Has Biden’s Afghanistan pullout plan caught China, Russia off guard? - ABDULLAH MURADOĞLU

Has Biden’s Afghanistan pullout plan caught China, Russia off guard?

The Biden administration’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 was met with a furious reaction by Neo-con groups that encouraged the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. These gloablist Neo-cons, who want to keep the U.S. in a “perpetual state of war,” say that the U.S.’s decision to withdraw will be perceived as a sign of weakness by its enemies.

 Eric Edelman, one of the Neocon diplomats who served as the U.S. Ambassador in our country, is one of those who argue for keeping troops abroad. Edelman, who departed from Turkey rather problematically, was also a top aide for U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, one of the architects of the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, on national security matters. In an article he co-wrote with Robert Joseph in "The Bulwark" run by Bill Kristol, a notorious Neocon of the Bush era, Edelman dragged Biden’s withdrawal plan through the mud. He titled his April 15 article as “Afghanistan’s Terrorist future.” There’s no need to even analyze the whole thing; this title alone suffices in symbolizing the temperaments of the Neocon. 

One of the top-ranking officials of the Republican Party, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also said that Biden’s Afghanistan decision was a “big mistake.” He described the situation as withdrawing from an enemy who has not yet been defeated.” Senator Lindsey Graham, an influential hawk of the Senate, who inveighed strongly against Biden, argues that the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan is a boon to America's enemies. Senators McConnell, Graham, and other Republican hawks also reacted harshly against Trump's attempts to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

Donald Trump, the previous U.S. president who had struck a deal with the Taliban, for his part, couldn’t shower enough praise on Biden. This is extremely surprising since Trump didn’t even concede to Biden’s win in the presidential elections. However, he insists that the pullout process be completed by May, which is what his deal with the Taliban stipulated.

Meanwhile, the possible outcomes of this decision are being widely discussed, especially what it will mean for China and Russia. Afghanistan borders Iran, Pakistan and former Soviet Republics Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. It has an exit from the easternmost tip of Afghanistan to China and India. The fact that the Xinjiang Province, where the Uyghurs live, is located here gives us clues as to what Biden's decision means for China. China's "One Belt-One Road" project is extremely significant for Afghanistan, of course. Additionally, we need to point out that Biden’s decision holds strategic importance for Kashmir, as well as India.

It is no secret that the U.S.’s military presence in Afghanistan is a source of extreme distress for China. Beijing and Moscow don’t want the U.S. to permanently settle into Afghanistan which carries extremely critical military-strategic significance. However, the possible repercussions of Biden’s pullout plan are really spooking these two states. Iran, Pakistan and India have similar concerns. Biden's decision to withdraw troops was based on the need to focus on the rivalry with China, which infuriated Beijing in turn. China sees Biden's statement as a sign of the resurgence of the Cold War mentality. On the other hand, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has drawn attention to the dangers of the U.S. leaving Afghanistan without fully ensuring peace and security. So much so that China seems to favor the "responsible" and "orderly" withdrawal of the U.S. from Afghanistan.

In the new era of the “Great Power Struggle,” we need to know what really lies hidden behind the U.S.’s pullout announcement. Some analysts say that its unconditional withdrawal caught China and Russia off guard. In evaluations made concerning how the U.S.’s decision will affect regional countries, primarily China, analysts are comparing the situation to a “dog chasing the car.” What’s going to happen after the U.S. withdraws? The dog is going to start chasing the car. So, what’s going to happen when it catches up with the vehicle? This is what has analysts stumped.


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