Legătura eurasiatică - ЕВРАЗИЙСКАЯ СВЯЗЬ -
major events of august 2021 compiled from over 100 surces
- history from 1919 to 1979 - scenarios and disinfo
Welcome friends to "The Eurasian Link" monthly magazine. Here you will read about pressing Eurasian issues along with cultural and historical articles. In the future the magazine will be in multiple languages, aside English we will also translate articles into Russian, Persian, Chinese and Romanian. If you wish to contribute with original material, information or translations please send an email to: contact@ﬂorincosma.ro All the best to you Florin Cosma
CONTENTS No. 6
Eurasian culture 4 - call to action
6 Russia and Belarus 13
- Belarus and the west - russia and the 2036 summer olympics - russia and china in afghanistan
- Housing Crisis - On the sidelines of Raeisi’s inauguration - talks with macron - Iranian regional relations
Dossier 17 afghanistan
- history from 1919 to 1979 - scenarios and disinfo
movie area 35
- operation mekong - ip man
- China and asean on education - vietnam and laos - us flop in asean
a call to action We live in a key time for Eurasia. The events in the headlines of newspapers and on the first pages of news sites indicate one thing, change. We must take this opportunity and promote panEurasian cultural changes.
he process of building Eurasia, which as I have said on other occasions will take decades or maybe centuries, must be based on a certain cultural homogenization. Man in general does not “think” for longer periods of time, we plan our days, weeks, months, sometimes even years but when it comes to decades we can not make a definite plan. We don’t know what forms our dreams will take. Let’s take the example of Romania which has changed quite a bit in some respects in the last 3 decades, as well as in the last 8 decades and so on. If we look now at the language we clearly see a great presence of English words. In contrast, say, 20 years ago when these english words came as neologisms that had no equivalent in Romanian like
”internet” or ”hard disk”, now these words replace Romanian terms. This is a cultural transformation and a homogenization with the AngloSaxon world. At the individual level, for months or years, we do not see or feel this transformation but the changes have huge impact as time goes on. Given this small example, it is important that all those who fight for the Eurasian cause in the cultural area know that it is important that they, in time, inject cross-cultural elements into their specific areas. All Eurasian powers need to contribute to this process of cultural friendship by producing artistic goods of high quality and value that contain specific ellements for assimilation into all Eurasian cultures.
We are entering an era built on the visual factor and this contributes (as an example) favorably to the spread of the Chinese way of writing. These characters can be used even if someone does not actually know Chinese/Mandarin. Such cooperation is needed among the various economic branches to promote Chinese writing from Lisbon to Vladivostok and from Siberia to southern Indonesia. I said economic branches because it is necessary for these graphic elements to start to be seen gradually in key areas. Learning from the experience of Western marketing, Chinese characters and Eurasian landmarks must become a commonplace on all things starting from apparel. It is important to promote (in Europe) non-Western artistic products much more often than we do today. We can start at the interpersonal level in our circle of friends and acquaintances in case the political climate is against us. Otherwise, it is necessary to encourage and support film and music festivals with content and performers from non-Western states and preferably even non-European ones (the West does not include Eastern Europe). European art must
also be promoted in Asian countries. Returning to the idea of cultural homogenization. Take for example pop music from Syria and the possibility for widespread succes in Finland. The chances are very small because cultural discrepancies do not allow this. It is therefore necessary for those Syrian music products to adopt elements familiar to Finns and for Finns to be open to certain Syrian cultural elements. We can easily reduce everything to the level of the universal, but this will not lead to culture. As can be seen, such an approach has been used by the United States mainly in cinema but also in other fields. Being in a visual age, it is normal for cinema to be targeted. At present, American film does not produce culture, it is a perishable marketing product like a newspaper. Its effects are temporary, unlike films made before the 1990s, maybe 2000s, which generally produced symbolic characters. I will write more about these issues in the coming period. Until then, I invite you to arouse your curiosity and choose trips to more “exotic” destinations, musical, cinematic or literary trips, whatever your heart desires.
Iran's housing crisis
inflation has hit the housing market
he World Bank published in it’s “Iran Economic Monitor” Spring 2021 edition an outline of Iran’s current housing sector. It has been noted that in less than a year, 2020-2021, the price for housing have registered even 80% growth, especially in Tehran, while rents have also gone up by about 40%. As a measure to control this inflation the government doubled taxes for vacant real estate properties under a corporation’s ownership and the tax will go up with every year that property is not occupied. In addition, rent subsidies and loan assistance is now also provided for those with low income and, it seems, a cap was imposed on rent increases. Last year, an advisor of Teheran’s mayor said that 700.000 people were sleeping in care houses in 2020 while
in the country as a whole it was reported back in 2017 by Abbas Akhoondi, the former Minister of Roads and Urban Development that “about 19 million people in Iran are marginalized and homeless”. Keeping this in mind, along with the high inflation (that is seen not only in the housing sector) a very grim picture of living standards seems to be drawn. Work on a National Housing Action Plan began in 2018 with the objective of building 400.000 housing units (no end date), around half in satellite cities of Tehran and being either in partnership with the private sector or fully state bult. The project had, until now, two phases in May 2020 and in July this year with a total of 40.000 houses built. To put things in perspective (the Iranian figures only counts the units built in the contexts
of this plan, not adding the entirely private projects) only in the region of Moscow, Russia, over 80.000 houses were built in a single year in 2019. The current (at the time of writing) Transport and Urban Development Minister, Mohammad Eslami, said that during the registration process over 2.5 million people applied for homes out of which 530.000 have received an approval. The Housing Plan has a ”sister project” developed in the context of rural development and until now resulted in the construction of 2 million units, according to Zolfaqar Yazdanmehr, deputy head of the Housing Foundation. This foundation is planning to build around 140.000 houses in rural areas until March 2022. Welfare Organization is promising to start construction on 10.000 houses for underprivileged people this year. Another important development is that in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Transport and Urban Development Ministry developed a plan to build 10.000 ”affordable” houses for the country’s journalists and artists. Mehr
government project which was started a few decades ago, announced that 51.000 houses had been build across the country, an investment of nearly 6 billion yuan. But why is the situation so dire with all these plans and projects? Official statistics show that 3 million housing unit are abandoned and another 3 million are underused. Moreover, officials have targeted the banks as playing a role in the housing crisis. “Only one bank possesses the keys of 1,000 residential units” said Mahmoud Mahmoudzadeh, Deputy Minister of Road and Urban Developments in Housing Affairs. The new tax on empty houses I mentioned earlier is also, apparently, not widely implemented according to recent news reports. Iran faces many challenges but regarding their construction industry, as I understand, has all the capabilities to overcome obstacles. In parallel, the financial sector should be instructed and monitored in a way that encourages citizens to rent or buy houses houses (in a particularly hard economic period) and the judiciary should make more of an effort to curb unethical and illegal practices.
