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Afghanistan

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Something quite extraordinary happened in early November in Kabul. Taliban interim-Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and Turkmen Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov got together to discuss a range of political and economic issues. Most importantly, they resurrected the legendary soap opera which in the early 2000s I dubbed Pipelineistan: the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. Call it... Read More
Afghanistan was the missing link in the complex chessboard of Eurasia integration. Now time is running out. After four long decades of war, getting the nation up and running as soon as possible is a pressing matter for all its neighbors. The three key nodes of Eurasia integration are very much aware of the high... Read More
The plenary session is the traditional highlight of the annual, must-follow Valdai Club discussions – one of Eurasia’s premier intellectual gatherings. Vladimir Putin is a frequent keynote speaker. In Sochi this year, as I related in a previous column, the overarching theme was “global shake-up in the 21st century: the individual, values and the state.”... Read More
russiataliban
An Afghan bombshell in Moscow today: 'the country's reconstruction must be paid for by its military occupiers of 20 years.'
Facing high expectations, a five-man band Taliban finally played in Moscow. Yet the star of the show, predictably, was the Mick Jagger of geopolitics: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Right from the start, Lavrov set the tone for the Moscow format consultations, which boast the merit of “uniting Afghanistan with all neighboring countries.” Without skipping... Read More
The 21st century, geopolitically, so far has been shaped by the U.S.- engineered Forever Wars. Forever Wars: Afghanistan-Iraq, part 2, ranging from 2004 to 2021, is the fourth in a series of e-books recovering the Pepe Escobar archives on Asia Times. The archives track a period of 20 years – starting with the columns and... Read More
Fiercely independent, the Pashtun have famously lived for centuries on \"the margins of Great Empires,\" evolving into more sophisticated renditions, but never far from their roots.
Photo Credit: The Cradle
It was bound to happen: the remixed Saigon moment at Kabul airport and the stunning comeback of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, led by Pashtuns, has unleashed across the West a cheap Orientalization avalanche. The whole of Afghanistan is now “threatened” by the return of the “barbarians.” Once again, Afghan women need to be protected,... Read More
On the demand for an “all inclusive government” Imagine if the French revolutionaries were asked to retain the elements of the kingdom of Louis XVI while forming the new republic to keep it all ‘inclusive’. Imagine that the American revolutionaries were asked to keep the British loyalists as a part of the new American republic... Read More
Massoud leaving Bazarak in the Panjshir after our interview in August 2001, roughly three weeks before his assassination. Photo: Pepe Escobar
It’s impossible not to start with the latest tremor in a series of stunning geopolitical earthquakes. Exactly 20 years after 9/11 and the subsequent onset of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), the Taliban will hold a ceremony in Kabul to celebrate their victory in that misguided Forever War. Four key exponents of Eurasia integration... Read More
The announcement by Taliban spokesman Zahibullah Mujahid in Kabul of the acting cabinet ministers in the new caretaker government of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan already produced a big bang: it managed to enrage both woke NATOstan and the US Deep State. This is an all-male, overwhelmingly Pashtun (there’s one Uzbek and one Tajik) cabinet... Read More
It looked like everything was set for the Taliban to announce the new government of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan after this Friday’s afternoon prayers. But then internal dissent prevailed. That was compounded by the adverse optics of a ragtag “resistance” in the Panjshir Valley that is still not subdued. The “resistance” is de facto... Read More
Fatima, Maliha and Nouria
Dear reader: this is very special, a trip down memory lane like no other: back to prehistoric times - the pre-9/11, pre-YouTube, pre-social network world. Welcome to Taliban Afghanistan – Talibanistan – in the Year 2000. This is when photographer Jason Florio and myself slowly crossed it overland from east to west, from the Pakistani... Read More
It was 20 years ago today. Asia Times published Get Osama! Now! Or Else...The rest is history. Retrospectively, this sounds like news from another galaxy. Before Planet 9/11. Before GWOT (Global War on Terror). Before the Forever Wars. Before the social network era. Before the Russia-China strategic partnership. Before the Dronification of State Violence. Before... Read More
shadowarmype
So we have the CIA Director William Burns deploying in haste to Kabul to solicit an audience with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar, the new potential ruler of a former satrapy. And he literally begs him to extend a deadline on the evacuation of US assets. The answer is a resounding “no.” After all, the... Read More
