Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Black Men Executed in 1951 Rape Granted Posthumous Pardons


Rose Grayson, niece of Francis DeSales Grayson, top, comforts James Grayson, son of Francis DeSales Grayson, left, and Rudy MCollum, great nephew of Francis DeSales Grayson, one of the Martinsville Seven, after Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued posthumous pardons for Grayson and the other six members during a ceremony inside the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond, Va. Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. Gov. Northam granted posthumous pardons to seven Black men who were executed in 1951 for the rape of a white woman, in a case that attracted pleas for mercy from around the world and in recent years has been denounced as an example of racial disparity in the use of the death penalty. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam granted posthumous pardons Tuesday to seven Black men who were executed in 1951 for the rape of a white woman, in a case that attracted pleas for mercy from around the world and in recent years has been denounced as an example of racial disparity in the use of the death penalty.

Northam announced the pardons after meeting with about a dozen descendants of the men and their advocates. Cries and sobs could be heard from some of the descendants after Northam’s announcement.

The “Martinsville Seven,” as the men became known, were all convicted of raping 32-year-old Ruby Stroud Floyd, a white woman who had gone to a predominantly black neighborhood in Martinsville, Virginia, on Jan. 8, 1949, to collect money for clothes she had sold.

Four of the men were executed in Virginia’s electric chair on Feb. 2, 1951. Three days later, the remaining three were also electrocuted. All of them were tried by all-white juries. It was the largest group of people executed for a single-victim crime in Virginia’s history.

At the time, rape was a capital offense. But Northam said Tuesday that the death penalty for rape was applied almost exclusively to Black people. From 1908 — when Virginia began using the electric chair — to 1951, state records show that all 45 people executed for rape were Black, he said. The pardons do not address the guilt or innocence of the men, but Northam said the pardons are an acknowledgement that they did not receive due process and received a “racially-biased death sentence not similarly applied to white defendants.”

“These men were executed because they were Black, and that’s not right,” Northam said.

“Their punishment did not fit the crime. They should not have been executed,” he added.

All seven men were convicted and sentenced to death within eight days. Northam said some of the defendants were impaired at the time of their arrests or unable to read confessions they signed. He said none of the men had attorneys present while they were interrogated.

Before their executions, protesters picketed at the White House, and the governor’s office received letters from around the world asking for mercy.

James Walter Grayson is the son of Francis DeSales Grayson, who was one of the seven. He sobbed loudly when Northam told the family members he would grant the pardons after meeting with them Tuesday. “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord,” he said, as he wept while being embraced by two other descendants of the men.

Grayson said he was 4 years old when his father was executed.

“It means so much to me,” he said of the pardon.

“I remember the very day the police came to the door. He kissed us and they took him away,” he told The Associated Press in an interview after the announcement.

Rudolph McCollum Jr., a former Richmond mayor who is the great-nephew of Francis DeSales Grayson and the nephew of another one of the executed men, Booker T. Millner, told Northam the executions represent “a wound that continues to mar Virginia’s history and the efforts to move beyond its dubious past.” He wept when Northam announced he would pardon the men.

In December, advocates and descendants of the men asked Northam to issue posthumous pardons. Their petition does not argue that the men were innocent, but says their trials were unfair and the punishment was extreme and unjust.

“The Martinsville Seven were not given adequate due process ‘simply for being black,’ they were sentenced to death for a crime that a white person would not have been executed for ‘simply for being black,’ and they were killed, by the Commonwealth, ‘simply for being black,’ ” the advocates wrote in their letter to Northam.

The seven men, most in their late teens or early 20s, were: Grayson, Millner, Frank Hairston Jr.; Howard Lee Hairston; James Luther Hairston; Joe Henry Hampton; and John Clabon Taylor.

Eric W, Rise, an associate professor at the University of Delaware who wrote a 1995 book on the case: “The Martinsville Seven: Race, Rape, and Capital Punishment,” said Floyd told police she was raped by a large group of Black men and testified at all six trials. Two of the men were tried together.

All seven men signed statements admitting they were present during the attack, but they had no access to their parents or attorneys at the time, Rise said.

“The validity of the confessions were one of the things their defense attorneys brought up at the trials,” Rise said.

Four of the men testified in their own defense. Rise said two men said they had consensual sex with her, one man denied any involvement, and another man said he was so intoxicated he could not remember what happened.

Northam has now granted a total of 604 pardons since taking office in 2018, more than the previous nine governors combined, his administration announced Tuesday.

“This is about righting wrongs,” Northam said. “We all deserve a criminal justice system that is fair, equal, and gets it right — no matter who you are or what you look like,” he said.

In March, Northam, a Democrat, signed legislation passed by the Democrat-controlled legislature abolishing the state’s death penalty. It was a dramatic shift for Virginia, a state that had the second-highest number of executions in the U.S. The case of the Martinsville Seven was cited during the legislative debate as an example of the disproportionate use of the death penalty against people of color.

Southern Africa: Zimbabwe Donates 20 000 Covid-19 Jabs to Namibia

31 AUGUST 2021

The Herald (Harare)

By Mukudzei Chingwere

Herald Reporter

Zimbabwe yesterday handed over a consignment of 20 000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine donated to Namibia by the Government.

The donation follows satisfactory progress in the country's vaccination campaign which is now targeting everyone above the age of 14 after scientific advice proved it was safe to vaccinate the 14-17 age group.

President Mnangagwa's administration has so far spent US$102 million on vaccines and associated costs for syringes and transport. The gift to Namibia is a small fraction of Zimbabwe's procurement programme, rated at First World levels and one of the best in Africa.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Dr David Musabayana and Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr John Mangwiro handed over the vaccines in Namibia.

