On a snap visit to Kabul a few days ago, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta declined to clarify what is in store for Afghanistan after NATO’s announced pullout in 2014.
The American-led forces arrived in Afghanistan 11 years ago on a United Nations mission to combat terrorism. In a recent interview with Afghan television, Russian Ambassador Andrei Avetisyan said this mission is far from accomplished, as is the task of equipping Afghanistan with modern armed forces.
This means that pulling out and leaving behind a few thousand instead of hundreds of thousands of NATO soldiers can only perpetuate the terrorist insurgency in Afghanistan. Then what is behind the much touted plans to clinch an Afghan-American security pact?
If and when acted upon, this pact would likely leave only two key airbases, Bagram and Kandahar, in American hands. The Americans and some of their NATO allies would ostensibly retain only advisory and coaching roles. Moscow is doubtful, saying that coaching a small army for a mission on which even NATO failed is absolutely pointless.
Chairman of the Trustees Board of the Moscow-based Demography, Migration and Regional Development Institute Dr Yuri Krupnov says he suspects an ulterior motive:
"The Americans are actually not after stability or putting an end to terrorism in Afghanistan. They are after gaining a permanent strategic foothold in Southwest Asia. Providing advice and training will be no more than a disguise. In reality, the Americans will be digging in and building a launchpad for further military adventures on the Asian continent."