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`The Place Where These Rivals Can Work Together’: Afghanistan

`The Place Where These Rivals Can Work Together’: Afghanistan —

July 18 (EIRNS) – An interesting statement by Pakistan’s ambassador to China, Javid Ahmad Qaem, was quoted in Global Times July 17. “The only place,” the Ambassador said, “where the U.S., China and India could really cooperate, and at least there could be a starting point to cooperate between these rivals, if I can call them that, is Afghanistan.”
            The same Global Times article which quoted Qaem made clear that China has proposed the Belt and Road Initiative – the Eurasia-wide infrastructure corridor development plan it initiated in 2013 – as the basis for cooperation in shifting Afghanistan from the theater of endless war and poverty to a nation developing and a contributor to stability. At the July 15-16 conference of 40 nations’ representatives in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on “stability and connectivity” in the region following the NATO withdrawals, “China urges Central and South Asian countries to forge a closer regional connectivity partnership through high-quality cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI),” Global Times reported, not implying U.S. participation. A White House readout July 18 said only that A high-level US delegation led by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the international conference in Uzbekistan and discussed the evolving security situation in Afghanistan and the US support for the Afghan defense forces.”
            The impression is given by many media accounts (leaving aside those that forecast the Taliban overrunning Kabul this week) that China and Russia are working with the Taliban on new regional security concepts while the United States and India try to meddle. Russia at least is, according to an Asia Times report July 15, preparing to move at the UN for the Taliban to no longer be designated as supporting terrorism, if that movement maintains peaceful relations with the Central Asian Republics and does not support either al-Qaeda or the East Turkistan Independence Movement (ETIM, Uiygur separatist terrorists). The Taliban have proposed friendly relations with China.
            But the Afghan government has also made moves toward economic reconstruction potentials for the region, in anticipation of the NATO troops getting out. In February it agreed with Pakistan and Uzbekistan on a rail corridor from Peshawar, Pakistan to Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan to Tashkent, clearly linking to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and to the main Eurasian Land-Bridge rail corridor. It also discussed with Pakistan a highway in the same corridor but branching to Dushanbe, Tajikistan. And the Ghani government has started a 50 km gravel and asphalt road through the formidable Wakhan Corridor to the 5,000 meter-high Wakhjir Pass; it continued beyond it would be a rugged but short and direct route to China through Xinjiang Province.
            Afghan consultant to Ghani’s office Shokrullah Amiri, writing in Global Times July 18, says that the Afghan and Chinese governments have been consulting since May on the Wakhan  Corridor also becoming part of the Belt and Road Initiative (it was a part of the 12th Century Silk Road). This, said the Asia Times July 15 report, was why the Ghani government began on the road. Amiri has much more to say about the potential development of Afghan minerals and Afghan-China trade as a result.  For more details, go here.


Flurry of Diplomatic Activity Around SCO Foreign Ministers’ Meeting Takes Up Belt and Road Projects

July 16 (EIRNS)—There continued to be a flurry of diplomatic activity around the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) ministerial and SCO Afghanistan Contact Group, which met July 13-14 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Before heading to Dushanbe, on July 12-13, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi stopped in Ashgabat to meet with Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and other officials. China’s Foreign Ministry reported that during the meeting Wang Yi said, “the two countries should sign as soon as possible documents on the alignment of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative with Turkmenistan’s  development strategy to revive the Great Silk Road,” and  formulate a five-year plan for all-round cooperation.” This included China’s “cooperation  with Turkmenistan across the whole industrial chain of oil and gas.” On July 15-16, after the SCO conferences, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan travelled to Uzbekistan, to meet with President Shavkat  Mirziyoyev.

The two leaders discussed cooperation in fighting COVID-19. Their “Joint Declaration on the Establishment of Strategic Partnership between The Republic of Uzbekistan and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan” emphasized: “The leaders stressed the importance of regional integration and connectivity as a cornerstone of economic development and progress. In this regard, they welcomed the exchange of high-level visits in the areas of trade, railways, transport and aviation.

“The two leaders reiterated their support for the Termez-Mazar-i-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar railway project as an important initiative to create a rail link from Central Asia to the Arabian Sea through Afghanistan and the Pakistani seaports of Karachi, Gwadar and Bin Qasim….

“The two leaders also recognized the immense potential of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor for the benefit of the entire Central Asianregion and beyond entailing greater connectivity and trade linkages through a network of transport, fiber optic cable, energy pipelines, and investment opportunities in its SEZs [Special Economic Zones].”

Over July 15-16 Uzbekistan President Mirziyoyev hosted the “Central and South Asia: Regional Interconnectedness. Challenges and Opportunities” with Prime Minister Khan and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, as well as Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov, Wang Yi, and the other participants in the SCO Foreign Ministers’ Council, representatives of the U.S., Israel, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Japan, EU and UN.

