Russia's Mid-East Takeover Continues As Afghanistan Requests Military Assistance From Moscow

Tyler Durden's picture

Earlier this month, in what amounted to a dramatic shift in strategy, the Obama administration announced that the US would not be pulling all of its troops out of Afghanistan after all. Under Obama’s previous plan, Washington would withdraw most of the 9,800 troops operating in the country by the end of next year, leaving a force of just 1,000. Now, all 9,800 troops will remain for “most” of next year and 5,500 troops will remain in 2017.

The apparent change of heart comes as some “experts” remain concerned about the security situation amid recent territorial gains by the Taliban. According to the United Nations, insurgents now control more territory than at any other time since 2001 (so... “mission accomplished”?).

(Taliban presence in Afghanistan via NY Times)

Ultimately, the move is symptomatic of what tends to happen when world powers get the bright idea to intervene in Mid-East affairs. It almost always goes awry in one way or another and by the time everyone comes to their senses a decade has gone by and no one can remember what the “plan” was in the first place. The White House contends that this same dynamic will eventually plague Russia’s involvement in Syria and while that’s certainly possible, it’s worth noting that using Hezbollah and Shiite militias to fight the ground war decreases the odds of Moscow getting mired in asymmetric warfare with an enemy they don’t fully understand. 

As we said when Obama announced that nearly 10,000 US troops would not in fact be coming home from Afghanistan, the timing of the strategy shift seems terribly convenient. That is, one certainly wonders if the move to keep a US troop presence in the Mid-East has something to do with Russia and Iran’s stepped up role in Syria. Furthermore, it seems entirely possible that Washington is anticipating a Russian push into Iraq and so the Pentagon wants to ensure that at the very least, there are American troops in close proximity. 

To be sure, this entire story is riddled with irony and all sides have exhibited a penchant for Einsteinian insantiy.

Recall that the Russians also got bogged down in Afghanistan in the Soviet-Afghan war during which Washington backed the fighters who would eventually become al-Qaeda. Now, Washington’s regional allies are providing support to al-Qaeda in Syria (via al-Nusra), and the Sunni extremists fighting for control of the country have declared a jihad against Moscow. So essentially, this is just a rerun of what happened in the 80s, only this time it’s going on in Syria.

Meanwhile, the US is still hanging around in the very same Afghanistan where the Russians fought in the 80s and the whole reason Washington is there in the first place is because the very same al-Qaeda who America supported in the Soviet-Afghan war ended up flying 747s into American buildings a decade later. And because the US never, ever learns anything when it comes to foreign policy, the Pentagon and CIA are now indirectly supporting al-Qaeda in Syria. 

For better or worse, The Kremlin has apparently decided to try its hand at cleaning this mess up once and for all, and as we noted in “Russia Takes Over The Mid-East: Moscow Gets Green Light For Strikes In Iraq, Sets Up Alliance With Jordan,” Moscow looks set to effectively underwrite the expansion of Iranian regional influence on the way to establishing a presence in Syria, Iraq, and even Sunni Jordan.

That marks a disastrous turn of events for Washington who’s now been effectively kicked out of the playground that the US has sought to control for decades. 

Now, in what might fairly be described as the final insult in a list that recently includes Iraq greenlighting Russian airstrikes just days after PM Haider al-Abadi promised Gen. Joseph Dunford that Baghdad wouldn't request direct military intervention from Moscow, Afghanistan has asked for assistance from The Kremlin. Here’s WSJ with more:

Afghanistan, battered by worsening security, is reaching out to an old ally and patron—Russia—just as the Kremlin is seeking to reassert its position as a heavyweight on the world stage.


President Ashraf Ghani has asked Moscow for artillery, small arms and Mi-35 helicopter gunships for his country’s struggling military, Afghan and Russian officials say, after the U.S. and its allies pulled most of their troops from Afghanistan and reduced financial aid.


The outreach has created another opening for the Kremlin, stepping up the potential for confrontation with Washington. East-West relations are already strained over such issues as Ukraine and Middle Eastern policy.

“Russia is seizing the opportunity,” a U.S. official said.


The Kremlin’s muscular new foreign policy has raised hopes among Afghan politicians that Russia will come back to their country as a friendlier ally in the wake of the Western drawdown, which has seen the U.S. troop level drop to about 10,000 this year, from a peak of about 100,000 in 2010-11.


