In a significant development, the US has announced a new Quad group for Afghan peace process. The US State Department conveyed that the US-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan-Pakistan Quad regional support group will focus on enhancing regional connectivity.
Why New Quad?
The most well-known Quad group until now is the Quadrilateral security dialogue between US, India, Japan and Australia. It primarily focuses on the Indo-pacific and is a military group to contain China.
As the US troops are leaving Afghanistan, the situation in the country is becoming worse due to Taliban's increasing violence. Hence, Washington has designed a strategy of forming a new Quad keeping in mind the strategic location of Afghanistan.
Through this group, US is planning to keep an eye on the Taliban by promoting the Afghanistan peace process.
The parties consider long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan critical to regional security and agree that peace and regional connectivity are mutually reinforcing, the State Department said on Friday.
Recognizing the historic opportunity to open flourishing inter regional trade routes, the parties intend to cooperate to expand trade, build transit links, and strengthen business-to-business ties, it said.
The parties agreed to meet in the coming months to determine the modalities of this cooperation with mutual consensus, said the State Department.
Formation of New Quad amid the Differences between Pakistan and Afghanistan
Many countries are surprised due to this recent move by the US. As the Taliban is trying to regain its control in Afghanistan, there are various reports suggesting Pakistan's continuous efforts to de-stabilize the Afghan government.
Afghanistan's Vice President Amrullah Saleh alleged that Pakistani forces were supporting the Afghan Taliban after they took control of the Spin Boldak border crossing with Pakistan in Kandahar province earlier this week. He even went on to say that the Pakistan Air force might bomb Afghanistan if Taliban is defeated.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has slammed Imran Khan by saying that more than 10,000 jihadi fighters entered the country from Pakistan in the last month. The differences between Kabul and Islamabad can impact the ambitions of US to maintain and enhance the new Quad group.
Uzbekistan - A Key Member in the New Quad Group
Uzbekistan shares a very important border with Afghanistan. Once the new Quad group strengthens, the US will pay millions of dollars to Uzbekistan and will build military bases in the Central Asian country.
Also, Uzbekistan is a key partner of US supporting international efforts in Afghanistan, primarily through provision of electricity, economic assistance, and development of Afghanistan's infrastructure. Uzbekistan is important to US interests in ensuring stability, prosperity, and security in the broader Central Asian region.
Will Russia Oppose the New Quad?
Russia has slammed the "hasty withdrawal" of US and NATO troops for the rapid deterioration in Afghanistan's security. It is against US troops in Central Asia near Afghanistan. According to some media reports, the countries in which US is trying to improve relations for military bases are former USSR countries.
Hence, Russia believes that there should be more Russian influence in these countries. Russia has revealed that that if the US brings its soldiers in Central Asia, Russia will assume that it is a step against its interests.
Though the US has introduced this grand plan of new Quad, Washington needs central Asian partners to protect Afghanistan's future. The success of the new Quad group is dependent on the collective efforts of the US, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan. It will be interesting to see whether this group really changes the ground reality or becomes a blunder.