Meantime, Afghani researcher Ahmad Bilal Khalil wrote in “Afghanistan the Shanghai Cooperation Organization,” in the July 14 issue of The Diplomat that Afghanistan’s development lies with the nations that comprise the SCO, for which he advocated Afghanistan having full membership. Khalil explained, “Afghanistan … has close economic and trade ties with most of the SCO member states…. According to the Afghan Statistical Yearbook, in 2017-18, more than 87% of Afghanistan’s total imports were from SCO countries; and more than 57% of Afghanistan’s total exports were destined to SCO member states.”


Helga Zepp-LaRouche Briefs China Plus ‘World Today’ Program—‘The New Name for Peace Is Development’

July 13 (EIRNS)—Helga Zepp-LaRouche gave the following interview to China Plus radio’s World Today broadcast today. China Plus is the official English website of China Radio International. The interview is the second news story starting at 12:55 minutes

CRI: Welcome back. The United Nations Human Rights Council has passed China’s resolution on the contribution of development to the enjoyment of all human rights, at the 47th session, which emphasizes the right to development and that the aim of development is to improve the developing of the people. For more, we are now joined on the line by Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder of the Schiller Institute, a Germany based economic and political think tank. Thanks for joining us Dr. LaRouche.

HELGA ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Yes, hello! How are you?

CRI: I’m good, thank you. So, the resolution stresses that development and the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. How do we understand those?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: First of all, let me express my congratulation. I think this is an excellent development, because hopefully this will inspire a very productive discussion everywhere around the world, what is the right definition of human rights. And I think the interdependence between development and human rights and freedom, you can see best if you look at the lack of development. Because then you have poverty, and you have still on the planet, 2 billion people who have no access to clean water, more than 800 million are and you have no freedom if you have all day to try to get a little bit of water and a little bit to eat, just to try to stay alive, so you have no freedom under these conditions. So therefore, I think development is very clearly the precondition for both human rights with freedom.

CRI: Yes, but that is very different from the Western explanation for human rights, which all starts with the ballot box and has everything to do with individual freedom. How did it get the different priorities when it comes to the human rights issue?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well first of all, I think one has to see that the label isn’t always consistent with the content. Many things which have the label “democracy” and “human rights” have quite some different content, and in the case of the Western parliamentarian system, or unfortunately even the presidential system in some countries, is more a plutocracy, where the money of the multinationals and the big banks determine who gets a seat. Also, I think if you look at the overemphasis of individual freedom it has degenerated into a notion, everything is allowed, and the common good is regarded as a suppression of these individual freedoms.

Now, if you have a crisis, like in the case of COVID-19, you can see what the consequences of this is. China and some other Asian nations took strict measures for the common good, and it worked well, and then also the individuals profited because they were rid of the pandemic earlier; while in the West you had a back and forth, people were even protesting against having to wear masks, regarding that as an intrusion in their personal freedom, and they had to pay a much, much bigger price.

CRI: Well, representatives from countries including Venezuela, Cuba, and Pakistan also made speeches to appreciate China for delivering those draft resolutions and stressed that development should be the focus of every country, especially developing countries. But why is the resolution getting support from these countries?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, it’s very simple: Because in the entire post-World War II period, the IMF conditionalities prevented real development in the developing sector. They were told, you have to pay your debt first before you can invest in infrastructure or health, and the result was a blatant underdevelopment and incredible poverty. So, China, even before the Belt and Road, invested in railways in Africa and other infrastructure, but especially with the Belt and Road Initiative and the COVID crisis, it became very clear that these countries regarded the help from China—which was denounced as “vaccine diplomacy” by some Western media—but these developing countries regarded the attitude of China as a life-saver for them. So, it’s no surprise that they would support it.

CRI: And I think you earlier mentioned about what should be the right definition of human rights. And another question is who gets to pick what the most basic human rights should be? And have you got a feeling that this has been heavily guided by a small number of mostly Western nations which has led to a general bias in favor of the civil, political liberties over economic, social, and cultural rights?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Yes. You can see that right now very clearly in the case of the so-called “identity policy.” For example, between the EU Commission and countries such as Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, there is a big tension right now, whereas in the East, they have rejected the effort by the EU Commission to impose the values of the Western liberal European countries.

So, I think what needs to be put up front again, is the Five Principles of peaceful coexistence and the idea of non-interference in the different social systems, because they are, due to customs, traditions, cultural heritage and these must be respected.

CRI: In 2019 a study by the Center for New American Security—that is a Washington-based think tank—says that China’s actions in the UN were part of this effort to redefine how such institutions are run and shift away from Western concepts of democracy and human rights. What is your thought on those?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, China has been the leading nation for centuries, and only in the 18th and 19th centuries, because of the colonialist attacks and Opium Wars by the British, you know, that that was diminished. But now, China is again the second largest economy in the world. The lifting of poverty of 850 million people represents a tremendous civilizational contribution, and therefore, I think, it is absolutely correct that China should have a major role in this discussion.

