Islamic Republic of Afghanistan: Geopolitical profile
Afghanistan is landlocked country located within South Asia and Central Asia. It has a population of approximately 32 million, making it the 42nd most populous country in the world. It is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east; Iran in the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north; and China in the far northeast. Its territory covers 652,000 km2 (252,000 sq mi), making it the 41st largest country in the world.
Position on the geopolitical map:
Afghanistan is situated on Heartland-Rimland border. It is the strategically important country that guards the access of Heartland countries to Indian Rimland. It is the focus point of two centuries of the Great Game between Tallasocratic and Tellurocratic countries. Geopolitical orientationof Afghanistan is always disputable. The country usually plays a role of buffer zone.
50% - Eurasianist, 50% Atlanticist.
Main geopolitical allies:
Russia, India, Iran, China, the USA (disputable position).
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arabian Emirates.
Central Asian countries (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kirgiz Republic)
Sphere of national interest.:
Central Asia and The Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan.
Main security threats: activity of Islamic terrorists, the US presence in the country, unresolved border dispute with Pakistan.
Continuous civil war on the country’s territory involves external players including the USA, Iran, China, Pakistan and Gulf Countries. While officially supporting central government, the USA and their allies from the Gulf countries and Pakistan are pushing the radical Islamists against government to create instability and prevent country’s inclusion in continental geopolitical projects.
The support of Taliban rebels from the Pakistani territory and their links with Pakistani intelligence service damage relations between two countries.
The border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is mostly un-guarded and populated by the same Pashtun tribes. That creates opportunities for terrorists.
This border (Durand line) was artificially established in 1893 by agreement between Sir Mortimer Durand, a British diplomat and civil servant of British India, and Abdur Rahman Khan, the Afghan Amir. The frontier territories of Afghanistan populated by Pashto tribes were seceded to British India and later became a part of Pakistan.
The Pashtun dominated Government of Afghanistan not only refuses to recognize the Durand Line as the international border between the two countries, it is claimed to be de-facto border.
Pashtun nationalists claim that the Pashtun territories of Pakistan beyond the Durand Line rightly belong to Afghanistan.
The major ethnic groups are
Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Baloch, Turkmen, Nuristani, Pamiri, Arab, Gujar, Brahui, Qizilbash, Aimaq, and Pashai
Muslim 99.7% (Sunni 84.7 - 89.7%, Shia 10 - 15%), other 0.3% (2009 est.)
Officially Afghanistan is Islamic Republic, but the surface of Afghan political life is influenced by NATO countries, particularly the United States, in an effort to democratize and westernize the country.
Actually the main political divisions in Afghanistan reflect not the traditional European left-right schema, but interests of internal warlords, ethnical, sectarian and tribal groups. Most of the parties are former Mujahidin groups and are primarily are military organizations.
The most influential opposition groups Taliban, Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (Islamic Party of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar) and Afghan branch of Islamic State are waging a war against central government and foreign presence.
Afghanistan is the third world state of periphery.
Despite its huge natural recourses in war-teared Afghanistan the main export product and the basis of national economy is opium production. Afghanistan has been the world's greatest illicit opium producer, ahead of Burma (Myanmar), the "Golden Triangle", and Latin America since 1992. Opium production in Afghanistan has been on the rise since U.S. occupation started in 2001.
Predominantly Sunni, Muslim values.
Afghan identity is fractured by tribal and ethnical lines. After the wave of modernization during the rule of king Mohammed Zahir Shah (1933-1973) and especially after republican coup in 1973 and Marxist coup in 1978 the country experienced forced secularization that provoked the religious outrage of so called Mujahedeen.
Following Soviet intervention and continuous Civil War destroyed all the premises for Modernization and returned country much to pre-modern stage.