Explaining the gift on his Twitter account, President Mnangagwa said: "Only when all citizens of our region are protected, will Zimbabwe be able to return to normality. I'm delighted to announce that Zimbabwe has donated 20 000 Covid-19 vaccines to Namibia. Let's protect all Africans!"

Zimbabwe's vaccination campaign is winning several international plaudits and some foreign Government officials are opting to get their shots here like Ambassador of the State of Palestine to Zimbabwe, Tamer Almassri.

To this end, Northern Ireland has removed travellers from Zimbabwe from the list of mandatory quarantines, a sign of an endorsement of the country's response measures in both vaccination and in the successful efforts to beat back the third wave.

Zimbabwe with 23 others are no longer enlisted for mandatory hotel quarantine if entering the country. Zimbabwe joins heavyweights like the United States, Russia, Belgium, France, Canada, South Africa, India, Tunisia among others.

Zimbabwe was removed on Friday, and Dr Mangwiro said the foreign endorsement is a sign that the country's response under the leadership of President Mnangagwa is working.

Yesterday Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Ambassador Frederick Shava addressed the second virtual briefing by members of the national Covid-19 task-force to members of the diplomatic corps and international cooperating partners.

He provided an update in the country's response that has managed to minimise deaths and infections and noted that a medical oxygen plant was commissioned by President Mnangagwa recently.

"This plant will ensure that we have adequate oxygen supplies, especially during this period, when we are witnessing increased demand due to the delta variant," said Ambassador Shava.

"The bumper harvest that we have just realised during the 2020-2021 agricultural season has lessened our burden following a significant reduction in food insecure households.

"The Government remains committed to work with our partners to ensure that all vulnerable groups such as the elderly, those living with disabilities and the poor receive the requisite social protection.

"Let me start by reiterating the Government's appreciation to our cooperating partners for resolutely standing with us and supporting our fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and other humanitarian challenges," said Ambassador Shava.

An the same meeting, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said the targets benchmarked to be achieved are on course as well as the implementation of the National Development Strategy 1.

He also noted that the Government was coping with the emergency spending without breaking the budget or delaying the recovery.

"The recovery trajectory seems to be on course despite the environment posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. In public finances, the budget is budgeting; there are no issues at all. We have been able to finance most of the Government's programmes with the resources that we have raised so far."

Minister Ncube also gave details of the financing of Zimbabwe's vaccine procurement programme fuelling the vaccine dispensing rates now running at around 2 million doses a month and the rate expected to rise further

"So far we have spent US$102 million, and the Treasury has been responsible for the procurement of vaccines directly. Of this sum US$94,5 million is a direct procurement for the vaccines that we have received and the balance went towards the African Union facility.

"We paid US$7,5 million towards that which will allow us to receive additional vaccines," said Minister Ncube.

Zimbabwe: Biti's Bid to Block Us$1m Suit Fails

Jerry Chifamba/allAfrica

31 AUGUST 2021

The Herald (Harare)

By Fidelis Munyoro

MDC-Alliance vice president Tendai Biti's motion to block a US$1 million defamation suit against him and his political party for insulting a Russian national, Ms Tatiana Alishen, was thrown out by the High Court.

Ms Alishen issued summons against Mr Biti accusing him and the MDC Alliance of insulting her and defaming Augur Investments - a company she has interests in - after tweeting that it was corrupt.

Augur Investments, Ms Alishen, the company director and its owner Mr Ken Raydon Sharpe, are listed as plaintiffs' while Biti and MDC-Alliance are cited as defendants in the suit.

As a result of the statements, the company seeks damages against Biti and his party arguing that the politician made defamatory statements that caused reputational damage to the natural and juristic persons of the plaintiffs.

Biti denies the allegations and raised an exception to the summons and a special plea to bar Augur Investments audience to contend the defamation claims of the plaintiffs.

The special plea related to the question of payment of security for costs and whether a corporation could be defamed.

Augur Investments is a foreign company at law and when foreign companies sue in this jurisdiction, they are required to pay security for costs at the High Court.

Biti argued that Augur Investments had failed to pay security for costs hence it has no right to the jurisdiction of the High Court here and its claim, therefore, should be thrown out.

The basis for Biti's exception to the summons was anchored on two grounds that the claim was defective and that there was no link between Ms Alishen and Mr Sharpe, with the statements complained of.

In counter-argument, Augur Investments submitted that failure to pay costs for security could not be used to defeat their claim.

The company averred that the question of security for costs was one borne out of practice, as such Mr Biti should have demanded such costs from them.

And in the event that the parties failed to agree, Biti should have approached the court demanding payment of the costs. The court, argued the company through its legal counsel, would then decide the matter, hence it need not to come as a special plea.

The company also argued that the exception, which Biti sought was unfounded and could not stand in this matter.

However, Justice Jacob Manzunzu dismissed the special plea and exception by Biti finding that an artificial person can sue for damages and hence Augur Investments was legally correct in suing Biti and MDC-A.

Ultimately, the judge dismissed as having no merit, the point which Biti had raised that a corporate cannot be defamed.

"I can do more than agree with the plaintiffs . . . the action against the first defendant (Biti) is based on two articles as shown . . ." said Justice Manzunzu.

"The second defendant (MDC-A) is partly based on the repetition of the articles by the first defendant and secondly an article with specific reference to the involvement of second plaintiff (Ms Alishen) in the alleged corruption.

An online news organisation, NewsHawks, which was also sued, had the claim against it cancelled as they apologised and rectified their mistake. 

Expert in Kenya Cautions against 'Vaccine Apartheid'

Africa News with AP


A top Kenyan pathologist has warned of so-called "vaccine apartheid" as the country continues to experience a high number of deaths due to a slow rollout of the COVID-19 jab.

