China is already sending aid to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, filling the financial gap left by the US and other world powers. Last week, China pledged $31 million worth of food, medicine, and COVID-19 vaccines, to Afghanistan, the first sizeable foreign-aid promise from a major nation since August 15. For China, the new Taliban regime signals a chance to extend its reach and access natural reserves.
After the formation of an interim Taliban government in Afghanistan, China is set to establish an industry platform in the war-torn country to look into possibilities for investment in the reconstruction effort.”Various Chinese enterprises in the sectors of infrastructure construction and mining have contacted us for discussion since the release of the platform plan,” the state media quoted.
“China attaches great importance to the announcement by the Taliban of the establishment of an interim government and some important personnel arrangements,” said foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin. Analysts have said a stable and cooperative administration in Kabul would open economic opportunities for China and allow for expansion of its massive overseas infrastructure drive, the Belt and Road Initiative. The Taliban may also see China as a crucial source of economic support and potentially a key ally.
The Politically Incorrect Truth About What Really Happened In Afghanistan
5 SEPTEMBER 2021
Many Americans might regard their government’s grand strategic objectives in this respect as lacking any morals, ethics, or principles considering that they now largely align with China’s, Pakistan’s, Russia’s, and even the Taliban’s despite the public having been made to think over the years that all four of them are their enemies.
Average Americans are struggling to make sense of what just happened in Afghanistan last month since it all unfolded so suddenly. Most realized that the war was lost long ago and had turned into a so-called “endless” one, but few expected it to end the way that it ultimately did. Almost nothing that the Biden Administration did made sense to them, and few have any idea what’s in store for the future there. The purpose of this piece is to explain everything in “politically incorrect” terms in order to help everyone better understand it all.
A Hint Of What’s To Come
Let’s start with the jaw-dropping outcome first and then explain how it came to be. The US is now partially partnered with the same Taliban that it still officially designates as terrorists in their joint struggle against the comparatively greater evil of ISIS-K. America’s post-war plans for the region will also see it relying on China’s Belt & Road Initiative’s (BRI) flagship project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in order to expand its economic influence in Afghanistan and Central Asia despite officially being in a New Cold War with Beijing.
The “unholy” US-Taliban anti-terrorist partnership isn’t perfect nor what either of those two initially wanted but was forged by shared interests during the last two weeks of the American withdrawal from Kabul. The Taliban protected Americans from those terrorists despite being officially designated by the American government as terrorists themselves because they hoped that Washington would continue providing some level of support for Afghanistan after the war ends, even if only indirectly through international organizations.
That’s precisely what the US also plans to do, even if not right away, as evidenced by the “NewQuad” that it established between itself, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan in late July that’s explicitly premised on promoting regional connectivity. This structure strategically comprises the three countries that agreed in February to build a railway (which can tentatively be called PAKAFUZ after the first letters of each participating country’s name) that’ll eventually connect Central Asia to the Arabian Sea via Afghanistan.
This infrastructure project aligns with the former Trump Administration’s “Strategy For Central Asia 2019-2025” that was unveiled in February 2020 just weeks before the US-Taliban peace deal later that month. It basically calls for using economic means to expand American influence in this broader region with an aim towards lessening those countries’ potentially disproportionate strategic dependence on the US’ Chinese and Russian rivals.
America’s Chinese-Friendly Taliban Guardians
The irony though is that it’ll inevitably result in the US relying on BRI’s CPEC in Pakistan in spite of the ongoing Chinese-American New Cold War, which is too “politically incorrect” of an observation for any American official to say out loud despite it being the strategic truth. Even more shocking for the US public is the fact that the Taliban was always expected from the get-go to guard this project through the US’ plans to incorporate it into the planned transitional government that was supposed to have been assembled before the withdrawal ended.
That plan went awry after former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani‘s ego got the best of him and he refused to resign as the Taliban’s primary political precondition for their participation. Furthermore, the Biden Administration refused to implement any military tripwires during the final months of its withdrawal such as making it clear that it would kinetically respond to any Taliban attacks against Afghan cities while US forces were still in the country. These factors emboldened the group to go on their fateful nationwide offensive.
