The audio interview with Ms. Amina Khan discusses in detail the forthcoming challenges Afghanistan is likely to be facing. However, there is one question that is nagging at the back of my mind about this whole saga. Perhaps this is the most important question. Why did the American empire come to Afghanistan and why did it leave? It is a topic worthy of a book. But, I will keep my explanation short.
Whether America had any wider regional goals or not, whether it failed or succeeded in achieving those wider goals is disputable. My focus in this article is on the relationship between the Taliban and the American empire.
In December of 1997, a Taliban team visited the Unocal offices in Texas America. The visit aimed to discuss a gas pipeline from Central Asia to Gwadar, a deep seaport on the Indian Ocean. There was no final agreement.
It is worth keeping in mind that the American delegation insisted on a price that was far below the market rates and unacceptable to the Taliban. The Americans tried to first bribe and then intimidate the Taliban. But, the Taliban did not budge and stood their ground. When the verbal thuggery failed, Americans resorted to invading and occupying Afghanistan.
For 20 years Americans tried but could not bring peace to Afghanistan, therefore, the pipeline could not be built there. Resistance from tribes and warlords continued unabated. After 2.2 trillion dollars spent and on average tens of daily deaths of American soldiers, the Americans challenged the Taliban during the negotiations to prove that they have enough control and power to bring peace to Afghanistan. The Taliban declared a ceasefire for the duration of the agreement.
The world witnessed that the Taliban are the only ones who can guarantee peace and security in the country.
The above argument suggests that America was sent to Afghanistan by the capitalists who had intended to deny the Afghans a fair price at market rates. When the imperial forces failed to bring the desired results, basically it was the capitalists who decided to accept the Taliban’s offer.
The reality is CPEC and BRI, the two goliath Chinese infrastructure building projects require peace, stability, and development in the region. Perhaps, Afghanistan is central to these projects. More importantly, China is likely to open doors for foreign investors in Chinese companies. This will allow the western capitalists to indirectly benefit from any development projects in Afghanistan.
The time is ripe to bring gas and oil from the Central Asian region to the world marketplace. Continuation of the occupation would have caused delays and that was unacceptable to the global capitalists and was detrimental to the regional development.
In my opinion, the American occupation was no longer beneficial for anyone including the American empire or the capitalists’ or the regional players. It was about time.
Ms. Amina Khan of the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (ISSI), is a Director of the Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East & Africa (CAMEA). She has a good understanding and knowledge of Afghanistan and the geopolitics of the region. RTM appreciates her sincere efforts to share her valuable knowledge with our audience.