During the United States’ 20-year occupation of Afghanistan, Russia has taken over in Central Northern Asia. Kaneshko Sangar writes: “Historically, Russia has been a great power and influence in Afghanistan against its main adversaries, such as the British Empire and the US during the Cold War in the early 1990s. When the region’s geopolitical order changed, Russia portrayed its country as one against Islamic fundamentalism and wanted to be the US’s main partner in the War on Terror.” Of course, that did not happen.
Recently, on August 29, 2021, Andrew Roth in Moscow reported that Vladimir Putin has demanded that countries not interfere in Afghanistan, saying: “The West must stop the irresponsible policy of imposing foreign values from aboard”. Plus, he said, “It was counterproductive to build democracy in other countries according to foreign templates.” The Russian embassy remains open in Afghanistan. It has been reported that Russia has held military exercises with Central Asian states and with China in recent weeks as concerns have grown that the Taliban return to power could lead to border clashes. Also, Russia is in the region along with China and Pakistan to increase their influence in Afghanistan.
Another key role player is China, which, through its Belt and Road Initiative, has helped Afghanistan. According to the Afghan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, Afghanistan has a “big prize”. It possesses rare and expensive minerals crucial for industrial manufacturing. It has 1.4 million tons of rare-earth elements (REE) which are crucial for the production of renewable energy technology. “This makes Afghanistan a prime target of investment for China, the current king of global REE supply chains. America needs rare earth elements and China controls 90% of processing capacity. A former Chinese leader, Deng Xiaoping once said, “Problems in Afghanistan share a border. This forms a threat which can geographically encircle China.”
Furthermore, China understands well that before 2001 and under the Afghan Taliban-dominated regime, Afghanistan became a very important center for global extremism and global terrorism. The Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi said. “We cannot tolerate any terrorism that harbored inside Afghanistan and we are determined to protect ourselves if a terrorist is harbored or would be harbored in Afghanistan, no matter who or no matter where,” he said. Wang also said, “This is a principle that should be insisted by China in the future”. He also said, “As Afghanistan’s friend and neighbor, China will push for reconciliation and reconstruction in Afghanistan with respect and at the request of the Afghan people”.
The Taliban accepts support from China for its reconstruction and its co-founder, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, and the Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi met in China, and China was given a commitment that Chinese nationals would be protected in Afghanistan. The perception is that China will have a huge role in the development of Afghanistan depending on the geopolitics that can change.
India, a close neighbor, has always viewed Afghanistan as crucial for India’s strategic interests in South Asia. After Afghanistan was left ravaged in 2001, India helped the country build roads, schools, hospitals, dams, and many other essential projects that helped to shape the country’s future. India has invested more than $3 billion in Afghanistan in over 400 infrastructure projects. Also, when the US-NATO forces provided protection against the Taliban and other fundamental groups, India became one such country that has supported Afghanistan in all areas of nation-building over the past two decades. Now, India is observing the Taliban in a wait and watch mode. New Delhi has closed all its consulates and it evacuated 120 of its embassy staff from Kabul. Will India maintain diplomatic ties with a government controlled by a militant group? It is unclear for now.
The Development Team
Principal Investigator: Theresa Delsoin (USA)
Content Writer: Theresa Delsoin
Sub-editor: Lunga Dweba (RSA)
Project Coordinator: Nobuhle Thobela (ZWE)
The GI ADVISORY is a research-based security firm, whose primary purpose is to contribute to safer communities and world order.