The hasty and unordered march of US troops from Afghanistan, along with the return of the Taliban after twenty years out of power, will substantially increase the influence that regional powers have over Kabul.
With varying levels of enthusiasm, Russia, China and Pakistan are creating the conditions for a smooth transition by seeking points of contact with the Taliban authorities. But they also fear that the return of the Taliban will once again transform Afghanistan into a nest of foreign terrorist groups that could carry out attacks in their own countries.
Imran Khan, prime minister of Pakistan (a country long accused of aiding the Afghan Taliban), said the Taliban had “broken the chains of mental slavery in Afghanistan“.” The Taliban have liberated their country from the superpowers, “also said the leader of a major religious political party.
China is ready to develop “good-neighborly, friendly and cooperative relations with Afghanistan,” a spokeswoman for the country’s Foreign Ministry said. He also recalled the Taliban promise that Afghanistan would not become a scene of “acts harmful to China.”
Moscow, whose foreign policy revolves largely around the fight against international terrorism, reacted to the return of the Taliban with a cold dose of realpolitik. “If we compare the negotiating skills of comrades and partners, I have long understood that the Taliban are much more capable of reaching agreements than the puppet government in Kabul,” Zamir Kabulov, Russian presidential envoy to Afghanistan, said on Monday. state television.
Of all the neighbors Pakistan he seems the most enthusiastic in welcoming the Taliban government. The Pakistani hope is that the Taliban government will give it more influence and advantages in Kabul and thus become a strong ally in the region, aligned with its Islamic values.
Khan has personal and political reasons to rejoice at the fall of the Afghan government. He was not the only one in his country to consider the Taliban victory a triumph. It was also celebrated publicly by influential clergymen and senior officials in the Pakistani military hierarchy. Siraj ul Haq, head of the Pakistani Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party, referred to it in a speech as a “historic victory over a superpower” that would create “an exemplary Islamic government in Afghanistan.”
Pakistan has a long and porous border with Afghanistan. For years it has been a sanctuary for Taliban leaders and their families and is where fighters often receive training and medical care.
Pakistan denies having provided military aid to the Afghan Taliban and maintains that in the Doha negotiations it advocated for peace. But many believe his top priority has been keeping the Taliban on his side. What many fear is that the Taliban resurgence will embolden Pakistan’s already powerful radical Islamist groups and make the country more vulnerable to jihadism.
“Pakistanis do not know what is coming their way,” Pakistani lawyer and writer Ayesha Ijaz Khan wrote on Twitter.
Russia has long criticized the US intervention in Afghanistan, so the Kremlin has received the news of Washington’s spectacular failure with great satisfaction.
More than three decades ago, the Soviet Union evacuated its last tanks in Afghanistan over the Friendship Bridge, heading for Uzbekistan. This week it was the Afghan warlords and their militiamen, allies of the United States, who were forced to flee over the same bridge.
For Vladimir Putin, counterterrorism has been a cornerstone of his foreign policy, coming to compare it with the fight against Nazism. In Syria and Libya, Russia’s justification for supporting authoritarian leaders is its usefulness in curbing the rise of radicalism and chaos.
In Afghanistan, however, the calculation is different and what is at stake is a realpolitik more cerebral. Russia has labeled the Taliban a terrorist group but appears willing to open contacts with them as long as it can guarantee the safety of its own diplomats and prevent militants from launching attacks against Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, its allies in Central Asia.
Zamir Kabulov, the Russian presidential envoy to Afghanistan, even raised the possibility that Russia would recognize the Taliban government “based on the behavior of the new authorities”, a great prize for the Taliban that would also mean that Moscow is seen as a possible intermediary behind the withdrawal of western nations.
For now, the Russians have not made a move. Taliban forces have “ensured the protection of the outer perimeter of the Russian embassy,” Kabulov said Monday.
Ambassador to Afghanistan Dmitry Zhirnov said Russia had been promised “not a hair will fall [de las cabezas] Russian diplomats. “Also, that new talks had been scheduled for this Tuesday.
Should the negotiations fail, Moscow is also preparing for further instability in the region. In the past month, he has held exercises with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, as well as military exercises with China to “demonstrate the determination and ability of Russia and China to fight terrorism.” Doing so just as the Taliban were rushing to victory was no accident.
China had shown its discomfort with the US military intervention in Afghanistan, but its “irresponsible” withdrawal has also seemed worthy of criticism.
According to Andrew Small of the American think tank German Marshall Fund, in recent years Beijing had begun to regard the continued US presence in Afghanistan as a lesser evil. “But judging from last month’s meeting between the Taliban and the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, Beijing seems to have been well prepared, perhaps even better than the United States itself, “he said.
On Monday, Chinese propaganda agencies seized the opportunity to discredit US foreign policy, but Beijing is following a line of extreme caution in its policy toward the new Taliban regime. China understands that the Afghan question is an impasse where great powers such as the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and the United States have already crashed.
Chinese state media describes Afghanistan as a “graveyard of empires” and Beijing does not want to end up mired in the “Great Game” of the center of the Eurasian continent.
It is an approach that demonstrates the usual pragmatism of China. “What China could do is participate in post-war reconstruction and provide investment to help the future development of the country,” the English-language Chinese newspaper reported on Sunday. The Global Times citing a veteran Chinese government expert.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Beijing welcomed the Taliban’s promise not to tolerate “any force using Afghan territory to carry out acts harmful to China and their desire for China to become more involved. in the process of peace, reconstruction and economic development in Afghanistan. ”
Beijing has been concerned about its Uighur region in Xinjiang (far west of the country) for many years, and has demanded that the Taliban refrain from hosting Uighur groups on its territory. According to Small, that “was the main reason why Beijing met with the mullah. Mohammed Omar in 2000, and it will continue to top China’s list of concerns after the Taliban takeover on Sunday. ”