Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 09, 2021

The U.S. Wants Back Into Afghanistan

Just six weeks after leaving Afghanistan the U.S. wants to get back in:

A U.S. delegation will meet with senior Taliban representatives in Doha on Saturday and Sunday in their first face-to-face meeting at a senior level since Washington pulled its troops from Afghanistan and the hardline group took over the country, two senior administration officials told Reuters.

The high-level U.S. delegation will include officials from the State Department, USAID and the U.S. intelligence community, will press the Taliban to ensure continued safe passage for U.S. citizens and others out of Afghanistan and to release kidnapped U.S. citizen Mark Frerichs, the officials said.

That U.S. intelligence officials take part points to an effort to get an agreement on a long term and significantly sized CIA presence in the country. Such a station would target China and to a lesser degree Russia. The Taliban had previously rejected such a request (or at least had put some strong conditions on it which the U.S. did not fulfill.)

For a normal CIA presence in Afghanistan the U.S. could of course simply reopen its embassy as the Taliban had asked it to do. But that is something the Biden administration does not want to do as it would give the Taliban international legitimacy:

“This meeting is not about granting recognition or conferring legitimacy. We remain clear that any legitimacy must be earned through the Taliban’s own actions. They need to establish a sustained track record,” the official said.

The Taliban want the U.S. to release the frozen reserves of the Afghan central bank. They need money to feed their country. There also seem to be some open points with regards to the previous agreement which included secret annexes:

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen, who is based in Doha, told the Associated Press on Saturday that the talks will also revisit the peace agreement the Taliban signed with Washington in 2020. The agreement had paved the way for the final U..S. withdrawal.

“Yes there is a meeting ... about bilateral relations and implementation of the Doha agreement,” said Shaheen. “It covers various topics.”
The U.S.-Taliban agreement of 2020, which was negotiated by the Trump administration, demanded the Taliban break ties with terrorist groups and guarantee Afghanistan would not again harbor terrorists who could attack the United States and its allies.

It seems certain the two sides will discuss in the weekend talks how to tackle the growing [Islamic State] threat. The Taliban has said it does not want U.S. anti-terrorism assistance and have warned Washington against any so-called “over-the -horizon” strikes on Afghan territory from outside the country’s borders.

The Taliban know who has founded and nurtured the Islamic State in Afghanistan. They suspect that the U.S. is still controlling it and that the recent Islamic State attacks in Afghanistan are just another form of U.S. pressure.

Yesterdays suicide bombing in a Shia mosque in Kunduz was executed by an Uyghur Islamic State member. Trump had taken the Uyghur Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) off the U.S. terrorist list and Biden has not reinstated it. This reinforce the impression that the U.S. is behind Islamic State attacks and that its real target is China:

The United States, meanwhile, would seek to hold Taliban leaders to commitments that they would allow Americans and other foreign nationals to leave Afghanistan, along with Afghans who once worked for the U.S. military or government and other Afghan allies, a U.S. official said.

The Taliban are not holding anyone back. It is the U.S. which is responsible for the travel difficulties:

U.S. officials have cited the difficulty of verifying flight manifests without any American officials on the ground in Afghanistan to help, along with other holdups.

To prepare for the meeting in Doha a U.S. delegation held high level talks with Pakistan:

The meeting between Washington’s deputy secretary of state and Pakistan's leaders came amid an array of unsettled issues. They include questions such as the level of future engagement with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the ongoing evacuation of foreign nationals and Afghans who want to flee the country's new Taliban rulers.

Another question on the agenda is who will provide funds to stave off a full economic meltdown and looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Since the Taliban takeover, billions of dollars in aid have been frozen. Nearly 80% of the former Afghan government's budget was funded by international donors.

Even as it shies away from any unilateral formal recognition, Pakistan has been pressing for greater engagement with the all-male, all-Taliban Cabinet that the insurgents set up after they overran Afghanistan in mid-August, in the final weeks of the U.S. and NATO pullout from the country.

Pakistan has also urged Washington to release billions of dollars to the Taliban so that they can pay salaries of the many Afghan ministries and avoid an economic meltdown. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has warned that s such a crash could unleash a mass migration.