In Africa, less than 2% of the population on the continent of 1.3 billion people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Doctors and nurses working in hospitals in countries such as Kenya have suffered continued pressure due to the government's lack of investment in vaccines.

"It is only two countries in the whole of Africa that have the capacity to produce vaccines, that is South Africa and Senegal. You find countries like Kenya and Egypt, they do have the technical capacity but they never really invested in it," said Ahmed Kalebi, independent consultant pathologist and founder of Lancet Kenya.

James Nderitu is a 58-year-old cobbler and resident of Nairobi, and is receiving his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

He believes that if everything had gone to plan, he should be on his second.

"I would therefore like to urge the European countries that have the vaccine, to assist us. Instead of vaccinating children, they should stop being selfish and help the African countries so that we can get vaccinated," he said.

The Africa director for the World Health Organization recently hit out at richer western nations, accusing them of hoarding vaccines when there should be a more even distribution of jabs.

But Kalebi believes it's not as simple as to blame western nations for Africa's woeful vaccination rate.

"In a country like Kenya I think we don't just have our priorities right. Because you find that a lot of the times, money will be poured into politics, money will be poured into other things but health, we are waiting for donations," he said.

More than 7.3 million cases, including more than 186,000 deaths, have been confirmed across the continent, and health systems are straining to provide medical oxygen and other care.

If Africa continues to proceed at such a slow pace with its vaccination programme, it could have the effect of prolonging the pandemic internationally.

Kenya Praises Fight against Poaching After Animal Census Shows Improvement

Africa News

Kenyan authorities have welcomed the progress made in the fight against poaching, after the publication Monday night of the first animal census conducted in the country, which should serve as a basis for improving environmental conservation.

According to the data, Kenya has 36,280 elephants, among other things, a population that is up 21 percent from 2014, when poaching peaked.

"Efforts to increase penalties against crimes related to endangered species appear to be paying off," the census authors say in their report.

President Uhuru Kenyatta praised the success of environmental protection agencies in their fight against poaching, while urging them to find innovative approaches to protect wildlife.

"(Wildlife) is our heritage, it is our children's heritage and it is important for us to know what we have, so that we are better informed in our policy and actions," the head of state said in a statement.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) warned in March that Africa's elephant population was being decimated by poaching and habitat destruction, particularly through land conversion for agriculture.

The population of African savanna elephants has plummeted by at least 60% over the past 50 years, resulting in their classification as "endangered" in the latest update of the IUCN's "danger list".

This census, financed by the Kenyan government, allowed to count 30 different species of animals on the nearly 59% of the territory studied.

The number of lions, zebras, hirolas (hunting antelopes) and the three species of giraffes found in Kenya is increasing, the report states, without however providing comparative data with previous years.

A total of 1,739 rhinos were also counted, including two northern white rhinos, 840 southern white rhinos and 897 critically endangered black rhinos.

The Maasai Mara Reserve in the south of the country is home to nearly 40,000 wild life.

"Obtaining this level of information ... allows for better policy, planning and assessment of areas that need attention," Wildlife Minister Najib Balala said in the report.

"It is a national heritage. We must be proud of it," he said.

However, the report stresses that special attention must be paid to certain species of antelopes, such as sand antelopes and mountain bongos, of which there are less than 100 specimens each.

These species could become extinct if urgent action is not taken.

Progress could also be threatened by exponential human population growth and the concomitant increase in the need for land, both for habitat and for economic activities (livestock, logging, charcoal consumption), the report warns.

DRC: Shooting in Goma Leaves Two Dead and Six Injured

Africa News and Gaël Mpoyo with Gael Mpoyo


Two civilians were killed and six others were seriously injured in a gunfight that broke out in Goma, a city in the DRC's eastern region, on Monday night.

The city of Goma, where all security services are based, yet the incident occurred.

Families of the victims gathered on Tuesday morning to express their grief, shock, and disbelief.

"We don't know if the state of siege exists because we don't see the results, people are still being killed, even robbery has multiplied, if you walk with a handbag, the thugs vanish with it, in any case we are suffering, we are in need of help."

The unclaimed shooting is the first since the state of siege, the authorities are trying to reassure everyone and announce investigations.

"They are robbers who entered a shop, four who were riding on two motorbikes and shot. This is normal criminality but the police unit was there and we have been informed and investigations are being carried out.

Goma, one of the most prosperous cities in the DRC, borders two territories where armed groups are active, namely Masisi and Nyiragongo.

Despite the state of siege decreed by President Félix Tshisekedi in an attempt to end the violence in the east, the locals say they see no change. 

France to Donate 10 Million Vaccines to Africa over Three Months

Africa News

30/08 - 17:23

France will send 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa over the next three months, the French presidency said in a statement on Monday.

The vaccines will be allocated and distributed through the African Union's Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and Covax. AVAT is a means of enabling group purchases of vaccines by AU members to help them meet at least 50 percent of their needs.

At a conference in Berlin last week, African leaders renewed calls for vaccine equity.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said it was unfair that richer countries had vaccinated nearly their entire adult populations while poorer countries struggled to buy vaccines.

Africa has administered the least vaccines of any continent. Only 2% of Africa's population of 1.2 billion is fully vaccinated.

African countries have mostly relied on multilateral and bi-lateral donations. Activists have called the inequity vaccine apartheid.

The African Union is looking to set up vaccine production sites in five countries.

So far Egypt and South Africa have begun local production of Sinovac and J&J vaccines respectively.

Enough for 400 million people

The statement by Macron's office said that enough jabs had now been purchased through AVAT to enable vaccination of 400 million people in Africa — a third of the continent's population — by September 2022, at a cost of three billion dollars.

In August the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) called for a moratorium on giving third doses of anti-Covid-19 vaccines until at least the end of September, to allow at least 10 percent of the population of every country to be vaccinated.

