The international situation proves we are losing the war on terror, by failing to define the enemy and ignoring the battle ground. Western leader must acknowledge reality. Indeed, one of the wonders of human nature is how leaders transform information into knowledge, or perhaps better, how they disregard the hazards by ignoring, using mental agnosia, and appeasing. This politicians’ illness, the oblivion of reality, is pervasive, and “war on terrorism” has become a favorite slogan.
However, it is not only naïve, but also stupid as much as criminal to declare ‘we are at war with terrorism,” “we must fight terrorism.” We are not. We are at war with Islamic ideology, because Muslim groups and organizations has declared war against all other civilizations. Terrorism is a tactic, a means; one cannot be at war with a tactic, as if during WWII, the US went to war against the ‘Blitzkrieg’ or ‘Kamikaze.’
Those days, the free world was not afraid to clearly declare it is at war against Nazi Germany and Japan. Nowadays our leaders are afraid, terrorized, and intimidated, and that is why they even do not say ‘Islamic terrorism.’ Oddly enough they immediately reiterate that Islam is a peaceful and compassionate religion, and even that al-Qaeda and the Islamic Caliphate State are not Islamic. However, Islamic ideology is the only reason, the incentive, the motivation, and the only cause of the free world’s severe hazardous situation.
It is ridiculous to define the enemy as ‘al-Qaeda’ or ‘Islamic Caliphate State’ or ‘Taliban’ or ‘Hamas’ or ‘Hezbollah’ – and at the same time to “set free” the motivational force, the political drive of Islamic ideology to occupy the world. It is illogical let alone futile, not to courageously define the enemy, the rival you fight against. In World War II the Free World fought Nazi Germany and Japan on the international level. The aim was not the 16th German Armor Division or the 45th Japanese Regiment. Our leaders should loud and clear declare that we are fighting against Islamic ideology, Islamic ambitions to occupy the world. Our leaders must clearly assert that we are fighting against the ideology of Islam manifested in a tactical level as terrorism, Jihad, which knows no country and recognizes no borders. Our leaders must clearly establish that we are fighting against a world political movement, an imperialist colonialist political religion that seeks to submit and subdue us all and bring us to their 7th century desert.
In his Art of War, Sun Tzu remarks, “He who knows neither self nor enemy will fail in every battle.” This is exactly the contemporary Western world situation. It exhibits a catastrophic failure because it knows neither self nor enemy and stands as helpless as a kitten against the onslaught of Islam’s aggressive, political, ideological and territorial offensive. Where is the problem? It is exactly our leaders, our media, and academia. One can never awaken a man who is pretending to be asleep. One can never arouse a man who lives in utopian wishful world, and clearly denies the situation, and it is even unfortunate that one cannot bring knowledge to those who are in mental agnosia and ignorance. It is no less important to note that the conclusions we reach reflect the assumptions we make. Start with false assumptions and you reach false conclusions. Start with euphoric assumptions and you reach false peaceful conclusions.
However, data assembled from all reliable sources show that more than 70 percent of world violence and more than 90 Percent of world terrorism is connected directly to Muslims and Islamic ideology. Horrific data taken for more than twenty years also show that every minute there is at least one victim from the Muslims worldwide, most of them are Muslims by themselves. In 2015 there were 452 homicide bombings; all of them were Islamic. This date is crystal clear: the issue at stake is the Islamic ideology, and from here stem the targets and the means.
However, do our leaders really intend to combat Islamic terrorism to eliminating it, or perhaps they intentionally evade the issues by not truly defining it correctly? It is unfortunate to realize that the most salient characteristics of our generation is the deep crisis of leadership and the lake of statesmanship. It is pervasive and cut across all over the world. An accumulation of President Bush’s declarations show that he has never added the word “Arab” to terrorism, and when he said “Islamic terrorism,” he immediately adds that Islam is a peace-loving compassionate religion. Is it only a politically correctness? A denial? An ignorance? President Obama has adopted a worse policy: it is forbidden to put together “Islamic” with “terrorism;” it is imposed to utter that Islam is a “religion of peace;” and it is coerced to declare that al-Qaeda or the Islamic Caliphate State are nor Islamic movements, in fact they are anti Islam.
After London blasts of July 2005, British Prime Minister, and in many declarations, Tony Blair denounced “terrorism” and not “Islamic ideology. He persistently accused poverty, wretchedness and Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the causes of terrorism, while systematically said Islam is a religion of peace and the Qur’an is the book of wisdom. Almost the same ritual was reiterated by British Prime Minister David Cameron, the new elected Canadian Prime Minister, Trudeau, and even by the current Pope who declared that Islam “exemplifies shared belief of Christianity.”
The riots that erupted in France from the beginning of the 21st century, gives another example to the politics of oblivion and mental agnosia so characterizes Western leadership. Even the terrorist attacks in Paris, in 2015 and 2016, has not caused a strategic change in the operational code of the ideology and policy of France. Experts who watched closely these phenomena are amazed by the fact that also the reality of Muslims’ character and nature is distinct and obvious, there was consensus in France as much as in other states, among political leader and parties, the media and public opinion to deny the true reality that there was religious and cultural dimensions.
