Over the past two years, the development of Artificial Intelligence and the new techniques for using Big Data has become both faster and more widespread.
According to the old definition, by Artificial Intelligence we mean teaching a machine to think like a man, while Big Data is such a large mass of data in terms of quantity, speed and variety that it has to enable specific technologies and methods to extrapolate data from news already learned and extract new data and links from the news which seem unrelated to one another.
This ranges, for example, from the analytical forecast of buyers’ behaviours -by always using machine learning – to the inference of relations between single data and sequences of phenomena. Just to make an example, each buyer wants a specific reward.
Currently we also have the possibility of developing Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs), which create objects not existing in reality, but similar to reality, as well as faces that have never been seen before but are quite probable, and objects that do not exist but seem to work well.
Not to mention the self-correcting systems based on concepts that are adapted by the machine itself, as well as programs that self-create themselves, starting from a small nucleus.
In the United States, the total investment in AI companies is already worth 2.3 billion US dollars.
According to the analysts of this specific market, however, there are some trends which will emerge shortly and will make the difference among the various global competitors.
Reinforcement learning, for example, is a technique enabling the software used to maximize a cumulative reward. An information reward or even a reward in terms of speed in data search.
A sort of Pavlovian algorithm favoring the most suitable AI network and, above all, more capable of creating new algorithms during its “evolutionary” activity.
This AI device is needed for robots, but – as can be easily imagined – also for university training or for health, especially for arranging therapies for chronic diseases or even for analyzing and forecasting the share flows on the markets.
There is also Artificial Intelligence for quantum computing, i.e. a technology used by the computers operating with quantum physics.
Besides processing information in the “classic” way, quantum computers use two specific characteristics of the quantum system, i.e. overlapping – where two or more quantum states can be added together – and entanglement that implies, in a counter-intuitive way, the presence of many remote correlations among all the physical quantum states examined.
Hence an availability of data and calculation speeds, enabling to carry out previously unimaginable operations: the analysis of continental climate change; the world economic cycles of raw materials; the number and physical constants of galaxies in space.
In the future, there will also be convergence between AI and the Internet of Things, which will make both the construction of vehicles and their driving autonomous.
Another short-term integration will be between blockchain technology and Artificial Intelligence.
We have often spoken about blockchain, but in this case it is above all the integration between the blockchain “closed” network and a selective data collection or, otherwise, a patented and still secret technology.
Another promising AI sector is facial recognition, as well as the specialized programs’ ability to recognize manipulated data.
We can easily imagine to what extent this algorithm is important in intelligence analysis.
We will also have complex neural networks available for “deep learning” but, above all, we will have the possibility of developing very complex and highly predictive socio-economic models.
Deep Learning is the AI automatic learning network using concept or sign hierarchies, where higher-level concepts are defined by lower-level concepts. Identifying the genetic sequences of some diseases, as well as identifying tumors with X-ray and arranging an automatic supermarket are all Deep Learning operations.
However, there will also be significant developments in privacy protection and in the development and processing of natural language, both for Deep Learning, which often uses personal data, and for the other AI techniques.
Hence how do major countries act, faced with this new extraordinary technological and productive opportunity?
China has entered the global AI “first level” as early as 2017, while it sells many weapons with Artificial Intelligence content in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) and in the areas where it is not possible to trigger competition between China and the other countries having AI technologies.
For the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, war is currently shifting from the destruction of the “conventional” enemy to the operations for harming and eliminating the enemy, which are based on AI, but are extremely fast and aim at the enemy’s complete destruction.
For China, in the future war will be a “confrontation of algorithms” and not a clash of “forces”.
In addition, President Xi Jinping and his team believe that, as the role of AI is expanding in both the civilian and military systems, China must rely ever less on imported technologies and ever more on those developed within China.
Precisely in October 2018, President Xi chaired a special Politburo on AI.
Hence strategic, scientific and technological self-centeredness, together with the achievement of world hegemony.
An important strategic element in the Chinese AI doctrine is the need – raised by some leaders as early as 2018 – to “avoid the AI global threat” and hence set some global checks at multilateral level, as happened for nuclear and chemical weapons.
A recent document drafted by the China Academy for Information and Communication Technology already speaks openly about international standards that can put AI under control.
Furthermore, the Chinese military decision-makers are already thinking about a future war “without fighters”, with weapons fully independent from man and even transported autonomously.
Currently China is already exporting most of its aerial drones to the Middle East, including the latest generation ones, which are almost all remote-controlled.
China, however, also shows strong interest in military robotics and, particularly, in automated military decision-making.
In China’s current doctrine, there is – first and foremost -intelligence supremacy, which is almost naturally followed by AI dominance.
In Xinjiang, for example, Artificial Intelligence is already used against local terrorists.
In this case, AI technologies are used to identify and track all terrorist activities, both through the sensor network and by means of facial recognition technologies and the recognition of other physical characteristics.
Moreover, the Chinese government has established two new research centres in the AI field, namely the Unmanned Systems Research Center and the Artificial Intelligence Research Center.
They are dedicated to the AI dual use research -both civilian and military research – but, despite other countries’ undeniable AI development, China wants to become the top country in the field of research, AI patents, venture capital invested in AI and number of companies dealing with Artificial Intelligence. Finally, it wants to become the largest pool of talent in the world.
With specific reference to the analysis of its own strategic weaknesses, currently China perceives it has AI limits in terms of best researchers; technical standards used; the quality of software platforms and the evolution of semiconductors – which is essential for developing advanced software systems.
Chinese leaders find other technological limits of their country’s AI project in the specific hardware for AI platforms and in the evolution of algorithms.
Currently the “best” AI experts are approximately 204,575 worldwide.
The United States currently has at least 28,536 of them and China, which is already ranking second, has over 18,232 of them.
China, however, is still ranking only eighth in the list of Top AI talent, with mere 997 AI scientists at the highest levels, compared to 5,518 in the United States.
With specific reference to the search for new AI technologies and markets, in its official documents China argues that we should always “abide by market mechanisms, but step up the marketing of AI technologies to create a comparative advantage. Finally, Chinese operators must always well understand the division of labour between the market and the government.” Marketing to create a comparative advantage is a very interesting concept to evaluate China’s Artificial Intelligence strategy.
For China the turning point will be the development and autonomous innovation in the semiconductor industry, which currently – as in the past – is at the core of information technologies, at first, and later of AI technologies.
In the future, the new AI technologies will be quickly marketed in China to support the financial effort for their implementation and, above all, to keep on operating with the old mass tools and instruments in the intelligence field.
In abstract terms, however, which are the factors of national power in the AI era? Firstly, a large amount of useful data must be available.
In fact, AI will greatly increase the power of the countries capable of identifying, acquiring and applying the data sets enabling to develop new effective AI architectures.
More data, more algorithms. More algorithms, more accuracy and complexity.
Furthermore, considering that the abilities for developing AI are still very rare in the research community, the Artificial Intelligence competition will be won by the country that will invest a great deal of resources in research but, above all, in the salaries and scientific equipment of AI researchers.
Nor should we forget the resources for calculation, which must already be very large.
Currently the most powerful computer in the world is already Chinese.
Then there must also be the political or economic incentive to adopt AI in business, in companies or in offices.
With specific reference to investment, a sound correlation is also needed between the private and the public sectors.
China is favoured from this viewpoint, considering its link between the military and scientific academies, while the United States shows some limits.
These limits are inherent in the Silicon Valley’s private operating logic and in the scarce relations between it and the military decision-makers.
Finally, however, there is also a smart – and not mythological – assessment of privacy regulations.
The countries that – sometimes obsessively-give priority to privacy over other regulations, are obviously slower in developing advanced AI technology.
Here again material technology is decisive in itself: the evolution in graphics cards, the chips with particular characteristics and the evolution of hardware enable to achieve not the abstract possibility of Artificial Intelligence, but its operational existence.
Without a specific level of technology already reached, AI is simply impossible.
Apart from the United States and China, Israel invests in AI for both commercial and military reasons: currently Israel has already collected a total amount of 7.5 billion dollars to invest in AI, with 950 small companies, 51% of which use machine learning technologies.
The Russian Federation has long been investing a great deal of resources in AI and robotics.
Last year Russia even doubled its AI investment while, according to its military leaders, “robots will be the real protagonists of the future war”, while Russian military staff is already tending to the “complete automation of military space “.
The well-known Kalashnikov company has already studied and marketed a series of autonomous weapons, managed by AI neural networks. In the near future, however, there will be Russian robotic nuclear submarines, in addition to the Armata T-14tank – also incorporating AI technologies -which has already been used in Syria.
Here the legal matters to which China sometimes refer are linked, above all, to the Convention on Prohibition or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons which may be deemed to be excessively injurious or to have indiscriminate Effects, a Geneva Convention of 1981 signed by 50 States.
While the aforementioned Convention applies to the new killer robots and lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS), Russia, the United States, China and Israel must obviously put new types of LAWS into action.
They are certainly not robots like those of the 1960s comics, but conventional weapons, at least apparently, which decide for themselves – without human command and control – who must live and who must die.
China, however, agrees with the new LAWS criteria, but the fact is that: a) LAWS weapons are decisive for the future battlefield; b) China has already decided and established the technologies suitable for the future LAWS; c) China has developed even more advanced weapons, in relation to the new growing powers.
The new arms race will always take place within the AI context.
With specific reference to Russia, however, additional considerations must be made.
In 2014, Russia’s political and financial system defined 9 high-tech sectors, in view of Russia producing these AI technologies by the end of 2035.
The projects are AutoNet, AeroNet, EnergyNet, FinNet, FoodNet, HealthNet, MariNet, NeuroNet and SafeNet, which are basically all AI networks.
So far 1,400 AI projects have been carried out in Russia. According to the Russian government’s forecasts, the AI and machine learning market is expected to increase by at least three times within 2020 while, over the next five years, 80% of decisions in financial markets will be taken through AI, while 50% of the service sector will still be dominated by AI techniques, in both the field of e-commerce and of other types of trade.
There is also Singapore, a small but powerful hub for Artificial Intelligence.
Finally, there is South Korea, which uses AI for its financial and export markets but, above all, to control the Demilitarized Zone on the border with North Korea.
Hence, in principle, we could say that AI operates preferably in capital-intensive countries.
Certainly, with specific reference to the AI military issues, in the United States there is Google, which can be partly used by strategic networks, but China has full State control of the Internet, which allows a huge collection of data to later process some “useful” algorithms.
