How does expansionism join terrorism?
The story of how the United States, India and Afghanistan were completely left out and the fulcrum shifted to China and its allies – Russia, Pakistan and the Iran
The Taliban takeover is the first step towards establishing an alternative world order devoid of any international law. As the United States emerges from its “eternal war” phase, many are still puzzled as to how the Taliban has managed to become a significant “stakeholder” in the region. Today Pakistan will be the first country to recognize the reign of terror. It will soon be followed by China and other powers hostile to the West. Expansionism thus joined terrorism. It is possible that when the West focused on the talks, the Taliban used the platform of talks to gain political recognition. He was simultaneously rearmed by others. Take a few steps back and the contours of the tangled geopolitics emerge.
The Taliban’s quest for diplomatic and political recognition dates back to 2007 when they established a political commission to reach out to the world, especially the United States. The fundamental objective that the Taliban had in mind was to project itself as a “political movement” instead of a terrorist organization. Later, the opening of their first overseas office in Doha in 2013 gave them de facto recognition as it was visited by diplomats from different countries. Talks were unsuccessful and the office was closed. However, it has allowed the Taliban to have a “diplomatic” voice for themselves and the much-needed political space. for “zero tolerance” against terrorism.
In early 2014-15, the great powers and the Taliban converged to end ISIS. The Iranian government has allowed the Taliban to open their office in Mashhad. This convergence also led to the 2015 US-Iran nuclear deal. The United States, via Iran, indirectly engaged with the Taliban to fight ISIS. Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani played an important role in helping the United States fight ISIS. Somehow, the United States has “outsourced” the struggle, a development that was covered by The Washington Post.
Russian interests also coincided against ISIS. This has motivated powers like Russia and China to engage the Taliban and treat them as an important stakeholder. Dealing with regional and extra-regional powers through roundabouts has been a moment of tactical and strategic victory for the Taliban. It is also the time when the rearmament of the Taliban was initiated by Iran and Russia. For example, Tehran’s military aid to the Taliban included small arms, grenades propelled by rifles, and even military training. Pakistan’s military support for the Taliban is already well established. Joint resistance against Daesh thus paved the way for the Taliban. Two Taliban goals have been achieved. First, an overview of the stakeholder club, and second, how it regained a stronghold in Afghanistan which then gave wings to its old aspirations to form an Islamic emirate.
China launched its OBOR in 2013 and expanded its economic presence to South, Central and West Asia, excluding Africa. It has also made tactical forays into the region through its supplies of small arms and by supporting undemocratic and tyrannical governments in all these regions. China thus adopted a policy of “shadow boxer” in which it vaguely cooperated with countries hostile to the United States in their sub-regions. It has also strengthened its strategic, military and economic relations with Russia as well as with Pakistan. Iran’s profitability for both Russia and China is therefore well founded. The strong polarizations became evident in 2016 at the Sixth Heart of Asia (HoA) Conference held in Amritsar. India and Afghanistan, despite attempts to highlight Pakistan’s role in the terrorist network, were brutally sidelined when Islamabad received diplomatic appreciation from Russia.
Simultaneously, the Sino-Pakistani link has supported armed insurgencies in Afghanistan through the Haqqani and Hekmatyar networks while offering their good offices to negotiate an agreement between Kabul and the Taliban. Such a deal at that precise moment meant initiating some sort of legitimacy for the Taliban. The Afghan peace process was fertile ground for sowing the seeds of China-Russia-Pakistan and Iran cooperation. The first meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) on the Afghan Peace and Reconciliation Process was held in Islamabad in January 2016. Through this platform, Pakistan succeeded in bringing the United States and China at the same table. This ensured that any decision that was taken would be in favor of Pakistan; and the projection of its strategic utility to the United States, Russia and other European powers would be a bonus.
As Beijing continued to influence Moscow, new tripartite talks between China, Pakistan and Russia first took place in December 2016, in which Moscow decided to work on a “working group on” Afghanistan ”. India and Afghanistan have been left behind again in this geopolitics. He paved the way for an emerging Pakistan-China-Russia alliance. Over time, as fundamentalists from Syria and Iraq moved towards Afghanistan, Moscow and Beijing further strengthened their cooperation with the Taliban. It also downplayed the US-led mission in Afghanistan. For these reasons, the Haqqani network and its agents have played an important role.
When India and Afghanistan voiced concerns, the talks converted to six-party talks in 2017, but the two had little influence. obliged to recognize it as a political party. India despite its differences with Afghanistan on the issue has continued its humanitarian support and development projects.
By then, a Sino-Russian understanding had taken shape and the United States withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018. Iran had encouraged relations between Russia and the Taliban. In addition, ex-Taliban dissidents who joined ISIS posed a common threat in Moscow and Tehran. This resulted in the complete exclusion of the United States, India and Afghanistan and the shift of the pivot to China and its allies – Russia, Pakistan and Iran. The Taliban were then recognized as an important stakeholder and had started to negotiate on issues such as terrorism, drug trafficking and women’s rights projecting their “sovereign” demands on Afghanistan. They went so far as to declare the non-recognition of the Afghan delegation. In addition, Iran has adopted OBOR, and the geostrategic landscape of South Asia and Central Asia has changed completely. Expansionism had thus joined terrorism.
After completing the encirclement, the United States entered into a “peace agreement” with the Taliban, of course, with certain obligations on the part of the latter such as peaceful return, the safety of women and children, and so on. Departure 2021. The environment has become too hostile for the United States and has therefore resulted in an early exit. In all of these circumstances, there are no complete wins or losses. China is preparing to be trapped by a creditor in Pakistan and Afghanistan. For India, too, the challenges are immense and India has shown its character by doing everything it can do for humanitarian reasons – from building parliament and libraries to dams and granting scholarships for Afghan students.
(The author is an assistant professor at the Central University of the Punjab, Bathinda. The opinions expressed are personal.)