As a result of the talks Pakistan showed support for the U.S. demand of an 'inclusive government' in Afghanistan:

Little information has emerged from the meetings. A statement from Pakistan's foreign ministry said “an inclusive and broad-based political structure reflecting the ethnic diversity of Afghan society was essential for Afghanistan’s stability and progress.”

That was a clear message to the Taliban: An acceptable Afghan government is one that includes representatives of all Afghan minorities.

The statement also had a message for the world, saying “the current situation required positive engagement of the international community, urgent provision of humanitarian assistance, release of Afghan financial resources, and measures to help build a sustainable economy to alleviate the sufferings of the Afghan people.”

I do not see the U.S. getting what it wants from the Taliban. They know that a large CIA station in their country would also endanger their rule.

If the U.S. continues to hold back Afghanistan's money it only increases the need for the Taliban to engage with China. While China will be stingy and have its own requests it at least does not work with terrorist and it sticks to its agreements.

Posted by b on October 9, 2021 at 16:18 UTC | Permalink


The Taliban needs to keep Amerika out and all Amerikan ngo. Amerikas goals will be to under mine the Taliban govt.

Thanks b

Posted by: jo6pac | Oct 9 2021 16:28 utc | 1

"This meeting is not about granting recognition or conferring legitimacy. " i'd like to think this is a quote from the taliban on usa... in fact, i am sure that is how they see it... meanwhile the one obvious terrorist - usa - has taken ETIM off the terrorist list! now, who whudda thunk it?? this shit is more then tiring... thanks b..

Posted by: james | Oct 9 2021 16:36 utc | 2

Present situation, the only ready cash operation in Afghanistan is the heroin industry. An interesting pressure point for the CIA.

Posted by: jhill | Oct 9 2021 16:42 utc | 3

The key point of leverage is the US’s hold on the purse strings that prevents Afghanistan from having access to its own money. We have seen this movie many times before: Starve the masses in an effort to achieve a totally self-serving political goal. It’s just as effective (or ineffective) as bombs.

Posted by: Rob | Oct 9 2021 16:43 utc | 4

Rob @ 4; You nailed it Rob...

The power of the reserve currency, plus the empire's lust for rare earth minerals will keep it engaged for many years in Afghanistan.

Posted by: vetinLA | Oct 9 2021 17:19 utc | 5

Meanwhile, I hear Nuland has permission to visit Moscow for consultations. You can just see the wheels start to turn on some new folly.

And Wendy Sherman has been consulting with Pakistan IIRC. Perhaps we will eventually find out about the bribes being offered and threats being made.

I have to wonder if there is an element of not being willing to admit being wrong about this not being willing to let Afghanstan be now.

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 9 2021 17:34 utc | 6

I hope for them they can arrange a agreement with China and the others of OCS: rare earth and transit of gaz/oleoducs for help. Because the empire will starve them like it did for the other disobedients: from Cuba to Turkey and Iran to Venezuela.

Posted by: John V. Doe | Oct 9 2021 17:38 utc | 7

I'm seeing stuff circulating to the effect that a General Hamed Seifi, supposed National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF) commander, took down the Taliban flag in Andarab, Panjshir. Any news on this?

Posted by: Maracatu | Oct 9 2021 17:46 utc | 8

This is the greatest misnomer in recent history:
"The talks are not about granting the Taliban legitimacy"

It should sound like

"The tales are not about granting the USA legitimacy."

For are there any reason to say that the USA has a legitimate government at all?
May well be the US of North A is legitimate north of the Rio Grande and South of Canada -- but other places in our World thereby their own admission now upon y are a gang that ought to be "wanted dead or alive" --as they have showed, shown and shamed upon themselves.

The US has de-legitimised itself. ANd dous not respect international law, only their own "rules-based order. By hich they mean disorder bases on US rule an bullying.

Posted by: Tollef Ås/秋涛乐/טלפ וש | Oct 9 2021 18:02 utc | 9

The US is holding back the Benjamins until they get access to the opium. The CIA is the largest drug cartel in the world, and the loss of Afghanistan is hurting them.
There are also the rare earths up for grabs.
The US is half a world away. China is right there. Lets hope the Taliban can see which way the (Eurasian) wind is blowing.
The recent suicide bomb attack in the Kunduz mosque was a warning. No one thought the US would go quietly. And they won't.