So far, low-income countries have only been able to administer 1.5 doses for every 100 people, due to lack of supply.

The WHO said on Monday that the Republic of Congo has received more than 300,000 vaccines doses from the United States, its first under Covax.

Migrant Death Toll Increases on Atlantic Route to Europe


Funeral workers collect the bodies of three female migrants that died during a shipwreck near the island of Lanzarote in Spain's Canary Islands, Aug. 25, 2021. Dozens of Africans are feared dead in the latest boat that turns into a trap for migrants trying to reach a Spanish island chain in the Atlantic Ocean, according to reports from Spanish authorities and activists. Authorities said that 32 survivors and one body were retrieved from a rubber boat that rescuers located overnight in waters south of the Fuerteventura island. (Europa Press via AP)

MADRID (AP) — At least 11 people are feared dead after another boat crossing the Atlantic Ocean to get from North Africa to Spain’s Canary Islands became a trap for migrants trying to reach European territory, Spanish authorities and activists reported Tuesday.

The Spanish government’s delegation in the Canary Islands said rescuers retrieved 32 survivors and one body overnight from a rubber boat in waters south of Fuerteventura, the closest of the archipelago’s islands to the African coast. One of the survivors died on the rescue boat.

Some of the survivors told authorities that some 60 people were on board when the boat set off four days ago from a beach near the southern Moroccan town of Tan-Tan, the delegation said.

Walking Borders, a non-profit group that works with migrants in peril and provides assistance to their relatives, said that its research indicated the boat had carried only 42 people when it departed Morocco, leaving up to 11 victims.

The organization, which has become one of the first contact points for African families trying to locate their relatives on the other end of the migration route, claims that some 2,000 people have died so far this year on their way to the Canary Islands. The Atlantic route is one of the most dangerous sea crossings to Europe.

“The human rights crisis at the border needs an urgent political response,” Walking Borders founder Helena Maleno said in a tweet addressed to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

Despite the initial discrepancies involving Tuesday’s rescue, the International Organization for Migration said it counted nine people as missing and two confirmed casualties from the vessel.

The U.N agency has confirmed the deaths this year of 529 migrants who were attempting to reach the Spanish island chain, but the agency says the number does not reflect the actual death toll since people disappear at sea without ever being reported missing or having their bodies found.

Survivors of other failed crossings also have reported that bodies of fellow passengers were thrown into the sea before rescuers arrived.

Walking Borders said Monday that at least 29 Africans, including seven children, had died on a boat that was the focus of an Aug. 27 rescue. A total of 25 adults and one minor survived.

Alarm Phone, a volunteer network that also assists migrants that find themselves in distress at sea, said Tuesday that interviews with survivors led the group to believe that at least 14 of the 46 people on another boat did not survive the Atlantic crossing after a sudden weather change and strong winds pushed the vessel away away from the archipelago.

Nine of the victims died during the 15 days the boat’s occupants spent at sea without fuel, food or water, Alarm Phone said on its website. Another four died when they were trying to board a merchant ship that came to the rescue after Spanish authorities requested its assistance. And a woman who suffered from diabetes didn’t survive the long journey to the port of Las Palmas, the organization said.

Alarm Phone detected a 47% hike in the Atlantic route’s mortality rate between Aug. 1 and Aug. 20.

“The incredibly long trips along this route can last from several days to weeks and put travelers in very precarious conditions,” it said.

UN Hails End of Poisonous Leaded Gas Use in Cars Worldwide


FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2010 file photo a view of a traffic jam in Algiers, Algeria. Leaded gasoline has finally reached the end of the road, the United Nations environment office said Monday, Aug. 30, 2021 after the last country in the world to use it stopped selling the highly toxic fuel. (AP Photo/Anis Belghoul, file)

BERLIN (AP) — Leaded gasoline has finally reached the end of the road, the U.N. environment office said Monday, after the last country in the world halted the sale of the highly toxic fuel.

Algeria stopped providing leaded gas last month, prompting the U.N. Environment Agency to declare the “official end” of its use in cars, which has been blamed for a wide range of human health problems.

“The successful enforcement of the ban on leaded petrol is a huge milestone for global health and our environment,” UNEP’s executive director, Inger Andersen, said in a statement.

Petroleum containing tetraethyllead, a form of lead, was first sold almost 100 years ago to increase engine performance. It was widely used for decades until researchers discovered that it could cause heart disease, strokes and brain damage.

UNEP said studies showed leaded gas caused measurable intellectual impairment in children and millions of premature deaths.

“The cost of environmental degradation is real,” said Andersen, citing what she described as a “very, very ballpark number” of $2.45 trillion in damage to the global economy prevented by the ban.

Janet McCabe, deputy administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said measurements showed blood lead levels “plummeted, literally, literally plummeted” after the fuel was banned in the United States.

Most rich nations started phasing out the fuel in the 1970s and 1980s, but it was still widely used in low- and middle-income countries until 2002, when the U.N. launched a global campaign to abolish it.

Leaded gas is still used in aviation fuel for small planes, an issue that McCabe said the EPA was working with the Federal Aviation Administration to address.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the successful abolition of leaded gas, like the ban on ozone-depleting chemicals, showed the impact that international treaties could have on addressing environmental issues.

“We must now turn the same commitment to ending the triple crises of climate disruption, biodiversity loss and pollution,” he added.

South Sudan VP Says No Deal Agreed on Uniting Troops


Aug 30, 2021 05:53 PM

South Sudan's Vice President Riek Machar on Sunday rejected claims by a cabinet minister that he and former foe president Salva Kiir had struck a deal on uniting their armies, in the latest blow to its fragile peace process.

The world's newest nation has struggled with chronic instability since independence in 2011, with Kiir and Machar locked in an uneasy coalition following the end of a five-year civil war.

