Afghanistan’s decentralised regional foreign policy

In: Central Asian Affairs
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  • 1 1London School of Economics antonio.giustozzi@googlemail.com

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Afghanistan's lack of a state monopoly of violence reflects on its foreign policy in a number of ways. First, various non-state organizations developing their own relations with foreign countries. Second, enforcing coherent policy making within the institutions of the Afghan state itself has been sometimes problematic as officials could rely on the patronage of organizations external to the state to delay the implementation of official policies. This article discusses the cases of Afghan foreign policy towards Pakistan, India, China and Iran.

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    Frederic Grare, “Pakistan-Afghanistan Relations in the Post-9/11 Era,” Carnegie Endowment Paper, September 29, 2006.

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    Ahmed Rashid, Descent into chaos (London: Allen Lane, 2008), 23.

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    Thomas Ruttig, “The battle for Afghanistan. Negotiations with the Taliban. History and Prospects for the Future,” National Security Studies Program Policy Papers, May 2011.

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  • 7

    Saeed Parto et al., “Afghanistan and regional trade. More, or Less, Imports from Central Asia?” University of Central Asia Working Papers, no. 3, 2012; M.B. Naqvi, “Indo-Pakistan Rivalry In Afghanistan Intensifies,” Inter Press Service, September 6, 2005.

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  • 8

    Eray Basar, “The Roles of India & Pakistan in Afghanistan’s Development & Natural Resources,” Civil-Military Fusion Center Papers, March 2012; Larry Hanauer and Peter Chalk, “India’s and Pakistan’s Strategies in Afghanistan,” rand Occasional Papers, 2012.

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  • 9

    Skirmishes started in 2007, when a Pakistan patrol came under fire. See “Afghanistan 'border fence' clash,” bbc News, 19 April 2007, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6572399.stm (accessed December 7, 2013).

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    Zeeshan Haider, “Pakistan accuses India, Afghans, of Baluch meddling,” Reuters, April 22, 2009, http://in.reuters.com/article/2009/04/22/idINIndia-39181020090422 (accessed December 7, 2013).

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  • 11

    Humera Iqbal, Pak-Afghan Ties In The Light Of Pak-Us Strategic Dialogue (Peshawar: Institute of Regional Studies, 2010).

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    Joshua Partlow, “Karzai accuses Pakistan of supporting terrorists,” Washington Post, October 3, 2011, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/karzai-criticizes-pakistan-for-supporting-terrorists/2011/10/03/gIQAWABWIL_story.html (accessed December 7, 2013); Barnett R. Rubin, “Saving Afghanistan,” Foreign Affairs, January-February 2007, http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/62270/barnett-r-rubin/saving-afghanistan (accessed December 7, 2013); Sherard Cowper-Coles, Cables from Kabul (London: Harper Collins, 2011), 21, 50-1, 68-71, 73; Rashid, Descent into chaos, 229, 241, 259, 364, 369, where the quote at the top of the paragraph comes from.

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  • 15

    Rashid, Descent into chaos, 267.

  • 16

    Ghanizada, “Pakistan terms for Afghan peace talks unacceptable: Faizi,” Khaama Press, March 29, 2013.

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    Meena Haseeb, “Afghanistan to continue peace talks without Pakistan help: Ludin,” Khaama Press, March 28, 2013.

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    Casey Garret Johnson, “A party with many faces,” Foreign Affairs, May 31, 2013, http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/category/topic/afghanistan (accessed December 7, 2013); personal communication with un diplomats, Kabul, April 2011.

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  • 20

    In the 1970s, the Pakistani authorities promised help to opposition groups in exchange for support against Kabul’s claims to Pakistani ‘Pashtunistan’ (personal communication with Niamatullah Ibrahimi, Afghan researcher, 2010). On the Pakistani isi’s connections to communities and local strongmen in Afghanistan in about 2000 (connections which have presumably survived to date) see Thomas Ruttig, “Flash to the Past: An Alternative to the Taleban?” aan Blog, March 28, 2011, http://www.afghanistan-analysts.org/flash-to-the-past-an-alternative-to-the-taleban (accessed December 7, 2013).

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    Laura Rozen, “Can the intel community defuse India-Pakistan tensions?” Foreign Policy, February 16, 2009; us Embassy Abu Dhabi cable dated 2010-01-07, ref. 10abudhabi9 (accessed December 7, 2013); personal communication with foreign diplomats in Kabul, April 2013; personal communication with un officials, Kabul, April 2013; Tahir Khan, “Afghanistan refuses to hand over Maulvi Faqir,” Express Tribune, February 22, 2013.

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  • 31

    Tahir Khan, “Neighbourhood watch: Karzai overshadowed by Chinese premier in New Delhi,” Express Tribune, May 24, 2013, http://tribune.com.pk/story/553991/neighbourhood-watch-karzai-overshadowed-by-chinese-premier-in-new-delhi/ (accessed December 7, 2013): Mujib Mashal, “Karzai's India Gamble,” Foreign Policy, May 31, 2013, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/05/31/karzais_india_gamble (accessed December 7, 2013).; Melkulangara Bhadrakumar, “Karzai Brings a Riddle to Delhi,” Strategic Culture Foundation Online Journal, May 27, 2013, http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2013/05/27/karzai-brings-a-riddle-to-delhi.html (accessed December 7, 2013).

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  • 33

    Antonio Giustozzi, “The Resilient Oligopoly: A Political-Economy of Northern Afghanistan 2001 and Onwards,” Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, December 2012; interviews with political figures close to Dostum and Jamiat-i Islami, north and north-eastern Afghanistan, summer-autumn 2012.

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  • 37

    Bethany Matta, “Iran executions anger Afghan families,” Al Jazeera, June 6, 2013, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2013/06/201366102037670360.html (accessed December 7, 2013); “Afghan minister persuaded Iran to delay executions – official,” bbc Monitoring International Reports, March 3, 2013.

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  • 38

    Thomas Johnson, “Ismail Khan, Herat and Iranian influence,” Strategic Insights III, Issue 7 (July 2004); personal communication with members of provincial council, Herat, October 2009; personal communication with Afghan officials, Herat, October 2009.

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  • 40

    Jon Boone, “Hamid Karzai admits office gets 'bags of money' from Iran,” The Guardian, October 25, 2010, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/oct/25/hamid-karzai-office-cash-iran (accessed December 7, 2013).

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  • 47

    Andrew Small, “Why Is China Talking to the Taliban? Inside Beijing’s plan to set up shop in post-Karzai Kabul,” Foreign Policy, June 21, 2013, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/06/20/why_is_china_talking_to_the_taliban (accessed December 7, 2013).

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