Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 1 Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Reddit Tell A Friend Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites
OpEdNews Op Eds

Does China hold key to the Afghan puzzle?

By       Message Pepe Escobar       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   2 comments

Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; , Add Tags
Add to My Group(s)

News 2   Must Read 1   Well Said 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H2 1/14/16

Author 73066
Become a Fan
  (180 fans)
- Advertisement -

Reprinted from RT


(Image by Circuit Magazine)   Permission   Details   DMCA


- Advertisement -
Just like Lazarus, there were reasons to believe the Afghan peace process might have stood a chance of being resurrected this past Monday in Islamabad, as four major players -- Afghanistan, Pakistan, the US and China -- sat together at the same table.

The final communique though was not exactly ground breaking: "The participants emphasized the immediate need for direct talks between representatives of the Government of Afghanistan and representatives from Taliban groups in a peace process that aims to preserve Afghanistan's unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity."

A week before the Islamabad meeting, while in the Persian Gulf, I had an extremely enlightening conversation with a group of Afghan Pashtuns. After the ice was broken, and it was established I was not some Sean Penn-style shadowy asset with a dodgy agenda, my Pashtun interlocutors did deliver the goods. I felt I was back in Peshawar in 2001, only a few days before 9/11.

- Advertisement -

The first ground breaker was that two Taliban officials, currently based in Qatar, are about to meet top Chinese and Pakistani envoys face to face, without interference from the US. This fits into the strategy laid out by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), led by China and Russia, according to which the Afghan puzzle must be solved as an Asian matter. And Beijing definitely wants a solution, fast; think Afghan chapter of the New Silk Roads.

The post 9/11 Afghan War has been going on for an interminable 14 years; taking a cue from Pentagonese, talk about Enduring Freedom forever. No one is winning -- and the Taliban are more divided than ever after the previous peace process collapsed when the Taliban announced Mullah Omar had been dead for two years.

That good old "strategic depth"

Still, it all hinges on the complex interplay between Kabul and Islamabad.

Take the see-saw movements of Afghan CEO (yes, that's his title) Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. He juggles between Tehran -- where he emphasizes terrorism is a threat both to Iran and Afghanistan -- and Islamabad, where he discusses peace process arcana with Pakistani officials.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, for his part, never skips a beat renewing his commitment towards peace and economic development in Afghanistan.

When an attempt towards a peace process actually started -- informally -- in Doha, in 2012, including eight Taliban officials, the Taliban was furious that Kabul actually privileged talking to Islamabad. The official Taliban position is that they are politically -- and militarily -- independent from Islamabad.

- Advertisement -

As my Pashtun interlocutors emphasized, most people in Afghanistan don't know what to make of all that Kabul-Islamabad talk, including what they regard as dangerous concessions, such as sending young Afghan military to be trained in Pakistan.

Islamabad plays a highly leveraged game. The Haqqani group -- which Washington brands as terrorists -- finds safe harbor inside Pakistan's tribal areas. If the Taliban is seated at the table at any peace process that will be brokered by Pakistan -- which still enjoys a lot of leverage over those Taliban clustered around the new leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.

My Pashtun interlocutors are adamant; the Taliban and the ISI remain indistinguishable. Their strategic alliance is still in place. All Taliban in Doha are monitored by the ISI.

On the other hand, there seems to be a subtle shift involving the Pakistani military and the ISI (which knows everything there is to know, and is complicit on much that happens concerning the Taliban). Last month, Pakistan's army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif went to Afghanistan by himself; so that could mean the military will privilege real peace on the ground instead of manipulating Afghanistan as a "strategic depth" Pakistani pawn.

Caution: pipeline ahead

So, in principle, the Afghan talkfest will remain in effect. The Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA), led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar -- another key player on Washington's Top Ten Terrorist List -- is also interested in the peace process. But HIA says it must be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned -- meaning no Pakistani interference. Hekmatyar is clearly positioning himself for a future leading role.

The plot thickens when we turn from the Taliban to ISIS/ISIL/Daesh's advances in Afghanistan. For circles close to former President Hamid Karzai, a.k.a. the former "mayor of Kabul" (because he controlled nothing else), Daesh is a creation of Islamabad's foreign policy, so Pakistan may gain full access to energy-rich Central Asia, China and Russia.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

- Advertisement -

News 2   Must Read 1   Well Said 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com

Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon Share Author on Social Media   Go To Commenting

The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Why Putin is driving Washington nuts

You Want War? Russia is Ready for War

Why Qatar wants to invade Syria

All aboard the New Silk Road(s)

It was Putin's missile?

Where is Prince Bandar?