Posted by: Hal Duell | Oct 9 2021 18:09 utc | 10

Afghanistan as a sovereign nation can institute its own fiat currency.
It needs to get off the hard addiction to the $.
If they really want to collect taxes in any other currency - why not choose the Chinese or Russian version , the local economic superpowers with whom they will do most trade - not having to rely on exporting opiates anymore, usually paid in cash dollars to the flunkies.

Posted by: D.G. | Oct 9 2021 18:14 utc | 11

Well, these talks aren't going to yield much. Yankees don't listen. Whenever it's their counterpart's turn to talk their eyes glaze over.
Luckily, the Taliban aren't as stupid as Yankees wish they could be.
Imo, if the Taliban hadn't already had a long and fruitful chat with PRC & Friends, they probably wouldn't have bothered going to Doha to be ignored and have their intelligence insulted.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 9 2021 18:19 utc | 12

The Obssesive Grauniad DS stenographers report it absurdly as

“ Taliban say they will not cooperate with US to contain IS extremists”

No mention of the $ hundreds of millions US is illegally holdings by.

The same paper also reports this current take on Afghan refugees rushed to the U.K.

“ Send us home,’ beg Afghan refugees stuck in UK hotels”

Yesterday there was a photo of Afghanis holding up their British passports demanding their return with their families.

It is pure chaotic comedy worthy of a circus.

The bs that the US needs people to process the Afghanis who want to leave but don’t want a consulate isn’t mentioned in the ones ether.

Posted by: D.G. | Oct 9 2021 18:36 utc | 13

US lost the massive lithium reserve they went to control for themselves.

Russia and China are adamant US and West must pay for what they broke.

Afghan future is local, as a raw material supplier and trade route.

Likely a consortium will develope Afghan Lithium, China, Russia, maybe minor partners eg UAE, Saudi, even US, Germany. Afghan govt 51% of course.

Lithium sold to a West destination will carry a stiff export tax, as a form of reparations.

US is no longer in the box seat.Its coercion, competition,and thug behaviour won't work. It's diplomacy is weak. It has a long history of unreliability and unpredictability.

It will be the supplicant, no longer the master.

This is the crystallizing new reality.

You reap what you sow.

Posted by: Powerandpeople | Oct 9 2021 18:45 utc | 14

One thing to consider is the relationship of the Taliban with Iran. This has been very discrete, if not downright secret. They seem to be getting on very well in spite of differences. Iran will make a special effort.

At the moment Iran has a problem with the Israeli (+US?) buildup in Azerbaijan, and the US seeems to be building up it's troops in Eastern Syria. (with the ones it took out of Afghanistan?)

The reticence of Russia and China to leap in suggests that both see a possible future destabilizing effort by the US. With a large number of "spoilt children" who lost their goodies, still remaining in the country.

So the next move needs to be by the SCO and the other related groupings.

Cookie monster Nuland? she has probably gone to Moscow to give out cookies. I think she may be too late for Putin's birthday though.

Posted by: Stonebird | Oct 9 2021 18:46 utc | 15

@11 Afghanistan has its own currency called the Afghani. US$1 currently trades around 90 Afghanis.

Posted by: dh | Oct 9 2021 18:52 utc | 16

It's quite sad that the Taliban must show some courtesy to the Outlaw US Empire in lieu of the atrocities the latter brought to Afghans. I'll be surprised if anything of substance emerges from the Doha talks; the upcoming Moscow conference will be an entirely different event where I expect substantial progress to occur.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 9 2021 19:20 utc | 17

re: The U.S.-Taliban agreement of 2020, which was negotiated by the Trump administration, demanded the Taliban break ties with terrorist groups and guarantee Afghanistan would not again harbor terrorists who could attack the United States and its allies.

