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Dan Gilmore / Oct. 27, 2015

Afghanistan’s Pivot Toward Russia

Obama handed influence in the Middle East to Russia.

The Afghani government just gave the Kremlin the perfect opportunity to further block the U.S. from the Middle East. The government struggling with a resurgence of the Taliban and the rise of the Islamic State asked Russia for military assistance, ranging from small arms to attack helicopters. The Wall Street Journal notes that Afghanistan has a history with the Great Bear. In 1989, the last of the Red Army left the country in defeat, which also caused the communist government in Afghanistan to collapse. More recently, Afghanistan has accused Russia of funding warlords to the country’s north instead of dealing with the country’s government. Russia has made clear that Afghanistan is the United States’ problem. Russian ambassador to Afghanistan, Alexander Mantytskiy, said, “We will provide some assistance, but it doesn’t mean that any soldier from the Russian Federation will be here on Afghan soil. Why should we carry the burden of a problem that was not solved by the Americans and NATO countries?” Just like Iraq turning to the coalition formed by Russia and the Syrian government, Afghanistan has turned to Russia because it has found the Obama administration unhelpful in matters of national security. Obama boasted in 2012 that he had al-Qaida “on the run.” That’s not his legacy, however. It’s that he handed influence in the Middle East to Russia.

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