The Americans carried out their anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan so zealously that eventually have themselves received the title of “terrorists” – by President of the country Hamid Karzai. “When the U.S.militaries deliberately kill civilians, it is an act of terrorism... The brutal killing of innocent civilians by the international community must not be forgiven,” such was the reaction of the head of state to shooting dead 17 Afghan civilians by a U.S. infantryman. A heavily-armed GI just went into an Afghan house and for no reason at all, for the joy of shooting, by a burst of machine-gun fire killed an entire family with three women and nine children. Another burst was fired at neighbours running to help, and among them there were dead and wounded too.
Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson, a spokesperson for the ISAF in Afghanistan, as well as NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen were quick to say that the soldier was “off his head”. However, the massacre of civilians is far from being an isolated incident. In his statement, Hamid Karzai emphasized that “he regularly tells the U.S. to stop killing innocent people.”
The tragedy occurred in Kandahar on March 11, and a little earlier, on March 5, following the recommendations of the Loya Jirga, the Afghan government announced its intention to sign an agreement with the U.S. on strategic partnership. Indeed! A good strategy and a great partnership!
But quality of another interaction is even more surprising: how is it that the Afghan conflict, this sore point not only of the Central Asian region but also of “the whole globe”, has proved to be outside thecontext of the SCO, escaped from its sphere of influence, did not become the center of application of its peacekeeping efforts, opportunities, authority? It would seem, “the Afghan wound” is wide open indirect geographical contact with the SCO space, in the border vicinity of many countries of the alliance... We often hear the question: “And in fact does the SCO care?” Indeed, it seems as if the Shanghai Sixis passively waiting for the Americans and their allies to finally succeed in “restoring order” in this country.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, of course, is not indifferent. I happened to talk to its leaders, to attend several summits, participate in conferences, round tables and symposia, and the Afghan issuewas always discussed very profoundly and passionately. However, all the pathos probably slipped through a crack without getting in a practical direction, and there are many reasons for that. For example, there is a long debated question as to the admission of Afghanistan to the SCO family as an observer, so as to give new impetus to the settlement, to optimize the situation in the country, to help it get out of the crisis. However, the heads of state were not able to reach a consensus on this issue, and Afghanistan was left behind the SCO. Consensus! One of the main advantages of the SCO is, however a difficult problem.
And yet, if we summarize the Afghan component of the organization activity, of course there is some result, however it is mainly connected with humanitarian aid and economic projects implemented on a bilateral basis. Here, of course, we should do justice to Uzbekistan separated from Afghanistan only by the Amu-Darya River. On one side thereof it is peace, tranquility, creativity, and on the other it is war and disaster. Of course, Uzbekistan supports its neighbor, which is written down in the age-old ethics. Economic, energy, technical, medical and other kinds of help always come from one coast to another.
I can remember at the Tashkent summit 2010 the most important positions were recorded in the declaration and signed by heads of the SCO: the recognition of the fact that without solving the Afghan problem it is impossible to speak about peace and stability in the region; the belief that it is impossible to reconcile the situation in the country by military means alone, without the involvement of all the warring parties, the participation of all political forces. Yes, everybody understand everything, and only.
It is important to consider why the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s serious regional background, its authority as an international organization recognized by the UN, has proved unnecessary, unused by the Western Coalition that began to establish the Afghan order. The latter did not manifest any interest in the advice and recommendations of the SCO. NATO allies have delegated themselves the right to an authoritarian solution to the complicated Afghan issue and are acting on their own initiative. Meanwhile, Central Asia is a territory of Eastern tradition, shared historical experience of a number of states, steeped in ethnic and cultural affinity. In the case of Afghanistan, the SCO member states’ advice for western militaries would really be to the point. Perhaps then American soldiers would not have burned the sacred books of the Koran.
The SCO is unfortunately more and more acquiring an image of a theatrical scene, where a wrong scenario is unfolding of itself, unworthy of a unique alliance such as the Shanghai Six. The call of the times has united the countries with a great potential combined with a lot of cumulative capabilities, economic and political ones. The SCO attracts by proclaiming in our restless, power world a new type of international relations, the quintessence of which is mutual respect and parity, the search for reasonable consensus decisions, concern for the stability and security.
Since we are referring to Afghanistan, so we can state with regret that in the eleventh year of the SCO existence, this is not to be talked about it as an effective mechanism capable of interaction in solving the tragic Afghan problem. Despite the fact that it was the “Afghan factor” that in due time led to the emergence of the SCO, the establishment of a Regional Antiterrorist Structure in its system.
The course of the Central Asian plots, at least political ones, has long been unceremoniously corrected by the ubiquitous “American hand”, energetic, purposeful, and devoid of complexes. It is its interference that often exacerbates the intrigue and logic of the SCO scenario of the Afghan settlement, stretched in time and humane in content.
