الأميركي وفرضية عدم عودة إيران للاتفاق

التعليق السياسي

أعلنت واشنطن عن سلسلة مشاورات تشمل كيان الاحتلال ودول الخليج لمناقشة فرضية فشل مساعي العودة إلى الاتفاق النووي، وأوردت واشنطن الفرضية بناء على معطيات يوردها الأميركيون تحت عنوان عدم رغبة إيران بالعودة للاتفاق، وتضعها إيران تحت عنوان مواصلة واشنطن لعبة التذاكي لعودة مشروطة تتبنى ما كان الرئيس السابق دونالد ترامب يسعى الى تحقيقه ولا يمكن لإيران القبول به.

التسريبات الأميركية تقول ان إيران تواصل السعي لتطوير برنامجها النووي، وانها باتت قريبة من بلوغ اللحظة النووية الحرجة، أي امتلاك إيران لما يكفي لإنتاج سلاح نووي، ويضيف الأميركيون انه إذا أرادت إيران تأجيل العودة للاتفاق الى ما بعد هذه اللحظة، فإن واشنطن لن تكون مستعدة لذلك.

المسؤولون الأميركيون يتحدثون عن خطة عمل، والوقائع الحاضرة في المنطقة تقول ان هذه الخطة وضعت قيد التطبيق، ففي افغانستان تحول تنظيم “داعش” من تفجيرات عشوائية ضد “طالبان” أو الأجانب الى تفجيرات تسهدف قومية الهزارة القريبة من إيران حيث سقط العشرات كضحايا بتفجيرين كبيرين، وفي العراق خطر انفجار سياسي وربما امني على وقع الإمساك بنتائج الانتخابات النيابية والدفع بها الى نقطة مواجهة داخل البيت الشيعي الذي يشكل بيئة التحرك القريب من إيران، وفي لبنان تحقيق قضائي في انفجار مرفأ بيروت لم يعد خافياً حجم الدعم الذي يلقاه أميركياً، وتوجيه التحقيق نحو حزب الله وحلفائه، وتأتي مجزرة الطيونة لتقول ان المخاطرة بأخذ لبنان نحو الحرب الأهلية فرضية قائمة ضمن سلة الخيارات البديلة.

تتجه واشنطن بعد الانسحاب من افغانستان لترك قواتها للمنطقة، على قاعدة حرق الأخضر واليابس وراءها ما يضع قوى المقاومة امام مسؤوليات جسام، قد يكون بيان غرفة عمليات حلفاء سورية الذي يتضمن إعلاناً عن العزم على رد قاس على الغارات الإسرائيلية أول رسائل محور المقاومة للأميركي نحن عنوان وصلت رسالتكم وإليكم جوابنا.

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Terrorist Blast Targets Shia Mosque in Afghanistan’s Kandahar: At Least 46 Martyred, Others Injured

October 16, 2021 

Terrorist Blast Targets Shia Mosque in Afghanistan’s Kandahar: At Least 46 Martyred, Others Injured

By Staff, Agencies

An explosion has gone off inside a Shia mosque in Afghanistan’s southern city of Kandahar, according to security sources.

At least 46 people were martyred and 200 others injured in the suicide blast near the Shia mosque in the southern province of Kandahar, according to preliminary information.

According to reports, the explosion was staged by a suicide attacker, and multiple fatalities and injuries have been reported.

The blast occurred at the Imam Bargah Mosque, which has a capacity of 4,000 worshipers, and is considered among Kandahar’s biggest mosques.

The blast came a week after an explosion at another Shia mosque in Afghanistan’s Kunduz province. At least 46 people were martyred and 143 others injured in the blast; Daesh [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL’ group] claimed responsibility.

Taliban Killed 13 Members of Hazara Ethnic Group – Report

OCTOBER 05, 2021

Taliban Killed 13 Members of Hazara Ethnic Group - Report

By Staff, Al Jazeera

The Taliban killed at least 13 members of the Hazara ethnic group, including a 17-year-old girl, in the central province of Daykundi, shortly after they took power in Afghanistan, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

On August 30, a convoy of 300 Taliban fighters entered Khidr district and killed at least 11 former members of the Afghan National Security Forces [ANSF], nine of whom were taken to a nearby river basin where they were executed shortly after having surrendered, the rights group said in its report published on Tuesday.

A teenager, identified by the name of Masuma, was killed in crossfire after the Taliban targeted Afghan forces who were attempting to flee the area. Another civilian, Fayaz, a newly-wed in his 20s, was also among those killed in the crossfire.

The ANSF members who were killed ranged in age from 26 to 46, Amnesty said. All the victims were Hazara, who were persecuted during the Taliban’s first stint in power between 1996 and 2001.

It is the second killing of Hazaras documented by Amnesty. At least nine Hazara men were killed by Taliban fighters in Ghazni province in July before the group captured power, Amnesty reported on August 19.

Both the Taliban and their rivals, the so-called ‘Islamic State’ Khorasan Province, ISKP [ISIS-K], a Daesh affiliate, have been accused of targeting the Hazara people, who make up the majority of Afghanistan’s Shia population.

By September 1, the Taliban had denied the killings. Saidqullah Abed, the Taliban appointed police chief for Daykundi, would only confirm that one of their fighters had been injured in the crossfire.

Raihana Azad, a former Member of Parliament for the province, also verified Amnesty’s report to Al Jazeera, saying the events of August 30 amounted to “inhumane mass killings” carried out by the Taliban.

She said what transpired in Khidr was in direct violation of the Taliban’s claims of a nationwide general amnesty for former security forces and government workers.

“These cold-blooded executions are further proof that the Taliban are committing the same horrific abuses they were notorious for during their previous rule of Afghanistan,” said Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary-general.

During their five-year rule in the 1990s, the Taliban were accused of massacring hundreds of Hazaras in the provinces of Balkh and Bamiyan.

Zaman Sultani, South Asia researcher at Amnesty International, said the killings in Daykundi follow a clear pattern by the Taliban.

He points to a statement that interviewees attributed to a senior Taliban official as proof: “I have killed people for the past 20 years. Killing is easy for me. I can kill again,” the official reportedly told Daykundi residents.

Azad, the former MP, said the Taliban’s abuses in Daykundi do not end with the killings.

She says that since the Taliban captured the province on August 14, a day before former President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, thousands of families have been forced from their homes in the Gizab and Pato districts of the mountainous province.

A list compiled by residents shows that as many as 20,000 families were forcibly displaced across at least 10 different villages over the last month and a half.

Daykundi residents speaking to Al Jazeera said that when the Taliban came to their homes, they claimed that the families had been illegally occupying the land or that a Taliban shura had decided the land “belongs to the people.”

Eurasian consolidation ends the US unipolar moment – Part 2 of 2

SEPTEMBER 24, 2021

Eurasian consolidation ends the US unipolar moment – Part 2 of 2

By Pepe Escobar, posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times

Part 1 is here

The 20th anniversary summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, enshrined no less than a new geopolitical paradigm.

Iran, now a full SCO member, was restored to its traditionally prominent Eurasian role, following the recent $400 billion-worth trade and development deal struck with China. Afghanistan was the main topic – with all players agreeing on the path ahead, as detailed in the Dushanbe Declaration. And all Eurasian integration paths are now converging, in unison, towards the new geopolitical – and geoeconomic – paradigm.

