Multi-centered Foreign Policy for Afghanistan

Posted on: 02-06-2017

Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta

Former Afghanistan's National Security Adviser

The foreign policy, In other words, is an approach by which a nation enjoying organized national sovereignty under the framework of a state, recognizes and defends its interests against other countries or in a simple word against other political societies beyond its borders. The foreign policy may include political, economic, military, legal and cultural affairs. As I said, you can discuss the contents, trends, and foreign policy enforcement bodies when a society is organized in a political structure, the National State, and the state not only may enjoy the national sovereignty right, rather it shall be able to represent and defend practically such right against the same organized societies. And it must be capable of demonstrating its wills versus external world, impose and protect its interests and rights within the recognized framework international standards and law. There is a direct nexus between the foreign and internal or domestic policy. As much as a nation state, its political and social agencies, and its political and cultural capabilities are powerful, coherent, effective, and enjoy public legitimacy, they may have powerful and clear reflections in the state’s foreign policy. By powerful or strong states, I actually don’t mean the autocratic, authoritarian and torturous states.
Ladies and gentlemen, good morning!
I am very pleased for the opportunity to talk at this event. I avoid to bring the theoretical issues up which may be good in academic fields and may address directly the selected topic. As it was requested in the letter to forge my talks within 12 minutes, I may summarize my speech accordingly. As I believe, the multi-centered foreign policy is a good approach for our country. It’s normal that implanting such a policy for a country which is overly dependent on external world in economics, politics and security, seems too difficult. On the other hand, we have stuck between the conflicts or contradictions between the regional and world powers and the international consensus which had been created after the installation of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is already smashed or has broken down. The Russian Federation, Islamic Republic of Iran, People’s Republic of China, the U.S and it’s western, then were adhered in the issues of counter-terrorism and the nation building in Afghanistan. Afghan political authorities were transmitting the unwritten messages of the both sides in order to lessen the tensions between the United States and Islamic Republic of Iran. The Afghan officials were seeking to make the cooperation between the two countries constructive in Afghanistan. The Russian Federation and People’s Republic of China were defending the issue of counter-terrorism efforts and from Afghanistan project during the past 15 years and were aligned with the world in the country. The rivalries between Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia was not as much as harmful for us as it is today. Most of the mentioned countries, not only were talking or allegedly helping the Taliban, unlike of today, they were naming them as the extremist and terror group. However the today’s reality is different. Today, even our best friend and good neighbor, the best comrade of our land’s tough days, the Tajikistan, which never had different stance than Afghanistan on International context in the course of past 14 years, is following a different approach than us regarding the regional issues. As I believe, we have to turn face to multi-centered and balanced policy, avoid the tribal oriented ideological approach, defend the regional cooperation, and defend the solving of political and military problems by adopting peaceful approach and active participation within the regional organizations and trends. Such a policy is based on Afghanistan’s interests. Although the implementation of such policy is difficult but not impossible. According to my thoughts, there are some points worth-mentioning or recommending in this regards: what is my recommending multi-centered policy? The multi-centered foreign policy, I believe in, is a policy through which our country alongside other countries may contribute in cooperation, aligning principles, with equal right and maintaining national sovereignty and mutual respect to the right. Despite that the own national interests is prioritized or preferred in multi-centered foreign policy, but the realization of these interests may find its meaning in alignment and cooperation by respecting the others’ interests. Believing in multi-centered foreign policy is based on the reason that the countries cannot solve their political, economic, and security problems on their own. Such a policy is the backer of cooperation with all countries, notwithstanding their ideological approaches, and is a policy avoiding interference in others’ conflicts. The countries pursuing such policy is looking for cooperation with other nations. Accessibility to the agreements, treaties, and participating in the relevant organizations for mutual cooperation in various affairs, active participation in convergence or in regional integration, are shaping the basics of such foreign policy. If not adopting such policy through which we strive to attract the cooperation of the countries standing somehow against us, we will not be able to gain victory over the terrorism, will not have a secure and stable region, and nor will succeed over the backwardness and rampant or sustained poverty in the country. The most obvious characteristic of the current world is that which we are facing worldwide or global order crisis. The system which was prevailed after the World War II along with the emergence of Socialism and Liberalism blocs. The cold war and ideological rivalries were amongst its characteristics; the old colonialism collapsed, dozens post-colonialism states emerged with difficulties coming from the era and were structurally linked with that. The surge of globalized economic order and the victory of new liberalism was led by the United States since the 1980s and 1990s of the past century until the beginning of 21 century’s second decade. The United States was apparently considered as rival-less power and the world was in an