Afghanistan: A ‘black hole’ the world dreads!

Initially, they all had grandiose plans to either exploit or squeeze into an unstable Afghanistan when the Taliban returned to power in Kabul on August 15, 2021. In less than two months, however, they have pulled back from this Asiatic cauldron, reminding themselves how it has sunk empires and superpowers.

History has taught them that the Afghans are at peace only when they are at war! It’s best to keep off.

Slowly, Afghanistan is fading out from the front pages. The reason, perhaps, is no one seems ready to burn fingers, once again, in this war-torn country. All nations are in the wait-and-watch mode, which, in geopolitics, means masterly inactivity, or keeping aloof the way Great Britain kept away from European power politics in the 18th and 19th centuries, and now doing the same, post-Brexit.

They have left Afghanistan to fend for themselves.

At least the suffering Syrians could migrate to Turkey, the Middle East, and the West. The Afghans cannot even do it. Their self-proclaimed local ‘messiah’, Pakistan, has tightly closed its borders; Pakistan’s own ‘messiah’, China, after initial fire and brimstone, has fallen silent due mainly to its own subtle power struggle within the Xi Jinping regime; the US-led West has already left the ‘graveyard of empires’ to its own fate; Iran is busy sorting out its mess with Washington, and India finds that no role in Afghanistan is better than any role—New Delhi, having already sunk over $3 billion between 2001 and 2020, will have to pay to play a role, with no guarantee that the footage will not be edited out!

So, after Syrians, the Afghans are the new global orphans. In the biting winter ahead, the hungry Afghans could die in large numbers as Islamist terror outfits engage in a do-or-die battle to outsmart one another. Afghanistan is facing a famine of both food and money, and the victorious Taliban find it difficult to make them eat guns and bombs.

Other countries are also keeping away. Any help offered to the country would go to the coffers of terrorists who will corner it. Kabul is already sitting on a volcano and a ‘civil war’—if that is the right word—is staring it in the face. Its mountains are killing fields, passes are mined, and plains grow largely opium and gunpowder.

In this ruthless power game, only the battle-hardened Islamists will survive in this terror-enrichment alchemy; all others will perish. Since they are ruling Kabul at present, the Taliban, and Afghan Pashtuns within its ranks, are likely to be ‘beneficiaries’ of this misfortune. By next spring and summer, the fiercest Taliban insurgents may target Tajikistan and Balochistan as a prelude to their next target: Xinjiang.

Luckily, if that happens, Pakistan will shield India as a buffer! For once, Islamabad’s claims that it is a ‘victim’ of terrorism will evoke sympathy!!

Some humanitarian organizations are concerned with this black hole-type implosion and the possibility of large-scale famine-deaths in Afghanistan in the coming winter. They do not want to send official aid to Afghanistan, as the Taliban regime remains globally unrecognized. The West, and others, want the Taliban to give ‘concession’ in return for opening the financial taps. For this, the Taliban will have to eliminate anti-West elements, like the Haqqani Network and the Islamic State-Khorasan, from within the Islamist regime.

Hunger is forcing desperate Afghans to sell their meagre belongings to buy food. Some global NGOs are preparing to fly in direct cash for the needy while avoiding officially financing the Taliban government, according to media reports.

Planning for the cash airlifts—and creating a cash lifeline—may materialize for a country facing a rapidly collapsing economy where money is short. This emergency funding, aimed at averting a cataclysmic humanitarian crisis in the face of drought and political upheaval, could mean American dollar bills flown into Kabul for distribution via banks in payments of less than USD 200 directly to the poor – with the expected Taliban’s blessings but without their involvement.

The food situation is so grim in this poor country that many Afghans are skipping meals to keep their children fed. The Taliban treasury has had no money since the departure of the U.S.-led forces, as many global donors robbed it of grants that financed 75 percent of public spending, according to the World Bank.

United Nations World Food Programme Director Mary-Ellen McGroarty has warned more than a third of Afghans–14 million out of a 40 million population–are facing hunger. The nation’s economy could collapse anytime in the face of a cash crisis.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has distributed about 10 million Afghanis ($110,000) in cash via a local bank and intends to disburse more soon, media reported.

The WFP is considering flying in cash and distribute it directly to people to buy food. Else, the donors would fly cash to the Afghan banks on behalf of the UN to pay salaries to the UN and NOG staff.

Kabul’s financial crisis arose as its central bank, with assets of $9 billion frozen offshore, has burnt through much of its reserves at home.

But the intrepid Taliban have survived such crises for another day.

Now they are looking at 2022.

A new Taliban: US-OZ forge n-sub deal to tame Dragon

For centuries, France has been the fulcrum of European civilization, the  Holy Roman Empire, Catholicism, the Crusades, Revolution, culture, fashion, and innovations…until it became one of the 30 member-states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organizations (NATO) after the World War II and lost its pre-eminence in world affairs first to Great Britain and then to the USA.

Even now, France is where Europe is still fighting its fiercest civilizational battle against a resurgent political Islam.

Those old wounds still ache across a narcissist France.

That is why Paris was so livid with the USA and a new challenger, Australia, this week that it recalled its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra in a huff. But France is also known to act in a haste and repent in leisure. It has done so multiple times in the past and returned to the table without taking back much.

On Friday, an angry Paris took the unusual diplomatic step against what it felt was the American-Australian ‘betrayal’. Its Foreign Minister even called it a “knife in the back’. The way it had failed to see in 1921 Germany’s anger at the Versaille Treaty, that sparked the World War II, it has failed in 2021 to visualize why America and Australia did something ‘behind its back’.

The issue at hand was France’s largest-ever defense deal, worth $60 billion, for the supply of a dozen traditionally-powered attack submarines, to strengthen Australia’s defence against China in the South China Sea and Beijing’s rising tension with Canberra, particularly after the pandemic.

China’s arrogance, expansionist designs and hegemony have, in the last couple of year, created an urgency for many nations, including the West, and they are drawing up emergency plans to meet the Dragon’s challenge in multiple war theatres. The sudden activation of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), and this week’s fresh alliance between the USA, Britain and Australia, are part of this geo-strategy, as was the last month’s ‘freedom’ accorded to the Taliban to keep a big chunk of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) pinned down in the Uyghur Muslim-dominated Xinjiang in the decades to come.

In other words, the way the US is pitting Afghanistan against China in the West, it is arming Australia in the East. Why? To keep Beijing away from foraying into global naval power politics on both the sides.