However, The folly of mental blindness and appeasement prevails, and hypocrisy combined with ignorance and political correctness, runs rampant: indeed, there are extreme verses as much as there are mild in the Qur’an, and this duality is found in every religion; and indeed, there are radicals among the Muslims just as in all societies, but they are just a minority, even weeds. The Muslim majority is different. However, this is the problem with all its severity, to be investigated by the following questions:
If that is the true situation – how do we know this? Are there any corroborating studies and data to substantiate this view? Or we only believe this is the reality? Even if a different peace-loving majority exists, is its voice heard? Does it have any influence in the decision-making processes and the policies adopted by the leaders? Or is it only in our mirror imaged personality? Where is public opinion voice, the political parties, the media, the leaders which prove there are other voices and policies? Or we just assume this is the situation?
How many peace movements, demonstrations and masses marching and rolling for peace and against terrorist perpetrators can be identified? Was any terrorist attack stopped or even just even denounced by the so-called majority? Or is it our own imagination alone? How many pressure and interest groups are there which actively function against Islamic fanaticism and Jihad terrorism? And if they do, to what extent do they influence? Or we just ignore reality out of politically correctness? How many NGO’s are there acting against the terrorist organizations and preventing aid from their reach? Do they even try to stop terrorism and convince it is act against humanity? Or we just want to believe that there are such? If there are moderate peace-loving political leaders, where are they? What influence do they have? Is their voice heard? What do they declare after the horrible acts of terrorism perpetuated, except of blaming the US and Israel? Or is it all our mental blindness and political denial?
Indeed, there are intellectuals and liberals, unfortunately very few, condemning the atrocious terrorist acts. However, who controls the Islamic communities and in the streets? Which voice is heard and is written in the communication Media? Who is more influential and admired by the youth; in the Madaris (school system)? In the mosques and in the media? Who are the heroes of the masses? And the biggest wonder of all, why do we always supply excuses and explanations to the horrific phenomenon we don’t understand culturally and ignorant religiously, and at the same time we do not demand from the others to apologize and act? Or we just have a death wish? Do we ignore reality out of confusion or the Stockholm syndrome is the cause, or the threatening lethal situation that frightens and horrifies us so deeply?
And if there is a silent majority, Nonie Darwish is correct by putting the blame on their silent which in fact means aiding and abetting the culture of hate, terror and beheadings. Moreover, Western and public opinion leaders dismiss the role of the religion and its deep influence on the Muslims. This situation is much worse, since our leaders totally deny what the Islamic terrorist organization clearly utter: that we are in a third world war, and it is a religious war. The latest example among the huge pile of Western denial declarations was the State Department spokesman, John Kirby that the terrorist attack in Brussels in March 2016, “was not about a religion… we don’t believe that it is indicative in any way of the Muslim faith or the people who practice Islam as a religion.”
Although the Qur’an is written in parables and vague; in a language full of contradictions, so that different people can choose passages to justify anything they want, the Qur’anic religious, ideological and political passages are clear and its targets are laid down clearly, and it commands its believers to accomplish them by all means. The aim is to occupy the world and to make Islam the only legitimate religion. Still, Western and public opinion leaders are unintentionally assisting Islamic victory by failing to know how to fight the enemy; by the politics of denial and ignorance of postponing decisions and activity to eliminate the threat by the media and the legal system; and by using mental blindness and mirror image instead of courageous policy.
Republican Senator, Allen West, is correct by insisting that the U.S. must understand 21st-century combat.
Today’s paradigm of battle and combat operations is completely different and more complicated. The conventional wars we knew have completely disappeared for an asymmetrical battlefield with non-uniformed, non-state belligerents, using unconventional weapons and tactics. Every nation that wishes to succeed in protecting its citizens and interests must quickly understand and adapt to the new battlefield. For the sake of our nation, and of all nations who seek freedom for their citizens, we must clearly identify the 21st century battlefield and ensure we are victorious on it.
Therefore, it is a must to deny the enemy sanctuary. Because this enemy has no respect for borders or boundaries, we must be willing to take the fight directly to him. It means to cut off the enemy’s flow of men, material and resources, and cordon off the enemy to reduce his sphere of influence, by denying immigration, expelling the radical Imams, and demanding the Muslims’ assimilation and integration. Above all, it is a must to win the information war. Unfortunately, the enemy is far more adept at exploiting the power of the Internet, broadcast media and dissemination of powerful imagery. It is exacerbated by Western media, seeing itself as an ideological political wing or at best as a neutral body.
Until the Free World nations are able to correctly and openly identify the enemy, we will continue to stumble and fail, and Islam continues to prevail. Once we have identified the enemy and the specific strategic level objectives, we must effectively fight. We have to be mindful of the wise words compiled by Sun Tzu in his “The Art of War” more than 25 centuries ago: “to know your enemy and to know yourself and to know the environment and countless amounts of battles, you will always be victorious.” However, the Free World leaders’ ‘war on terrorism’ has been exactly the opposite, as one cannot fight the means, but must fight by all means the perpetrator. There are still those who declare “the only way to defeat terrorism is to ignore it; as if it will disappear by itself. However, it is so crazy, meaning exactly to dance with death.