In principle, we have already seen China’s future AI strategy.
Conversely, so far the United States has not had a real national AI strategy, although currently – after some documents of the White House during Barack Obama’s Presidency, but above all after some decisions taken by President Trump – AI has been integrated into the Defence sector and is examined in relation to the possibility of creating a private market leading to the victory of the US Artificial intelligence over the Chinese or Russian ones.
Among the countries which are less interested in or capable of achieving AI hegemony, there is also India, which is interested in the Artificial Intelligence applications in the agriculture and administration sectors, while it deals with automated land vehicles and robotics in the Defence field.
In April 2018 the European Union developed a “Strategy for Artificial Intelligence”, with 20 billion euros of public and private investments until 2020 and additional 20 million in the following decade.
There will also be a group of EU experts, although we do not know yet who will appoint them. This group will deal with the ethical guidelines for the use of Artificial Intelligence.
The Italian public investment for the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence must be placed within this framework. In the public budget for the period 2019-2020, this investment is expected to be 15 million euros. There is no need for further comments.
The Role and Place of the Taliban on the Global Map of Islam: Challenges and Threats
The rise to power of the Taliban (a terrorist organization banned in Russia) in August 2021 has raised a number of questions about how the world community should deal with the organization, an ardent proponent of Islam that calls for an all-out Sharia system to be established in Afghanistan. As a case in point here, many experts and media outlets refer to the Taliban as either a structure linked to the terrorist Islamic State (banned in Russia) or as a legitimate Sharia state, much like Saudi Arabia or Iran. The group is seen as both jihadist and traditionalist. All these differing and often mutually exclusive assessments make it difficult to identify the group’s ideological leanings within Islam. At the same time, accurate forecasts of its influence on the world of political Islam—and on the global processes at large—will depend on a correct understanding of the Taliban’s role and place in the many-faceted world of Islam.
The Taliban and Salafi-jihadis
The most accurate definition to characterize the various international terrorist organizations purportedly acting on behalf of Islam is that of “Salafi jihadism,” which was introduced in 2002 by the scholar Gilles Kepel to describe a “hybrid Islamist ideology” developed by volunteers from Arab and Muslim countries during the first Afghan War (1979–1992) . Salafism came to be the spiritual, doctrinal and methodological foundation of this radical movement.
This fundamentalist and conservative trend in Islam originated in the 18th century in Najd, Arabia, and was formulated by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. It then acquired not only its own doctrinal but also theological attitudes that differ from other schools of Islam, including the Sunni school. Essentially, all international jihadists are mostly followers of the teachings of Najdi Salafism. This also applies to Al-Qaeda and the IS (both banned in Russia), as well as other organizations. Besides, Salafism seems to be a fairly moderate movement, like in Saudi Arabia or Qatar, unless it is tied to the ideology of global jihad, which otherwise turns it into Salafi jihadism.
The Taliban, however, do not adhere to the Najdi school of Salafism, which puts them beyond the jihadist mainstream. They consistently support the Hanafi madhhab and Maturidi Kalam (Maturidism), both being typical of Afghanistan. Many affiliates of the Taliban studied in religious institutions—primarily, in the Deobandi madrasah “Hakkaniya” in Pakistan. They mostly arose as a branch of the Islamic university in Indian Deoband that occupies a special place in the Hanafi school of Islam, giving its name to a trend in Hanafism.
At this point, it should be borne in mind that insurmountable doctrinal and theological contradictions stand between the Hanafi-Maturidis and the Salafis. For instance, some Salafis see Maturidites as heretics because of their stance on the divine properties and attributes, in the interpretations of which they allowed allegory (ta’wil). In turn and for the very same reason, Hanafis-Maturidites regard Salafis as Mujassim, impious anthropomorphists. In addition, discrepancies related to the permissibility of Sufi practices, the celebration of Mawlid, the use of rosaries and amulets are unacceptable innovations from the point of view of the Salafis. This is often accompanied by mutual accusations of disbelief, which severely limits the potential for interaction between Salafi jihadists and the Taliban.
Such differences appeared before the rise of the Taliban, during the first Afghan War as well as in the disputes between the founders of Salafi jihadism, Abdullah Azzam and Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, who arrived in Afghanistan to help the Mujahideen. While Azzam adhered to Salafism, he believed that the Afghans still remain Muslims, be they Hanafi-Maturidis or Sufis. Meanwhile, al Maqdisi insisted that they must first be forced to abandon their own views and “innovations” to be turned to Salafism. That is, they should first be taught “monotheism”, only then followed by military sciences. Subsequently, Azzam’s position was also adopted by Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, who became the leaders of al-Qaeda, although it resulted in a split in al-Qaeda’s ranks, since other representatives and spiritual leaders, such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his mentor Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, opposed any ties with non-Salafis.
Several of the jihadists, for example, Abu Musab al-Suri, tried to settle this conflict. In his publications, he tried to refute the thesis that the Taliban are Maturidites in theology and “convinced Hanafis” in the madhhab. He attempted to prove that the views of the Taliban do not contradict the teachings of Salafism and that they are open to partnerships. This was done, of course, through distorted facts and false arguments, with suitable episodes and quotes selectively used, while the words of Pakistani Islamic scholars who dealt with the Taliban, those that did not fit his arguments, were omitted. The purpose of such publications was to preserve the global “unity in the ranks” of Salafi jihadism.
The Taliban put an end to this dispute, though. In the course of the negotiations in Doha, its representatives demanded that the Hanafi madhhab be the only school of jurisprudence in Afghanistan.
In turn, the fact that some in the Taliban leadership are Maturidites was also emphasized by Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda, when referring to Mullah Omar in his letter to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. After the capture of Kabul, it turned out that the Taliban had banned the activities of the Salafis in Afghanistan. In particular, they were forbidden to preach, build mosques and declare their beliefs in the open. The Internet has even seen videos where Afghan Salafis were forced to publicly recant their beliefs in front of the Taliban.
As for the very recognition of the existing world order and the architecture of international relations on the part of the Taliban, they—unlike Al-Qaeda, Islamic State and other Salafi jihadists—have never advocated for its dismantling, willing to fit into it instead.
Between Modernism and Traditionalism
Thus, falling back on traditional legal and theological schools of Islam in the region and using them to find ground for their actions, the Taliban does not fit into the framework of either Salafi jihadism—or, as some researchers go on to suggest, Islamism itself.
The anthropologist Olivier Roy, for one, believes movements such as the Taliban to be “neo-fundamentalist”, distinguishing them from what can be seen as another set of Islamic movements, often called “Islamist.” Limited, as his argument goes, by the “simple application of Sharia” in matters of ritual, dress and behaviour, these “neo-fundamentalist” movements differ from Islamist parties primarily because the former have neither a systematic ideology nor a global political agenda that would be oriented towards the external environment, to one degree or another. They might be more accurately labelled as “Islamic traditionalists.”
At the same time, the Taliban have provisions that distinguish them from the traditional Islamic organizations and trends that existed in Afghanistan. This, first of all, implies their attitude to Sufism, which is widespread in Afghanistan. The Taliban tried to minimize the role of the Sufi orders in the religious affairs of the regions under their control, far from welcoming any preservation of ties between their members and the Sufi tariqahs. The Taliban also criticized and banned many Sufi practices that were considered excessive. The leadership of the Taliban, though, was not opposed to Sufism as such, resorting to the heritage of the Sufi sheikhs in their writings and appeals.
Likewise, the Taliban, originally a Pashtun movement, have completely abandoned the use of Pashtunwali, the Pashtun customary law. This contributed to the marginalization of the role of the Pashtun tribal leaders and their elders in the affairs of the movement, while opening the door for representatives of other peoples of Afghanistan to join the movement.
Despite the various “modern” particularities in the methodology and the doctrines of the Taliban, the movement can be considered fundamentally traditionalist, focused on attracting conservative residents of Afghanistan living in accordance with the established Islamic traditions. But, on the other hand, one cannot simply ignore the fact that the beliefs of the movement were initially alien to the Afghans. These beliefs were better masked and more in tune with the local dynamics than what the government in Kabul was trying to introduce. Therefore, it would also be correct to characterize the Taliban as a “hybrid” movement, which means that both Islamism (and not necessarily radical) and the consolidation of traditionalism in its ideology are plausible options.
The Takings of Kabul and Other Analogies
In fact, given that the Taliban is not a Salafi jihadist movement, it cannot (and will not) become a banner under which to rally for these forces in their struggle. Nevertheless, there are examples of events similar to the capturing of Kabul by the Taliban that have triggered transformation (or unrest) in the whole Islamic world.
Of course, the events surrounding the presence and withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan appear at first glance to be similar to those of the Soviet campaign in Afghanistan (1979–1989), and it was the first Afghan War (1979–1992) that sparked the rise of the global jihadist movement. However, there are rather few grounds to suggest that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan will have similar consequences.
In contrast to 1989 (or 1992, if we take the collapse of the pro-Soviet regime as the endpoint), the recent success of the Taliban belongs to them alone. There are no foreign volunteers acting in the ranks of the movement to “share the victory.” Of course, the “Afghan Arabs” (Arab volunteers in the ranks of the Afghan mujahideen in 1979–1992) did not play any significant role in the military operations of the first Afghan War but, having dispersed across their countries, they still emerged as welcomed guests to hold lectures and visit mosques, becoming heroes for young people and launching the appropriate discourse. At the same time, the impetus for the international Salafi jihadist movement to emerge was not provided by the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from the country but rather by the fact that the army of “Mulhids” (atheists, non-believers) entered the Islamic lands. Therefore, the current analogies with the post-Soviet period, including the collapse of the Najibullah regime, will probably be not entirely correct.
If we compared the capturing of Kabul by the Taliban with the Iranian Revolution of 1979, an important element would be missing. The Taliban movement does not call for a global expansion of its ideology, unlike the Islamic Republic of Iran, having attempted to export the revolution. Of course, we can say that the Iranian Revolution awakened, for example, the Syrian Islamists, pushing them into an armed struggle, but there is no direct evidence of this. The Muslim Brotherhood of Syria (a terrorist organization banned in Russia) launched military operations against the government even before the Iranian Revolution in 1976, although they stepped up their activities at around the same time as the revolutionary events unfolded in Iran. Rather, both the Iranian Revolution and the uprising of the Muslim Brotherhood of Syria were links in the same chain, attesting to the growth of Islamist sentiments in the Middle East.