Apparently it was with this objective that, fearing the French reluctance to forgo its big business deal and thus delay decision-making in the face of mounting Chinese threat, that the US and Australia entered secret talks, keeping Paris out of the loop. The US promised Australia nuclear-powered submarines, media reports said.

That is why, as soon as US President Joe Biden announced the submarine deal on Wednesday during a news conference, all hell broke loose in France, which felt betrayed in 2021 the way Germany did in 1921.

Knowing this ‘French disconnection’ and idiosyncracy very well, and the possibility of the deal being sabotaged by a democracy-blinded and short-sighted Paris, the US and Australia went to extraordinary lengths to keep France in the dark while they secretly negotiated. The nuclear submarine deal, as expensive as the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), will be a key component of the West’s policy to keep Beijing pinned down in South China Sea, although it scuttled France’s mammoth contract.

The French-Australian deal was signed in 2018. Since then, geopolitical realities have undergone a sea change, literally and metaphorically. China has suddenly emerged as the single largest threat to the world. The Dragon is now the Devil.

Had the US and Australia waited for an easy-going and argumentative France to come around to this urgency, it would have been too late. The new deal so enraged, predictably, that French President Emmanuel Macron, on Friday, ordered the withdrawal of his country’s ambassadors from both the nations.

Macron’s decision was not unexpected, on a day that France and the USA had planned to celebrate an alliance that goes back to the defeat of Britain in the Revolutionary War of 1776.

A furious France realized that two of its closest allies, the US and Australia, negotiated secretly for months and betrayed it.

Even in the last months of the Donald Trump presidency, Australia had already told the US that it wanted to wriggle out of the agreement with a snail-paced France.

Australia feared, correctly, that the conventionally-powered French submarines would be obsolete by the time of their delivery, at a time China was becoming uncontrollable. Canberra should, instead, buy a fleet of quieter nuclear-powered submarines based on American and British designs that could patrol areas of the South China Sea with less risk of detection.

Canberra did find it difficult to terminate the French deal, which was already over budget and running behind schedule. But it had to take a decision in the face of a recalcitrant China. According to the US officials, Canberra had assured them to take care of the French concerns. Biden was reported to have concurred with Australia’s fears of China, and uncertainty about France.

 “Biden’s top aides finally discussed the issue with the French hours before it was publicly announced at the White House in a virtual meeting with Mr. Biden, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain and Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia. The result was a blow-up that has now led to a vivid breach of trust with one of America’s oldest allies”, media reported.

Apparently, Washington realized that the new threat, present and now, to the West and Europe, may not come from a hibernating Russia but from a resurgent China. It is, therefore, scouting for new defense allies in Asia—Australia, Japan, India—in a bid to create an ‘Asian NATO’ on the European model via Quad.

Not only France, even China did not get a clue on the new deal, and the three-nation alliance that quickly followed.  Beijing’s first response to the new alliance, named AUKUS (Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States), was that it was “extremely irresponsible” and would start an arms race. The Chinese Navy has built a dozen nuclear subs, some of which can carry nuclear weapons. Australia had earlier vowed never to deploy nuclear weapons. No longer.

When Presiden Macron recalled the ambassadors, the US seemed taken aback by the ferocity of the French response, especially its Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s comment that it was a “knife in the back.”

But the US knows the French bark is fiercer than a feeble bite. Its anger would gradually subside, as in the past, Paris would acquiesce and come around after assessing the real threats being posed by China to the world.

How can France forget that America had opened the second front at Normandy in 1944 to liberate Paris from Berlin…

And that Paris had gifted the Statue of Liberty to America in 1886 to commemorate its contribution to the American Revolution in 1776 against Britain?

Afghanistan: Shifting the ‘Caliphate’ from Turkey to South Asia!

In religious organizations, the nomenclature is very important; it evokes extreme human emotions. In Christian countries, for example, there cannot be two popes: the Roman Catholics believe in only one, while the Protestants and other denominations are led by their own religious leaders. Similarly, in Sunni Islamic countries, there cannot be two Caliphs/ Emirs; for, the Emir is also a Sheikh, top religious authority, and, at the same time, Amir-ul-Momineen (Commander of the Faithful).

After the collapse of the Eighth Crusade in the 14th century, the military leadership of the Pope weakened and gradually shifted to the ‘secular’ monarch. Slowly, the domain controlled by the Vicar of the Christ, with its Headquarters at Vatican City near Rome, shrunk from 10.18 million square kilometers of Europe to just 44 hectares in Italy now, with a population of less than 850 in 2019!

Not so in the Islamic countries. In both the Sunni and Shia worlds, the supreme religious authority has often been the supreme political-military authority as well—in many, they control each other. In the Shia –dominated Islamic Republic of Iran, for instance, the lifelong Supreme Leader among the Ayatollahs is a religious, political, and military chief under whom work the President and other political functionaries.

Many amongst non-Arab Sunni countries are elected Republics, usually aligned with religious leadership. Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc., fall in this category. Theoretically, they have still elected republics but the word of the religious authority is often final. Like a pendulum, they usually switch from secular to Islamic mode.

Among the hereditary Arab Sunni countries, however, even the pretense of election or a republic is absent. While Saudi Arabia is a Kingdom, other Arab countries are Emirates, ruled by hereditary Sheikhs/Emirs. For instance, the United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven emirates, each ruled by a Sheikh.

But there is a difference. Unlike non-Arab Muslim countries, the Emirates do not have powerful armies and have been dependent on the western powers for protection against internal or external enemies.

Now a ‘new’ model of Islamic leadership is emerging in war-torn Afghanistan, just vacated by the US-led western armed forces. The Taliban are trying to create an Iran-type leadership in a predominantly Sunni country, whose largest component, 45 percent, is of Pashtun ethnic origin. Currently, the Taliban are busy ‘flushing out’ the Northern Alliance rebels comprising the Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras, and others to enrich and crystallize a predominantly Pashtun-ruled Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Unlike the Arab-ruled Emirates in the Middle East, however, this Emirate in South Asia would be a combination of religious, political, military, and ethnic leadership.