The horrific Kabul suicide bombing introduces an extra vector in an already incandescent situation: It aims to prove, to Afghans and to the outside world, that the nascent Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is incapable of securing the capital. As it stands, at least 103 people – 90 Afghans (including at least 28 Taliban) and 13... Read More
After 20 years and a staggering US$2.23 trillion spent in a “forever war” persistently spun as promoting democracy and benefiting the “Afghan people,” it’s legitimate to ask what the Empire of Chaos has to show for it. The numbers are dire. Afghanistan remains the world’s 7th poorest nation: 47% of the population lives below the... Read More
The Taliban delegation with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Tianjin on July 28th
The first Taliban press conference after this weekend’s Saigon moment geopolitical earthquake, conducted by spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, was in itself a game-changer. The contrast could not be starker with those rambling pressers at the Taliban embassy in Islamabad after 9/11 and before the start of the American bombing – proving this is an entirely new... Read More
In the end, the Saigon moment happened faster than any Western intel “expert” expected. This is one for the annals: four frantic days that wrapped up the most astonishing guerrilla blitzkrieg of recent times. Afghan-style: lots of persuasion, lots of tribal deals, zero columns of tanks, minimal loss of blood. August 12 set the scene,... Read More
August 12, 2021. History will register it as the day the Taliban, nearly 20 years after 9/11 and the subsequent toppling of their 1996-2001 reign by American bombing, struck the decisive blow against the central government in Kabul. In a coordinated blitzkrieg, the Taliban all but captured three crucial hubs: Ghazni and Kandahar in the... Read More
The ever-elusive Afghan “peace” process negotiations re-start this Wednesday in Doha via the extended troika – the US, Russia, China and Pakistan. The contrast with the accumulated facts on the ground could not be starker. In a coordinated blitzkrieg, the Taliban have subdued no less than six Afghan provincial capitals in only four days. The... Read More
China and Russia will be key to solving an ancient geopolitical riddle: how to pacify the 'graveyard of empires'
So this is the way the Forever War in Afghanistan ends – if one could call it an ending. Rather, it’s an American repositioning. Regardless, after two decades of death and destruction and untold trillions of dollars, we’re faced not with a bang – and not with a whimper, either – but rather with a... Read More
Over a week ago the excruciatingly slow Doha peace talks between the Kabul government and the Taliban resumed, and then they dragged on for two days observed by envoys from the EU, US and UN. Nothing happened. They could not even agree on a ceasefire during Eid al-Adha. Worse, there’s no road map for how... Read More
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting of Foreign Ministers on Wednesday in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital, may have been an under-the-radar affair, but it did reveal the contours of the big picture ahead when it comes to Afghanistan. So let’s see what Russia and China – the SCO’s heavyweights – have been up to. Chinese Foreign... Read More
The Great Game: This lithograph by British Lieutenant James Rattray shows Shah Shuja in 1839 after his enthronement as Emir of Afghanistan in the Bala Hissar (fort) of Kabul. Rattray wrote: \
Russia-China-Iran alliance is taking Afghanistan's bull by the horns
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is on a Central Asian loop all through the week. He’s visiting Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The last two are full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, founded 20 years ago. The SCO heavyweights are of course China and Russia. They are joined by four Central Asian “stans” (all but... Read More
Deploying diplomatic skills refined from Doha to Moscow, the Taliban in 2021 has little to do with its 2001 incarnation
A very important meeting took place in Moscow last week, virtually hush-hush. Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council, received Hamdullah Mohib, Afghanistan’s national security adviser. There were no substantial leaks. A bland statement pointed to the obvious: They “focused on the security situation in Afghanistan during the pullout of Western military contingencies and... Read More
The US is on the verge of its own second Vietnam repeated as farce in a haphazard retreat from Afghanistan
Let’s start with some stunning facts on the Afghan ground. The Taliban are on a roll. Earlier this week their PR arm was claiming they hold 218 Afghan districts out of 421 – capturing new ones every day. Tens of districts are contested. Entire Afghan provinces are basically lost to the government in Kabul, which... Read More
militarysilhouettesofsoldiersagainstthebackdropofsunsetsky
One cannot but feel mildly amused at the theatrical spectacle of the US troop pullout from Afghanistan, its completion day now postponed for maximum PR impact to 9/11, 2021. Nearly two decades and a staggering US$2 trillion after this Forever War was launched by a now immensely indebted empire, the debacle can certainly be interpreted... Read More
An Afghan Tale
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... Read More
An Indian Train Ride. Credit: Asia Times/Facebook.
