Will Tunisia, the countries of the Maghreb and the Sahel and Sahara region be entitled to a period of stability, economic recovery, sustainable development and democratization?
This question was recently addressed by around thirty Tunisian, Maghreb and Euro-Mediterranean experts, during a conference-debate on the upcoming elections in Libya and the geostrategic effects of the new conflicts between Rabat and Algiers.
Participated in this conference – debate of experts from the Averroès center for Arab-African strategic studies, from the association “Tunisie Compétences” and from “NDAW” (Network of Democrats of the Arab World, the “Network of Democrats of the Arab World” “).
The presentations and discussions focused on the regional and global dimensions of the new political, security and geostrategic conflicts in Libya, in the Maghreb, Sahel and African Sahara regions and in the Mediterranean.
“Report” of the elections in Libya
Speakers confirmed that internal and international conflicts in Libya are worsening and risk causing the “postponement” or even cancellation of the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for December 24, 2021.
According to the majority of experts, this is a “proxy war” whose fate is linked to the military, security and political conflicts which have paralyzed most of the countries of the “greater Middle East” for twenty years and especially since. 2011 and the outbreak of the “Arab revolutions”.
Internal, regional and international conflicts of interest risk to abort the “political resolution processes” of “civil wars” in Libya and in other countries of the region, notably in Tunisia, the “destabilization” of which would have an impact. . very dangerous for its neighbors and for the whole Euro-Mediterranean region.
No description available.
These same conflicts of interest complicate the differences and tensions between the countries of the Maghreb, the Sahel region and the Sahara. They accelerate “foreign interference” and the risks of new tensions, in particular between Morocco and Algeria, Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Djibouti or between Egypt and Ethiopia. …
The participants explained the involvement of dozens of countries around the world in international conferences on the conflicts in Libya, Syria, Sudan, Mali, etc. by the “divergences” and “new conflicts of interest” between them. main foreign players in these countries, including France, Russia, China, Turkey, the United States, the Gulf countries and Israel.
The risks of instability and insecurity have increased after the emergence of new tensions between Algeria and Morocco and the rise in tensions in Mali, south of the Sahara and in the eastern Mediterranean between the major European capitals, Ankra, Beijing, Moscow and Washington.
Moroccan and Algerian speakers noted the gaps by analyzing the emergence of the new tension between Rabat and Algiers and the causes of the new security threats.
However, the majority of speakers called for a high-level Algerian-Moroccan political dialogue to avoid all scenarios of the outbreak of an “armed confrontation”, the opening of borders and the revival of bilateral and regional cooperation.
No description available.
For the Libyan dossier, the speakers recommended to the political decision-makers of the countries of the Maghreb, the Arab world and the Euro-Mediterranean region to “overcome their classic quarrels” and their “proxy wars” to succeed in playing a role in life. Politics. to treat. then at the stage of “reconstruction” and “reinvestment”. Otherwise the big world capitals will have the last word and will have the opportunity to marginalize the neighboring countries of Libya in the “next big markets”.
Calls were made for the evacuation of foreign forces and militias established throughout Libyan territory, while strengthening security and preventive measures to prevent the “flight” of mercenaries and terrorists to Tunisia and others. neighboring Libyan countries. .
However, international engagement with political and democratic processes in Libya could be an opportunity not only for the Libyan people, but also for Tunisia and the region.
There’s a problem with the way Iran is being made out to be in terms of the revival of the Vienna Talks. This isn’t new, of course. It’s part of the anti-Iran narrative that’s been espoused since the Iranian Revolution, but ever since the end of the 6th round of talks, Iran has been portrayed as a country that is unreasonably intransigent in its dealings with the E3 and the US and unwilling to engage in dialogue.
Reality disagrees, however. Iran’s approach to the talks stems from its tried and tested distrust toward the West. Be it imperialism, occupation, massacres, coerced monopolies, or military and security interventions, Iran has been subjected to them all in modern times, and these are all matters very much alive in the Iranian collective memory.
The distrust is real, grounded, and based on experience. If anything, Iran has shown a great deal of pragmatism and diplomatic know-how in its talks with the West over the past 42 years. The JCPOA bespeaks the country’s willingness to hold dialogue with international peers.
So how did we get from former President Rouhani’s optimism vis-à-vis a possible revival of the deal to the talks being delayed time and time again until the end of November?
- The foreign ministers also affirmed their support for unifying Libya’s institutions and withdrawing mercenaries and foreign fighters
LONDON: The foreign ministers of Algeria, Tunisia and Libya on Monday affirmed their continuous support for the success of the upcoming Libyan elections and for mobilizing the necessary international support to preserve the security and stability of Libya and all neighboring countries.
This came during a meeting that was held on the sidelines of national celebrations commemorating the 67th anniversary of the outbreak of Algeria’s liberation revolution against French colonial rule, with the attendance of several African leaders and officials.
The ministers commended the success of the Libya Stability Conference, held in Tripoli on Oct. 21, and exchanged views on upcoming meetings on Libya, especially the Paris conference, Algerian El-Bilad newspaper reported.
They also affirmed their support for the unification of Libya’s institutions, the withdrawal of mercenaries and foreign fighters, and the advancement of national reconciliation efforts.
The war in Afghanistan has looked a lot like the war on drugs in Latin America and previous colonial campaigns in Asia, with a rapid militarization of the area and the empowerment of pliant local elites.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a death knell to so many industries in Afghanistan. Charities and aid agencies have even warned that the economic dislocation could spark widespread famine. But one sector is still booming: the illicit opium trade. Last year saw Afghan opium poppy cultivation grow by over a third while counter-narcotics operations dropped off a cliff. The country is said to be the source of over 90% of all the world’s illicit opium, from which heroin and other opioids are made. More land is under cultivation for opium in Afghanistan than is used for coca production across all of Latin America, with the creation of the drug said to directly employ around half a million people.
This is a far cry from the 1970s, when poppy production was minimal, and largely for domestic consumption. But this changed in 1979 when the CIA launched Operation Cyclone, the widespread funding of Afghan Mujahideen militias in an attempt to bleed dry the then-recent Soviet invasion. Over the next decade, the CIA worked closely with its Pakistani counterpart, the ISI, to funnel $2 billion worth of arms and assistance to these groups, including the now infamous Osama Bin Laden and other warlords known for such atrocities as throwing acid in the faces of unveiled women.
“From statements by U.S. Ambassador [to Iran] Richard Helms, there was little heroin production in Central Asia by the mid 1970s,” Professor Alfred McCoy, author of “The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade,” told MintPress. But with the start of the CIA secret war, opium production along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border surged and refineries soon dotted the landscape. Trucks loaded with U.S. taxpayer-funded weapons would travel from Pakistan into its neighbor to the west, returning filled to the brim with opium for the new refineries, their deadly product ending up on streets worldwide. With the influx of Afghan opium in the 1980s — Jeffrey St. Clair, co-author of “Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press,” alleges — heroin addiction more than doubled in the United States.
