The struggle for the soul of opium state Afghanistan

The struggle for the soul of opium state Afghanistan

Now an old Afghanistan veteran, retired General Donroese, with whom Global Review has already conducted a number of interviews, has spoken out.

Ex-General sees mistakes in the West:“ The Taliban had no chance mathematically or technologically “ Within a few weeks, the Taliban took power in Afghanistan. This also surprises Hans-Lothar Domröse, as he admitted in an interview with Die Welt. The retired general was in command of the NATO Allied Joint Force Command in Brunssum, the Netherlands, from 2012 to 2016. In this role he was regularly in Afghanistan and is familiar with the subject. „The Taliban are actually inferior, mathematically and technologically they had no chance,“ says Domröse, about the unexpectedly rapid collapse of the Afghan Army (ANA), in which the US and its allies invested billions of dollars and 20 years of training. But suddenly one after the other in the heavily armed army tipped over, the little moped seemed to be getting faster and faster. „They just hum to themselves, but the others say: For God’s sake, a huge force is coming towards us – and throwing away their weapons.“

Ex-General on Afghanistan: „We have neglected the soul“ He also blames mistakes in the West for the chaos in the ANA. „We have obviously neglected the soul,“ said Domröse. “What for.” The army has been equipped and made ready for the weapon systems and logistics. What one has not seen is the question: „What am I doing all this for“, for my state, for my commander or for my president – that was obviously missing, and we underestimated that. At least I do. “ Corruption in the army was also a problem, according to Domröse. Generals have been caught diverting gasoline loads for the troops in order to refuel the oil heating in their private houses. „Then it can be explained that the normal little soldier said: If the general leaves, then I’ll leave too.“

Domroese correctly states that with all the technological equipment and training, the identification and the willingness to fight would have been missing on the part of the ANA. Indirectly, he still associates it with corruption, but only in the army, as if it were not much more widespread in the politics .But the point with the material added value for the broader population that the Chinese now But the point with the material added value for the broad population that the Chinese now want to bring in with their BRI project and that the West did not have a systematic development program , sees the German orientalist and sinologist Professor Van Ess as the real cause. Although this is of course more difficult to implement under war conditions. But there was no such strategic development concept from the West. You also have to see that parts of Afghan agriculture are used to grow opium and that the Taliban made themselves unpopular with the millions of opium farmers in the 1990s when they wanted to stop poppy cultivation. Later then NATO, when it destroyed opium fields, as these in turn were also an important source of income for the Taliban and Islamists (perhaps the opium fields of with NATO allied warlords were spared). The self-employed entrepreneur in Afghanistan is often an opium farmer. How the Taliban and the Chinese now want to proceed with the “opium state” Afghanistan reamins to be ssen The extent of drug cultivation is also assessed differently.While Afghanistan is source for at least of 60-80% of goabl opium trade, it is unclear which proportion the poppy sector has in Afghanistan.  While some experts see this as secondary, other authors speak of an opium state. In any case, it is correct that the Taliban and their new state must also develop further sources of finance in order to be reasonably functional.

“According to a UN report from June, the terrorist militia earns between $ 300 million and $ 1.6 billion annually. So between 256 million and 1.37 billion euros. In addition to foreign donations and the illegal mining of raw materials such as copper and iron, drug trafficking also accounts for a large proportion, according to Welt. 60 percent of the annual income can be traced back to the cultivation and sale of opium or heroin. This emerges from the report of the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan from May. A US official is quoted there accordingly. This source has been bubbling for years, even though the US wanted to dry it up with air strikes on suspected laboratories and searches.

 Taliban and the finances: Drug trafficking in the country also makes farmers happy

However, these tactics only fueled anger at the West-backed government. Because for many farmers and workers, opium production is the basis for feeding their families. Rather, the sympathy values ​​of the Taliban, which provided the people with appropriate work, increased. The Islamists had galloped themselves in 2000 when they forbade the cultivation of poppy seeds for opium production in the hope of international recognition. „That triggered a huge political storm against the Taliban and was one reason why there were dramatically many defectors after the US invasion,“ quotes Die Welt US scientist Vanda Felbab-Brown from the US think tank „Brookings Institution“.