Today, the various groups that stand for moderate Islam are wondering whether it was a mistake to strive towards democracy, using its institutions to seize power. We are, in fact, referring to the events in Egypt in 2013 and Tunisia in 2021, when Islamists were ousted from power. Their supporters, who held machine guns and rifles instead of seats in the government, somehow managed to maintain their presence on the game board, whether in Libya or Syria. Therefore, it is possible that a completely new round of the “Arab Spring” will lead to a radicalization of some previously moderate Islamic movements in terms of their readiness to embark on the path of an armed struggle. This, we should say, will come as the result of their independent and convergent evolution, regardless of any influence from the Taliban and its successes.
Finally, if we compare the implications of the Taliban takeover and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, we should not forget that it was these attacks that brought the Americans to Afghanistan. This terrorist act, which “awakened” many jihadists, was rooted in the element of surprise, a strike on U.S. soil, to help it echo around the world in such a profound way. The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, having begun back in 2014, was no secret—just as everyone, the Americans included, predicted the government in Kabul would stay afloat for more than six months, a year max, following the withdrawal of international forces. Ss such, the government’s collapse was then not a direct blow to the Americans but to the pro-American government only.
After all, the Taliban itself does not call on anyone to continue the “jihad” against the United States—on the contrary, it advocates for dialogue and cooperation, seeking recognition from Washington. This aspect cannot be ignored. Yet, it is precisely this approach that has led to the Taliban being seen as apostates from the idea of jihad, especially after negotiations with the United States were launched in Doha. This stance is common to many jihadist leaders, not only IS but also people like Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi.
The Threats and Challenges of the “Taliban Myth”: Real and Imaginary
The promotion of the Taliban myth, capable of “awakening” the radicals, is mainly hindered by the Taliban itself, who refuse to make jihadist calls for the Muslim Ummah. They are instead setting an example of how dialogue with global powers, such as the United States or Russia, rather than a “global jihad” can guarantee them success. Accordingly, the absence of such appeals makes it impossible for other radicals to conduct any activity on behalf of the Taliban, otherwise significantly reducing the propaganda effect.
Of course, many extremist movements have come out in support of the Taliban. One example is Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (a terrorist organization banned in Russia) in Idlib, Syria. In this case, though, it is worth mentioning that Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham has adopted the Taliban’s approach in terms of its own legitimization and deradicalization, assuring the world community that they do not plan to expand outside of Syria, being open to establishing relations with all countries, should they so desire. Thus, the Taliban’s example has already served as the basis for Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham to change the rules of the game, trying to go global and starting to play by the rules of the international community.
Therefore, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, like the Taliban, will avoid embittering the world community with any form of aggression. On the contrary, they will seek support from the United States and Turkey by taking measures to suppress other radical and terrorist groups in Idlib, while choosing not to target the official Damascus. The Taliban has taken similar steps since they first made contact with the United States, albeit more successfully, as they have never been a branch of IS or Al-Qaeda, unlike Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.
Although other Idlib-rooted radical groups, including those directly associated with al-Qaeda, celebrated the success of the Taliban, their spokespeople quite tellingly noted that they see Afghanistan as a refuge where they can move and live as civilians rather than a place to continue their military activity, seeing that the Taliban would not support any aggressive actions. In this context, it cannot be ruled out that the Taliban’s influence might lead to the abandonment of the “global jihad,” and not the radicalization of certain groups. Therefore, the “Taliban myth” might threaten the very ideology of Salafi jihadism.
For example, the ousting of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in Somalia after the Ethiopian invasion in 2006 led to the emergence of the Salafi jihadist Al-Shabaab group. Today, however, radical Somali Islamists might refute this globalist project, returning to the “Islamic traditionalism” of the times of the ICU. It should be noted that not all groups have the power and influence of the Taliban to seize power. Yet, following the path of the Taliban, these groups might initiate dialogue with official governments, thus launching the reconciliation process.
It is still possible that the Taliban’s attempt to integrate into the world system may cause turmoil. If the organization fails to receive international recognition and retains its terrorist status, the living standards of the local population will deteriorate under the pressure of sanctions. This could provoke the Taliban to take more active external steps, which could pose a threat not only to neighboring countries but also to the world community more generally. This could come in the form of attempts to harbor international terrorists to, with their help, overthrow the governments of neighboring states, winning a “living space.” Of course, this threat is most palpable for the Central Asian countries. Although in this case, the initiative lies with the world community to control the process and avoid this negative scenario.
The Taliban might also seek to transform Afghanistan into a new centre of Islam, using soft power to promote their influence. It would seem that that there is demand for a new Islamic centre of power in the Muslim communities of some states in Central Asia, the South Caucasus, Russia’s North Caucasus and the Volga Region as well as across the Arab world. Such a centre would reject Salafist ideology, opting for the traditional for most Muslims of the listed regions madhhabs in aqidah and fiqh. At the same time, that demand would involve advocating for a Sharia state, open to the use of force (jihad) against the external enemies of Islam, albeit not through terrorist methods and not with the goal of external expansion. This is mostly about a “traditionalist” variant of Salafi Saudi Arabia or Shiite Iran as the Taliban and their project of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan do in many ways meet similar expectations.
Against this background, the Taliban is often seen in Muslim circles as a force against the foreign occupation of the country, on the one hand, and “Saudi Wahhabism” on the other, which can serve to promote the interests of the United States and the West. Conversely, it can become a platform to create global terrorist networks (such as IS or Al-Qaeda). Thus, globally, the ideology of the Taliban—as far as it relies on the traditional schools of Islam (four madhhabs) and the preservation of national characteristics, while establishing a comprehensive Sharia system based on traditional madhhabs—can challenge global Salafism.
The Taliban lack the necessary funding to promote their ideas as compared to the Gulf monarchies, but they do not yet seek to do so. Nevertheless, their success has earned the respect of many Muslims, leading them to believe that it is the “traditional” Islam, rather than imported Salafism, that is responsible for this. Therefore, it is tempting to contain the spread of the influence of Saudi theologians, focusing on the schools of law traditional for certain regions, although with a more consistent implementation of the Sharia principles, as the Taliban do.
Thus, although the “Taliban myth” is not a global threat, there is reason to believe that it might be effective at the regional level or within a particular state. At the same time, the bigger threat facing the Central Asian countries is not the possibility of an invasion by the Taliban or other more radical groups but rather the example set by the Taliban with their recent success. When joining a radical organization in the past involved converting local Muslims to Wahhabism and a breach of local Islamic tradition, then now, as the example of the Taliban shows, organizations based on local traditional Islamic schools may emerge, albeit without its participation or approval. This will create a much broader base of hypothetical supporters, though: they will not set global goals, rather pursuing the goal of regime change in a particular country.
At the same time, the authorities in some Central Asian states are taking action to restrict rights and freedoms, increase repression, and suppress Islamic organizations that follow moderate Islam. In addition, they may introduce restrictive measures aimed at prohibiting hijabs or beards for certain categories of the population, which can further popularize the methods and ideas of the Taliban amongst some citizens, thereby prompting more radical groups to emerge locally.
- “Jihadist-Salafism” is introduced by Gilles Kepel in his Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2002).
- Ken Guest, “Dynamic Interplay between Religion and Armed Conflict in Afghanistan,” International Review of the Red Cross, Selected articles from issues 880–881, December 2010 – March 2011.
- Chernova, “The Impact of the Islamic Revolution on Monarchical Regimes in the Persian Gulf.” Bulletin of the Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia, 161 (2013): 26.
From our partner RIAC
The AUKUS Alliance and “China’s Maritime Governance Strategy” in the Indo-Pacific
1) Announcing the (French-Indian alliance) to confront the (Australian-American alliance) for establishing a (new multilateral system), and the AUKUS alliance conflicted with the (Anglo-Saxon Five Eyes intelligence alliance), and New Zealand’s rejection of the Australian deal with Britain
2) The AUKUS alliance and the division between (technological and defense democracies against Washington), in favor of strengthening Chinese technological and defense alliances with pro-Beijing political regimes
3) The division of (the Quadruple Regional Alliance) against China led by Washington, (India’s alliance with France in defense, and India’s alliance with Iran economically and strategically in favor of China) fails and restricts (AUKUS alliance) against China
4) Uniting the front of the Chinese naval communist alliances in the face of the authoritarian maritime democracies led by Washington
5) Beijing’s support for the strategy of “maritime governance” in the (Indo-Pacific) region, in the face of “AUKUS Defense Alliance” led by Washington
Since the signing of the “AUKUS Defense Alliance between the United States of America, Australia and Britain“, the Egyptian researcher, as a well-known expert in my region on Chinese political affairs, as well as my closeness to a number of Chinese political files in the Middle East, noticed a dangerous thing happening, namely:
A- I was academically and analytically, surrounded by an increasing number of emails from American and Western think tanks and research centers, to promote the idea of (AUKUS Alliance and the creation of a new world order by the USA).
B- The insistence of a large number of academic colleagues in the West and the United States of America, that it recognize China’s defensive and security defeat in the face of Washington, by declaring the “AUKUS Defense Alliance, in addition to the former Quad alliance, also led by Washington”.
C- This was also accompanied, perhaps for the first time, with a large number of international invitations that I received to work in several universities and a number of research projects, to develop my perceptions and ideas of the shape of the new world order, especially with my in-depth research and academic experience for many years in the files of China in the Middle East and globally.
D- It also coincided with an invitation that I received from the Syrian TV to analyze the “Australian submarine crisis with France, and the AUKUS Defense Agreement”, on Wednesday, September 22, 2021, and to note the American follow-up to my analysis of this crisis with other international analysts, by covering a speech by the US State Department spokesperson before the program will immediately begin to analyze the crisis raised, regarding the “AUKUS Defense Agreement between Washington, Australia and Britain“.
E- This is also in line with (the deep research and academic desire within me to continue my research, academic, analytical and practical career from inside Beijing once again, to study all those new actual changes in that region surrounding China), especially with the American insistence in 2017, to change its name from (the “Asia-Pacific” region to the “Indo-Pacific” region), as an American attempt to ensure the exclusion of China from the interactions of that region surrounding it regionally, in return for involving India as an ally of Washington and a competitor to China.
F- Perhaps what academically, intellectually and research surprised the Egyptian researcher, given my deep understanding of the interactions of that sensitive area surrounding China, according to the (Chinese and American viewpoints together), is the global academic and research situation that occurred, with the establishment of many (think centers, centers and giant research and discussion groups, and international peer-reviewed scientific journals), all of which bear the name of (Indo-Pacific), and not under its previous name (Asia-Pacific).