Call it a multipolar development dynamic in synergy with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The Dushanbe Declaration was quite explicit on what Eurasian players are aiming at: “a more representative, democratic, just and multipolar world order based on universally recognized principles of international law, cultural and civilizational diversity, mutually beneficial and equal cooperation of states under the central coordinating role of the UN.”

For all the immense challenges inherent to the Afghan jigsaw puzzle, hopeful signs emerged this Tuesday, when Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah met in Kabul with the Russian presidential envoy Zamir Kabulov, China’s special envoy Yue Xiaoyong, and Pakistan’s special envoy Mohammad Sadiq Khan.

This troika – Russia, China, Pakistan – is at the diplomatic forefront. The SCO reached a consensus that Islamabad will be coordinating with the Taliban the formation of a government also including Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras.

The most glaring, immediate consequence of the SCO not only incorporating Iran but also taking the Afghan bull by the horns, fully supported by the Central Asian “stans”, is that the Empire of Chaos has been completely marginalized.

From Southwest Asia to Central Asia, a real reset has as protagonists the SCO, the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), BRI and the Russia-China strategic partnership. The missing links so far, for different reasons – Iran and Afghanistan – are now fully incorporated to the chessboard.

In my frequent conversations with Alastair Crooke, one of the world’s foremost political analysts, he evoked once again Lampedusa’s The Leopard: everything must change so everything must remain the same. In this case, imperial hegemony, as interpreted by Washington: “In its growing confrontation with China, a ruthless Washington has demonstrated that what matters to it now is not Europe, but the Indo-Pacific region.” That’s Cold War 2.0 prime terrain.

With very little potential to contain China now that it’s been all but expelled from the Eurasia heartland, the fallback position had to be a classic maritime power play: the “free and open Indo-Pacific”, complete with Quad and AUKUS, the whole set up spun to death as an “effort” attempting to preserve dwindling American supremacy.

The sharp contrast between the SCO continental integration drive and the “we all live in an Aussie submarine” gambit (my excuses to Lennon-McCartney) speaks for itself. A toxic mix of hubris and desperation is in the air, with not even a whiff of pathos to alleviate the downfall.

The Global South is not impressed. Addressing the forum in Dushanbe, President Putin remarked that the portfolio of nations knocking on the SCO’s door was huge, and that was not surprising at all. Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are now SCO dialogue partners, on the same level with Afghanistan and Turkey. It’s quite feasible they may be joined next year by Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Serbia and a cast of dozens.

And it doesn’t stop in Eurasia. In his meticulously timed address to CELAC, Xi Jinping no less than invited 33 Latin American nations to be part of the Eurasia-Africa-Americas New Silk Roads.

Remember the Scythians

Iran as a SCO protagonist and at the center of the New Silk Roads restores it to a rightful historic role. By the middle of the first millennium B.C., Northern Iranians ruled the core of the steppes in Central Eurasia. By that time the Scythians had migrated into the Western steppe, while other steppe Iranians made inroads as far away as China.

Scythians – a Northern (or “East”) Iranian people – were not necessarily just fierce warriors. That’s a crude stereotype. Very few in the West know that the Scythians developed a sophisticated trade system, as described by Herodotus among others, linking Greece, Persia and China.

And why’s that? Because trade was an essential means to support their sociopolitical infrastructure. Herodotus got the picture because he actually visited the city of Olbia and other places in Scythia.

The Scythians were called Saka by the Persians – and that leads us to another fascinating territory: the Sakas may have been one of the prime ancestors of the Pashtun in Afghanistan.

What’s in a name – Scythian? Well, multitudes. The Greek form Scytha meant Northern Iranian “archer”. So that was the denomination of all the Northern Iranian peoples living between Greece in the West and China in the East.

Now imagine a very busy international commerce network developed across the heartland, with the focus on Central Eurasia, by the Scythians, the Sogdians, and even the Xiongnu – who kept battling the Chinese on and off, as detailed by early Greek and Chinese historical sources.

These Central Eurasians traded with all the peoples living on their borders: that meant Europeans, Southwest Asians, South Asians and East Asians. They were the precursors of the multiple Ancient Silk Roads.

The Sogdians followed the Scythians; Sogdiana was an independent Greco-Bactrian state in the 3rd century B.C. – encompassing areas of northern Afghanistan – before it was conquered by nomads from the east that ended up establishing the Kushan empire, which soon expanded south into India.

Zoroaster was born in Sogdiana; Zoroastrianism was huge in Central Asia for centuries. The Kushans for their part adopted Buddhism: and that’s how Buddhism eventually arrived in China.

By the fist century A.D. all these Central Asian empires were linked – via long-distance trade – to Iran, India and China. That was the historical basis of the multiple, Ancient Silk Roads – which linked China to the West for several centuries until the Age of Discovery configured the fateful Western maritime trade dominance.

Arguably, even more than a series of interlinked historical phenomena, the denomination “Silk Road” works best as a metaphor of cross-cultural connectivity. That’s what is at the heart of the Chinese concept of New Silk Roads. And average people across the heartland feel it, because that’s imprinted in the collective unconscious in Iran, China and all Central Asian “stans”.

The Revenge of the Heartland

Glenn Diesen, Professor at the University of South-Eastern Norway and an editor at the Russia in Global Affairs journal, is among the very few top scholars who are analyzing the process of Eurasia integration in depth.

His latest book practically spells out the whole story in its title: Europe as the Western Peninsula of Greater Eurasia: Geoeconomic Regions in a Multipolar World.

Diesen shows, in detail, how a “Greater Eurasia region, that integrates Asia and Europe, is currently being negotiated and organized with a Chinese-Russian partnership at the center. Eurasian geoeconomic instruments of power are gradually forming the foundation of a super-region with new strategic industries, transportation corridors and financial instruments. Across the Eurasian continent, states as different as South Korea, India, Kazakhstan and Iran are all advancing various formats for Eurasia integration.”

The Greater Eurasia Partnership has been at the center of Russian foreign policy at least since the St. Petersburg forum in 2016. Diesen duly notes that, “while Beijing and Moscow share the ambition to construct a larger Eurasian region, their formats differ. The common denominator of both formats is the necessity of a Sino-Russian partnership to integrate Eurasia.” That’s what was made very clear at the SCO summit.

It’s no wonder the process irks the Empire immensely, because Greater Eurasia, led by Russia-China, is a mortal attack against the geoeconomic architecture of Atlanticism. And that leads us to the nest of vipers debate around the EU concept of “strategic autonomy” from the US; that would be essential to establish true European sovereignty – and eventually, closer integration within Eurasia.

European sovereignty is simply non-existent when its foreign policy means submission to dominatrix NATO. The humiliating, unilateral withdrawal of Afghanistan coupled with Anglo-only AUKUS was a graphic illustration that the Empire doesn’t give a damn about its European vassals.

Throughout the book Diesen shows, in detail, how the concept of Eurasia unifying Europe and Asia “has through history been an alternative to the dominance of maritime powers in the oceanic-centric world economy”, and how “British and American strategies have been deeply influenced” by the ghost of an emerging Eurasia, “a direct threat to their advantageous position in the oceanic world order”.

Now, the crucial factor seems to be the fragmentation of Atlanticism. Diesen identifies three levels: the de facto decoupling of Europe and the US propelled by Chinese ascendancy; the mind-boggling internal divisions in the EU, enhanced by the parallel universe inhabited by Brussels eurocrats; and last but not least, “polarization within Western states” caused by the excesses of neoliberalism.

