In reality, the hope for lasting peace evaporated not lengthy after the settlement, because the Taliban stepped up violence within the final quarter of 2020 for a greater cut price throughout negotiations with the Ashraf Ghani authorities. However on the identical time, it ensured that no hurt got here to international forces in order that there was no excuse for the US to unilaterally withdraw from the settlement.
However that is what the US and its allies appear to be planning. Earlier than 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 common secretary, Jens Stoltenberg. Later, briefing the media on February 19, a day after the primary digital convention of NATO defence ministers, Austin echoed the feelings of his president that the organisation faces “challenges, together with a resurgent Russia’s disruptive applied sciences, local weather change, the continued conflict in Afghanistan, the persistent menace of terrorism, and an more and more aggressive China”. On Afghanistan, Austin clarified that no resolution in regards to the future power 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 dwelling as much as their commitments to chop ties with terrorist teams, cut back violence and to have interaction meaningfully with the Afghan authorities. The identical message was repeated a day later by the White Home nationwide safety advisor Jake Sullivan to his counterpart in Afghanistan.
In the meantime, in anticipation of the US withdrawal, China had synchronised its place with that of Pakistan on Afghanistan. Within the joint assertion issued after the assembly between the international 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 pursuits and problems with main concern, resembling these associated to Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong”.
Utilizing Pakistan’s affect, China is eager to entry the mineral wealth of Afghanistan by integrating it into the Belt and Street Initiative and likewise defend its personal delicate underbelly in Xinjiang province. The proposed change within the US coverage is a shot within 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, referred to as upon the US to honour the Doha settlement. He warned that the Taliban wouldn’t enable anybody to intrude of their inside affairs and would defend the land of Afghanistan and its individuals. Sadly, nobody appears to be within the plight of the individuals of Afghanistan, who, for many years, proceed to endure as a result of financial, political and strategic ambitions of world powers and neighbours like Pakistan. Mineral wealth of the nation is the brand new attraction.
In response to a New York Instances report titled ‘US Identifies Huge Mineral Riches in Afghanistan — printed on June 10, 2010 — the US had estimated the untapped mineral wealth to be within the vary of practically $1 trillion. Moreover 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 vehicles. Subsequently, the US and Chinese language corporates are competing to entry huge reserves of lithium.
In anticipation, the worth of the US electrical automobile producer Tesla shot as much as $516 billion early this yr, making Elon Musk, its chief government, the richest individual on the planet. Equally, if China has to stay the biggest producer of cell phones, it might want lithium in abundance. The brand new nice recreation in Afghanistan will not be just for fulfilling strategic ambitions of imperial powers but additionally to facilitate loot for his or her respective corporates. The mineral wealth belongs to the individuals of Afghanistan and not one of the international entities and even the Taliban have any declare over it. It additionally applies to Ashraf Ghani, a former World Financial institution worker. It could solely be utilised to rebuild the nation after true democracy takes root.
(The author is a former Intelligence Bureau officer, who served in Pakistan)