The last Red Army troops withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989. That war was a national trauma on both sides, ending in defeat for Moscow and the eventual collapse of Afghanistan’s communist government.


Because of that history, direct intervention in Afghanistan would be a very hard sell for the Russian public.


Alexander Mantytskiy, Russia’s ambassador to Afghanistan, said his government is considering the Afghan requests for military assistance, which he said have increased this year following the withdrawal of most U.S. and allied North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces.


“We will provide some assistance, but it doesn’t mean that any soldier from the Russian Federation will be here on Afghan soil,” he said. “Why should we carry the burden of a problem that was not solved by the Americans and NATO countries?”

Well, that's a good question, but one could also ask it vis-a-vis Syria, and the answer (for Putin anyway), seems to be this: "because by acting decisively to accomplish what the US and NATO apparently cannot, Russia gets to project its military prowess to the rest of the world and The Kremlin gets to supplant The White House as Mid-East superpower puppet master at a time when relations between Moscow and the West are the worst since the Cold War." Back to WSJ:

Abdul Rashid Dostum, Afghanistan’s first vice president, has been at the forefront of efforts to reach out to Russia directly.


An ethnic Uzbek who rose to prominence as a military commander in Afghanistan’s pro-Soviet government, Mr. Dostum met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and other defense officials in Moscow this month to discuss possible assistance.


“Gen. Dostum wanted Russia to pay attention to the situation in Afghanistan,” said his spokesman, Sultan Faizy, who described Russia’s response to the request as positive. 

So here again we see that US influence is waning in the face of what it is either an abject strategic failure or else a lackluster effort on the part of the Pentagon when it comes to battling extremism (of course dropping bombs on hospitals doesn't do much to help relations either).

Countries in the region are now taking a hard look at what's taking place in Syria and asking whether it might not be better to just have the Russians step in rather than spend another ten years wondering what exactly the US is doing and whether ulterior motives are leading the Pentagon to adopt strategies that aren't necessarily in the best interests of the host country. 

The obvious question now, is whether Russia will be content to supply the Afghan government with weapons or whether the next step after Iraq is a move to eradicate insurgents in Afghanistan. Don't forget, despite a burgeoning and very tenuous alliance aimed at deterring ISIS, Iran despises the Taliban and not only did Soleimaini help the US locate insurgent targets in Afghanistan after 9/11, the General actually spent years fighting the group personally in the 90s. 

Needless to say, if the Russians and Iranians end up in Afghanistan, the stakes will be even higher than they are in Syria because unlike Syria, there's a sizeable contingent of US ground troops operating at Kandahar and elsewhere. 

We'll close with the following rather ominous quote from Ramzan Kadyrov, the pro-Kremlin leader of Russia’s Chechen Republic:

"Kabul needs the support of Russia, just like Syria."

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XAU XAG's picture

Ah Oh


Kabul = KABOOM

TahoeBilly2012's picture

Putin annihilates ISIS in a few weeks but US can't handle Taliban in 15 years....okay

OrangeJews's picture

But... but... NBC or whatever is doing a show on the U.S. bombing ISIS!  Look!  With your special eyes!  It has to be true... It just has to!

Took Red Pill's picture

This is a good article on NEO about what’s really going in the Middle East and why.


“Recent discovery of huge volumes of oil in the Golan Heights by an oil company whose board includes Dick Cheney, ex-CIA head James Woolsey, Jacob Lord Rothschild, and Mikhail Khodorkovsky, business partner of one of Vladimir Putin’s most bitter critics, bring the stakes of the Russian intervention in Syria against ISIS, to a new geopolitical dimension. The US coup in Ukraine and its financing and training of ISIS all have one prime target–Russia.”



Latina Lover's picture

The above mentioned dirty fucks are the latest in a long line of rapacious capitalists who are trying to dismember and destroy Russia for profit and world control.   

SWRichmond's picture
Afghanistan Requests Military Assistance From Moscow

You have now entered the Twilight Zone

insanelysane's picture

Washington must be refusing to bomb any more hospitals.  At least until the heat is off.

Pure Evil's picture

But, just think of the profit to be made.

