The US adversaries on Monday seized on “military failure” of America and “heavy blow” of the Taliban's sudden rise to power in Afghanistan. Paul D Shinkman, writing in US News, said that China, Iran and Russia wasted no time attempting to advance their own interests after the subsequent chaos in Afghanistan as the Taliban assumed power.
Russia saw an apparent opportunity to settle deep-seated Cold War scores with the US and with NATO. China seized on what it considers the greatest example of failed American hubris about its ability to exert its will abroad. And Iran highlighted a US battlefield failure that appears to have emboldened its own ambitions for the region, reported US News.
Beijing announced that it “respects the wishes and choices of the Afghan people” and would recognise the Taliban as the rightful government, US News reported. Beijing was quick to exploit the situation to promote its criticisms of the US, said Shinkman.
Afghanistan's collapse “was unthinkable for the US and the rest of the West, even beyond their most pessimistic predictions,” according to an op-ed in China's English-language state news service Global Times, considered a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party. “The drastic change in Afghanistan's situation is undoubtedly a heavy blow to the US,” it continued. “It declared the complete failure of US intent to reshape Afghanistan. In the meantime, the US desperate withdrawal plan shows the unreliability of US commitments to its allies: When its interests require it to abandon allies, Washington will not hesitate to find every excuse to do so.”
China considers Afghanistan a potential blind spot in its mission to quell Islamic terrorists with designs on its restive Xinjiang province, as well as a potential obstacle to its economic investments in the region, including in Afghanistan's precious minerals, says Shinkman. A separate op-ed in the Global Times described the situation in Afghanistan as a “complete humiliation for the US”.
Meanwhile, Iran described the 20-year-long US mission as a “military failure” and a new opportunity to establish peace in Afghanistan. “The military defeat and the US withdrawal from Afghanistan should offer an opportunity to restore life, security and lasting peace in that country,” Iran's new ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi said in a call with outgoing Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, according to Iranian state TV.
But, the starkest criticism was from Russia whose own failed mission in Afghanistan in the 1980s preceded the collapse of the Soviet Union, says Shinkman. Officials in Moscow emphasised the imperfect trope that the same insurgents the US covertly armed and supported in the 1980s to defeat the Soviets had, they claim, turned that weaponry back onto America.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on her Telegram channel a series of statements from then-US President Ronald Reagan calling the Afghan mujahedeen militants “freedom fighters”. “This is just direct speech,” Zakharova wrote, according to a translation of her remarks. “Historical evidence of American geopolitical experiments, for which they never bear responsibility,” reported US News.