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O debate sobre a retirada do Afeganistão e suas implicações.

A Casa Branca deve anunciar em breve o calendário de saída do Afeganistão. Mas as coisas não são simples e o debate sobre a retirada e suas implicações é uma grande discussão geopolítica que ainda vai fazer correr muita tinta e já começa a levantar questões de fundo, como aqui se vê na análise da Stratfor.

 

The Withdrawal Debate and Its Implications

June 17, 2011 | 0304 GMT

U.S. President Barack Obama met with the outgoing commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, and Obama’s national security team Thursday to review the status of the counterinsurgency-focused campaign. At the center of the discussion was next month’s deadline for a drawdown of forces, set by Obama when he committed 30,000 additional troops at the end of 2009. An announcement on this initial drawdown is expected within weeks.

The ballpark figure of this first reduction is said to be on the order of 30,000 U.S. troops — mirroring the 2009 surge — over the next 12-18 months. This would leave some 70,000 U.S. troops, plus allied forces, in the country. Any reduction will ostensibly be founded on oft-cited “conditions-based” decisions by military commanders, though ultimate authority remains with the White House.

Far more interesting are the rumors, coming from STRATFOR sources, among many others, suggesting that the impending White House announcement will spell out not only the anticipated reduction, but a restatement of the strategy and objectives of the war effort — and by implication, the scale and duration of the commitment of forces and resources. The stage has certainly been set with the killing of Osama bin Laden, the single most-wanted individual in the American war against al Qaeda, and the shuffling to the CIA of Petraeus, the counterinsurgency-focused strategy’s principal architect and most ardent defender.

Nearly 150,000 troops cannot and will not be suddenly extracted from landlocked Central Asia in short order. Whatever the case, a full drawdown is at best years away. And even with a fundamental shift in strategy, some sort of training, advising, intelligence and particularly special-operations presence could well remain in the country far beyond the deadline for the end of combat operations, currently set for the end of 2014.

But a change in strategy could quickly bear significant repercussions, particularly if a drawdown begins to accelerate more rapidly than originally planned. Even the most committed allies to the war in Afghanistan are there to support the United States, often in pursuit of their own political aims, which may be only obliquely related to anything happening in Afghanistan. While there may not be a rush for the exit, most are weary and anxious for the war to end. Any prospect of a more rapid withdrawal will certainly be welcomed news to American allies. (Recall the rapid dwindling, in the latter years of the Iraq war, of the “coalition of the willing,” which, aside from a company of British trainers, effectively became a coalition of one by mid-2009.)

“For Washington, the imperative is to extract itself from these wars and focus its attention on more pressing and significant geopolitical challenges. For the rest of the world, the concern is that it might succeed sooner than expected.”

More important will be regional repercussions. India will be concerned that a U.S. withdrawal will leave Washington more dependent on Islamabad to manage Afghanistan in the long run, thereby strengthening India’s rival to the north. India’s concern over Islamist militancy will only grow. Pakistan’s concerns, meanwhile, are far more fundamental. Afghanistan, on one hand, could provide some semblance of strategic depth to the rear that the country sorely lacks to the front. On the other hand, it offers a potential foothold to any potential aggressor, from India to Islamist militants, intent on striking at the country’s core. Meanwhile, Iran, though geographically buffered in comparison to Pakistan, has its own concerns about cross-border militancy, particularly regarding the Baloch insurgency within its own borders. And this, of course, intersects the larger U.S.-Iranian struggle.

Concern about militancy abounds. Potential spillover of militancy in the absence of a massive American and allied military presence in Afghanistan affects all bordering countries. Even in the best case scenario, from a regional perspective, a deterioration of security conditions can be expected to accompany any U.S. drawdown. The presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan acts as a magnet for all manner of regional militant entities, though Pakistan has already begun to feel the spillover effects from the conflict in Afghanistan in the form of the Tehrik-i-Taliban, the Pakistani version of the Taliban phenomenon, along with an entire playbill of other militant actors. The presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan consumes much of those militants’ efforts and strength. As the attraction and pressure of foreign troops begin to lift, some battle-hardened militants will begin to move homeward or toward the next perceived frontline, where they can turn their refined operational skill on new foes.

Others, like Russia, will be concerned about an expansion of the already enormous flow of Afghan poppy-based opiates into their country. From Moscow’s perspective, counternarcotics efforts are already insufficient, as they have been sacrificed for more pressing operational needs, and are likely to further decline as the United States and its allies begin to extricate themselves from this conflict.

Domestically, Afghanistan is a fractious country. The infighting and civil war that followed the Soviet withdrawal ultimately killed more Afghans than the Soviets’ scorched-earth policy did over the course of nearly a decade. Much will rest on whatever political accommodation can be reached between Kabul, Islamabad and the Taliban as the Americans and their allies shape the political circumstances of their withdrawal. The durability of that political accommodation will be another question entirely.

But ultimately, for the last decade, the international system has been defined by a United States bogged down in two wars in Asia. For Washington, the imperative is to extract itself from these wars and focus its attention on more pressing and significant geopolitical challenges. For the rest of the world, the concern is that it might succeed sooner than expected.

“This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR

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