The Russians now supply our former allies in Afghanistan and we now supply the Taliban to fight our new enemies the new allies of the Russians.

Our enemy is Al K-duh but our friend in Syria.

Look at it this way.

Whomever needs weapons no matter the affiliation we'll do our best to fulfill their needs.

Man, we can keep this War on Terror going for a 100 years.

JohninMK's picture

Talking about profits, don't forget the rare earth minerals, lithium etc, that are supposed to be there in huge quantities, let alone the heroin crop that someone is making loads from. Or the potential north/south pipeline route that many US bases seem to be aligned on.

Also, Russia has a finite capacity for making military gear, much of which is fully loaded for the next couple of years. So not much money to be made for a while unless they sub-contract to Iran that seems to have such an embryo industry.

Majestic12's picture

Afghanistan = Opium Wars 2.0

Billy the Poet's picture

rapacious capitalists


Capitalism has nothing to do with exploiting government for financial gain which is Cheney's prefered method of accruing wealth. He and his cohorts would be better described as fascists rather than capitalists.

balanced's picture

If you actually believe that Capitalism and Fascism can be separated in the real world then you simply aren't paying attention. To those who will inevitably down vote me, I challenge you to name A SINGLE country in the entire world in which Capitalism flourishes without Fascism (or full-on Communism).

Macon Richardson's picture

The inherent instability of capitalism (boom and bust) inevitably leads to fascism (dictatorship from above) or to communism (dictatorship from below). Basic Karl Polanyi stuff! Thank you Balanced for noting that.

I grow weary reading ZH commentor who view capitalism as a magical formula for success. It is not that! Capitalism is a philosophy of 'ME FIRST!", hardly a philosophy to build a civilization on. But to misquote Winston Churchill, "Capitalism is the best of a bunch of really bad economic/cultural options."

Billy the Poet's picture

I challenge you to name A SINGLE country in the entire world in which Capitalism flourishes without Fascism (or full-on Communism).

What does that even mean? There is theft in every country by criminals high and low. That doesn't change the fact that the rest of us have to earn a living. It's not as if the theft of my money makes my desire to feed my family a bad thing.

bunnyswanson's picture


"Canada is now the first country in the world to require that for every new regulation introduced one of equivalent burden must be removed"

By on April 23, 2015

Cronyism is destroying what capitalism is meant to be - A chance for everyone to capitalize on their skills in a free and open market.

TheReplacement's picture

I think you need to look up the definition of capitalists because you are using it incorrectly.  Capitalists practice capitalism.  Capitalism doesn't in any way resemble the system these thugs are running.

emersonreturn's picture

great link, redpill, thank you.

SWRichmond's picture

Awesome link.  Sharing with friends.

Flagit's picture


If you have a problem... if no one else can help... and if you can find them... maybe you can hire... The V-Team.

Billy the Poet's picture

Putin annihilates ISIS in a few weeks but US can't handle Taliban in 15 year


ISIS is composed of foreign fighters sent to Syria by "the West, the Gulf States and Turkey," whereas "Taliban" is often used as a name for any of the Pashtun who are a large native tribal group in Afghanistan.

johnnymustardseed's picture

Russia spent ten years fighting in Afghanistan and left because Ronald "Raygun" sent stinger missles to the Mujahadeen to shoot down thier planes an helicopters. Another foreign policy blunder 

emersonreturn's picture

russia needn't go in, it can supply arms while iran's qud does the rest.

SuperRay's picture

"This will not stand!" Proclaims Raytheon CEO!!!

conscious being's picture

This is bull shite - "al-Qaeda ... ended up flying 747s into American buildings a decade later."

Nassim's picture

757's and 767's are not the same thing as 747's

In any case, we all should know by now that it was a false-flag event. Any role that al-Qaeda may have had in it (totally unproven) was minimal. The Israelis were behind it:

9-11/Israel did it

BTW, an Israeli general has been captured at an ISIS HQ in Syria - another fake operation.

Israeli General Captured in Iraq Confesses to Israel-Isis Coalition

Quinvarius's picture

I didn't think the transistion away from Obama and his mishandling of US foreign policy would be like a thunderclap.  I doubt Russia goes into Afghanistan beyond selling arms though.  It is better to watch Obama flail or flee there.

BandGap's picture

And there are lingering scars in Mother Russia from the war the was the "Soviet's Viet Nam".

