by Zia Sarhadi (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 52, No. 11, Jumada' al-Akhirah, 1444)
Mischief-making is as American as apple pie or McDonald’s. No region in the world is free from US interference and destabilization attempts but West and Central Asia are especially targeted. Three major powers in America’s cross-hairs are situated there: China, Russia and Iran. Any trouble in the region will have adverse effects on all three.
Within the broader West and Central Asian regions, Afghanistan occupies an important position. It borders China through the Wakhan corridor, and acts as gateway to Central Asia which essentially means Russia. And then there is Islamic Iran with whom Afghanistan shares a long porous border. The same situation exists with Pakistan. In recent weeks, cross-border attacks from Afghan territory on Pakistan have escalated resulting in numerous deaths.
It would be reasonable to assume that after its humiliating defeat in Afghanistan, the US would not interfere there anymore. Perish the thought. After spending $2.26 trillion over a 20-year period, the Americans fled with their collective tail between their legs that allowed the Taliban to come back to power in Kabul once again.
American troops may have fled but western intelligence operatives are still active in Afghanistan. Dressed like the Afghans and growing a scraggly beard, the American and Europeans become indistinguishable from locals. Over the years, many have also learned local languages: Pushto and Darri.
And then there are American and western puppets smarting over their ouster from power and loss of influence. Many have fled the country. Those still in Afghanistan seek foreign sponsors to give them some bakhsheesh so that they can serve the anti-Taliban agenda.
This was evident during what was called the Herat Security Dialogue conference held in the Tajik capital Dushanbe, on November 29-30. An odd assortment of anti-Taliban Afghans was assembled under the patronage of the US and European Union. This was the tenth such meeting of the Herat Security Dialogue and the first time that it was held outside Afghanistan for obvious reasons.
The list of attendees at the Dushanbe meeting gave the game away. There were 120 Afghan political figures, mostly based in Europe and the US. There were also representatives from the US, the EU, and regional countries including anti-Islamic Republic elements from Iran.
What the EU and US representatives said at the conference was revealing. The European Union special envoy for Afghanistan Tomas Niklasson, said that the EU will support women’s rights in Afghanistan.
“Women in Afghanistan face many restrictions, and they are not even permitted in parks. The Taliban are responsible for defending women’s rights, and we continue to support Afghan women,” Niklasson said.
The spokesman of the Islamic Emirate, Zabiullah Mujahid responded to such remarks from Kabul by saying that women’s rights are protected in Afghanistan. “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan considers the rights of all people of the nation, especially women. The rights must be defined and the Shari‘ah rights of women in Afghanistan are protected,” he said.
The EU envoy, however, could have saved himself much grief if he had bothered to understand that entering parks is not the top priority of Afghan women or girls. Food is, but that is denied to them because the US has illegally frozen nearly $10-billion of Afghan reserves. This is grand larceny.
The chargé d’Affaires of the US Mission to Afghanistan, Karen Decker, also attended the meeting. In a tweet, she said: “The Herat Security Dialogue has been an annual pilgrimage since 2012; it is great to have an opportunity to exchange views on the situation in Afghanistan with representatives from Afghanistan, Tajikistan, regional countries, and the EU. I am here to listen, but I will be prepared to reiterate US’s strong support for the Afghan people and for an Afghanistan at peace with itself and its neighbors.”
If she was sincere in her pronouncements, Ms. Decker could have announced that her regime would promptly release Afghanistan’s frozen assets. This would allow the Afghan people to have peace—and food—that has been deliberately withheld from them. There is far more peace in Afghanistan today than there ever was for 20 years during the US-NATO occupation.
While constantly harping on girls’ education and women’s rights, western do-gooders conveniently ignore the fact that poverty has forced many Afghan families to sell young daughters to feed their remaining children. Others are forced to sell their kidneys to raise some money for food.
The Dushanbe meeting also tried to project Ahmad Massoud, a western stooge, as leader of the Afghan resistance to the Taliban. Soon after the Taliban entered Kabul, the west touted two Afghan warlords—Massoud and the Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum—as important figures who will challenge the Taliban. When the Taliban arrived in Badakhshan, Dostum fled to Uzbekistan. Pictures of his gawdy palace, tastelessly decorated, were splashed by the Taliban on social media. Massoud, likewise, fled to the UK where he was trained.
His father had close links with French intelligence who financed his operations. During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, he was lionized as a resistance fighter when in fact he collaborated with the Soviets in return for being allowed to remain in the Panjshir Valley.
Now Massoud lite and his equally lite outfit, the National Resistance Front (NRF), are being promoted. Since it comprises only the Tajik ethnic group—less than 25% of Afghanistan’s population—the NRF has little chance of success against the Taliban who are predominantly Pashtun, the largest ethnic group. Besides, the Taliban have incorporated many Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras into their ranks so not every member of these ethnicities is necessarily against them.
Long before the Dushanbe moot, coup attempts were made in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan but they all failed. In one case—Kazakhstan—Russia had to airlift its forces to put down the January 2-8, 2022 coup attempt. Orchestrated along Russia’s underbelly, they were clearly meant to create trouble for Moscow. Another attempt in October 2022 in Kyrgyzstan also failed.
And then there was the terrorist attack on a hotel in Kabul on December 12, 2022 where the Chinese were staying. No Chinese was hurt but three terrorists were killed and one captured. Soon thereafter, China advised its citizens to leave the country. This achieved America’s objective of driving the Chinese out although this likely would be a temporary phenomenon.
Taken together, the terrorist tactics deployed in Afghanistan and along Russia’s peripheries clearly indicate that Washington will continue to act disruptively. It will use all tools in its arsenal to prevent stability from being achieved in the region.
There is no limit to American wickedness.