Afghanistan is known as the Crossroads of Central Asia. Its stability affects neighboring countries such as Iran, Pakistan, and China. With the Taliban returning to power, how will its relations with border countries develop and affect the regional power balance?
The Epoch Times Chinese edition interviewed Yuping Su, former diplomat in Israel from Taiwan, who gave his views on the current situation of Afghanistan in regional order.
“At present, the Taliban have just seized power. The most important thing is to peacefully take over the archives, personnel, facilities, funds, etc.” Su said.
The Taliban ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001 and had poor relations with its neighboring states during that time.
However, prior to entering the Afghanistan presidential palace, Taliban leaders had a meeting with 15 diplomats and a delegation of Afghan leaders at Doha, and even sent special envoys to Iran, China, and Russia to express its goodwill. Su said that such moves were unheard of during the Taliban’s last ruling period. He saw it as a sign of increased flexibility in its foreign relations.
The Taliban May Become a Regional Lever
Pakistan has always supported the Taliban, so it’s natural for Pakistan to be the first to recognize the Taliban regaining power.
However, the Taliban’s relations with Iran is more subtle.
Su explained that the split of Shia and Sunni Islam has lasted for more than 1,000 years. The hostility between Iran (the Shia) and the Taliban (the Sunni) has remained at the religious level.
“The United States was their common enemy before the Taliban regained its power,” Su said. He expected the situation to change very quickly after the Taliban regained rule of the regime.
Iran will be cautious about the Taliban’s alliance with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states. The alliance will flank Iran on both east and west sides. Consequently, Iran could feel threatened and possibly compromise in the nuclear deal talk in Vienna. Su believed that it is good for the United States from this point of view, “[T]he Taliban will serve as a pawn for the Arab camp.”
Could the Taliban engage in antagonism or even confrontation with China and Russia? Based on the nature of the Taliban, the history of the CCP’s persecution of Muslims in Xinjiang, and Russia’s persecution of Chechnya and Tatars, the Taliban or its militant leaders probably “wouldn’t mind punishing the infidels or the atheists” on behalf of the Muslims, Su said.
In this way, Afghanistan may become a lever that gains an advantage for the “evil axis,” and an important ally of the Persian Gulf Sunnis in the GCC Gulf countries, Arab countries, Europe, and America against both Iran and the fragile CCP-Russia alliance.
CCP’s Exchange With Iran and the Taliban
The CCP and Iran formally signed a 25-year cooperation agreement on March 27 this year. The CCP’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with the Taliban political leaders in Tianjin on July 28 right before the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. Does this mean the CCP is at peace with its neighbors?
Su said that Iran and Afghanistan present different interests to the CCP.
To the CCP, Iran is the CCP’s important fossil fuel supplier and a strategic partner to contain the United States. Such alliances, based on confronting a common enemy, are often the most vulnerable.
To Iran, the atheist CCP is not so trustworthy. Su believed the relationship is more business than honesty, and “the average Iranians do admire Western culture and have little understanding of China.”
As for the relationship between the CCP and the Taliban, Su analyzed that the Taliban will please the CCP at all costs in a short period of time. The Taliban needs the CCP’s monetary support to restore the economy, develop its mining resources, and supply technology and materials.
However, the CCP has long regarded the East Turkistan forces inside and outside China as “terrorists.” The entire Xinjiang region has become a concentration camp for the Uyghurs and other Islamic groups. The genocide of Uyghurs in Xinjiang is a well known fact. The CCP also knows that there are East Turkistan forces in the Taliban leaders.
Between the CCP and Taliban, the honeymoon will not last long “over the issue of Chinese Muslims,” Su said.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.