Max Steel's picture

Far from vietnam scenario. I guess many westerners only know US msm version of that war.

813kml's picture

It was nice of them to ask, but Russia won't make the same mistake twice.  Afghanistan is on their own.

Quinvarius's picture

I can definately imagine Obama suddeny handing out weapons to the enemies of the Afghan state, that he was supporting up to now, just to spite the Russians.  Being Obama's ally is the second worse thing to being Russia's enemy.

847328_3527's picture

Kabulistanis are in it for the money. They winessed how $5 billion of the $7 billion given to the Paki military "went missing" so they figure, "Why not me too?!"


BTW, I hear quite a few of those Paki military are now living in Canada, the second biggest money laundering country in the world.


BTW, where is Bremmer?

The Missing Billions: Ex-Iraq Occupation Chief Paul Bremer


It must be a sweet gig if you can get in on it.


Dubaibanker's picture

You cannot club 3 countries (UK, US, Switzerland) as No 1 and then name Canada as No 2 in money laundering....

That's not fair! :) ;)

By the way, India can also teach the world how to do money laundering....

BarkingCat's picture

Imagine him trying to pull this crap just a few hundred years ago??
The king of the emperor would have him drawn and quartered.

I feel nostalgic all of a sudden. Can't we bring some of the old ways back?

Billy the Poet's picture

The king of the emperor would have him drawn and quartered.


That's nothing compared to what this guy might do:


The Man Who Would be King of the Popes

Ghordius's picture

no, Moscow - or any other imperial seat of power, to be fair - never makes the same mistake twice. then twice is not enough

two small items of evidence: FIVE major Russo-Persian_Wars; TWELVE major Russo-Turkish wars

of course those can't even be counted: , and are difficult to categorize

Max Steel's picture

Guess what they defeated their enemies. They even saved your butts from Germany. You owe them.

smacker's picture

Russia may agree to provide the heavy metal weaponry whilst Iran provides the boots to mop up the Taliban.

That may work (until it doesn't) because Iran hasn't been defeated there yet.

bid the soldiers shoot's picture

Afghanistan started out as a back door to the Soviet Union in the 20's.  Next it was a back door to Iran after '79.  Then it was the back door to keep those pesky Pakistan's nukes out of our living room. 


So if you know what's good for you 813, you'll keep an eye on your back door or else a lot of people will be knocking to get in.

813kml's picture

I live in an igloo, there is no back door.

StychoKiller's picture

How ya gonna get out if yer house catches on fire?  Oh, wait... :>D

Blankone's picture

How do we know this was really asked by the Afghan's to Russia?

It is not yet time to stop being cynical.  The west wants their citizens to believe Russia is taking over the ME, and that this is a threat to their lifestyle.  Just the other day ZH published a story that Iraq was requesting Russia to bomb in Iraq.  But there is no confirmation from elsewhere.

Not long ago there were ZH articles that China was entering the fray and had sailed warships to Syria.  Using DEBKA as a source and nothing else.  Known now to be false.

Now, do we automatically trust the WSJ (or ZH) just because we like the story line? 

Maybe it is true, but be skeptical until you see real confirmation.

slammin_dude's picture

No shit eh?

The same dumbshit author constantly calls it the "Assad Regime", as opposed to the Syrian Govt....when we going to start called the USSA the "Obama Regime"? I mean he had less popular support than Assad by a long shot...

Also, Alqueda flew jets into the towers? Still selling the bullshit that was obviously an internal operation from day one?

Whatever, i love the planted bullshit stories....sprinkle in a little bit of truth and 95% propaganda and viola...."news"

bid the soldiers shoot's picture

It's okay.  Obama gets a regular shot of penicillin.

Kaiser Sousa's picture

"“Why should we carry the burden of a problem that was not solved by the Americans and NATO countries?”

exactly...Hey Vlad dont fall for the "bananna in the tailpipe routine..."

Mark Mywords's picture

Neoliberals will say it's not their fault - it's the fault of actual liberals and the media (one-and-the-same to them) for not falling in line and providing the money and support needed to "win" in Afghanistan.

So, no reason to get all worked up. "The policy was sound - those who opposed it are to blame."

Neoliberals: The buck stops elsewhere.