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Cooperation between the Taliban and the U.S. Military on Counterterrorism? Terrorist Attack at Kabul Airport and Dilemma of Xi Jinping
Afghans lie on beds at a hospital after they were wounded in the deadly attacks outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. Two suicide bombers and gunmen attacked crowds of Afghans flocking to Kabul's airport Thursday, transforming a scene of desperation into one of horror in the waning days of an airlift for those fleeing the Taliban takeover. (AP Photo/Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi)
Afghans lie on beds at a hospital after they were wounded in the deadly attacks outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. Two suicide bombers and gunmen attacked crowds of Afghans flocking to Kabul's airport Thursday, transforming a scene of desperation into one of horror in the waning days of an airlift for those fleeing the Taliban takeover. (AP Photo/Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi)

China required the eradication of terrorism as an absolute exchange condition for supporting the Taliban. 28 Taliban soldiers were killed in the recent terrorist attack, and the Taliban is trying to defeat the terrorist organization in cooperation with the United States. Is this a blow to Xi Jinping?

28 Taliban Soldiers Killed in the Kabul Airport Terror

On August 26, a suicide bombing by an Islamic extremist group ISIS (Islamic State) at Kabul airport in Afghanistan killed 85 people, Reuters reported. This report says:

  • The attack killed at least 72 Afghans
  • 13 U.S. soldiers killed, 18 wounded
  • At least 28 Taliban soldiers killed
  • Evacuation is accelerating despite the threat of ISIS

It should be noted that the victims include as many as 28 Taliban soldiers.

ISIS-K, an ISIS affiliate, claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing, saying they targeted “translators and collaborators for the U.S. military.”

Reuters reports that ISIS-K was initially limited to areas along the Pakistani border but established a second front in northern Pakistan. According to the Combating Terrorism Center in West Point, New York, ISIS-K includes Pakistani and Uzbek extremists from other extremist groups in addition to Afghans.

They are the Taliban’s enemies.

They are opposed to the Taliban reaching the peace agreement with the United States.

The Taliban Works with the United States to Defeat Extremist ISIS

General Frank McKenzie, the commander of the U.S. Central Command, said that the Unites States was on alert for more attacks by ISIS, including possible rocket or vehicle bombs targeting the airport, and some information was shared with the Taliban, and he added that several terrorist attacks had been prevented by the Taliban.

This means that the Taliban is fighting terrorist groups.

Most surprisingly, General McKenzie said that

He meant that the U.S. military was working with the Taliban to prevent terrorist activities.

The news at noon on August 27 aired by CCTV, China Central Television under the control of the Communist Party of China, had a special program on the Kabul airport terrorism incident. In this program, Chui Hongjian, Senior Research Fellow at the China Institute for International Studies, explained it was impossible to eliminate the possibility that U.S. forces and the Taliban cooperated with each other to fight terrorism.

If this is the case, an unprecedented situation will come about that the United States join forces with the Taliban for counterterrorism for the first time ever.

Will Xi Jinping Lose Face?

If the Taliban and the United States should join forces, it will be followed by an unbelievable situation.

In my article dated August 15 <The Taliban Reverses the U.S.-China Power Relationship>, I pointed out that if China successfully establishes an order that eliminates terrorism from Afghanistan and achieves economic growth in Afghanistan, which the United States failed to do, there would lie an “appalling reality” that the world would value China more highly than the United States on the grounds that China has the ability to govern the international community.

If the terrorist attack unexpectedly results in a framework where the Taliban and the United States work together to defeat the terrorist organization, this is an unprecedented framework, leading to the recognition that the United States is stronger after all.

Does this mean that Xi Jinping will lose face?

Nevertheless, China Can Never Intervene Militarily

Even if embarrassed this way, China cannot intervene militarily in Afghanistan for a reason.

That is because China has the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where many Muslims live.

In order to prevent Uyghurs from flowing into the terrorist extremist group the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Xi Jinping is strengthening ideological education by placing about 1 million Uyghurs in detention facilities allegedly “for education.” In other words, he is carrying out ideological suppression.

Even if China was targeted by Islamic extremists’ attacks only for this reason, it would not be surprising. That is why terrorist attacks occurred frequently in China until 2014. Attacks have not happened since 2016 due to thorough surveillance and repression.

If China intervened militarily in Afghanistan, which is a foreign country, for the sake of its war against terrorism, China would certainly be attacked as a target of ISIS.

Xi Jinping’s biggest national goal is to ensure maintaining the one-party rule by the Communist Party of China.

If targeted by ISIS, there is a risk that a second 9.11 attack could occur in China and the one-party rule would collapse. Therefore, Xi Jinping will never intervene militarily. What Xi Jinping is going to do is recognize the Taliban’s Afghanistan as a state and have it join the Belt and Road Initiative for economic exchange if he makes sure that the Taliban will never allow terrorist activities in the Afghan area.

Will Terrorist Attacks Consequently Benefit the Taliban?

In the CCTV special program mentioned earlier, Mr. Chui explained as follows.