G- This previous mentioned point, means analytically that defining it (in the Pacific), leads to ensuring the exclusion of China from its interactions, and restricting the freedom and movement of China’s extensions, ambitions and movements in the (South and East China Sea regions, extending its territorial and maritime borders to the Indo and Pacific region), according to the Chinese perception, which is what Washington and its allies completely rejected.
L- Accordingly, upon my following up with a deep analysis, as an Egyptian academic expert in Chinese political affairs, of all those American and Western analyses that I have received, read and understood their analytical angle well, on the “formation and reshape of a new world order led by the United States of America“, so, based on my very accurate understanding of all American perceptions and the Western aforementioned, I favored to develop this comprehensive detailed international analysis in all its aspects and dimensions, which scientifically proves and responds to all previous analyzes, with my new analysis, which I am proving here in practice, that we are actually in the process of:
(Features of a new global division between maritime and technological democracies according to American ideological terms, division and conflict of American and Anglo-Saxon defense agendas, violation of the democratic laws of some allies of countries to Washington, such as: “New Zealand“, preparing for a new (European defense alliance) and excluding Washington from it, and the contradiction of the goals of the “AUKUS American Defense Alliance” with the “Alliance of Five Eyes Anglo-Saxon Intelligence”, the French announcement of coordination with India, as the Washington’s ally to create a new multilateral system, rejection of “New Zealand”, as a Washington’s ally and Australia of the Australian nuclear submarine deal, and the Beijing’s start to create new regional maritime alliances, and the re-introduction of its “Chinese Maritime Governance document” to restrict and curb the (American naval ambitions and influence in the Maritime offshore near areas of China).
– This previous brief summary analysis, I preferred to put in the beginning to “analytically, academically, militarily, security and defensively” respond, and most importantly, from my practical experience to understand the American mentality towards China, and how Beijing can respond to any alliances or moves led by Washington against it in the first place.
From here we understand, and we almost all agree, that the “AUKUS Agreement” is basically a defense agreement directed against China, a point reinforced by the fact that the leaders (Britain, the United States, Australia) have appeared together through the video that has spread globally, to announce this partnership, due to the increasing importance of the “Indo-Pacific region” for both the United States and the United Kingdom.
Although British officials insisted that the new “AUKUS defense agreement” is not a response to any country, Britain reiterates that it is directed to maintain (security and stability in the Indo-Pacific regions) and to support a “peaceful rules-based order“. It’s not a secret that Britain, the United States and Australia share concerns about (the Chinese military build-up) in the region, and the fears of threatening their interests.
The AUKUS deal represents a strategic turning point, especially as it is the first time that the United States of America has made a deal to provide such sensitive technology with a country other than Britain, and here we find that the only country with which the United States has shared this type of (nuclear propulsion technology for the AUKUS submarine Nuclear deal) to Australia is Britain only, since 1958, which is a dangerous strategic shift in the US military and defense thought against China, by seeking to strengthen Washington’s alliances and its allies in all directions to confront Beijing, through (forming a strategic security alliance in the Indo-Pacific region).
– The Egyptian researcher found analytically that the most prominent results of this (maritime division) that was begun by Washington in confronting China and France itself as a freely democratic country, are the following:
1) Announcing the (French-Indian alliance) to confront the (Australian-American alliance) for establishing a (new multilateral system), and the AUKUS alliance conflicted with the (Anglo-Saxon Five Eyes intelligence alliance), and New Zealand’s rejection of the Australian deal with Britain
Perhaps the most analytical point that caught my attention was the division created by Washington in the regions of Indo-Pacific, causing French and also New Zealand anger for contradicting the AUKUS alliance with its interests, and perhaps the anger of other international and Western parties from Washington for breaking its covenants against France, which could call, according to the Chinese, that:
(Democracies contradict the core of their liberal and humanistic values)
– The most serious consequences caused by the United States of America breaking its covenants with the French, were:
1) The French assertion came – in response to the US-Australian defense alliance against French interests – by publicly declaring France to coordinate work with the Indian side to consolidate a (new pluralistic international order), as two large sovereign states in the Indo-Pacific region.
2) France considered that the American abandonment of the French submarine project and the announcement of (a new partnership between Washington and Australia) constitute unacceptable behavior between (the allies and democratic partners) and inevitably leads to division among the democratic countries in the world, and its consequences affect the concept of (the network of alliances and partnerships for maritime democracies), regarding the importance of the Indo-Pacific region to Europe.
3) Accordingly, the statements of the French politicians, and the French leadership itself confirmed it, by declaring that:
“France is unable to trust Australia in the ongoing talks on a trade agreement with the European Union after the capital, Canberra, abandoned a deal to buy French submarines in favor of American submarines”
4) With the affirmation of the Minister of State for European Affairs, “Clément Bonn” through the various media, by verbatim saying that:
“We are in French trade negotiations with Australia, but we don’t know how we can trust our Australian partners”
5) The most important analytical point for me is what the French Minister, “Clement Bonn“, stated, by emphasizing, that:
“What happened is a serious breach of trust on the part of Australia. International relations are not naivety and good feelings, but the word. Signing contracts means something, but if we lose confidence, we cannot move forward”
6) In addition to the growing distrust (the European Commission) and the unification of the front of the European Union itself against the United States of America and against Australia, which France is an active part in the system of its European countries, where Australia is negotiating with France a large number of trade agreements, noting that (France is negotiating here on behalf of the European governments that are members of the European Commission), and Australia has entered the (eleventh round) of trade negotiations with its European partners, which started with the European Commission since 2018.
A decade before and the announcement of the Australian-American nuclear submarine deal, it was scheduled to hold a next round of talks between Australia and Europe, covering areas, including:
(Trade, services, investment, intellectual property rights)
7) In a French comment on (the consequences and repercussions of French anger), regarding the ongoing trade negotiations between the European Union and Australia to conclude a (Free Trade Agreement), “Dana Spenant“, Deputy Spokesman for the European Commission, confirmed that:
“There will be no immediate impact on discussions and relations with Australia, with the full assurance that there is great anger among politicians, the French street and all shades of public opinion”
8) The French considered that (the American-Australian-Brtish defense alliance is directed against France mainly to exclude it from the Indian and Pacific regions), to prevent any French leadership role there. It is a project that threatens to undermine French ambitions in the region, and even distance it from it.
9) The (AUKUS Alliance) is preparing to ensure that Australia obtains a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, a matter that led to the Australian side canceling another huge deal it had concluded with the French side to buy French-made submarines, which in turn would lead to the sensitivity of relations between those countries concerned with France, in the sense that (the United States of America has caused the division of the democratic countries against each other), and not, as Washington is promoting, that the AUKUS deal is the inauguration of a new multilateral world order in the face of China, because the AUKUS agreement has led to the (division and conflict of interests of the maritime and western democracies in the face of Washington basically).
10) Perhaps my analysis of the situation is that there are French fears that Washington deliberately distance France from the (Indo-Pacific region), as a key partner and ally in it, which will increase the state of European fear and distrust in general in confronting the United States of America and partnering with it.
11) On the other hand, it can be considered that (AUKUS alliance is working against the idea of the European Union working system and works against its interests, by including Britain, which left the European Union front), and this is a great diplomatic victory for the British strategy aimed at sparing the country international isolation after Britain left the European Union, especially since the AUKUS treaty or alliance will link Britain, Australia and the United States more deeply, which will reflect on the level of trust between them and confirm the depth of their goal of forming a strong alliance against China.
12) The AUKUS alliance leads to the (independence of the European Union as democratic countries strategically from Washington and the failure of any US-European alliance in the future), especially if it is directed against China.
13) it’s expected for the upcoming period (increase in the European distrust towards Washington), especially with the catastrophic American failure in several global files, such as: withdrawal from Afghanistan, and others, which leads to a lack of effective cooperation between the European Union countries as democratic countries with the American side that can’t be trusted.
14) It is as well expected that after the AUKUS agreement and the betrayal of the American-Australian trust towards their democratic partners in Europe, the European Union will move to discuss ways to strengthen (the issue of strategic independence and the European Union’s defense system), perhaps in the face of Washington itself.
15) It is worth noting that the EU and France were upset about the deal not because they were not included in it, but because they were not consulted in the first place. This was confirmed by the European Union’s foreign policy coordinator “Josep Borrell“, who confirmed that:
“The AUKUS Agreement, which was concluded without the consultation of the European Union, requires the need to put strategic European autonomy high on the agenda”
16) Perhaps one of the most dangerous analytical point for the Egyptian researcher, is what was confirmed by the French side, considering the Europeans’ defense and independence from Washington, as the only effective means of defending European interests in the international community, including the Indo-Pacific region.
17) Based on the foregoing, the European Union “EU” announced (a new strategy for the Indo-Pacific region, after few hours of unveiling of the “AUKUS Alliance”, which considered by the Europeans that it was directed against all of them, not only against France.
18) What deepened the crises of the democratic countries allied with Washington and their division in the face of the United States of America, despite the fact that they are democratic, maritime and technological countries also with the same American approach, is (the rejection of the State of New Zealand as a democratic system also close to the United States of America, Britain and Australia), by allowing submarines to enter Australian nuclear to the depth or borders of New Zealand territorial waters, and New Zealand’s anger at (Washington’s exclusion of it from the new partnership agreement between the capital, Canberra and Washington), and New Zealand’s rejection of the Australian nuclear submarine deal, based on the policies officially established in New Zealand, since 1985, which expressly states, on:
“The state of New Zealand prohibits the entry into its territorial waters of any nuclear-powered ship”
19) Perhaps, we find that with the continued refusal of New Zealand to enter Australian nuclear submarines to its territorial waters near Canberra, this may threaten in the future severe tension in relations between (Australia, Britain and the United States of America in the face of New Zealand and its policies), despite the state of the alliance and permanent partnership between Australia And New Zealand for decades due to the proximity of the territorial waters and the maritime borders between the two countries.
20) Expectations also increasethat (many of democratic countries surrounding themselves will not join the AUKUS defense alliance with Washington), given the complex requirements that Washington imposes on its allies, given the nature of large defense alliances, especially against China, which requires special security arrangements that are not available in many countries, even with the democratic ones.
