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The dismissal of US National Security Advisor John Bolton coincided with three seemingly little related events.
Firstly, there was an information leak to journalists of Politico; it was connected with Trump’s decision to temporarily freeze financial assistance to Ukraine for defense needs. Bolton then flew to Kiev and tried to negotiate with the administration of Vladimir Zelensky to suspend the sale to the Chinese side of the Ukrainian company Motor Sich. The SBU informed the public about the pre-trial investigation regarding the management of the plant, but the Chinese have not yet been refused. But the three committees of the US House of Representatives began an investigation against the head of the White House, raising suspicion of exceeding their authority.
Secondly, someone close to Trump leaked information to CNN about the evacuation of a CIA agent who had worked in the Kremlin for a long time and was able to transmit to the American side data on Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election. This information was made public on September 9 – exactly on the day when, as Bolton himself states, Trump’s adviser asked for his resignation.
“I suggested resigning last night [September 9], and President Trump said,“ Let’s discuss this tomorrow, ”Bolton wrote on Twitter.
Thirdly, again on September 9, Trump informed the media about his decision: to end the peace talks with the leaders of the Taliban terrorist organization.
And if you can’t say for sure who exactly from the Trump administration was the initiator of the plums about the freezing of financial assistance to Ukraine and the extradited agent, then the US President’s Afghan demarche could definitely affect Bolton’s fate.
Bolton could not stand the competition
“The negotiations are over,” Trump told reporters after disrupting a secret meeting with the Taliban leadership. According to the head of the White House, he canceled negotiations in connection with the terrorist attack in the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, during which civilians and military were killed, among whom was a soldier of the US armed forces.
“If they cannot maintain a ceasefire during these crucial negotiations, then they are probably not able to conclude a meaningful agreement,” said the leader of the United States.
There are two groups of influence in the White House – conditional “pigeons” represented by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, and “hawks” led by departed National Security Advisor John Bolton.
Bolton believed that Trump could fulfill his campaign promise and withdraw the American military contingent from Afghanistan without signing a peace agreement with the Taliban. In return, Pompeo insisted on signing an agreement with the militants, which would regulate a complete ceasefire, the refusal of the Taliban to coordinate their actions with the al-Qaeda terrorist group and the gradual withdrawal of US troops from the Central Asian country.
The conflict between the two camps reached the point of absurdity. State Department employees withheld information from Bolton’s subordinates. As the American publication The Washington Post previously reported, in August the adviser was not invited to a meeting in the White House with the participation of Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Pompeo and CIA Director Gina Haspel. The meeting was dedicated to negotiations with the Taliban. Bolton more than once forgot to add to the list of participants in such meetings. It came to open quarrels between Pompeo and Bolton.
There were several reasons, as American journalists indicate that Bolton was not allowed to participate in the meetings: firstly, they were worried that he could disrupt the peace talks with the terrorists, and secondly, they were afraid of leaks from his team. Even the United States Special Representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, refused to show Bolton a draft agreement with the Taliban.
In the end, Trump decided to suspend peace talks with the Taliban. And let the US president say that it was his idea (to interrupt the dialogue), the victory in this conditionally palace war was won by the remaining Pompeo. Bolton was fired.
Why is this agreement so important?
Bolton’s idea of the complete withdrawal of the US military contingent was rather risky. It could stagger US influence in Afghanistan and transfer to its main competitors, Russia and China, additional leverage on the region as a whole.
According to the document, which Trump refused to sign, the Americans had to withdraw a significant part of their contingent, reducing its strength from 14 to 8-9 thousand troops. As Bolton recommended, it was supposed to be a one-way action, without the participation of the Taliban.
It is clear that the White House administration would not immediately withdraw the contingent. There would be a transition period. However, in practice, this would mean the beginning of a full-fledged civil war in Afghanistan.
For the Taliban, the main thing is for the United States to leave them face to face with the Afghan security forces. NATO forces cannot do anything. The striking power in Afghanistan is American soldiers. If the contingent of the US Army leaves the country, the terrorists will instantly open the hunt for 300 thousand Afghan security forces and their families.