There was a time when New Delhi was proudly selling the notion of establishing its own New Silk Road – from the Gulf of Oman to the intersection of Central and South Asia - to compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Now it looks like the Indians have stabbed themselves in the back.... Read More
No less than 78.03% of Russians have just voted in support of constitutional amendments. Among these, we find the paramount Atlanticist obsession: the possibility that Vladimir Putin will be able to run for two more presidential terms. Predictably, anguished cries of “Dictator! Dictator!” have been lobbied like deadly shells all across the Beltway. They might... Read More
Nearly two decades after the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan post-9/11, and after an interminable war costing over $ 2 trillion, there’s hardly anything “historic” about a possible peace deal that may be signed in Doha this coming Saturday between Washington and the Taliban. We should start by stressing three points. 1- The Taliban wanted... Read More
Chinese container cargo trucks after crossing the Kulma pass at the Tajik-China border. Photo: Pepe Escobar / Asia Times
This is arguably the ultimate road trip on earth. Marco Polo did it. All the legendary Silk Road explorers did it. Traveling the Pamir Highway back to back, as a harsh winter approaches, able to appreciate it in full, in silence and solitude, offers not only a historical plunge into the intricacies of the ancient... Read More
After years of reporting on the Great War on Terror, many questions behind the US attacks remain unresolved
Afghanistan was bombed and invaded because of 9/11. I was there from the start, even before 9/11. On August 20, 2001, I interviewed commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, the “Lion of the Panjshir,” who told me about an “unholy alliance” of the Taliban, al-Qaeda and the ISI (Pakistani intel). Back in Peshawar, I learned that something... Read More
“We’re like policemen. We’re not fighting a war. If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. But I don’t want to kill 10 million people. Afghanistan could be wiped off the face of the Earth. I don’t want to go that route.” Even... Read More
Moscow hosted talks last week to promote peace in Afghanistan as neighbors and regional heavyweights eye the rewards of...