CRI: OK, but do you feel the widespread back and forth surrounding human rights issues around the world currently has been highly politicized? And sometimes it has even been used as a tool for political purposes and sometimes as an excuse to put pressure on other countries or even invade other countries?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Yes. These notions, human rights and democracy, have become like a two by four: You can smash any argument into the ground. So, I think this double standard needs to be corrected. Those people in the West who support sanctions under conditions of the COVID-19 crisis against such countries as Syria, Yemen, Iran, Venezuela—I think altogether 30 countries—I mean, this is a violation of human rights if you ever have seen one. Or, if you look at how Assange is treated, or what happened to Snowden, all these people just did the right thing, and they have been treated in an absolutely horrible way. So, this double standard should be stopped.

CRI: What are the consequences of such double standards or politicizing such human rights issues? Is it like shifting our focus away from the real human rights problems?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Yes, it poisons the atmosphere, and it degenerates the idea of human rights, which is actually a beautiful idea, and makes it a victim to geopolitical reasons.

Now, the Schiller Institute is upholding this concept of the “New Name for Peace Is Development.” This comes originally from Pope Paul VI in 1967 in his Encyclical Populorum Progressio, where he coined that idea that the “new name for peace is development.”

And this is very important right now, concretely in Afghanistan. Look, for example, NATO spent there 20 years for absolutely nothing, and now the question is what’s to come out of Afghanistan? Will you continue the geopolitical war? Or, will you have an agreement among all neighbors, like Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Iran, and have real development? The real development would mean to extend the New Silk Road, the Belt and Road Initiative into Afghanistan, but also into Iraq, Syria, Yemen, the whole region. And then you can have peace. So this is not an abstract academic notion, this is an extremely actual issue, that the idea that real peace does require development, that that is a precondition without which nothing will function.

CRI: OK, thank you Dr. Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder of the Schiller Institute, a Germany-based political and economic think tank.


Helga Zepp-LaRouche – AFGHANISTAN AT A CROSSROADS: Graveyard for Empires or Start of a New Era?

PDF of this statement

by Helga Zepp-LaRouche

July 10—After the hasty withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan—U.S. troops, except for a few security forces, were flown out in the dark of night without informing Afghan allies—this country has become, for the moment but likely not for long, the theater of world history. The news keeps pouring in: On the ground, the Taliban forces are making rapid territorial gains in the north and northeast of the country, which has already caused considerable tension and concern in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, and they have captured the western border town Islam Qala, which handles significant trade flows with Iran. At the same time, intense diplomatic activity is ongoing among all those countries whose security interests are affected by the events in Afghanistan: Iran, Pakistan, India, Russia, China, to name only the most important.

Can an intra-Afghan solution be found? Can a civil war between the Afghan government and the Taliban be prevented? Can terrorist groups, such as ISIS, which is beginning to regain a hold in the north, and Al-Qaeda, be disbanded? Or will the war between Afghan factions continue, and with it the expansion of opium growing and export, and the global threat of Islamic terrorism? Will Afghanistan once again sink into violence and chaos, and become a threat not only to Russia and China, but even to the United States and Europe?

If these questions are to be answered in a positive sense, it is crucial that the United States and Europe first answer the question, with brutal honesty, of how the war in Afghanistan became such a catastrophic failure, a war waged for a total of 20 years by the United States, the strongest military power in the world, together with military forces from 50 other nations. More than 3,000 soldiers of NATO and allied forces, including 59 German soldiers, and a total of 180,000 people, including 43,000 civilians, lost their lives. This was at a financial cost for the U.S. of more than $2 trillion, and of €47 billion for Germany. Twenty years of horror in which, as is customary in war, all sides were involved in atrocities with destructive effects on their own lives, including the many soldiers who came home with post-traumatic stress disorders and have not been able to cope with life since. The Afghan civilian population, after ten years of war with the Soviets in the 1980s followed by a small break, then had to suffer another 20 years of war with an almost unimaginable series of torments.

It was clear from the start that this war could not be won. Implementation of NATO’s mutual defense clause under Article 5 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks was based on the assumption that Osama bin Laden and the Taliban regime were behind those attacks, which would thus justify the war in Afghanistan.

But as U.S. Senator Bob Graham, the Chairman of the Congressional “Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001,” repeatedly pointed out in 2014, the then-last two U.S. presidents, Bush and Obama, suppressed the truth about who had commissioned 9/11. And it was only because of that suppression that the threat to the world from ISIS then became possible. Graham said at a November 11, 2014 interview in Florida:

“There continue to be some untold stories, some unanswered questions about 9/11. Maybe the most fundamental question is: Was 9/11 carried out by 19 individuals, operating in isolation, who, over a period of 20 months, were able to take the rough outlines of a plan that had been developed by Osama bin Laden, and convert it into a detailed working plan; to then practice that plan; and finally, to execute an extremely complex set of assignments? Let’s think about those 19 people. Very few of them could speak English. Very few of them had even been in the United States before. The two chairs of the 9/11 Commission, Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, have said that they think it is highly improbable that those 19 people could have done what they did, without some external support during the period that they were living in the United States. I strongly concur…. Where did they get their support?”

