Afghanistan made the front pages of all the world’s media – on August 15, 2021, Taliban troops entered Kabul. Not only foreign deputies but also residents began to leave the country. Even the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, left. And local girls and women are afraid for their lives: under the rule of the Taliban, they will not be able to study, work, attend schools, apply for medical care. Teachers and human rights activists can expect death at all. While the world is worried about Afghanistan, the Belarusian state media write joyful articles about the easy victory of the Taliban and the failure of American policy in Afghanistan. We are looking at what new opportunities are opening up for the official Minsk after the seizure of power in Afghanistan.
But first, let’s get acquainted with a small digest of the state press. “The situation with the Taliban in Kabul, despite all the perturbations and objective difficulties, looks more stable and calmer than under the Americans. Democracy in the American way is always blood, millions of victims, tears of children and women, national cataclysms,” the philosopher Nikolai Shchekin on the pages of the newspaper “Respublika” writes.
“The Chinese diplomatic mission also demonstrates the calmness and business rhythm of work. Against the background of the panic and flight of Western diplomats, these are more than indicative facts. As well as the fact that the Taliban announced a general amnesty for government officials in Afghanistan and called on citizens to return to their daily lives,” and such a quote slipped in the newspaper ” SB. Belarus today” in the material of columnist Maxim Osipov.
“If the Taliban carries threats and risks of destabilizing the post-Soviet space, the CSTO will help its allies,” Russian military expert Igor Korotchenko in an interview with Belarus-1 said. There is a clear hint here that Belarusian soldiers will go to Afghanistan.
“A government in Afghanistan had nothing to do with the people, the country or the interests of the people. Now the most corrupt government in the entire history has left, which was not able to solve any problems,” political analyst Yakov Kedmi said on the air of the ONT channel.
Political scientist Alexey Dzermant, who supports Lukashenka, hints in his Telegram channel even though the United States is afraid of the Taliban: “Facebook banned only one photo and the name of this person in the comments, without ratings. Haibatula Akhunzada is the leader of the Taliban. It seems that the hasty flight of Americans from Afghanistan is somehow strangely reflected in their social networks. It means that something is wrong with the Washington Regional Committee. Mess and awe”.
And another political scientist, Andrey Lazutkin, in the program “Entertaining Political Science ” on the state channel STV said: “It seems that the withdrawal of USA troops from Afghanistan is their response to the launch of the Nord Stream. The Americans will exhaust Russia and Europe, which will profit from cheap gas, politically and economically, through the growth of migration, drug trafficking and terrorism. The Lithuanians do not understand that one day the Americans will abandon them. Just as they abandoned their allies in Afghanistan.”
Why is there such a glorification of the Taliban on state television? One of the options is because Russia has already established contact with the Taliban. Lukashenko does not want to lag behind his “older brother”. Another option is that the Belarusian authorities have a long-standing and intense grudge against the United States. The USA has intensified the support of the democratic course of Belarus, and the government conducted high-level meetings with Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and the sanctions imposed. But it is most likely that the shaken Belarusian regime plans to make money from the misfortune of the Afghan people.
Over the past few years, cooperation with Afghanistan has been discussed quite often. In 2017, the Prime Minister of Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah, visited Minsk and met with Alexander Lukashenko. At the meeting, Lukashenko assured that the government of Belarus would do everything to build the foundation of relations with Afghanistan, strengthen them, fill them with concrete content, move from wishes, conversations to cooperation. “Be sure that your visit will be full of specific events. We will show you and tell you everything you want. If we can help our friendly Afghan people in the restoration of the economy, its development, I think we will do it.”, Lukashenko said.
Belarus and Afghanistan identified several promising areas of cooperation at that meeting. These are harmless mechanical engineering and machine tool construction, petrochemistry and oil refining, agriculture and personnel training. It is much more interesting than military-technical cooperation was announced in the proposed areas.
More than a year later, Prime Minister Sergei Rumas met with Afghan Prime Minister Abdullah Abdullah during a conference of the SCO Council of Heads of Government. The parties discussed the implementation of agreements on the development of cooperation, noted the friendly relations of the peoples and recalled the agreement of Abdullah Abdullah and Alexander Lukashenko. The meeting had a result. For the whole of 2017, the indicator of trade turnover between the countries amounted to 29.6 million. In 2018, it increased to $ 38.7 million.
Another meeting of representatives of Belarus and Afghanistan took place in April 2019. At the meeting of the Afghan-Belarusian committee for trade and economic cooperation in Kabul, Belarus and Afghanistan signed an agreement in the field of military-technical cooperation, information and culture, as well as commercial contracts for the supply of Belarusian products to Afghanistan. The parties discussed in detail the organization of export supplies of Belarusian goods and services, the organization of joint business and exhibition events.
