The withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014 will impact the wider region in a direct way. Not only will there be a greater risk of insecurity over to Central Asian nations, but also the withdrawal will speed up the ongoing change in balance of power in Central Asia to other countries such as Pakistan and Russia. Therefore, should the withdrawal happen, the greater burden would mainly fall on Russia and India. However, Russia would only continue to play the dominant role in the security and affairs of the former Soviet Central Asia. Given the role as well as the responsibility that Russia plays on the region, it is very important to approach its reactions on its historical spheres of influence. Thus, this brief first embarks through addressing how Pakistan, India, and Russia will react to the withdrawal. Secondly, this brief looks at the ways through which these states will be consistent with their wide strategic positioning in the Asian pacific region. Thirdly, this brief will assess the likely outcome of the withdrawal as well as its effects on the Australian nation.
The withdrawal with a broader impact
In the year 2014, the ISAF (international security assistance force) in Afghanistan would draw to an ultimate stop. The ISAF is performing a very critical role in humiliating and finishing the operations of the Taliban’s capacities. In addition, ISAF is also developing the Afghanistan security in order to help Kabul take over the responsibility of the security situation after the withdrawal of the ISAF. This withdrawal would not only impact on the Afghanistan state, but also it will impact on the wider region as well as the overall security of Russia.
Leaving the state of Afghanistan
The situation and events in the state of Afghanistan seems to be very far from calmed. In both the north as well as the west, the Afghanistan national forces must be able to control and manage the insurgency even after the withdrawal from the nation. By a sharp contrast, throughout the east as well as the south, many fighting continues without any form of hope of Kabul attaining the upper hand any sooner.
The surge of the 2010 and 2012 was aimed at pacifying the Afghanistan nation through delivering a purposeful blow to the Taliban as well as pushing them out of their key areas. At the same time, the Afghanistan national forces were supposed to be trained as well as properly equipped in order to safeguard the stability and peace of the nation after the destruction of the Taliban. Furthermore, training a large number of forces in a short time has not achieved any results yet. The Afghanistan forces would have to perform a number of major operations rather than washing out the remnants of the insurgency. It is highly unlikely that the Afghanistan forces would to able to manage as well as conquer the Taliban. The level of instability as well as insecurity in Afghanistan is likely to continue as long as the political solution in the nation has not been able to be reached. This implies that the situation in the future would be more difficult, especially for the future presidents. For instance, election rigging, bribing, intimidation, as well as lack of accountability marred the 2009 general elections. This has also translated in a situation that any peace agreement has to take into consideration the interests of all the parties, including those of the Taliban. Pakistan claims a significant level of influence over the central government. Many other nations are pursuing their individual interests, however, the question is in how these parties or neighboring states would legitimately want to engage in the peace process.
The Afghanistan’s forces would still remain very dependent on the existence of the ISAF follow-ups initiatives post-2014. The most likely situation is that the Afghanistan forces would need reinforcements from allies’ contributions. This would allow for some training as well as mentoring, and in the event of withdraw of the American led coalition, it is also very likely that a power vacuum would result, which would need to be filled. A number regional powers or states would most likely come out in order to assert their power in Afghanistan. The Russian nations bear a little influence in the in-house political course of the Afghanistan nation. Russia has been often involved with the Afghanistan affairs and thus, Russia has a key interest in the political solution of Afghanistan.
The regional aspect
The players that are affected by the withdrawal from Afghanistan can be represented through the concentric circles, accounting the level of the interests as well as leverages that every actor bears. The Pakistan nation comprises the first tier and wields a lot of influence in the affairs of Afghanistan. Taking into consideration influence that the nations wields with Afghanistan, any form of comprehensive peace agreement would have to include the key and legitimate concerns of Pakistan as the most and relevant regional stakeholder.
India and Russia are also one of the states of the FSCA. India is the most influential player. Moreover, India looks upon the state of Afghanistan in the context of its rivals such as Pakistan, but it indentifies considerable economic potential. India works to avoid the return of the Pakistan aligned regime in Kabul, which utilizes the Afghanistan soil in order to prepare criminal attacks on the Indian nation. Moreover, traditionally India has had a stable and excellent relationship with Afghanistan, apart from the Taliban. In addition, India has frequently engaged the Afghanistan forces as well as continues to train the Afghanistan officers.
Russia has also been the most influential actor and key player in central Asia for many years now, but acknowledges the fact that the region has become more multi-polar. After the events of 2001, Russia decided to have a low profile in the affairs of Afghanistan until the year 2006.
The withdrawal and change of balance of power
The withdrawal from Afghanistan is causing major concerns concerning the security in the wider area. On one hand, there are a number of perceived as well as real threats regarding the spillover of the criminal groups as well as Islamic extremists. On another hand, the disengagement or withdraw from Afghanistan is accelerating the rise and mighty of China in the FSCA just at the expense of Russia.