Well, just as we think we’re out, Mackinder and Spykman pull us back in. It’s always the same story: the Anglo-American obsession in preventing the rise of a “peer competitor” (Brzezinski) in Eurasia, or an alliance (Russia-Germany in the Mackinder era, now the Russia-China strategic partnership) capable, as Diesen puts it, “of wrestling geoeconomic control away from the oceanic powers.”

As much as imperial strategists remain hostages of Spykman – who ruled that the US must control the maritime periphery of Eurasia – definitely it’s not AUKUS/Quad that is going to pull it off.

Very few people, East and West, may remember that Washington had developed its own Silk Road concept during the Bill Clinton years – later co-opted by Dick Cheney with a Pipelineistan twist, and then circling all back to Hillary Clinton, announcing her own Silk Road dream in India in 2011.

Diesen reminds us how Hillary sounded remarkably like a proto-Xi: “Let’s work together to create a new Silk Road. Not a single thoroughfare like its namesake, but an international web and network of economic and transit connections. That means building more rail lines, highways, energy infrastructure, like the proposed pipeline to run from Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan, through Pakistan and India.”

Hillary does Pipelineistan! Well, in the end, she didn’t. Reality dictates that Russia is connecting its European and Pacific regions, while China connects its developed east coast with Xinjiang, and both connect Central Asia. Diesen interprets it as Russia “completing its historical conversion from a European/Slavic empire to a Eurasian civilizational state.”

So in the end we’re back to…the Scythians. The prevailing neo-Eurasia concept revives the mobility of nomadic civilizations – via top transportation infrastructure – to connect everything between Europe and Asia. We could call it the Revenge of the Heartland: they are the powers building this new, interconnected Eurasia. Say goodbye to the ephemeral, post-Cold War US unipolar moment.

Eurasia takes shape: How the SCO just flipped the world order

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With Iran’s arrival, the SCO member-states now number nine, and they’re focused on fixing Afghanistan and consolidating Eurasia.Photo Credit: The Cradle
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SEPTEMBER 22, 2021

By Pepe Escobar posted with permission and cross-posted with The Cradle

Part 1 of 2 on Eurasia

With Iran’s arrival, the SCO member-states now number nine, and they’re focused on fixing Afghanistan and consolidating Eurasia.

As a rudderless West watched on, the 20th anniversary meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was laser-focused on two key deliverables: shaping up Afghanistan and kicking off a full-spectrum Eurasian integration.

The two defining moments of the historic 20th anniversary Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Dushanbe, Tajikistan had to come from the keynote speeches of – who else – the leaders of the Russia-China strategic partnership.

Xi Jinping: “Today we will launch procedures to admit Iran as a full member of the SCO.”

Vladimir Putin: “I would like to highlight the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed today between the SCO Secretariat and the Eurasian Economic Commission. It is clearly designed to further Russia’s idea of establishing a Greater Eurasia Partnership covering the SCO, the EAEU (Eurasian Economic Union), ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI).”

In short, over the weekend, Iran was enshrined in its rightful, prime Eurasian role, and all Eurasian integration paths converged toward a new global geopolitical – and geoeconomic – paradigm, with a sonic boom bound to echo for the rest of the century.

That was the killer one-two punch immediately following the Atlantic alliance’s ignominious imperial retreat from Afghanistan. Right as the Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15, the redoubtable Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, told his Iranian colleague Admiral Ali Shamkhani that “the Islamic Republic will become a full member of the SCO.”

Dushanbe revealed itself as the ultimate diplomatic crossover. President Xi firmly rejected any “condescending lecturing” and emphasized development paths and governance models compatible with national conditions. Just like Putin, he stressed the complementary focus of BRI and the EAEU, and in fact summarized a true multilateralist Manifesto for the Global South.

Right on point, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan noted that the SCO should advance “the development of a regional macro-economy.” This is reflected in the SCO’s drive to start using local currencies for trade, bypassing the US dollar.

Watch that quadrilateral

Dushanbe was not just a bed of roses. Tajikistan’s Emomali Rahmon, a staunch, secular Muslim and former member of the Communist Party of the USSR – in power for no less than 29 years, reelected for the 5th time in 2020 with 90 percent of the vote – right off the bat denounced the “medieval sharia” of Taliban 2.0 and said they had already “abandoned their previous promise to form an inclusive  government.”

Rahmon, who has never been caught smiling on camera, was already in power when the Taliban conquered Kabul in 1996. He was bound to publicly support his Tajik cousins against the “expansion of extremist ideology” in Afghanistan – which in fact worries all SCO member-states when it comes to smashing dodgy jihadi outfits of the ISIS-K mold .

The meat of the matter in Dushanbe was in the bilaterals – and one quadrilateral.

Take the bilateral between Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Chinese FM Wang Yi. Jaishankar said that China should not view “its relations with India through the lens of a third country,” and took pains to stress that India “does not subscribe to any clash of civilizations theory.”

That was quite a tough sell considering that the first in-person Quad summit takes place this week in Washington, DC, hosted by that “third country” which is now knee deep in clash-of-civilizations mode against China.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was on a bilateral roll, meeting the presidents of Iran, Belarus, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The official Pakistani diplomatic position is that Afghanistan should not be abandoned, but engaged.

That position added nuance to what Russian Special Presidential Envoy for SCO Affairs Bakhtiyer Khakimov had explained about Kabul’s absence at the SCO table: “At this stage, all member states have an understanding that there are no reasons for an invitation until there is a legitimate, generally recognized government in Afghanistan.”

And that, arguably, leads us to the key SCO meeting: a quadrilateral with the Foreign Ministers of Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi affirmed: “We are monitoring whether all the groups are included in the government or not.” The heart of the matter is that, from now on, Islamabad coordinates the SCO strategy on Afghanistan, and will broker Taliban negotiations with senior Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara leaders. This will eventually lead the way towards an inclusive government regionally recognized by SCO member-nations.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was warmly received by all – especially after his forceful keynote speech, an Axis of Resistance classic. His bilateral with Belarus president Aleksandr Lukashenko revolved around a discussion on “sanctions confrontation.” According to Lukashenko: “If the sanctions did any harm to Belarus, Iran, other countries, it was only because we ourselves are to blame for this. We were not always negotiable, we did not always find the path we had to take under the pressure of sanctions.”

Considering Tehran is fully briefed on Islamabad’s SCO role in terms of Afghanistan, there will be no need to deploy the Fatemiyoun brigade – informally known as the Afghan Hezbollah – to defend the Hazaras. Fatemiyoun was formed in 2012 and was instrumental in Syria in the fight against Daesh, especially in Palmyra. But if ISIS-K does not go away, that’s a completely different story.

Particular important for SCO members Iran and India will be the future of Chabahar port. That remains India’s crypto-Silk Road gambit to connect it to Afghanistan and Central Asia. The geoeconomic success of Chabahar more than ever depends on a stable Afghanistan – and this is where Tehran’s interests fully converge with Russia-China’s SCO drive.

What the 2021 SCO Dushanbe Declaration spelled out about Afghanistan is quite revealing:

1. Afghanistan should be an independent, neutral, united, democratic and peaceful state, free of terrorism, war and drugs.

2. It is critical to have an inclusive government in Afghanistan, with representatives from all ethnic, religious and political groups of Afghan society.

3. SCO member states, emphasizing the significance of the many years of hospitality and effective assistance provided by regional and neighboring countries to Afghan refugees, consider it important for the international community to make active efforts to facilitate their dignified, safe and sustainable return to their homeland.