In November 2020, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Tajikistan and Afghanistan, Oleg Ivanov, visited Afghanistan. The Ambassador made a presentation of Belarusian export opportunities in the context of expanding trade partnership with Afghanistan. He met with representatives of the business circles of Afghanistan and discussed the supply of Belarusian pharmaceutical products, machine-building and petrochemical products, and food products. Another meeting was in May of this year – Oleg Ivanov held talks with the Minister of Industry and Trade of Afghanistan, Nisar Ahmad Goryani.
Of all the variety of meetings, we will single out one – a meeting with Lukashenko, at which they discussed cooperation in the military-technical sphere. By the way, from 2016 to 2020, Belarus took 19th place in the list of the world’s largest arms exporters. The volume of exports amounted to 0.3% of the world, according to the report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) for 2020. Among the importers of Belarusian weapons, in particular, there is Afghanistan.
According to the RIA Novosti news agency, at the beginning of the 20-year war in Afghanistan, in 2001, Pakistan supplied them with weapons. However, there were US troops in the country and, accordingly, a lot of American weapons. Only American injections into the Afghan army for 20 years amounted to $ 83 billion. In 2010, you could buy an American collimator, a German assault rifle or a Japanese radio station everywhere for little money. The Taliban seized some weapons during the fighting and bought some more from the US-sponsored army and government. Although, the state claimed that the ammunition disappeared. According to the Taliban, the movement had only political contact with Russia, although the group is recognized as a terrorist group in the country.
What other arms exporters can the Taliban rely on? After the events in Afghanistan, France and Germany called on the world to unite in the face of terrorism. French President Emmanuel Macron said that it is impossible to allow Afghanistan, where the Taliban grabbed power, to become a haven for terrorist groups again. After the Taliban seized power, Germany sent three Bundeswehr planes to Afghanistan to evacuate its citizens. The President, the Federal Chancellor and the German Foreign Minister admitted that they underestimated the situation in Afghanistan. The UK also stated about the refusal to return to Afghanistan.
Turkey is one of the few countries from the top twenty arms exporters who supported the Taliban. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said about the readiness to cooperate with the Taliban and accepted its leaders. However, even though the country’s authorities are not against the Taliban, Turkey may be flooded with Afghan migrants fleeing through the territory of Iran. An enormous concrete wall is being built on the border with Iran. The Turkish authorities complain that Tehran does not stop illegal immigrants from Afghanistan.
China also intends to help Afghanistan under the new government. However, to establish diplomatic relations with Afghanistan, Chinese diplomats set a condition to restore order in the country. The representative of the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that it is necessary to “protect the legitimate interests of China and Russia in Afghanistan,” establish a timely exchange of information and effectively guarantee the safety of Chinese and Russian personnel, institutions and enterprises of the two countries. China promised to demand that the Taliban pursue a moderate and stable religious policy, work with all parties to form an open and inclusive political structure, and pursue a peaceful and friendly foreign policy.
Thus, Belarus is competing with its allies and main friends of Lukashenka – Russia, China and Turkey. However, China and Turkey produce fewer weapons than Russia. But Putin has Belarus at his side, which is unlikely to refuse his older brother to sponsor the Taliban with weapons. And in Belarus, after all, the Taliban is not considered a terrorist organization. For our country, the supply of weapons to Afghanistan will expand its presence in the Central Asian market and bring money to the weakening regime.
Another benefit for Lukashenka is the use of human resources, men, who can switch to the side of the people at a critical moment for the regime and protect Belarusians from punishers. On August 16, 2021, the Secretary-General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization Stanislav Zas said that preparations for the CSTO military exercises near the border of Tajikistan and Afghanistan have begun. Stanislav Zas noted that in the event of an aggravation of the situation and a threat to the security of Tajikistan, all necessary collective measures would be taken to assist the ally. The Belarusian military will go to help Tajikistan. A smaller number of soldiers will be ready to defend Belarus from possible interference (whether it is Lukashenka’s war against his people or the introduction of troops).
Any participation in the conflict in Afghanistan is beneficial for the fascist regime. It is an occasion to remind the Western countries what an ally (in the person of Lukashenka) they have lost and show that the illegitimate government will not disdain to use weapons against its neighbours if it wants. A kind of illusion of omnipotence and giving greater importance to Lukashenka in the hope of returning to the former legitimacy. This time, not only Belarusians but also foreigners can become the victim of a madman. And the only title that he deserves at this stage is the title of an international terrorist.