On the sidelines of Raeisi’s inauguration + talks with macron
+ Iranian regional relations
n August 5 the swearing-in ceremony of Raeisi as the new Iranian president was held in the building of Iran’s Parliament in Tehran. More than 100 officials from 73 countries sent their representative to the inauguration. The event itself is very important because the president has the opportunity to set certain directions even if the supreme leader would have the greatest levers in the field of foreign relations and security. I want to talk to you about what was was on the sidelines. The Chairman of the House of Representatives of Belarus, Vladimir Andreichenko, while transmitting Lukashenko’s congratulatory message talked about economic and trade cooperation and “Belarus-Iran interaction in international organizations”. After that he met with Bagher Ghalibaf, Chairman of the Islamic Parliament of Iran and Vyacheslav Volodin, Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation. All three are interested in developing ties and
the present times need greater cooperation and synchronization with their actions. Prior to the Ukrainian coup, Kiev had an important potential for strategic cooperation with Iran. Their cooperation for the moment is however limited and I do not see much possibility for improvement until the current regime in Kiev is ousted. Ghalibaf also met with his counterpart, Mustafa Şentop, from Turkey to which he said ”The oppressive sanctions and the coronavirus epidemic have significantly reduced the level of exchanges between the two countries” saying clearly that the external non-Eurasian power have hampered their ties. Şentop made an interesting declaration that ”IranTurkey anti-terrorism consultations and talks on regional issues, including developments in Afghanistan, are essential. We believe that the talks between the two countries prevent the interference of foreigners and serve
the interests of the people of the region”. As a reminder, Turkey and Iran together with Afghanistan created a ”tripartite system” to monitor and act in accordance to one another about developments in the context of the Taliban takeover. While Russia and Belarus have all the desire to develop relations with Iran I am beginning to think that Turkey is no longer that interested in such a direction. Ankara, or better said Erdogan, has a far reaching ”Turkic” strategy to create a diplomatic corridor to the mainly Turkic Central Asian states which already have the attention of Moscow and Beijing and to some extent Tehran.
Raeisi said in a talk with Macron that Iran is not negotiating its security Newly elected Iranian president, Ayatollah Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi, held a telephone conversation with President Macron of France today. The one hour long talk was centered around the stalemate in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). According to the Raeisi, ”by imposing new sanctions, the Americans have clearly violated their obligations and even extended
the new sanctions humanitarian aspects”.
As a reminder, Iran is under illegal sanction because of actions taken by the former Trump regime. The United States does not permit most types of economic activities between the international community and the Islamic Republic. In essence this is an offensive action directed both towards Iran and against any other company or individual who wants to do business there. France and Iran have strong cultural relations in the modern era and such is the case also with Germany. These two countries are Iran’s two main Western “partners” regarding the JCPOA who also have strong economic and political interests to resume trade and cooperation. Iran is deeply disappointed at Europe for their inability to keep the United States in line with formerly agreed upon deals. This weakness since then has expanded inside the European Union. Regarding security and stability, Raeisi said: “In any negotiation, the rights of the Iranian people must be upheld and the interests of our nation must be ensured”. This means that the new government in Tehran is not willing to back down and will
pursue a hard line even in the context of internal economic hardships which pressure the political elites into achieving some sort of breakthrough in talks. Might be that Iran’s strong stance is built upon their strategic partnerships with Russia and China. President Macron congratulated his Iranian counterpart on his inauguration, important because western media mostly concentrated on the “sham” of the elections, and said: “Iran and France can play a role in establishing peace and stability in the region through their cooperation”. If this gesture of calling for cooperation is not empty talk, like much of what European countries do regarding Iran, it could signal a shift. In relation to the structural changes being in progress in the system of world governance it might seem that France is looking to counterbalance Turkey in the region with an ally in Iran.
Iran and Turkey to hold 7th Cooperation Council this year On 11 August Iranian president Ebrahim Raeisi held a telephone conversation with President Recep Erdogan of Turkey in which they
discussed bilateral and regional cooperation. The Iranians published strong remarks in the press but not unusually bold regarding Israel while the Turkish media largely mentioned the conversation in the context of two other calls by Erdogan that day with the President of Afghanistan and of Togo. Raeisi said that ”Tehran and Ankara’s cooperation bears many benefits for the Muslim Ummah.”. In Persian Ummah is اand means nation. In this context it refers to the Muslim population regardless of countries. The word comes from the Arabic ٔ اand means community. He also raised the Palestinian issue by saying that ”assisting the oppressed and defenseless people of Palestine and saving them from the Zionists’ aggression is never taken off our joint agenda”. Not much information came from the Turkish side, or at least no powerful statements. He thanked Tehran for it’s assistance in fighting the forest fires and also mentioned the Supreme Joint Cooperation Council which should be convened in Tehran in the near future. In the context of the council the two presidents will probably meet. The
Council was formed in 2014 by former Iranian president Hassan Rouhani together with Erdogan. The ministerial level reunion is the first of this kind in their bilateral relations.
