Author Archives: Vijay Prashad

Afghanistan’s impoverished people live amid enormous riches

On September 25, 2021, Afghanistan’s Economy Minister Qari Din Mohammad Hanif said that his government does not want “help and cooperation from the world like the previous government. The old system was supported by the international community for 20 years but still failed.” It is fair to say that Hanif has no experience in running a complex economy, since he has spent most of his career doing political and diplomatic work for the Taliban (both in Afghanistan and in Qatar). However, during the first Taliban government from 1996 to 2001, Hanif was the planning minister and in that position, dealt with economic affairs. Continue reading

Clear away the hype: The U.S. and Australia signed a nuclear arms deal, simple as that

On September 15, 2021, the heads of government of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States announced the formation of AUKUS, “a new enhanced trilateral security partnership” between these three countries. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined U.S. President Joe Biden to “preserve security and stability in the Indo-Pacific,” as Johnson put it. Continue reading

Rwanda’s military is the French proxy on African soil

On July 9, 2021, the government of Rwanda said that it had deployed 1,000 troops to Mozambique to battle al-Shabaab fighters, who had seized the northern province of Cabo Delgado. A month later, on August 8, Rwandan troops captured the port city of Mocímboa da Praia, where just off the coast sits a massive natural gas concession held by the French energy company TotalEnergies SE and the U.S. energy company ExxonMobil. These new developments in the region led to the African Development Bank’s President M. Akinwumi Adesina announcing on August 27 that TotalEnergies SE will restart the Cabo Delgado liquefied natural gas project by the end of 2022. Continue reading

Why the discovery of natural gas in Mozambique has produced tragedies, not economic promise

On February 18, 2010, Anadarko Moçambique—a subsidiary of Anadarko Petroleum (bought by Occidental Petroleum in 2019)—discovered a massive natural gas field in the Rovuma Basin off the coast of northern Mozambique. Over the next few years, some of the world’s largest energy corporations flocked to the Cabo Delgado province, where the basin is located. These included corporations like France’s TotalEnergies SE (which bought Anadarko’s project), the United States’ ExxonMobil, and Italy’s ENI, which collaborated with the China National Petroleum Corporation for “oil and gas exploration and production.” Continue reading

How the Taliban chased the West out of Afghanistan

Days after the Taliban drove into Kabul on August 15, its representatives started making inquiries about the “location of assets” of the central bank of the nation, Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB), which are known to total about $9 billion. Meanwhile, the central bank in neighboring Uzbekistan, which has an almost equivalent population of approximately 34 million people compared to Afghanistan’s population of more than 39 million, has international reserves worth $35 billion. Afghanistan is a poor country, by comparison, and its resources have been devastated by war and occupation. Continue reading

The return of the Taliban 20 years later

On August 15, the Taliban arrived in Kabul. The Taliban’s leadership entered the presidential palace, which Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had vacated when he fled into exile abroad hours before. The country’s borders shut down and Kabul’s main international airport lay silent, except for the cries of those Afghans who had worked for the U.S. and NATO; they knew that their lives would now be at serious risk. The Taliban’s leadership, meanwhile, tried to reassure the public of a “peaceful transition” by saying in several statements that they would not seek retribution, but would go after corruption and lawlessness. Continue reading

A viable—and perhaps the only—path to lasting peace in Afghanistan

As each day goes by, the Taliban’s forces edge closer to controlling all of Afghanistan. In the first week of August, the Taliban swept through the northern provinces of the country—Jawzjan, Kunduz, and Sar-e Pul—which form an arc alongside the borders of the Central Asian states of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. The violence has been severe; the pain inflicted upon civilians by the intensity of the fighting has been terrible. Having withdrawn its ground forces, the United States sent in its B-52s to bomb targets in the city of Sheberghan (capital of the province of Jawzjan); reports suggest that at least 200 people were killed in the bombings. It shows the weakness of the government in Kabul that its Ministry of Defense’s spokesperson Fawad Aman cheered on the bombing. Continue reading

As the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan, China forges ties with the Taliban

On July 28, 2021, in the Chinese city of Tianjin, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with a visiting delegation from Afghanistan. The leader of the delegation was Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the co-founder of the Taliban and head of its political commission. The Taliban has been making significant territorial gains as the U.S. military withdraws from Afghanistan. During the meeting, China’s Wang Yi told Mullah Baradar that the U.S. policy in the Central Asian country has failed, since the United States had not been able to establish a government that is both stable and pro-Western. In fact, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan also emphasized this point and told PBS in an interview on July 27 that the U.S. had “really messed it up” in Afghanistan. The government in Kabul—led by President Ashraf Ghani—remains locked in an armed struggle with the Taliban, which seems likely to march into Kabul by next summer. Continue reading

The COVID-19 catastrophe in India keeps growing

It is difficult to overstate the grip of COVID-19 on India. WhatsApp bristles with messages about this or that friend and family member with the virus, while there are angry posts about how the central government has utterly failed its citizenry. This hospital is running out of beds and that hospital has no more oxygen, while there is evasion from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Cabinet. Continue reading