New game in Afghanistan: Fulfil strategic ambitions of imperial powers and facilitate loot for their corporates

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Peace in the war-torn Afghanistan would stay a distant dream, as overseas forces are unlikely to exit any time quickly and exterior influences would proceed to gas instability and violence there. The Joe Biden administration understands that if the US and different allies withdrew from Afghanistan by May 1, 2021, as envisaged in the Doha settlement of February 29 final yr, China, a difficult financial and navy energy, would consolidate its place there.

In reality, the hope for lasting peace evaporated not lengthy after the settlement, because the Taliban stepped up violence in the final quarter of 2020 for a greater cut price throughout negotiations with the Ashraf Ghani authorities. But on the similar time, it ensured that no hurt got here to overseas forces in order that there was no excuse for the US to unilaterally withdraw from the settlement.

But that is what the US and its allies appear to be planning. Before doing so, the US wanted to seek the advice of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) international locations, who even have a major presence there. It was then logical that the US secretary of defence Lloyd J Austin made his first name on assuming workplace to the NATO basic secretary, Jens Stoltenberg. Later, briefing the media on February 19, a day after the primary digital convention of NATO defence ministers, Austin echoed the emotions of his president that the organisation faces “challenges, including a resurgent Russia’s disruptive technologies, climate change, the ongoing war in Afghanistan, the persistent threat of terrorism, and an increasingly aggressive China”. On Afghanistan, Austin clarified that no choice concerning the future pressure posture had been made.

Earlier, on January 28, US secretary of state Antony Blinken spoke to Afghan president Ashraf Ghani and hinted that the US was reviewing the February 2020 settlement to find out whether or not the Taliban had been residing as much as their commitments to chop ties with terrorist teams, cut back violence and to have interaction meaningfully with the Afghan authorities. The similar message was repeated a day later by the White House nationwide safety advisor Jake Sullivan to his counterpart in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, in anticipation of the US withdrawal, China had synchronised its place with that of Pakistan on Afghanistan. In the joint assertion issued after the assembly between the overseas ministers of China and Pakistan on August 22, 2020, China appreciated Pakistan’s contribution to the Afghan peace course of. Returning the favour, Pakistan supported “China’s core interests and issues of major concern, such as those related to Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong”.

Using Pakistan’s affect, China is eager to entry the mineral wealth of Afghanistan by integrating it into the Belt and Road Initiative and additionally defend its personal mushy underbelly in Xinjiang province. The proposed change in the US coverage is a shot in the arm of Ashraf Ghani and a setback to the ambitions of the Taliban.

A day earlier than the NATO assembly, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, deputy chief of the Taliban, in an open letter, known as upon the US to honour the Doha settlement. He warned that the Taliban wouldn’t enable anybody to intrude in their inside affairs and would defend the land of Afghanistan and its individuals. Unfortunately, nobody appears to be in the plight of the individuals of Afghanistan, who, for many years, proceed to undergo as a consequence of financial, political and strategic ambitions of world powers and neighbours like Pakistan. Mineral wealth of the nation is the brand new attraction.

According to a New York Times report titled ‘US Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan — printed on June 10, 2010 — the US had estimated the untapped mineral wealth to be in the vary of practically $1 trillion. Besides different metals, Afghanistan can also be believed to have giant deposits of lithium, which is important for making batteries used for cell phones, laptops and electrical automobiles. Therefore, the US and Chinese corporates are competing to entry huge reserves of lithium.

In anticipation, the worth of the US electrical automotive producer Tesla shot as much as $516 billion early this yr, making Elon Musk, its chief government, the richest particular person in the world. Similarly, if China has to stay the most important producer of cell phones, it might want lithium in abundance. The new nice game in Afghanistan is just not solely for fulfilling strategic ambitions of imperial powers but in addition to facilitate loot for their respective corporates. The mineral wealth belongs to the individuals of Afghanistan and none of the overseas entities and even the Taliban have any declare over it. It additionally applies to Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank worker. It can solely be utilised to rebuild the nation after true democracy takes root.

(The author is a former Intelligence Bureau officer, who served in Pakistan)

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