This internal struggle is believed to be causing the delay in the formation of the new, official government in Kabul wherein other, non-Pashtun factions are also trying to assert themselves. Even the Republic of Turkey, and the Islamic State for Syria and the Levant (ISIS), and the IS-Khorasan (IS-K), have opposed this Taliban model in the proposed Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

Why? Because if an Afghan/Taliban/Pashtun becomes an Emir, he will also, theologically, be the Amir-ul-Momineen, combining in him, like the Supreme Ayatollah, all the powers of religious, political, and military leadership. His word will carry the weight of an edict from God. In other words, a Pashtun Emir will be like a Caliph for all the Sunnis to follow! Since Turkey and ISIS have also been trying to revive the Caliphate, the Taliban are, therefore, the newest challenge from within the Islamic Ummah (Brotherhood).

For now, the Taliban have not only almost neutralized the non-Pashtuns of the Northern Alliance but also the Turks who were trying to create a non-Arab caucus within the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), led by Saudi Arabia and challenge its leadership in the Sunni world as the first requisite to revive the Caliphate, which ended in 1924. With this objective, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan enrolled Pakistan and Malaysia in 2019; the Arabs sabotaged it by punishing a vulnerable Islamabad for this ‘indiscipline’ by demanding pre-payment of loans worth billions of dollars!

If the Taliban succeed in eliminating the non-Pashtuns from their upcoming government, it will create a new ecosystem for the creation of ‘Greater Pashtunistan’.

In the intra-Islamic, and Sunni-Arab dynamics, it suits the Arabs’ interests: having a top non-Arab religious leader, almost as a Caliph, will torpedo the Turks’ ambition to recreate the Ottoman Empire and the Caliphate that associated with it. The Arabs have always been opposed to the Ottoman Caliphate and were the first to break away from it in the 1920s.

Remember, an Arab country, Qatar, is now managing the Taliban’s outreach to the rest of the world. The Taliban had recently denied Ankara’s request to manage the Kabul airport after the US-led forces vacated it.

Remember, that top Taliban political leader and its co-founder, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, has his base in Doha, Qatar, from where he flew into Kabul after August 15 when the Taliban retook the Afghan capital.

Remember, that all the top leaders of the Taliban, including Supreme Leader Haibatullah Akhundzada, and Sirajuddin Haqqani, are Pashtuns, and so were former President Ashraf Ghani, and his projected successor Baradari.

The Afghan-American diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad, who brought the Taliban to the negotiating table and closer back to the US with the February 2020 agreement, is also a Pashtun!

And also remember that the last great monarch of Afghanistan, Ahmed Shah Abdali in the 18th century, was a Pashtun; and so was Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (‘Frontier Gandhi’) in the 20th century.

So many Pashtun leaders, but no Pashtunistan so far!

So far, there has perhaps been no Caliph from South Asia.

Well, this is a developing story!

Taliban 2.0: Kabul may now become China’s nemesis!

On July 28, 1914, a Bosnian youth assassinated Austro-Hungarian Empire’s heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, leading to the chain reaction we know as World War-1 (WW-1). By the time it ended on November 10, 1918, it had claimed 20 million lives, maimed as many, crippled the British, Ottoman, and Russian empires toppled ‘eternal’ monarchy in China, sparked anti-colonial movements across the world, including India…Several new nations mushroomed on the unburied corpses along redrawn bloodied borders.

The WW-1 burnt the stubble left by the imperial crops and prepared the soil for the Second. It was followed by a pandemic, influenza, which claimed some 50 million lives, including 18 million in India alone—irreversibly weakening the British Indian Army and making it impossible for London to retain the Jewel in the Crown which became too heavy for its Head of State to wear. With a lame Britain bandaged, Germany discovered Adolf Hitler to run amuck…

A century on, we are in the midst of another pandemic (Covid-19), and drumbeats of another potentially great war with its theatre shifting from Europe to Central Asia. The two World Wars predominantly affected the Christians and ended their hegemony; the gathering war in Central Asia could mainly be focused on the Muslims.

This has rattled Russia and China the most. Russia has the largest Muslim population in Europe (one-fifth of the total 140 million, or 25 million). The Muslim population in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is estimated up to 80 million. Most of these Muslims habit areas next to the Muslim dominated Central Asian Republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, the last three bordering Afghanistan, which, together have some 100 million Muslims. Add to this Pakistan’s 220 million, and Iran’s 84 million. These nearly 520 million Muslims could be the Taliban’s potential ‘catchment area’. Reports said the Taliban have trained some 40,000 Uyghur Muslims in Badakshan province of Afghanistan as Mujahideens to be sent to liberate China-controlled East Turkestan (Xinjiang).

These Muslim nations are, therefore, frightened of possible Islamist pollination due to the second flowering of the Taliban in an unstable Afghanistan. The Soviet invasion of Kabul in 1979 had, in a blowback, dismantled the USSR itself by 1991; now Moscow is afraid of a repeat of 1991 in 2021 with the Taliban more-than-ever resourceful and ready to go for the Russian jugular. This has forced Moscow to reassure its former satellite Muslim Soviet Republics with protection, continue to conduct the military exercises with Tajikistan, and even claimed the former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled with a wealth of $50 million, which remains unconfirmed.

More than Russia, however, China is mortally scared of the Taliban’s next moves—in Pakistan. Any possible creation of a “Greater Pakhtunistan” would quickly bomb out the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and with it, the $280 billion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)’s 1,500 projects across Asia, Africa, and Europe. The cascading effect, like a collapsing house of cards, could encourage Xinjiang and Tibet to break away, disintegrate the Communist Party and China it leads, and topple the Xi Jinping regime itself…

Simply put, the Taliban 2.0 recapture of Afghanistan is not a one-off phenomenon confined to a landlocked, medieval country riven with tribal identities. It is a veritable flood that not just threatens to spill over across the Central Asian borders, it may also disintegrate the existing Russia and China.

Predictably, vested interests are trying to overplay or underplay the entirely new date, August 15, 2021, marking their geopolitical calendar. Or September 1, 2021, when the Taliban crowns itself in Kabul, as a reversal of September 11, 2001.

Working to a hard-bound script?

Remember: Coincidences? After fleeing Kabul, Ashraf Ghani surfaced in the US-friendly UAE. The Taliban permitted his aircraft to ‘flee’ from the Kabul airport they controlled! And Ghani, whom the US made the President in 2014, was “unaware” of the American troops secretly moving out of Kabul at night! His Vice-President Amrullah Saleh, who now claims to be the “caretaker” President, did not even know about his chief’s sudden flight—because Saleh is a Tajik, not Pashtun!!