This question has still not been answered in satisfactory manner. The passing of the JASTA Act (Justice Against State Sponsors of Terrorism) in the U.S., the disclosure of the 28 previously classified pages of the Joint Congressional Inquiry report into 9/11 that were kept secret for so long, and the lawsuit that the families of the 9/11 victims filed against the Saudi government delivered sufficient evidence of the actual financial support for the attacks. But the investigation of all these leads was delayed with bureaucratic means.

The only reason the inconsistencies around 9/11 are mentioned here, is to point to the fact that the entire definition of the enemy in this war was, in fact, wrong from the start. In a white paper on Afghanistan published by the BüSo (Civil Rights Movement Solidarity in Germany) in 2010, we pointed out that a war in which the goal has not been correctly defined, can hardly be won, and we demanded, at the time, the immediate withdrawal of the German Army.

Once the Washington Post published the 2,000-page “Afghanistan Papers” in 2019 under the title “At War with the Truth,” at the latest, this war should have ended. They revealed that this war had been an absolute disaster from the start, and that all the statements made by the U.S. military about the alleged progress made were deliberate lies. The investigative journalist Craig Whitlock, who published the results of his three years of research, including the use of documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and statements from 400 insiders demonstrated the absolute incompetence with which this war was waged.

Then, there were the stunning statements of Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, the Afghanistan czar under the Bush and Obama administrations, who in an internal hearing before the “Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction” in 2014 had said: “We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan—we didn’t know what we were doing. … What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking…. If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction … who would say that it was all in vain?”

After these documents were published, nothing happened. The war continued. President Trump attempted to bring the troops home, but his attempt was essentially undermined by the U.S. military. It’s only now, that the priority has shifted to the Indo-Pacific and to the containment of China and the encirclement of Russia that this absolutely pointless war was ended, at least as far as the participation of foreign forces is concerned.

September 11th brought the world not only the Afghanistan War but also the Patriot Act a few weeks later, and with it the pretext for the surveillance state that Edward Snowden shed light on. It revoked a significant part of the civil rights that were among the most outstanding achievements of the American Revolution, and enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, and it undermined the nature of the United States as a republic.

At the same time, the five principles of peaceful coexistence, which are the essence of international law and of the UN Charter, were replaced by an increasing emphasis on the “rule-based order,” which reflects the interests and the defense of the privileges of the trans-Atlantic establishment. Tony Blair had already set the tone for such a rejection of the principles of the Peace of Westphalia and international law two years earlier in his infamous speech in Chicago, which provided the theoretical justification for the “endless wars”—i.e., the interventionist wars carried out under the pretext of the “responsibility to protect” (R2P), a new kind of crusades, in which “Western values,” “democracy” and “human rights” are supposed to be transferred—with swords or with drones and bombs—to cultures and nations that come from completely different civilizational traditions.

Therefore, the disastrous failure of the Afghanistan war—after the failure of the previous ones, the Vietnam war, the Iraq war, the Libya war, the Syria war, the Yemen war—must urgently become the turning point for a complete shift in direction from the past 20 years.

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic at the very latest, an outbreak that was absolutely foreseeable and that Lyndon LaRouche had forecast in principle as early as 1973, a fundamental debate should have been launched on the flawed axiomatics of the Western liberal model. The privatization of all aspects of healthcare systems has certainly brought lucrative profits to investors, but the economic damage inflicted, and the number of deaths and long-term health problems have brutally exposed the weak points of these systems.

The strategic turbulence caused by the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan, offers an excellent opportunity for a reassessment of the situation, for a correction of political direction and a new solution-oriented policy. The long tradition of geopolitical manipulation of this region, in which Afghanistan represents in a certain sense the interface, from the 19th Century “Great Game” of the British Empire to the “arc of crisis” of Bernard Lewis and Zbigniew Brzezinski, must be buried once and for all, never to be revived. Instead, all the neighbors in the region—Russia, China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Turkey—must be integrated into an economic development strategy that represents a common interest among these countries, one that is defined by a higher order, and is more attractive than the continuation of the respective supposed national interests. This higher level represents the development of a trans-national infrastructure, large-scale industrialization and modern agriculture for the whole of Southwest Asia, as it was presented in 1997 by EIR and the Schiller Institute in special reports and then in the study “The New Silk Road Becomes the World Land-Bridge.” There is also a comprehensive Russian study from 2014, which Russia intended to present at a summit as a member of the G8, before it was excluded from that group.

In February of this year, the foreign ministers of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan agreed on the construction of a railway line from Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, via Mazar-e-Sharif and Kabul, Afghanistan, to Peshawar in Pakistan. An application for funding from the World Bank was submitted in April. At the same time, the construction of a highway, the Khyber Pass Economic Corridor, between Peshawar, Kabul and Dushanbe was agreed to by Pakistan and Afghanistan. It will serve as a continuation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a showcase project of the Chinese BRI.

