September 2, 2021
Secretary Antony Blinken @SecBlinken – 1:34 UTC · Aug 31, 2021 I want to drive home today that America’s work in Afghanistan continues. We have a plan for what’s next, and we’re putting it into action.
The codename for the plan which Secretary Blinken is putting into action has not been officially released. It will likely be called “Eternal Revenge” or something similar.
The U.S. is not a good loser. Nor are President Biden and Blinken. They will take revenge for the public outcry their chaotic evacuation of troops and civilians from Afghanistan has caused. The Taliban will be blamed for it even as they, following U.S. requests, had escorted groups of U.S. citizens to the gates of Kabul’s airport.
One can anticipate what their plan entails by looking at the process that led to yesterdays UN Security Council resolution about Afghanistan. The full resolution has not been published yet but the UN reporting on it gives the gist:
Thirteen of the 15 ambassadors voted in favour of the resolution, which further demands that Afghanistan not be used as a shelter for terrorism. Permanent members China and Russia abstained.
As the resolution only ‘urges’ it is obviously minimal and not binding. It is not what the U.S. had set out to achieve. It wanted a much stronger one with possible penalties (see ‘holding … accountable’ below) should the Taliban not follow it.
Prior to the UNSC meeting France and Great Britain had proposed to create a ‘safe zone’ in Kabul. That request has been silently dropped – likely over Chinese and Russian concerns about Afghanistan’s sovereignty.
On August 29 Blinken had talked with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi about a binding resolution. The State Department readout of the call was minimal:
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with PRC State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi about the importance of the international community holding the Taliban accountable for the public commitments they have made regarding the safe passage and freedom to travel for Afghans and foreign nationals.
The readout by China reveals that much more than that was discussed:
Wang said that the situation in Afghanistan has undergone fundamental changes, and it is necessary for all parties to make contact with the Taliban and guide it actively. The United States, in particular, needs to work with the international community to provide Afghanistan with urgently-needed economic, livelihood and humanitarian assistance, help the new Afghan political structure maintain normal operation of government institutions, maintain social security and stability, curb currency depreciation and inflation, and embark on the journey of peaceful reconstruction at an early date, he said.
The U.S. has blocked Afghanistan’s Central Bank reserves, has stopped any budgeted payments to Afghanistan and ordered the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to block their Afghanistan programs.
This will paralyze all functions of the Afghan state. The World Bank is for example currently responsible for paying Afghan teachers and medical personnel. Afghanistan is experiencing a drought and will need to import large amounts of food. With its foreign assets blocked it has no way to do that.
China is clearly aware that Afghanistan will experience a human catastrophe should the U.S. continue its economic blockade.
There is also the danger of terrorism which the U.S. failed to address:
Wang urged the United States, on the premise of respecting Afghanistan’s sovereignty and independence, to take concrete actions to help Afghanistan combat terrorism and violence, instead of practicing double standards or fighting terrorism selectively. The U.S. side clearly knows the causes of the current chaotic situation in Afghanistan, Wang noted, adding that any action to be taken by the UNSC should contribute to easing tensions instead of intensifying them, and contribute to a smooth transition of the situation in Afghanistan rather than a return to turmoil.
China is specifically concerned about the “East Turkestan Islamic Movement” (ETIM) in east Afghanistan which the Trump administration had last year taken off its terrorist list even though the organization continues to target China. The Biden administration has made no attempt to revive the terrorist designation of ETIM.
Russia has similar concerns as its Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia explained after abstaining from the resolution:
We had to do this because the authors of the draft had ignored our principled concerns. Firstly, despite the fact that the draft resolution was proposed against the backdrop of a heinous terrorist attack, the sponsors refused to mention ISIL and “Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement” – the organisations that are internationally recognized as terrorist – in the paragraph on counter-terrorism. We interpret it as unwillingness to recognize the obvious and an inclination to divide terrorists into “ours” and “theirs”. Attempts to “downplay” threats emanating from these groups are unacceptable.
Secondly, during the negotiations we emphasised the unacceptability and negative impacts of evacuation of Afghan highly qualified personnel for Afghanistan’s socio-economic situation. If experiencing a “brain drain”, the country will not be able to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. These elements that are vital for the Afghan people were nor reflected in the text of the resolution.
Thirdly, the authors ignored our proposal to have the document state the adverse effects that freezing of Afghan financial assets had on the economic and humanitarian situation in the country, and mention the fact that humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan must imperatively comply with the UN guiding principles, stipulated in UNGA resolution 46/182.
The first concern Nebenzia mentions is a node to the Chinese concerns. The second one is based on a concern the Taliban had raised when they declined to prolong the U.S. evacuation of educated Afghan people. The third one is the most important.
Russia had proposed to lift the block on Afghan assets. The U.S. has rejected that. That makes it quite obvious that the U.S. intends to keep these in place. It will use them to make demands which the Taliban will be unable to fulfil.
At the same time the U.S. will use its ISPK (ISIS-K) and ‘Northern Alliance’ assets in Afghanistan to continue the war and to make successful efforts to govern Afghanistan impossible.
It will then blame the Taliban for the inevitable results.
Reprinted with permission from Moon of Alabama.