Issues of security and stability in Asia and Europe are interdependent. Given the continual rise of new conflicts from Asia-Pacific to the Atlantic, these issues and conflicts need to be addressed through a fundamentally new approach to security.
U.S. Army soldiers carry a wounded comrade in southern Afghanistan, 2012. Photo: Reuters
We are now witnessing the outbreak and intensification of conflicts across the world, from Afghanistan to Ukraine. Major 21st century conflicts have not yet appropriately concluded in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East. Ukraine now risks destabilizing the global security architecture that has existed since the Cold War. These conflicts have not only shaken the very foundations of continental and regional security and stability but also the overall international security regime.
Underneath the inter-state antagonism is a second layer of issues and conflicts, most of which are of an intra-state nature that play (or may potentially play) a crucial role in the overall global security environment. These intra-state conflicts have also left decisive impacts on the stability of the conflicting state-parties. This group of conflicts and issues include the secessionist movements of Kurdistan in Iraq; Tibet in China; Sindh and Balochistan in Pakistan; the Salafist movements in Syria and Iraq; and tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Both historically and contemporarily, the Middle East has witnessed two categories of broader conflicts – Arab versus Ajam (non-Arab Turks, Kurds, and Iranians), and Salafi versus Sunni and Shia. In South Asia, the Britain occupied the sovereign countries of Sindh and Balochistan in 1843 and 1854, respectively, in a bid to invade Afghanistan. Tibet until the middle of the twentieth century was an independent country; however, after Mao Tse-tung’s revolution, Tibet became part of China in 1950. Despite Mao assuring the Dalai Lama of complete autonomy for Tibet through an agreement, China continues to dominate the political future of Tibet.
These contemporary international security challenges are unavoidably dependent on the social and power dynamics of the conflict zones. Hence, addressing these in accordance with their own dynamism as well as with an integrated approach would be the only way forward for their sustainable resolution. The results of the military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the outcomes of the faded Arab Spring, are the same. Meanwhile, the issues of Kurdistan, Tibet, Sindh and Balochistan – not to mention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – remain unresolved even after six decades. The strategic posturing on the Korean peninsula still commands a central role in the security of the Pacific region around China.
This on-again, off-again nature of the conflicts in Asia has engulfed the security, stability and economic future of not only Asia, but also the Euro-Atlantic nations. There is a need for consensus between the U.S., Russia and the European Union on their foreign policy approaches when it comes to Asia. There needs to be a positive disposition of the core issues of Asia that have become the tectonic plates of conflict in the modern world.
We need a new way of thinking about security and stability in the world. The way forward would include:
First, strengthen Afghanistan through appropriate state building and social development measures enough so that it may become protected socio-politically and territorially from neighboring countries. This requires consensus between and among the Euro-Atlantic nations, Russia, the Central Asian nations, Iran and India before any final solution exists.
Second, resolve the issue of the Kurds in Iraq and Turkey, which, for decades, have been the primary stage for the Kurdistan movement. Turks and Kurds are engaged now in a resolution due to pressure mounted on both sides by the EU nations by organizations such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Meanwhile, the creation of Kurdistan out of Iraq has now become viable after Daish terrorism in Iraq, since the creation of a new Ajam state in the Middle East would also be a strategic check on the growing threat of Salafist challenges.
Third, consider a combined Israeli-Palestinian state as a possible option in which Palestinians are constitutionally and practically granted autonomy and security.
Fourth, dismantle the infrastructure and strategic safe havens of the Salafist terrorist groups in Pakistan. Since the political structure in Pakistan is still a complex patchwork quilt of authorities, this can only be done through the creation of one sovereign state (Sindh-Balochistan) or two separate states. In this case, the Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa province of Pakistan would possibly be annexed to Afghanistan. This would also resist the threat of nuclear instability from Pakistan.
Fifth, devise a solution of the Tibetan issue in which the will of the Tibetan people is first and foremost. The role played by India in this regard would be crucial.
Sixth, a solution, agreeable to all stakeholders, specifically including the Ukrainian separatists, Russia, the states of Europe bordering Ukraine (including those in Scandinavia) would guarantee a broader sustenance of peace in Eurasia.
Until these fundamentals of global security are understood and addressed appropriately, broader security and stability among Asian and Euro-Atlantic nations will be impossible.
The opinion of the author may not necessarily reflect the position of Russia Direct or its staff.