In another America-friendly Doha, Qatar, Afghan-American diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad had stitched up the deal with the Taliban Co-Founder Mullah Abdul Ghani “Baradar” (Brother) in February 2020; Baradar, the Taliban’s political chief, remained a guest in Doha for some three years, from where he flew back into Kabul only last week.

Khalilzad is an ethnic Pashtun from the Noorzai tribe, as is the Taliban chief Hibatullah Akhundzada; Baradar is a Durrani Pashtun from Sadozai tribe, and the ex-President is a Pashtun from the Ahmedzai tribe. Tribal affiliations of Afghans are far stronger driving forces than Islam. The three Pashtuns know this tribal code and worked in unison. That was why the Taliban extended amnesty to the ex-President.

Remember also: In July, the U.S. shut its military bases in Qatar that had warehouses full of weaponry and transferred the remaining supplies to Jordan, enabling Washington to deal better with Iran. It reflected the military’s “changing priorities in the region”. 

There are also extra players in the unfolding opera. After initial claims, Turkey backed out of its desire to control Kabul airport–the Taliban suspected it of being too close to Iran. And British PM Boris Johnson, after initial anti-Taliban bravado, came around within a week. Apparently onboarded late, he meekly declared that London would do business with the Taliban “if necessary.” Notably, the British Parliament had already condemned China for the “genocide” of Uyghur Muslims.

About two dozen US diplomats in Kabul, unaware of what their own Deep State was doing, warned in a confidential internal cable sent on July 13 to Secretary of State Antony Blinken of the potential fall of Kabul to the Taliban if the US troops withdrew from Afghanistan, The Wall Street Journal said. But the US went ahead: clearly, Washington had not kept its own diplomats in the loop.

The Deep State may have kept the entire geopolitical operation so secret that even the White House, Defense Department, and State Department were furious as they were, apparently, kept out of the loop. Two US Congress members—Representatives Seth Moulton (Democrat) and Peter Meijer (Republican)– flew in on August 24 on a charter aircraft unannounced into Kabul airport in the middle of the ongoing chaotic evacuation, stunning the State Department and US military personnel. They were on the ground at the airport for several hours, media reported, without probing why they came and whom they met.

Joining the dots, away from the usually ill-informed media frenzy and comments/analyses by Jurassic era experts and diplomats, we can sketch the emerging larger picture.

Not that some of the game players were unaware of these developments. To start with, the ISIS-Khorasan, an Islamabad-backed outfit, condemned the Taliban as an American stooge, and suicide-bombed Kabul airport this week, killing over 200, to send message that the Taliban did not have support of all Afghans.

That was why neither Khalilzad nor Akhundzada, Commander of the Faithful (Amir-ul-Momineen) of the Taliban, have been seen in public.  Apparently, Khalilzad returned to the US after seeding the geopolitical field.  Akhundzada is said to be in Pakistan’s custody, the way Baradar was until 2018 when the US got him released for talks leading to the deal. Islamabad may pit Akhundzada as a bargaining chip, should Baradar, the next potential President, go ‘astray’. In that event, Pakistan may support Akhundzada as the Emir of the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan! And try to throw a spanner in the Taliban works for the creation of the “Greater Pashtunistan”.

If Islamabad has such fantastical dreams, it does not know the Pashtuns!

The Taliban may have anticipated it. Soon after they recaptured Kabul on August 15, they released their own bargaining chips, around 2,500 members of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) from Afghan jails, forcing Islamabad to rush Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar to beseech the Taliban to make sure they did not attack Pakistan, in general, and the CPEC, in particular.

So, as the Taliban prepare to take on Xinjiang, they will use the TTP to keep Pakistan in check.

They were preparing for a long haul. First, the Ghani government was reported to have sacked at least six anti-Taliban army commanders some weeks ago; secondly, the government itself had systematically disarmed its own soldiers at many places which eased the militia’s victories, without delay and much bloodshed; thirdly, the American-led western armed forces left behind arms and ammunitions worth around $250 million which fell into the Taliban hands. The US had ‘invested’ nearly $ 1 trillion in Afghanistan in 20 years. This included $85 billion on the defense of which $ 25 billion were on arms and ammunition.

No investor can be so foolish as to let go of such a humongous investment down the drain, without returns. There must be a method in this madness.

And Washington has also kept the Taliban in check, just in case…!

So, Afghanistan may have nearly 200 fighter aircraft but most of them are grounded for being junk or want of spare parts not provided for years; also, their fighter pilots have mostly fled or grounded. Moreover, the US has frozen nearly $9.5 billion worth of Afghan Central Bank’s assets and the World Bank and the IMF halted aid.

These taps will be reopened when the Taliban work according to the plan!

And their time starts on September 1, 2021!

(Concluded)

US ‘debacle’ in Afghanistan? As clear as mud!

Those stuck in the mud of history believe in the Spanish proverb: “The more the world changes, the more it remains the same.” But geopolitics is run by Murphy’s Law: “If anything can go wrong will go wrong.”

So, for those still stuck in classical hypotheses, Afghanistan is a Vietnam-type ‘debacle’ for America and a victory for China and Pakistan!

Now let us consider the following:

On December 25, 2008, Mark Landler’s piece The New York Times, titled “Chinese Savings Helped Inflate American Bubble”, unfolded the roots of the global economic crisis.

China had parked $ 1 trillion in US Treasury bonds, exports, investments, etc, which it nearly threatened to withdraw to bring America to its knees….In other words, China was trying to ‘financially colonize’ America, something no other country, not even USSR, had done!

Suddenly woken up from dogmatic slumber, Washington was alarmed with the Dragon’s torpedo. Its “Deep State”, apparently, worked on how to counter China during the Obama years (2009-16), and through the Donald Trump presidency (2017-2020).

By that time, China had hurriedly debt-trapped some of those 60-plus countries that had signed up for its ultra-ambitious, $ 200 billion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) across Asia, Africa, and Europe. This included the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that would have given direct access to Beijing into the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. A broke Islamabad was almost a satellite client of Beijing that had, ironically, sabotaged Islam systematically across the People’s Republic of China, particularly in the Uyghur Muslim-dominated Xinjiang province bordering Afghanistan.

As the American strategy unfolded, it became clearer that it aimed to checkmate China in Afghanistan itself, where it had earlier halted the Soviet Union on a similar quest for warm water ports in the Arabian Sea. An atheist China, like Communist Russia, could be vanquished in the monotheist Islamic world, as it were.