Iraqi and Pakistani talks and Iranian and Saudi negotiations Iraqi minister of foreign affairs, Dr. Fuad Hussein, went to Pakistan for a two day meeting with his counterpart, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, starting on 11 August. It seems that the two countries are interested in developing a strong and diversified relationship. The two signed a memorandum of understanding on “bilateral political consultations” meaning that Pakistan and Iraq will consult eachother on bilateral issues as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest. In addition to this meeting Dr. Hussein has plans to meet with other Pakistani ministers indicating that Iraq is indeed interested in developing the ties with Islamabad. While it is worth keeping an eye on their developing relationship another
piece of information was transmitted with the occasion of their joint press statement. Fuad Hussein declared that his country is continuing efforts to defuse tensions between some countries in the region and that “Iranian and Saudi officials are negotiating on some of their issues in Baghdad”. The Iraqi diplomat went to Iran yesterday (10 August ) and handed Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s (Iraqi prime minister) invitation to president Raeisi to participate at a “conference of the neighboring countries” which will be held in Baghdad. There he also met with Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif and Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani. It seems that the main issue discussed by the Iranians and Saudis is the situation in Yemen. According to the spokesman of Iraq’s Foreign Ministry “Baghdad seeks to end the severance of ties between Tehran and Riyadh”. Saudi Arabia and Iran are having talks for some time in Iraq aimed to normalize their relations. These talks might even go so far back as prior to Soleimani’s assasination on the order of Donald Trump. Iranian media was saying at that time that Soleimani’s mission
was to meet with Saudi officials. I believe we will se the results of these talked during the conference Iraq is planning to organize between neighboring countries with the help of France.
Hossein AmirAbdollahian, Iran’s new foreign minister The Iranian parliament voted yesterday the new government and all, with the exception of proposed Education Minister Hossein Baghgoli, were given the green light to start their work. As a matter of fact, judging from the amount of negative votes, the second most underappreciated minister was that of youth and sports, Seyyed Hamid Sajjadi. The Iranian press is talking about the fact that Baghgoli is related to the wife of President Raeisi, and we can interpret the Majlis’s vote as a message to the president. Raeisi’s economic team is described as oriented towards centralized state industry and is less prepared in the free market and globalization aspects. With the exception of civilian consumer products, all major enterprises are owned by the Iranian state.
I particularly want to talk about Iran’s new foreign minister, ا ن ا (Hossein AmirAbdollahian). This is a diplomat with experience especially in diplomatic relations with Arab and African countries, in connection with which he was deputy minister for 3 years. Iran therefore has continuity in foreign affairs but how AmirAbdollahian will exercise these powers remains to be seen. He was born in 1964 in Damghan and moved towards diplomacy in 1991 when he graduated from the Faculty of Foreign Relations. He received a master’s degree in 1996 from the Faculty of Law and Political Science of the University of Tehran and a doctorate in international relations from the same university. Regarding the priorities, a foreign policy based on principles other than those of the nuclear negotiations was mentioned. The country will certainly remain in the Eurasian system (Hossein was already congratulated by his Russian counterpart) but I do not know to what extent the country will continue its European cooperation under the current conditions.
any neutrality in fact. We are a neutral state in line with the Constitution, yet we are a member of the CSTO military and political organization and so on. Is it right? Of course, it is. This is a boost to our security (…) there are two options here: either we define our state as not neutral in the Constitution, or we do not write anything about it at all”. It may be possible that the new constitution will remove any mention of neutrality since, in reality, Belarus can no longer afford neutrality. The road to the completion of the Union State is thus coming to a much delayed end.
a small country that successfully resists Western aggression
elarus will more than likely have a new constitution until the year’s end or the least until spring 2022. Piotr Miklashevich, the Chairman of the Constitutional Court (and of the Constitutional Commission) declared today that a first draft of the new constitution will be handed to the president before September 1st. One of the main changes promised by Lukashenko is a transfer of power attributes to the Belarusian People’s Congress. What exactly will change is not known and we must wait for this autumn. Another interesting change could be that related to neutrality. At present neutrality is written in the constitution but as president Lukashenko said: “There is hardly
Regarding Belarus’s international stance there are a few pieces of information I want to bring to your attention. First of all a very interesting article published by political scientist Aleksandr Shpakovsky on belta.by under the title “Belarus and its allies successfully resist Western sanctions” brings up the image of a united front against Western aggression. “There is a certain plan that the collective West is implementing in relation to Belarus. And now we are, let’s say, at the final stages of this plan. This is economic strangulation
of our state, since all other methods failed” he says continuing by listing the previous stages, the failed color revolution, the failed nation-wide strikes and the failed coup. I personally have no doubt that this fourth stage will also fail because Belarus has very strong allies and all these allies have greatly heightened their cooperation in the past months. Talking with American media on 9 August, president Lukashenko said “you [the USA] do mayhem all over the world and dare talk to me about repressions” marking a new deterioration in relations between the two countries while also speaking, largely, the truth. Somewhat linked to this, Belarus announced on August 11 that US Ambassador to Belarus, Julie Fisher, must pack her bags and go home because she is no longer accepted in the country and in addition the US Embassy must reduce its staff to 5 people by September 1st. Anatoly Glaz, minister of foreign affairs of Belarus said regarding this action that: “taking into consideration economic strangulation of our country, we see no objective reasons for such a significant diplomatic presence of the United States in Belarus”.
to host 2036 summer Olympics
avrov said this Friday (13 August) that Russia is interested in holding the 2036 summer Olympics. The last time Russia held a summer Olympics (not including the winter event in Sochi from 2014) was during the Soviet Union period in 1980. For me that event has the most emblematic logo of all followed by the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Until 2036 the summer Olympics are planned as follows: 2024 în Paris, 2028 in Los Angeles, 2032 in Brisbane, Australia. While these events are sportive by nature and intention their backbone is deeply political. Truth be told, the Olympics have been recreated as an international event in order to offer a symbolic and somewhat practical event where all countries, friend or foe, could be present. In reality this was rarely the case.
Boycotts have plagued the games in modern times because politics dictate where the money and attention is directed. The summer Olympics of 2020 in Japan held in 2021 because of the pandemic suffered from this politicization especially regarding the situation of Russia’s Olympic team (5th according to total medals) or that small scandal involving an athlete from Belarus.
Russia’s desire to hold the 2036 Olympics is an important and strong statement if we take into account the global power war. Let’s stop for a moment and think about how the world will be like in that year. My opinion is that it will be very different from our present time but don’t let me influence your judgement, how do you see the year 2036?
Russia and China spearhead the efforts to contain the dangers in Afghanistan
ntense discussions are being held over the phone between the major powers and Afghanistan’s neighbors. The situation in the country is barely predictable and tense. While the “Western group” has little interest left regarding a peaceful outcome of the Afghan dilemma, it’s neighbors and the main Eurasian forces, Russia and China, need to find a way towards stabilization.