With Obama’s administration the situation has even worsen, as it is impossible to formally utter ‘Islamic terrorism’ together. There is Islam which is a religion of peace and compassion, and terrorism, which is al-Qaeda. Even the Taliban, the richest terrorist organization, is not completely a terrorist. It is even forbidden to use terms like ‘fighting jihadists,’ because ‘Jihad’ means to purify oneself or to wage a holy struggle for a moral goal.’ Those who do not agree with the administration show ‘inflammatory rhetoric, hyperbole, and intellectual narrowness.’
Continuing these lines, John Kasich said after the Brussels massacre: “We are not at war with Islam; we’re at war with radical Islam.” This is really a willful blindness that goes on after the Paris and Brussels Islamic terrorist attacks. Daniel Benjamin, former State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator, has essentially declared, what happened in Brussels is really just about Europe. It has nothing to do with the US; it can’t happen here. With all due respect any logical assessment must emphatically disagree. He is absolutely mistaken. Americans should fear exactly that.
Richard Perle said that the US administration “should keep eye on radical mosques,” and he two is wrong. All over the Free World’s governments should keep thousands of eyes on each and every mosque and directly monitor all Muslim Imams. It is a must. Everything begins with them, from radicalization to legitimization, and at the end of the continuum, the performance and execution of terrorist attacks.
There is also the case of Western media, its agenda is unfortunately different from the best interests of Western security. Perhaps it is the right time to demand the media just to tell the truth. After reporting the Brussels massacre, the media in the US was very busy with the probability of the “rise of the right wing in Europe.” The cover story was “terrorism;” not Islamic terrorism. The debates on the TV’s did not deal with the issues of Islam, they have given the audience an ample time to listen to Islamic and Western propagandists to exhibit a peaceful compassionate Islam. For the media, ‘the right wing’ is the problem and not Islamic atrocities.
There are so many issues to consider: the coercive terrorism-Jihad, exhibited as homicide bombings, beheadings, lynching. Hatred Terrorism, exhibited by violent demonstrations, Western women rapes, and rioting. Demography terrorism, mass immigration of young and able Muslims representing the arrow-head and forefront of Muslims to occupy and inherit. Deceiving terrorism–Da’wah: exhibited by NGO’s and organization acting legally and politically as interest and pressure groups. They use the ignorance of Western world public opinion to market totally different kind of Islam, as if it is a peaceful, tolerant, and compassionate.
There are more: Judicial terrorism. Through the NGO’s and other organizations, Muslims excel in suing and bringing to court according to Western legal system and laws anyone they blame of insulting them or insulting Islam according to their own judgment. This is very articulate and beneficial strategy: on the one hand they use hideous terrorism, and on the other, anyone who calls the spade, a spade is harassed and summoned to court. “Legal Jihad” is exploiting every provision of the law in free societies to promote Islam and to silence its critics through expensive exhausting lawsuits. There is also cultural terrorism: Western peoples wish to appear liberals, and not to be called racists or fascists. This is the course mainly in Europe, especially after its colonial past and the horrors of the two World Wars of the 20th century. Therefore, by violently intimidating and accusing all those who say anything against Islam, Muslims define him a racist, an Islamophobe, and a liar. They highly succeed in silencing out of intimidation, even forcing Western politicians to apologize and to make concessions.
There is also the academic terrorism. The most important case belongs to Edward Said, and his so-called “research,” Orientalism. He deliberately used West’s guilt remorse of the colonialist-imperialist era to produce a full of twisted ideas book, which is promoted by the leftist’s ignorant in the academia to dance on Western sensibilities. Reality shows: accuse the Europeans with anything, just don’t call them racists or fascists. The Muslims have taken the advantage and yield concessions and appeasement from Westerners by using their historic cultural invention of victimology and misery. This has also a direct link to displacement-transference terrorism, accusing Israel with all Muslims’ evil, describing it as a danger to world peace.
However, Arab-Muslims commit all these atrocities. This is exactly Islamic history represented by two words: Ghazawat (raids) on the infidels’ lands and Ghana’em (taking booty) from them. But it is washed away from world public opinion and attention by ignorance, promoted by the media in association with the academia. Indeed, the Middle East is an unprecedented greenhouse of conspicuous vicious trends, exemplifying the epitome of evil: politically, dictatorship of Arab-Islamic authoritarian regimes and corrupt patrimonial leadership; socially, poverty, wretchedness, and coercion of the miserable population (being the main reason for the huge mass-immigration to the Western countries); morally-ethically, murderous regimes that brutalize its peoples, with politics of mass-murder, genocide; abuse of human and civil rights; oppression of women and honor killings; lynching and beheadings that still exists and pervasive.
It is highly recommended to change our perceptions of Islamic ideology and practice: that the Free World is already engaged in the Third World War declared by Islam more than twenty years ago, That it is an existential civilization threat, no less hazardous than the enemies of World War II, but Western leaders do not yet grasp this to fight back. That although this is not a declared war between states, its consequences are no less lethal to the Free World’s existence. That terrorism perpetrators are perhaps not the tyrants of the past, but the new tyranny World Jihad much more lethal. That not like the ideological wars of the past, World Jihad’s ideology is religiously fanatic being without compromise and appeasement. That we are witnessing raids of terrorism and slaughter by fanatics determined to destroy Western culture and intended to bring our civilization back to their 7th century.