Whatever may be a victim for whom U.S. and NATO national interests have had eyes, they attend it under the slogans of struggle against evil, with banners of militant democracy. The latter’s “Procrustean bed” is applied to the population of the whole world, and those who are not the right size for it, are squeezed by force. All this reminds of crusades of the Middle Ages because today’s “missionaries” burst into strange life as the merciless Messiah did, destroying the established society, the national way of life, causing grief and shedding blood. It is important to note the fact that most often the American aggression is driven not so much by the high ideals as by explicit material thing - namely, the hunt for energy resources. It cannot be denied, our “world is ruled by joule!”
President Barack Obama promised emphatically to the voters that by 2014 all American troops would have been withdrawn from Afghanistan, and the process begins this summer. But he did not promise they will return to domestic quarters. We must remember that the U.S. forces and their allies were led in Afghanistan to take revenge on Taliban, the chief terrorist Bin Laden for New York Twin Towers. At the same time it was promised that the struggle will be carried out against production and trafficking of drugs and in general – the Afghan society will breathe again, will follow the right road. The Enduring Freedom operation, which began in December 2001 and is continuing today, “inglorious and useless”, as it is now estimated by analysts, has not solved almost any problem of this country, and the western newcomers’ brutality will make remember them for a long time.
Heading for Afghanistan, the Americans have declared the purpose of destroying the main terrorist nest. Who could oppose this good deed? Global “tiredness” of this “plague” walking around the globe just hangs in the air of the world. Russia too has drunk the full cup of woe brought by terrorism. Realizing that in Afghanistan important issues of regional security are addressed, the SCO member states often met the Americans requests. They provided their ground infrastructure for temporary stationing of military contingents of the coalition, the airspace for transit; the Kyrgyz Manas airport, the French Air Force bases and the German Bundeswehr in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan serve the interests of the allies.
Russia too has made an unprecedented act of good will by opening on its territory the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), a land corridor to transport non-military cargoes needed for the peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan.
However, there are no reciprocal steps from Washington on the international podium: views on key issues of global security (Syria, Iran, missile defense) of the SCO “locomotive” countries - Russia and China, are simply ignored. Moreover, the U.S. using the political scalpel prefers to talk not to the SCO as a whole but to single out its individual member states from the dialogue. Not without reason have many senior military officials made more than one trip to Tashkent, Astana, Bishkek, and Dushanbe? Their arguments are simple: we need bases, and you - the protection from the “Afghan threat”. This quite clear, mutually beneficial formula works well. The Central Asian states having complexes about Russia’s “imperial ambitions” and the “Chinese expansion” are still under psychological pressure, well-flavored with “dollar sauce”. In such a manner, dissonance, destroying the general harmony is brought into the SCO Sextet.
The U.S. reaches its goals by any means, regardless of international law, disregarding the principle of territorial integrity of the regional states, putting pressure on their governments by conducting planned operations in the sovereign territory without any notification to government agencies. An example here is Pakistan, an observer country in the SCO, whose border regions with Afghanistan were subjected to bombing and the assault by special forces during the operation of capture of Bin Laden . Instead local residents were killed and injured.
In response, Pakistani authorities have stopped the transit of American goods through their territory. In those damned days, the coalition soldiers were left without toilet paper, how terrible! This was proclaimed from the U.S. media. And here is another bad news for Washington: the Russian leadership has actually decided to close in the near future the Northern Distribution Network, through which up to 90% of all deliveries of the coalition are conveyed. Well-known expert Alexander Knyazev believes that “the reasons for this step by the Kremlin were due to the lack of the White House’s adequate response to Russia’s stance on Syria, on the Iranian issue and the reluctance of Americans to listen to the Russian proposals on missile defense.”
The Americans have declared their withdrawal from Afghanistan, but we all know they always leave their gaps, “squattings” somehow or other clutching at the foreign land. So this time too, Washington is not going to leave Central Asia - not without reason is it declared “a sphere of U.S. national interests”. And it can not be otherwise, as there are countless resources in this region, even not yet touched. And here the breath of the Celestial is better heard...
Sometimes it seems that the mechanism of the SCO actions and the swiftness of life do not match in terms of speed. However, the Orientalist Alexey Maslov says it is just a view of the West, while by oriental standards (and no doubt the SCO is an eastern type organization) – that’s all right: there is a conscientious, scrupulous, very collegial discussion of critical issues; decisions are created, which, according to the basic principles, would suit any country. And all this is done unhurriedly and slowly. But in the meantime those have time to “steal a march” who have the mentality of the West - pragmatic, offering worship to velocity, energy, and onslaught. And who can perfectly smell energy resources.
Due to the apparent plans of the Americans to gain a foothold in the region and to quarter at Afghanistan’s regional neighbors, quite near Russia and China, the SCO faces a difficult task - not to drive a wedge into its structure, not to let it collapse.