Russia’s and China’s united perspective regarding Afghanistan acts as a galvanizing force for all countries in the region and in the context of the American exit they are the only ones who have the capacity to create stability. Another military intervention is in my opinion out of the question however a migrant crisis seems to be looming. Few countries are willing to help in the event of a massive migration. I have little pretensions from any Asian
country but those of the “Western group” must be prepared to act accordingly.
the country. It is important for the Chinese to maintain a strong strategic dialogue with Islamabad.
The day of 18 August, a Wednesday, was somewhat special regarding interstate dialogue with Afghanistan’s security as the main subject. Putin talked over the phone with the presidents of Tajikistan and Iran. Tajikistan is holding the presidency of both CSTO and SCO this year and as a neighbor of Afghanistan is beginning to play an important role. Iran is set to become a full member of the SCO this year, an important event both for the Islamic Republic but also for the Eurasian project. Iran has historical and cultural ties with Afghanistan, they even provide shelter and a chance for life for millions of Afghan refugees, a situation which even permeated their cinematography.
The discussion Wang Yi had with his Turkish counterpart was centered around Afghanistan and the prospect of cooperation between Beijing and Ankara regarding this issue. The two countries share many common interests and this is shown by their deep cooperation. While not many issues are immediately resolved with these talks they do offer a birds-eye view to the diplomatic actions undertaken.
On the same day, China through the voice of Wang Yi (foreign minister) talked with the foreign ministers of Pakistan and Turkey almost exclusively about Afghanistan. Pakistan has become a close ally of Beijing and it also wields great power in relation with the Taliban. Sources say that Pakistani secret services have helped the Taliban with their strategy of reconquering
Afghanistan PART 1 1919 1979 History A
n February 1919 the modern era begins for Afghanistan with the coming to power of Amanullah Khan. Totally different from his predecessor, he initiates in just a few months the Afghan War for Independence against the United Kingdom. The conflict, also known as the third Anglo-Afghan war, lasted until august. From that moment the country acquired the opportunity to interact directly diplomatically and economically with other states. We must take into account the
historical context, at that time the first World War was taking place in Europe. The Central Powers sought to draw Afghanistan into the conflict on their side and to thus open a front in Central Asia. The Afghans, however, opted to use the situation to break away from the British. For about 4 decades this influence was manifested by corrupting the Afghan leaders and forbidding any form of external interaction for them. Discontent was expected among the population and a part of the elite and so the intervention of the United Kingdom in the First World War was the opportunity they waited for. Amanullah proved to be an outward-looking and peopleoriented leader. He founded an Air Force with the help of planes
donated by the Soviet Union and in 1928 he made a series of trips through Africa and Europe where he was greeted by the leaders of Egypt, Italy, France, Great Britain, Germany, Poland and finally the USSR. Internally his reforms took several stages. According to Zalmai Hotak the most important was between 1919 and 1923 when the main administrative reforms necessary for the new stage of the state were adopted. At the economic level, infrastructure works, road networks, railway lines and telephone lines were initiated and the national industry was supported by the import of machinery from Germany, the prohibition of certain imports and the negotiation of export contracts. In the cultural area schools were opened and newspapers (owned by the state) were founded, later even a radio station. A cinema hall and a National Library were erected in Kabul alongside a theater hall in Paghman. Apparently the people were eager for modernization and actively engaged in the actions of the government, including women. Something happened, though. In 1924, the Khost uprising against Westernization efforts and reforms broke out. It was suppressed in January 1925.
Amanullah’s European trip provided the ideal opportunity for the opposition in the country to regroup and finally embark on a march to Kabul. Some tribes opposed the modernization plans and apparently the situation of women (who were getting more involved in society) was considerably at the base of an uprising of the Pashtun Shinwari tribe. To extinguish this danger, Amanullah used the aviation created with support from the Soviets and in fact even turned to Soviet pilots to attack rebel positions. This led to an explosion of riots because the use of ”infidels” to subjugate Muslims apparently did not please many. Amanullah abdicated on January 14, 1929 and was followed for 3 days by his brother who also abdicated in favor of/under pressure from Habibullah Kalakani who took over for nearly a year. Kalakani was born in northern Kabul and was of Tajik ethnicity. He fought during the war of independence on the side of Amanullah’s army and during the Khost uprising was decorated for his efforts in eliminating the insurgents. But it is said that at some point, it is not known why, he defected and fled to occupied India where he was arrested for 11 months by the British. After that, for 3 years, he joined a gang of bandits. Because he ruled for such a short
period there are not many facts left of his activity. What I can say with certainty is that he has not been recognized by any other state as the ruler of Afghanistan. Towards the end of the year, in December, his end came at the hands of Mohammed Nadir Shah, a close friend of the former king, a general since the war of independence, former ambassador to Paris and Minister of war. After the removal of Kalakani, Nadir Shah proclaimed himself king and refused Amanullah’s return to the country. Some historians even speak of a possible support given by Nadir Shah to the insurgents which gave him the excuse to return with an army and liberate the country, keeping it for himself.
general Nadir Shah and one of the valued fighters, Kalakani. Kalakani was perhaps betrayed by one of his shadow supporters, Nadir Shah, while he also betrayed his former comrades who, becoming ”Amanullah loyalists,” began to actively oppose him.
Some reforms continued. New infrastructure projects were started and Kabul University opened in 1932. Other actions, especially those in the administrative sphere, retracted certain reforms, establishing a kind of royal oligarchy.