In Biden’s defense, attacking the Taliban under any pretext would have been a violation of the Trump Administration’s deal with the group and would have provoked them to attack the withdrawing American forces, thereby sabotaging the process and probably leading to the perpetuation of the war. While some have since claimed that he should have withdrawn the US’ military equipment that it gave to its Afghan National Army (ANA) allies, that would have caused a panic and precipitated their collapse due a lack of confidence.
Either way, the Biden Administration was in a dilemma, one which was largely attributable to the US’ human intelligence failures there over the past two decades as well as the self-sustaining ecosystem of lies built by members of its permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”). The Pentagon truly (though wrongly) believed that the larger and better-equipped ANA would fight the Taliban and that the Afghan government wouldn’t collapse until the end of the year at the earliest.
The Truth About The Taliban
What it failed to realize this entire time is that the Taliban had successfully rebranded itself as a national liberation movement in the eyes of Afghanistan’s 75% rural majority despite still being designated as terrorists by Russia and others. This resulted in it generating enormous sympathy among many of those very same members of the ANA that were supposed to fight them as well as many of the country’s minorities, the latter of which reconciled themselves with living under their rule after they let minorities join their leadership ranks.
The “politically incorrect” conclusion is that the Taliban already won incomparably more hearts and minds than the US and its proxy government, which also means that the Pentagon unwittingly ended up training many Taliban sympathizers in the ANA who then largely surrendered en masse once the group approached the gates of their cities. That’s why the Taliban was able to seize so much US military equipment. Had the US known what was really happening on the ground this whole time, it would have likely withdrawn it all ahead of time.
The Partial US-Taliban Partnership
Instead, American decision makers (both military and political alike) were oblivious to how genuinely popular the Taliban’s national liberation cause had become among the Afghan people, especially those in the ANA and in the minority-majority northern parts of the country. Even though the Taliban are still officially designated as terrorists by the US, their enemy came to rely on them out of necessity to protect many of those Americans who were caught off guard by their offensive and hadn’t evacuated earlier.
The Taliban ensured that most of them reached the airport safely and thus proved to the American government that its designation of them as terrorists is outdated, especially in light of their shared struggle against ISIS-K. All of these dynamics should have been obvious to any objective observer but the vast majority of those across the world were so surprised at the speed by which everything that they thought about the conflict was flipped upside-down that they weren’t able to accurately assess what was happening.
Too Little, Too Late
Furthermore, the Biden Administration – just like its three predecessors – was never fully truthful with the American people and failed to explain all of this to them ahead of time like it should have done. To the President’s credit, he eventually did broach some of these themes in his recent speeches, but it too little too late to reshape perceptions and reassure everyone that everything was under as much control as it possibly could be given the very difficult circumstances.
He also came off as defensive and therefore potentially untruthful since his explanations occurred only after his administration came under unprecedented pressure. Even if he was upfront about everything right at the start of the Taliban’s lightning-fast nationwide offensive when it became increasingly clear that the “deep state” totally miscalculated the on-the-ground dynamics there, it would have still been too abrupt of an explanation for the American people to accept since they’d been lied to for so long about the war.
The Raw Truth
It’s understandable that folks would find it difficult to understand how the same Taliban that’s still officially designated by their government as terrorists was supposed to become part of an inclusive government prior to the withdrawal’s completion, help the US fight against the comparatively greater evil of ISIS-K, and then defend the PAKAFUZ project for expanding their country’s influence into Central Asia which is ironically partially dependent on their Chinese rival’s BRI investments in CPEC that America is supposed to be opposed to.
This is all too much for the average American to comprehend which is why the “politically incorrect” explanation is being withheld from them even though part of it has gradually been introduced to the public by Biden out of political necessity ever since last month’s fast-moving events. The US is partnering with a group that it still officially regards as terrorists in order to fight against other terrorists and also hopes that the first group guards a planned regional connectivity project through Afghanistan that’s partially reliant on China’s BRI.
Debunking Lies About The Taliban & China
These strategic truths debunk several major American lies. The first is that the Taliban aren’t truly terrorists in the traditional sense that the US public regards this word as meaning otherwise their government wouldn’t ally with it against anyone else, let alone depend on it to protect evacuating Americans and then a regional infrastructure project through post-withdrawal Afghanistan. The second is that BRI isn’t as bad as they’ve been made to believe since its CPEC investments will lay the basis for the US’ future Central Asian strategy.