As much as it may sound like an impossible dream, this is the unified message of Russia, China, Iran, India, Pakistan and the Central Asian “stans.” One hopes that Pakistani PM Imran Khan is up to the task and ready for his SCO close-up.

That troubled Western peninsula

The New Silk Roads were officially launched eight years ago by Xi Jinping, first in Astana – now Nur-Sultan – and then in Jakarta.

This is how I reported it at the time.

The announcement came close to a SCO summit – then in Bishkek. The SCO, widely dismissed in Washington and Brussels as a mere talk shop, was already surpassing its original mandate of fighting the “three evil forces” – terrorism, separatism and extremism – and encompassing politics and geoeconomics.

In 2013, there was a Xi-Putin-Rouhani trilateral. Beijing expressed full support for Iran’s peaceful nuclear program (remember, this was two years before the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the JCPOA).

Despite many experts dismissing it at the time, there was indeed a common China-Russia-Iran front on Syria (Axis of Resistance in action). Xinjiang was being promoted as the key hub for the Eurasian Land Bridge. Pipelineistan was at the heart of the Chinese strategy – from Kazakhstan oil to Turkmenistan gas. Some people may even remember when Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, was waxing lyrical about an American-propelled New Silk Road.

Now compare it to Xi’s Multilateralism Manifesto in Dushanbe eight years later, reminiscing on how the SCO “has proved to be an excellent example of multilateralism in the 21stcentury,” and “has played an important role in enhancing the voice of developing countries.”

The strategic importance of this SCO summit taking place right after the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok cannot be overstated enough. The EEF focuses of course on the Russian Far East – and essentially advances interconnectivity between Russia and Asia. It is an absolutely key hub of Russia’s Greater Eurasian Partnership.

A cornucopia of deals is on the horizon – expanding from the Far East to the Arctic and the development of the Northern Sea Route, and involving everything from precious metals and green energy to digital sovereignty flowing through logistics corridors between Asia and Europe via Russia.

As Putin hinted in his keynote speech, this is what the Greater Eurasia Partnership is all about: the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), BRI, India’s initiative, ASEAN, and now the SCO, developing in a harmonized network, crucially operated by “sovereign decision-making centers.”

So if the BRI proposes a very Taoist “community of shared future for human kind,” the Russian project, conceptually, proposes a dialogue of civilizations (already evoked by the Khatami years in Iran) and sovereign economic-political projects. They are, indeed, complementary.

Glenn Diesen, Professor at the University of South-Eastern Norway and an editor at the Russia in Global Affairs journal, is among the very few top scholars who are analyzing this process in depth. His latest book remarkably tells the whole story in its title:  Europe as the Western Peninsula of Greater Eurasia: Geoeconomic Regions in a Multipolar World. It’s not clear whether Eurocrats in Brussels – slaves of Atlanticism and incapable of grasping the potential of Greater Eurasia – will end up exercising real strategic autonomy.

Diesen evokes in detail the parallels between the Russian and the Chinese strategies. He notes how China “is pursuing a three-pillared geoeconomic initiative by developing technological leadership via its China 2025 plan, new transportation corridors via its trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, and establishing new financial instruments such as banks, payment systems and the internationalization of the yuan. Russia is similarly pursuing technological sovereignty, both in the digital sphere and beyond, as well as new transportation corridors such as the Northern Sea Route through the Arctic, and, primarily, new financial instruments.”

The whole Global South, stunned by the accelerated collapse of the western Empire and its unilateral “rules-based order, now seems to be ready to embrace the new groove, fully displayed in Dushanbe: a multipolar Greater Eurasia of sovereign equals.

سقوط مدوّ لنظرية «خطة أميركية منسّقة وراء الانسحاب»


الاربعاء 18 آب 2021

ناصر قنديل


سادت نظرية لدى بعض المتابعين والمحللين للحدث الأفغاني مع بدايات الانسحاب الأميركي، تقوم على تقديم فرضية وجود خطة أميركية منسقة ومتفاهَم عليها مع حركة طالبان، تجعل الانسحاب الأميركي جزءاً من خطة تسليم وتسلّم لأفغانستان، وترتكز هذه النظرية على اعتبار أنّ الأميركي استبدل السعي للسيطرة على أفغانستان وموقعها الاستراتيجي، باستخدام هذا الموقع عبر تجييره لحركة طالبان لتتولى إرباك المشهد الإقليمي، وتحويل أفغانستان الى مشكلة لجيرانها وخصوصاً إيران وروسيا، وساق أصحاب نظرية الخطة الأميركية لتدعيم منطقهم التاريخ المشحون بين طالبان وموسكو منذ زمن الإتحاد السوفياتي، والتنابذ المذهبي الذي سيفجّر حرباً بينها وبين إيران، كما ساق هؤلاء لنظريتهم حججاً من نوع أن الإنهيار السريع للحكومة الموالية للأميركيين وجيشها جاء بقرار وبُني على عدم إبلاغ وتهيئة هذه الحكومة وقواتها لنوعية التحديات التي تنتظرهم، مقابل التسهيلات الممنوحة لطالبان لتحقيق تقدم سريع نحو العاصمة كابول، مستعيدين نظرية قوامها انّ واشنطن كانت وراء إنشاء طالبان.

كنا منذ البداية وقبلها نخالف هذه النظرية، ونرى فيها تعبيراً فكرياً عن فوبيا القدرة الأميركية، التي يعجز المصابون بها حتى من خصوم أميركا ومن مؤيدي مقاومتها، عن تقبّل فكرة انّ أميركا يمكن ان تهزم وتذلّ بهذه السهولة التي ظهرت بها مشاهد أفغانستان، خصوصاً انّ تداعيات الهزيمة كبيرة ولن يكون سهلاً حصرها في أفغانستان، واذا كان ممكناً لأصحاب النظرية إبقاءها في التداول مع الساعات الأولى للحدث فإنّ تطورات الساعات الماضية تجعله هلوسات سياسية غير قابلة للتفكير، فأمامنا وقائع تجعل هذه الفرضية ضرباً من التخيّل الأقرب الى فرضيات الخيال العلمي، فتداعيات الهزيمة المدوية بدأت تهزّ أميركا نفسها، وتضع حلف الأطلسي كله على المحك كما قال الأمين العام للحلف، والحديث عن أول هزيمة من نوعها في تاريخ الحلف، كما تلاقى كلّ شركاء واشنطن الذين تلاقوا على تحميلها مسؤولية المهانة التي لحقت بمكانة الحلف الدولية، وخرج الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن يرسم عناوين وخلاصات للخبرة الأفغانية عنوانها، التخلي عن نظرية تعميم النموذج الأميركي للحكم بالقوة العسكرية، وهو ما كان عنوان الحروب الأميركية للعقدين الماضيين تحت شعار تعميم نموذج الديمقراطية وحقوق الإنسان، وكلّ هذا الانهيار الفكري والنفسي والسياسي، والانهزام الإعلامي، والإحباط الفلسفي لا يمكن ان يشكل فصولاً من مسرحية تمّ توزيع الأدوار فيها، إلا إذا افترضنا انّ أميركا وحلفاءها خططوا للانتحار؟