The US-Taliban Agreement didn't "demand" anythng, it was an agreement with four parts. In Part Two: Taliban will take the following steps to prevent any group or individual, including al-Qa’ida, from using the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies: The Taliban --
1. . .will not allow any of its members, other individuals or groups, including al-Qa’ida, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies.
2. . .will send a clear message that those who pose a threat to the security of the United States and its allies have no place in Afghanistan, and will instruct members of . . .the Taliban not to cooperate with groups or individuals threatening the security of
the United States and its allies.
3. . . .will prevent any group or individual in Afghanistan from threatening the security of the United States and its allies, and will prevent them from recruiting, training, and fundraising and will not host them in accordance with the commitments in this agreement.
4. . . is committed to deal with those seeking asylum or residence in Afghanistan according to international migration law and the commitments of this agreement, so that such persons do not pose a threat to the security of the United States and its allies.
5. . .will not provide visas, passports, travel permits, or other legal documents to those who pose a threat to the security of the United States and its allies to enter Afghanistan.

The Agreement is mainly about stifling groups who might use the soil of Afghanistan to attack the US. There is nothing in the Agreement about breaking ties with, and not harboring, "terrorists" which might do something. After all "terrorist" is a US construct which means just about anyone not allied with the US. In fact several US senators have recently introduced a bill to designate the Taliban as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 9 2021 19:34 utc | 18

@ dh

The whole sordid story of the Afghan National bank , even if through a somewhat dishonest narrative - it pretty much confirms the WB/IMF fronts finger prints all over that pie.

The sub tale of Kabul Bank - privately owned - running the system since the invasion and how everything goes through Dubai is also like a movie script.

Afghanistan has a great chance to actually have a real state owned national bank and tell the international financiers to ...take a hike.

Posted by: D.G. | Oct 9 2021 19:49 utc | 19

re: an effort to get an agreement on . . .significantly sized CIA presence in the country.

The CIA has been rendered powerless in China due to a collapse of the US espionage network there, and something must be done.
NY Times, Oct 7

WASHINGTON — The C.I.A. will embark on a reorganization intended to focus more on China, the agency’s director announced on Thursday. At the heart of the effort will be a new China Mission Center meant to bring more resources to studying the country and better position officers around the world to collect information and analyze China’s activities. . .here . . .Technological advances have made collecting intelligence in China very difficult. Ubiquitous surveillance cameras and facial recognition software powered by artificial intelligence have made evading detection in China particularly challenging. . .. . . here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 9 2021 19:58 utc | 20

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 9 2021 17:34 utc | 6:

Meanwhile, I hear Nuland has permission to visit Moscow for consultations.

Nuland's role in the Maidan fiasco is well known and well despised. If Russia adheres to any diplomatic norm, she should be persona non grata whether or not officially declared. I wish Russia would demand that Biden sends someone else.

By the same token, people like Pence, Pompeo, Rubio should barred from entering China until kingdom comes.

Posted by: Oriental Voice | Oct 9 2021 20:21 utc | 21

So the next move needs to be by the SCO and the other related groupings.

Cookie monster Nuland? she has probably gone to Moscow to give out cookies. I think she may be too late for Putin's birthday though.

Posted by: Stonebird | Oct 9 2021 18:46 utc | 15

Agree. It will be interesting to see if Putin gives her any cookies. I presume the Russians would not bother without a reason.

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 9 2021 20:22 utc | 22

Posted by: Powerandpeople | Oct 9 2021 18:45 utc | 14:


Posted by: Oriental Voice | Oct 9 2021 20:26 utc | 23

Posted by: Oriental Voice | Oct 9 2021 20:21 utc | 22

I agree with you, that's sort of why it is interesting that they are letting her in, especially in the present situation.

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 9 2021 20:27 utc | 24

The Taliban have a chain of momentum going against empire just like others in the axis against empire. I don't see them giving any of that momentum up to make empire happy.

I think that the Taliban are getting negotiating help from and coordination with the China/Russia/etc axis which leads me to believe we are going to see acceleration of the demise of empire...

Commenters above are writing about how Cookie Monster Nuland is going to Russia and I ask, where better to neuter her than there?

Yeah, history can repeat itself but we are not engaged in any sort of civilization rerun here, IMO......I am just a member of the global MoA peanut gallery

Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 9 2021 20:41 utc | 25

I hear a lot about the CIA and opium, but less on how the opium trade has been rendered redundant by Fentanyl and other synthetics. The market and markets must have changed at least in the West. It seems to me that one of the top priorities of the Taliban should be to solve their own massive local addiction problem. Another way to make a state fail is to shadow it with cartels and gangs; again I don't see the Taliban succumbing to that easily either. Where does opium sit now in the geopolitics?