Saturday's announcement by Martin Elia Lomuro, the minister of cabinet affairs, which said the pair had agreed on a power-sharing deal to enable the creation of a unified army, had held out hope of a potential breakthrough for its lumbering peace process.

But in a statement released late Sunday, Machar's office said no such agreement was reached.

"We strongly refute this false information and also underscore that the issue remains unresolved," the statement said.

Lomuro had earlier said the two sides would split control of senior positions in the national security command which includes the military and police, with Kiir's party holding a 60 percent share and the remainder divided between Machar and a handful of opposition parties.

Machar's party on Sunday said instead that their talks had focused on a 50:50 breakup, with the East African bloc IGAD proposing a 55:45 division "which the parties has not yet discussed."

The country's peace process has suffered from years of drift and bickering over the creation of a unified armed forces command, a key component of the 2018 truce agreement and a potential safeguard against future conflict.

The 2018 cease-fire and power-sharing deal ended a conflict that has cost almost 400,000 lives, but distrust lingered, with many of Machar's top cadres complaining they had lost out under the arrangement with the ruling party.

Earlier in August foes in Machar's party said they had ousted him as leader - a move his allies dismissed as a "failed coup." 

Cote d'Ivoire Says 1st Ebola Patient Has Recovered


Aug 25, 2021 06:54 PM

Medical workers disinfect the coffin of a deceased unconfirmed Ebola patient inside an Ebola Treatment Centre run by the Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA), in Beni on August 13, 2018. Photo: VCG

A young Guinean woman who tested positive for the Ebola virus in Cote d'Ivoire after arriving there two weeks ago has recovered from the disease, the country's health ministry said Tuesday.

"We performed on the patient two biological tests which were negative in an interval of 48 hours. She is therefore declared cured," Serge Eholie, ministry spokesman and head of the country's infectious diseases department told AFP.

"We are lifting her isolation today [Tuesday]. She is no longer a risk of contamination. She is still very tired, we are keeping her in hospital," the professor added.

Her diagnosis was the first confirmed case of Ebola in Cote d'Ivoire since 1994.

The 18-year-old had traveled to Abidjan by bus from Labe in northern Guinea, a journey of about 1,500 kilometers that traverses a densely forested region where Ebola epidemics broke out earlier in 2021 as well as 2013-16.

The World Health Organization has identified 49 people who have been in contact with the woman, and Cote d'Ivoire started a vaccination campaign earlier in August to target those who were in immediate contact with the patient and security forces along the border with Guinea.

Ebola, which is transmitted through close contact with bodily fluids, is a fatal viral disease that causes severe fever and, in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding.

Cote d'Ivoire is the third African country in 2021 to have been affected by the Ebola virus after the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Guinea.


Pakistan Will Strengthen Intelligence Sharing, Counter-terrorism Cooperation with China on Afghan Issue: Ambassador

By Xie Wenting

Global Times

Aug 31, 2021 10:00 PM

Moin ul Haque, Pakistani Ambassador to China Photo: Li Hao/GT

To prevent a terrorist spillover from Afghanistan, Pakistan had been taking various steps, including fencing of a porous, 2,600-kilometer long border with Afghanistan and has increased the number of check posts along the border, Pakistani Ambassador to China, Moin ul Haque, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview. 

"We have completed 90 percent of the fencing and are continuing with patrols along the border. Our security forces remain vigilant and have been conducting various intelligence-based operations against these terrorist elements," he told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The ambassador stressed that Pakistan is also concerned about the "possibility of a refugee influx." He noted that it is extremely difficult to distinguish terrorists hiding among civilians in case of large movement of people across the border.

The situation in Afghanistan is still unstable with large crowds trying to leave the country. On Thursday, at least 170 Afghans and 13 US soldiers were killed, and about 200 people wounded in the suicide blast that hit the eastern gate of Hamad Karzai International airport in Kabul. On Sunday, US military forces carried out an airstrike in Kabul against a suspected ISIS-K vehicle following its drone strike on the terror group in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan on Friday.

US forces left Afghanistan on Monday, meeting the deadline to withdraw forces from the country after a failed 20-year war. As with its irresponsible departure, concerns of the spillover of terrorism are swirling. 

Ambassador Haque told the Global Times that Pakistan remains "cognizant of the threat posed by terrorist organizations, including TTP, Daesh, ETIM, and others operating from Afghanistan."

According to him, the people of Afghanistan have suffered immensely due to conflict in the country spanning over four decades. After Afghanistan, has Pakistan suffered the most, with over 80,000 casualties and $ 150 billion in economic losses. 

"No country is more desirous of peace in Afghanistan than Pakistan. Similarly, as Afghanistan's largest neighbor, China also desires a peaceful and stable Afghanistan," he said.

China and Pakistan have been closely coordinating on the Afghan issue. This month, China's State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a conversation with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, talking about the latest situation in Afghanistan, including support for the country to fight terrorism, enhancing communication with the Taliban to ensure safety of Chinese and Pakistani personnel and institutions in the country. 

In the interview, the ambassador said both Pakistan and China wish to see an early political settlement and formation of an inclusive, broad-based, and participatory government in Afghanistan. We would continue supporting all efforts in that direction. "There is a need to protect and promote the rights of the people of Afghanistan, particularly women and girls, minorities, and vulnerable groups. Pakistan and China have been calling on the Taliban to respect the rights of all Afghan people. We expect that no country is harmed by terrorist organizations and groups operating in Afghanistan," he said. 

Both Pakistan and China are closely monitoring the rapidly evolving situation. First and foremost, it is important to prevent violence in Afghanistan. It is crucial to ensure that a humanitarian situation does not arise. The people of Afghanistan need support from the international community including food supplies, medicine and COVID vaccines, said the diplomat.