بالتوازي مع الإنهزام المسيطر على المقلب الأميركي، خرج قادة حركة طالبان، لتقديم خطاب تصالحي نحو الداخل الأفغاني والخارج الدولي وخصوصاً الجوار، وأعلنت موسكو وطهران إرتياحهما للضمانات التي تلقوها من قيادة طلبان، وبادر هؤلاء القادة الى تظهير خطوات إيجابية تجاه البعد المذهبي لعلاقتهم بشيعة أفغانستان عبر رفع رايات عاشوراء والمشاركة في إحياء لياليها، وهنا لا بدّ من تقديم بعض المعلومات التي تجعل تخيّلات البعض لمشهد دموي بعيدة عن الواقع، فطالبان حركة سياسية عسكرية ينحصر نفوذها وإمتدادها في قومية واحدة من قوميات أفغانستان، وهي قومية البشتون التي تمثل أكبر القوميات لكنها تقارب نصف السكان، والحركة تمثل القوة الأوسع نفوذاً في قبائل البشتون، لكنها محاطة بحضور تنافسي مع نخب وقيادات وزعماء قبائل، فأغلب قادة الإغانستان يتحدّرون من البشتون، وهم في كابول أقلّ من نصف السكان، ومثلما هناك الأوزبك والطاجيك، هناك الهزارة الذين يمثلون نصف نسبة تمثيل البشتون أيّ أقلّ بقليل من ربع سكان أفغانستان الأربعين مليون، وهم من الشيعة المقرّبين لإيران، ويشكلون ثلث سكان العاصمة، وفي إيران أربعة ملايين لاجئ أفغاني أغلبهم من أنصار طالبان، والتبادل التجاري بين أفغاستان وإيران يعادل ثلث التبادل التجاري لأفغانستان مع الخارج المقدّر بعشرة مليارات دولار سنوياً، وأفغانستان تعتمد على إيران بالمحروقات وجزء أساسي من الكهرباء واللوم والخضروات، وتخيّل المناخ التصادمي الدموي فيه الكثير من التجاهل لتعقيدات ضخمة تنتظر طالبان ستحتاج فيها لإيران سياسياً واقتصادياً وأمنياً، أكثر من العكس، ومهمّ أن نتذكر انّ قائد فيلق القدس الحالي الجنرال إسماعيل قآني كان مسؤولاً عن إدارة الملف الأفغاني قبل استشهاد الجنرال قاسم سليماني، وأنّ الأميركيين كانوا يتهمونه بالوقوف وراء تصعيد عمليات طالبان ضدّ القوات الأميركية بعد اغتيال سليماني، والبيان التنديدي باغتياله الذي أصدرته طالبان.

من الصحيح القول إنّ العلاقة بين طالبان والأميركيين كانت جيدة بين عامي 1979 و1989 خلال المواجهة مع القوات السوفياتية، لكن بشرطين، الأول إدراك أنها كانت تقاطع مصالح في مواجهة ما يسمّيانه عدواً مشتركاً، وهو ما يفسّر التصادم اللاحق بين الطرفين بعد الإنسحاب السوفياتي، والثاني انّ طالبان ليست القاعدة أو داعش، اللتين تمثلان حركات بلا أوطان، أسّسهما الأميركي وإستعملهما وقاتلهما عند الضرورة، لكن طالبان هي حركة قومية دينية أفغانية، مثلها طالبان باكستان، وهما حركتان تأسّستا من طلاب الشريعة الذين قرّروا الإنخراط في مشروع يقوم على قاعدتي رفض الإحتلال الأجنبي وإقامة حكم يستند الى الإسلام، والحركتان اللتان وقفتا ضدّ السوفيات حتى خروجهم من أفغانستان وقفتا ضدّ الأميركيين بسبب إحتلالهم لأفغانستان، ورغم الطابع المتطرف لفهم الشريعة الذي يؤمن به قادة طالبان، بسبب تأثرهم بالشراكة مع القاعدة خلال حقبة القتال ضدّ السوفيات، فإنّ الخلفية المختلفة لطالبان عن القاعدة وداعش ترتبط بكونها لا تنتمي للسلفية بفروعها المختلفة، فخلفيتها العقائدية المنطلقة من المذهب الحنفي تجلعها أقرب الى الواقعية السياسية، ورفض التكفير بين المذاهب، والتمسك بهويتها الوطنية والقومية، وتداخل مذهبها الحنفي مع الصوفية يفتح نوافذ كثيرة للعلاقة مع المذهب الشيعي وإيران، نظراً للمكانة الهامة للإئمة الشيعة عند الصوفية، ولرفض الحكم الأموي من قبل أصحاب الطرق الصوفية.

يمكن براحة ضمير وبعيون مغمضة الجهر بالقول انّ أميركا تلقت أبشع هزائمها التاريخية في أفغانستان، وان الأيام المقبلة ستحمل المزيد من الهزائم التي تحملها مسارات أفغانستان وعلاقتها بالجوار، وفي المقدمة مع إيران كدولة إسلامية مناهضة للهيمنة الأميركية، تملك حدوداً مشتركة لقرابة الألف كيلومتر، تشكل فرصة  لطالبان أكثر مما تشكل تحدياً، ولعلّ واحدة من الخبرات التي قدمتها تجربة حزب الله لبعض قادة طالبان كما يقولون هي الطريقة التي أرادوا دخول كابول عبرها بما يستعيد طريقة دخوله الى المناطق المحررة في جنوب لبنان عام 2000، بينما تقدّم تجربة طالبان خبرة جديدة لحركات المقاومة قوامها انه ليس ضروريا مطاردة العدو حتى الرحيل قتاليا ليتحقق النصر، بل أن  الصمود وحده يمكن ان يصنع نصرا عندما يزرع اليأس في عقول العدو عن امكانية تغيير الواقع، كما لخص بايدن المعادلة، لو بقينا عشرين عاما أخرى فانّ شيئاً لن يتغيّر.

سترتكب حركة طالبان الكثير من الأخطاء قبل ان تستقر على صورة نهائية لنمط الحكم وإدارة أفغانستان، لكن المخاض الذي بدأ للتو يجب ألا يسمح بالتسرع في إصدار الأحكام على المسار الذي سترسو عليه، وهذا يستدعي منح الفرصة للمراقبة والتفكير، والتقييم الهادئ كي لا نقع في فخ يصنعه التسرع عنوانه الحكم المسبق، والحكم الصحيح هو على كيف تقارب طالبان كأي حركة سياسية العلاقة بقضيتي الاستقلال والبناء، وقد فازت طالبان في إمتحان الإستقلال حتى الآن وهي رفضت بشدة أن يتسلم الأتراك مطار كابول، واعتبرتهم احتلالاً انْ فعلوا ذلك رغم التدخل القطري لتسويقهم بعدما كلفهم الأميركي بذلك كمكون في حلف الأطلسي، يبقى تحدي قضية البناء، وهو شائك ومعقد لكنه يستحق الإنتظار.