These transportation lines must be developed into effective development corridors and an east-west connection between China, Central Asia, Russia, and Europe as well as a north-south infrastructure network from Russia, Kazakhstan and China to Gwadar, Pakistan on the Arabian Sea, all need to be implemented.

All these projects pose considerable engineering challenges—just consider the totally rugged landscape of large parts of Afghanistan—but the shared vision of overcoming poverty and underdevelopment combined with the expertise and cooperation of the best engineers in China, Russia, the U.S.A., and Europe really can “move mountains” in a figurative sense. The combination of the World Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) New Development Bank, New Silk Road Fund, and national lenders could provide the necessary lines of credit.

Such a development perspective, including for agriculture, would also provide an alternative to the massive drug production plaguing this region. At this point, over 80% of global opium production comes from Afghanistan, and about 10% of the local population is currently addicted, while Russia not so long ago defined its biggest national security problem as drug exports from Afghanistan, which as of 2014 was killing 40,000 people per year in Russia. The realization of an alternative to drug cultivation is in the fundamental interest of the entire world.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the risk of further pandemics have dramatically underscored the need to build modern health systems in every single country on Earth, if we are to prevent the most neglected countries from becoming breeding grounds for new mutations, and which would defeat all the efforts made so far. The construction of modern hospitals, the training of doctors and nursing staff, and the necessary infrastructural prerequisites are therefore just as much in the interests of all political groups in Afghanistan and of all countries in the region, as of the so-called developed countries.

For all these reasons, the future development of Afghanistan represents a fork in the road for all mankind. At the same time, it is a perfect demonstration of the opportunity that lies in the application of the Cusan principle of the Coincidentia Oppositorum, the coincidence of opposites. Remaining on the level of the contradictions in the supposed interests of all the nations concerned— India-Pakistan, China-U.S.A., Iran-Saudi Arabia, Turkey-Russia—there are no solutions.

If, on the other hand, one considers the common interests of all—overcoming terrorism and the drug plague, lasting victory over the dangers of pandemics, ending the refugee crises—then the solution is obvious. The most important aspect, however, is the question of the path we as humanity choose—whether we want to plunge further into a dark age, and potentially even risk our existence as a species, or whether we want to shape a truly human century together. In Afghanistan, it holds true more than anywhere else in the world: The new name for peace is development!


Brzezinski’s Nightmare: a `Khyber Pass Development Corridor’

Brzezinski’s Nightmare: a `Khyber Pass Development Corridor’

July 7 (EIRNS) – The United States/NATO occupation of Afghanistan, the latest, long trail of fruitless wasting of blood and treasure in that suffering country, is now ending. There is an alternative start to peace through economic development which could now succeed, if the sine qua non which Lyndon LaRouche made clear years ago goes into action. The great powers in the region – China, Russia, and India – along with the United States must cooperate, not with their special forces but with their engineers and their credits, to support that success.
            This was proposed by LaRouche’s Executive Intelligence Review in special reports already in 1997. It was sabotaged by regime-change wars throughout the region. Proposed again by Russia in 2014 — an Afghan region development concept reported by EIR in its 2014 special report (updated), The New Silk Road Becomes the World Land-Bridge — it was again sabotaged by Russia’s expulsion from the G8 after the Ukraine coup. Behind this was the British intelligence Bernard Lewis Plan, adopted by Zbigniew Brzezinski as Carter’s National Security Advisor, to use this region as an “Arc of Crisis” permanent weapon of war and terror against Russia and China.
            The Belt and Road Initiative, initially a Chinese land-bridge infrastructure project across Eurasia but now involving more than 100 countries, offers economic development advantages and prospects to Afghanistan, including the Taliban, if major nations in the region cooperate on them.
            The obvious question is why the U.S./NATO occupation persisted for so long in blocking the government of Afghanistan from negotiating on the Belt and Road, when it clearly was open to this and in desperate need of development as we show here.
            Railway-technology.com, the Belt and Road News, and The Diplomat have all recently reported on the agreement reached in February 2021 by the foreign ministers of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan for a railway to be built at an estimated cost of $4.8 billion from Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s most northerly major city and its capital, through Mazar-e-Sharif and Kabul, Afghanistan, to Peshawar, Pakistan. Uzbekistan – the initiator of the plan, according to The Diplomat – proposed to ask the World Bank to loan this fund, and that request was made in April.
            Moreover, a Peshawar-Kabul-Dushanbe highway project was recently agreed upon between Pakistan and Afghanistan representatives. As a Pakistani planned project, called the Khyber Pass Economic Corridor as an offshoot of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, this plan dates to March 2015 when a feasibility study was begun.
            If the rail and road developments are combined, effectively a North-South transportation and economic development corridor begins to be launched running from the main Eurasian Land-Bridge on the north, to the Indian Ocean on the south. This is true even though the core Kabul-Peshawar stretch through the Khyber Pass runs East and West. Tashkent will connect the corridor north through secondary rail lines to the dry port of Khorgos, Kazakhstan, on the main Eurasian Land-Bridge rail line from Lanzhou Port in China to Russia and Europe. Peshawar, via the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC),  will connect the corridor directly to Pakistan’s growing port of Gwadar on the Indian Ocean – and of course, back into China’s southern industrial heartlands. Mazar-e-Sharif in the extreme north of Afghanistan is the only Afghan city with rail connections now, largely into Uzbekistan.
            Within Afghanistan itself, this rail-road corridor would turn the northeast quadrant of the Afghanistan Ring Road into a protected part of that international corridor; and through Mazar-e-Sharif, it would connect the Tajik capital Dushanbe which lies to the East of that corridor.
            The major economic powers must turn from tensions, charges and confrontations, and cooperate for this potential to finally allow peace and development in Afghanistan. The rail line from Peshawar to Tashkent and potentially north to Russia will have serious logistical-engineering challenges which only the Chinese rail-building companies can solve. The World Bank loan will only be made if the United States agrees to support the plan, and then the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) can become involved in providing additional credit. And development along the corridor will require a lot of new electric power, which can best be nuclear plants engineered by Russia’s world-leading nuclear exporter Rosatom.
            These are only the beginning of the needs for power, water management, transportation, and urgently now, healthcare. They are the way out of the constant “Arc of Crisis” warfare LaRouche first exposed in his 1998 classic video lesson, Storm Over Asia.


