September 4, 2021

China Bets On The Taliban In Pakistan's Casino of Terror

The Taliban displays its spoils of war.

Afghanistan's economy is experiencing a rapid freefall in the wake of the Taliban's illegal seizure of power. 

Frud Bezhan writes about the dire situation in his article, "'We Don't Have Any Money': Taliban Takeover Plunges Afghanistan Into Economic Turmoil":

Even before the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan's economy was extremely fragile, propped up for 20 years by foreign aid. International assistance accounts for around 40 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).

But since the militant group regained power, foreign donors have suspended aid to Afghanistan. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have also halted payments.

Afghanistan was a patient on critical life support when the U.S. administration pulled the plug. It is bleeding internally and its organs are failing. If left to its own devices it will collapse and perish.

China, the Taliban’s new benefactor, has signaled to the world that it will use its diplomatic and financial power to prevent Afghanistan from becoming completely paralyzed.

China's immediate aim is to stabilize Afghanistan by providing the new Taliban regime with economic aid and diplomatic protection at the United Nations and other international bodies. 

Political analyst Greg Swenson, in a video on the YouTube channel Wion, called, "China and the Taliban: friends with benefits?" explained Afghanistan's desperate need for economic support:

"The Taliban and the current government of Afghanistan, which is still being formed, will benefit greatly from the CCP and the Chinese presence economically. First of all, they need aid. They were obviously dependent on Western aid, especially American aid, prior to just a few days ago. And, so, with the Taliban takeover, that's jeopardized a lot of the significant, or basically all of the aid they were receiving, at least for now. 

So I think if the Chinese are supporting the Taliban directly there will be some economic benefit. And I think they desperately need it. Government employees haven't been paid for several months in Afghanistan. They're not going to be able to run the country without some sort of economic support. And it will likely come from China and the CCP." (12:00 - 12:55).

With American arms, Chinese money, and international recognition just weeks, if not days, away, the Taliban is quickly transforming from a hunted terrorist group to a powerful army at the heart of Central Asia.

America and European powers will try to court the Taliban but it looks like they will be left out in the cold. And if they try to press the Taliban on women's rights or other issues they won't be taken seriously. Any form of sanctions at the international level will be rebuffed by China and Russia. 

China has already sticked out its neck to offer the Taliban protection at the United Nations Security Council. 

In a UNSC resolution that was finalized in late August China removed a reference to the Taliban as a terrorist organization. 

The Print discussed the resolution in detail on September 3rd in a video titled, "Taliban takeover is setback for India & gain for Pakistan: Ex-UN diplomat Syed Akbaruddin":

Jyoti Malhotra (Editor at The Print): I see that on the 28th of August the UN Security Council drops a reference to the Taliban as a terror group. Now, subsequently, we know of course that India's ambassador in Qatar has met the Taliban leader. But let's walk back to the 28th of August. Were you surprised that India and the rest of the Security Council was coming to terms with the Taliban, which was always considered to be a terror group, and now the Security Council was ready to do business with the Taliban?

Syed Akbaruddin (India's former permanent Representative to the UN): You're right. In many ways, diplomacy is the handmaiden of ground realities. As ground realities change, the diplomatic nuances start reflecting those. And that's what happened in this case. It's a fairly significant change because it's a change by the entire body. Now, we need to understand that these statements are consensual in nature. That meams every country has a right to have a certain element deleted. And that's what has happened regarding the statement of 27th. The statement of 16th had that reference to Taliban in the context of other groups using Afghanistan's soil. But, on 27th, they did drop it. I understand that now it's fairly widely known that the Chinese objected to that reference. And it has never come back since then.

Jyoti Malhotra: Was it just the Chinese, or was it the Russians too?

Syed Akbaruddin: No, that specific reference was a Chinese effort that they objected to. (4:00 - 6:28).

The new relationship between China and the Taliban was brokered by Pakistan, where Chinese businesses have already invested billions of dollars in a multitude of infrastructure projects.

Derek Grossman explains China's newfound affinity for the Taliban in an article published at Rand called "Chinese Recognition of the Taliban Is All but Inevitable." An excerpt:

China did not recognize the Taliban when the group first ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001. Today's China, however, is very different: For one thing, it has truly global interests and stands in geopolitical competition with the United States. Afghanistan's natural resources are of heightened importance to China's economic development. Additionally, China likely seeks to leverage a friendly Afghanistan—in concert with Pakistan—against India, which has emerged as a formidable regional rival and with which it clashed militarily only last year.

India is concerned that the new China-Pakistan-Taliban axis will use Afghanistan as a base to train and export anti-Indian terrorist groups. 

So far, the Taliban have said in numerous public statements that it won't allow Afghanistan to be used for such purposes. 

But Pakistan and China are calling the shots. 

If tomorrow they decide to act against India in Kashmir or even in its Muslim provinces then the Taliban will have no choice but to follow along with the script.

China may bring some measure of short-term stability to Afghanistan with a much needed injection of funds, but without popular legitimacy the Taliban won't be able to govern Afghanistan effectively. For the foreseeable future it will remain, as America left it, a lawless wasteland.