21) The State of New Zealand also considers that (AUKUS Defense Alliance is an alliance against its vital interests with both Australia and Britain), which shares with “New Zealand” in another defense and security alliance in the “Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance”, which worries New Zealand about its conflicting interests. With Washington’s interests and ambitions with Australia towards China.
22) There are also criticisms from within (the countries of the Quad Quartet alliance led by Washington and its allies against China), directed at the AUKUS defense alliance led by Washington also against China), with the focus of the “AUKUS Alliance” on (the US security dialogue and defense coordination with the Anglo-Saxon countries, not the Asian region in the most near Beijing).
23) In the same context, other criticisms were directed to Washington from some democratic countries themselves, that are friendly and ally to it as well, that the “AUKUS Defense Alliance”, doesn’t include any new security arrangements, and didn’t seek to involve other countries allied to Washington, and therefore the “AUKUS Alliance”, according to a number of friends and allies of Washington, as support to:
(Quartet Security Dialogue, ASEAN Agreement, Bi-Regional Partnerships in the Asian Region, and Indo-Pacific area)
From here, we can analytically understand, the growing state of distrust between the European partners in the face of Washington, which may lead to the failure of the American strategy to form (a new democratic world order according to American perceptions), after the United States of America lost the confidence of its European democratic allies and even the “Anglo-Saxon state of New Zealand”, and France, of course, deepened the state of suspicion and mistrust in any future alliance with Washington.
And, this case analytically is similar to the Egyptian researcher, as it goes back to an old theory, called “the theory of democracies are going to fight each other”, as the previous mentioned analysis reveals to us with evidence that the AUKUS alliance or agreement is an actual return for us to the same previous concept meaning, about “the division of democratic countries against each other, and their fight against each other by searching for their self-interests and distrust or mutual coordination between them, as in the case of the Australian nuclear submarine deal against French interests“.
Here, it comes the most dangerous from my point of view, that the growing sense of mistrust and lack of transparency towards Washington from its European partners and the democracies themselves, may hinder Washington itself from making any other alliances coming in the future, especially with (European leaders, the European Commission and the Anglo-Saxon state of New Zealand), as a result of Washington betraying their trust, by violating French covenants and agreements with Australia and Britain for narrow American interests directed primarily against China, and representing an attack on the maritime sovereignty of the territorial waters of New Zealand, and contradicting defense agreements and alliances that exist in the first place, Washington had to enter it to strengthen its allies, instead of increasing the state of division by creating America’s new defense alliances.
2) The AUKUS Agreement and the division between (technological and defense democracies against Washington), in favor of strengthening Chinese technological and defense alliances with pro-Beijing political regimes
One of the most prominent negative results of the (AUKUS agreement) was what was announced by the United States of America and US President (Joe Biden) himself, by announcing a new defense alliance between Australia, the United States and Britain, expanding the scope of the technology of American submarines operating with nuclear propulsion to include Australia, in addition to the (security technologies, Electronic) alliances, additionally, the (artificial intelligence, and underwater marine capabilities), as a declared US alliance between American-Australian liberal democratic technologies, in the face of Chinese communist digital technologies. This brings us to another level of analysis, through:
1) Confirmation of the link between the concepts of (democratic technologies and maritime democracies in the face of China), and others. What confirms the previous proposition is the circulation of a new term in mind that has raised China’s concerns regarding (maritime democracies), meaning that the US alliance was only made between (freely democratic countries that pursue liberal ideology), just as Washington divided digital technology into (democratic technology that follows the Western approach, and authoritarian communist technology on the Chinese approach), for countries that have benefited from Chinese fifth-generation networks.
2) Washington deliberately integrates the “technology component of defense” into the (Australian submarine deal), which is an indirect message to Washington in the face of Beijing’s defense technological superiority, which pushes in the region around the Indo-Pacific to increasingly the number of hypersonic missiles at several times the speed of sound, which the current US military capabilities lack reliable defenses against, as well as the advanced Chinese electronic warfare capabilities, which are directed against the (US command, control, and navigation systems), and against (the US Global Positioning System), in addition to China’s technical and technological superiority in the field of using advanced counter-weapons for satellites to reduce the use of intelligence and early warning capabilities of US forces.
3) The Chinese rejection of the new American security partnership with Australia came in its vital strategic environment, because it is “an American ideological deal in the first place”, and it reflects (the same Cold War mentality and the American ideological bias against regimes and countries that are ideologically different from it), with the constant American insistence on spreading its liberal values and ideologies around the world, which has proven its failure in “Iraq, Afghanistan, Latin America, Africa“, and all the different countries of the world in their systems than what Washington is promoting.
4) China called the American mentality in the Indo-Pacific region, as reflecting of (the American ideological bias state, in favor of its allies at the expense of other international and regional powers, including Washington’s allies itself), which came in the form of a Chinese protest against the official level, by calling on the Chinese embassy in Washington, that the United States of America should abandon the (Cold War mentality, ideological bias, conflict and competition).
5) Also, the official Chinese warning to the United States of America of its establishment of forms of (exclusionary blocs), with the aim of targeting or harming the interests of other countries, such as: China.
6) The spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, “Mr.Zhao Lijian“, issued a strongly worded statement, in which he considered:
“Washington and London have taken irresponsible behavior that would undermine regional stability and efforts to limit nuclear proliferation, which means intensifying the nuclear arms race by providing Australia with harmful nuclear technology to other neighboring countries such as China”
7) On the other hand, Britain, through its Prime Minister “Boris Johnson“, defended the (AUKUS defense alliance) with Washington in the Indo-Pacific regions, and the United States of America supplied the Australian side with advanced nuclear technology, “Boris Johnson” stated, emphasizing:
“Australia’s acquisition of submarines that operate with advanced nuclear technology maintains regional stability in the region, and that this step was not intended to antagonize any country”
8) The situation of “the ideological, technological and maritime division between the United States and China” has increased in the Indo-Pacific region, with a belief at all levels in China that the “AUKUS Defense Agreement” is (a threat to the Chinese presence in its areas of influence), and an American attempt aimed at (Chinese communist ideology restrained in favor of promoting American ideas and values, centered on democracy and economic and political liberalism), which does not fit the specific circumstances of individual countries such as China.
9) It is clear here that this American insistence on the predominance of (the pattern of ideological character over the strategic competition between Washington and China), and even the American conflict itself, which will extend to all ideologically different countries with American liberal values during the coming period in the form of (conflict or ideological competition to divide the world into Democratic and authoritarian regimes), according to the same American division.
11) It is expected – as a reaction to the new US defense deal with Australia – that China will resort to (employing the economic tool in the face of US defense initiatives), by adopting the method of deals, partnerships and economic investments, in order to prevent countries from siding with the American side in its conflict with the other Chinese side.
12) Likewise, Washington’s intention (merging the maritime and western democracies with the pattern of democratic digital technology, according to the description of the current US administration), through the exchange of advanced American technologies with its network of democratic allies to confront common democratic security challenges, so that it includes multiple other areas of cooperation to meet the emerging security challenges before democratic countries, in the face of other authoritarian and non-democratic regimes, as promoted by the United States of America.
13) Hence, Washington deliberately concluded (democratic defense and technological deals, i.e., with its allies ideologically as liberal democratic countries), as happened with Australia and Britain, through cooperation in a number of fields related to defense, security and democratic technology, such as:
(Cyberspace, artificial intelligence, cyber defense, technology of additional capabilities under the sea)
14) Here, we find the assertion of all the parties allied to Washington against China, that what is happening is (an alliance between democratic, military, technological, defense and political regimes against non-democratic countries), which is almost the same direction taken by the leaders of the three countries (USA, Australia, Britain), by full affirmation, and declaration after completing the AUKUS Defense Deal together:
“It was only natural that the extended defense cooperation relations between the countries of the three maritime democracies culminated in a step that strengthened the relations of friendship and trust that unite them”
15) Hence, it is like (an ideological game of competition to divide the world into two parts, or two parts, or two alliances, liberal-democratic American, and communist authoritarian China), which is something President Biden deliberately declared implicitly that the partnership with Australia will take two forms of (defensive, and technology ideological rivalry), and deliberately linking them together in the name of (democracy).
16) The same context applies to the problem of introducing the concept of “maritime democracies”, based on the common history of the AUKUS countries, as maritime democracies, that is, as countries bordering the seas and adopting a democratic approach.
17) We find that China’s fears revolve mainly around the fear of (Australia’s possession of nuclear-powered submarines on its borders), and China’s desire to differentiate between (submarines operating with nuclear propulsion, or a US submarine deal for Australia equipped with nuclear weapons, which will inevitably be directed against China). Australia, which was denied, asserting that it (works only with nuclear propulsion and is not equipped with any nuclear weapon, according to Chinese fears).
18) As we know, “Joe Biden“, announced several times that the American investment in forming alliances against China, whether they were defensive, economic, or technological, in partnership and the alliance with similar democracies like the USA, according to the American expression, in the face of Chinese communism, and this matter is the greatest source of strength for China to Washington.
19) Hence, we can understand the United States’ attempt to stifle and contain the strategic and vital ocean of China by forming American alliances with the democratic Chinese neighbors, according to the American propaganda, especially since there is another alliance directed against China also by Washington is the “Quadruple Regional Quartet alliance“, with the intention of US President “Joe Biden“, on September 24, 2021, in a meeting at Washington, aimed at establishing an alliance confirmation that includes (Australia, India, and Japan), with a primary goal of (re-launching the quadripartite alliance known as the “Quad” or “Quadruple Security Dialogue”, which includes those four countries.
20) Hence, we find that the AUKUS Alliance, as well as the “Quad Quartet alliance”, led by Washington and its allies in the region surrounding China, aims mainly to put pressure on Beijing’s activities in that region, under the incomprehensible rubber slogan promoted by Washington and its allies called (the Alliance of Democratic Countries), which is incomprehensible from a superpower like Washington, and neglects the different orientations, policies and ideologies of countries and does not understand the special circumstances of each country separately, as Chinese and other nations are always confirming.
21) What added to China’s concerns was the declaration of the countries of the alliance with Washington that (the four partners in the Quad Quadruple Alliance), they should join forces to deepen their commitment to make the “Indo-Pacific region open and free”.
22) Hence, we understand that these phrases are just stretchy phrases or methods adopted by Washington, as diplomatic tools to denounce Chinese regional aspirations in (the Indian and Pacific Ocean regions and the South China Sea), then link them to the development of a system of democratic technologies for the American democratic allies, such as: Australia.