“In order to finance the resistance for a protracted period, the Mujahideen had to come up with a livelihood beyond the weapons that the CIA was providing,” McCoy said, noting that the weapons issued could not feed the fighters’ families, nor reimburse them for lost labor:
So what the resistance fighters did was they turned to opium. Afghanistan had about 100 tons of opium produced every year in the 1970s. By 1989-1990, at the end of that 10-year CIA operation, that minimal amount of opium — 100 tons per annum — had turned into a major amount, 2,000 tons a year, and was already about 75% of the world’s illicit opium trade”.
The CIA achieved its goal of giving the U.S.S.R. its Vietnam, the Soviets failing to quash the Mujahideen rebellion by the time they finally pulled out in 1989. But American money and weapons also turned Afghanistan into a dangerously unstable place full of warring factions that used opium to fund their battles for internal supremacy. By 1999, annual production had risen to 4,600 tons. The Taliban eventually emerged as the dominant force in the country and attempted to gain international legitimacy by stamping out the trade.
In this, they were remarkably successful. A 2000 ban on opium cultivation by the Taliban-led government led to an almost overnight drop to just 185 tons harvested the following year, as frightened farmers chose not to risk attracting their wrath.
The Taliban had hoped that the eradication program would win favor in Washington and entice the United States to provide humanitarian aid. But unfortunately, history had other ideas. On September 11, 2001, the U.S. experienced a massive case of blowback, as Bin Laden’s forces launched attacks on New York and Washington. The U.S. ignored the Taliban’s offer to hand him over to a third party, instead opting to invade the country. Less than a month after the planes hit the World Trade Center, U.S. troops were patrolling the fields of Afghanistan.
The world’s first true narco-state
The effect of the occupation was to expand drug production to unprecedented new proportions, Afghanistan becoming, in Professor McCoy’s estimation, the world’s first true narco-state. McCoy notes that by 2008, opium was responsible for well over half of the country’s gross domestic product. By comparison, even in Colombia’s darkest days, cocaine accounted for only 3% of its GDP.
Today, the United Nations estimates that around 6,300 tons of opium (and rising) is produced yearly, with 224,000 hectares — an area almost the size of Rhode Island — planted with poppy fields.
But even while it was financing a widespread and deadly aerial spraying campaign in Colombia, the United States refused to countenance the same policy in Afghanistan. “We cannot be in a situation where we remove the only source of income of people who live in the second poorest country in the world without being able to provide them with an alternative,” said NATO spokesman James Appathurai.
Not everyone agreed, however, that a passionate commitment to defending the quality of life of the poorest was the actual reason for rejecting the policy. Matthew Hoh, a former captain in the U.S. Marine Corps is one skeptic. Hoh told MintPress that airborne fumigation was not carried out because it would be outside the control of Afghan government officials, who were deeply implicated in the drug trade, owning poppy fields and production plants themselves. “They were afraid that, if they went to aerial eradication, the U.S. pilots would just eradicate willy nilly and a lot of their own poppy fields would be hit.” In 2009, Hoh resigned in protest from his position at the State Department in Zabul Province over the government’s continued occupation of Afghanistan. He told MintPress:
NATO forces were more or less guarding poppy fields and poppy production, under the guise of counterinsurgency. The logic was ‘we don’t want to take away the livelihoods of the people.’ But really, what we were doing at that point was protecting the wealth of our friends in power in Afghanistan”.
According to Hoh, there was widespread disillusionment within the military among service members who had to risk their lives on a day to day basis. “What are we doing here? This is bullshit,” was a common sentiment among the rank and file.
The heroin trade implicated virtually everyone in power, including Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s brother Ahmed Wali, among the biggest and most notorious drug kingpins in the south of the country, a man widely understood to be in the pay of the CIA.
U.S. attempts to stymie the opium trade, such as the policy of paying domestic militias to destroy poppy fields, often backfired. Locals came up with ways of profiting, such as refraining from planting in one area, collecting large sums of money from occupying forces, and using that cash to plant elsewhere — effectively getting paid both to plant and not to plant. Even worse, local warlords and drug bosses would destroy their rivals’ crops and collect money from the U.S. for doing so, leaving themselves both enriched and in a stronger position than before, having gained NATO forces’ favor.
One notable example of this is local strongman Gul Agha Sherzai, who eradicated his competitors’ crops in Nangarhar Province (while quietly leaving his own in Kandahar Province untouched). But all the U.S. saw was a local politician seemingly committed to stamping out an illegal drug trade. They therefore showered him with money and other privileges. “We literally gave the guy $10 million in cash for rubbing out his competition,” Hoh said. “If you were going to write a movie about this, they’d say ‘This is too far fetched. No one is going to believe this. Nothing is this insane or stupid.’ But that is the way it is”.
McCoy noted that the Taliban was one of the prime beneficiaries of the drug trade, and used it to increase their power and vanquish the U.S.:
That booming opium production, and the U.S. failure to curb it, provided the bulk of the financing for Taliban, who captured a significant but unknown share of the local profits from the drug traffic, which they used to fund guerrilla operations over the past 20 years, becoming a determinative factor in the U.S. defeat in Afghanistan”.
‘The needle and the damage done’
It is not particularly difficult to grow opium. Opium poppies flourish in warm and dry conditions, away from the damp and the wind. Consequently, they have found a fertile home across much of central and western Asia. The plant has flourished in Afghanistan, particularly in southern provinces like Helmand, close to the tripoint where Afghanistan meets Pakistan and Iran. Much of the irrigation system in Helmand was underwritten by USAID, an organization that acts as the CIA’s public-facing front. In full bloom, the poppy fields look spectacular, with beautiful flowers of vibrant pink, red or white. Underneath the flowers, one can find a large seed pod. Farmers harvest these, draining them of a sap which dries into a resin. This is often transported out of the country through the so-called “Southern Route” via Pakistan or Iran. But, as with any pipeline, much of the product is spilled along the way, causing an epidemic of addiction across the region.
The effect on the Afghan population has been nothing short of a disaster. Between 2005 and 2015, the number of adult drug users jumped from 900,000 to 2.4 million, according to the United Nations, which estimates that almost one in three households are directly affected by addiction. While Afghanistan also produces copious amounts of marijuana and methamphetamine, opioids are the drug of choice for most, with around 9% of the adult population (and a growing number of children) addicted to them. Added to this has been a spike in HIV cases, as users share needles, Professor Julien Mercille, author of “Cruel Harvest: U.S. Intervention in the Afghan Drug Trade,” told MintPress.