إيران والطالبان وشيعة افغانستان

2021-08-17

مجلة تحليلات العصر الدولية – محمّد صادق الهاشميّ

 A picture obtained by AFP from the Iranian news agency Tasnim on January 31, 2021, shows Iran’ Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) meeting with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (C) of the Taliban in Tehran. – Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called for the formation of an “all-inclusive” Afghan government during a meeting with a Taliban delegation in Tehran. A delegation from the movement headed by its co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar arrived in Iran on January 26 to exchange “views on the peace process in Afghanistan” at the invitation of the ministry. (Photo by – / TASNIM NEWS / AFP)

منذ أيام أتابع الجدل في مختلف الاوساط عن مستقبل شيعة أفغانستان في ظلّ دولة طالبان، وما هو دور إيران؟ وبعد تتبعٍ دقيقٍ، ومحاورات معتمدة مع جهات عالمة نعرض إليكم التالي :

لا ريب في أنّ إيران ضدّ الأمريكان , والأمريكان لا يخفون عداوتهم لإيران وعموم التشيّع , وأنّ الأمريكان أصحاب مشروع لا يمكن أن يمضي في المنطقة – كما يرون هم – في ظلّ وجود الصحوة والنهضة الاسلامية والمقاومة، وهذا الأمر واضحٌ للجميع , كما أنّ إيران تريد أنْ تصل إلى قمّة التطوّر الحضاريّ، وتتموضع هي والشيعة في العالم في قلب التطورات , وأنْ لا يبقي الشيعة خارج الحدث، فيأتي الغربيون ليمزّقوا المنطقة كما حصل في سايكس بيكو وغيرها والمسلمون يتفرجون.

وإيران لا تقبل أنْ يبقى العالم الإسلاميّ متفرّجاً على ما تفعله أمريكا في العالم الإسلاميّ، وتلك ثوابت لا يمكن النقاش فيها بالنسبة لإيران .

وفق هذه المقدّمة لا نعني أنّ إيران سعت أو ساعدت على تسليم أفغانستان بيد الطالبان، بل الذي حصل باختصار هو ما يلي :الأمريكان قبل خمس سنوات دخلوا بمفاوضات عبر قطر مع الطالبان، دون علم إيران، بل ومن دون علم الحكومة الأفغانية المنتخبة , وهم الذين خططوا لاستيلاء الطالبان مجددا على البلاد لأسبابٍ كثيرةٍ، وهنا تتعدد القراءات حتى داخل إيران.

إنّ إيران أدركت أنّ ثمّة حواراً ( أمريكيّاً – طالبانيّاً ) فلا بدّ لها أنْ تدخل على الخطّ، وتعدّ العدّة لتدارك الخطر، وتوجيه الموقف داخل أفغانستان، وتؤثّر على طالبان بما يجعل تأثيرهم أقلّ خطورةً على الشيعة في أفغانستان، وحتّى على إيران؛ لأنّ الطالبان مكوّن كبيرٌ ومؤثّر مجاورٌ لإيران، وهنا تمكّنت الحكمة الإيرانية من استيعاب واحتواء وترويض الطالبان حقناً للدماء، ونزعاً لفتيل الفتنة التي يخطط لها الأمريكان مع أنّ ما حصل ليس خيارهم الاختياري .

نعم، إنّ إيران دخلت – بحكم التكليف الشرعيّ، وما تقتضيه الحكمة التي لابدّ من ممارستها في هذا الظرف الحسّاس – لمنع الحرب الأفغانية ودفع مشكلة تدفق الملايين من الأفغان لإيران مجددا , فإنها بالكاد تمكّنت من أنْ تعيد (4) مليون أفغانيّ مهاجر إليها أبان الحرب والأحداث في فترة حكم طالبان الأولى قبل 20 عاماً.

إيران أمام مخططٍ أمريكيٍّ خطيرٍ لا يمكن النظر إليه بسطحيةٍ؛ فإنّ كلّ الاحتمالات ممكنة، إلا أنها تدرك أنّ الواقع يفرض التوجّه منها نحو الاحتواء لترويض طالبان والسير بهم إلى تقبّل أنْ يكون هناك تعايش وسلام، وأنْ تنتقل طالبان من عقلية القبيلة والتفرّد إلى عقليةٍ واقعيةٍ لتأسيس نظام سياسيّ، وليس نظاما قبليّاً .

خلال متابعاتنا للأحداث نجد أنّ التصريحات الطالبانية والمواقف تتجه إلى نوعٍ من تقبّل الآخر، ويبدو أنّ الطالبان اليوم أكثر لينا من قبلُ؛ لأسبابٍ كثيرةٍ , وهذا ما تفيده الوقائع والمجالس الحسينية والشعائر والدخول السلميّ لعموم المدن الأفغانية, أمّا ما يعرض من صورٍ للإرهاب فهي قديمة وتوجد فعلا بعض الثغرات .

الطالبان اليوم لا يمتلكون حرية العودة إلى الإرهاب لأسبابٍ كثيرةٍ؛ كونهم يدركون أنّهم محاصرون من الروس والصين وإيران، فليس أمامهم إلّا أنْ يلبسوا ثوب التعايش، ويمارسوا عقلية العمل السياسيّ، لا القبليّ , وهذا ما أكّدته المواقف المتعددة الى الان والتصريحات .

الطالبان بدل أنْ يستثمرهم الأمريكيّ والسعوديّ كشوكةٍ ضدّ التشيّع ولأجل إرباك الموقف في آسيا؛ فإنّ إيران تسعى جادّة لترويضهم و((بقفازات)) في غاية الدقّة، ورسم مخرجات الحكم بيدها لا بيد الأمريكان , فكان المؤتمر الأوّل الذي رعته إيران بقيادة وزير الخارجية الإيراني السابق السيّد ظريف، وعشرات اللقاءات السرية، وسوف تستمر .

الطالبان قوّة متواجدة على الأرض الآن ومستقبلا , وبدلاً من أنْ يكونوا أداةً طيّعةً بيد الإرهاب والمخططات الصهيونية، فإنّ إيران تسعى أنْ يكونوا متعايشين مع الواقع، وهذا ما تتجه إليه الأحداث، ولكنّ كلّ شيء محتملٌ، وعلى الحكيم أنْ يمارس حكمته في كلّ الأحوال.

طالبان اليوم المحرّك الأوّل لهم هو دولة قطر؛ لأنها تريد أنْ تُوجِدَ ضدّاً نوعيّاً للسعودية والإمارات، وهذا أمر مهم بالنسبة للشيعة لتفكيك قوي التحالف الطائفي .

طالبان بحكم الواقع محاصرون جغرافياً، وهذا مصدر ضعفهم الذي يجعل من إيران تُدرك إمكانية احتوائهم وفق الحقائق التالية :

(أ). إنّهم محاصرون من الروس وإيران والصين وباكستان، وأغلب هذه الدول تختلف معهم، وتخافُ من الإرهاب وهذا الأمر يمنع على الطالبان العودة إلى الارهاب .

(ب) . الأفغان لا منفذ جغرافي لهم ولا تصدير ولا توريد إلّا عبر هذه الدول، وإيران هي الأقرب لهم .

(ج). الصين لديها مشروع الحرير، والروس لها تاريخ من الدماء في أفغانستان، وهذا الأمر حساس يحدد طبيعة السلوك الطالباني.

(د). مقايسة الأفغان بين إيران والروس والصين حتما يختارون الصين وإيران أوّلاً.

(هـ). الشيعة الأفغان وإنْ كانوا أقلّية في الداخل إلّا أنّ وجود إيران المجاورة لهم يمنح الشيعة الأفغان عمقاً وقوّة.

(و) إيران لديها تحالف صيني حول خطّ الحرير، وتفاهم مع الروس حول المنطقة، ومستقبل الغاز، ومياه البحر المتوسّط، وقزوين وسوريا, فلا بدّ أنْ تخرج طالبان من أيدولوجية الإرهاب وفق الواقع الدولي .

هذا هو الواقع المنطقيّ، علما أنّ إيران لم تتخلَّ عن المسلمين في البوسنة والهرسك، ولا الشعب الفلسطينيّ، ولا شيعة العراق ولبنان، وهي من دافعت عن سورية، وبالتأكيد أنّها ستقف مع شيعة ومسلمي وقوميات أفغانستان، وكلّ هذا يحتاج إلى جهد وصبر طويل، لأنها لاتريد ان تخسر حلفائها.