Currently, the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul is still functioning normally. The ambassador told the Global Times that the situation is complex with many challenges. The terror attacks near the airport indicated the difficulties of maintaining a diplomatic and consular presence on the ground.

He introduced that the embassy's diplomatic staff are not only facilitating peaceful political settlement in Afghanistan, but are also helping other countries evacuate their nationals to safety. "We hope that the Taliban would be able to maintain law and order and prevent terrorist outfits from carrying out further attacks," he said. 

He noted that China and Pakistan are also discussing the situation with other regional countries to ensure the maintenance of peace and stability. For this purpose, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan recently visited Afghanistan's neighboring countries, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran. The evolving regional situation demands increasingly closer coordination.

Asked about the concrete cooperative plan to fight terrorism between China and Pakistan, Ambassador Haque said the two countries have a robust defense and counter-terrorism cooperation. 

"We continue to work through existing mechanisms to build capacities, share intelligence, and coordinate our efforts. In view of the emerging challenges and threats, the two countries would enhance and strengthen the existing cooperation and coordination," he said. 

The diplomat praised China as a responsible world power. "China has already expressed its desire to assist the people of Afghanistan with humanitarian assistance and in rebuilding their war-torn country. China has also emerged as the biggest contributor to the global COVID-19 vaccination effort. Afghanistan has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the world, and could benefit from further Chinese assistance," he said. 

When asked about how he witnesses the importance of India's engagement with the Taliban, the diplomat said they expect India to play a positive and constructive role. "In the past, India has acted as a spoiler and worked against peace in Afghanistan," he said. 

"In fact, any effort of the regional countries should be aimed at stabilizing the situation with a view to ease the sufferings of the Afghan people," he stressed. 

PLA Air Force Becomes Strategic, to Display Latest Weapons, Achievements at Airshow

Latest equipment to debut at airshow

By Liu Xuanzun, Chi Jingyi and Deng Xiaoci

Aug 31, 2021 09:43 PM

China's J-20 stealth fighter jet displays its new coating of stealth material and flies over the exhibition hall at Airshow China 2018 on Tuesday. Photo: Cui Meng/GT

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force will display its latest achievements that have transformed the Chinese military into a strategic force on its way to becoming world class, at the Airshow China 2021, the service announced on Tuesday, with military observers predicting that the "20 family" aircraft, namely the J-20 fighter jet, Y-20 large transport aircraft and Z-20 utility helicopter, will likely again be in the spotlight but with new surprises.

The latest variant of the WS-10 Taihang turbofan engine will also be on display, event organizers said.

As a historic achievement, the Chinese Air Force has crossed the threshold to become a strategic air force, Senior Colonel Shen Jinke, spokesperson of the PLA Air Force, said on Tuesday at a media briefing for Airshow China.

The Air Force will display its latest achievements that have transformed it into a strategic force on its way to becoming world class, Shen said.

The Air Force is now capable of effectively carrying out duties and missions in the new era, with more J-20s and Y-20s entering service, domestically developed new-type surface-to-air missiles ready for combat, and the steady increase in capabilities for strategic early warning, aerial strike, air defense, anti-missile, information countermeasures, airborne combat, strategic transport and comprehensive support, Shen said.

In 2018, the Air Force announced a roadmap to become a strategic force by 2020, become modern by 2035 and become world class by the mid-21st century, the Xinhua News Agency reported. This means that 2021 is the first year since the Air Force has become strategic.

The PLA Air Force used to be a tactical force because it lacked advanced, large and long-range aircraft, but it has entered the realm of strategic force because it now operates strategic transport aircraft, mid-to-long-range strategic bombers and advanced fighter jets, supported by advanced drones and special mission aircraft like early warning aircraft, aerial tankers, electronic warfare aircraft and reconnaissance aircraft, Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

It not only has advanced equipment, but also a full system that makes it truly strategic, Fu said.

After being postponed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the airshow from September 28 to October 3 in Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong Province, will have a lot to offer, observers said.

The J-20 stealth fighter jet will likely again perform, and could make more daring moves, Fu said.

Some military enthusiasts also hope that more J-20 jets will participate in the airshow, and that the J-20 could make its first static display on the ground.

The Y-20 large transport aircraft will also likely reappear at the airshow, Fu said, noting that it would be a nice surprise if the aerial tanker variant of the Y-20 makes its debut.

While having made several public appearances since its debut at the National Day military parade on October 1, 2019 in Beijing, the Z-20 utility helicopter could make its first Airshow China appearance, Fu said.

Existing Z-20s are PLA Army versions, and it is widely believed that the helicopter will spawn variants for the Navy, the Air Force and other services, observers said.

There are bound to be more surprises, just like the flight performance of the J-10B thrust vector control demonstrator at the airshow in 2018, Fu said, noting that the only remaining member in the "20 family" that has yet to be unveiled, the rumored H-20 stealth strategic bomber, will unlikely make it.

In addition to equipment of the PLA Air Force, Chinese arms firms will also bring state-of-the-art exhibits covering land, maritime, aviation, aerospace and electronics available for export to the airshow, with many of them making debuts, including combat vehicles, underwater weapons, warplanes, aero engines, missiles, drones, and radars, the event organizers told the Global Times on Tuesday.

China North Industries Group Corporation Limited and China South Industries Group will bring hundreds of equipment that cover mobile assault, fire assault, unmanned systems, all-terrain mobile synthetic battalion system, individual combat equipment, wheeled fire attack equipment, terminal defense combat system, precision ammunition and civilian firearms, with many being new exhibits. Over 30 types of ground equipment, such as the combat tank VT4, the lightweight VT5, the 8x8 armored tank VN1, will perform a variety of tactical operations including slope climbing, water obstacles crossing, and snake-like maneuvers.

