EIR LEAD EDITORIAL FOR SATURDAY, JULY 10, 2021
Overcome the Underdevelopment of Afghanistan: A Vision of Peace and Prosperity for the Entire Region
July 9, 2021 (EIRNS)—Intense diplomacy is underway concerning Afghanistan, with the U.S. pullout now announced to be completed as of Aug. 31, according to President Biden’s press briefing yesterday. Taliban representatives were in Moscow the same day, and also in Tehran. They conveyed a message to China in an interview in South China Morning Post. Russian President Vladimir Putin and other officials have been in close contact with Tajikistan leaders. Today, India Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar was in Moscow, after making a stop yesterday in Tehran, on late notice, but meeting with President-elect Ebrahim Raisi.
On July 12, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi starts a four-day trip to Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, at the request of the foreign ministers of those three countries bordering Afghanistan. There will be a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers, and foreign ministers of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, which is expected to release a joint statement on regional security.
On the ground, the Taliban, according to a cross-grid of various reports, control some 85% of the territory of Afghanistan, including two-thirds of the lands bordering Tajikistan, and key locations bordering Iran. Earlier this week, some 1,040 servicemen of the Afghan national security forces retreated into Tajikistan for refuge. The danger of prolonged civil war is great, but with the many complicated dynamics, the only way forward is through strategic cooperation among the major powers, to create the context for development-based change.
Schiller Institute President Helga Zepp-LaRouche addressed this on July 7 in her weekly webcast, giving a short history of the geopolitical strife forced upon this region, up through and including the drug scourge.
“If we now look at the situation, the drug production in Afghanistan increased by 45% in the last year. Afghanistan produces over 80% of the entire opium production for the world. Now, if you just leave the situation and don’t do anything to give encouragement and incitement to change that, the danger is that the different forces in Afghanistan will increase the drug production to finance whatever military operations they are conducting. ISIS is now in the north of Afghanistan.
“So, I think there should be a serious review: Afghanistan is one of the obvious regions where a change from geopolitics to cooperation is really the reasonable approach. We have been pushing an economic development plan for Afghanistan and the entire region over many years, and for example, in 2012, the Russian representative for the fight against drugs, Viktor Ivanov had proposed from the Russian side a development plan which was quite extensive. It was the idea that Siberian science cities should be mobilized for the industrialization of Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries, and they wanted to make that proposal, which was a comprehensive proposal the subject of a summit of the G8. Now the G7, if people remember, kicked out Russia in 2014, so it became a G7 and that summit unfortunately never took place. But now it is very clear that the only way how you can stabilize the situation in Afghanistan, how you can have any hope for the improvement of human rights, for women, for education, is, you have to have a real plan for industrial development, bringing in infrastructure, industry, modernizing the country by making it wealthy, and that way you can effect the changes which are obviously important.
“Now, the previous President Hamid Karzai has mentioned many times that he would welcome the New Silk Road in Afghanistan, and the Chinese have clearly expressed interest; the Iranians and also Pakistan is denying U.S. bases in Pakistan to operate from there inside Afghanistan, by making the argument that if you cannot win the war in 20 years, forget about doing it from bases in Pakistan.
“My proposal has been, and is again: that if all the countries that are concerned about the opium, the potential danger of terrorism, should join hands—that is, Russia, China, India, which is also very much concerned about Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and then, the United States should cooperate. They should not have left; they should have brought in the Army Corps of Engineers, and joined hands with these other countries to build up Afghanistan. Now, under these conditions, I think some European countries could also want to be participants in that, because Afghanistan refugees are repeatedly not so great in terms of not being integrated in European countries. So there is an absolute interest of all the countries I just named, to stop thinking in terms of us defeating the other major power for geopolitical purposes, and move to a new phase and overcome the underdevelopment of Afghanistan, and the entire region!
“The region should be taken as one, and rebuilt, Iraq, Syria, Yemen; there are lots of things to be done to make this region a prosperous region of the world. And there is a great tradition, the Abbasid dynasty in the 9th century A.D., that was a period where there was the high point of Classical culture, and that is something to reconnect to. I think the United Arab Emirates have done so recently by having a successful Mars mission. Now, that means leapfrogging over long periods of underdevelopment and catching up with the rest of the world in vanguard technologies. And I think you need a vision like that for that region to bring peace and prosperity.”