اقتبس مايلي من تصريح :اعتقد ان (الكيان الأمريكي) بمسمياته المختلفة مخترق،وبعيد عن واقع المنطقة،وقد استطاع القطريون التأثير عليه بالتنسيق مع زلماى كما أثر الاماراتيون على الإدارة السابقة.

وضع الشيعة ليس سهلا و هناك مساع للمحافظة على مكتسباتهم السابقة ونسأل الله التوفيق .

Today’s Taliban May Be Truly ‘New’, and the Shift Could Transform the Middle East

Today 20/07/2021

Source: Al Mayadeen

Most significantly, rather than having a tunnel vision limited to the narrow territory of Kandahar, the new young Taliban leaders want to play the strategic ‘Great Game’.

There is a subtle breeze blowing; it is too soon to call it ‘a wind’.  But a striking change has – and is – occurring.  Is it enough?  We should be rightly cautious; yet the Taliban that I knew, as it first coalesced – the brainchild of General Hamid Gul of Pakistan’s Intelligence service – is not the Taliban of today.  Perhaps we need, too, to avoid being locked into stale narratives. Suhail Shaheen, their spokesman, made this point when he lamented the “propaganda launched against us”, and by which he implied that the world should admit that the Taliban has indeed changed.

Several of these shifts are breathtaking: The Taliban were a narrow Pashtun revanchist movement, wholly Gulliverised by rigid tribal law, and influenced by intolerant Saudi Salafism and Pakistani Islamism.

What do we see today? The Taliban is engaging in extensive diplomacy with Iran. Tehran, it seems, is no longer apostate, no longer an ideological and theological foe.  The Taliban now seek to mesh Iran into their wider strategic interests. And more extraordinary, the Afghan Shi’i Hazaras – originally slaughtered and fearfully repressed by the Taliban – are now a component of the Taliban!  Then there is now also a ‘Tajik Taliban’, whereas before, the Taliban were a sworn enemy to the northern (mostly Tajik) forces of Ahmad Shah Massoud. Today’s Taliban is no longer a simple instrument of Pashtun hegemony – maybe up to 30% are Tajik, Uzbek, or Hazara. In other words, the kernel of inclusion is already in the soil.

Most significantly, rather than having a tunnel vision limited to the narrow territory of Kandahar, the new young Taliban leaders want to play the strategic ‘Great Game’. Their vision has broadened. They are saying as such, very forcibly to Moscow and Tehran: They will be inclusive; they will try to avoid major bloodshed, and they look to Moscow and Tehran as mediators for a new Afghan dispensation.  And there is something more: Saudi and Pakistan formerly controlled the money spigot. Now it is China.  For several years now, the Taliban has cultivated China – and China has cultivated the Taliban.

But we must keep our feet on the ground.  The Taliban is not autonomous. Both India and Pakistan wield weight in it, and the narco-gangs (the legacy of the CIA’s ill-considered earlier attempts to buy prominent Afghan warlords) may act as spoilers.

But the point here – aside from the caveats above – is, is this enough?  Enough for what? Enough to see the US out of the region, that is. There is here, a marked and unusual, constellation of interests.  All the principal actors want the US gone from the region.

It is not geo-strategic high science to understand that America’s withdrawal from Iraq and Syria will be contingent on what now happens in Afghanistan. If there is an unholy mess after August 31st, further US withdrawals from the region will become hugely more problematic in terms of domestic US opposition.  It is in the interest of the Taliban – as much as of Russia, Iran, and China – that Afghanistan does not now humiliate Biden through a descent into (very possible) bloody civil war.

A tough ‘ask’, but as Pepe Escobar points out, the SCO heavyweights, China and Russia, will be joined on July 14 in Dushanbe, by four Central Asian ‘stans’, plus India and Pakistan (Afghanistan and Iran attend as observers).

Wang Yi and Lavrov likely will tell Ghani’s FM, “in no uncertain terms, that there’s got to be a national reconciliation deal, with no American interference, and that the deal must include the end of the opium-heroin ratline”.  (Russia already has pocketed a firm promise from the Taliban that jihadism won’t be allowed to fester.  The endgame: loads of productive investment, Afghanistan is incorporated to Belt and Road and – later on – to the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU).

Why should the Taliban agree?  Well, they can be the facilitators of an American wider withdrawal (or, its’ spoiler). But, if they are patient – and agree to wait until US attention has moved on – they can allow Ghani to fall some months later – all in good time.  The Taliban might claim then to be the vanguard to a new more sophisticated, more inclusive Sunni Islamism that is aligned with a major Belt and Road infrastructure project.

How did this happen?  Professor Rabbani just might be smiling from his grave.  It seems the ‘new’ Taliban may have taken the Tajik leader’s political clothing.The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

The Bamiyan Buddhas: an Afghan tale

The Bamiyan Buddhas: an Afghan tale

March 03, 2021

by Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

In the beginning, they were the Bamiyan Buddhas: the Western Buddha statue, 55 meters high, and the Eastern, 38 meters high, carved for decades since 550 A.D. from porous sandstone cliffs, the intricate details modeled in clay mixed with straw and coated with stucco.

Xuanzang, the legendary traveling monk of the early Tang dynasty who journeyed to India in search of Buddhist manuscripts, saw them in all their – colored – glory in the 7th century.

Then, with Islam taking over these high central lands of Afghanistan, local Hazara folklore slowly turned them into the Romeo and Juliet of the Hindu Kush.

They became “Solsol” (“year after year”, or, more colloquially, the prince of Bamiyan) and “Shahmana” (“the king’s Mother”, or colloquially a princess from a remote kingdom). As lovers, they could not be united as a couple in this world; so they chose to turn into statues and stand close to each other forever.

And then, twenty years ago, after a millennium and a half of living history, the Taliban blew them up.

Killing Romeo and Juliet

Solsol and Shahmana lived since their inception among the Hazaras, who speak Dari, a Persian dialect with numerous words of Mongol and Turk origin. The Hazaras are partly descendants of Genghis Khan’s troops who infiltrated these mountains in the 13th century. Hazaras – who I had the pleasure to meet mostly in Kabul in the early 2000s – remain essentially Mongols, but linguistically Persianized, having adopted the old agricultural tradition of the Iranian mountains.

The Hazaras are diametrically opposed by the Pashtuns – who had an extremely complex ethno-genesis before the early 18th century, when they coalesced into great federations of nomad tribes. Their code of conduct – the Pashtunwali – is straightforward, regulating most of all a mechanism of sanctions.

The number one sanction is death: this is a poor society, where sanctions are physical, not material. Islam added moral elements to pashtunwali. And then there are juridical norms imposed by hereditary noblemen – which function like the carpet tying the room together: these come from the Turk-Mongols.

The modern Afghan state was created in the late 19th century by Abd-ur-Rahman, the “Iron Emir”. He pulled that off via a “Pashtunization” of the region that was locally known as the north of Turkestan. Then he integrated the Hazaras in the central mountains via bloody military campaigns.

Hazara lands were opened to Pashtun nomad tribes – who featured not only shepherds but also merchants and caravan entrepreneurs. Increasingly plunged into debt, the Hazaras ended up becoming economic hostages of the Pashtuns. Their way out was to emigrate to Kabul – where they hold mostly menial jobs.