In fact, PAKAFUZ can be considered as a synthesis of American, Chinese, Pakistani, and even Russian strategic connectivity visions since it serves all of their interests. The US and Pakistan want to expand their economic influence north, China wants to facilitate Islamabad’s plans in this respect since PAKAFUZ is de facto the northern expansion of CPEC, and Russia regards this corridor as its route to the Indian Ocean that it’s struggled for centuries to reach.
Debunking Lies About Russia & Pakistan
Two more lies are therefore debunked through this supplementary observation. The first pertains to Pakistan, which many Americans are resentful of since they consider its reported support of the Taliban as having been the primary factor that ensured their country’s military defeat in Afghanistan. Be that as it may, their government is now economically allying with Pakistan through the “New Quad” and PAKAFUZ in order to expand its influence in Central Asia via post-withdrawal Taliban-led Afghanistan.
The second lie relates to Russia, and it’s that the US will always supposedly seek to “contain” it, yet PAKAFUZ will actually enable Moscow to finally succeed for the first time ever in its centuries-long quest to reach the Indian Ocean. Many American decision makers regarded their 1980s support of the Taliban’s mujahideen forefathers as being partially premised on preventing the USSR from using Afghanistan as a spring board to eventually invade Pakistan for that purpose, yet now their government is facilitating this connectivity goal.
All of this just goes to show how complicated the realities of International Relations really are. Many Americans might regard their government’s grand strategic objectives in this respect as lacking any morals, ethics, or principles considering that they now largely align with China’s, Pakistan’s, Russia’s, and even the Taliban’s despite the public having been made to think over the years that all four of them are their enemies. It’s little wonder then that these “politically incorrect” truths are still being withheld from them by the “deep state”.
CHINA has expressed hope to extend its multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) into Afghanistan. With the Taliban in control of Afghanistan and the complete withdrawal of the US troops, China appears to be chalking out plans to extend its BRI to Afghanistan besides investments to exploit the rich minerals and highly lucrative rare-earth mines in Afghanistan. Rare-earth metals, which are key components for a host of advanced technologies like iPhones and hi-tech missile guidance systems, were estimated to be worth anywhere between $1 trillion (£720 bn) and $3 trillion (£ 2.1 trillion) in 2020 in Afghanistan.
Chinese-Russian Cooperation Is The Key To Afghan Peace
2 SEPTEMBER 2021
These major countries have pivotal roles to play through the Extended Troika, the SCO, the non-Western alternative financial institutions that they participate in, bilaterally with Afghanistan, and jointly with one another and that war-torn country. China and Russia can help Afghanistan politically, in terms of security, and financially.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed last week to cooperate more closely on Afghanistan after the Taliban’s rapid takeover of the country. Both leaders hope to promote a peaceful resolution of its crisis in accordance with UNSC Resolution 2513 from March 2020 which authorizes them to engage with the Taliban in the interests of peace despite that group still officially being designated as terrorists. Most immediately, they can organize another meeting of the Extended Troika between themselves, Pakistan, and the US, but there’s more that they can do too.
Before describing the other policy options available, it’s important to remind the reader of the aforementioned one’s importance. The Extended Troika brings together the top foreign stakeholders in the Afghan Civil War. It functions as the most efficient platform for exchanging views between the warring sides and facilitating a political solution to the conflict. Now that the US-backed Afghan government in Kabul has collapsed, however, that country’s participants could be a mix of the Taliban and some of the other groups that want to participate in their de facto leaders’ promised inclusive government.
The Taliban might be able to organize a government on their own without any foreign support like they’re reportedly in the process of doing, which could then change the purpose of the Extended Troika. Instead of facilitating a peaceful resolution to the crisis, they could focus more on pressing matters of mutual security such as the threat of ISIS-K and other international terrorist groups that are active in Afghanistan. The US will have much less influence there following its planned withdrawal by the end of the month so relevant responsibilities would fall more on China, Pakistan, and Russia’s shoulders.
These three countries are all part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) where Afghanistan is also an observer. It might very well turn out that the Extended Troika becomes redundant in the event that the Taliban succeeds in forming an inclusive government on its own like it’s promised so it would be more sensible in that case for the SCO to play a greater role instead due to its members’ opposition to the shared threats of terrorism, separatism, and extremism. Since China and Russia jointly founded the SCO, they’d accordingly have the most responsibilities when it comes to this issue alongside neighboring Pakistan of course.