His reign came to an end on November 8, 1933 when he was shot by Abdul Khaliq Hazara during a school ceremony. Khaliq Hazara was part of the somewhat extensive group of Amanullah loyalists. So we have some great betrayals. Amanullah was betrayed by both his
Modernization has proved difficult to implement. Although many segments of the population wanted reforms, in the history of Afghanistan (as in any other place) a handful of people with traditionalist approaches were often enough to hinder progress or even lead to stagnation. Afghanistan
S hah Khan’s
and ris e
to p ower
Mohammed Zahir Shah followed his father as ruler over the Afghans in November 1933. At that time he was 19 years old and in the context of his father’s assasination he ceded power to his paternal uncles, Mohammad Hashim Khan and Shah Mahmoud Khan, who acted as prime ministers. Zahir had an expensive education beginning with an English school in Kabul, Habibia, built in 1903 and continuing with a school erected under Amanullah’s rule by France.
appears on the map as a result of the independence movements and finally the ”partition of India” on religious grounds. This began to produce a number of ideas in the minds of Afghan officials, for Mahmud Khan less as in the case of his successor. A substantial percentage of Afghans are ethnic Pashtuns and in Pakistan there was (and is) at least as large a number of Pashtuns, now almost triple. The border between the two states is called the ”Durand Line” and dates back to 1893. Mohammed Zahir Shah (19142007) For higher education he traveled to France and enrolled at the Pasteur Institute and the University of Montpellier. Hashim Khan was prime minister from 1933 to 1946 and essentially took over much of the authority of the state and ruled the country in an autocratic way. He naturally joined Germany at that time and was willing to provide support to German plans for the Indian colony of the British empire. Under pressure from the USSR and Great Britain, he agreed to expel all Nazi agents and opted for a neutral position in the war. Mahmud Khan succeeded him in 1946 as prime minister and served until 1953. In august 1947 Pakistan
Let us bear in mind that Afghanistan could not really be an independent state as long as its foreign policy and diplomatic relations were coordinated from London or by various English military leaders in the region. Prior to the declaration of this border drawn on the knees, Afghanistan controlled important portions of what is today Pakistan. In this sense, we can consider a foreign policy of the Afghan elites focused on regaining those territories with predominantly Pashtun populations as normal. During Mahmud Khan’s time as prime minister, two parliamentary elections were held in 1949 and 1952, very different from what we understand today by elections and in no way representative of people’s political will. What was beginning to be put on its feet, however, was a
Mohammed Daoud Khan (19091978) party system, a reform that was long delayed. Mohammed Daoud Khan became prime minister in 1953 and held this position until 1963. After that he held another role that we will get to later. Daoud Khan, like previous premiers, was related to the royal family. He was born in Kabul in the family of diplomat Mohammed Aziz Khan, the son of the half-brother of Nadir Shah, the one who betrayed Amanullah Khan. As a political-administrative orientation he began to approach the USSR and seek their support for a possible reunification on ethnic grounds with the Pashtun regions of Pakistan. This generated a series of frictions with the neighbor to the south that in a few instances degenerated into small armed
conflicts, usually on the Afghan initiative. In 1961 Pakistan cut diplomatic and economic ties with the Afghans and the action led to greater dependence on Soviet support. At the social and economic level his policy was reformist. A number of infrastructure projects (such as the one in the Helmand Valley) have significantly improved the quality of life and women’s empowerment has been started. On his initiative, a Ministry of Planning was set up to deal with the direct intervention of the state in the economy through industrialization projects in the form of ”five-year” plans. On a social level, the compulsory head covering for women has been eliminated and this generated discontent among the religious people. The government reacted promptly and forcefully, leading to executions of clerics and the Ulema Council was closed. The way he handled the relationship with Pakistan, specifically the fact that he was always trying to provoke them, led him to direct conflict with King Zahir Shah and in 1963 he submitted his resignation. After a decade in which he had almost full power follows a decade in which he largely disappears from public life only to later return in force. It was during this period when he was far from the helm of the state that he began to
develop a new political outlook. He started by making friends among the radical left, the one that was antimonarchist. The list of premiers between 1963 and 1973 is long and largely devoid of major events and large-scale reforms. The main thing to remember about this period is that after the departure of Daoud in 1963 the King set in motion the adoption of a new constitution. It entered into force in 1964 and contained elements of a modern democracy but broadly facilitates the retention of power among the royal family and many historians consider it a failure. F rom
D aoud s up p ort
( 1973 197 9 )
n July 17, 1973, the forms of a new state began to take shape when Daoud Khan, along with several hundred supporters from the left-wing officers and the Parcham faction of the Afghan People’s Democratic Party, stormed the state institutions. At 7 AM local time, just a few hours after the start of the coup, the citizens of the country woke up in a republic. The event itself was bloodless, only a few indirect incidents. No one resisted Daoud.
The general climate could have indicated such a development, I mean the change of power. Previous years were hard for Afghans, the reforms initiated were blocked as almost the entire administrative system of the state was blocked and to this is added the fact that in 1972 several thousand people died of hunger. Daoud certainly had many loyalists in the military system and attracted a segment of left-wing sympathizers to his side, but it weighed on the great mass that Daoud, as prime minister a decade ago, offered stability, development and direction. The new direction of the state was to last until 1978 and during this time it borrowed from the Soviet system of organization mainly due to the fact that the only party, PDPA, was of Marxist-Leninist orientation. That meant another attempt to reform Afghan society with a greater focus on cultural and social aspects than economic ones. The country anyway had an economy directed by the state authority through five-year plans, now they became 7-year plans. On a social level the socialist modernization was more intense than what had been initiated earlier and even secularization was aimed. Looking back, we can see that if such a plan succeeded (secularization) it would have been for the greater