Oriana Fallaci, the late Italian intellectual, one of the earlier prophets concerning Islam, has put the mired lethal situation of the Western World perhaps the best in context. Her words were a warning signpost, a wake-up call, Western leaders did not want to listen even to notice:
Wake up people, wake up. Paralyzed by the fear of appearing racist, you do not understand that the reverse crusade has commenced. Drugged by the stupidity or by shortsightedness of the adherents of political correctness, you do not internalize that a religious war is transpiring here. A war, whose objective is to conquer our souls and rob our freedoms. A war conducted with the goal of destroying our civilization and our way of life.
Stunned by the preponderance of false propaganda, you do not want to get it into your heads that if we do not defend ourselves, if we do not battle, jihad will win. It will win and destroy the world which we were able to build. It will make our culture and identity disappear.
Debating them is pointless; conducting a dialogue with them is useless; and demonstrating tolerance towards them is suicide. How is it that leftists never open their mouths against the Muslim world’s primitive, theocratic regimes, which have no democracy, no freedoms and no individual rights? Why were we killed and die in wars declared against the enemies of freedom and civilization? Are these principles invalid to the despotic Islamic regimes?
Enough of your double standards of morality; enough of your opacity; enough of your hypocrisy. Crickets of all countries and languages stop the confusion and start along the path to sobriety. The mountain of Islam has not moved for 1400 years; a mountain that consciously opts for primitiveness and ignorance and is ruled by fanatics. Europe is becoming a province of Islam.
Impact of Terrorist Organizations in the Middle East
Terrorism is a significant variable in security studies and it is hindering a wide range of safety. Likewise, because of the emotional expansion in psychological militant assaults in the course of the most recent twenty years, have economies have found a way broad ways to work on the political, social, and financial circumstances by diminishing outer struggles and fear monger assaults.
The Global Terrorism Database (GTD) distinguishes psychological oppression as a danger or genuine utilization of illicit or vicious power by a non-administrative individual or gathering to accomplish a political, monetary, strict, or social objective through dread. This is on the grounds that these exercises are intended to make mental impacts and their belongings go past the survivors of fear-monger occurrences.
Definitions of terrorism are dubious because of issues of marking activities as psychological warfare advances the judgment of the entertainers, which might reflect philosophical or political predisposition. Definition of terrorism as characterized by the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) is termed as “a non-state entertainer’s compromised or genuine use of unlawful authority and viciousness to attain a political, monetary, strict, or social purpose through dread, coercion, or scaring.” The people in issue, or the victims of fear-based oppression, have little in common with the fear-mongers, but they address a larger human population whose response the fear-mongers need. It is critical to comprehend that fear mongers are sane entertainers. They have a particular reason for their utilization of savagery and guess that it will make a response from the crowd that they are focusing on.
According to the GTD (2018), the Middle East has accumulated the greatest number of losses on the planet, notably since roughly 2001. Due to challenges such as high unemployment rates, money shortages, single-item financial elements, low levels of per capita payments, and slow monetary growth in the Middle East, these countries must rely on foreign speculation to beat these problems. Given the financial needs of these countries, bringing in an unfamiliar endeavour can play an important role. Differentiating the effects of capital flight and fear- based negative events in these countries might help policymakers improve or maintain business as usual.
In 2016, Iraq had 2,965 terrorist attacks, Afghanistan had 1,342, and Syria had 366. Conversely, there were 30 fear-monger assaults in all of Western Europe around the same time. However, the Global Terrorism Database notes that the number of fear-mongering attacks in Europe is increasing, the situation in the Middle East is far more concerning—a region where assaults are a piece of day-to-day existence for some residents.
The costs of psychological warfare, on the other hand, go far beyond literal annihilation. There are also significant social and financial consequences in the Middle East. ISIS has scoured a large number of historical heritage places in Iraq and Syria. Given their social and historical significance, the worth of many of these locations is incalculable. According to some sources, the sale of stolen antiques on the black market may be ISIS’ second-largest source of revenue, after oil. Some of these antique relics have been discovered in London’s antique shops. UNESCO has added a number of important locations to its list of endangered places due to pillage and obliteration, including six new sites in 2013.
The emotional drop-off in the travel business inside Syria and Iraq adds to these disasters. The Syrian Ministry of Tourism has attempted to aid the tourism business by distributing a series of YouTube recordings. The recordings show Syria’s recognisable blue waves and beautiful seashores, in an effort to rehabilitate a country that many associate solely with war atrocities. In 2011, just before the Syrian civil war reached its most destructive stage, 8.5 million tourists visited the country, contributing almost $8.3 billion to the economy (around 13.5 percent of Syria’s GDP). In 2014, however, only 400,000 tourists visited Syria. Several nations, including Tunisia and Egypt, have seen similar drops in the travel industry following psychological oppressor attacks, causing massive economic damage.
