G-20 on Afghanistan: the noisy silence about Draghi’s glamorous failure

G-20 on Afghanistan: the noisy silence about Draghi’s glamorous failure

The G20-2021 is running underneath the Italian presidency.
Many institutional encounters and meetings have been and will be held in various levels that will culminate in the Summit in Rome on the 30th and 31st of October.

The Italian press is dedicated a lot of attention on the G20 ‘Virtual’ summit on Afghanistan. The mainstream media of the country that was formerly Italy and has today turned into Draghistan, underlined that Draghi himself attached great importance to this summit.

In the summit, besides Italy and the others governments of the G-20, also have participated representatives of the UN, the World Bank, the IMF, the European Union (represented at the maximum levels of the presidents Charles Michel and Usrula Von der Leyen) and a couple of countries defined as ‘guests’: Spain, Netherlands, Singapore and Qatar.

But the two heavy weights Putin and Xi Jinping were absent. Their absence indicates Russia and China’s disinterest towards initiatives of the Italian G-20 Presidency, whereas both countries prefer to keep fucusing on economic issues only. Mario Draghi had intended to include them in order to transform the G20 from an economy-focused entitiy to an organization with widened scope of action, including for the first time geopolitical and strategic issues which directly influence the global economy.

However, the initiative of Mario Draghi ended as a train wreck, although the propagandists of Draghi are trying to hide it. As expert journalist Alberto Negri noted: “Putin and Xi Jinping did not participate in the summit in Rome because there will be an Afghanistan summit held in Moscow on December 20th with a delegation from the Taliban and participation from China, India, Iran and Pakistan. But not journalist asked on Draghi on that matter in his press conference. In today’s press conference of Draghi, not one of the journalists noted. We are either silenced or ignore the facts.”

“Russia and China”, writes Alberto Negri in a recent article, “are trying to establish a diplomatic process on Afghanistan in paralel to US efforts. It is useles to hide the fact that this issue seems less important that than the main geopolitical question in our times: the escalating tensions between Beijing and Washington around Taiwan”.

The invitation to the Russian summit, which will be held a week after the G20 in Rome, is extended not only to China, Pakistan, Iran and India, but also to a delegation from the Emirate of Kabul. Thus the Kremlin exalts the effectiveness of the “Moscow format”, a consultation mechanism extended to all regional players”.

The Russian news agency Tass highlighted that “the meeting did not produce a joint final statement, instead Italy has published some shared objectives and principles that focus on the provision of aid, on steps to prevent economic and social collapse, on human rights, on the fight against illegal trafficking in drugs, arms and human beings, on the guarantee of freedom of movement and on anti-terrorism efforts”. The agency reported that “the G20 nations have decided to continue contacts with the Taliban (outlawed in Russia), which does not mean their recognition by the world community”. An issue that “according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel is not even on the agenda”, while Draghi stated “contacts with the Taliban are needed to resolve the humanitarian crisis”.

The Chinese newspaper Global Times reported: “China has called for joint and swift efforts to help Afghanistan in order to avoid looming crises and it urged the countries that caused the current situation in Afghanistan to learn their lesson and take responsibility.”

Participating in the summit representing Beijing, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said: “The last 20 years in Afghanistan have once again shown that the right path is always to respect the choice of the other’s development trajectory and the mutual tolerance for different civilizations”. The diplomat also added that imposing one’s own ideology on others will only lead to chaos and poverty with serious humanitarian disasters in consequence.

An associate at Northwest University’s institute of middle Eastern Studies, Professor Wang Jin, has explained to the Global Times that Russia and China oppose the attitude of Western countries in resolving the Afghan question. “They want to establish preconditions for their assistance, for example asking the Afghan Taliban to satisfy requirements that are related to the political system, religious politics and also the politics on the rights of women and children, before proving an effective help”, he said.

Afghanistan has no money, civil servants do not receive salaries and the prices for food have sky rocketed. Kabul needs practical and stablizing help. Beijing’s Foreign Minister said that China will provide Afghanistan with supplies worth 200 million yuan (31 million dollars) such as wheat, winter supplies, vaccines and other medicines which the Afghan people need.

Aid that will arrive without any interference from China, as the former Italian ambassador to Beijing Alberto Bradanini explains: “China does not intend to interfere in internal affairs and is working on an inclusive hypothesis, the formation of a Taliban government with other parties, thus favoring greater moderation in the management of the country, also taking into account that the Taliban are no more than 70,000 in a country of almost 40 million inhabitants. Not being able to govern only with terror, they will need consensus, inside and outside the borders, and therefore there is no lack of room for compromise, provided of course that clashes and terrorism do not return to dominate the scene.”

Once pacification is received, Beijing will persue goals to develop modern infrastructures, roads and railways. This will go through Afghan territory and reach Iran, a country rich with gas and oil – resources that Asia is in great need for. The construction of the road, which is currently non existent, is about to start. The road from the Afghan-Chinese border will reach Kabul and then continue towards the Iranian border. However, China will have to adapt to favor the difficult collaboration between Shiite Iran and the Salafist Sunni Taliban (The Hazara, a Shiite and Farsi-speaking people constitue only 15-20% of the population).

It should not be forgotten that the very recent (September 2021) entry of the Islamic Republic of Iran into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is preliminary to an accentuated triangular cooperation with China and Russia, with benefits resulting also in Afghanistan.

Therefore, the prospects are not as dire as a certain narrative presents them to be.

Mario Draghi’s geopolitical move in the Western context has clearly failed. By now the United States of America and its Western vassals have lost their old hegemony, therefore, in the Central Asian quadrant they have to deal with China and Russia as the standard bearers of the new Eurasian multipolar order.

The propagandists of Draghistan try to hide the substantial stalemate in Rome to preserve the aura of false infallibility they have created around the former ECB banker. But in Afghanistan, with the hasty US retreat aimed at a greater imperialist garrison in the Far East, the entire Western system crushed down. Reality is stubborn and there is no narrative that holds. We are facing a toxic one-way narrative imposed by the usual US financial elites, as Ambassador Bradanini points out, but the reality of the facts on the ground testifies that the epochal paradigm shift has occurred: without China and Russia, Westerners have no weight or decision-making power in that quadrant.

This article was first published in Italian on L’antidiplomatico.it.

Fabrizio Verde

Journalist and geopolitics analyst.

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March 2023