Only contributing further to the despair has been 20 years of war and U.S. occupation. The number of Afghans living in poverty rose from 9.1 million in 2007 to 19.3 million in 2016. A recent poll conducted by Gallup found that Afghans are the saddest people on Earth, with nearly nine in ten respondents “suffering” and zero percent of the population “thriving,” in their own words. When asked to rate their lives out of a score of ten, Afghans gave an average answer of 2.7, a record low for any country studied. Worse still, when asked to predict the quality of their life in five years, the mean answer was even lower: 2.3.
The effects of the CIA operation to bleed the Soviets dry in Afghanistan have also produced a humanitarian crisis in neighboring Pakistan. As McCoy noted, in the late 1970s, Pakistan had barely any heroin addicts. But by 1985, Pakistani government statistics reported over 1.2 million, turning the two nations into “the global epicenter of the drugs trade” almost overnight.
The problem has only grown since. A 2013 U.N. report estimated that almost 7 million Pakistanis use drugs, with 4.25 million requiring urgent treatment for dependency issues. Nearly 2.5 million of these people were abusing heroin or other opioids. Around 700 people die every day from overdoses. The highest rate of dependency is, unsurprisingly, in provinces on the Afghan border where heroin is manufactured. The same U.N. study notes that 11% of people in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa use illicit substances — primarily heroin.
The drug crisis, of course, is also a medical crisis, with overstretched public hospitals filled with drugs-related maladies. The social stigma of addiction has ripped families apart while the money and power illicit drugs have brought has turned many towns into hotspots of violence.
Iran has a similar number of opioid users, generally estimated at between two and three million. In towns close to the Afghan/Pakistani border, a gram of opium can be bought with loose change — between a quarter and fifty cents. Thus, despite the extremely harsh penalties for drug possession and distribution on the official books, the country has the highest addiction rate in the world
On a micro level, addiction tears apart families and ruins lives. On an international scale, however, the opium boom has placed an entire region under significant strain. Therefore, one consequence of U.S. policy in the Middle East — from supporting jihadists to occupying nations — has been to unleash a worldwide opium addiction that has made a few people fantastically wealthy and destroyed the lives of tens of millions.
The boom in production has also led to a worldwide disaster. In the past decade, opioid-related deaths increased by 71% globally, according to the United Nations. Much of the product grown by Afghan warlords ends up on Western streets. “I don’t see how it can be a coincidence that you have that explosive growth in poppy production in Afghanistan and then you have the worldwide opioid epidemic,” Hoh stated, a connection that raises the question of whether users in Berlin, Boston, or Brazil should be seen as victims of the war in Afghanistan as much as fallen soldiers are. If so, the numbers would be staggering. Nearly 841,000 Americans have died of a drug overdose since the war in Afghanistan began, including more than 70,000 in 2019 alone. The majority of these have involved opioids.
Officially, the DEA claims that essentially all illicit opioids entering the U.S. are grown in Latin America. Hoh, however, finds this unconvincing. “When you look at their own information and their reports on the illicit opioid production hectarage in Mexico and South America, it is clear that there is not enough production in the Western hemisphere to meet the demand for illicit opiates in the U.S.,” he told MintPress.
A dirty history
The U.S. government has a long history of directly involving itself with the worldwide narcotics trade. In Colombia, it worked with President Alvaro Uribe on a nationwide drug war, even as internal U.S. documents identified Uribe as one of the nation’s most important drug traffickers, an employee of the infamous Medellin Cartel and a “close personal friend” of drugs kingpin Pablo Escobar. Profits from drug-running funded Uribe’s election runs in 2002 and 2006.
General Manuel Noriega was also a key ally of the U.S. For many years, the Panamanian was on the CIA payroll — despite Washington knowing he was involved in drug trafficking since at least 1972. When he became de facto dictator of Panama in 1984, little changed. But the director of the Drug Enforcement Agency initially praised him for his “vigorous anti-drug trafficking policy.” Eventually, however, the U.S. decided to invade the country and capture Noriega, sentencing him to 40 years in federal prison for drug crimes largely committed while he was still in the CIA’s pay.
At the same time as this was going on, investigative journalist Gary Webb exposed how the CIA helped fund its dirty war against Nicaragua’s leftist government through sales of crack cocaine to black neighborhoods across the United States, linking far-right paramilitary armies with U.S. drug kingpins like Rick Ross.
To this day, the U.S. government continues to support Honduran strongman Juan Orlando Hernandez, despite the president’s well-established connections to the cocaine trade. Earlier this year, a U.S. court sentenced Hernandez’s brother Tony to life in prison for international drug smuggling, while Juan himself was an unindicted co-conspirator in the case. Nevertheless, President Hernandez has proven himself effective at suppressing the anti-imperialist Left inside his country and cementing the U.S.-backed 2009 military coup, one reason he is unlikely to face charges in the near future.
Using the illegal drug trade and the profits from it to fund imperial objectives has been a constant of great empires going back centuries. For instance, in the 1940s and 1950s, the French Empire utilized opium crops in the so-called “Golden Triangle” region of Indochina in order to help beat back a growing Vietnamese independence movement. Going further back, the British used its opium machine to subdue and economically conquer much of China. Britain’s insatiable thirst for Chinese tea was beginning to bankrupt the country, as the Chinese would accept only gold or silver as payment. It therefore used the power of its navy to force China to cede Hong Kong, from which Britain began flooding China with opium it grew in its possessions in South Asia.
The humanitarian impact of the Opium War was staggering. By 1880, the British were inundating China with over 6,500 tons of opium every year — equivalent to many billions of doses, causing massive social and economic dislocation as China struggled to cope with a crippling, empire-wide addiction. Today, many Chinese still refer to the era as “the century of humiliation.” In India and Pakistan, too, the effect was no less dramatic, as colonists forced farmers into planting inedible poppy fields (and, later, tea) rather than subsistence crops, causing waves of huge famines, the frequency of which had never been seen before.
Millions of losers
The story is much more nuanced than some “CIA controls the world’s drugs” conspiracy theories make out. There are no U.S. soldiers loading up Afghan carts with opium. However, many commanders are knowingly enabling warlords who do. “The U.S. military and CIA bear a large responsibility for the opium production boom in Afghanistan,” Professor Mercille said, explaining:
Post-9/11, they basically allied themselves with a lot of Afghan strongmen and warlords who happened to be involved in some way in drug production and trafficking. Those individuals were acting as local allies for the U.S. and NATO, and therefore were largely protected from retribution or arrest for drug trafficking because they were U.S. allies”.