  1. The Taliban has shown a friendly attitude toward the United States in taking measures against terrorism, and this will lead to demonstrating that the Taliban severed ties with terrorism. The Taliban will therefore make use of this advantage for a while.
  2. On the other hand, they will continue cooperation with the United States in some way. At the same time, through these counterterrorism measures and other means, the Taliban will demand that the West and many other countries continue to provide necessary assistance to the Taliban government (as provided to the Afghan government) for the economy, including the reconstruction of Afghanistan and the maintenance of its social order.
  3. The current situation may be, therefore, relatively advantageous to the Taliban.

Xi Jinping’s Dilemma and Calculation

This story is so “dangerous” that I wonder if it is safe to say such a thing on CCTV, which is under the control of the Communist Party of China.

If cooperation with the United States brings about a situation free from terrorist activities as China demands, China will lose face toward the United States.

Given that the U.S. military will withdraw from Afghanistan, however, Xi Jinping would be expecting that there will be no chance of U.S. troops remaining in Afghanistan if the terrorist organization is successfully eradicated.

On the other hand, since President Biden promised that U.S. troops would withdraw by August 31, it would be a normal reaction to consider that the U.S. troops cannot work with the Taliban to eradicate the terrorist organization. The Taliban, however, may agree to leave troops specific to the eradication of terrorist organizations. There is also a means of remote control. Presumably, they will consider some method.

If you do not believe there is such a thing as a dream, you might find it a little more credible by reading “CIA head holds secret meeting with Taliban’s top political leader as chaotic Kabul evacuation continues.”

If the Taliban should truly succeed in eradicating the terrorist organization through cooperation with the United States, China might be planning to recognize the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, whose foundation the Taliban declared on August 19, as a state and start providing economic assistance.

In fact, on April 25 this year, Xinhua announced the signing of an agreement to provide food aid to Afghanistan, which is the most needed in the country (delivery of emergency food aid projects). Thus, China would start with food aid and then begin investment.

China would gain the fruits of economic partnership even in return for accepting an ungainly appearance.

And will the U.S. military, which brought about confusion such as the remnants of a defeated army, cooperate with the Taliban to contribute to the eradication of terrorist organizations after their withdrawal and make an “honorable retreat” from the country?

I will continue observing the progress for a while, feeling the irony of history.

Note: The content of the Reuters’ article linked from this article seem to change from time to time, and numbers in the articles may differ.


This article is an English translation of the article on August 27th.

1941年中国生まれ。中国革命戦を経験し1953年に日本帰国。「中国問題グローバル研究所」所長。筑波大学名誉教授、理学博士。中国社会科学院社会学研究所客員研究員・教授、北京大学アジア・アフリカ研究所特約研究員、上海交通大学客員教授などを歴任。著書に『裏切りと陰謀の中国共産党建党100年秘史 習近平 父を破滅させた鄧小平への復讐』(ビジネス社)、『ポストコロナの米中覇権とデジタル人民元』(遠藤 誉 (著), 白井 一成 (著), 中国問題グローバル研究所 (編集)、実業之日本社)、『激突!遠藤vs田原 日中と習近平国賓』(遠藤誉・田原総一朗、実業之日本社)、『米中貿易戦争の裏側 東アジアの地殻変動を読み解く』(毎日新聞出版)、『「中国製造2025」の衝撃 習近平はいま何を目論んでいるのか』、『毛沢東 日本軍と共謀した男』(中文版・韓国語版もあり)、『チャイナ・セブン <紅い皇帝>習近平』、『卡子(チャーズ) 中国建国の残火』(中文版・英文版もあり)、『チャイナ・ジャッジ 毛沢東になれなかった男』、『チャイナ・ナイン 中国を動かす9人の男たち』、『ネット大国中国 言論をめぐる攻防』、『中国動漫新人類 日本のアニメと漫画が中国を動かす』『中国がシリコンバレーとつながるとき』など多数。 // Born in 1941 in China. After surviving the Chinese Revolutionary War, she moved to Japan in 1953. Director of Chinese Issue Global Research Institute, Professor Emeritus, Doctor of Science at the University of Tsukuba. Member of the Japan Writers Association. She successively fulfilled the posts of guest researcher and professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Her publications include “Inside US-China Trade War” (Mainichi Shimbun Publishing), “’Chugoku Seizo 2025’ no Shogeki, Shukinpei ha Ima Nani o Mokurondeirunoka (Impact of “Made in China 2025” What is Xi Jinping aiming at Now?), “Motakuto Nihongun to Kyoboshita Otoko (Mao Zedong: The Man Who Conspired with the Japanese Army),” “Chazu Chugoku Kenkoku no Zanka (Japanese Girl at the Siege of Changchun) (including Chinese and English versions),” “Net Taikoku Chugogu, Genron o Meguru Koubou (Net Superpower China: Battle over Speech),” “Chaina jajji — Motakuto ni narenakatta otoko (China Judge: The Man Who Couldn’t Become Mao Zedong),” “Chugoku Doman Shinjinrui: Nihon no Anime to Manga ga Chugoku o Ugokasu (The New Breed of Chinese “Dongman”: Japanese Cartoons and Comics Animate China),” “Chugogu ga Shirikonbare to Tsunagarutoki (When China Gets Connected with Silicon Valley),” and many other books.