good of the Afghans. There are some interesting aspects to diplomatic ties. As Prime Minister Daoud encouraged cooperation with the USSR and barely refrained from declaring war on Pakistan. After 1973 he diversified his prospects and pursued good relations not only with the Soviets but also with the Americans, and among the neighbors he sought military cooperation with India and economic cooperation with Iran. In 1974 he made his first visit to the Soviet Union and the atmosphere was generally friendly. After all, it had not been so long since he took power with the support of the Afghan communists and in the period 1953-1963 he sought Soviet help and received it. Moscow’s interests were broadly very clear. Afghanistan represented an opportunity to influence Pakistan and Iran and thus indirectly attack American interests. Perhaps most clearly this attack could be achieved by the Pashtun issue that Doaud was expected to raise again before Pakistan. By the end of 1974 Doaud’s betrayal of those who helped him gain power, especially the Parcham faction, was beginning to be visible. Party members were sent to rural areas ”to lift the veil of ignorance” from the
face of the people, something almost impossible to achieve in that context and socialist officials in the government were one by one pushed aside or ”to the side”. The relationship between Iran and Afghanistan instead of becoming problematic began to show signs of temporary growth after the signing in 1974 of several contracts to finance infrastructure investments. The promises were important, perhaps under pressure from the Americans, but in reality few of these projects have come to fruition. Regarding Pakistan, in 1976 the leaders of the two states met and thus signaled the removal of the ”Easter problem”. The Pakistanis even agreed to release militants who had previously received support from Kabul to stir up riots. The turning point, the official moment, we can say is Doaud’s visit to Moscow in 1977. It is said that Brezhnev directly told him to get rid of “all those imperialist advisors”. A few months after the meeting, the two factions of the PDPA, Parcham and Khalq reunited after being for many years in a kind of hostility but not from Doaud’s initiative. Between April 27 and 28, 1978, the Sowr Revolution took place. A Khalq PDPA leader, Mir Akbar Khyber, was assassinated 10 days earlier. It was
blamed on possible CIA involvement and the funeral was attended by about 20,000 people. Doaud seeing this large presence orders the arrests of the socialist leaders. All the while a commander informs Doaud of an imminent attack on the presidential palace in a coup attempt and decides to encircle the objective with tanks. On April 27 all tanks pointed their guns at the palace and the battle began. One by one, the Ministry of Defense falls, followed by the Interior Affairs where the first shots are said to have been heard. Sukhoi Su-7 aircrafts were flying over the presidential palace and even shooting at it while PDPA activists took control of the radio station. On the morning of 28 April Doaud and his brother Naim were killed, apparently in a shootout with soldiers who came to capture them. They did not want to surrender and attacked with the guns they had. At 7 o’clock in the evening a voice on the radio announced the end of the despotism of the royal family (because Doaud was a member of the royal family) and the coming of power in the hands of the people. Nur Muhammad Taraki was the head of the state and remained in this position for about a year and a half, from April 30, 1978 to September 14, 1979. It promoted excellent relations with the Soviet
Union, signing on December 5, 1978 a 20-year Treaty of friendship between the two states and shortly Moscow began to send massive aid. Another influential figure of that period was Hafizullah Amin. He and Taraki played important roles in the coming to power of the socialist / communist forces. When they came to power for a few months, they made a close team, but gradually Amin, who was 12 years younger, began to see that he had much more strength and energy than Taraki. In the end they tried to get rid of each other and luck and the army were on Amin’s side while Taraki was suffocated with a pillow on October 8, 1979. Amin would not have long to wait for his end, at the hands of the Soviets this time. Although he was in contact with Brezhnev, the Soviets could no longer trust him, especially after learning that he had met an Afghan anti-communist leader. In early December, Moscow was already in contact with Babrak Karmal and Assadullah Sarwari. On December 25, a large number of Soviet troops landed in Kabul, all with the consent of Amin. He probably thought they came to support his leadership, but instead of a decoration he received a bullet in the Tajbeg Palace. Thus began the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.
Scenarios or disinfo
instability for Russia
few weeks prior to the fall of Kabul when the Taliban were starting to retake province after province with almost no opposition, a series of speculative scenarios began to emerge regarding Russia. Most of these narratives were centered around the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. That period and the present day have totally different circumstances. Let’s have a look. While it is true that the Soviet Union fought the mujahideen, the precursors of the Taliban in Afghanistan, those groups were
attacking the communist government in Kabul. The Soviet intervention was foremost dictated by an ideological and “fatherly” attitude with the desire to help Babrak Karmal (the General Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan). Today there is no ideological framework in which Russia could motivate an intervention. Their only desire, as has been proved by the army exercises organized with neighboring countries near the Afghan border, is centered around assuring security for itself and for the region. Russia is a victim of religious extremism and the threat posed by an ISIS resurgence inside Afghanistan was and is seriously taken into consideration.
In case you are thinking that this is the perfect moment for a preemptive strike I must say that you are wrong. An attack from a foreign country would only unite the Afghan people around the Taliban in a way that could give them incredible popular support. The Afghans are tired of foreign interventions after being effectively under occupation/war for the past two decades. Nobody has to gain by attacking Afghanistan except maybe the Talibans, for a short period. A new war will more then likely be another long and useless one. The Talibans must now assure the daily activity of the country which also includes the very important security aspect. In order for the Russians to be opened to dialogue and trade there must be assurances. This leads us to the second idea propagated mainly by western media. Russia will get involved in a war. What we must understand is that the Federation has no direct borders with Afghanistan however its Central Asian allies do have common borders. The role of the military exercises was to heighten the readiness level of troops stationed along those regions. Moscow has no desire to change the government in Kabul or to interfere in the country’s internal politics and
a military intervention will most likely stop at the border region. The prospect of military confrontation is almost nonexistent.
the US gift to China
he ongoing events in Afghanistan generate misinformation that goes on to cover the lack of concrete information and which in turn generates divergent scenarios and even toxic analyses. This is the first article in a series where I will try to analyze these scenarios. In this article we will look over two of the scenarios aimed at China. 1.The US made a deal with the Taliban and that is why they abandoned their former allies without remorse, flying out in a hurry and leaving military equipment behind. The goal is to put pressure, including military if necessary, on the Chinese. 2.It was a deal between the Chinese and the Americans. The U.S. is in a period of retreating from the world and China wants to ensure stability in its neighborhood. In addition, Beijing has targeted reserves of rare metals and other resources.