From the ground, the war in Afghanistan has looked a lot like the war on drugs in Latin America and previous colonial campaigns in Asia, with a rapid militarization of the area and the empowerment of pliant local elites, which immediately begin to embezzle the massive profits that quietly disappear into black holes. All the while, millions of people pay the price, suffering inside a militarized death zone and turning to drugs as a coping mechanism. In the story of the opium boom, there are few winners, but there are millions of losers.
La résolution du Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies exprime son inquiétude face à la rupture du cessez-le-feu entre le Maroc et le Front Polisario indépendantiste.
Le Maroc a proposé une large autonomie pour le Sahara occidental, mais le Front Polisario insiste sur le fait que la population locale a le droit à un référendum sur l’indépendance [File: Fadel Senna/AFP]
29 octobre 2021
Le Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies a prolongé d’une mission de maintien de la paix de l’ONU dans le Sahara occidental contesté, exprimant sa préoccupation face à la rupture du cessez-le-feu de 1991 entre le Maroc et le Front Polisario indépendantiste et appelant à une reprise des négociations dirigées par l’ONU.
Le vote du vendredi était de 13-0 avec l’abstention de la Russie et de la Tunisie.
CONTINUE DE LIRE
Un tribunal de l’UE annule les accords commerciaux marocains sur le Sahara occidental
L’Algérie rappelle son émissaire au Maroc sur le Sahara occidental
L’ONU exhorte le Maroc et le Polisario à accepter le candidat au poste de W Sahara
Pourquoi la Biden sur de politique le Sahara Occidental à l’study Reste
la résolution par was Menée les États-Unis, Qui, sous l’ancien président Donald Trump, with the Ontario monde rompu répandrai claim du Reconnaître Maroc sur le territoire qu Alors » ils persuadaient le royaume de normaliser ses relations avec Israël.
Quelques après la nomination d’un nouvel envoyé de l’ONU au Sahara Occidental, le diplomate chevronné Staffan de Mistura, la résolution appelait « les parties » à reprendre les négociations « sans conditions préalables et de bonne foi » à la recherche d’ une « politique juste, durable et tout à fait acceptable ». Solution”.
La résolution d’appel à un objectif « d’autodétermination du peuple du Sahara occidental », une phrase qui, selon les diplomates, a été ajoutée par les États-Unis à la demande de la Russie, qui aurait pu opposer son veto au texte.
La résolution « réaffirme également la nécessité du plein respect » d’un cessez-le-feu qui s’est effondré l’année dernière.
Le Maroc a proposé une grande autonomie pour le Sahara occidental. Mais le Front Polisario insiste sur le fait que la population locale, qu’il estime à 350 000 à 500 000, un droit à un référendum.
L’Algérie soutient le Front Polisario en quête d’indépendance et a rompu en août les relations avec le Maroc, qui contrôle près de 80% du territoire aride et peuplé contrôlé par l’Espagne jusqu’en 1975.
Les pourparlers en table ronde ont eu lieu pour la dernière fois début 2019 et ont réuni le Front Polisario ainsi que le Maroc.
L’Algérie s’oppose à une reprise des pourparlers, le Polisario se considérant comme un mouvement de libération qui devrait négocier directement avec Rabat.
« Limiter l’escalade »
L’envoyé de la France à l’ONU, Nicolas de Rivière, a déclaré que l’effort de maintien de la paix de l’ONU, connu sous le nom de Mission des Nations Unies pour le référendum au Sahara occidental (MINURSO), restait vital dans des conditions de sécurité incertaines.
“Plus que jamais depuis la rupture du cessez-le-feu, cette opération joue un rôle essentiel pour limiter les risques d’escalade et apporter la stabilité dans la région”, at-il déclaré.
La mission américaine de l’ONU a demandé le renouvellement du mandat, affirmant que sa priorité était de « relancer un processus politique crédible menant à une solution durable, digne et soutenue internationalement ».
Le Kenya, l’actuel président du Conseil de sécurité, a exprimé l’espoir que la mission de l’ONU pourrait éventuellement organiser un référendum, affirmant que c’était le droit de chaque nation anciennement colonisée.
“Nous devons être honnêtes et admettre que cet objectif est obscurci et frustré”, a déclaré la mission kenyane dans un communiqué.
La MINURSO a été créée par le Conseil de sécurité en 1991 dans le but d’établir un référendum entre l’indépendance et l’adhésion au Maroc.
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Des manifestants soudanais scandent des slogans à côté de pneus en feu lors d’une manifestation dans la capitale Khartoum le 26 octobre. (Mohammed Abu Obaid/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
Cela a été une année record pour les coups d’Etat. D’après un tableau , il ya eu plus de prises de pouvoir réussies en 2021 qu’au cours des cinq années précédentes combinées. La junte du Myanmar a ouvert la voie avec son déraillement effronté de la démocratie naissante du pays en février et le maintien en détention de ses hauts dirigeants civils. En Afrique de l’Ouest, les militaires du Mali, de la Guinée et du Tchad ont tous mené leurs propres putschs et renversé les gouvernements en place.
Et puis vous avez la Tunisie et le Soudan. Dans le premier cas, un coup d’État au ralenti s’est déroulé depuis la fin juillet, lorsque le président Kais Saied a limogé le Premier ministre, dissous le parlement au milieu des troubles populaires généralisés et assumé des pouvoirs extraordinaires. Une décennie après un soulèvement tunisien qui a renversé un dictateur au pouvoir depuis longtemps, le pays se retrouve dans une sorte de limbes autocratiques, avec des nécrologies déjà écrites pour ce qui était la seule réussite du printemps arabe.
Au Soudan, au cours du mois dernier , les tensions entre une direction civile fragile et une armée puissante ont explosé au début de cette semaine lorsque l’armée a lancé un coup d’État, détenu le Premier ministre Abdalla Hamdok et le reste de son cabinet, dissous le parlement et déclaré un État. d’urgence. Tout comme Saied et les générations précédentes d’hommes forts potentiels, le lieutenant-général Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, le plus haut responsable militaire du Soudan, a présenté sa décision comme une poussée vers la stabilité et le progrès.