There were two obstacles, however: the Israel-Arab quagmire and the Taliban conundrum.

The Trump administration succeeded in bringing on board Israel, the UAE (presumably, therefore, the Saudis as well), and Bahrain to sign the “Abraham Accords” in Washington in September 2019. Also, the Saudi-Israel relationship improved with then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s not-too-secret and well-publicized air dash to a Saudi town.

The Trump Administration’s next step was Afghanistan where it sought to replant the Taliban as a borderless militia to destabilize not only Pakistan’s Baluchistan and the proposed “Greater Pashtunistan”, but also Tajikistan and Uzbekistan whose Islamic spill-over to Xinjiang was expected. In other words, an Islamic insurgency across Central Asia aiming to liberate Xinjiang from China.

US representative Zalmay Khalilzad, an Afghan-American diplomat, led the US delegation to several rounds of talks with the Taliban leaders in Doha, Qatar. They finally signed an agreement on February 29, 2020, securing the Islamic militia’s guarantee to protect America and its allies’ interests in Afghanistan. In return, the US promised to withdraw its forces and non-diplomatic staff from Afghanistan completely in 14 months—that is by the end of May 2021.

Here is a link to this agreement:

https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Agreement-For-Bringing-Peace-to-Afghanistan-02.29.20.pdf

The US-Taliban agreement repeatedly clarified that “the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban group”. While it sought to assure the Afghanistan government it supported that it still remained the legitimate one, it also assured the Taliban that “the US will request the recognition and endorsement of the United Nations Security Council for this agreement”–with a non-state actor designated as a terrorist outfit by the Council itself!

Clearly, if the agreement collapsed, the US had an escape route: it could always claim it had not recognized the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan!

It was now China’s turn to help America!

Twelve days after this agreement, the WHO declared Covid-19 as a pandemic (March 11, 2020). Between March 16 and 30, 2020, Trump used the words “Chinese virus” more than 20 times, nailing the phrase in the global media that Beijing was ‘responsible for the outbreak of the pandemic. By resisting the WHO’s attempts to go to the bottom of the truth, China only heightened suspicion, at the risk of becoming the global pariah.

That was when everything that could go wrong, did go wrong with China.

And the real geopolitical game began…

(To be continued)

Why China dreads Xinjiang and Tibet?

Nothing worries China more than the potential independence of two ‘rebel’ provinces it continues to occupy by force. China has tried to completely colonize the “autonomous” region it claims as Xijang but the world knows as Tibet, and another “autonomous” region it named as Xinjiang (“New Territory”) whose original name was Eastern Turkestan. Beijing had annexed Xinjiang in the 1750s and Tibet in the 1950s when the British emerged in and eclipsed from South Asia.

Ever since, China has been trying to change their DNAs—Buddhism and Islam—by adopting carrot and stick policies, homogenization, alleged genocide, etc. But it realizes that the two key provinces, bordering South Asia, are, at best, cultural anomalies for an atheist China. An uneasy, rented occupation, which could become the first to throw out the Chinese yoke the way the predominantly Muslim provinces broke away from the disintegrating Soviet Union in the 1990s.

Xinjiang and Xijang are, therefore, China’s X factors. The unknowns. The variables. No other Chinese provinces are seen like time-bombs ticking in the Dragon’s belly.

That is why a worried China is now trying to woo the Tibetans and the Taliban.

In November 2020, the US Congress passed a bipartisan resolution by voice vote recognizing the autonomy of Tibetan culture and religion, and praised the Dalai Lama, proposing to hold a roundtable or a teleconference with him. It pressed for human rights in the Buddhist region.

Congressman Eliot Engel said the US State Department had found that the Chinese government had systematically impeded travel to Tibetan Autonomous Region areas for US diplomats, officials, journalists and tourists.

As expected, China condemned and rejected it. But the seed was sown.

Six months later, in July 2021, the US-led “War on Terror” virtually ended when the American soldiers secretly left Afghanistan in the dead of night without even informing President Ashraf Ghani they had been supporting so far. Not only this, the 36-nation forces also left behind a huge cache of arms and ammunition, apparently for the resurgent Taliban who, by August, are expected to regain control of the mountainous country.

China is aware that Afghanistan has been the “graveyard of superpowers” like the British, Russians and Americans. And, as they say in Afghanistan, the Afghans are at peace only when they are at war! The Taliban, therefore, are sure to discover a new battleground—and Xinjiang eminently fits into their Islamist architecture.

China is trying to keep the Taliban in good humour. The Taliban are also playing the game they must until they get Kabul. They are aware how China has crushed the Eastern Turkmenistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) supporters, many of whom the terrorist militia has been training for launching attacks on Chinese interests in Xinjiang. And also that Beijing has been running a drive against both Islam and Christianity to erase their vestiges, including identity of mosques and churches. In other words, China is engaged in a vast programme of deIslamization.

This the Taliban are expected to pay back to China. And this is also seen as part of the agreement between the US and the Taliban.

A sudden Chinese interest in Tibet is also interesting. For the first time in three decades, a Chinese President, Xi Jinping, visited Lhasa, and even a Buddhist shrine, to mollify the six million angry Tibetans scattered across the world that Beijing looks for a harmonious relationship with this “autonomous” region.

Then came the real news: China has made it mandatory for every Tibetan family to send one member to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) for what it believes would strengthen its military deployment along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India, especially in extreme weather areas like Ladakh in the west and Arunachal Pradesh in the east, media reported.

The Chinese army is recruiting Tibetan youths and training them for operations along the LAC with India. The recruits have been made to take a loyalty test, including learning the mainland Chinese language and accepting the supremacy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over any other belief. This, China hopes, would bind the Tibetan youths with their government.

This recruitment began early in 2021 after China learnt how the Tibetans-in-Exile brilliantly served the Indian Army. The Tibetans living in India have been part of an elite Special Frontier Force (SFF) formed after the 1962 war. Since then, this unit has been part of important operations during the 1971 war against Pakistan, the Kargil conflict in 1999 and also in the Sino-Indian conflict in Ladakh last year. These Tibetan youths

surprised the PLA on the southern bank of the Pangong Tso Lake last year when they physically occupied the Mokhpari, Black Top and other heights in the view of Chinese aggression along the LAC.

They are China’s ‘T’ factors.

Abraham Accords-II: Jews may help usher in a ‘Muslim Renaissance’!

