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Debunking Bloomberg: Biden’s Afghan Withdrawal Isn’t A Blow To China

20 APRIL 2021

Debunking Bloomberg: Biden

It was hyperbole for Ghosh to claim that ‘Biden’s Afghanistan Withdrawal Is A Blow To China’. It might only be so in the worst-case scenario, which is far from certain.

Bloomberg published an op-ed last week provocatively claiming that “Biden’s Afghanistan Withdrawal Is A Blow To China”. Opinion columnist Bobby Ghosh argues that the country might soon slip back into an all-out civil war that would not only disrupt China’s connectivity interests in the country, but also spill over to threaten the Belt & Road Initiative’s (BRI) flagship project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In addition, he predicts that Afghanistan will become “a sanctuary for jihadists of every stripe — some of whom will undoubtedly direct their attention to that very short, mountainous and porous border with China.”

This line of thinking is typical of what many in the Western mainstream media are saying. They were against former US President Donald Trump’s deal with the Taliban last year and subsequent promise to complete his country’s military withdrawal by the beginning of next month. His successor, US President Joe Biden, will instead initiate the full withdrawal by that date and complete it before the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Some establishment voices fear that this will create strategic opportunities for China and the US’ other so-called peer competitors like Russia to exploit for zero-sum ends against American interests.

In reality, however, it’s in everyone’s interests that the US completes its promised withdrawal from Afghanistan as soon as possible. America has spent trillions of dollars there without much of anything to show for it. It’s true that Afghanistan now has a governing system comparatively closer (key word) to Western democracy than before and that woman now enjoy greater rights, but the Taliban still controls large swathes of the country and ISIS’ entry to the battlefield in 2014 immensely complicated the anti-terrorist situation there. Indefinitely continuing the US’ occupation of Afghanistan would only make matters much worse without solving anything.

By boldly agreeing to withdraw from the country and clearly articulating the strategic reasons behind this decision in his national speech on Wednesday, President Biden concluded that it’s better to cut America’s losses and simply move on even though the victimized Afghan people won’t be able to move past this twenty-year dark chapter of their national history so easily. In any case, their future is arguably brighter than before, not dimmer. The completion of the US’ withdrawal will unlock promising socio-economic opportunities for Afghanistan provided that their leadership and local stakeholders have the political will to support them.

To explain, it’s precisely because of China that this is possible. Afghanistan’s geostrategic location in the center of the tri-regional Central-South-West Asian space affords it enormous potential for connecting these three massive markets through BRI. In particular, CPEC’s de facto expansion into Afghanistan via the recently agreed Pakistan-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan (PAKAFUZ) railway will complement existing rail connectivity with China via the Central Asian nations of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The Chinese-Iranian Strategic Partnership deal also creates the chance of further expanding this connectivity network to West Asia with time via W-CPEC+.

Domestically, the Afghan economy would require extensive reconstruction, but its reported $3 trillion worth of minerals – including some rare earth ones – could ideally be extracted in the most responsible way possible to ensure the equitable distribution of this wealth to every citizen. Coupled with grants and low-interest no-strings-attached loans from partner states like China and others, the Afghan people actually stand a very credible chance of succeeding in the future so long as their country can avert the all-out civil war that Ghosh fears might soon erupt.

That worst-case scenario is plausible, but nevertheless not inevitable. The Taliban, despite being designated as terrorists, have recently proven themselves to be shrewd diplomats on the international stage during multiple rounds of peace talks over the past few years. They seem to have understand the pragmatism of facilitating such connectivity and extractive projects for the purpose of improving their citizens’ living standards. Should they enter into the planned inclusive transitional government that’s been proposed, then they’ll probably not do anything to threaten those projects since they’ll too have a stake in their success.

Considering all of this, it was hyperbole for Ghosh to claim that “Biden’s Afghanistan Withdrawal Is A Blow To China”. It might only be so in the worst-case scenario, which is far from certain. What’s much more likely is that the existing low-intensity conflict continues but doesn’t reach catastrophic proportions. Instead, with the Taliban possibly becoming part of the Afghan government, the international community might remove their terrorist designation and accept them as equal stakeholders in Afghanistan’s future socio-economic success, a large part of which will be due to mutually beneficial cooperation with China.


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India Is Wrong To Blame The IRGC For Late January’s Attempted Terrorist Attack

10 MARCH 2021

India Is Wrong To Blame The IRGC For Late January

India knows that it’s being lied to by the US, “Israel”, and/or Saudi Arabia but is still going along with them anyhow because it naively expects to gain something in return.