The scenarios are of course many more but involve other states, which is why I will deal with them separately in another article. The border between China and Afghanistan is not large, only 76 km in a mountainous area with two crossings that are closed now. For the Chinese, surveillance of that area, even though not easy it’s nowhere near impossible. Some in the media talk about an Afghan breed of a Trojan horse. We all noticed that the Taliban have very easily recaptured Afghanistan, in many places they did not encounter any resistance. We should also consider the arms donated/sold to the Afghans by the Americans and which have now come into the possession of the Taliban. Much of the equipment consists of firearms and military and civilian vehicles. Media reports indicate that U.S. forces have been able to take back much of the “sophisticated” equipment and I doubt it that the remaining planes and helicopters have any significance for the fighters at the current time. Discussing in the context of the alleged US-Taliban deal aimed at China, we could imagine that in the future the emirate will finance and implement terrorist attacks. Those who adopt this direction also go on
with the idea that Beijing would also enter a war in Afghanistan that would drain its resources and thus bring the People’s Republic to its knees before the former hegemon. Very clearly I say that there is no credible basis for such a scenario. Broadly speaking, it would involve other states in the region, but looking strictly at the case we are discussing now, the Taliban have absolutely no reason to develop a hostile attitude towards the Chinese, either historically or pragmatically. The second scenario, that of a USChina deal is brought up most of the time together with the rendering of the United States as being in retreat at the request (!) of Beijing and according to other sources at the request of Moscow also. I think if the Americans are retreating this decision is based on economic and military pragmatism, perhaps also strategically. Afghanistan has no access to the sea and in the region no other neighboring state is willing to work with Washington to host military bases. This has made Afghanistan an unstable vassal / ally and almost unmanageable in the event of a large-scale conflict between the superpowers. China really has economic interests in Afghanistan. The plan of
interconnection with neighboring states, in the future Eurasian system, brings many benefits not only to China. Possibly, that’s why other states are refusing to work so closely with the Americans on Afghanistan. There is now a desire for peace and possibly even economic development. In conclusion, Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently had a telephone conversation with Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of state. They talked about bilateral relations and Afghanistan. The two sides broadly
agreed. From a material published by People’s Daily we learn that Blinken was also a little reprimanded by Wang Yi who said that what is happening in Afghanistan is further proof that there is no way to implement a foreign model through a ”mechanical”occupation. Blinken apparently reconciled the differences between the two states but limited himself to stating that there must be communication between the two sides on regional and international issues.
US exceptionalism got stuck in the caves of Afghanistan Lasting from 2001 till 2021, two decades of a devastating war, Afghanistan was part of an American response to the 9/11 incident. The total number of deaths is over 210.000 people, the vast majority of them being Afghan. Bush (the Bush regime) created a map, a so called ”axis of evil” (that did not formally include Afghanistan because the “concept” was invented after the American intervention) which (the axis) was responsible for spreading terror in the world in what can only be described as a cartoonish
perspective on international relations. That map showed all the next countries the imperial power would attack. Being the major loser in a war against a vastly inferior ”rag-tag” military organization, the United State of America was hit in multiple areas. Talking about money, Washington pumped over 13 trillion yuan (2 trillion US dollars) just in direct costs and the actual number is much higher, even more than double. The average price Americans had to
pay for this imperialist aggression was enough to resolve most issues the people are facing. The quality of life could have been greatly improved if the government would have decided back then to start fighting against poverty and homelessness in the US and to offer free education and health-care. All these are the basic services most citizens in developed countries around the world have access to. American citizens must know this. The US has to learn that it has to learn from history. During WW2 the brunt of the fighting against fascism was taken by the Soviets while American forces came relatively late, after that the Americans have lost most of the wars they started. Not only Vietnam which is understandably much remembered these days but also further back to the Korean War. American defeat in Afghanistan must be placed into this context, any parallel with the Soviet war in Afghanistan will do even greater harm. The soviet experience is different, their war lasted a little over 9 years and after soviet pullback the Afghan government resisted for another 3 years. It was thus shorter and (if the Soviet Union would have survived) I believe the Afghan Emirate would not have been proclaimed in 1992.
This experience, an obvious outcome to a foolish endeavor in my opinion, is also a lesson to the world, especially for the allies of Washington. What can Taiwan think about this defeat? It is in a far worse position as an American proxy in the region. I wonder what thoughts are in the minds of the authorities in Taipei after seeing the US helicopters leaving with just a few of many collaborators, translators and former officials in an atmosphere of uncertainty. Furthermore, a comparison between American support for the former Afghan government and the Russian support for the Syrian government can be made. The outcome of such an endeavor is surely another problem for US analysts and politicians. The future of Afghanistan is yet to be written.
30 years of China – ASEAN
and their partnership on education
n the context of cooperation with ASEAN member countries, the EU has a “SHARE program” aimed to “strengthen regional cooperation and enhance the quality, regional competitiveness and internationalization of ASEAN higher education institutions and students”. Launched in 2015 it has now reached it’s third work-plan covering the 2021-2025 time-frame. The main objectives are to help people to people connectivity and encourage student mobility across states through an ERASMUS-like mechanism while enhancing European influence in highereducation institutions across SouthEast Asia. In order to monitor and guide the development of the project, the 12th Policy Dialogue Webinar Series was held between 27 and 29 July under the theme of “creating a
Resilient and Sustainable ASEAN Higher Education Space”. It is very important for China’s (and indeed Eurasia’s) development to encourage cooperation between universities and students with partners other than the European Union. In the context of the 30th anniversary of China – ASEAN cooperation, an occasion marked by a video-conference on the level of foreign ministers, I would like to talk about China’s partnership with ASEAN countries in the field of higher education. For the moment let’s see what that conference proposed. First of all, Wang Yi said that “ASEAN enjoys a priority position within China’s neighborhood diplomacy”, a position which became crucial in relation to Beijing – Washington hostilities. The
important thing is that the Chinese managed to keep non-Eurasian forces from interfering in a way that could endanger regional stability. In terms of trade the first half of this year has seen a growth of 38% compared to the previous year, exceeding 2.5 trillion yuan (over 410 billion dollars). The fight against the pandemic was and still is an important uniting factor between the two, as I have written with another occasion, Beijing led the ASEAN member countries through the tough times of 2020. China stressed the importance of resolving South China Sea disputes in a peaceful way and ASEAN foreign ministers declared that China is a “rational, wise and reliable force”. It’s important to note that South-East Asian states acknowledged that a strong China will also help their own development, an important achievement in thwarting reactionary forces in the context of the transition to a new era. The security that Beijing can provide is not limited on the military aspect but it is primarily directed towards economic initiatives developed under the Belt and Road Initiative masterplan. While having sometimes diverging opinions regarding some issues, the sides have agreed on deepening
cooperation. This is the case with education. Mechanisms in this regard exist for many years however the most important (and it seems the only one that remains active) is “China-ASEAN Education Cooperation Week” hosted every year in Guizhou Province ( ) in the south of China. In 2021 this forum will be held between August 26 and September 1. Guizhou Daily described the event as “a solid bridge for mutual learning and win-win cooperation” and the main theme will be focused on “Building an Educational Vision for Sustainable Development Cooperation”. Compared to the European initiative what Beijing does is orders of magnitude more effective and extensive (it goes from university level to preschool education). In prepandemic years thousands of students and representatives from dozens of ASEAN universities were involved in the talks with special participation from various BRI states from Russia to Switzerland. This year the format will change somewhat because it will combine on-line and off-line meetings.