Security and development go hand in hand, however, so it would then be equally important to ensure Afghanistan’s sustainable reconstruction in the coming future. The US already froze the Afghan Central Bank’s $9.5 billion assets, the IMF suspended Afghanistan’s access to funds, and the World Bank just halted its aid so alternative financial structures would have to replace those Western ones’ role if requested to do so by Afghanistan’s de facto Taliban-led government. China and Russia would of course first have to officially recognize that government, but such formal acknowledgment might soon follow the conclusion of that process.
China and Russia can extend their own forms of bilateral financial support to Afghanistan once that happens and/or the financial organizations that they founded could potentially do the same. These are mostly the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank and the Eurasian Development Bank, but all members might have to first recognize the Taliban-led government. That’s why bilateral mechanisms or perhaps even a newly established joint one between China and Russia would most likely suffice since it’s unclear who else might recognize those authorities, when they’d feel comfortable doing that, and under what conditions.
Regardless of the exact scenarios, it’s clear that China and Russia hold the keys to Afghan peace one way or the other. These major countries have pivotal roles to play through the Extended Troika, the SCO, the non-Western alternative financial institutions that they participate in, bilaterally with Afghanistan, and jointly with one another and that war-torn country. China and Russia can help Afghanistan politically, in terms of security, and financially. This observation speaks to their irreplaceable importance in the emerging Multipolar World Order and the increased responsibilities that they’re shouldering commensurate with their rising global roles.
ISIS-K’s Kabul Airport Terrorist Attacks Were Inevitable
26 AUGUST 2021
The world’s eyes are on that site so any terrorist group, let alone one as publicly-hungry as ISIS-K, would have regarded it as too tempting of a target to pass up.
The international community is shocked by ISIS-K‘s three attacks (and counting?) at the Kabul Airport that killed dozens of people, including at least 10 US soldiers, according to initial reports. A Taliban spokesman, whose group is still designated by Moscow as terrorists despite the Kremlin pragmatically engaging with it in the interests of peace and security, told Russian media earlier in the day that his group was the one that warned NATO about the impending attack that he claimed would be carried out to discredit them.
That scenario was the last thing that the Taliban would have wanted to happen because it risks providing the US the pretext for extending its withdrawal deadline in order to evacuate more of its citizens and their local allies. Be that as it may, it’s unclear whether the US will do that or if it might even prematurely end its operations. In any case, there shouldn’t be any question that none of this is the Taliban’s fault. ISIS-K is its sworn enemy, and the Taliban have gone to great lengths to present themselves as responsible security stakeholders.
Nevertheless, the Kabul Airport attack was inevitable. The world’s eyes are on that site so any terrorist group, let alone one as publicly-hungry as ISIS-K, would have regarded it as too tempting of a target to pass up. Furthermore, it’s a relatively “soft” target too because of how many civilians were swarming around the site despite recently being told to go home for their own good. Many didn’t heed these warnings out of desperation to escape the Taliban whom they sincerely fear despite the group promising not to carry out any reprisals.
Many commentators are pointing fingers trying to stick the blame on US President Joe Biden and/or the Taliban, but this is nothing more than a political exercise that overlooks the larger strategic dynamics at play. It should be taken for granted that certain lobbying forces might exploit this attack to pressure the American leader to extend the withdrawal deadline, order retaliatory strikes, or even wrap up his country’s evacuation operations before their deadline, but this shouldn’t be interpreted as meaning that some forces “were in on it”.
Although the original ISIS from which its “Khorasan” branch in Central & South Asia is derived was at the very least easily “corralled” by the US in the direction of shared interests (which in the “Syraq” case were Baghdad and Damascus), ISIS-K appears to be much more “autonomous”. The argument can be made that the group’s rise was the US’ “Plan B” for Afghanistan after its “Plan A” of an indefinite occupation there failed while its “Plan C” is the “Panjshir Resistance”, but this doesn’t mean that the US is completely “pulling its strings”.