Whether these risks of the spillover develop into real threats, it remains to be witnessed. There are, however, no general accords regarding the scale as well as the magnitude of the threat to the level of stability as well as peace of the already capricious central Asia. There are two major opposing narratives concerning the impact of the withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Afghanistan as well as the western governments holds that the Afghanistan would be very capable of assuring its own security, given that the west do not maintain to support the Kabul.
According to this perspective, there is no important risk of the spillover to the entire region. On the contrary, the nations of the FSCA as well as Russia predict a severe spillover into the neighboring nations and beyond. In case these risks came true, the fist victims would be the FSCA states, though the burden of countering these threatens would primarily fall on Russia. Moreover, Russia’s major concerns are instability in the FSCA region extending to the Russian federation as well as drug trafficking. The initial acceptance of the United States’ as well as NATO’s involvement in the nation of Afghanistan rested entirely on the anticipation that the west could defeat and overpowered the Taliban, the rapid withdrawal from the region, and owe a promise for Moscow’s help in obtaining access into the supply routes throughout the FSCA.
The threat perceptions among the FSCA states differ significantly across the region. The withdrawal from Afghanistan would render the fight against narcotics, which originates from Afghanistan very cumbersome as well as highly difficult. The nation of Afghanistan is not only the producer of almost 90 percent of the world’s opiates, but it is also the major producer of cannabis. The opiates originating from Afghanistan kill approximately 100,000 people each year worldwide. The presence of narcotics brings a somber threat to the FSCA states. In Russia, it is approximated that about 30,000 to 40,000 individuals die due to drug overdose each year. This implies that if Afghanistan would also turn into a narcotic-nation, it would exacerbate the drug issue in the nation of Russia as well as in other nations, including Pakistan as well as India.
The effects of the withdrawal from Afghanistan on the entire region as well as in the many of the FSCA nations, including Pakistan, India, and Russia cannot be seen in isolation from the continuing change of balance of power in central Asia. The FSCA until recently remained very firm on the hold and influence of Russia. After the withdrawal of the US mainly because of security issues, China has majorly focused on extracting resources and penetrating to central Asia, thus, marketing its commodities as well as building infrastructure that link its eastern provinces to the region.
Until recently, Russia has dominated the energy infrastructure as well as markets, thus, unlocking the region’s energy resources. China is quickly breaking Russia’s grasp over central Asia’s energy exports. The likely outcome of the withdrawal from Afghanistan will be great on the Australian nation. Moreover, the effects of this withdrawal would be far reaching. First and foremost, drug trafficking would get access into the country and it lead to a number of deaths to the Australian nation. Another effect would be striping Australia its position as well as its influence over the region, since withdrawing from Afghanistan would allow China to take over the significant influence over the region. Given the strategic and economic stance of the Australian nation, it is likely that the economic activities of the country would be greatly affected.
 Khan, R, Untying the Afghan knot: Negotiating Soviet withdrawal. Lahore, Pakistan: Progressive Publishers, 2005.
2 Mathieu, B, Asserting China’s Growing Economic Clout,” Elliot School of International Affairs, 2013.
3 Viktor, Z, The Post-Soviet Stage in the Study of Totalitarianism. Russian Social Science Review, 2003.
4 Tasar, E, The Central Asian Muftiate in Occupied Afghanistan, 1979-87. Central Asian Survey, 2011.
5 Krause, J, and Charles K, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Strategic Change: Adjusting Western Regional Policy. London: Routledge, 2014.
6 Roselle, L, Media and the Politics of Failure: Great Powers, Communication Strategies, and Military Defeats. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.
7 James, B, “China’s Central Asia Bazaar”, The Moscow Times, September, 2013.
8 Kalinovsky, M, A Long Goodbye: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2011.
 R. Khan, Untying the Afghan knot: Negotiating Soviet withdrawal. Lahore, Pakistan: Progressive Publishers, 2005.
 B. Mathieu, Asserting China’s Growing Economic Clout,” Elliot School of International Affairs, 2013.
 Z. Viktor, The Post-Soviet Stage in the Study of Totalitarianism. Russian Social Science Review, 2003.
 E. Tasar, The Central Asian Muftiate in Occupied Afghanistan, 1979-87. Central Asian Survey, 2011.
J. Krause, and K. Charles, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Strategic Change: Adjusting Western Regional Policy. London: Routledge, 2014.
 L. Roselle, Media and the Politics of Failure: Great Powers, Communication Strategies, and Military Defeats. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.
 B. James, “China’s Central Asia Bazaar”, The Moscow Times, September, 2013.
 M. Kalinovsky, A Long Goodbye: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2011.