Taliban confirms it received no fundings from Russia

FILE – In this Nov. 30, 2017 file photo, American soldiers wait on the tarmac in Logar province, Afghanistan. The U.S. is pausing movement of troops into Afghanistan and quarantining 1,500 new arrivals to country due to virus. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)

As the Western media continues to blame Russia’s policy in Afghanistan, a never-ending information war seems to take a new round aggravating the peace process in the country.

The leading U.S. media outlets claimed Russia was funding Taliban referring to the movement’s commanders. However, both the New York Times and Insider refused to name not only their sources but also American official spokesmen who reportedly said they had found out links between Taliban’s and Russia’s banking accounts. The outlets also claimed Russia’s financial support to Taliban was aimed at killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but no evidence and details have ever been provided.

The claims of the Western media seem even more baseless after the interview with Qatar-based Taliban’s official spokesperson Mohammad Sohail Shahin had been released.

Speaking to journalists covering the Russian policy in the Middle East, Shahin denied any funding from Russia. “This statement is proofless and has nothing to do with the truth. We believe such claims appear in the context of the internal political struggle in the United States and are organized by opponents of the Afghan peace process”, Mohammad Shahin said. “The main goal of these campaigns is to undermine the Afghan peace process”, he added.

In February, 2020, Washington signed a peace deal with Taliban confirming to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan. However, a year on, the agreement’s major clauses have not come to effect. Much due to internal confrontations between the U.S. establishment and the U.S. Conservative Party. With Biden Administration taking the power and its policy focused on international intervention, the process is likely to be delayed. Yet, procrastination of the peace process in Afghanistan may lead to irreversible and tragic consequences in an already war-torn country and cause a total halt of economic and industrial development.

Moreover, in a current situation of limited on-spot-covering due to the closed borders, independent and non-affiliated media are not able to provide an objective view of the peace process development in Afghanistan. And this is often turned into advantage by the Western mainstream media.

Terrorist attack on Russian diplomats in Afghanistan may lead to further tensions between Moscow and Kabul

Afganistan, Kabul. Photo: Daily Sabah

On December 1, the car of the Russian Embassy with several employees inside was hit by an improvised explosive device in Kabul. Russian diplomats received a slight concussion.

According to preliminary estimates, the terrorist attack most likely targeted a pickup truck of the Afghan national security forces with servicemen on board moving ahead of the diplomatic vehicle, however, the attack against Russian citizens cannot be excluded, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

“On December 1, while a Russian diplomatic mission’s car was driving along the road near the Russian embassy in Kabul, an improvised explosive device was detonated. The employees of the Russian diplomatic mission in the vehicle received a slight concussion”, Zakharova said.

The recent attack that affected the employees of the Russian diplomatic mission in Afghanistan might be aimed at setting contradictions in Russia’s cooperation with the inter-Afghan peace settlement countries, as well as excluding Moscow and it partners from it including the Moscow negotiation platform.

“We demand that the Afghan side conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and take comprehensive measures to ensure the security of personnel of Russian foreign missions in Afghanistan. The Russian Embassy in Kabul is implementing additional measures aimed at increasing the security of personnel and facilities of the diplomatic mission”,-Zakharova  added.

As the rate of violence in Afghanistan continues to increase the authority of the Islamic republic in the international diplomatic community is undermining which may also affect the further position of the contributing countries. Only in recent weeks Kabul was hit by a number of terrorist attacks, with more than 50 people killed in two assaults on educational centres and a rocket attack.

Could a Third Way save Afghanistan?

As Afghanistan marks its 101st Anniversary as an independent state, both the international community and the Afghan people themselves are concerned about the country’s future pathway.

Since the fall of the monarchy the political system in Afghanistan has suffered a few major crises. The establishment of the Jihadi regimes and anti-patriotic coup along with global colonialism have resulted into the country’s destruction and led to the rise of Taliban. Moreover, President Ghani’s predecessor Hamid Karzai has led the country to a corrupt state unable to deal with the terrorist groups and Taliban.

Invaded by various foreign-backed powers and different political ideas (left and right) Afghanistan has lost its national identity and failed to build its own economic and political system. Torn with corruption, bloodshed and terrorism over the decades, the country today, as some analysts believe, could be saved by a Third Way. The Third Way is a philosophy used to describe the voice of masses, the silent majority of people all the world, including Afghanistan.

The Afghan society needs a reform. The Third Way and adoption of it by a society can lead Afghanistan to a modern state, different from which the country has experienced over the pat 40 years. The Third Way is based on the idea of establishing a secure and sustainable state where the rights of the citizens are respected regardless the influence of any political parties or social groups and ethnic, racial and religious beliefs. Ensuring security and social justice in Afghanistan can be reached through following the several principles.

