Afghanistan may be threat to Russia's security after 2014 - analyst

After the planned withdrawal of U.S. forces and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from Afghanistan, this country could become a source of a terrorist threat for Russia and the countries of the region, Army Gen. Anatoly Kulikov, the president of the Club of Commanders, told Interfax-AVN on Thursday.

"The Islamists' principal forces have been occupied with Afghanistan and Pakistan for the past 10-15 years, where they suffered great losses. After 2014, they might have the chance to look at the surrounding territories and provide support to people living there who share their views," Kulikov said in commenting on U.S. President Barack Obama's Wednesday statement that the U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

There is diarchy in Afghanistan at the moment: "the international community's efforts have helped create all of the necessary attributes of government, and elections have been held, but real power on the ground belongs to the Taliban in many aspects," he said.

"If the situation in Afghanistan is not normalized in Afghanistan within the next two years, this will affect the stability of the Central Asian countries and, consequently, at Russia's southern borders," says Kulikov, who earlier served as Russian interior minister.

"In the new conditions, Russia and the Central Asian countries will have to take extra diplomatic efforts in building relations with the Afghan authorities, and Russian security services will also have to take measures to counter the terrorist threat," he said.

Kulikov believes there could be three possible scenarios of the development of events in Afghanistan.

One of the options is that, despite the international forces' withdrawal, the United States would be able to preserve its military presence in Afghanistan in this or that form, Kulikov said.

"Some information indicates that Washington is negotiating with Kabul on leaving several thousands of instructors, special troops and air forces in Afghanistan until 2024," he said.

"However, these forces would be enough only to control cities, and they will be unable to defeat the Taliban," he said.

If the United States cannot put this scenario into practice, the events might follow a different way: "As a result of weaker control over the Afghan territory on the part of the U.S. and ISAF, centrifugal trends will be growing in this country, and it will replay the situation of the 1990s, when the Afghan political field consisted of a conglomerate of various regional and tribal military groups that were in complicated relations with each other."

The third scenario might involve the possible beginning of a full-scale civil war in Afghanistan, which may pose "serious problems for Russia's security," Kulikov said.

Obama said on Tuesday that the war in Afghanistan would be finished for the United States by the end of next year.

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