Trump’s stand on Iran, Pakistan throws Afghanistan at center of global power game: Chinese media

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BEIJING, Jan 3 (APP):US President Donald Trump created quite a buzz with his first two tweets of the new year targeting Pakistan and Iran. While at first glance these appear to be typical of Trump’s routine indulgence in “undiplomacy”, on further scrutiny, the tweets reveal the hardened US foreign policy strategy with potentials for much grave geopolitical repercussions.
Trump’s new strategy is not only a matter of concern for Pakistan and Iran, but also tacitly throws a fragile Afghanistan at the center of a great game of supremacy between the global powers in the region with far-reaching consequences for countries like China, Russia and India, according to an analysis broadcast by Chinese English language channel, China Global Television Network (CGTN), on Wednesday.
“Trump takes on Pakistan and Iran – two countries that are crucial to any lasting settlement in Afghanistan. The only two supply routes into Afghanistan are from Pakistan and Iran,” tweeted Omar Waraich, deputy South Asia director at Amnesty International.
The Trump administration’s new policy is in sync with the larger US objective of reshaping the balance of power in the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific, which Washington and its allies now describe as Indo-Pacific.
Both Russia and China have made major inroads in the Middle East through their ties with other regional players, and Iran in particular. The US anxiety about Iran’s rising clout is reflected in Trump’s tweet that openly calls for a regime change.
Terming Afghanistan critical for regional security, it said that Afghanistan lies strategically at the cusp of South and Central Asia and the Middle East and is key for connectivity between these regions and therefore its stability is critical for regional security.
A peaceful Afghanistan is crucial for China which is building the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, valued at over 60 billion US dollars, through neighbouring Pakistan. India, meanwhile, is planning a 900-km railway line to connect Afghanistan’s mineral-rich Hajigak region with Iran’s Chabahar port.
Lately, China has stepped up engagement in Afghanistan and as recently as on December 26, 2017 held the first trilateral meeting between foreign ministers from China, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“As neighbours, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan are linked by rivers and mountains, share common interests and have cultural and people-to-people bonds. It is only natural and necessary for the three countries to cooperate with each other,” China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said on Tuesday while briefing the media on the first China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue.
“We have reached an eight-point consensus in this Dialogue, including agreeing on further deepening coordination and cooperation on counter-terrorism and indiscriminately combating all terrorist organizations and terrorists. We believe the three sides will follow through on the consensus reached by the foreign ministers and continue to advance counter-terrorism cooperation,” he added.
According to experts, China is attempting to bring together reconciliation between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistani political and military leadership to ensure stability in the region.
“The Chinese initiative is somewhat different in that they want to reconcile the two sides,” a geostrategic expert told CGTN.
According to analysis, in August 2017, Trump announced a new Afghanistan strategy calling for tougher action against terrorism with an additional deployment of 400 US soldiers and more NATO troops. However, the security situation in Afghanistan has worsened since the new policy was introduced with conflicts between the US-led alliance and the Taliban turning more violent.