Taliban and finance: Fees for imports and exports are collected at checkpoints

David Mansfield, one of the leading researchers on drug trafficking in Afghanistan, estimates the amount generated with illegal opiates to be significantly lower. He puts the local income at 40 million US dollars (34 million euros) annually. The Taliban would earn far more money at roadside checkpoints if fees were charged for legal imports and exports. Charles Kupchan, an expert at the US think tank “Council on Foreign Relations”, also expects the Taliban to find more innovative sources of income. He expects huge tax increases because the Islamists would tax almost everything in the areas they control. Taliban and finance: Are the Islamists looking for contact with the international community? At the same time, however, they also seem to be looking at economic aid from abroad. Presumably for this reason, the Taliban are trying to create a good image and appear to be refined and modern. Kupchan suspects that „the Taliban will try to build a reputation so that they can address the international community.“

Because no big money transfers are to be expected from China: “The Chinese are very trade-oriented. They are more interested in countries with a good business environment, in countries in which they can build their new Silk Roads. ”According to the International Monetary Fund, the reserves of the Afghan central bank had reached 9.4 billion US dollars at the end of April (a good eight billion Euros), but a large part is outside the country. The Taliban can hardly rely on aid money either. According to the World Bank, they accounted for 43 percent of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product of 19.81 billion US dollars (almost 17 billion euros) last year, but several countries had frozen their payments as a result of the terrorist militia taking power. So also Germany, one of the most important donor countries. „”

( Münchner Merkur, August 19th 2021)

However, the Chinese hink they have better understood the concept of added value, especially under material and economic aspects and especially as materialistic Marxists trained in political economy. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen to what extent the Taliban are now also sophisticated in state arts and interested economically or if  the religious-ideological factor is more dominant. And to what degree the Taliban want a modernization and be part of the New Silkroad, infrastrcuture projects, mining industry, be a  transit country with transit fees as income and maybe interested in oil and gas pipelines as once the US oil company UNOCAL tried to build under the Taliban goverment in the 90s or even the old TAPI project (Turkmenistan- Afghanistan- Pakistan- India) or maybe now TAPC( Turkemnistan- Afghanistan- Pakistan- China), the Chinese still don´t know exactly yet either, but hope for it.

 The Chinese hope to convince the Taliban of the advantages of their alleged win-win situation of the BRI, to promise the Taliban economic and geopolitical advantages, and act according to Lenin’s motto: “The capitalists will also supply us the ropes by which we hang them “, will try to economically involve and corrupt the elites, especially since China also have a holistic and comprehensive development project for Afghanistan that the West did not have. But the Taliban are neither capitalists nor Western, they could also perceive the Chinese lifestyle as godless and Western, even if the Chinese claim to be Eastern or Eurasian and how Ummah idea and Taliban values fit to the diversity of civilizations, the great human society for common goods, the Xi Jinping thoughts, Confucianism and Socialism with Chinese characters. It is not for nothing that Beijing has started an intercultural dialogue with the Taliban, probably in the hope of softening the ideological superstructure a little bit for the economic substructure.It will be interesting to see if and when a Confucius Institute will be opened in Kabul, and whether the Taliban will then rebuild the Buddha statues in Bamian along the old and new Silk Road. Also how atheist-secular Xi thoughts and Islamism and Ummah get along – perhaps under the general formula of dialogue and the diversity of cultures for a common good of humanity. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt would leave the pyramids standing ala AKP Islamism, also because of the tourism income, but Islamists ala Taliban or Islamic State would blow them up like the Buddha statues in Bamian, the old library in Timbuktu in Mali or the sites in Palmira . One can almost be glad that the Buddha grottoes of Dunhuang are under Chinese and not ETIM rule, even though the Red Guards would have destroyed them during the Cultural Revolution if Zhou Enlai hadn’t intervened.

Especially as China just signedthe China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and a 25 years treaty with Iran and the Islamic Emirate Afghanistan shall become the transit country for it . But it will also be important that not only a few urban centers and their elite develop, as seemed to be the case with the US involvement (villas and shopping malls in Kabul), but also to what extent Afghanistan is economically an opium state and wants to reform its agricultural sector. And how the financial system, Islamic banking (no interest rates) and Yuan or now digital Yuan for crossborder deals will fit together and if this could be harmonized. And the extent to which a possible modernization does not lead to dissatisfaction, conflicts with traditional and religious values, polarization and new internal struggles, especially since there is also the question of whether there is a kind of Taliban Deng or if the Taliban are more interested to remain a dominantly medieval feudalistic agrarian society with strict Sharia laws. Or become some sort of Wahhabist Saudiarabia with economic development, but strict religious laws, but for sure not as advanced as Muhammed Bin Salmann and his Vision 2035 with woman at universities, driving cars and founding start-ups. The Khmer Rouge of Pol Pot had a seat in the UNO during the Cold War supported by China and the West and the question is if the Taliban also wants that and what influence this has on itself and if they wnat it and who supprots it besides China and Russia. At the moment China and Russia make all this dependent on the practical conduct of the Taliban in the hope for an educational , cultivating and moderating effect.

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