American peace. The United States was representing as such as powerful and solemn during the era that the earth was trembling under the feet of its horses. The United States applying such forces induced many destructions in the west of Asia. However, eventually the global order not only broke down under the U.S control, but the U.S internal breaks extended further. The election of Mr. Donald Trump as the president of the United States is a consequence of such period. This is one of the other factors which encourages us to not rely unilaterally on one country or one political bloc. The U.S allies in European Union and NATO, Japan and Australia on one hand are concern about the collapse of their unions and on the other hand are worrying regarding the rise of nationalist and isolating movements. That the internationalism socialist was defeated and collapsed as it was expected, is a reality but the question is that the globalization of new liberalism is also collapsing? Many people don’t know what will be the future of global order and there is a major danger hidden behind this ambiguity without any doubt which is another factor for the poor countries to have a balanced foreign policy. The People’s Republic of China as the rising or developing country, doesn’t want yet or can’t act as a leader country in the world. The country still demonstrates its presence in its nearby geographic territories. Nevertheless, there are more obvious signs of confrontation in Pacific Ocean and signs of economic conflicts between the country and the United States rather than cooperation and alignment. This does not actually be interpreted as we will soon witness another cold war, this time between the U.S and China, it makes clearer that the rivalries of both countries will be intensified further. The possibility of such contrast within the changing geopolitical and potential evolvements in the world makes it a must to refrain dependence or affiliation to the global powers and or power. The reduction of U.S presence in the western Asia, has provided the circumstances of rivalries intensification in the region. Iran and Saudi Arabia will compete more than other countries as the regional powers. These rivalries are not only known and obvious in Yemen and Syria, but Afghanistan is also at risk and being threatened by these antagonisms. We must not lose the political realism amid these conflicts. Saudi Arabia is the land wherein many Islamic holy sites are located and Afghan people are looking toward the country with much respect and sincerity, so our people have an emotional relationship with Saudi Arabia. We have to establish a deep, widened relationship with the country based on mutual respect. Saudi Arabia has been present in international conferences about Afghanistan during the past 15 years and has provided a spiritual support for Afghanistan. We have common history, culture with Iran and is our historic neighboring partner. The country has actively supported Afghanistan’s efforts for strengthening governmental institutions and economic growth policies during the past 15 years. Currently there are may be over 2 million Afghan migrants, living and working in the country. There is a significant volume of economic transactions and trades with Iran. Iran has been active in implementing of development projects in Afghanistan and we share more than 900 Km border with the country. Therefore, we must keep away our country from the rivalries between these two regional powers and look toward working with both countries through cooperation and friendship. Afghan citizens are currently being killed for the both warring parties in Syria and there are signs of obvious tensions in the southwestern part of the country which harm us very badly. The Russian Federation’s concerns regarding the real Daesh (ISIS) fictional Daesh must be taken in serious. Afghanistan must not be turned into a jumping board for the terrorists to cross the border into other countries. The problem I see in this regard is a combination of fictional and real threat. There are elements which are operating under the name of Daesh and is being considered a serious threat for our country, the Central Asia, and finally for the Russian Federation and China. However at some extent, the indiscriminate policy between foreign militias, criminal groups, smugglers, Daesh and maximizing such threat against the mentioned countries, or actually an intelligence war from our territory against these countries, have induced concerns in the region. This is normal that the Ukraine issue, western Asia, particularly Syria and the power make-up in these regions are the issues that are happening at the international context, but based on our thoughts they have national and regional impacts. By adopting a cooperation policy and following clear and honest stances, may reduce the problems and don’t let Afghanistan to be turned into a jumping board for the real Daesh or fictitious Daesh against other countries. The resistance policy against Pakistan, as a country which is the sponsor and perpetrator of terrorism, is the right policy. There is only the resistance and continuation of such policy, through which we can transfer the message to Pakistan that the peaceful approach is in the interests of both countries. Adopting a surrendering policy and a weak position cannot produce any results. By insisting on such a policy, we can reach the peace talks and negotiations. As it appears, the era of white and black policies and the easy identifying of enemies and friends is over. In this chaotic world of broken values and phenomenon which were stable, clear and understandable, now we have to draw the road map of our foreign policy with caution and care. Cooperation with all countries, considering mutual interests, peaceful politics, defending social justice and national sovereignty, international justice and fleeing the confrontation based on ethnic, sectarian and ideological emotions and eventually return to a practically multi-centered policy is the right approach. Even if the policy doesn’t yield the expected gains in a short term, it can at least reduce the harms and will enhance the credibility and dignity of Afghanistan as a peaceful and cooperating country in the long term. I hope you a productive day with constructive talks.
Thanks Ladies and Gentlemen.

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