Making its debut at Airshow China under the new brand name, China State Shipbuilding Corporation Limited will bring 60 types of marine defense equipment and solutions at the show, including unmanned combat systems, underwater weapons and smart equipment.

Aviation Industry Corporation of China will display 149 pieces of independently developed aircraft equipment and technologies, more than 50 of which will be exhibited for the first time, including the first flight performance of the Wing Loong II drone, and Aero Engine Corporation of China will exhibit the latest variant of the WS-10 Taihang turbofan engine, which is mainly used by warplanes.

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation will put the M20A/B surface-to-surface missile weapon system and the LY-70 air defense missile weapon system on display for the first time, and China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation will display its capabilities covering air defense, coastal defense, ground attack, unmanned combat, early warning, surveillance and security, commercial space, and communication and support systems.

China Electronics Technology Group will cover electronic equipment, network system, industrial base, and network security, with about 500 exhibits featuring low/extra-low altitude defense system, radar system, strategic early warning system, advanced electronic components, integrated circuits, and special electronic materials, including 50 sets of large-sized equipment that will be installed for real display, while China Electronics Corporation will display more than 100 types of products in the field of network security, digital services, military electronics and other applications.

Airshow China has become a comprehensive defense exhibition that can meet all types of demands of a military, analysts said.

China's latest achievement in its outer space exploration, such as the Mars probe Tianwen-1, the Lunar probe Chang'e-5, the Constellation deployment of the BeiDou-3 Global navigation satellite system, the re-entry module of the new generation of manned spacecraft test ship, will also be highlighted at the airshow.

US Leaves Chaos, Destruction in Afghanistan

New beginning fraught with problems, uncertainty

By Liu Xin and Liu Caiyu

Global Times

Aug 31, 2021 02:07 PM

A CH-47 Chinook is loaded onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 28, 2021. (U.S. Central Command Public Affairs/Handout via Xinhua)

The US completed the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan on Monday before the deadline, officially ending 20 years of the US-led invasion to Afghanistan and leaving the war-torn country with an uncertain future. Leaving nothing but chaos and destruction in the country, the US has met triple debacles on counter-terrorism, democratic reform and global governance and the military withdrawal should not be the end of responsibility but the beginning of reflection for the US, analysts said on Tuesday. 

After the massive but disorganized and humiliating withdrawal, a US military C-17 carried the last American troops out of Afghanistan on Monday, marking the formal end to the longest war in US history. 

A photo, which was provided by the US Central Command, showed US Army Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue, the very last American service member in Afghanistan, to board the C-17 cargo plane, and has gone viral. Although the expression of the US serviceman could not be seen clearly, his desolate image - as some netizens described it - showcased the US' debacle and the embarrassing way the US has left.

While the completion of the withdrawal ending the US presence in Afghanistan, "the diplomatic mission to ensure additional US citizens and eligible Afghans who want to leave, continues," Kenneth McKenzie, commander of the US Central Command, announced during a news conference held by the Department of Defense on Monday. 

After 20 years of US and Western troops' occupation, Afghanistan has been returned to its people. Reuters reported that celebratory gunfire echoed across Kabul as Taliban fighters took control of the airport before dawn on Tuesday following the withdrawal of the last US troops. 

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen tweeted on Monday that "Tonight 12 midnight (Afghanistan time) the last American soldier left Afghanistan. Our country gained full independence."

However, with the exit of US and Western troops, the war-torn country is now facing bigger uncertainties with increasing concerns over in which direction the Afghan Taliban will lead the country. And also a more important question needs to be answered: what the US has left to the country over the past 20 years.  

Nothing but chaos, destruction 

The US has failed on fighting terrorism and promoting so-called "democratic reform" in Afghanistan, Zhu Yongbiao, director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies in Lanzhou University, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Zhu noted that for the past 20 years, the US has made Afghanistan an experimental base - to test weapons, counter-terrorism strategies and  "American-style democracy." It entered Afghanistan to take revenge for the terror attacks it received, not to help build the country. 

"It gave less care to casualties of Afghan civilians in military operations and strikes; and it remains indifferent to Afghanistan being the leading grower of opium and it even made profit from it. A war-torn country with tons of problems - this is the huge negative legacy the US has left to the region and the world," said Zhu. 

In the 20 years since September 11, 2001, the US has spent more than $2 trillion on the war in Afghanistan. That's $300 million dollars per day, every day, for two decades. There have been 2,500 US military deaths in Afghanistan. That pales next to the estimated 69,000 Afghan military police and 47,000 civilians killed, according to data from a Forbes report on August 16. 

Ironically, what happened at Kabul airport in the past few days was the epitome of the US' 20 years in Afghanistan - it claimed to fight terrorism, but ran away amid terrorist attacks. It came to plant so-called "democracy" and its value and social systems in Afghanistan, but the Afghan Taliban which the US drove away 20 years ago, return to power, Zhu noted. 

The US paid a heavy price in Afghanistan and if the US has made some achievements on social development in Afghanistan, the achievements were actually made by the efforts of the international community with the Afghan people, the expert said. 

Zhu Weilie, director of the Middle East Studies Institute of the Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times that US interference in Afghanistan and its failures on crisis management and governance reflects its failure in the field of traditional security. 

The US' occupation of Afghanistan has become the indelible stain on its history. The international community, especially US allies, has a better understanding on how unreliable, untrustworthy and incapable the US is in terms of handling global affairs, Zhu Weilie said.

Afghanistan's recent chaos is directly related to the hasty and disorderly withdrawal of foreign troops. But withdrawal is not the end of responsibility but the beginning of reflection and correction, Geng Shuang, China's deputy permanent representative to the UN, said as the UN Security Council voted on a draft resolution on Afghanistan on Monday, urging relevant countries to draw lessons from the past.