Posted by: Patroklos | Oct 9 2021 20:43 utc | 26

India, with major investments in Afghanistan, is a major factor in the situation. The Pakistan/Taliban faction has won the war, the NATO military has been defeated and has withdrawn, and all of this undermines India's security. India thought it had won with NATO against the Pak/Taliban and would have a presence on Pakistan's western flank, turning Pakistan into an Indian sandwich, and now it has nothing! Any friendly US moves toward Pakistan/Taliban would greatly upset India at a time when the US needs India in its Indo-Pacific-Quad anti-China strategy. Meanwhile the US is walking a narrow plank. It's a lose-lose choice, either siding with Pakistan/Taliban or being against them. So the US will hem and haw, while China and Russia fill the void.

All of this should have been planned for but it's obvious the US is as ineffective here as it is in every other situation, while relying on the CIA/Pentagon for some 'kinetic' activity that would provide some favorable results somewhere.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 9 2021 21:26 utc | 27

It's such a damn wonderful thing that these Russia, China, Iran, et al. nations exist. It would be beyond sad to find all those Pentagon, CIA, etc. employees lined up around the block at the unemployment agencies. Unthinkable, really.

Posted by: blues | Oct 9 2021 21:31 utc | 28

ph @ 26

I think the key to the great unwinding is the loss of US military supremacy. I think the point of the spear is useful in enforcing new economic paradigms. It will be interesting to watch the US journey into socialism. Lots of ground to cover and not much time.

Posted by: financial matters | Oct 9 2021 21:32 utc | 29

to karlof at #18

"It's quite sad that the Taliban must show some courtesy to the Outlaw US Empire in lieu of the atrocities the latter brought to Afghans. I'll be surprised if anything of substance emerges from the Doha talks..."

very well said, Karlof.
one of the many sorrows of Empire

a sad day when they have to go and deal with the killers of some 800,000-1.2 million Afghanis, and many more wounded and millions of refugees.

This 2021 version of the Taliban seems a bit more practical than the Buddha statue smashing ones of the 1990s, so I expect some form of agreement to be reached with the US, which should of course release all their funds it is withholding.

If that isn't international piracy by the US in its relations with Venezuela, Cuba, Syria, Afghanistan, Lebanon, etc etc well then I don't know what is

I suspect the taliban will have to make some concessions. and the US will get some secretive agreements about the cia and the despicable jihadists..... I don't see Russia and China coming forth with offers of tens of billions, in cash, to these guys right now, no matter what the rhetoric. Though I could be wrong.

Posted by: michaelj72 | Oct 9 2021 21:34 utc | 30

LA Times headline "Taliban rules out cooperation with U.S. to contain extremist groups in Afghanistan"

".. to manage and direct extremist groups in Afghanistan" might be a more honest headline.

Posted by: Billb | Oct 9 2021 21:40 utc | 31

@ dh | Oct 9 2021 18:52 utc | 16.. being pegged to the us$ works so much better for the usa, then to gold or something that the usa can't print endless reams of... some folks are not okay with this set up however.. the world is in the process of trying to kick the doors down... i am on their side..

Posted by: james | Oct 9 2021 21:41 utc | 32

Well golly, that's the Audacity of Hope right there. "Please sir, I know I've been raping your family for 20 years, but can I have some more?"

Hopefully the Taliban will show the skill of Iran and deny the US its wishes.

Posted by: gottlieb | Oct 9 2021 23:15 utc | 33

Posted by: Oriental Voice | Oct 9 2021 20:21 utc | 22

By the same token, people like Pence, Pompeo, Rubio should barred from entering China until kingdom comes.

The should let them in , and then impale them in Tiananmen square. The world will breathe sigh of relief

Posted by: Grishka | Oct 10 2021 0:15 utc | 34

Patroklos @27

You can buy bulk food grade ethanol for a few dollars per gallon. Who would pay hundreds of dollars for a fifth of finely aged single malt scotch? Won't both get you just as drunk?

Heroin, opium, and fentanyl are not fungible products. Fentanyl is the opium for the impoverished and ignorant masses. People like Hunter Biden don't slum it with that garbage. They go for the high-end genuine horse and will swear it gives a much more pleasant high.