Lors d’un briefing mardi, Burhan a écarté les informations faisant état d’arrestations de nombreux responsables civils et d’attaques contre des militants pro-démocratie par les forces de sécurité. « Certaines personnes ont été placées en détention – ces personnes soupçonnées de porter atteinte à l’unité nationale et à la sécurité nationale », a-t- il déclaré . « Nous ne muselons pas les bouches, nous bloquons toute voix [qui] sape directement notre harmonie nationale. »
Burhan a affirmé que le Premier ministre Hamdok était chez lui : « Le Premier ministre était chez lui mais nous avions peur qu’il soit blessé. Il est avec moi dans ma maison et j’étais avec lui hier soir et il vit normalement là-bas. Une fois les choses réglées ou les menaces passées, il rentrera chez lui » #Soudan #السودان #البرهان pic.twitter.com/lTmleeAm36
– Mohamed Hachem (@mhashem_) 26 octobre 2021
L’intervention de l’armée, pour l’instant, interrompt un processus démocratique fragile qui a commencé il y a près de trois ans avec des manifestations massives contre le dictateur de longue date Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Le mouvement de protestation, qui représentait un vaste échantillon de la société soudanaise, a réussi à renverser Bashir en avril 2019 après que des personnalités clés de l’establishment de la sécurité soudanais se soient retournés contre le président. Au cours des mois agités qui ont suivi, le Soudan est sorti du froid diplomatique, réparant les barrières avec certains gouvernements occidentaux et remportant son retrait de la liste des États parrains du terrorisme par les États-Unis.
Mais ces gains ont toujours été fragiles. « Les dirigeants militaires et civils du Soudan partageaient le pouvoir dans le cadre d’un accord précaire affaibli par la suspicion mutuelle et des désaccords sur des questions fondamentales telles que qui doit rendre des comptes pour des décennies d’atrocités commises sous Bashir et si l’armée devrait être en mesure de contrôler des parties de l’économie , a expliqué mon collègue Max Bearak . « Les joueurs, anciens et nouveaux, se disputent le pouvoir dans un Soudan qui semble à gagner. »
Le coup d’État de Burhan a eu lieu quelques heures seulement après le départ de l’envoyé américain dans la région, Jeffrey Feltman, de la capitale soudanaise Khartoum après avoir rencontré les principaux dirigeants civils et militaires du pays. Une administration Biden piquée a condamné la chaîne d’événements et a déclaré qu’elle gelait 700 millions de dollars d’aide directe au Soudan, qui avait été promise dans le cadre d’un plan américain d’aide à la transition démocratique du pays.
Mais Burhan, qui a le soutien tacite d’un certain nombre d’autocraties arabes ailleurs, est en position de force. “Burhan pourrait être en mesure de réussir avec le soutien d’autres alliés, à savoir l’Egypte, les Saoudiens et les Emiratis”, a déclaré à Bearak Magdi el-Gizouli, analyste soudanais au Rift Valley Institute. « Ce n’est pas un paria comme l’est devenu Bashir, ni un islamiste. Il trouvera un nouveau visage civil plus souple, il maintiendra les formalités et l’Occident finira simplement par traiter avec cette personne.
Ce trio – l’ Égypte, l’Arabie saoudite et les Émirats arabes unis – a également applaudi le pari de Saied. Entre autres factions, le président tunisien était en désaccord avec le parti islamiste Ennahda, dont l’affiliation historique aux Frères musulmans lui a valu l’inimitié des anti-islamistes invétérés au pouvoir au Caire et à Abou Dhabi. Alors que le gouvernement de transition de Saied lutte pour obtenir un prêt du Fonds monétaire international pour combler un déficit budgétaire important, des rapports suggèrent qu’il est déjà en pourparlers avec les Émiratis et les Saoudiens pétro-riches pour un renflouement .
The United Arab Emirates supports the Tunisian state and decisions by President Kais Saied, an advisor to the #UAE president says after meeting with Saied.https://t.co/cRP2SWXFsd
— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) August 7, 2021
En 2013, les deux monarchies du Golfe ont joué un rôle central en aidant à consolider le régime du président égyptien qui complotait le coup d’État, Abdel Fatah al-Sissi. Et ils peuvent également essayer de soutenir Burhan au Soudan, qui, comme la Tunisie, est parfois devenu l’arène d’ un «grand jeu» régional plus large opposant l’Égypte, l’Arabie saoudite et les Émirats arabes unis aux adversaires géopolitiques intermittents du Qatar et de la Turquie. Cette dynamique s’est manifestée avec le plus d’ acuité chez le voisin tunisien, la Libye , les deux camps soutenant des factions rivales rivales au milieu des tensions qui ont débordé sur la politique intérieure de la Tunisie .
Les analystes suggèrent que les largesses royales du Golfe ont déjà renforcé l’armée soudanaise dans ses manœuvres après la chute de Bashir. « Le soutien financier de l’Arabie saoudite et des Émirats arabes unis a donné aux généraux une marge de manœuvre cruciale pour résister aux demandes populaires de régime civil, façonnant un équilibre des pouvoirs déséquilibré qui a permis aux généraux de traverser une période de mobilisation de masse », a écrit l’universitaire soudanais Jean-Baptiste Gallopin . « Les flux financiers secrets des Émirats leur ont par la suite valu un effet de levier sans précédent sur de larges segments du spectre politique, ce qui a aidé les généraux… à consolider leur pouvoir. »
Maintenant, les experts soutiennent que tout espoir de restaurer les perspectives démocratiques du Soudan peut nécessiter d’exercer des pressions sur ces puissances arabes. « Les monarchies du Golfe et l’Égypte, qui de toutes les puissances extérieures ont noué les liens les plus étroits avec Burhan et l’armée, devraient exhorter les autorités à faire preuve de retenue plutôt que de recourir à la force aveugle », a noté une note politique de l’International Crisis Group . “Les États-Unis et l’UE devraient utiliser l’influence considérable dont ils disposent sur les capitales du Golfe et le Caire pour les convaincre de pousser les généraux de Khartoum à changer de cap.”
« Les gouvernements arabes et les politiciens soudanais régionaux qui désignent le nouveau régime militaire seront démasqués dans les semaines à venir, et comme ils le sont, Washington et d’autres parties doivent préciser qu’il y aura des conséquences à soutenir un régime voyou », a noté Alberto Fernandez . un ancien chef de mission américain au Soudan. « Les premiers commentaires publics du Caire, de Doha, d’Abou Dhabi et de Riyad ont été coupés. Mais tous ces États devront trouver un équilibre entre leurs agendas individuels pour le Soudan et leurs relations compliquées avec l’Occident. »
If not for the COVID-19 pandemic, the Libyan Civil War would be at the forefront of 2020’s international headlines. The conflict has all the ingredients of a frontpage story: heavyweight state actors, lucrative natural resources, and strongman leaders. Russia and the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) involvement in the war should not come as a surprise, but Turkey’s active participation should no longer raise a brow either as Turkey has recently strived to exert more influence over its neighbors with a desire for regional hegemony.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan led Turkey’s first major attempt at regional intervention during the 2011 Arab Spring. Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood ascended to power in Egypt with the hope that an Islam-focused group could succeed as a legitimate political party. Erdoğan and his Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP) supported the Sunni party’s aspirations and aimed to capitalize on this relationship to secure a neighboring ally and economic opportunities.
Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, however, were not able to sustain their power in Egypt due to a multitude of challenges. Erdoğan sent his national intelligence chief to support Morsi in the face of massive civil unrest and an impending military coup but to no avail. Morsi was eventually forced out and Erdoğan’s pursuit of influence failed, but it was an uphill battle from the beginning; there were rumors that Gulf states supported the coup. This initial taste of failure, however, may have contributed to more direct, aggressive approaches in future Turkish endeavors.
Turkey’s pursuit of regional influence escalated militarily throughout the course of the Syrian Civil War. Erdoğan’s rhetoric towards Assad and the Alawite-based regime became more reproachful early-on during the crackdowns on civilian protestors. Turkey began providing indirect military support to anti-Assad factions over the years such as the Free Syrian Army (FSA), a mostly Sunni opposition group filled with Syrian military defectors, and even some jihadist groups. Assad, however, has essentially achieved victory at this point largely due to Russian support. Erdogan saw this as another opportunity to gain influence over a fractious country, but direct military inaction hindered his success again.
While supporting Syrian rebel forces against Assad, Erdoğan fought another faction for regional influence – this time within his own borders. Turkey saw an opportunity to dampen Kurdish influence and hopes of separatism when U.S. troops pulled out of the Kurdistan region in October 2019. Turkey used military force to clear out a buffer zone along their southern border that overlapped with Kurdish lands. Even though this involved sharing occupation with Russia, this was a huge victory for Turkey as Erdoğan was able to simultaneously take lands previously occupied by the Kurds and secure a relocation area for millions of Syrian refugees in Turkey, hence diluting the Kurdish population. Here, Erdoğan experienced the positive results of direct military action after years of cautious, proxy interventions.
Fast forward to the present and we see what Turkey’s most brazen and successful foreign intervention could be yet. Libya has been in civil war since the fall of its dictator which led to the establishment of two major factions: the Libyan National Army (LNA), backed by Egypt, UAE, and Russia, and the UN-accepted Government of National Accord (GNA), which recently acquired the support of Turkey.
The relationship between Turkey and the GNA appears to have started after they established bilateral maritime borders favorable to Turkey in the Mediterranean Sea. There have long been disputes of these borders with Greece and Cyprus, but Turkey’s claims may have a little more legitimacy now. The waters are rich with natural gas which Turkey aims to capitalize from to become more energy independent; Greece, Cyprus, and the East-Med project, however, stand in the way.
After the recent LNA offensive failure on Tripoli, the GNA began pushing back and expanding their control of western Libya with Turkish supply of drones and Syrian mercenaries. The GNA are going head-to-head with, not only LNA forces, but also Russian mercenaries led by the active Wagner Group. This may even escalate the proxy war between Egypt and Turkey to a direct military clash if the GNA forces, now supported by Turkish troops, set their course for Sirte and the oil-rich LNA-controlled lands.
Turkey has become increasingly active in regional affairs as it vies for regional influence against traditional powers such as UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. Erdoğan sees economic and security-related opportunities in these conflicts in addition to an expansion of Turkey’s spheres of influence. The more success Turkey and Erdoğan experience, the more brazen and bold their methods will be. It started with indirect support in Egypt, but now it has evolved into boots on the ground in Libya. Erdoğan sees Turkey as the next great Middle Eastern power, and Libya is the stage to prove it.
.. By Jeffrey Nahm
This is the third installment in a short series from Today’s WorldView for the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Sign up to get the rest of the newsletter free, including news from around the globe, interesting ideas and opinions to know, sent to your inbox every weekday.
There’s a scene in the 2014 film “American Sniper” that sums up the country’s post-9/11 war lust. Chris Kyle, the late U.S. Navy SEAL played by Bradley Cooper, watches a newscast of the twin towers crumbling before his eyes. The camera fixes on Kyle’s steely yet stunned face as he holds his shaken wife, before cutting to an image of him in full military gear, glaring through the scope of his sniper rifle in the middle of an Iraqi town. (He goes on to gun down a woman aiding Iraqi insurgents.)
The film, which some critics panned as proto-fascist agitprop, spends no time interrogating this implied connection between the events of 9/11 and the American decision to “preemptively” invade Iraq less than two years later to topple the regime of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Neither did much of the American public or political establishment that got swept up in the George W. Bush administration’s rush to punish “evil-doers.” A Washington Post poll in September 2003 found that close to 7 in 10 Americans believed that it was at least “likely” that Hussein was directly involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
That, of course, proved to be preposterous, as was much of the case Bush and his allies made about the imminent threat posed by the Iraqi regime’s phantom weapons of mass destruction. Animated by a neoconservative zeal to oust enemy regimes and wield American might to make right — and unhindered by the bulk of the Washington press corps — the Bush administration plunged the United States and its coalition partners into a war and eventual occupation that would reshape the political map of the Middle East, distract from America’s parallel intervention in Afghanistan and provoke new cycles of chaos and violence.
The first couple of years after 9/11 marked “an era where the United States made major strategic errors,” Vali Nasr, a professor of international affairs at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, told Today’s WorldView. “Its vision was clouded by anger and revenge.”
But what if the United States had opted against invading Iraq? The decision to oust Hussein, even more so than the invasion of Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, was an unprovoked war of choice that, on one hand, sealed off a range of other policy options available to Washington’s strategists and, on the other, set in motion events that fundamentally altered the region. It’s impossible to unwind what the Bush administration unleashed, but indulge us at Today’s WorldView as we puzzle through just a few elements of this counterfactual proposition.
First and foremost, there’s the Iraqi death toll. The Watson Institute at Brown University calculates that 184,382 to 207,156 Iraqi civilians were directly killed in war-related violence between the start of the American invasion in March 2003 through October 2019. But the researchers suggest the real figure may well be several times higher.
Even considering Hussein’s own long record of brutality, it is difficult to envision a future of greater suffering for the Iraqi people had the United States not swept him from power, argued Sinan Antoon, a New York-based Iraqi poet and author.
“No matter what — and I say this as someone who was opposed to Saddam’s regime since childhood and wrote his first novel about life under dictatorship — had the regime remained in power, tens of thousands of Iraqis would still be alive today, and children in Fallujah would not be born with congenital defects every day,” Antoon told Today’s WorldView, alluding to the impact of U.S. forces allegedly using rounds of depleted uranium in their battles across Iraq.
Antoon added that we also would not have seen the rise of the Islamic State had the United States not invaded — a conviction shared by former president Barack Obama and echoed by myriad experts. “In the near term, the Iraqi political order probably would not have collapsed and created a void that nonstate or quasi-state actors could fill,” wrote international relations scholars Hal Brands and Peter Feaver in a 2017 study.