Russia’s publicly financed international media outlet Sputnik published a piece on Monday titled “‘Asymmetric Warfare’: India’s Anti-Terror Unit Claims Iran’s Quds Force Behind Israeli Embassy Blast”. The article quotes an unnamed senior official at India’s National Investigative Agency who blames the IRGC for the non-lethal blast that occurred in the country’s capital in late January. Instinctively sensing a false flag attack, I immediately shared my concerns about this previously unconfirmed narrative that was bandied about at the time by Indian and “Israeli” officials in an analysis that I wrote for Pakistan’s Express Tribune asking “Did Iran Really Carry Out An Attempted Anti-Israeli Terrorist Attack In India?

Iran’s official response to these latest official Indian allegations was reported by Sputnik in its follow-up piece titled “‘Sinister Intentions of Enemies’: Iran Slams Report Claiming IRGC Behind Israel Embassy Blast”. That article quotes the statement released by the Iranian Embassy in India which suggests that “third parties who are angry and dissatisfied with the progress in the relations between the governments of Iran and India” were responsible for what happened. This conforms to my previous speculation that the incident was really a false flag attack that tried too hard to implicate Iran. The question naturally becomes one of who would have the interests and means to carry it out.

Pakistan can be safely excluded from the list of suspects because India would have already blamed it if there was even a shred of evidence that could be spun as implicating Islamabad’s involvement. The very fact that this didn’t happen speaks to the unquestionable absence of such evidence. Instead, the unnamed Indian official is quoted by Sputnik as saying that the investigation initially “hinted to the role of Islamic State” but that New Delhi eventually determined that the IRGC was really the true culprit. India could have stuck to the ISIS theory in order to avoid further complicating its increasingly complex relations with Iran but ultimately decided to pin the blame on the Islamic Republic, which advanced American, “Israeli”, and Saudi strategic interests.

Those three are therefore the most likely suspects, whether individually, in tandem, or altogether. It can only be speculated how one, some, or all three of them conspired to carry out that attempted attack, but there aren’t any other parties with both the interests and means. Even so, one must ask themselves why India would allow itself to be so obviously manipulated in such a crude manner by going along with the manufactured narrative that Iran was allegedly responsible. New Delhi knows that its statement risks worsening ties with Tehran, but it went ahead with it anyhow. This curiously coincides with new regional strategic developments that might explain the political calculations behind India’s decision.

Uzbekistan, the most populous state in Central Asia and the one with the most promising real-sector (i.e. non-energy) economic prospects, recently opted to go with Pakistan’s N-CPEC+ for connecting to the Indian Ocean instead of the eastern branch of the Indo-Iranian North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC). I wrote about this in my recent analysis for the Express Tribune which informed everyone “Why This Summer’s Central Asia-South Asia Connectivity Conference Will Be Crucial”. I explained that the agreement late last year to pioneer a railway between Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan (tentatively described by me as the PAKAFUZ project after the first letters of each country’s name) makes the NSTC redundant, thereby basically dealing a deathblow to it.

With this observation in mind, India might have calculated that it had nothing more to lose by going with the flow and publicly blaming the IRGC for late January’s attempted terrorist attack in New Delhi. If anything, doing so might have been expected to improve India’s standing in the eyes of its new American, “Israeli”, and Saudi allies. Iran has no means to “punish” India for its provocative allegation since the South Asian state no longer purchases the Islamic Republic’s energy resources like before due to its fear of being targeted by the US’ so-called “secondary sanctions”, and the PAKAFUZ project pretty much put an end to the economic viability of the NSTC’s eastern branch.

These factors help explain why India publicly accused the IRGC of being responsible for that attempted terrorist attack. Even so, India is wrong to have blamed Iran because it knows better than to believe that the Islamic Republic was truly responsible. This experience shows just how much of its supposedly cherished strategic autonomy India has surrendered to its new American, “Israeli”, and Saudi allies in recent years that it now unashamedly blames Iran for supposedly committing out an act of terrorism on its soil despite there being no compelling evidence to prove this. India knows that it’s being lied to by the US, “Israel”, and/or Saudi Arabia but is still going along with them anyhow because it naively expects to gain something in return.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: India, Iran, Pakistan, US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Terrorism, NSTC, CPEC, CPEC+, N-CPEC+, PAKAFUZ.


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