Yes, heroin is much more expensive than fentanyl. That is precisely why the CIA traffics in it.

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 10 2021 0:20 utc | 35

Russia invaded for 20 years. Still has an embassy. China still has an embassy and off topic a maglev train. We have the CIA and war profiteering that is really about spending tax payer dollars to whoever we please (except of course the tax payers).

List of diplomatic missions in Afghanistan

Embassies in Afghanistan

Here are the countries evacuating their embassies in Kabul as the Taliban takes over

Posted by: Anon | Oct 10 2021 0:27 utc | 36

@33 I'm not sure how exchange rates are decided in currency markets. The Canadian dollar is currently 'worth' 80 US cents. Why? I can remember US and CAD being at par for years. I assume it reflects lack of confidence in the Canadian economy vis-a-vis the US. I travelled a lot pre-covid and I found US dollars to be the preferred currency pretty much everywhere. Euros came in second best. I think we have a long way to go before they are replaced by yuan.

Posted by: dh | Oct 10 2021 0:33 utc | 37

@ dh... i think the exchange rates are decided in a very abstract manner, and as we all know, there are capitalists who hope to prey on these matters - george soros run on the british pound, being only one obvious example.... the canuck $ has been low for a number of years, and is in a similar position as the other western poodle - australia, in terms of the rate of exchange to us$... it may seem like we have a long way to go, but i suspect there will be sudden changes that will catch many off guard and the change might come quicker then we realize.. bottom line - it is all a big ponzi scheme that will eventually end.. when it does the us$ will not be treated as it is at present.. in fact, china, russia, iran, venezuala and etc are moving in a different direction due the usa's use of financial sanctions.. these financial sanctions have the opposite of their intended effect, but the usa continues on... when the usa throws europe and the rest of the western poodles under the bus - which it is doing in bits and pieces here at present, it can only gain momentum... just how long before the tide turns - open question, but the tide is starting to turn by friend....

Posted by: james | Oct 10 2021 1:14 utc | 38

Adding to the heroin/fentanyl discussion....

Fentanyl is hated within most of the heroin community for a couple reasons. First it is extremely dangerous and contributes heavily to the high rates of overdoses we have seen since it's introduction. Second, the buzz isn't nearly as good, there is an element of anxiety and agitation in the high, which one doesn't find in good heroine.

Fentanyl is most often discretely cut into heroin to increase profits in the same way pharmaceutical speed is cut into cocaine or meth. Fentanyl cut heroin is considered of poor quality and undesirable by the end user.

Or in short, what Mr. Gruff says.

Posted by: Haassaan | Oct 10 2021 1:35 utc | 39

@39 It all comes down to confidence james. In 2nd and 3rd world countries you find people trading currencies in the street. Often giving black market rates.. They aren't much concerned with isms ...they just want to make money on the exchange rates. And they are good at it.

You may expect the imminent collapse of the US$ but when you’re travelling you come up against reality and US dollars are king. You may resent it but it’s a fact. I met a Russian couple a few years back in Costa Rica. They had run out of US cash and their Russian credit card was useless. They were waiting for a friend to wire them some dollars.

Posted by: dh | Oct 10 2021 1:46 utc | 40

@ William Gruff and Haassaan

So my point about markets changing is right. Fentanyl for the proles, opium for the discerning junkie. But if the analogy with single malt is valid then one's market is boutique, no? Hence your market, once ubiquitous (since opium was the underlying precursor), now changes. You are swapping bulk wholesale to general dealers to do with what they will for a smaller but higher end market. So my original question still remains unanswered: does this change CIA practice and profits?

For the record I wasn't saying that there's no difference between the different grades only that the local availability of synthetic but cheap garbage changes one's approach to the original product. But people never read comments properly, they just respond to what they think they hear.

Posted by: Patroklos | Oct 10 2021 2:10 utc | 41

@ dh... i have traveled to many countries and understand what you are saying... nothing changes in my viewpoint here.. cheers..

Posted by: james | Oct 10 2021 2:12 utc | 42

At Patroklos

Yes, you are correct that the market has changed, but not to the extent that demand for opium derived heroin has gone down much. Even the proles want the real heroin, and mostly get it once one finds a reliable dealer.