A balance of Power. Afghanistan has enough of security and defense to maintain and consolidate the national power. Supported by a strong and professional political leadership with pro-national interests Afghanistan will be able to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.  

A balance of domestic politics. The political and economic strategy of Afghanistan should be focused on creating sustainable living environment for its citizen and development of the economic and labor system that will allow Afghan citizens to use the country’s national resources and increase their living standards. In this scenario the Afghan people will stop looking for any possible ways to leave the country.

Balancing of economic growth and regional development will allow Afghan people to supply with jobs and comfortable life not only in major cities but also in the country’s provinces.

Finally, to achieve a Third Way the political system of the country should be based on national and democratic principles. The national principle means the country should use its own capacities and resources, while the democratic principle means that there is no other political regime acceptable in the country, but democracy.

By listening to the needs of the society and recovering its national values Afghanistan in the long-term perspective could become a safe and sovereign state with a sustainable economic growth.

USAID increases its presence in Central Asia amid the COVID-19 pandemic to foster its influence

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is increasing investments and support of the economy and social sphere in Uzbekistan through various economic, trade, healthcare and social projects. Only for the year of 2019 USAID invested over $10 million in Uzbekistan’s private sector for establishment of new orchards, installation of water saving technologies marketing, and branding to meet international standards. According to the Agency, USAID investment strategy in Uzbekistan involves large-scale and ambitious projects for the next 3-4 years that aim to increase the living standard in the country.

As part of its global campaign against the COVID-19 pandemic, the USAID in partnership with the Uzbekistan Ministry of Health has identified priority areas to provide support for the needs of Uzbekistan’s citizens, health professionals, and the government.  

However, nurturing relations with the US may have a negative side effect for Uzbekistan. By tightening economic and political relations with Tashkent, the United States might take advantage of the Uzbekistan’s geopolitical location and its border with Afghanistan and start lobbying its interests in Kabul heating up complicated relations between the two countries.

Moreover, fostering the Washington’s idea to create a transparent economy in the country and the accountability of the Uzbek state to civil society may cause potential leaks of tax and financial information to the US tax authorities. Considering that the American side relies on the principle of the supremacy of the national law over the international law, this might trigger a threat to the economic security of Uzbekistan and create a ground for pressure on the Uzbekistan authorities by the United States.

Like in the case with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, a small country in the Central, could become a perfect potential target for the US so-called democratization policy. Positive social and economic changes integrated by the United States in Uzbekistan are building up a solid ground for lobbying Washington political ambitions in the country. History has already proved the United States could be unreliable business partners. The US-China trade relations scenario is a great example of it: when contradictions arose, the US changed their policy from building partnership into the policy of trade wars.

US new media campaign in Tajikistan poses risk for president Rahmon

The United States are to start a new media campaign in Tajikistan that aims to prevent corruption and other violations by Tajik authorities.  Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the foundation «Eurasia of the Central Asia- Tajikistan» launched a series of training programs for local journalists earlier this years. The program allows professional journalists to learn about latest search engine technologies and media promotion tools to report leaked information about Tajik authorities as well as to learn about possible ways of legal protection against government sanctions and bans.

While the Tajik State Committee for National Security tightens the grip over the national media, a large part of the US media programs is being provided abroad in neighbor countries. For instance, in February 2017 a number of local journalists in collaboration with non-profit organization «InterNews Network» were sent to Armenia to take an internship in the local news agency «Hetq.am». As the program suggests, once the interns return back, they are supposed to perform media investigations on corruption and other misdemeanors pursued by high authorities in Tajikistan. In addition to that, the 3 local shooting teams will be selected to take up the training in the United States where they would master their skills in making documentary movies on human rights protection, as a part of the American project «Media Co-Op».

Meanwhile, among the project trainers are international experts who were involved in training of activists and protesters in color revolutions in Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Georgia. Given the fact that the project graduates are to be provided by financial and legal support from the United States they are likely to pursue investigations that would undermine credibility of the Tajik authorities and the President Emomali Rahmon. Which by no means rises a debate about future Tajik-US relations and real intentions of Washington policy in Tajikistan

Media campaigns and journalist trainings funded by the US are common in Tajikistan and around the Central Asia. Earlier last year the radio station «Ozodi» located in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe signed a sponsorship agreement with a number of foundations and financial institutions funded by American philanthropist and investor George Soros. As a result, the station openly criticized Dushanbe’s support for Moscow-Beijing economic cooperation, discouraged rapprochement of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in terms of water consumption, economic and cross-border cooperation and tried to prevent anti-terrorist cooperation between Dushanbe, Moscow and Beijing.