In the “graveyard of empires,” Afghanistan never ceases to deliver geopolitical and historical twists. Last week in Moscow, another crucial chapter in this epic story was written when Russia pledged to use its diplomatic muscle to spur peace efforts in the war-torn country. Flanked by Afghan representatives and their Taliban rivals, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei... Read More
The Persian Gulf harbors an array of extremely compromising secrets. Near the top is the Afghan heroin ratline – with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) positioned as the golden node of a transnational, trillion dollar heroin money laundering operation. In this 21st century Opium War, crops harvested in Afghanistan are essentially feeding the heroin market... Read More
Photo by DaveBleasdale | CC BY 2.0
There are more parallels between an unfinished 1950s war in Northeast Asia and an ongoing 16-year-old war in the crossroads between Central and South Asia than meet the eye. Let’s start with North Korea. Once again the US/South Korea Hunger Games plow on. It didn’t have to be this way. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov... Read More
Here we go again. In yet another Pentagon precision strike, a residential building in Achin district of Nangarhar province was hit as a crowd welcomed home a tribal leader returning from the Hajj. At least 13 civilians were turned into «collateral damage». The Pentagon of course does not «discuss the details of counter-terror operations», but... Read More
So Taliban supremo Mullah Mansour’s white Toyota Corolla was rattling across the Baluchestan desert just after it had crossed the Iranian border when a Hellfire missile fired from a US drone incinerated it into a charred / twisted wreck. That’s the official narrative. The Pentagon said Mansour was on Obama’s kill list because he had... Read More
The big story of 2014 will be Iran. Of course, the big story of the early 21st century will never stop being US-China, but it's in 2014 that we will know whether a comprehensive accord transcending the Iranian nuclear program is attainable; and in this case the myriad ramifications will affect all that's in play... Read More
Bets are off on which is the great story of 2011. Is it the Arab Spring(s)? Is it the Arab counter-revolution, unleashed by the House of Saud? Is it the "birth pangs" of the Greater Middle East remixed as serial regime changes? Is it R2P ("responsibility to protect") legitimizing "humanitarian" bombing? Is it the freeze... Read More
Talk about a double whammy. It was not enough for Standard & Poor's to downgrade the United States' credit rating; with impeccable timing, and apparently a single shot, the Taliban in Afghanistan simultaneously downgraded the empire's colossal war machine. As much as the US power elite refuse to accept that the US financial crisis was... Read More
Spin masters from Washington to Brussels to Kabul are bound for many a sleepless night. World public opinion has been relentlessly shocked and awed by the chimera that the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are "winning" the AfPak combo war. Now for the facts on the ground. Immediately after the US government... Read More
Surge, bribe and run? Or surge, bribe and stay? How US military bases and the energy war play out in Afghanistan. Among multiple layers of deception and newspeak, the official Washington spin on the strategic quagmire in Afghanistan simply does not hold. No more than “50-75 ‘al-Qaeda types’ in Afghanistan”, according to the CIA, have... Read More
Forget the iPad; the ultimate icon of fetishized commodity is the drone. Israelis do it - and sell them like hot cakes. Mexicans do it - to patrol their side of the border. Brazilians wanna do it - to patrol the Rio favelas. Saudis wanna do it. Uzbeks wanna do it. Everybody's singing: Let's do... Read More
Anyone aware enough to think that Washington's goal is not to "win" the unwinnable AfPak quagmire but to keep playing its bloody infinite war game forever is now eligible for a personal stimulus package (in gold). Let's review the recent evidence. All of a sudden, the White House, the Pentagon and the United States House... Read More
One may be tempted to evaluate American foreign policy as concocted by some deviant disciple of cinema exploitation genius Russ Meyer - of Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill! fame - minus the profusion of breasts, of course. And so as that self-appointed court stenographer Bob Woodward reveals in his latest court opus Obama's Wars - conveniently... Read More
Nine years ago - one day before Northern Alliance commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, Lion of the Panjshir, was killed by two al-Qaeda jihadis disguised as journalists; and three days before 9/11 - who would have thought that Afghanistan would still be mired in a war of 150,000 United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)... Read More
Ten years ago, Taliban Afghanistan - Talibanistan - was under a social, cultural, political and economic nightmare. Ten years ago, New York-based photographer Jason Florio and myself slowly crossed Talibanistan. Those were the days. Bill Clinton was in the White House. Osama bin Laden was a discreet guest of Mullah Omar, and there was no... Read More
Ten years ago, Taliban Afghanistan - Talibanistan - was under a social, cultural, political and economic nightmare. Ten years ago, New York-based photographer Jason Florio and myself slowly crossed Talibanistan overland from east to west, from the Pakistani border at Landi Kotal to the Iranian border at Islam qillah. Those were the days. Bill Clinton... Read More
Dear reader: let's sit back, relax, and take a trip down memory lane to prehistoric times - the pre-9/11, pre-YouTube, pre-Facebook world. Ten years ago, Taliban Afghanistan - Talibanistan - was under a social, cultural, political and economic nightmare. Arguably, not much has changed. Or has it? Ten years ago, New York-based photographer Jason Florio... Read More
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The Shaping Event of Our Modern World
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