Commenting on the Taliban’s developing economic ties with Beijing, Qatari lecturer in politics and history Muhammad al-Mukhtar al- Shanqiti believes that China is the only state in the world that is able to rebuild Afghanistan, while the US – in contrast – has ‘lost all of its cards’ in the strategic central Asian country.
Source: Al Jazeera Channel (You Tube)
Date: September 3, 2021
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Dr. Shanqiti, we heard both (the Chinese and American guests speak) here (in the studio). Do you believe that Afghanistan will turn into an arena for (strategic) competition between the US, China and perhaps Russia?
Muhammad al-Mukhtar al- Shanqiti, Professor of Political Ethics at Qatar University:
I do not think that there is room for competition (in Afghanistan). The US has lost its strategic cards in Afghanistan, and now, in fact, the doors are open before China. (China) is the only state in the world that is capable of rebuilding Afghanistan in terms of funds, experience and its (location as a) neighbor. Furthermore, (China) pays great attention to Afghanistan, given that (Afghanistan) is (rich) in precious metals – according to studies and research – which China needs for its industrial trade and not to mention (its) short and direct borders with China through the Wakhan Corridor.
Therefore, I truly believe that what the Americans are doing (today in relation to Afghanistan) is a reflection of their lack of political wisdom; they threaten to seize Afghani funds while the Chinese are ready to pay out of their own pockets to invest in Afghanistan. Herein lies the difference between the two visions (i.e that of the US & China).
In general, the problem with Afghanistan is that it has always been a weak country among powerful neighbors; China and Russia, which are two international powers, and Iran and Pakistan, which are two regional powers. However, Afghanistan is distinguished (in that it) offers tremendous investment opportunities. I believe that (Afghanistan) will be a hugely important component of China’s global strategy of economic expansion, especially westwards. And we have seen the huge infrastructure built by China in recent years in Pakistan, as we have seen (China) grip some ports in western Pakistan and others in southern Iran, and the Iran-China Strategic Agreement, which includes pumping 100 billion dollars of (Chinese) investment (into Iran’s infrastructure sector) in the first five years. There is a clear common interest between Afghanistan and China. Thus, I believe that (China) is the state which will undertake the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
Alright, however, in this regard lies perhaps, the US’ strongest cards that (it is) using in order (to maintain its influence in Afghanistan). In contrast, what are the cards that the Taliban will use accordingly, to first attract Chinese (investments), and second, to bypass (US) sanctions as well as the Western siege and international isolation which these (sanctions effectively) impose?
It is a very good question. (During the show), (your) guest from Shanghai referred to a part of the answer that is that the Taliban first need – and I agree with (the guest) – to take full control of Afghani territory because China – any other country for that matter – will never make serious strategic investments (in Afghanistan) if the situation for the central authority in Kabul is not stable yet. (This is the first condition).
As for the second (condition) – and it is something that almost the whole world agrees upon, even states at odds with each other like America and China would agree on it – it is that Afghanistan must never become a haven for terrorist/violent border groups. These are only the two conditions that the Taliban should ensure. I believe that (the Taliban’s) rush towards Panjshir Valley today is carried out in an effort to specifically achieve (the second condition). In addition, what helps (the Taliban) to achieve so is the support of Russia in this regard, for it (Russia) is not willing to back those rebels against the Taliban’s imposition of its authority in northern Afghanistan.
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