From here, it becomes clear to us by analysis, this basic direction of the policy of the US alliances and its adoption of the formula or the word “democratic technology and democratic freedom”, and thus, to divide the world into two parts or two fronts in the first place (democratic allies with Washington in the face of non-democratic countries led by China), whether politically Defensively, technologically, scientifically…etc.
3) The division of (the Quadruple Regional Alliance) against China led by Washington, by (India’s defense alliance with France, and India’s alliance with Iran economically and strategically, in favor of China), which fails and restricts (American AUKUS alliance) against China
Indian coordination with the French side after the signing of the AUKUS Agreement between the United States of America and Australia is an important response to Washington, as well as a number of other Indian moves, through which it seeks to secure its interests, which may conflict with its ally Washington, as follows:
1) The Indian-Iranian agreements, and the increase in Indian investments in (Chabahar port), despite the US sanctions imposed on Iran.
2) Likewise, India’s announcement several times through its politicians of India’s desire to settle the Iranian nuclear crisis with Washington is also an important example in this context.
3) Also, it can be said that in the event of a settlement of the Iranian-American crisis, this will undoubtedly reflect positively on the chances of implementing the Indo-Iranian axis in the face of American influence in the first place.
4) India is trying to revive the idea of (establishing a trade corridor linking the regions of South, West and Central Asia and Western Europe, all regimes and countries that are mainly allies of China), and India actually began implementing this project in September 2000, with the signing of an actual agreement between (India, Russia, Iran) to create this corridor, all of which are not completely allies of Washington in the same region surrounding the Indo-Pacific regions.
5) India has taken actual measures to establish and even strengthen this former alliance, in order to create a large trade corridor, to link several regions surrounding the (Indo-Pacific) region, by negotiating with several surrounding countries to join and strengthen it, all of which are not allies at all to Washington, such as:
(Central Asian countries, Caucasus region, Armenia, Ukraine, Turkey, plus Bulgaria as an observer member)
6) Despite the great importance of this mentioned project for both (India and Iran), the chances of its implementation were severely affected by the crisis of the Iranian nuclear program, and the associated waves of international economic sanctions on Iran, which led to its temporary suspension, with the expectation that it will be completed once the American negotiations with Iran resume. This is something that India strongly encourages.
7) The most dangerous remains, India’s endeavor to revive the “North-South Corridor” project, which includes countries allied to China, mainly:
(International North-South Transport Corridor “INSTC”)
The former corridor aims to (link India through the port of Mumbai, which is located on the Arabian Sea, and Western Europe through a number of different sea and land routes).
8) Despite the multiple proposed paths of the Indian corridor with those countries close to Western Europe and the Arabian Sea, but (the sea route from the port of Mumbai in India to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas on the Strait of Hormuz, and then the land route inside Iran via the railway network), represents a major component in This project proposed by India with its various tracks.
9) Also, what may irritate Washington more towards its ally India in the “Quad Quadruple Alliance”, is this strict Indian tendency towards strengthening and supporting its influence in (the Iranian port of Chabahar), in order to balance (the Chinese influence in the Pakistani port of Gwadar).
10) Hence, we find that the growth of Indo-Iranian relations basically takes on broader and more dangerous dimensions than the Indian presence in the Iranian port of Chabahar, especially with the intensity of analyses on the development of the “Indo-Iranian axis” to balance the “Chinese-Pakistani axis”. Hence, the Indian insistence on the economic, political, and geo-strategic alliance with the Iranian side threatens the failure of the “Quad Quartet alliance led by Washington and its allies to confront Beijing”, especially with that deep strategic partnership between China and Iran in confronting Washington, while India, with Washington forms a front of Quad Quartet alliance against Beijing, but, in the same time, India is establishing an actual relations with the Iranian side, as an archenemy enemy to Washington, and the most closest regime to China.
11) With regard to the American mobilization of New Delhi against the Chinese navy in the Indian Ocean region, it has become clear that the Indian lack of interest in sharing Washington’s ambitions in this regard, with the Indian naval mobilization only interested in heading mainly towards (New Delhi’s direct areas of influence), which extend from the (eastern coast of Africa, all the way to the strategic stopping points leading to and from the Indian Ocean, especially the Straits of Malacca and Singapore), and others. Looking at these areas, the Indian mobilization is directed more towards (securing interests within the immediate Indian Ocean region and not to securing the interests of Washington), while projecting Indian naval power in further regions is a secondary task for India, in contrast to the American strategy in that region.
Through the previous detailed analysis of the Egyptian researcher, she was able to demonstrate in a practical way that the Washington’s democratic allies in the (Indo-Pacific regions), led by India, as a mainly Washington’s ally in the (Quad Quadruple Alliance against China), are basically allied with regimes and countries that constitute prejudice to the US national security, such as: (Iran), additionally the countries of (Central Asia and the Caucasus), which are more closest to Russia and China, in the face of Washington.
Hence, we can practically prove by evidence, the applying to (theory of democracies are fighting each other and struggling to search on their interests, even in the face of their liberal ally of the USA).
4) Uniting the front of the Chinese maritime communist alliances in the face of the maritime authoritarian democracies led by Washington
The importance of the United States’ alliances with Australia and Britain, specifically in the “Indo-Pacific” regions surrounding China, is the result of a number of important factors, most notably, are:
A) The growth of Chinese influence beyond the Pacific Ocean region and the South China Sea, and its extension to the Indian Ocean region and the group of sub-regions associated with it.
B) American fear of China has taken more than one level, due to: the large geographical area of the Belt and Road Chinese Initiative, and the extension of the Chinese initiative to a number of major regions in the Indo-Pacific regions, as well as other sub-regions associated with it.
C) In addition to the large Chinese concessions within the seaports on the coasts of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and China’s direction, and most importantly, to build a (new maritime governance).
Hence, China seeks to revitalize a number of its regional alliances in the face of Washington’s alliances in the Indo-Pacific regions, through:
1) Supporting the (Chinese Maritime Silk Road) as a Chinese strategic plan to encircle the Indo-Pacific and the Indo-Pacific regions in the face of the (AUKUS Defense Agreement), which is mainly between Washington and Australia.
2) China will add to its maritime network many of the so-called “nutrition or strategic corridors network“, such as: (securing and strengthening the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor), and these corridors are called “economic corridors”, which in fact serve as strategic highways, allowing China to reach (Indian Ocean through the North Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal).
3) China will undermine the US and Australian naval movements, by strengthening its network of alliances with Asian countries that have joined the (Chinese Belt and Road projects), such as: (Pakistan, Myanmar, Maldives, Sri Lanka) by providing huge infrastructure investments to these countries that are friendly to Beijing, which is eventually allows it to use the ports of those countries close to the areas of American influence in the “Indo-Pacific oceans” to encircle and control American ambitions in the region surrounding China.
4) China will also expand the establishment of “naval and military bases” to protect its interests in the face of Washington, and we find that (China’s naval base in Djibouti), as a prominent example of the increasing development in China’s naval strategy.
5) Also, the arrival of China and its investments in several nearby ports, such as: (Gwadar port in Pakistan, Hambantota port in Sri Lanka, and the ports of the Maldives), would facilitate China’s use of such ports (as logistical support centers for Chinese ships to expand its maritime influence on these ports). Naval spaces facing American moves).
6) China will support its economic weight within the regional countries surrounding the “Indo-Pacific” regions, by establishing:
(A huge Chinese market, a stable Chinese position that ensures the decision-making of trade and investment flows in the region, China’s influence as a center of gravity for the main actors within the emerging international groups, such as: (the Group of Twenty, the BRICS, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and dozens of trade agreements free and regional), which resulted in maximizing the gains of the economies of these countries in their relations with China.
7) China seeks to make a group of (polarizing alliances), that is, to attract partners in confronting Washington. In fact, China’s dilemma in pursuing (balanced policies in the Indo-Pacific) will not be confined to the borders of this region only, but also extends to most other sub-regions, including Southeast Asia. This can be confirmed by the speech of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, in which he proposed (signing a treaty of friendship and peace in the Indo-Pacific region), in a clear indication of the preoccupation of the countries of the region with the risks of conflict and polarization between China, the United States of America, Australia and their allies in that region, which will be reflected on the level of trust between them and in the face of each other.
8) China seeks to strengthen the path of the Chinese project “Belt and Road” to encircle and control the United States of America, through the (economic corridor) that links China with (Central Asia – West Asia), and aims in particular to link China with the Asia region and the Indo-Pacific region across the region. The strategy surrounding it, which enables Beijing to accurately monitor Washington’s movements in the Indo-Pacific regions, which reinforces the failure of US alliances in that region facing China and its regional partners.
9) Also, China will try to thwart American moves in the “Asia-Pacific region“, with the intensification of the dependence of the major economies in the “Indo-Pacific” regions (especially in East and Southeast Asia) on China to provide the largest proportion of its various imports, which gives China special importance within the Indo-Pacific region, even if countries, such as: Australia, are mainly allies of the United States of America.
10) China will also re-emphasize (the strategy of naval deployment in the face of American expansion), which reminds us of what happened in 2014, which witnessed a remarkable extension of the Chinese spread in the maritime domain of the Indian and Pacific oceans, when (three ships from the Chinese navy sailed through the Lombok Strait), which is for the first time that movement has taken place from (the South China Sea to the Pacific Islands), and was followed by the entry of several Chinese warships into (Indian waters) under the pretext of searching for a missing Malaysian plane, which increased Indian and American fears at the time about Beijing’s movements in the Indian and Pacific Oceans region.
11) Beijing will seek to exert control pressure on any American movements in the area facing Australia and China after the “AUKUS Defense Alliance”, as confirmed by (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation) in mid-July 2021, as Australia announced that “it had detected a second Chinese spy ship on its way to enter the waters off the Northeast Australia Coast, a move that enhances Beijing’s presence in the area near Washington and Canberra to monitor, especially after Canberra and Washington began joint military exercises in mid-July 2021”.
Therefore, the Australian Navy monitored the approach of a Chinese naval spy ship approaching Australia, through the (Solomon Sea around Papua New Guinea).
12) The Australian media has also announced several times before that there are movements of Chinese naval intelligence ships on their way to the area around Australia, through the (Torres Strait), with Australian forces announcing that they are monitoring their movements.
13) We find that there are American and Australian accusations leveled at Beijing during the month of July 2021, of China sending two naval vessels to monitor (the Exorcism Sword exercises between the United States of America and Australia), which are exercises that Washington calls “routine exercises in the military cooperation between the United States and Australia”, and are carried out every two years, which aroused fears and ire of China in its confrontation with Washington and Canberra, while seeking to restrict and curb Australian ambitions in the region with mainly American assistance.
