Will the New Silk Roads, a.k.a. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) ever manage to cross the Hindu Kush?Temerity is the name of the game. Even though strategically located astride the Ancient Silk Road, and virtually contiguous to the US$50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – a key BRI node – Afghanistan is still mired in war.It’s easy to forget that way back in 2011 – even before President Xi Jinping announced BRI, in Kazakhstan and Indonesia, in 2013 – the then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton touted her own Silk Road, in Chennai. No wonder the State Dept.’s vision bit Hindu Kush dust – because it assumed war-torn Afghanistan as the plan’s lynchpin.
Tag Archives: Afghanistan
A suicide bomb blast in Kabul, Afghanistan killed at least 90 people and injured over 450. Hidden in a tanker truck, the bomb is likely one of the largest ever set off in Kabul. It left a crater 13 feet deep, and broke windows over a mile away. Among those killed were two media workers, Aziz Navin of the 24-hour Afghan cable news channel TOLOnews, and Mohammed Nazir, a driver for the BBC. The death toll continues to climb as additional bodies are found, and some who were injured succumb to their wounds. Details of those killed are sparse. While the Manchester bombing nine days earlier garnered wall-to-wall coverage on the corporate news networks, with in-depth biographies of the victims, Kabul, with a death toll over four times as high, with hundreds injured, gets mentioned only in brief reports, the dead and injured listed as numbers rather than names.
There are no “I heart KBL” signs. No #jesuisbaghdad hashtags. No one is paying tribute to the rich cultural heritage and resilience of the targets. It is unlikely that we will come to recognise the names and faces of most victims. But the bombs that struck Kabul on Wednesday morningstruck Kabul yesterday morning and Baghdad late on Monday were as devastating to their residents as the attack on the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester a week earlier. That should not need saying, of course; yet the insecurity that Afghans and Iraqis face can blur the impact of atrocities into a general impression of perpetual chaos and pain for outsiders. That terror strikes so often – and particularly in the month of Ramadan – does not dull its effect on those who experience it. Repeated suffering compounds trauma.
The explosion of a giant bomb in a sewage tanker close to the diplomatic quarter in Kabul is receiving much publicity because of the heavy loss of life and because so many foreign embassies were damaged. A BBC driver was killed and four BBC journalists were wounded by the blast.But, aside from spectacular incidents where foreigners are involved, the Afghan war has largely dropped off media and diplomatic agendas since direct foreign combat involvement ended. This has happened even though, over the past two years, the conflict has been escalating with the Taliban gradually gaining ground and the Afghan affiliate of Isis, also known as Khorasan Province and which holds far less territory, losing several of its strongholds in recent months. The number of civilian casualties last year was 11,000 of whom 3,500 were killed according to the UN, the highest number since 2009. The severity of the fighting also forced half a million Afghans to flee their homes.
Haji Din Mohammed met with the Taliban for the first time on the public record on July 7, 2015, in the town of Murree, Pakistan, just outside Islamabad. It was Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. After sunset, he and his colleagues — delegates from the High Peace Council, the Afghan government’s official negotiating body — sat down for a customary iftar dinner at their hotel before heading over to a nearby golf resort.
Din Mohammed, who is in his early sixties, has a white beard and rheumy eyes. That evening, he wore a lungi, a turban that indicated his elite social status, and a shalwar kameez, an elegant tunic and trousers. He and his delegation were ushered into a sparsely appointed room and seated along one side of a long table. Facing them were three Taliban envoys. On their left were the Pakistani hosts; on their right, three observers from the United States and China. For this historic occasion, the resort served milk tea and summer fruit. Like most Afghans, Din Mohammed prefers green tea, considering the Pakistani variety too sweet, so his cup went untouched.
They have come a long way, spent most of their money on smugglers and camped out in the open for weeks.
For Afghan migrants stranded in the Balkans there is no turning back, even as the most likely prospect many of them face in the European Union could be deportation back to their country.
Thousands of young Afghan men in Serbia and elsewhere in the region are determined to reach wealthy EU nations, despite closed borders and an agreement between their government and the EU that will more easily send home Afghan citizens who have been rejected for asylum.
Aid groups have sharply criticized “The Joint Way Forward” declaration, which was agreed upon only days ahead of an international donors’ conference Wednesday for Afghanistan that pledged $15.2 billion for the beleaguered country.
21 August 1998 Four days ago, as President Bill Clinton was testifying to Kenneth Starr about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, foreign diplomats in Pakistan were told that “all foreigners” in Afghanistan were in danger. European embassy staff suspected that the United States, with the help of the Pakistani authorities, was about to assault Osama bin Laden, the Saudi dissident opposed to Washington’s continued presence in Saudi Arabia. One foreign embassy official in Islamabad told me the sources were American.
Osama bin Laden, the fiercest opponent of the Saudi regime and of America’s presence in the Gulf, has warned Britain that it must withdraw its servicemen from Saudi Arabia if it wishes to avoid the fate of the 19 Americans killed by a truck bomb in the Kingdom last month. In an interview with The Independent in a remote mountainous area of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province – to which he has returned from Sudan with hundreds of his Arab mujahedin guerrillas – the 40-year-old Saudi dissident declared that killing the Americans marked “the beginning of war between Muslims and the United States”.
Source: Face to face with Bin Laden
The invasion of Afghanistan 15 years ago was an arrogant, wretched adventure that caused a migrant crisis
As usual, all the warnings were there. Three Anglo-Afghan wars. Russia’s Vietnam. The Graveyard of Empires. Poppy capital of the world. The most bombed, crushed, corrupted, mined nation on the globe.
So off we set in our righteous war of revenge for the Twin Towers and the dead of 9/11 to bomb Afghanistan all over again and – a new twist, this – to bring ‘democracy’ to the land though which Alexander the Great passed en route to India. Osama bin Laden was our latest Hitler, although his protective screen of Salafist obscurantist Taliban legions could hardly be compared to the Wehrmacht.
We love to talk of terror – but after the Munich shooting, this hypocritical catch-all term has finally caught us out
The frightful and bloody hours of Friday night and Saturday morning in Munich and Kabul – despite the 3,000 miles that separate the two cities – provided a highly instructive lesson in the semantics of horror and hypocrisy. I despair of that generic old hate-word, “terror”. It long ago became the punctuation mark and signature tune of every facile politician, policeman, journalist and think tank crank in the world.
Terror, terror, terror, terror, terror. Or terrorist, terrorist, terrorist, terrorist, terrorist.