Helga Zepp-LaRouche interviewed on CGTN’s Asia Today

Helga Zepp-LaRouche was interviewed by Zhong Shi today, the host of the “Asia Today” program on CGTN, as part of its lead coverage on the crisis in Afghanistan.

Zhong Shi: I want to now also bring in Helga Zepp-LaRouche, the president and founder of the Schiller Institute, a German-based political and economic think tank. Mrs. Zepp-LaRouche, welcome to the program. It’s a pleasure to have you on today.

The Pentagon says returning Bagram base to Afghan security forces was a key milestone in U.S. military withdrawal. Now, the question is, what type of milestone will this be for Afghanistan? How will this affect the country’s ability to fight against the Taliban?

Helga Zepp-LaRouche: I think it’s a very serious situation. There is the danger of civil war, not only between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban, but according to Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, who yesterday pointed to the fact that there are now ISIS forces massing in the north of Afghanistan. I think the danger is that the war will continue, this time with Afghans killing Afghans, so I think it does require some other approach. Something completely different than just withdrawing and leaving the place as it is.

Zhong: The world is now watching the situation unfold in Afghanistan. We know the Taliban certainly has been sweeping into districts as foreign troops go home. When the United States watches what is happening right now in Afghanistan, how would you characterize Joe Biden’s policy towards Afghanistan after U.S. forces leave? He certainly has promised continued support.

Zepp-LaRouche: Yes, I’m not so sure. Obviously, this is a quagmire. Twenty years of war and lost lives and lost money for nothing. I think that the withdrawal from Afghanistan has similar reasons like the United States reducing logistics in other parts of the Persian Gulf. It’s in part, in my view, this focus on the Pacific, on Russia, on China. So per se, it’s not an Afghanistan policy, but it’s more a policy led by geostrategic considerations. I think this is a path to disaster as well.

Look, Afghanistan in the last year, the opium production increased by 45%. Afghanistan produces 85% of the world’s opium production. If you just leave that, the Taliban will for sure increase that production as a way of financing their military operations. The deaths will be in the streets of the United States and Europe, of the many addicts. In Afghanistan, there are 3.5 million drug addicts, but that just shows that you need to have a completely different approach to solve this problem.

Militarily, Afghanistan cannot be won. That was proven by the Soviet Union trying to win for 10 years, now the United States and NATO for 20 years. I think it’s high time to rethink, that one needs to have a completely different approach than the continuation of the same.

Zhong: As you say, it would be 20 years of a war for nothing, if Afghanistan quickly descended back into chaos; into where it was before the war. Some fear that this is more likely to become a reality once foreign troops are gone. What do you think are the chances that this will happen? That Afghanistan will dive deeper into a civil war?

Zepp-LaRouche: As I said, if nothing is being done, it will be a nightmare. There will be more terrorism, which will spread not only in the region, but beyond. I think there must be a change in the approach. The only way there would be any hope to stabilize the situation is if you bring real economic development to Afghanistan, but also to the entire region, of Iraq, Syria, Yemen, all these countries which have been destroyed by the endless wars. This could be taken as one region, and one should understand that both the problem of terrorism, but also the problem of drugs, is one which should concern all the countries—the United States, Russia, China, Iran, India. They should all work together for an economic development perspective. One could extend the Belt and Road Initiative, the New Silk Road. The previous president, Karzai, saw that he sees the only hope for Afghanistan would be development. And the new name for peace is development, also in Afghanistan. So, my wish would be that this could become a subject of a UN Security Council special conference. President Putin has demanded, in any case, that the Permanent Five of the UN Security Council should meet. That would be one of the urgent items; how to prevent Afghanistan becoming a source of terrorism, drug trafficking, and just a nightmare for everybody. And how can you stop thinking in terms of geopolitical confrontation, and concentrate on the common aims of mankind? I think Afghanistan is one of these absolute crossroads—it is a crossroad—but also a crossroad in the history of mankind.