Oil is one of the Middle East’s most basic endeavours, and terrorism has a huge impact on it. Oil offices have been identified by psychological militants in a few Middle Eastern countries, causing supply shortages. Because of ISIS attacks, Iraqi oil production dropped by as much as 320,000 barrels per day at one time. Various oil offices are included in ISIS’ jurisdiction. The profits from oil sales go to the psychological militant group, diverting funds that would otherwise go to public foundation programmes. ISIS held 60% of Syria’s oil reserves in 2014, and the group made approximately $3 million per day from the illegal oil trade. Despite the fact that ISIS has recently lost a lot of territory, it still controls large wells in northern Iraq, preventing Baghdad from collecting much-needed cash.
Psychological oppression has a considerably greater impact on the Middle East’s economy than it does on the European economy. Given that the Middle East has seen the sharpest increase in illegal intimidation over the past 15 years, it appears to be a basic mistake that assessments have not attempted to gauge the absolute cost of psychological tyranny.
Organizations in Western nations which store these investigations are, maybe justifiably, more concerned about the impact of psychological persecution on their own countries. It is simple for the Western world to excuse the expense of psychological warfare in the Middle East since it is both far away and a piece of day-to-day existence for the area’s kin. Interestingly, demonstrations of terrorism in the West are considered perilous abnormalities.
While the actual effects of terrorism in the Middle East should be the primary focus of counterterrorism efforts, the financial consequences should not be disregarded. Estimating the cost of psychological warfare as a means of identifying knowledge gaps and obstacles has merit. Counterterrorism authorities should help alleviate the excessive financial repercussions that fanatic gatherings have on the Middle East by recognising and securing vital territorial income streams like the tourism industry and oil.
The Deadliest Enemies: China’s Overseas Military Bases in Central Asia and Uyghur’s Turkestan Islamic Party
Amid the burgeoning sentimental relationship between Beijing and the resurrected Taliban’s Emirate 2.0, the al Qaeda-affiliated Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) has aggravated its propaganda war against Communist China, hence cleverly concealing its historically faithful jihadi bonds with the Afghan Taliban. Despite the Taliban’s assurances of non-interference in China’s internal affairs, Beijing is building up its military presence in post-Soviet Central Asia. One example is its establishment of military bases in the Af-Pak-China-Tajik strategic arena near the isthmus of the Wakhan Corridor in Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan province.
Although China did not camouflage its contentment with the failed US policy in Afghanistan and sought to leverage the Taliban victory as its foreign policy asset, Beijing has faced the Taliban’s elusive stance in curbing the Uyghur jihadists challenges. Today, the Celestial is well conscious of its harsh realities. With the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan, Beijing lost a safe buffer zone in the strategically critical Afghan-Chinese borders area in Badakhshan, which has afforded with free secure area for over 20 years. While the US’s presence in the region disturbed China, it nevertheless provided Beijing with relative stability and protected from the infiltration of global al Qaeda elements into the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
Therefore, by showcasing its concern over its instability in the neighboring country, Beijing prefers to pressure Taliban on security matters, claiming that Afghanistan should not become a safe haven for terrorist organizations such as the Turkestan Islamic Party. On October 25, during the bilateral meeting in Qatar’s Doha, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pressed Taliban’s Acting Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi to make a clean break with Uyghur jihadists of TIP and to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a hotbed of global terrorism.
The Taliban’s Interim government is accustomed in responding to such external pressures from its neighbors and the international community. The typicality of its response lies in the denial of the presence of Central Asian and Uyghur terrorist groups on Afghan soil, further wittily dodging the topic of its ties with al Qaeda. Taliban strategists seeking international recognition have apparently developed cunning tactics to carefully conceal their ties to al Qaeda and Central Asian jihadi groups, while maintaining the bayat (oath of allegiance) of veteran strategic partners in holy jihad.
And this time, Taliban representative Suhail Shaheen voiced a stock answer, stating “many Uyghur fighters of TIP have left Afghanistan because the Taliban has categorically told them there is no place for anyone to use Afghan soil against other countries, including its neighboring countries.” But the Chinese authorities are well aware of the Taliban’s insincerity on this matter. In turn, the Taliban realized that the authorities of China and Central Asian states did not believe their statements. As a consequence, Beijing denied the Taliban’s claims, claiming that approximately 200-300 Uyghur militants of TIP currently live in the Takhar province near Baharak town.
Certainly, to calm Chinese concerns and encourage deeper economic cooperation with Beijing, the Taliban has removed TIP Uyghur jihadists from the 76-kilometer Afghan-China border area in Badakhshan to the eastern province of Nangarhar in early October. The Taliban’s double play testifies their walk on a fine line between pragmatism and jihadi ideology, especially when they simultaneously want to look like a state and maintain a historical relationship with al Qaeda.
A short look at Taliban-China relations
Since the mid-1990s, the Af-Pak border arena has remained at the center of China’s security and counter-terrorism strategy. Chinese policymakers were concerned that the TIP’s Uyghur militants found refuge in Afghanistan’s border region of Badakhshan and are waging a decades-old holy jihad to liberate Eastern Turkestan from the iron claw of Beijing. Within this framework, China’s counter-terrorism policy aims to prevent the challenge of the TIP Uyghur jihadists who have been deeply integrated into global al Qaeda’s structure over the past quarter-century. This undertaking surfaced on Beijing’s agenda since the collapse the pro-Moscow regime of Mohammad Najibullah in 1992 and became extremely acute after the Taliban’s lightning seizure of power in August 2021.
