Nor has the Biden administration indicated it plans to release nearly US$9.5 billion in Afghan gold, investments and foreign currency reserves parked in the US that it froze after the Taliban’s takeover – despite rising pressure from humanitarian groups and others who say the punitive measure may cause the collapse of the Afghan economy.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, after meeting with the foreign ministers of Pakistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, went no holds barred. He had already alleged, on the record, that the US was facilitating the expansion of ISIS-K in Afghanistan – a fast-flip irony, if true, considering the terror group was responsible for killing 13 US military service members and scores of others in a late August bomb blast at Kabul’s international airport.
Then the Iranian leader doubled down, claiming that the recent sequence of terror bombings during Friday prayers in Shiite mosques in large Afghan cities has also been supported by the US.
Raisi is voicing, at a very high level, an analysis that intel services of several SCO member-nations have been actively exchanging: There’s only one major geopolitical player who benefits, divide-and-rule-style, from the chaos generated by ISIS-K.
The Russians, Iranians and Chinese are all paying close attention to all matters Afghanistan. Before his current European tour, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi dropped by Doha on Monday for the first top-level China-Afghanistan meeting since the Saigon moment on August 15.
That also marked the return to the political stage of Mullah Baradar, the acting Afghan deputy prime minister, who seems anyway to be restricted to Doha political office business.
Wang once again made it very clear that it’s crucial to engage with the Taliban “in a rational and pragmatic manner” and emphasized, at the same time, that the Taliban should “demonstrate openness and tolerance.”
Beijing’s top priority is to start dealing with a functional government in Kabul as soon as possible. The integration of Afghanistan to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and also to the now fast-developing Iran-to-China corridor is a matter of urgency.
But all that pales in comparison with the challenges facing a still far-from-inclusive government: the looming economic crisis, the already de facto humanitarian nightmare, and the ISIS-K terror threat.
Only two days after Wang’s meeting in Doha, and nearly simultaneously with the meeting in Tehran, Tajikistan approved the setup of a Chinese military base in its territory. So here we go again.
Expect a fierce campaign exposing “human rights abuses” by Dushanbe to pop up anytime soon.