Few had expected quick results, or any at all, to follow the “Abraham Accords” that the UAE and Bahrain signed with Israel in Washington in September 2020 a couple of months before US President Donald Trump ran for a second term in the White House.

Within nine months, however, two remarkable things have followed: One, the 11-day Jerusalem-Hamas conflict did not escalate into a full-scale Arab-Israel war—except beyond a minor war of word. This when more than 200 Palestinian died in Gaza, which Israel target-bombed to destroy what it called ‘terror infrastructure’ after Hamas missile-attacked Jerusalem and other areas.

Two, within a couple of weeks after this war, and for the first time in history, an Arab Muslim political party has become a kingmaker in Israel, signalling the arrival of “Abraham Accords-II”. The Saudis, and other Arabs, could sign peace deals with Israel to counter the threats from non-Arab Muslim countries like Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan, within the larger Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), headquartered in Jeddah.

In the 21st century, a grand Jewish-Christian-Muslim reconciliation may be slowly emerging. It has the potential to bring about a “Muslim Renaissance” the second largest community in the world is expecting for a long time so as to shake off the burden of obscurantism, terrorism, and backwardness to join the global mainstream of development.

After several trials and errors, this megatrend actually began a decade ago with the “Arab Spring” heralding the retreat of feudalism and dynastic power transfer in the Muslim world. For that matter, even Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is targeting to resurrect the Ottoman Empire and Caliphate, is a democratically-elected leader.

Democracy, therefore, is in the air in the world’s most volatile region.

Israel is no exception.

After helming Israel for 12 crucial years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now facing ouster after his opponents announced a deal last week to replace him. Curiously, for the first time, a minor Muslim party, United Arab List (UAL), has emerged as the kingmaker in Israel’s democracy as part of the anti-Netanyahu coalition.

The dramatic announcement made by Opposition leader Yair Lapid and his main coalition partner Naftali Bennett came soon after a deadline at last Wednesday midnight and prevented the Jewish country from plunging into its fifth consecutive election in just over two years.

“This government will work for all the citizens of Israel, those that voted for it, and those that didn’t. It will do everything to unite Israeli society’, Lapid tweeted.

However, no one is sure of this new government’s longevity. For, the coalition partners are still not clear on many issues except their opposition to Netanyahu. Its leaders, centrist Yair Lapid and ultranationalist and hardliner Naftali Bennett will lead the country as PM by rotation, with Bennett taking oath first.

Curiously, his right-wing party failed to cross the electoral threshold in 2019 and had no seats in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. Two years later, he is ready to replace his former boss as the next PM.

A former chief of staff to then-opposition leader, Netanyahu, Bennett could now unseat the PM, bringing an end to his run as the country’s longest serving PM, for 12 years.

Despite his far-right beliefs, a former Defence Minister and millionaire Bennett, 49, has signed onto a historic coalition agreement with centrist leader Yair Lapid who cobbled together a wide swath of political parties together accounting for 61 seats out of 120 in parliament to oust Netanyahu.

And, for the first time in Israeli history, a Muslim party, United Arab List (UAL), led by a dentist Dr. Mansour Abbas, has emerged as the second kingmaker, in an awkwardly assembled coalition of unlikeliest parties, like that of the then Indian PM V P Singh’s in the 1989-91 period.

If Israel’s parliament green-signals, Bennett will take the top job for the first two years of a four-year term, followed by Lapid.

Interestingly, Bennett is even more ultranationalist than Netanyahu and will carry into office a history of incendiary remarks about Palestinians and his well-known criticism of the two-state solution and the ambition to annex part of the occupied West Bank.

Because of his far-right beliefs, Israelis gave only seven seats to Bennett’s Yamina party in the March 2021 elections, compared to Netanyahu’s 30 in the 120-member Knesset. But Bennett found himself the first kingmaker, wooed by both Netanyahu and Lapid who needed his party’s support in order to form a majority.

After his fallout, Bennett became a fierce Netanyahu critic, condemning his pandemic Covid-19 handling and country’s interminable political deadlock. Four elections in two years left the country in flux, with Netanyahu simultaneously appearing to be both stubbornly unmovable yet perpetually on the cusp of losing power.

It is in this backdrop that Bennett will become the PM.

Not only Abbas is the odd partner, even the two main coalition partners are also unlikely bedfellows. A charismatic former TV anchor, Lapid supports a two-state solution with the Palestinians and opposes the influence of religion in Israel, which he wants to address through steps like mixed civil marriages.

Bennett’s coalition agreement must first get a vote of confidence in the Knesset within a week of being formally notified as the PM of a new government. This step might not happen until Monday, which means the vote could be held as late as June 14.

That means there’s still time for Netanyahu and his allies to convince members of parliament to defect from the coalition, or somehow tie things up procedurally in parliament. A collapse of the ceasefire with the Hamas-led militants in Gaza or another outside event could also topple the burgeoning new government.

Apart from this internal Israeli politics, the Abbas factor is of crucial importance. If he remains survives as part of the government, he could become a source of inspiration to other Muslim leaders to reconcile with the Jews, bring peace to the region, and herald an era of Muslim Renaissance.

How to control a mosque Israel may gift to the Saudis?

It is an emotional issue for 100 million Jordanians–and, of course, the legitimacy of their King who traces his dynasty to none other than the Hashemite clan of Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam.

They have reasons to be worried.

For, in the 21st century, the Islamic world is witnessing unprecedented developments. The 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is splitting into Arab versus non-Arab Muslim nations, led by Saudi Arabia and Turkey, respectively; Turkey is making efforts to resurrect the Ottoman Empire, which died in the 1920s, and reintegrate the Sunni Arab nations once again; the Arabs are signing peace accords with their age-old enemy, Israel, to the chagrin of non-Arab Muslims.

Even Saudi Arabia, which is Custodian of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, is inching closer to Jerusalem: only last week, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin-Salman (MbS) had a not-so-secret meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saudi soil.

Now has come reports on how Jordan is trying to reaffirm its own custodianship of the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. As soon as the Sunday night meeting between MbS and Netanyahu became known, Jordan became apprehensive that Jerusalem could ‘gift’ the al-Aqsa mosque as well to the Saudis as part of the peace deal.