In order to break the long-standing and trusted jihadi ties between TIP and the Taliban, Beijing has emerged as a pragmatic backer of the Taliban’s new rule, promising economic and development support through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). For its part, the Interim Afghan government, seeking international recognition, has called China a most important partner and pushed for deeper cooperation with Beijing.
Following the steps of its historical diplomacy of flexibility and pragmatism from the Qing dynasty, Beijing has forged a pragmatic and operative relationship with the Taliban for nearly thirty years. Since Taliban’s first rise to power in 1996, this pragmatic relationship has been centered in China’s counterterrorism strategy. Guided by the “Art of War” strategy of the ancient Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu, Beijing decided to “defeat the enemy without fighting”. In 1999, China launched flights between Kabul and Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uyghur region, and established economic ties with the Taliban who patronized Uyghur militants of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM – now TIP).
In December 2000, China’s Ambassador to Pakistan Lu Shulin met with the Taliban’s founder leader Mullah Omar in Kandahar, in which Lu voiced Beijing’s position on the need to stop harboring Uyghur jihadists operating in Afghanistan. Consecutively, the Taliban anticipated that China would recognize their government and prevent further UN sanctions. During the meeting, Mullah Omar assured Lu that the Taliban “will not allow any group to use its territory for any activities against China.” But this deal was only half materialized. While Omar did restrain Uyghur jihadists to attack China’s interests in Af-Pak zone, he did not expel them from Afghanistan. And Beijing did not oppose new UN sanctions against the Taliban, it only abstained.
Following the collapse of Mullah Omar’s so-called Sharia regime after 9/11, China did not sever its ties with the Taliban leaving room for strategic change in the future. Putting eggs in different baskets, in 2014-2020, China secretly hosted Taliban delegations in Beijing several times and provoked them to active struggle against foreign invaders for the liberation of the country. However, China’s central focus in their contacts with the Taliban has always been to curb the Uyghur jihad against the Celestial and build a first line of defense in the Wakhan Corridor along the Af-Pak-China-Tajik strategic arena.
Hence, according to China’s Counter-Terrorism Strategy, securing BRI strategic projects overseas from TIP attacks and blocking the Salafi-Jihadi ideology in Xinjiang became even more important for Beijing since the Taliban overtook the power. Counterterrorism and concerns of Islamic radicalization were the justification for China’s crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, where the CCP has imprisoned more than 1.5 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz Muslim minorities in concentration camps, manically depriving them of their religion, language and culture since 2014.
China’s military footprint in Central Asia
Predictably, the abrupt US withdrawal from Afghanistan encouraged Beijing to continue its aggressive and assertive foreign policy toward Central Asia to expand its BRI projects in the region. If before, in exchange for its economic assistance, Beijing demanded from Central Asian nations to adhere the “One-China policy” (recognition Taiwan as part of PRC) and support its war against “three evils” (separatism, religious extremism and international terrorism), then now it is also stepping up the military footprint in the region.
On October 27, the Tajik Majlisi Namoyandagon (lower house of parliament) approved China’s proposal to fund the construction of a $10 million military base in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province near the intersection of the Af-China-Tajik borders arena. The agreement which reached between Tajikistan’s Interior Ministry and China’s Public Security Ministry, indicates the new base would be owned by the Rapid Reaction Group of the Interior Ministry.
This is not Beijing’s first overseas military base in Central Asia. China already operates a military base located 10 km from the Tajik-Afghan border and 25 km from the Tajik-Chinese border in the Tajikstan’s Gorny Badakhshan province on the isthmus of the Wakhan corridor. Thus, the Chinese base overlooks a crucial entry point from China into Central Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In accordance with secret agreements signed in 2015 or 2016 between China and Tajikistan, Beijing has built three commandant’s offices, five border outposts and a training center, and refurbished 30 guard posts on the Tajik side of the country’s border with Afghanistan.
In July 2021, the Tajik government offered to transfer complete control of this military base to Beijing and waive any future rent in exchange for military aid from China. The Chinese military base in Tajikistan has no regular troops of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), but has representatives of the People’s Armed Police (PAP). It is worth pointing out that China, concerned about the activities of TIP’s militants in Xinjiang and their potential links with transnational terrorism, adopted the first counter-terrorism legislation on December 27, 2015. The law provides a legal basis for various counter-terrorism organs, including the PAP, empowering it with broad repressive functions. PAP members currently serve at China’s overseas military base in Tajikistan, the main function of which is counter-terrorism monitoring of Tajik-Af-Pak border movements.
It is imperative to note that China is concentrating its military facilities not in the depths of Tajik territory but precisely on the isthmus of the vital Wakhan corridor at the Af-Pak-China-Tajik borders intersection. In the mid-90s, Uyghur militants fled China’s brutal repression via the Wakhan corridor to join the Taliban, al Qaeda and TIP in Afghanistan. In their propaganda messages, TIP ideologists often mention the Wakhan Corridor as a “Nusrat (victory) trail” through which the “long-awaited liberation of East Turkestan from the Chinese infidels will come.”
