Popular conservative political commentator Jack Posobiec, who’s also a former Navy intelligence analyst and China analyst, tweeted in mid-August that “Taliban will be blowing up China’s OBOR pipelines within 5 years”. I disagreed with his take, shared some of my prior pieces that explain the reality of Chinese-Taliban ties (here and here), and then politely challenged him to elaborate on his views in response to the points that I made. I also shared the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s official report on Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s meeting with Taliban representatives in late July where the group promised never to allow Afghan territory to be used against China and also invited the People’s Republic to help reconstruct their country after the war ends.
I presume that Mr. Posobiec (popularly known as “Poso” by his audience), being the very busy man that he is, didn’t have time to respond to my challenge if he even saw it amid the hundreds of comments that each of his many daily tweets generate. I enjoy following him even though I at times disagree with some of his takes because I don’t doubt the sincerity of his beliefs even when his perspective differs from mine. Mr. Posobiec usually offers informed commentary on pressing topics and isn’t afraid to violate the supposedly “sacred” tenets of modern-day political correctness. Nevertheless, his prediction about Chinese-Taliban ties doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, and I’d like to attract his attention to why in order to improve the quality of his future analyses.
He didn’t explain why he believes what he does, which leaves the reasons for his prediction open to interpretation. It would be improper to put words in Mr. Posobiec’s mouth so I’ll hold off on speculating what might have been behind his tweet, but he simply might not have been aware of last month’s meeting between Mr. Wang and the Taliban in China. After all, the official Chinese readout of that event clarifies their relations and shows that there aren’t any disagreements between them. To the contrary, their political ties are closer than ever and are rapidly entering the economic realm. The Taliban wants help reconstructing Afghanistan and China wants to build Silk Roads through the country so their interests are complementary.
Even if he was aware of their meeting, he might still suspect that the Taliban isn’t sincere. If that’s the case, then there still isn’t any credible reason to predict that it would backstab Beijing by blowing up BRI. Those two never had any direct problems with one another. China disliked that some Uyghurs associated with the so-called “East Turkestan Islamic Movement” (ETIM) used to train and fight alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan, but the group has since promised not allow its territory to be used against any other country. It wisely realized that it’s not worth losing out on BRI’s Silk Road bonanza after the war since it stands to profit immensely from facilitating China’s trans-regional connectivity in the coming future.
This observations speaks to the Taliban’s newfound pragmatism and shrewdness. Whereas in the past many observers unquestionably assumed that it was an irredeemable terrorist group obsessed with ultra-fundamentalist religious interpretations, the Taliban has actually defied those expectations ever since it began actively participating in the Afghan peace process, including the one hosted by Russia. This shows that it’s changing its ways after realizing how counterproductive its former worldview was. Just because the Taliban might sympathize with foreign groups that hold similarly radical interpretations of certain subjects doesn’t mean that it should sacrifice its and its fellow Afghans’ interests by training them and providing sanctuary.
The Extended Troika – which includes China, Russia, and the US – all believe that the Taliban changed its ways in this respect and truly expect it not to host any foreign terrorist groups in the future, which is why they all agreed to negotiate with it. One can still cling to the belief that those three completely different countries’ leaderships are all mistaken about the Taliban’s intentions, but it still speaks volumes that they share the same view about the group’s anti-terrorist commitments. Mr. Posobiec and many members of his audience are positively inclined towards former US President Trump, and it was he who legitimized the Taliban in this respect after agreeing to the February 2020 peace deal stipulating that specific anti-terrorist clause among others.
Everyone’s still entitled to think that Trump either got it wrong or decided to withdraw from Afghanistan for ulterior reasons unrelated to his publicly proclaimed ones (such as redirecting more of the US military’s focus towards actively containing China in the Asia-Pacific), but even the former President’s supporters should at least publicly acknowledge that their hero officially has the same faith in the Taliban’s anti-terrorist promises as his Chinese rival’s leadership does. That says a lot about the growing international consensus regarding the credibility of the Taliban’s claims that it’s reformed if America and China, the world’s two superpowers, were able to agree on that despite their countless differences on practically everything else of significance.
Considering all of the insight hitherto shared in this analysis, there’s no factual basis for predicting that the Taliban will blow up Beijing’s BRI. Anyone can of course predict whatever they want even without there being such a basis or precedent to expect whatever it is that they think might happen, but they should explain their thought process more thoroughly in that case when publicly challenged to do so. My intention in publishing this response to Mr. Posobiec is to attract his attention to the points that I made in the hope that he’ll either elaborate on why he still believes in his prediction or possibly consider changing it in light of everything that I shared. Either way, I hope to learn more about his views on the topic of post-war Afghanistan’s ties with China.
By Andrew Korybko Via http://oneworld.press/?module=articles&action=view&id=2192