Amman is mighty concerned about the fate of Islam’s third holiest sites which it thinks could be up for grabs in a normalisation deal between MbS and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The November 22 confabulations between MbS and the Israeli PM alarmed Jordanian leaders who were already unnerved by Riyadh’s regional posturing, particularly after the two Saudi acolytes—the UAE and Bahrain—signed the “Abraham Accords” with Jerusalem in September in the US where President Donald Trump was their host.

Now they fear al-Aqsa could be gifted away to the Saudis by Israel by the outgoing Trump Administration. So concerned is Jordan about this possible deal that its foreign ministry released a statement last Wednesday challenging any “attempts to alter the historical and legal status quo” of the al-Aqsa mosque. Its spokesman said: “The kingdom will continue its efforts to protect and care for the holy mosque, and preserve the rights of all Muslims to it in compliance with the Hashemite custodianship of Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian holy sites.”

Apparently concerned about Trump digging the pitch for him in the Middle East, President-elect Joe Biden spoke with Jordan’s King Abdullah II. It was after this call that Amman’s foreign ministry released the statement reminding that Jordan continued to be custodian of the al-Aqsa mosque.

The Jordanian royal dynasty claims its origins to the Hashemite clan of Prophet Muhammad. The King has governed the Jerusalem sites, known as Haram al-Sharif, since 1924, the same year the Saud dynasty was given control of Mecca and Medina upon the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire.

The Muslim world believes in the legitimacy of the ruling Hashemite King due to his guardianship of the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock  for a century. In fact, this custodianship pre-dates the creation of Jordan and Israel who had agreed to continue this arrangement in their peace deal in their October 1994 peace treaty.

Jordan now apprehends that if Israel gifts away custodianship of the Haram al-Sharif to the Saudis as a quid pro quo for a peace deal, it could ‘delegitimize’ claims of the King being a descendant of the Prophet.

In other words, the deal could seal the Saudis’ leadership of the Muslim world, particularly the Sunnis who constitute nearly 80 percent of the Muslim population globally. This brilliant move could torpedo Turkey’s attempts to resurrect the Ottomans’ Empire as well as the Caliphate.

That is, the Saudis could then decide whom they considered “Muslims”, deny pilgrimage rights to the “non-Muslims” and even excommunicate the latter—as Riyadh would then have custodianship of all three holiest Islamic shrines!

There is also the Iran angle to the possible al-Aqsa deal. Tehran and Riyadh have often been at each other’s throats on many issues. If the peace deal goes through, the Saudis will be protected by the Israeli nuclear umbrella against any possible Iranian attack. In such an eventuality, the Saudis could excommunicate Iran and its friends from Islam.

The Hashemite dynasty of Jordan had controlled Mecca for centuries until it was conquered in 1924 by the House of Saud. Both Mecca and Medina became part of Saudi Arabia, while al-Aqsa remained under Hashemite control. Ever since, the two dynasties have been engaged in a struggle for influence, increasingly dominated by the Saudis.

The Dragon’s nemesis: The Ghost of Genghis Khan!

New Delhi: Nothing scares China more than the ghost of Changez (Genghis) Khan, nearly eight centuries after the death of the world’s greatest warlord and empire-builder.

How paranoid Beijing is about a possible reawakening of this ghost became clear in October when it forced a French museum to postpone an exhibit about Genghis Khan. The museum cited ‘interference’ by the Chinese government, which is trying to rewrite history.

The museum on history, Château des ducs de Bretagne, in the western French city of Nantes, said it was putting the show about the 13th-century warrior on hold for more than three years.

Ashamed of being vanquished by the dreaded Mongols in the 13th century, Beijing is attempting to wipe out the nightmarish memory of Genghis Khan’s great empire the present-day China was part of. In Inner Mongolia, China’s autonomous region, Beijing is trying to strip the natives of their identity by enforcing the Mandarin script, the way it has been doing in Tibet and Xinjiang.

China also dreads the moment the separatist Mongols, Tibetans, and the Uyghurs join hands with Hong Kong. It could become a ticking dynamite for the very existence and unity of the People’s Republic of China.

The Mongols and the Uyghur Muslims of Xinjiang share the same script. That is what unites them—against China.

But why is China so scared of Genghis Khan?

Born as Temujin Borjigin (1158-1227), he was believed to have been fathered by a Sun Ray. Better known by his title, Genghis Huangdi (Universal Lord), he was the founder and first Great Khan of the Mongol Empire. His realm continued to expand for 150 years even after his death and emerged as the largest contiguous empire across Asia and Europe in human history.

The Mongols destroyed the Abbasid Caliphate in 1258, thus splitting Islamic unity and hegemony; they also destroyed the Han hegemony in China, which the current President-for-Life Xi Jinping is trying to restore.

Genghis had come to power by uniting several nomadic tribes of Northeast Asia, conquered most of Eurasia, reaching as far west as Poland in Europe,  and the Levant in the Middle East. His military campaigns were often accompanied by large-scale massacres of the civilian populations in vanquished areas. Because of this savagery, which left millions dead, the Mongols became highly dreaded in human history.

By his death, the Mongol Empire occupied a vast area of Central Asia and China. Due to his exceptional military genius and successes, Genghis Khan has been seen as the greatest conqueror of all time. As per his wishes, his body was buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in Mongolia.

Genghis Khan had introduced the Uyghur script as his Empire’s writing system. He encouraged religious tolerance in the Empire. All the Mongols, therefore, regard him as the founding father of Mongolia, one who brought the Silk Road under one cohesive political framework.

Even now, his directives, like simple living and strict discipline, are respected like divine commands by the Mongols. That is why not a single Mongol has died of the Covid-19 pandemic; only 608 were infected and 337 recovered.

China’s political, military and economic power in the 21st century has largely been camouflaged by its inherent insecurity. That is why it resorts to boasts and suppression.

Despite an unprecedented global unpopularity of China, President Xi Jinping has further pushed his country to the precipice: recently, he directed his Terracotta Army, officially known as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), to “be prepared for war”. Sensing that the world is encircling China, he sought to put the PLA on alert.

How unpopular China has become was proved in October. Releasing a global poll, Pew Research Center said that unfavorable views of China across the world have climbed to historic highs in many countries, with the highest in Australia.

A majority of those polled in each of the 14 advanced economies had negative views of China. But in nine of them, China’s unpopularity was at the highest Pew had ever recorded since it started tracking it over a decade ago in Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Netherlands, Canada, Spain, Sweden, and South Korea, the report said.