And that brings us to the heart of the problem. Hazaras are Shi’ites. Pashtuns are Sunni. Pashtuns consider themselves the owners of Afghanistan – even as there’s persistent, major infighting among Pashtun groups. Pashtuns simply detest the Westphalian concept of the nation-state: most of all they see themselves as an empire within an empire.

This implies that ethnic minorities are marginalized – if they can’t find some sort of accommodation. Hazaras, because they are Shi’ites, were extremely marginalized during Taliban rule, from 1996 to 2001.

The Taliban rolled out en masse from Pakistani madrassas in 1994: the overwhelming majority were Pashtuns from rural areas between Kandahar and Paktiya. They had spent many years in camps scattered along the Pakistani tribal areas and Balochistan.

The Taliban became instantly successful for three reasons:

1 – Implementation of Sharia law.

2 – Their fight against the lack of security after the 1980s jihad instrumentalized by the Americans to give the USSR its “own Vietnam” (Brzezinski’s definition), and the subsequent warlord anarchy.

3 – Because they incarnated the return of the Pashtuns as the leading Afghan force.

No reincarnation?

All of the above supplies the context for the inevitable destruction of Solsol and Shahmana in March 2001. They were the symbols of an “infidel” religion. And they were situated in Shi’ite Hazara land.

Months later, after 9/11, I would learn from Taliban officials close to ambassador Abdul Salam Zaeef in Islamabad that first they blew up “the little one, which was a woman” then “her husband”; that implies the Taliban were very much aware of local folklore.

The destruction process started with the legs of the Great Buddha: one of them was already cut at the knee and the other at the femur. It took them four days – using mines, explosives and even artillery. The Taliban forced local Hazara youth to drill holes in the statues: those who refused were shot dead.

Yet that was not enough to kill oral tradition. Even the young Hazara generation, born after the smashing of the Buddhas, still delights in the tale of Solsol and Shahmana.

But will they ever reincarnate as living statues? Enter the usually messy “international community”. In 2003, Unesco declared the site of the Bamiyan Buddhas and the surrounding caves a “World Heritage Site in Danger.”

Still, Kabul and Unesco can’t seem to agree on a final decision. As it stands, Solsol will not be rebuilt; Shahmana, maybe. On and off, they resurrect as 3-D holograms.

What happened so far is “consolidation work at the Eastern Buddha niche”, finished in 2015. Work at the Western Buddha niche started in 2016. A Bamiyan Expert Working Group gets together every year, featuring the administration in Kabul, Unesco experts and donors, mostly German and Japanese.co

Ishaq Mawhidi, the head of the Culture and Information Department of Bamiyan, is sure that “90 percent of the statues can be rebuilt with the debris”, plus fragments of smaller statues currently preserved in two large warehouses on site.

The Afghan Ministry of Culture correctly argues that reconstruction work will require a formidable team, including Buddhism scholars, archeologists specialized in Gandhara art, historians, ethnographers, historiographers specialized in the first centuries of the first millennium in Afghanistan.

It will have to be eventually up to wealthy donors such as Berlin and Tokyo to willingly finance all this – and justify the costs, considering Hazara lands barely have been granted with working roads and electricity by the Kabul central government.

It’s always crucial to remember that the Bamiyan Buddhas blow up is a crucial case of deliberate destruction of world cultural heritage – alongside appalling instances in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Libya and Mali. They all connect, directly and indirectly, to the causes and consequences of imperial Forever Wars and their spin-offs (never forget that the Taliban initially were fully courted by the Clinton administration).

The Buddha of Dushanbe

In the end, I never managed to see Solsol and Shahmana. The Taliban would not issue a travel permit for foreigners under any circumstances. After 9/11 and the expulsion of the Taliban from Kabul, I was negotiating a safe passage with Hazara fighters, but then something bigger came up: bribing a Pashtun commander to take a small group of us to Tora Bora to see the Empire B-52 Show against Osama bin Laden.

Instead of Solsol and Shahmana – either standing up in their niches, or blown up to smithereens – I finally managed to see the next best option: the reclining Buddha of Dushanbe.

Afghanistan may be the “graveyard of empires” – the last act being enacted as we speak. And, to a certain extent, a graveyard of Buddhas. But not neighboring Tajikistan.

The original Buddha of Dushanbe saga was published by Asia Times in those heady 9/11 days. It happened as my photographer Jason Florio and myself were waiting for days for a helicopter to take us to the Panjshir valley in Afghanistan.

Eighteen years later, like a Jorge Luis Borges short story, it all came down full circle before I traveled the Pamir highway in late 2019. I went to the same museum in Dushanbe and there he was: the 13 meter-long “sleeping lion”, found in the Buddhist monastery of Ajinateppa, resting on pillows, in glorious parinirvana, and fully restored, with help from an expert from the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.

Somewhere in unknown spheres beyond space and time, Solsol and Shahmana will be benevolently smiling.


Recommended to open this Wikipedia page for existent photography of Pepe’s tale.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhas_of_Bamiyanbrz

Pompeo to Meet Taliban Negotiators in Qatar

Pompeo to Meet Taliban Negotiators in Qatar

By Staff, Agencies

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will Saturday meet negotiators from the Taliban and Afghan government amid signs of progress in their talks as the United States speeds up its withdrawal.

The State Department said late Friday that Pompeo will meet separately with the Afghan government and Taliban negotiation teams in the Gulf state of Qatar.

Pompeo will also see Qatar’s ruler, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and the foreign minister on his stop in the capital Doha, the Taliban’s base for diplomacy, the State Department said on its public schedule.

The outgoing top US diplomat is on a seven-nation tour of Europe and the Middle East as President Donald Trump shores up late-term priorities.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon said it would soon pull some 2,000 troops out of Afghanistan, speeding up the timeline established in a February agreement between Washington and the Taliban that envisions a full US withdrawal in mid-2021.

Trump has repeatedly vowed to end “forever wars,” including in Afghanistan, America’s longest-ever conflict that began with an invasion to dislodge the Taliban following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

US President-elect Joe Biden, in a rare point of agreement, also advocates winding down the Afghanistan war although analysts believe he will not be as wedded to a quick timetable.

The Taliban for the first time are speaking to Afghanistan’s government.

The talks started September 12 in Doha but almost immediately faltered over disagreements about the agenda, the basic framework of discussions and religious interpretations.

Several sources told AFP on Friday that the two sides appear to have resolved some of the issues, however.

Among the sticking points so far, the Taliban and the Afghan government have struggled to agree on common language on two main issues.

The Taliban are insisting on adherence to the Hanafi school of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence, but government negotiators say this could be used to discriminate against Hazaras, who are predominantly Shiite, and other minorities.

Another contentious topic is how the US-Taliban deal will shape a future Afghan peace deal and how it will be referred to.

The Doha peace talks opened after the Taliban and Washington signed a deal in February, with the US agreeing to withdraw all foreign forces in exchange for security guarantees and a Taliban promise to start talks.

Despite the talks, violence has surged across Afghanistan, with the Taliban stepping up daily attacks against Afghan security forces.

Trump’s plan to slash troops by January 15 – less than a week before his successor Joe Biden is to be sworn in to office – has been criticized by Kabul residents who fear it will embolden the Taliban to unleash a new wave of fighting.

Afghan civilians have long borne the brunt of the bloodshed.

Officials in Kabul also worry it will harden the Taliban position at the negotiating table, where the future of hard-won gains including women’s rights are on the line.

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