On the sunset of his presidential term D.Trump has made it clear to cut down expenses on military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Last February, his administration struck a deal with the Taliban to reduce American troop levels to zero by May of 2021. Therefore, the shift of the White House’s administration assumes possible review of US foreign policy. Furthermore, China has recently increased its interest in Afghanistan, so taking these facts into account there can be a crucial move of geopolitical forces in the region.
It is quite clear that the intentions of Washington to withdraw troops from the Afghan territory will inevitably cause weakness of the United States in Afghanistan. For that reason defying Beijing might replace Washington in the Islamic republic with a view to expand its own initiative “One belt – one way”, just for a new transport corridor being made through the territory of Afghanistan.
However, historically, Afghanistan, mostly because of its geographical location is attracting widespread interest among the global actors (players). As the country is in the heart of Asia, it may become a significant transit point, which will provide the link between the North and South, East and West. And if Beijing is able to obtain support of all political parties of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, then China will begin to use this territory to create a significant transport corridor. In that case Beijing will have the opportunity to expand the market for its own goods and to reduce freight delivery time of products to the final consumer as well. It will lead to reduction of the cost of logistics services.
In the meantime this idea seems almost impossible for a number of reasons. The major one is the policy of the Taliban, which is recognized as terrorist in many world countries. The Taliban guarantee a safety passage and transition of goods across the territory, which are under their control, for no one, until the United States completely withdraw its contingent from the Afghan territory and the political independence of the Islamic republic will be re-established.
In the face of that challenge, Beijing has taken more flexible and less principled position with the Islamic movement. The leadership of the People’s Republic of China has begun to realize, that in order to achieve favorable conditions for implementation of the initiative “One belt – one way” it is necessary to agree to the current government’ demand, but also with those, who really control the situation in the country as well. Such double game must not be allowed to polarize the Afghan state, which is suffering from the civil war for many years.
Thus, we can observe another round of political confrontation between the largest world powers for a role of the leading player in the region in the near future. Undoubtedly, this confrontation will delay the settlement of the Afghan internal political crisis, so China will use the influence on the Taliban through Pakistan. In response Washington will try to play the Uigur card with a new force. And then the solution of the Afghan problem will be frozen for many years again.