Besides, at least 73 percent of those polled in these nine countries, as also in five others–Belgium, Japan, Italy, Denmark, and France–had unfavorable views of China.

Interestingly, many historians have concluded that, after Jesus Christ and Prophet Muhammad, Genghis Khan has been the greatest mover-and-shaker in the world in the last two millennia. In 2003, a research paper on genetics revealed that at least 16 million humans across many countries are direct descendants of Genghis Khan!

No wonder China so dreads the Great Khan!!

“Islam in crisis”: Macron only exposed the emerging truth

New Delhi: On October 2, when French President Emmanuel Macron remarked that “Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today, all hell broke loose in the Muslim world. Many condemned him. Some took to violence, beheaded three, and wounded many others in France. It appeared as if Macron was villain-of-the-piece, a global pariah, especially for the non-Arab Muslims and their rent-seeking liberal-democratic-secular cohorts.

However, at a subterranean level, Islam, as we know it, is indeed in a crisis from modernity. The message, howsoever ugly or obnoxious it may appear is clear: Islam must either reform or perish.

Consider this: an atheist China has destroyed 1,600 mosques in its restive Xinjiang Province in three years, banned Haj for the minority Uighur Muslims, scrapped Arabic/Persian architecture of a mosque to make it look like any Chinese shopping complex, and even rewriting a China-friendly Qur’an in Mandarin.

And this: the United Arab Republic (UAE), Saudi Arabia’s alter ego, has just relaxed several strict Islamic personal laws to move on with modern times—at a time when Islamic militants, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, are baying for the French blood for alleged blasphemy, etc.

This new development has come within a month of the UAE and Bahrain signing the “Abraham Accords” with Israel, their medieval enemy, to normalize relations with the Jewish state, to the chagrin of non-Arab Muslim countries like Turkey and Pakistan, among others. Saudi Arabia, is currently tasting waters; it may also follow suit in the face of the threat from Turkey’s attempts to revive the Ottoman Empire.

This only means that the Arab world is realizing futility of its archaic Islamic heritage and wants to move on with modern times and geopolitical realities—something the non-Arab Muslim nations are not yet prepared for.

Last week, the UAE announced a major overhaul of its Islamic personal laws, which now allow unmarried couples to live together, loosened restrictions on alcohol and criminalized the so-called “honour killings”. These have been implemented with immediate effect to keep pace with the changing Arab society.

In the last few decades, the UAE has emerged as a global financial hub, and destination for tourists, fortune-seekers, and businessmen. Earlier, its strict Islamic laws were embarrassing for many of these foreigners and their countries and were seen as obstacles in realizing the full potential of the seven Arab sheikhdoms comprising the UAE.

These historic and progressive reforms are expected to attract millions of foreign tourists to boost the UAE economy and make it less dependent on traditional sources of revenue business-friendly ambience, and oil.

Accordingly, there will now be no penalties for alcohol possession, sales and consumption. There will also be no ban on cohabitation of unmarried couples. The beneficiaries include Muslims as well. The Arab nation will also better protect women’s rights by getting rid of the tribal custom of ‘honour killings’.

The UAE’s strict Islamic laws were equally applicable to the Arab natives and the expatriates. The expatriates outnumber local citizens nearly nine to one. The amendments will now permit foreigners to avoid Islamic Shariah courts on issues like marriage, divorce and inheritance.

Clearly, the Arab world is in for far-reaching changes in the near future.

Another change in the Muslims’ world affairs has surfaced in China where President-for-Life Xi Jinping is the driving force against ‘Islamic heritage’.

But nobody in China’s “all-weather friend” Pakistan, or for that matter anywhere in the world, dare question Beijing for its ‘Islamophonia’, as they do in the case of India, France, and other democratic countries. China routinely hangs Islamic terrorists, has for long been keeping a million Uighur Muslims in ‘re-education’ camps, and even banned their pilgrimage to Mecca.

Few have noticed how China has been effecting far-reaching changes even in mosque architecture, imposing various restrictions, and also ‘Sinicizing’ The Qur’an by getting it rewritten in its own language, giving no room to anyone and making sure the militant Muslims remained in check.

The latest example came in a mosque whose traditional ‘Arab-style’ domes were demolished and the shrine was rebuilt like a Chinese mall.

A recent Australian study, using satellite imagery, had found that China has systematically destroyed nearly 1,600 mosques in Xinjiang province alone since 2017.

As part of its ongoing project to ‘Sinicize’ Islam in China, a large mosque has been completely reconstructed by the government, removing all signs of Islam.

The Nanguan Mosque in Yinchuan, capital of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, was the largest in the province. It has so completely been rebuilt that—with no minarets or domes–that it no longer looks like a mosque at all. The mosque was built during the late Ming dynasty (1368-1644), and restored in 1981.

It was entirely renovated and changed by the Communist Party government of President Jinping.

The region, inhabited by the largest community of Hui Muslims in China, became a major target of the ‘Sinicize Islam’ drive of the Chinese Communist Party. In the last two years, a large number of mosques have lost their distinguishing features.

Now, all the five bright green colored domes and the golden minarets have been removed. The golden Islamic style filigree, decorative arches, and the text in Arabic script on the mosque have all been scrapped. Even the signboards are in Chinese, according to media reports.

The bright golden and green colored mosque with onion-shaped domes and Islamic style curved windows have been changed into a grey-colored rectangular structure.

The latest images of the mosque were posted by Christina Scott, the United Kingdom’s deputy head of mission in China, on Twitter. She wrote, “TripAdvisor suggested the Nanguan Mosque in #Yinchuan well worth a visit. Only this is what it looks like now, after ‘renovations’.  Domes, minarets, all gone. No visitors allowed either, of course. So depressing.”

The transformation was expedited after a recent visit to the city by  President Xi Jinping, who scolded officials for the slow pace of ‘Sinicizing’ Islamic structures. He remarked that “Ningxia has made some achievements in religious reform, but it was not thorough enough.” It meant that the work should be intensified.

He also visited the region on June 6-8. The demolition activity picked up soon after that. By June 26, the five green domes and the minarets were gone, and the remaining work was completed soon.

The militant Muslims could not do anything, not even expressed their dissatisfaction for fear of the government.

According to reports, the Covid-19 pandemic has come in handy to the Chinese government by giving it the opportunity to expedite the process of Sinicizing mosques in the nation. Imposing restrictions in the name of the pandemic, the government closed down many mosques, accelerated demolitions, and renovations.