“The Sunni-Shia cleavage that has made Iraq so difficult to govern still would have been present,” they continued, “but without the violence, political chaos and Sunni marginalization of the post-invasion period, that cleavage would have remained in a less combustible state, and terrorist groups such as [al-Qaeda in Iraq] and [the Islamic State] would not have found such fertile ground for recruiting.”
Other paths were possible. In 2002, Shibley Telhami, a veteran pollster affiliated with the Brookings Institution and a professor at the University of Maryland, was part of a group of Middle East scholars based in the United States who opposed the Bush administration’s drumbeat to war in Iraq.
“Bush had a chance to build global coalitions, strengthen international norms and institutions, focus on the threat from al-Qaeda, reshape relations in the Gulf region and use domestic and international support to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which, before 9/11, was the central grievance against the United States in the Middle East,” Telhami told Today’s WorldView.
Instead, he added, “Bush chose a policy of unilateralism,” pursuing a war that ravaged the Middle Eastern country, stoked sectarian violence and extremist militancy and “ended the balance of power between Iran and Iraq.” Iran’s gain from seeing its longtime foe fall in Baghdad, in turn, would reset the geopolitical calculations of Gulf Arab states, which became “so insecure that they embarked on destabilizing policies of their own, including the Yemen war,” said Telhami.
In 2003, the Iraqi regime still faced asphyxiating international sanctions. Had those eventually weakened — various countries apart from the United States were eager to bring Iraq out from the cold — the country’s youths would have been better linked to the world and an entrenched regime could have faced its own Arab Spring uprising.
Rasha al-Aqeedi of the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, a Washington think tank, suggests an “Iraqi spring” would still have been brutally put down by the country’s Baathist government. “Saddam would have passed away and [his son] Qusay would have become president — an Iraqi version of [Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad, basically,” she told Today’s WorldView, imagining a milder end for the Iraqi dictator who was hanged in 2006. The status quo in Baghdad would have been “as stable as an authoritarian Baathist state can be.”
Alternatively, there could have been a steady internal unraveling, with the United States in a stronger position to support democratic and economic development, Amy Hawthorne, research director at the Project on Middle East Democracy, told Today’s WorldView. “Iraq, under punishing international sanctions and totalitarian rule for another decade, would have become a failed state, with parts of the south and Iraqi Kurdistan falling outside Saddam’s control.”
Instead, by 2007, the United States was compelled to deploy a “surge” of its troops to combat an Iraqi insurgency it would never quite quell. For multiple reasons, from feckless leadership to sectarian enmities, the government that the United States helped prop up in Baghdad would make a catalogue of its own mistakes. The occupation swiftly became a parable for American blundering and hubris.
“The U.S. was barely keeping its head above water during the surge,” Nasr said. “The aura of its power was gone.”
.. By Ishaan Tharoor
Envoy says Washington and Islamabad now have a common interest in stopping the Taliban from exporting violence.
Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Asad Majeed Khan, says now that the Taliban have seized control of Afghanistan, there is, at last, an opportunity for the United States and Pakistan to work in concert rather than in an atmosphere of suspicion over Islamabad’s alleged support for the Islamist militants. In an interview with Foreign Policy on Tuesday, the career diplomat said he believes there is now a “convergence” of interests among Pakistan, the United States, China, and Russia in preventing the export of terrorism. Khan also contended that, contrary to reports of Taliban brutality and atrocities, the Taliban “seem to be listening to the counsel of the international community.”
At a news conference in Kabul later Tuesday, a Taliban spokesperson said the militant group would pardon anyone who had resisted it, and “the future government will be inclusive.”
“We do not want to have any problem with the international community,” said the spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid. Despite intelligence reports that the Taliban continue to harbor al Qaeda, he added “we are not going to allow our territory to be used against anybody, any country in the world.” He also said women would be allowed to work and study and will be “very active in the society but within the frameworks of Islam.”
This interview with the Pakistani ambassador has been edited for length and clarity.
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Foreign Policy: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Monday the Taliban takeover meant Afghans had broken “the shackles of slavery.” What did he mean by that?
Asad Majeed Khan: There is a lot of that appearing in the social media space, and sometimes, these things are quoted out of context, so I have not really seen the context in which what has been attributed to the prime minister have been said. I would recommend to you the statement that the [Pakistan] National Security Committee issued after it met Monday. That fairly and comprehensively articulates Pakistan’s position. [The statement said Pakistan is “committed to an inclusive political settlement” and “the principle of non-interference in Afghanistan must be adhered to.”]
FP: Did the prime minister not make that comment about slavery?
AK: It’s really hard to keep track. There’s so much out there in the social media space.
FP: Let me put it more broadly. There was some cheering at high levels in Pakistan over the Taliban victory. On Sunday, the minister for climate, Zartaj Gul Wazir, tweeted that the collapse of the civilian government in Kabul was “an appropriate gift for India on its Independence Day.” It’s clear that positing the Taliban as a hedge against Indian influence in Afghanistan has long been part of Pakistan’s strategic policy.
AK: Really, if you were to put aside whatever these isolated statements are, obviously people … may have different takes as individuals. We are a free and democratic country, and there are a whole range of views for and against the policies of the government. But I think what is really important is to see where we have consistently stood over the past few years. I’ve been part of these conversations almost directly for more than 12 years, and I can say that we have covered a lot of ground in terms of addressing U.S. concerns on safe havens in Pakistan, and we are going all the way to cleanse those, addressing concerns on cross border movement and then doing whatever we could to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. And we did it simply because we see that a continuing conflict in Afghanistan works to our utter detriment. It is against our interests completely.
FP: OK. Whatever the past issues of support by the ISI [Pakistan’s intelligence service] and Pakistani military—all that may not be as necessary now that the Taliban have taken control of Kabul. So what are your concerns going forward?
AK: It’s very important to basically go back because what we have seen or what we are seeing in Afghanistan is an eye-opener. It clearly brings out the fact that unfortunately, Pakistan has long been for the Afghan government an afterthought and excuse and a diversion to cover up for their deficiencies. Unfortunately, it suited the political convenience of the United States also. … We have supported the peace process completely, and we will continue to do that.
FP: Do you deny that, at least in the past, there has been support by the Pakistani ISI and military for the Taliban movement?
AK: It depends on what you mean by support, and does it imply—
FP: Everything from providing safe harbor to their leaders and their families to supplying logistical support to their military and hospitalization for wounded Taliban militants.
