Regional Change. How will the rise of China and India shape Afghanistan’s stabilization process?
The brief examines how regional developments in Central/South Asia may affect the stabilization process in Afghanistan. Given that regional security dynamics played an important role in aggravating the conflict in Afghanistan in the 1990s, the report juxtaposes the situation in the 1990s with the present state of affairs. The brief argues that the regional dynamics in 2010 are very different from the 1990s and puts forward four arguments to that effect. First, the improved India- Pakistan relationship is crucial for regional stability. In assessing prospects for positive developments between India and Pakistan, it is necessary to factor in broader regional concerns, especially the now cordial, yet tense relations between the rising powers India and China. Second, with its new economic and political weight, the stage is set for China to take the role as regional hegemon in the wider Central/South Asia region, although it is uncertain if or when it will choose to enact this role. Third, regional energy projects might in the long-term increase cooperation and build confidence, but developments are slow. By contrast, improved transport networks and increased trade have positively affected the region. Fourth, Iran’s nuclear program poses an indirect, but serious challenge to regional stability. Take together these four arguments highlight the increasing salience of India and China. Moreover, the brief illustrates how regional affairs in 2010 are a mix of inter-state rivalry and insecurity together with patterns of economic cooperation. The risk still exists that regional insecurities could aggravate the internal rivalries in Afghanistan and the regional environment certainly creates additional challenges to Afghanistan’s stabilization process. However, the regional environment looks less prone to feed into and augment internal rivalries when compared with the 1990s.
ForlagNorwegian Institute of International Affairs
SiteringNUPI Policy Brief (2010), vol. 8(4)
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