In that regard maybe boutique market is too strong a term, for the heroin market hasn't differentiated to the level where a 500$bottle of Scotch vs. a 40oz of cheap malt liquor is a perfectly apt comparison.

Cutting coke with speed didn't drive down demand for cocaine in the same way cutting heroin with fentanyl isn't driving down demand for real heroin.

The process of cutting the drugs takes place at the street level dealer on up to regional market suppliers to increase profit for the low to mid level business men.

Posted by: Haassaan | Oct 10 2021 2:39 utc | 43

The Taliban will have no choice but to agree to receive 'humanitarian' aid (and not the frozen funds)from the US that will be coming from Uzbekistan. This will bring the US back to Central Asia & Afghanistan.

Posted by: nme | Oct 10 2021 2:50 utc | 44

It may be interesting to look at the Saudi reaction to events in Afghanistan. They could certainly help financially but of course their would be strings attached. They say they don't want extremists to have influence. But neither do they want Iranians.

Posted by: dh | Oct 10 2021 3:06 utc | 45

Pakistan's ISI is key again, with their good Taliban, bad Taliban game abroad. Now they want to play this game even domestically. The ISI mouth piece is PM Imran Khan. The (bad) TTP was very busy both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border.

ISLAMABAD: In a stunning development, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday offered general pardon to the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) provided the banned group laid down weapons, disclosing that the government was in talks with some groups of the outfit seeking reconciliation.
The prime minister and all previous governments (since the 9/11 attacks) had been holding mainly the TTP responsibly for the killing of over 80,000 innocent citizens at the behest of some anti-Pakistan international forces.

The ISI MO is to blame India for their own Frankensteins. They would never offer pardon if it was really Indian. Play with Islamistic fire and you'll get burned. Notice how comments were removed below this article.

Posted by: Antonym | Oct 10 2021 3:26 utc | 46

For starters, conflating the TTP with the Afghan Taliban has been useful for both the pro-war and anti-war brigades. Many in the pro-war camp wanted to turn all of Pakistan into a staging ground for the occupation next door, and wave in drone strikes and donor money. But many in the anti-war camp wanted to cede Swat to TNSM and the Waziristans to the TTP, offer office space, and dub them a resistance instead of what they were: racketeers and murderers. It thus suited both camps to treat the insurgency in Pakistan as a perfect extension of the war in Afghanistan. It wasn’t.

It’s also why some things aren’t that complicated. Either the TTP surrenders, or Pakistan does.

Posted by: Antonym | Oct 10 2021 3:38 utc | 47

Just to offer a street level view on the heroin / fentanyl discussion. I spent a couple years living in a notorious drug-ridden area, one of the most prominent ones in Canada. I saw no cocaine, only crack, or much more common, crystal meth. There is no heroin, only fentanyl mixes that include some heroin. Yes people overdose, a lot, which is why naloxone kits are everywhere as are safe injection sites and places to test your drugs. Local medical professionals advocate for legalizing the drug supply because of all these synthetic compounds in use.

Posted by: Bruised Northerner | Oct 10 2021 6:31 utc | 48

Rumors seem to be rife that China has already started to operate the Bhagram air base. Any speculations on this?

Posted by: meme | Oct 10 2021 6:59 utc | 49

Tollef @ 9 For are there any reason to say that the USA has a legitimate government at all? <= a question i have asked myself.. several times.. it seems the monopoly-powered corporate cartels are in charge..

D. G. @ 11. agree, but the private oligarchs in Afghanistan not happy (as I believe that is the reason for this meeting) because fiat currency would restrict the private profit making and money laundering activities of wealthy Oligarchs to activities within the borders of Afghanistan and it will also subject the earnings of the oligarch to taxes..

D. G. @ 13 “ Send us home,’ beg Afghan refugees stuck in UK hotels”.. <= that's a revelation <= one can see how easy it is for privately owned MSM to make what it wants to happen, happen <= private media owners control narrative and they select contents to publish that supports their narratives.