AK: Pakistan has been a safe harbor, but is there a distinction between Afghans and the Taliban? We have been a safe harbor and safe haven for all Afghans. And today also, if anything goes wrong, Pakistan will be the destination of choice again. So what can we do about that? And they don’t necessarily carry signs of who they are. So far as the Taliban’s military successes are concerned, what they have done in the field is something we have nothing to do with. We have basically stood by our commitment not to let our territory be used. There are these tribal areas that have been presented as safe havens, and for the past four years at least, we have completely cleansed them, integrated those areas into mainstream Pakistan. We have built a fence, you know.
FP: So there is currently no Pakistani support whatsoever for the Taliban takeover?
AK: Absolutely not.
FP: Obviously some U.S. officials believe there is.
AK: The point is their assessments have largely been proven wrong, and I think that right now, this is not the time to point fingers. … It’s not that the Taliban were on our payrolls.
FP: Is all the Taliban leadership out of Pakistan?
AK: I only know the leadership has moved from Doha to Afghanistan.
FP: So what are Pakistan’s main sources of concern right now?
AK: We would like to see an inclusive government, and that was something we hoped would come out of an inclusive peace process. These developments have clearly been a setback. So we are doing whatever we can, and the extended “troika” [the United States, Pakistan, China, and Russia] had a good meeting in Doha on Aug. 10 and Aug. 11. We are engaged with these key players to have all the ethnicities of Afghanistan represented. The diversity of Afghanistan also needs to be reflected in the composition of the government.
FP: What hopes do you have for achieving that? What kind of influence does Pakistan have now? This seems an even more extensive Taliban takeover than in the 1990s, since the anti-Taliban militias just folded. The Taliban are in total control.
AK: What we are hearing from the ground and what we are seeing in terms of developments is the Taliban seem to be listening to the counsel of the international community. There haven’t been very many violent incidents. Some schools have been opened. One of their leaders was interviewed by a female anchor.
FP: But there are many reports of brutality on the ground, women and girls taken from schools, mass killings, and then the heart-wrenching scenes of Afghan evacuees crowding into the airport. There seems to be quite a difference between what the Taliban leaders in Doha were saying and what’s happening in Afghanistan.
AK: I think they should be concerned because the international community is watching and they will be judging them based on what happens on the ground. … They have been in control of large parts of Afghanistan already for quite some time, and the reports we are getting is they are mostly conducting themselves responsibly. Despite some incidents a few weeks back, it’s been very smooth. … They are basically talking to everybody. Our embassy is open and working around the clock. We are doing what we can to facilitate the repatriation of nongovernmental organizations, journalists, and others. Many evacuations are taking place through Pakistan.
FP: Does this takeover clear the air in some ways between Islamabad and Washington? Obviously this issue of covert Pakistani support of the Taliban has been hanging over the relationship for a long time. Is there a way forward now?
AK: That’s the question we are grappling with because, frankly, our relationship with the United States has been defined and deeply influenced by Afghanistan. It’s been seen through the Afghan prism all these years. … So we are working toward moving onto another relationship. Despite all the challenges today, the United States is still the largest export destination for Pakistan. It is the third largest remittance sender to Pakistan. The United States has also been one of the top five investor countries in Pakistan.
FP: What are the concerns of your government now about extremist Islamist ideology spreading back across the border? After all, attacks by the TTP [Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan] have reportedly increased in recent months within Pakistan.
AK: There are two levels the TTP has been a concern and still is because when we cleared our areas, they found safe havens on the other side. And that’s a concern, and that is our expectation also: Afghan territory will not be used against us. Whoever will be in control must not let it be used. Having said that, I think the fear of extremism and sometimes the way it is going to impact Pakistan is exaggerated in the think tank space inside the Beltway. Because if you look at Pakistan, frankly all the mainstream political parties are more to the center or slightly to the right of center. And so-called fringe religious parties do not have that huge a following given the character of our society—we are religious, but at the same time, we believe in embracing a pluralistic Islam.
FP: But will there be more attacks from the extremists?
AK: It’s not about the Taliban. And that’s why we’ve been investing so much in the peace process. Our view is that even for the United States, the best counterterrorism investment is to invest in peace. If you don’t have peace, you have ungoverned spaces. Then you have militias and countries hedging their bets. We’ve seen that play out in the past, and we don’t want that repeated. So the best way to counter extremism is to have a government that is under control … ready to work with the international community.
FP: Have there been conversations between Islamabad and Washington in the last few days?
AK: Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken spoke to the [Pakistani] foreign minister, and this was quite lengthy. Really I think the good thing today is that regarding Afghanistan, there is a complete convergence between the United States and Pakistan. You want the parties to get to a common understanding. We want that. You want the violence reduced. We want that. You want the gains of the past preserved. We want that. … China and Russia are concerned too [about terrorism]. We are all worried.
FP: Are there any initiatives coming? For example, we know Pakistan wants no U.S. military presence within its borders, but will Islamabad help on intelligence and other things to support the U.S. posture of maintaining over-the-horizon vigilance against al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other terrorists?
AK: It’s developed so fast. It’s been happening on an hourly basis. The bottom line is terrorism is our concern as much as it is your concern. And there are ways in which we can and will cooperate with the international community and the United States. We have cooperated in the past.
FP: You’re facing a sometimes aggressive India under Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Do you see the new Taliban-run Afghanistan as an ally against India?
AK: Unfortunately, Afghan territory has been used against us. Even this so-called Sanction Pakistan campaign—basically, a lot of it originated from India. It’s sad. … So therefore, Afghanistan will have to sort this one out. India has closed its embassy there. … We have made overtures for engagement, but Prime Minister Modi, the problem really is that his politics somehow puts Pakistan in the domestic political scene and context and … it suits him to maintain a hard line on Pakistan, and that’s what he’s continuing to do. And Kashmir is another place where he has taken a unilateral action. … So Modi is not conceding anything, and the stalemate continues.
FP: What do you think China’s relationship will be with Afghanistan? Here we are in another version of the so-called Great Game, where the great powers vie for influence on the world stage using Afghanistan as a platform. In Southeast Asia, we are dealing with an aggressive Chinese presence against Taiwan—and more broadly, a test of the overarching rivalry between the United States and China. Will China see the U.S. abandonment of Afghanistan as a signal that Taiwan is vulnerable too?
AK: Honestly, I think happily, Afghanistan is a convergence [of interests], and the extended troika … indicates the concerns are common.
FP: Shouldn’t these concerns be common? China has its concerns about Islamist insurgents, and Russia has its own worries about the Islamist Chechens. All the big powers fear Islamist extremists.
AK: Everybody. That’s the huge base to work from for peace in Afghanistan. We have always maintained that Afghanistan should be an arena for cooperation rather than a place for confrontation.