By William Markiewicz

Ossetia, Abkhazia have had dominant ethnic populations since time immemorial. In such cases everybody has the right to aspire to independence. For the sake of good relations they should avoid policies that harm the neighbours’ interests. Aside from this, are they free? The fact that Abkhazia declared its willingness to recognize Kosovo if Kosovo recognizes them proves that they don't have to ask Russia's permission.

I didn't place Kosovo in this collection of newly independent states because the complexity of the Kosovo problem is emphasized by Serbian claims that the Albanians' numerical superiority is relatively recent. The Axis favoured Albanian immigration and contributed to the elimination of the Serbs. After WW2, Tito apparently impeded the Serbs’ return to Kosovo in order to weaken Serbian power in Kosovo and in Yugoslavia in general. In these conditions does Kosovo have the right to independence? I don't know. Probably the best solution would be partition of Kosovo between the original owners -- the Serbs -- and the Albanians.

Regarding Afghanistan: It is a composite country. The majority of the territory is populated by the victorious Uzbek, Kazakh, Turkmen, etc. Those nations have their own powerful republics in Central Asia. The south remains mostly Pashtun who are the true natives. The center and the north of Afghanistan are rather peaceful, ruled by warlords and by the nominal President Karzai and his government. The southern Pashtun region is the only rebellious one and therefore I place it with secessionist countries like Ossetia and Abkhazia. President Karzai obviously wants to maintain Afghanistan’s cohesion through the power of his Western allies. Karzai, himself Pashtun, is he either a traitor to the Pashtun cause or an idealist who believes in united Afghanistan? In history, there were many quisling collaborators who, perhaps, meant the best for their countries. Karzai’s situation is precarious. If he wins he remains a puppet. If he loses, Afghanistan will lose Pashtunistan, and Karzai, no longer needed by the northern warlords, may lose his life. Pashtunistan, between the mountains and Pakistan, remains unbeatable.

As to Iraq, the oil will remain Iraqi in Iraq as it remains Saudi in Saudi Arabia. The foreign powers will have to tiptoe out sooner or later. Iraq and Afghanistan are Dien Bien Phu for the West.

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