Hence, we almost analytically understand the importance of these Chinese moves at all levels, to globally weaken the maritime strategy of the United States and the places of its positioning and spread, after the United States of America relied more on the three main strategic fulcrums in (Europe, Middle East, Asia and Pacific region), the United States is now focusing intensively its efforts on the Indo-Pacific region, which China has tried to exploit by filling the void left by Washington in other maritime areas of influence.
This makes us analyze another level of American deployment in the face of China, which is (the realistic option), meaning:
“The United States can only enhance the position of the global police by being a good policeman in the Asia-Pacific region, and on the western coast of the Pacific, with no real places of power in it except to guard and secure it as a policeman for the region against China”
5) Beijing’s support for the strategy of “maritime governance” in the (Indo-Pacific region), in the face of the “AUKUS Defense Alliance” led by Washington
China issued a new document in 2017, as a part of its strategy in the “Maritime Silk Road“, to build what Beijing described as a “new maritime governance” in the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions, in order to limit the US naval spread in the region, and limit the maritime regional influence of neighboring and surrounding countries to strengthen the mechanism of “maritime consultation, partnership and mutual benefit for all”, according to Beijing’s definition of the “maritime governance” strategy, as a new maritime strategy centered on China within the framework of the maritime part of the Belt and Road Initiative.
– Hence, the Egyptian researcher is trying to analyze the possibility of benefiting from this (new Chinese proposal) for the concept of “maritime governance”, to address the (AUKUS defense agreement) and the maritime division in the Indo-Pacific region, through the following Chinese standards and mechanisms:
1) The Chinese proposal for the concept of “strengthening joint maritime security” within the framework of (Chinese maritime governance of the Indo-Pacific region), as a proposal through which Beijing is trying to cooperate with the Australian side and all countries surrounding that maritime region, to jointly participate together to maintain security and stability of the maritime region, as a “proactive step” by Beijing, mainly to block and restrict the American arguments for (China’s maritime expansion in that region).
2) China, by introducing the “Maritime Governance Strategy”, means “collective maritime cooperation in all fields and various aspects of projects in the Indo-Pacific regions”, and promoting China’s win-win cooperation to deepen the collective commitment to maritime services along the Maritime Silk Road.
3) China has even gone beyond (the peaceful concept of maritime governance) to deeper defense aspects related to “strengthening defense, security, strategic and oversight cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region through consultative, coordinating and cooperative maritime governance”, and this is the essentially ambitious plan that China seeks to achieve in that surrounding region. Australia, which is Washington’s closest traditional ally, is working to limit China’s influence in that region.
4) China called for obtaining the consent of the surrounding maritime countries, which China has taken care to call them in its (Maritime Governance Document), for collective regional maritime cooperation with China to maintain “joint maritime security against any external dangers, threats or interference”, through:
(Building a network for monitoring and controlling the seas, strengthening international cooperation on expanding the application of the Chinese system for “satellite navigation” services, which is known in China as “Beidou application”)
5) China called on all maritime parties surrounding the Indo-Pacific regions through the “Chinese Maritime Governance Document” to develop a number of important relevant regulations on (maritime safety and cooperation in the field of maritime safety and security), and Beijing proposed the following:
A- Establishing a mechanism for bilateral and multilateral management and control
B- Develop collective plans and strategies to maintain the security and safety of maritime navigation
C- Collective regional joint combating of crimes within the maritime lines separating the countries concerned
D- Working on the protection, security and safety of maritime navigation
6) Perhaps the most dangerous part, from the Egyptian researcher’s point of view, is the confirmation of the (Chinese Maritime Governance Document) on China’s readiness to assume all “appropriate obligations to maintain the security and stability of the relevant maritime region”, according to its vision of the implications of “maritime governance and its extension”.
7) Through the Maritime Governance Document, China called for (expanding the areas of win-win maritime cooperation), and those expanded areas for collective regional maritime cooperation in (Indo-Pacific regions) from a Chinese point of view of its concept and definition of maritime governance, passing through:
A- The Chinese Maritime Governance Document, calls for the establishment of a (high-level dialogue mechanism for maritime cooperation) between countries along the Indo-Pacific Maritime Route.
B- China is inviting to sign a (series of maritime cooperation documents) between the governments involved in the Indo-Pacific maritime borders across the Indo-Pacific.
C- The Chinese Maritime Governance Document called for maritime (collective partnership) to develop plans for maritime cooperation and implement projects and various areas of cooperation in that surrounding maritime area.
8) According to the Egyptian researcher’s accurate perception and analysis, the part or part related to the “Chinese Maritime Silk Road Initiative”, and its publication of the “Chinese Maritime Governance” document, may have come (as a proactive attempt by Beijing to confront the US naval expansion and spread in the Indo-Pacific surrounding areas of influence China Maritime), which is the reason why the United States of America signed the (AUKUS Defense Alliance) with Australia and Britain to restrict the Chinese maritime governance document.
9) American fears, and the warnings of its rival allies to China in that region, such as: (Japan and Australia), have grown over the issuance of this Chinese document on maritime governance, which is primarily intended to maximize Chinese maritime influence.
10) Perhaps the most problematic for the signing of the (AUKUS Defense Agreement between Australia, Britain and the United States of America), is the fears raised by Washington and its allies about “the timing of issuing the Chinese maritime governance document,” and China’s overreaching its maritime region and borders that center around (the South China Sea region, and parts of the Pacific Ocean), to cover new marine areas from the “Indian Ocean region”, which are not primarily within the maritime border area of China.
11) In addition to other American and Australian accusations against China of trying to impose a maritime governance document, to extend China’s influence around a number of (water areas and seaports surrounding the Indian and Pacific oceans), (as a Chinese attempt to restructure the balance of power in its favor), and overturning all areas of influence of other powers for their own benefit and even control over them.
12) Because of this, the American consensus came with the network of traditional allies in the Indo-Pacific region, to agree on the need to primarily form alliances directed against Beijing’s maritime ambitions, whether (Quad Quartet alliances led by Washington or the AUKUS Defense Alliance led as well by Washington).
13) Perhaps this new transformation came in the re-drafting of a new maritime term that documents those “marine borders that do not enter or share with China to separate Beijing’s maritime borders with other surrounding regional maritime states”.
14) Therefore, the new emergence in recent years of new maritime security vocabulary, and the implicit abandonment of the use of the “Asia-Pacific” concept, and the “Indo-Pacific Document” was actually issued in 2017, because (the Asia-Pacific concept) shares China in a large parts of its borders, while its deportation by referring to the “Indo-Pacific” region, enters in China to another specific region that doesn’t fall within its scope, and this region, according to the American perception and its allies, is known as, the “Indo-Pacific” region.
15) Hence, the concept of “Indo-Pacific” adopted by Washington and its allies in the region surrounding China aims primarily to restrict and curb Chinese ambitions, and it is a concept contrary to the Chinese maritime space in the “Asia-Pacific” region, in order to mainly deal with all Chinese maritime movements in the region, which does not fall within China’s areas of influence, which China strongly rejects, stressing the entry of part of the Indo-Pacific region, and the new designation of the name of the region, as “Indo-Pacific” within the joint maritime borders of China with those countries.
15) The Egyptian researcher reached the Chinese viewpoint rejecting the concept of “Indo-Pacific“, as a vague concept put forward by the United States of America with its network of allies in the maritime region near China, in addition to proposing concepts and general borders that do not rise to dealing with the region.
Based on the previous proposition, we note that the majority, whether on the American or Chinese side, is the intensification of reliance on (the pattern of alliances and partnerships) in confronting each other, which will make it difficult for the United States of America to create a new world order with an alliance of democracies together as promoted by the current American administration led by the “Joe Biden“, which leads to the transmission of this split-over to other regions in the world, and the increasing intensity and degree of American and Chinese polarization against each other, which will increase the intensity and intensity of the level of competition / conflict in this important theater of regional and global politics, and its extension to regions Others in the world such as the Middle East, South and Latin America, the Caribbean, and others.
How Taliban Victory Inspired Central Asian Jihadists
Following the fall of the US-backed Afghan government of Ashraf Ghani on August 15, al-Qaeda-linked Uighur, Uzbek and Tajik jihadi groups widely celebrated the Taliban’s “historic victory” over the “enemies of the Muslim Ummah”. In honor of the Taliban’s rebuilding of the Islamic Emirate, leading Jihadi groups from Central Asia and China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region issued special congratulatory statements, echoed jihadi nasheeds (chants of jihadi glory), arranged a festive feast for their Muhajeers (who immigrated to spread Islam and wage jihad) and gloatingly booed the US military forces leaving Afghanistan on jihadi media.
Turkestan Islamic Party called on all Muslims to unite around the Taliban as one body
Uighur jihadists of the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), formerly known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) from Western China, were one of the first to congratulate the Taliban victory. On August 16, in a statement of the TIP’s Syrian branch, released by its propaganda arm, ‘Muhsinlar’, Uighur militants congratulated the Taliban’s emir Haibatullah Akhunzada and all Afghan fellow believers on the restoration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
Notably, in its statement, TIP ‘discovered’ the root causes of the Taliban’s victory in the Muslim holy book of the Quran, which refers to Surah al-Fatiha “Indeed, we have given you, o Prophet, a clear conquest” (48:1). The TIP further emphasized that “one generation of Muslims have sacrificed themselves for the religion of Allah, for today’s boundless joy and rejoicing.” The Taliban’s victory is “a fruit of long and arduous struggle and God’s big gift to Muslims worldwide”, the statement reads.
The TIP’s Syrian branch has called on all Muslims to make dua’s (invocation of God) for the Afghan Mujahedeen, to cooperate and support their fellows of Taliban. Uighur jihadists emphasized the need for the integrity of the Islamic Ummah, which should be governed only by the rule of the Almighty as one nation and one country. At the end of the statement, TIP noted that “East Turkestan Mujahedeens, as an integral part of the Great Ummah, celebrated the historic victory of the Taliban with boundless joy, and will stand alongside them shoulder to shoulder.”