Zhong: This is more of a pressing issue by the day. Helga Zepp-LaRouche, we appreciate your analysis today; thank you so much for taking the opportunity to talk to us.


Wang Yi Chairs Meet of Belt & Road Countries in the Asia Pacific Region

Wang Yi Chairs Meeting of Belt and Road Countries in the Asia Pacific Region

June 24, 2021 (EIRNS)–On June 23, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi hosted a high-level video conference on international cooperation in the Belt and Road Asia-Pacific region. The theme of the conference was “Strengthening Anti-epidemic Cooperation and Promoting Economic Recovery.” The participants included Colombian President Duque and deputy prime ministers, foreign ministers, and other political leaders from 29 other countries, as well as the UN Deputy Secretary-General and UN ESCAP Secretary-General Ali Shahba.

President Xi sent a letter to the participants, in which he underlined the successes of the BRI and the importance of its work in dealing with the COVID epidemic. He said that China was creating a new development paradigm which, through the interconnectivity of the BRI, would help create more market opportunities, investment opportunities, and growth opportunities for BRI partners.

Minister Wang underlined the many successes of the Belt and Road in bringing development to the Asia-Pacific region. He noted that 140 partners have signed BRI cooperation documents with China. Cumulative trade between China and its BRI partners has exceeded 9.2 trillion U.S. dollars, and the cumulative direct investment of Chinese companies in countries along the route has exceeded 130 billion U.S. dollars. “The ‘Belt and Road’ has truly become the world’s widest and largest international cooperation platform,” Wang said. He also noted that there were no political conditions or ideological bias attached to Belt and Road membership, making a clear distinction between BRI and the Biden/G7 “Build Back Better World” boondoggle.

The meeting reached agreement on a 6-point program. The Members positively praised the progress of BRI cooperation; called on the international community to work together to overcome the problems engendered by the pandemic; called for greater cooperation in the development of vaccines and making them available to the world as a whole; placed “green development” in a prominent position in BRI infrastructure development; supported greater cross-border movement of goods and people and the promotion of trade and investment liberalization; accelerated the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.


Argentina to Sign MOU Joining the Belt and Road Initiative As Soon As Possible

Argentina Ready to Sign MOU on Joining the Belt and Road Initiative As Soon As Possible

May 28 (EIRNS)–In a lengthy interview with the Spanish-language edition of China Today published May 18, Argentine Ambassador to China, Sabino Vaca Narvaja, underscored that while President Alberto Fernandez was unable to travel to China in early May to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), he is absolutely committed to doing this as soon as conditions permit him to travel, or alternatively, to sign the MOU virtually during this year’s biannual Belt and Road Forum.

Vaca Narvaja, who is an expert on China, noted that of course Argentina seeks to maintain a positive, “mature” relationship with the Biden administration, but pointed out that China is Argentina’s “main investor and financier.” China’s strict protocol for quarantining foreign visitors makes it difficult for the President to travel right now, because of the time this would involve, but, he continued, “it’s an option to sign the MOU for the Belt and Road if the President’s trip is put off much longer. We want to sign it as soon as possible because we already announced it, and because our government’s decision is to deepen even further its relations with China.” The bilateral relationship “is central for our President,” he said. “China is one of the countries at the top of his travel agenda.”

China and Argentina, he said, are about to renew a five-year development perspective including 16 to 20 development projects worth $30 billion, to be presented soon to China’s National Development and Reform Commission and to the Argentine Foreign and Finance ministries.. Those projects include railroad construction, telecommunications, energy–including a new nuclear plant with China’s Hualong technology–science and technology, “everything that has to do with bioceanic corridors…and working on the possibility of improving our rail lines and highways to have access to both the Atlantic and Pacific.” In this context, he emphasized the necessity of Latin America forging its own economic integration, having a long term development perspective just as China does, and pointed to ASEAN and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as examples of Asian integration. “If we don’t integrate and begin to think on a level of scale, our relationship will be more difficult,” he warned.

“China is a sufficiently large market for us to think about a continental strategy and this must be a policy of state for our governments,” he insisted. ”Our relationship with China should be an excuse to work for the long term in the region.” Latin America, he said, “should have its own Belt and Road and its own infrastructure plan linked to [China’s] Belt and Road Initiative.” China’s economy and those of Latin American nations are complementary, so, he emphasized, “we have a lot of potential for joint development and the Belt and Road Initiative is the most ambitious infrastructure plan for humanity.”