Stonebird @ 15 a large number of "spoilt children" who lost their goodies, still remaining in the country...
<= yes I agree, likely these people are behind the meeting.. their offshore $USD wealth is at stake.

don Beacon @ 19. posted [Taliban].will not provide visas, passports, travel permits, or other legal documents to those who pose a threat to the security of the United States and its allies to enter Afghanistan. <= is this an example of persons being trapped within a nation state.. ?

Posted by: snake | Oct 10 2021 10:02 utc | 50

Patroklos @42

I would say that the biggest change in the illicit drug market would be that quality on the low end has declined. Those willing and able to pay for the top quality products are still able to acquire that quality level and seem to exist in pretty much the same numbers as they did before the whole fentanyl issue arose. This would suggest that profits from trafficking the higher quality products have remained stable.

Well, that is until the US was kicked out of Afghanistan. I am unsure how the CIA is going to make up for the lost $billions in income.

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 10 2021 12:44 utc | 51

Vacuum, by property, has a way of getting filled. That is to say, the vacuum that was left by the empire’s withdrawal, is being filled, first and foremost by the Chinese. They are neighbors after all. Then, by Russia, and a major behind the scenes player, Iran.
I’ve seen news of Iran sending multiple shipments of goods already. Iran and Afghanistan are joined at hip, with Iran hosting nearly 4 million Afghans.
The empire does not understand that it lost. It will try to butt-in, any way it can, be it terrorism by it’s lackeys, or withholding the Afghan assets.
Afghanistan does not need recognition by the empire to prosper. Due to the desire of it’s neighbors (SCO/BRI/rare earth), it will prosper, no matter how much the empire wants to get back in the (not so great) game.

Posted by: Sakineh Bagoom | Oct 10 2021 16:02 utc | 52

can you tell me which corporations and business interest are the big losers in the west because the USA pulled out of Afghanistan.. ?

Shippers of supply, producers of goods, corporations that extract mineral, police services, engineering firms, advertising and creative, just who are the big losers as a result of the USA exit from Afghanistan? AFAICT governed Americans won big time, when the USA vacated Afghanistan.

The reason for the abrupt departure might be Biden sidestepped the anti exit lobby power often exerted by those corporations that were the losers.. ? in which case the move by Biden was genius..

Posted by: snake | Oct 10 2021 16:18 utc | 53

I notice that nobody links to you anymore. You have effectively disappeared. What happened to you B.? You took the Davos Covid option. But people like me who believed in you are angry. You let us down. Oh, well, hope you enjoy the cash...

Posted by: Lochearn | Oct 10 2021 20:47 utc | 54

financial matters | Oct 9 2021 21:32 utc | 30

I think the key to the great unwinding is the loss of US military supremacy.

I think the primary cause of the loss of US military supremacy is that
Russia has been selling (B)defensive weapons(/B) to all and sundry since forever and the Chinese have been doing so also. As the USA is practically the only really aggressive country, this is a well-targeted effort, and with the recent advances in Russian and Chinese technology it is really limiting the US's options for easy aggression.

Posted by: foolisholdman | Oct 10 2021 20:50 utc | 55

foolisholdman | Oct 10 2021 20:50 utc | 56

Apologies for the silly typos!

Posted by: foolisholdman | Oct 10 2021 20:53 utc | 56

meme | Oct 10 2021 6:59 utc | 50:

I'll believe it when I see it. High quality photos and or videos. One cannot hide a large plane like the Y-20 and whatever equipment the Chinese military uses.

Posted by: Ian2 | Oct 10 2021 21:45 utc | 57

Pakistani PM Khan wants the U$ back into Afghanistan; the Pakistani elite is losing too many $$$$$$$$$$ playing the middle man.
On his Xinjiang Muslims silence : the hypocrite says he finds these selective pronouncements on human rights so immoral with a straight face. Than he goes on about Indian Kashmir, nothing on PR China. A better actor than a cricket player.
Baluchistan, PoK?

Posted by: Antonym | Oct 11 2021 11:50 utc | 58

USA controlling iskp is absolutely baseless.

The Taliban r in talks now and drones r being seen above Kabul. They can't stop the insurgency so they will likely try to have backroom deals with u.s the hardcore tb supporters may join iskp as a result. Your takes on Afghanistan r terrible.

Posted by: Pa | Oct 11 2021 15:24 utc | 59

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