Vietnam and Laos cooperation, new investments in Laos
mining activity in Borikham District in central Laos for processing gold, copper, nickel, silver and iron ore.
n the 8th of August the presidents of Vietnam (Nguyễn Xuân Phúc) and Laos (Thongloun Sisoulith) met in Hanoi in an event that marked a new stage of growth in the relations between the two South-Asian communist countries. Laos and Vietnam share common goals and interests as part of the powerful ASEAN community but also have bilateral plans of development and cooperation which can be described as of strategic importance.
In the field of education it’s worth noted that 16100 students fro Laos are currently studying in Vietnam.
At the meeting a few documents were signed, among them an agreement for cooperation between the two presidential offices for the 2021-2025 period and the 2022 cooperation program between the ministries of justice of the two along with various documents related to security.
Special attention was places on the situation of the South China Sea but nothing contrary to the position agreed with China was observed. A peaceful settlement must be desired by all parties.
Regarding trade, the two countries have achieved a growth of 37% for the first half of this year over the same period in 2020 with the total turnover reaching 4.3 billion yuan (670 million dollars). Vietnam is investing heavily in Laos, it has 209 projects worth almost 34 billion yuan (5.2 billion dollars). New investments have been agreed upon, mainly a
The two countries are situated in the south of China, share a large common border and both are communist. Laos is landlocked making their partnership with Vietnam necessary for development. The two are also part of a three state partnership that also includes Cambodia which aims at connecting the three economies by 2030.
Kamala in Singapore and Vietnam, the useless trip hile we are helplessly witnessing the outcome of the disaster in Afghanistan, which can only be of epic proportions, worthy of an end to an era, we risk losing sight of other regions where hegemonic power proves its inability.
US Vice President Kamala Harris recently made two important visits to Singapore and Vietnam. It must be said clearly that this action of the Americans shows a lot of helplessness and it seems that Washington is trying everything to save its already fragile position in the world. Let us remember that the previous attempt to attract allies to the region failed altogether, with the exception of Australia, somewhat. Japan reacted strongly regarding Taiwan but was immediately greeted by the Russians in some statements and has now withdrawn from the fight. South Korea was never willing to come into conflict with its overseas neighbor. The Afghan tragedy has begun to weigh heavily on the Seoul government’s position. India is completely isolated and withdrawn in itself due to the pandemic and a colossal drop in confidence for Prime Minister Modi.
Washington’s despair when it offers Vietnam the status of strategic partner is frightening since the Vietnamese prime minister himself has made it clear that the development of China-Vietnam relations is a strategic choice. In addition, we Romanians know very clearly how empty the proposal of the strategic partnership is, so do the Vietnamese. Harris tried to pit neighbor against neighbor using the disputes in the South China Sea but was immediately rejected, Vietnam is pursuing a strategic direction in relation to which those disputes are secondary. Regarding Singapore, the 3 days of the official visit did not generate anything. How could it have. Singapore is a state strongly affiliated to China, economically, historically and culturally. The Americans left only with headaches.
Operation Mekong (湄 公河行动 ) China / 2016
ondensed action on the banks of the Mekong River, the Chinese government orders a dangerous operation to eliminate drug trafficking networks. At the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong rivers the borders of three countries, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, are lost among the deep valleys of the mountains and among the dense forests. In this region where the authority of states is nonexistent, several networks of producers and traffickers of narcotics have built up empires of terror. To eliminate this danger to regional security and for the lives of ordinary people in the
area, the Chinese authorities are setting up a mission to destroy the networks. In this sense, a team of lawmen, specially trained to deal with extreme situations, begin to identify the hierarchy of the group to prepare the ground for the decisive attack. Director Dante Lam (林 超 贤 ) is famous for his action movies including Operation Red Sea (红 海 行 动 ) from 2018 and Beast Stalker (证人 ) from 2008. Among the main actors are Zhang Hanyu (张 涵 予 ) as Gao gang, Eddie Peng (Eddie) as FANG Xinwu, Chen Baoguo as Minister of public security Jiang Haifeng and Feng Wenjuan as Guo Bing “Aphrodite”.
Ip Man (叶问 ) China / 2008
he 2008 martial arts biographical film (Ye Wen, pronounced Jip6 Man6 in Cantonese) was produced in Hong Kong by Chinese director Wilson Yip ( ). At the heart of it (and the entire series of 4 movies) is the life of the great master of Wing Chun ( ) martial arts.
In the first part, aspects of the master’s personality are gradually outlined through the events. We learn that 叶 问 (played by 甄 子 丹 Donnie Yen) shows modesty in the conditions in which his fighting skills would allow him to dominate others. It is a modesty of character, not a financial one. The master enjoys a privileged and respected position in Foshan,
but even so he is neither greedy nor selfish. The first battle scene is when a gang from “northern” China sets out to humiliate all the masters in Foshan (佛 山 / fó shān). One of them is more proud to think he is invincible, another is not to be found and so on until the leader of the group gets to fight and be defeated by 叶 问 , thus showing certain features of the style. Much of the action takes place during the Japanese invasion and the poverty and humiliation that the Chinese were forced to endure between 1937 and 1945. In this context, Master 叶 问 is forced to adapt to the new realities of 佛 山 . In order to provide his family
with the bare necessities, all his wealth being confiscated by the Japanese forces, he goes to do physical work. General Miura (played by Hiroyuki Ikeuchi), a karate practitioner, wants to show that Japanese martial arts are superior to Chinese ones and thus organizes a series of fights. Any Chinese who agreed to fight received an extra bag of rice, whether he won or was defeated. Of course, the idea was not to win. One of Master 叶 问 ‘s friends is killed in this contest. also participates in the fight and kills 20 karate fighters, on behalf of his friend. It is a scene of great emotional intensity because it comes to represent the defiance of the Japanese occupying authorities. The final sequence is the fight between General Miura and 叶 问 whose result will lead to a revolt in the city, foreshadowing the expulsion of the occupiers. 叶 问
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