The accelerated withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan continues to disrupt the geopolitics of the region, with China and Russia taking swift action following the Taliban’s return to power.
The Islamic fundamentalist group, which ruled from 1996 until its expulsion by the American invasion in 2001, took an important step in consolidating its political and military position on Wednesday (28).
A nine-member delegation from its summit, led by chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of the group’s founders, met Chinese Chancellor Wang Yi in Tianjin (northern China).
Wang said what the visitors wanted to hear. “The Taliban are a central political and military force for Afghanistan and will play an important role in the process of peace, reconciliation and reconstruction in the country,” he said.
In other words, China is ready to back the Taliban if they supplant the central government in Kabul, which has the backing of the Americans and Western allies.
The Chancellor also presented her record: that the Taliban stop supporting the Islamic terrorist group Islamic Movement of East Turkestan, which acts against Chinese targets in the Uyghur-majority Muslim region of Xinjiang.
“The group is listed as a terrorist by the UN Security Council. I hope the Taliban sever ties with terrorists like them and play an active role in regional stability,” Wang said, according to Chinese agencies. .
The Chinese hope is to integrate Kabul into its zone of Asian influence, which already includes Pakistan, a neighboring country where the terrorist group formed in the 1990s to fight the Afghan civil war that followed the Soviet withdrawal from 1989.
The Pakistanis have already integrated their transport networks into the Belt and China Trade Route Initiative, and for Beijing the addition of a new ally would still have the weight to stimulate the American rivals, who have dominated the Afghan course. for 20 years.
Dealing with the Taliban is of course not unique to Beijing. The US pullout came after Joe Biden’s government fulfilled the deal between his predecessor Donald Trump and the group – which took advantage of the fact that it did not take place in May, as originally planned, to maintain a difficult position.
Indeed, in recent weeks, Washington has authorized the aerial bombardment of Taliban positions in support of the Afghan army, which it has helped to constitute since its arrival in the country after the fall of the religious extremists who had sheltered the terrorist network. al-Qaeda. Attacks of 11 2001 in the United States.
The defeat of the Americans in their longest war has crystallized with the advance of the Taliban in several Afghan districts since the announcement of the withdrawal of NATO forces (military alliance led by the United States), carried out from the last month.
A map produced by the British BBC network’s Afghan service shows most of the country taken by the Taliban or under threat of surrender, with the government holding points, such as the central strategic corridor from Kabul to the Pakistani border to the east.
Today, fundamentalists surround important cities like Kunduz, Herat and Kandahar, and important stretches like the Xinjiang border, which led the delegation to China, and with Tajikistan.
On this last point, the geopolitical confrontation is with Moscow, which has always had an ambiguous attitude towards the Taliban – accused by the United States of having even paid for the deaths of American soldiers in the Asian country, which they deny. .
Also on Wednesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Choigu visited Tajikistan and promised to strengthen the ally militarily to contain the “deteriorating situation in Afghanistan”.
Since last month, Afghan troops have invaded Tajik territory, fleeing the Taliban offensive, which now occupies the main border crossings between the two countries.
In response, more than 200,000 troops from Central Asian countries and Russia conducted a military mobilization exercise in the region, and next week Kremlin forces will coordinate a simulated border war with the Tajiks and Uzbeks.
Moscow’s immediate concern is the instability on its Central Asian border, one of the great historic strategic routes of invasion, with possible infiltration of radical Islamic elements.
Tajikistan is its main ally there, where it maintains the largest remaining military base from when all that was the Soviet Union.
This unit, in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, has 7,000 men, 100 tanks, 300 armored vehicles and even a small squadron with 5 ground attack planes and 8 helicopters. It too, according to Choigu, will be strengthened.
For now, the human rights situation in Afghanistan is left out of the equation, should the Taliban return to power. The country is not exactly an example of openness, but it is in a Scandinavian situation compared to the Taliban years in power, where women and minorities were brutally treated.