It is recalled that ETIM was designated as a terrorist organization by the UN Security Council resolutions 1267 and 1390 on September 11, 2002, for its alleged association with al-Qaeda, its leader Osama bin Laden, and the Afghan Taliban. As part of the “global war on terror,” the US Federal Government designated ETIM as a terrorist organization on August 19, 2002. At that time, China skillfully took advantage of the situation emerging after the 9/11 attacks, achieving the recognition of ETIM as a terrorist group by many members of the U.S.-led “war on terror” coalition.
However, on November 5, 2020, the US Department of State removed ETIM from the blacklist, which provoked a fuming reaction from official Beijing. China on the other hand is pursuing a harsh repressive policy against the Muslim minority in its Xinjiang region detaining more than one million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz in so-called “re-education camps.” Despite the US decision, the post-Soviet Central Asian countries, Russia and China did not exclude TIP from their banned list of terrorist organizations.
According to the latest 2021 UN Security Council’s report, “several hundred Uighur jihadists of TIP located primarily in Afghan Badakhshan and neighboring provinces, whose strategic goal is to establish an Islamic Uighur state in Xinjiang, China.” The report stated that TIP affiliated with both the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and their ties remain “strong and deep as a consequence of personal bonds of marriage and shared partnership in struggle, now cemented through second generational ties.” Moreover, the notorious leader of TIP, Abdul Haq al-Turkestani, has remained a member of al-Qaeda’s elite Shura Council since 2005. For more two decades, the most wanted key Uighur jihadist has been openly loyal to the Taliban’s top leader Haibatullah Akhunzada and the al-Qaeda’s emir Ayman al-Zawahiri. Today, all three top emirs are successfully continuing their faithful jihadi fellowship, skillfully hiding their close relations, and throwing dust in the eyes of the US and its Western partners, tired of the “longest war”.
Thus, it can be assumed that despite the Taliban’s warm relations with the Chinese government after their return to power in Afghanistan, it is unlikely that they will break ties with the Uighur jihadists of TIP. On the contrary, both are expected to remain loyal to the oath of allegiance (bayat). The long relationship between the Taliban, al-Qaeda and TIP has shown that the bayat has a sacred religious value for them.
Taliban is a source of inspiration for Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad
The Uzbek jihadist group Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad (KTJ) on its Telegram channel posted a video congratulating the Taliban on the victory over the most powerful evil empire in the world, which it considers the US. The congratulations were unusual, as the three KTJ leaders via video addressed the Taliban comrades in joint jihad in three official languages of Afghanistan – Pashto, Dari and Uzbek. In particular, the KTJ’s top emir Abdul Aziz al Uzbeki, whom the UN identified as ‘Khikmatov,’ spoke in Pashto, the military commander Sayfiddin in Dari, and the main ideologist of Central Asian Salafi Jihadism, the group’s imam Ahluddin Navqotiy in Uzbek.
Abdul Aziz glorified the Taliban’s victory over the foreign invaders and occupiers as a gift from Allah Almighty to the Ummah. He eulogized the vision of Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s first emir, who once said, “Allah has promised us victory and America has promised us defeat, so we shall see which of the two promises will be fulfilled.” Top Uzbek jihadist further noted that “today, after a long-suffering patience, tireless struggle and great jihadi perseverance, finally came Nusrat (victory) in Khorasan, promised by Allah.” “Because the Mujahedeen are stronger in spirit and faith in God than the invaders, who, despite their military might and immeasurable wealth, fled the country in shame”, concluded Abdul Aziz.
Then, in an emotional speech, the group’s hard Salafi ideologist, Ahluddin Navqotiy, congratulated the Taliban Mujahedeen on behalf of KTJ Muhajeers waging a jihad in Syria’s Idlib province against Bashar al-Assad regime and pro-Iranian radical militias. He expressed confidence that today’s Nusrat of Allah in Afghanistan will become the driving force behind the establishment of Sharia rule in Central Asia.
Noteworthy, the KTJ leader, Abdul Aziz, had close ties with al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, in particular with the Haqqani network. As a native of the Fergana Valley of Uzbekistan, Abdul Aziz made a hijrah (migration) to Afghanistan fleeing the repressive policies of Uzbek President Islam Karimov in the early 2000s. He waged a jihad in Afghanistan as part of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). Then, in 2015, along with dozens of comrade-in-jihad, he split the group and joined the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), a splinter faction of the IMU. At the time, Central Asian jihadists split over the internal conflict between al-Qaeda and ISIS struggling for the leadership of global jihad.
On August 20, 2015, when the IMU officially swore allegiance to the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the IJU followed in al Qaeda’s footsteps and renewed bayat to the Taliban’s emir Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour. In May 2005, a decade before these events, the US government listed the IJU as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization in May 2005.
He belongs to the first generation of foreign fighters from Central Asia, who went through Taliban’s jihadi school in Afghanistan. He gained prestige among the fellow militants as a military strategist, and not as a deep scholar of the Quran or a public orator-ideologist of Salafi jihadism. In 2008-15, Abdul Aziz, along with the IJU’s leadership, was based in the al-Qaeda’s military hub of Mir Ali in North Waziristan. In one of his Jummah Khutbah preaching he admitted that allowing the Pakistani ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) to take refuge in North Waziristan saved the lives of many Uzbek jihadists from the US drone strikes. In 2019, Abdul Aziz made a hijrah to Syrian Idlib province and became the leader of the KTJ group.
Motivations and Strategies of the Central Asian Jihadism
The congratulations from the Central Asian Sunni militant groups to the Taliban were a vivid manifestation of their long-term and tested joint jihadi cooperation, which began in the late 1990s. Thus, Uighur’s TIP and Uzbek’s KTJ complemented a long list of global jihadist groups such as al-Qaeda’s Central Command and its franchises in Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), Hurras al-Deen (HD), Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Hamas, congratulating the Taliban on their ‘victory’ over the US and NATO forces.
To celebrate the Taliban’s ‘victory’, Uighur, Uzbek and Russia’s Caucasian Jihadists in Syria also hosted grand feasts for foreign and local Sunni Arab militants and heroized the Afghan Mujahedeen during Jummah Khutbah Sermons. The Central Asian jihadi media widely published photos and videos from these parties and against this background tried to recruit new supporters to make hijrah to Afghanistan and Syria to protect the values of Islam and wage the sacred jihad against the infidels. The dramatic picture of Afghan government soldiers fleeing to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan has made the Taliban and al-Qaeda more attractive for recruiting a new generation of Islamists from Central Asia. Calls to make hijrah, or migrate, to the Taliban’s so-called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan are also surfacing on jihadist forums. If the Syrian province of Idlib falls, al-Qaeda-aligned and HTS-backed Uzbek and Tajik jihadists’ migration to Afghanistan will be inevitable. The Taliban can easily melt them into Uzbek, Tajik and Kyrgyz societies in northern Afghanistan and use them as leverage over rebellious ethnic minorities.
So, analysis of the jihadist media indicated that al-Qaeda-linked and Taliban-backed Central Asian extremist groups, operating in both Afghanistan and Syria, were deeply inspired by the Taliban’s victory over the pro-Western government of Ashraf Ghani. As a result, small and fragmented Salafi-Jihadi groups from post-Soviet countries have received the biggest boost to unite around the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Consequently, conducive conditions after the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan are expected to lead to a resurgence of al Qaeda in the Central Asian region. Latent al-Qaeda sympathizers and other radical Islamists in the “Five Stans” view the restoration of the Islamic Emirate on the other side of the border as the beginning of the great jihad’s revival and the approach of Nusrat. With the decline of ISIS and the rise of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, internal divisions, and inter-group feuds between the jihadist jamaats (group) of Central Asia, sometimes accompanied by bloodshed, are expected to diminish, and the volume of clandestine donations to jihad in the region are also expected to increase markedly.
But the main fear for local authoritarian and corrupt pro-Russian governments is that a Taliban victory could provide a historic boost for Uzbek, Tajik and Uighur violent extremist groups encouraging them in their campaigns to overthrow and replace local regimes. And although the Taliban is viewed by the world community as a Pashtun nationalist jihadi movement, and the Afghan jihad has always been more inward and parochial, nevertheless its ideological influence has always been strong among the Central Asian jihadists.
Despite the fact that the Taliban leadership publicly denies the presence of transnational terrorist groups in the country, a recent UN report revealed that there are about 10,000 foreign fighters in Afghanistan, who are members of al-Qaeda, Uighur’s TIP, Uzbek militant groups Katibat Imam al-Bukhari (KIB), KTJ, IJU and Tajik’s Jamaat Ansarullah (JA). Moreover, some of them took an active part in the recent military attacks against the Afghan army on the side of the Taliban, which led to the rapid fall of Mazar-i-Sharif, the strategically important capital of the Northern Alliance. As we predicted earlier, the Taliban exploited the Central Asian jihadists during the fighting in the north of the country as their “hard power” and political leverage on the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. When the Taliban captured a strategically important security checkpoint near Afghan border with Tajikistan in July, they assigned a Tajik jihadi group Jamaat Ansarullah (JA) to raise the Taliban flag on the site. They also put JA in charge of security in five districts of Afghanistan’s Badakhshan Province – Kuf Ab, Khwahan, Maimay, Nusay, and Shekay – near the Tajik border.
Although the Taliban has repeatedly promised not to allow Afghanistan to be used as a staging ground for any attacks, they will not sever their ties with Central Asian jihadi groups and will not violate the bayat. Uzbek, Uighur and Tajik jihadist groups are expected to maintain a safe haven in Afghanistan under the tacit and tight control of the Taliban. In the jihadist world, bayat or pledging allegiance is a heavy Islamic commitment reaching under the holy gaze of Allah Almighty, and reneging it is considered a serious offence. Therefore, the Taliban has never disavowed the group’s pledge.
In conclusion, the high fighting spirit and ideological strength of al-Qaeda-affiliated Central Asian jihadist groups in Afghanistan is associated not only with the Taliban’s lightning victory, but also with the humiliating and chaotic US withdrawal from the country. One of the Kyrgyz jihadists in Syria wrote on the KTJ Telegram channel that “the honor and dignity of America today is under the Taliban’s feet in front of the great Ummah.” This indicates that a new generation of Central Asian extremists has emerged on the scene of global jihadism, absorbing in itself the al-Qaeda’s Salafi-Takfiri military ideology, and synthesizing it with the Islamist nationalism of the Taliban, based on the common kindred Hanafi’s al-Maturidi Aqeedah (Sunni Islamic theology school). As the US counterterrorism capacity in Afghanistan weakened in the foreseeable future, the terrorism threat from Central Asian region will grow symmetrically for the US and the West as a whole.
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