policy. During the past 35 years he has been closely following the dreadful situation in Afghanistan. His years of self- contemplation of complex Afghan political strife and also his recognized tribal roots gave him the upper edge to understand the exact symptoms of the grim situation in Afghanistan. In that regards, he sees himself being part of the solution for a stable and a prosperous Afghanistan, similar to the one he once knew. One of his major duties at the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2002 was advisory role to LTG Franklin Hegenbeck. He has worked closely with the Afghan tribes and his tribal exposure is well tailored for unobstructed cross-cultural boundaries within all Afghan ethnicities. He takes pride in his family lineage specifically with the last name “Nouri” surnamed from his great-grandfather “Nour Mohammad Khan” uncle to King Nader-Shah and governor of Kandahar in 1830, who signed the British defeat and exit conformity leaving the last Afghan territory in second Anglo-Afghan war. Khalil is a guest columnist for Seattle Times, McClatchy News Tribune, Laguna Journal, Canada Free Press, Salem News, Opinion Maker and a staff writer for Veterans Today. He is the cofounder of NWSC Inc. (New World Strategies Coalition Inc.) a center for Integrative-Studies and a center for Integrative-Action that consists of 24- nonmilitary solution for Afghanistan. The function of the Integrative-Studies division (a native Afghan think tank) is to create ideas and then evolve them into concepts that can be turned over to the Integrative-Action division for implementation. Khalil has been a Boeing Engineer in Commercial Airplane Group since 1990, he moved to the United States in 1974. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering, and currently enrolled in Masters of Science program in Diplomacy / Foreign Policy.