The mastery of the Af-Pak-China-Tajik strategic arena is currently critical to Beijing for several reasons. First, the holding the Wakhan Gorge allows China not to depend solely on the will of the Taliban to prevent attacks by Uyghur jihadists of TIP. Secondly, it gives China an additional lever of pressure on the Taliban to sever their ties with Uyghur militants, playing on the contradictions between Tajikistan and the Afghan Interim government. And finally, Beijing is well positioned to protect its future investments in the Afghan economy through the BRI project.
China’s aggressive and assertive move into Russia’s traditional sphere of influence does not make the Kremlin nervous as much as the US military presence in the region. Quite possibly, China’s expansion of its military presence in Tajikistan was coordinated with Russia, which considers Central Asia to be its southern flank. Because Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan are part of the Russian-led CSTO military alliance, opening a foreign military base in one of them requires the consent of this military block. Now, the two most considerable regional powers, Russia and China can be expected to pursue common counterterrorism strategies through the coordination and information-sharing on TIP Uyghur jihadists and Russian-speaking fighters based in Taliban-led Afghanistan.
Propaganda war between Communist China and Turkestan Islamic Party
As Beijing tries to fill the power vacuum left by the United States and expand its political and economic influence over the Afghan Taliban’s Interim Government, the veteran Uyghur jihadi group of Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) and newly emerged Katibat al-Ghuraba al-Turkestani (KGT) are respectively intensifying their ideological war against the China’s Communist regime.
The media center Islam Avazi (Voice of Islam), the TIP’s propaganda machine, systematically and vociferously criticizes the Chinese Communist government as “atheist occupiers” and “Chinese invaders” for occupying the lands of East Turkestan. Recently the TIP’s main mouthpiece in its weekly radio program on the Uyghur-language website ‘Muhsinlar’ stated that “China’s overseas military bases are evidence of its evil intentions to occupy new Islamic lands through creeping expansion.” Then the Uyghur speaker insists that “temporarily settling in new lands, the Chinese kafirs (disbeliever) will never leave there, a vivid example of which is the tragic experience of East Turkistan, whose religion, culture and history are Sinicized, and its titular Muslims are being brutally repressed.”
Our research indicates that despite their longstanding involvement in the global jihad in Afghanistan and Syria and their strong alliances through oaths of allegiance (bayat) with al Qaeda, Taliban and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the central ideology of Uyghur Jihadists is the fight against the Chinese Communist regime. The strategic goal of the Turkestan Islamic Party is to liberate the historical lands of East Turkestan, now known as Xinjiang, from the occupation of the Chinese “communist infidels” and to build its own state with Sharia rule there. In their regular statements, audios and videos, TIP propagandists raised the victimization of Uyghur Muslims during China’s occupation of East Turkistan, which has long been a key theme in TIP’s ideological doctrine.
Amid establishing Chinese overseas military bases in Central Asia, TIP’s media center Islam Avazi has sharply intensified anti-Beijing propaganda. Both the Taliban and TIP have double standards in this regard. Criticizing the Chinese Communist regime, TIP deliberately avoids and never condemns Taliban’s recent close ties with the China. At the same time, when the Taliban recently criticized New Delhi for persecuting Muslims in Indian-administered Kashmir and call themselves defenders of the oppressed Muslim Ummah, they tried to sidestep the topic of China’s crackdown on Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
Future of Uyghur Jihad in Post-American Afghanistan
Thus, even though the TIP remains an essential player of global jihad and a vanguard for the Uyghur cause, China’s pressure on the Taliban and its military bases in Central Asia will force Uyghur fighters to curb their jihadi ambitions in post-American Afghanistan. Undoubtedly, as before, the Taliban will continue their attempts to marginalize Central Asian jihadi groups in Afghanistan, making them completely dependent on their will and exploiting them for their political purposes.
It is difficult to predict to what extent the Uyghur jihadists have the strength and patience to withstand Taliban moral pressure and Chinese intelligence persecution in the new Afghanistan. Interestingly, researchers at the Newlines Institute claim the Taliban’s collaboration with Chinese military advisers present in Afghanistan. According to a senior source within the Taliban, “some 40 advisers from China (including some military ones) deployed to Afghanistan on October 3.” Therefore, it will be difficult for TIP to maintain its developed propaganda apparatus, to enhance its organizational capabilities in the new realities of Afghanistan, when Chinese overseas military bases are breathing down its neck.
Beijing’s military footprint on the Af-Pak-China-Tajik border arena will force TIP to demonstrate its diplomatic and strategic ability in seeking support and solidarity from numerous umbrellas jihadi organizations such as al Qaeda, Jalaluddin Haqqani’s Haqqani network, the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, HTS, and even Islamic State in Khorasan (IS-K). Suppose al Qaeda continues to weaken, and IS-K grows stronger via targeted attacks and successful recruitment. In that case, Central Asian jihadists may change their jihadi flag and join IS-K. The most capable defectors from al Qaeda to ISIS were Uzbek, Tajik and Uyghur foreign fighters in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, as their experience has shown.