Putin and Xi Jointly Launch Construction of Four Nuclear Plants in China, Emphasize “Innovation-Based Development”

May 20, 2021 (EIRNS) – The presidents of Russia and China, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, both participated in a videoconference hookup yesterday to launch the beginning of construction of four new nuclear plants in China, based on Russian technology. These are two units each at the Tianwan nuclear power plant in the city of Lianyungang, and at the Xudapu nuclear plant in Huludao district in northeastern China.

The two presidents chose to make this a major policy-shaping occasion for their two countries, as well as one globally focused on the role of innovation and scientific and technological cooperation in achieving development. “It is necessary to strive for innovation-based development and to strengthen scientific and technical cooperation in the nuclear sphere,” Xi Jinping stated, reiterating that the two countries had agreed “to make a sizable intellectual contribution to the innovation-driven development of the global nuclear sphere.” The Chinese president asserted that “our countries have been providing each other with solid support and have been engaged in close and effective cooperation” in many areas, and that “energy has always been the biggest and most successful branch in our practical cooperation while nuclear energy cooperation has been its strategic priority. We are jointly upgrading our cooperation in this area and have already put into operation a host of major projects.”

Through their joint work, Russia and China will “make a sizable contribution to the global development of nuclear energy,” Xi stated.

Putin responded by effusively greeting “President Xi Jinping, my dear friend,” emphasizing that “Russian and Chinese specialists are working on this flagship joint project which is truly a milestone. They are building powerful, modern Russian-designed nuclear reactors that meet all safety and environmental standards. It is planned that they will start operating as soon as in 2026–2028, which, as President Xi just said, will be a solid contribution to China’s energy security.”

Putin emphasized “Russia’s unique high technology capabilities in industrial production,” adding that “President Xi and I determined the main areas of our genuinely close partnership, the cooperation between Russia and China on nuclear technology, during my state visit to China in 2018… It can be said that Russia-China relations have reached their highest level in history.”

The Russian President then stated: “Returning to the topic of nuclear energy cooperation, I would like to note, with great satisfaction, that all the agreements reached at the highest level are being consistently and unfailingly fulfilled. In addition to the construction of new power units at the Tianwan and Xudapu nuclear power plants, there are many other large Russian-Chinese initiatives that have been and are being implemented. These initiatives include an experimental fast neutron reactor built in China with Russia’s participation… Russia also supplied China with radionuclide heating blocks for the spacecraft that was the first in history to land on the far side of the Moon in 2019. We were extremely happy about your success, dear Chinese friends.”

“I am convinced that Russia and China will have many more ambitious and successful projects together. We are ready to develop our cooperation in the construction of nuclear power plants, and innovative partnership in the development and implementation of low-carbon and other technologies.”

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that the project is the biggest China-Russia nuclear energy cooperation project to date.


Facing U.S. Sanctions Threat, El Salvador Turns to China and Russia for Support For Its Sovereign Development

May 20, 2021—All over the world, nations are beginning to recognize that an alternative to the dying Old Order of geopolitics, colonialism, and usury is coming into being, with sovereign nations joining together for mutual development. Central America is no exception to this process.

“We are very enthusiastic about strengthening the relationship with Russia, we are facing a world with new challenges and opportunities, and we want to take advantage of those opportunities,” Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele told Russian Ambassador Alexander Khokholikov yesterday, in receiving the new Ambassador’s credentials. Bukele noted that El Salvador recognizes “the importance of Russia in the world.” Khokholikov responded in the same spirit, assuring him that the Russian government also wishes to increase cooperation. “We are going to work bilaterally and multilaterally,” he said, “because that is how it should be to maximize mutual benefit, both of Russia and El Salvador.”

Today China’s Embassy in El Salvador issued an important communiqué, reiterating that the agreement signed with El Salvador for China to oversee the construction of four development projects requested by the Salvadoran government spells out that China is covering the costs of the projects. President Bukele immediately posted the communiqué to his Twitter, much followed by others in the region, as well as Salvadorans at home and abroad.  

The Biden administration, which has supplied neither vaccines nor economic development aid to the region, is publicly threatening to overthrow the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras if they break with the old order.

This is being done in the name of “fighting corruption” in Central America. The State Department included in its list of corrupt officials in those countries which it released on Tuesday, for example, two top Bukele administration officials: the President’s Chief of Cabinet, Carolina Recinos, and Minister of Security and Justice Rogelio Rivas. The charges are preposterous: Recinos is accused of engaging in “significant acts of corruption during her term in office” (no further details), while Rivas’s alleged “significant acts of corruption” were supposedly that he “awarded his own private construction company several noncompetitive and unadvertised contracts to build police stations and other buildings that fall under his official capacity and inflated the cost of materials.”

American Democratic Congresswoman Norma Torres, head of the Central American Caucus in the House of Representatives and a close ally of Vice President Kamala Harris, proclaimed on Tuesday as she released the list: “I will be relentless in demanding accountability from our government – if we know someone is corrupt, I expect our government to use all levers at our disposal, including sanctions, visa restrictions, withholding support to deter future acts of corruption, and dismantling the systems that allow corruption to occur.”


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