The mineral resources estimated to be 4 trillion US Dollars is a damn good reason for any country to attack a poor country recovering from a century of bloody battles with 3 super powers. First, it was the British, then the Soviets, followed by Americans and now NATO. There is something exceptionally attractive in Afghanistan that keeps drawing these mighty armies to their knees every once in a while. Indeed, Afghanistan is the graveyard of the superpowers. US Administration may have realized it a bit too late. America wants to divert from Iraq-Afghan-Pakistan war fields to China-Australia-Indonesia economic zones. It is not surprising to see this defeated withdrawal, least of all to the Afghans, because for them, whether British, Russians or Americans, they are all the same, just another group of foreigners after their resources.
Afghanistan has two unfathomable neighbors, Pakistan and Iran. Pakistan has historically been its ‘brotherly’ muslim country playing a key role in Afghan national security and foreign relations since the creation of Pakistan in 1947, but especially since the Soviet invasion in 1979. The Mujahideen, there should be no doubt about it by now, are armed to the teeth with weapons and ammunitions. They are not as lucky as the people of Moses (AS) who received fruits and quails from the heavens. Some very well connected military hardware producer and supplier is arming the Mujahideen. It would be naïve to suggest that NATO is unaware of this. Pakistan Army’s strategic interest in Afghanistan mixes up occasionally with their India-phobic plan for avenging the loss of East Pakistan in 1971. Afghanistan under Indian dominance would be a disaster for Pakistan Army and politicians, because of the fear that India will swallow Pakistan surrounding it from all 3 sides. National schizophrenic fever haunts Pakistan during flashbacks of surrendering to India its one half.
Iran is a bag of enigma. The world knows Iran as a theocratic state ruled by Ayatollahs (Vilayete Faqih), whereas muslims understand Iran to be the center of shii Islam ruled by some of the most pragmatic politicians. Western media would like to portray them as bearded clerics with an Islamist agenda for regional dominance. That is partly true. Iran is indeed the regional superpower in the area stretching from the Afghan border to Syria and Lebanon. Thanks to US invasion of Iraq Muqtada al Sadr has emerged as the Kingmaker with Iranian backing. Nuri Al Maliki’s Dawah party is also aligned to Iran, although he has been criticized for leaning too heavily on the US. That should come as a compliment for a country which has been conquered by the US. Alawite Assads of Syria, Hizbollah of Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine are reportedly supported by Iranians. Uprisings in Bahrian point towards growing influence of Iran in shii populations of the Gulf Arab states. Iran may not have exported the Islamic revolution but they can motivate a movement against authoritarians. That should not be too difficult now after the collapse of 3 veteran strongmen (Mubarak, Ben Ali and Ghaddafi).
Afghanistan had never been an easy piece for Iran, historically and culturally. It is not because of sunni-shii divide, but perhaps due to Iran’s cultural understanding of Afghan’s infatuation with liberty. However, Iran’s ideological expansion could gain by an Iran centric government in Kabul and Islamabad. It’s a bit far-fetched, but ideologically possible, if one assumes that shii rulers in Kabul and Islamabad will prefer Teheran over Riyadh as their religious peacemaker.
Despite the obvious interest of Pakistan and Iran in Afghanistan neither of them expect to ever invade and occupy this land. They have the military might to do it, but they know the culture of warrior race Afghans only too well. They never surrendered to any super power and they are not about to change that tradition.