Rather, ISIS-K operates opportunistically like all ISIS franchises by usually taking advantage of preexisting chaos exactly like what’s present in Afghanistan right now. The rapid collapse of the Ghani Government could have created a black hole for it to exploit had the Taliban not swiftly moved in to fill the vacuum, which importantly included seizing control of the thousands of pieces of American military equipment before its sworn enemies could, but there should have been no doubt that ISIS-K would at least try to attack the Kabul Airport.
The terrorist group was tempted by the thousands of civilians there, the Taliban obviously had difficulty with ensuring the site’s security since they’re an insurgent group that only just recently began taking on conventional security responsibilities in Kabul, and the entire world was glued to their screens watching the West’s panickedevacuation over the past two weeks. If the US or any of its allies were secretly behind this attack like some in the Alt-Media Community speculate, then the Taliban would have called them out ahead of time.
They didn’t, however, despite defying global “political correctness” by claiming that “there was no proof” that Osama Bin Laden was involved in 9/11. The group clearly isn’t afraid to share its interpretation of events so it wouldn’t make much sense for them to go against the conventional narrative about one of this century’s most influential events while self-censoring their views about who might have been plotting the Kabul Airport attack that they warned NATO about, especially if they felt that one of its members like the US was secretly behind it.
As difficult as it might be for some to countenance for whatever reason, sometimes even groups whose origins are connected with the US like ISIS’ are (considering that many of its founding members used to be imprisoned by the Americans in Iraq) “autonomously” carry out attacks without any secret foreign intelligence hand guiding them. They simply saw an opportunity and went for it, which in this case was intended to generate global publicity for their terrorist cause as well as possibly somehow or another influence the West’s withdrawal.
It remains to be seen exactly what ISIS-K’s goals were in carrying out these attacks. One line of thinking is that it wanted the West to remain mired in the Afghan quagmire to fight them and thus provoke the Taliban’s ire too by extending their withdrawal deadline. Another, however, maintains that the group hoped that they’d prematurely depart and thus score a soft power victory of sorts for their cause by making it seem like they were scared away by the attacks into abandoning the rest of their citizens and their local allies to public outrage.
Either way, the importance of what just happened is that it was inevitable, more than likely doesn’t have any connection to foreign intelligence agencies, and also proves beyond any shadow of doubt that those terrorists are against the Taliban. There will likely be more such attacks since ISIS-K just succeeded in recapturing the world’s attention, but it’s uncertain whether they’ll have the staying power to launch a sustained terrorist insurgency against the Taliban.
It would be a twist of fate if the Taliban eventually requested US military assistance against the group such as through airstrikes or special forces raids. Of course, that’s just pure speculation at this point since there’s no evidence that it’s considering such a thing, but if everything continues to deteriorate in the worst-case scenario, then the Taliban might have to rely on some sort of foreign support in order to retain power. The US might also bomb ISIS-K without the Taliban’s approval under the pretext of killing the Kabul Airport attacks’ organizers.
Either of these two scenarios could immensely complicate the post-withdrawal strategic situation in Afghanistan and neither should be completely ruled out at the moment. Everything is too fluid to make accurate predictions about what comes next other than the seemingly obvious one of more ISIS-K terrorist attacks. Their expected consequences are unclear, but what can be said for sure is that the situation is becoming more chaotic ahead of the West’s planned withdrawal instead of stabilizing like many hoped.
Russia and India agreed to form a permanent bilateral channel for consultations on Afghanistan. New Delhi has been very cautious on issues relating to the Taliban – first stating that the group would have legitimacy issues if it took power by force and then later nuancing it to the slam only Haqqani group and groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). While the Haqqani group has targeted the Indian embassy in Kabul, the LeT and JeM foment terrorism in Kashmir.
China has urged the Afghan Taliban to fulfill its promises, break off with all terrorist organizations and address obstacles that hinder regional security and development cooperation, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said, after two bomb attacks near Kabul airport killed at least 13 US soldiers and dozens of Afghanis. Afghan Taliban had clarified to China that it will not allow any forces to harm China through incursions made via Afghanistan and urged it to fulfill promises to break off with all terrorist organizations.
Russian and India agreed to set up a joint team of foreign affairs and national security officials to assess the situation in Afghanistan. As world leaders debate how or whether to engage with the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan, Russia has sought to assure its long-time partner India that New Delhi’s views matter. India and Russia define their ties as a “special and privileged strategic partnership”.