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Britain announces a new round of the Great Game after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan

The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has caused a new round of the Great Game played by the world powers for influence in the region. This was announced by the British edition of The Times.

The newspaper notes that the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan has already led to the formation of the “power vacuum” in the country. Against this background, the political rivals of Washington on the international arena — Russia, and China — have already begun to take measures which, they hope, will help them form a new, post-American world. In addition, the neighboring countries such as Tajikistan and Uzbekistan had to make some steps, which are “horrified” by the situation after the departure of the Americans.

Leaders of Central Asian states are afraid that Afghanistan under the Taliban terrorist movement will turn into a kind of theme park for militants and become a base for radical Islamist groups who will begin to spread their influence in neighboring countries. Against this background, writes The Times, Russia has already offered itself as a barrier shield for its southern neighbors and has held a whole series of military exercises together with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. This has strengthened its political influence in the region, which Moscow can use to reinforce its military bases on the territories of these states and prevent the Americans from entering them.

At the June summit, presidents Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden supposedly discussed the idea of Washington leasing some Russian military bases in Central Asia to be able to fly reconnaissance drones over Afghanistan. But now “obviously any kind of U.S. strike from a base run by the Russians would be out of the question,” the Times said.

According to The Times, Russia will not allow the United States to strengthen its influence in the region again after the troop withdrawal, which, in fact, would make it “the main beneficiary of the United States' withdrawal from Kabul. However, according to the publication, Moscow will have to compete for positions in Central Asia with Beijing, which will also try to get the most out of the situation. “Beijing's 'One Belt, One Road' initiative provides it with privileges in its relations with Pakistan, and if China is willing to take risks, it will have a chance to make significant gains as well,” the paper wrote. At the same time, the paper noted, China will also have to be concerned about strengthening the Islamist sentiment in Afghanistan because of the internal problems with the Uighur Muslims.

On August 15, the Taliban entered Kabul and announced that they were in control of the entire territory of Afghanistan. The governance of Afghanistan was transferred to an interim council, which would transfer power to the Taliban. The new council included Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High National Reconciliation Council, and former President Hamid Karzai.

The term “Great Game” was coined in 1840 to refer to the geopolitical confrontation between Russia and Britain in Central Asia in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Later other countries, in particular the U.S. and Iran, joined the struggle for influence in the region, in the 21st century this rivalry began to be called the “new Great Game”.

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