That is why, a few days before the trump and Taliban negotiations, the spokesman for the Afghan president, Sedik Sedikki, said: “The Afghan government supports any progress in the peace process that leads to lasting peace. However, the main concern of the Afghan government regarding the agreement with the Taliban is how to prevent risks. ”
History has shown that jihadists who try to play politics always lose; only those who seize and hold power by force win. The Taliban will do so in the event of an American retreat. Moreover, their strengthening will lead to a worsening of the situation in a number of countries: from Kazakhstan and Tajikistan to Pakistan and Iran.
Did John Bolton understand this? Unclear. It is only known that one country would definitely benefit from a hasty withdrawal of American troops – Russia.
Kremlin, Taliban and ISIS
After the disruption of Trump’s negotiations with the Taliban, the Russian Foreign Ministry immediately issued a statement indicating that the decision of the US president to suspend negotiations with the Taliban could lead to an escalation of hostilities in Afghanistan. In fact, Russian diplomats are cunning, since the Kremlin itself is making considerable efforts to aggravate the situation.
What is the main goal of Russia in this country? Throw out NATO troops from there, create a new regime in Afghanistan through the mediation of the Taliban, and strengthen its influence on this and other regional powers. Controlled, albeit partially, terrorists can successfully carry out attacks in countries with which Moscow may not agree – in Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Iran, etc.
Moreover, the same terrorists can help block oil and gas pipelines in the Russian Federation, supply drugs, weapons and other illegal goods to different parts of the world.
In 2017, the British newspaper The Times reported that Russia supplies the Taliban with free fuel. The scheme is extremely simple: first, oil tankers travel from the Russian Federation to Afghanistan through Uzbekistan, then the goods are received by fake Afghan firms registered as terrorists, as a result, the proceeds are transferred to the ringleaders. According to the publication, the Taliban earn up to $ 2.5 million per month in these operations.
In 2018, US Armed Forces General John Nicholson Jr. said: Russian Defense Ministry officials are importing weapons to Tajikistan in preparation for exercises under the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), after which everything remains in place. Further, this cargo is transported to the Taliban in Afghanistan. As you know, the Russian authorities are allowed to deploy in Tajikistan until 2042.
The general also said that Russia is using the Islamic State terrorist factor to “legitimize the Taliban’s actions and to some extent support it.”
To make it clear, several years ago in Russian, and then in the world media, information appeared about the militants of the “Islamic state” who moved from the “cleaned” Russian army of Syria to Afghanistan. Over the past two years, when the Taliban leaders began to arrive in Moscow, Russian propagandists began to position the Taliban as the only possible force capable of exterminating the Syrian killers. At the same time, the top leadership of the Russian Federation, for example, Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu, spoke about the threat posed by the “Islamic State” for the entire region.
Representatives of this terrorist group are indeed present in Afghanistan, especially their positions are strong in the eastern province of Nangarhar. They also spread influence in 30 districts, including Khanabad and Kohistanat in the north of the country. However, no one wonders: how and why did they appear there?
In November 2017, Rozana.fm radio, citing a Kurdish source, reported that, with the mediation of the President’s Special Representative for the Middle East, Bogdanov managed to transport another group of militants and their Islamic State commanders to the territory of the city of Grozny. It is known that transportation was carried out by means of Russian military aircraft. Everything happened under the guise of the evacuation of women and children. Then these fighters fell into the states neighboring Afghanistan (such as Tajikistan), from where they moved to the epicenter of Afghan fighting.
Why is Russia doing this? In order to create the appearance of the growing influence of the “Islamic state” in this Central Asian country, form the image of the only possible fighter against terrorists from the Taliban, legalize the Taliban, and then force the Americans to sign an agreement with the latter, withdraw the US military from Afghanistan and take the country under its tight control (following the example of Syria).
Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, was supposed to receive all this information. And, probably, he received it. It remains unclear why he advised his president to take a unilateral decision: to withdraw the contingent soon and not sign a peace agreement with the Taliban.
Trump in that situation made the only right decision. The head of the White House probably knows about the Kremlin’s plans for Afghanistan. Perhaps now, after the departure of John Bolton, the Americans will be able to reach more tangible agreements with the Taliban. Meanwhile, it is completely unclear whether the United States will be able to maintain its influence in this Central Asian country, or in the pursuit of the presidency, Trump will cede the Afghan direction to Russia. What John Bolton will say then can only be guessed.