Any TIP’s move to take the jihad back to Xinjiang for its liberation, undoubtedly, will face steep odds. Beijing’s repressive security measures, such as high-tech mass surveillance and mass detention of Uyghurs in so-called re-education camps, have long deprived TIP of its network in Xinjiang. Worries that TIP is poised to ravage Xinjiang, therefore, seem overblown. With demographic changes in the Xinjiang region, where the Han population is almost the majority, the TIP has lost its social underpinning and perspective of waging jihad within the country.
In conclusion, wary of antagonizing Beijing and its dependence on Chinese economic largesse, the Taliban Interim government will progressively reduce its support for Uyghur jihadists. The establishment of Chinese military bases on the isthmus of the Wakhan Corridor and the strengthening of its anti-terrorism initiatives, combined with the monitoring of the Af-Pak-China-Tajik arena, call into question the extent to which TIP can conduct operations against China’s BRI.
Lastly, a rapprochement between China and the Taliban leaves TIP cornered, limiting room for maneuver and forcing some Uyghur Muhajireen (foreign fighters) to carry out a hijrah (migration) to Syria’s Idlib province to join their fellow tribesmen from Xinjiang. Nevertheless, despite this grim appraisal of TIP’s prospects in post-American Afghanistan, it can capitalize from its commitment to transnational jihad and expand its international network exploiting the Syrian melting pot. Indeed, given the physical remoteness from China’s overseas military bases, the Syrian quagmire will give the TIP a certain latitude, strengthening its ability to assert itself on the global jihad.
Author’s note: This article was first published by a SpecialEurasia Research Institute, which partners with Modern Diplomacy.
Can the Taliban tame ETIM?
The Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) is also known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) is a Uyghur Islamic extremist organization founded in the Xinjiang province of China. TIP is the new name, although China still calls it by the name ETIM and refuses to acknowledge it as TIP. The ETIM was founded in 1997 by Hasan Mahsum before being killed by a Pakistani army in 2003. Its stated aim is to establish an independent state called ‘East Turkestan’ replacing Xinjiang. The United States removed it from its list of terrorist Organizations in 2020. The group and its ties to Muslim fundamentalism have compounded Chinese concerns about the rising threat of terrorism within the country.
In Tianjin, the Taliban’s political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar again pledged to “never allow any force” to engage in acts detrimental to China. Suhail Shaheen, the Afghan Taliban’s spokesperson, said in an exclusive interview with the Global Times that many ETIM members had left Afghanistan because Taliban had categorically told them that Afghanistan can’t be used to launch attacks against other countries. The Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had also asked the Taliban to crack down on the ETIM, which is based out of the Xinjiang province. In view of the Taliban’s pro-China stance on the ETIM, the article will assess the feasibility of the Taliban’s promises of not providing sanctuaries to the groups which are direct threat to the national security of China.
First, this statement surprises the experts in view of the Taliban’s historic relationship with the ETIM. According to a recent United Nations Security Council report, ETIM has approximately 500 fighters in northern Afghanistan, mostly located in Badakhshan province, which adjoins Xinjiang in China via the narrow Wakhan Corridor. Most of Badakhshan is now under Taliban control, but according to some reports, Tajik, Uzbek, Uighur and Chechen fighters comprise the bulk of the local Taliban rank and file, rather than Pashtun fighters. This scenario appears very challenging for the top leadership of the Taliban to deny sanctuaries to such loyalists.
Second, ETIM is operating in Afghanistan since 1990. It has strong links with the local Taliban commanders. The local Taliban commanders may put pressure on the top leadership or hinder the extradition of ETIM members from Afghanistan. Zhu Yongbiao, director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies at Lanzhou University, thinks that ETIM members in Afghanistan still have some influence. It may not be easy for the Taliban to fully cut ties with all ETIM members in Afghanistan as it may hurt other military militants that used to support it.
Third, the Taliban’s capacity to tame the ETIM is limited because its all members and leadership have scattered across Afghanistan, Syria and Turkey. Zhang Jiadong, a professor with the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, told the Global Times, “In recent years, the ETIM also changed its living areas overseas. The exact number of ETIM members is hard to know but “its core members are living in countries including Pakistan, Syria, and Turkey. More of them stay in Syria than in Afghanistan and have been keeping a low profile in recent years”.
Fourth, the ETIM has developed close ties with international militant organizations, including Al Qaeda. Moreover, Al Qaeda has significant influence over the Taliban. Al Qaeda has ability and resources to sabotage the extradition of ETIM members from Afghanistan. Some militant organizations including IS-K have developed the ideological differences with the Afghan Taliban. IS-K recently used a Uyghur fighter for suicide campaign in Afghanistan just to show fissure between the Taliban and ETIM. So, this trend can be a challenge for the Afghan Taliban.
The Taliban’s new stance of not providing sanctuaries to the ETIM contradicts with some of its founding principles. The Taliban’s new version on ETIM is not easy to follow. Time will be the true judge of the feasibility of Taliban’s new stance.
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