"The US does need a thorough reflection both on the domestic new conservatism in the US and interference in regional disputes," Wang Jin, an associate professor at the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies of Northwest University, told the Global Times. 

Wang noted that with the end of military occupation, the US will play a part in the future Afghan situation by influencing the building of an inclusive government as the Afghan Taliban have promised, negotiating with the Taliban on whether to accept Afghanistan to the UN and paying attention to the human rights issues in Afghanistan, including the education of women. 

"The military's phase of this operation has ended ... The diplomatic sequel to that will now begin," McKenzie said at the Monday press conference. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted on Monday that the US has transferred operations to Doha, Qatar. "For the time being, we will use this post in Doha to manage our diplomacy with Afghanistan."

New beginning 

While US officials are racking their brains to find fancy words to sugar-coat the US debacle, the Afghan Taliban are celebrating their victory. The Taliban's top spokesman congratulated Afghans on their victory on Tuesday, hours after the last US troops left the country. "Congratulations to Afghanistan... This victory belongs to us all," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said from the runway of Kabul airport, AFP reported. 

Afghanistan has broken free from foreign military occupation and the Afghan people are standing at a new starting point for peace and reconstruction, Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of China's Foreign Ministry, said at a routine press conference on Tuesday.

The Chinese spokesperson also reiterated China's principles of respecting Afghanistan's sovereignty, not interfering with its domestic affairs and pursuing a friendly policy toward the entire Afghan people.

After the US and Western troops' exit, challenges remain for the Taliban on how to rebuild the country. For example, how to prevent conflicts within, how to deal with terrorist attacks, and how to get recognition from the international community. More importantly, fixing its economy is also crucial, Zhu Yongbiao said. 

Wang Jin said that Afghanistan faces anarchy with the building of the government under negotiations and many conflicts. Some political forces in Afghanistan are trying to challenge the Taliban's control like the militant group in the Panjshir Province and the Islamic State's Khorasan branch in Afghanistan's Nangarhar Province.

The Taliban also have to deal with more than 300,000 militants from the former government as they could have turned into civilians but may emerge as rioters or robbers once they have their guns back, Wang Jin noted. 

During a recent interview with the South China Morning Post's This Week in Asia, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said, "China, our great neighboring country, can have a constructive and positive role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and also in the economic development and prosperity of the people of Afghanistan. It is expected [that] China [will] play its role."

Afghanistan needs assistance from the international community. Any single country is unable to help it. Considering the uncertainties, China's big companies are reluctant to invest in the country and projects that may have China's investment may not be able to take effect in a short time, Zhu Yongbiao noted. 

Neighboring countries and the international community are taking a wait-and-see attitude on whether the Afghan Taliban could fulfill its promises and what actions it will take. So will China, Zhu Yongbiao said. 

Wang Jin said that the Afghan Taliban hope to get assistance from regional countries, including China, Russia, Pakistan and Turkey. Instead of dominating over Afghan issues, China will stick to a positive and active role to help with its rebuilding and draw the red line for the Taliban on not offering shelter for or conniving with terrorists. 

Zhu Weilie noted that the international community should take action to encourage the Taliban to fulfill its promise instead of oppressing it. He noted that the UN resolution on Monday, which China and Russia abstained on, also showed the US' intention to exert pressure on Afghanistan through UN platforms and revealed its hegemonic intention to interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.

Fantasy for US Elites to Drag in China and Russia on Afghan Refugee Issue

By Wang Wenwen

Aug 31, 2021 09:48 PM

Global Times

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

With its last remaining troops leaving Afghanistan, the US had brought to an end its 20-year war in the country. The war not only leaves a big mess to war-torn Afghanistan, but also deals a heavy blow to the reputation of the US. Still, some US elites try to glorify what the US has done while at the same time discredit US adversaries, namely China and Russia. 

In a Twitter post, US political scientist Ian Bremmer touted that "Almost 100 govts have pledged support in facilitating the free travel of Afghans that have worked with them or that are considered to be at risk (not participating: China, Russia)."

What he referred to was a statement signed on August 29 by the US and 97 other countries which pledged to ensure Afghans to travel freely to destinations outside Afghanistan and issue travel documents to designated Afghans.  

Compared to the chaos and misery the US has brought to Afghanistan and its people, facilitating the free travel of Afghans is the least the US should do, rather than something that is worth touting about. While the US ensures Afghans to travel freely to other countries, the number of Afghan refugees the US has received is only a drop in the ocean. 

According to US media reports, the US plans to accept about 50,000 Afghan refugees. Nonetheless, prior to the current crisis, at least 3.5 million Afghans remained uprooted within Afghanistan because of violence, political unrest, and lack of economic opportunity - a result of the long-term war waged by the US. The countries that accepted the most number of Afghan refugees are Afghanistan's neighbors - Pakistan and Iran. 

According to a UNHCR chart in 2020, 85 percent of a total of 2.6 million Afghan refugees abroad can be found in Iran and Pakistan, while the US held only 2,000. The number of Afghan refugees the US accepted was only about one-thousandth that Pakistan received.

The US has all the reasons to accept the most Afghan refugees, as it is the culprit of the Afghan war. But even if the US accepts Afghan refugees, it cannot make up for the suffering of the Afghan people, let alone what the US is actually willing to do is very limited. For some US politicians, Afghan refugees are just a burden. Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, recently tweeted the US "should rescue Afghans who've assisted the US military, but they should go to a neutral & safe third country." Republican Matt Rosendale of Montana said the chaos in Afghanistan should not be "an excuse to flood" the US with refugees. 

Asking China and Russia to clean the mess created by the US in Afghanistan is beyond ridiculous. How could US elites have the nerve the raise it up? Russia said it will render civil aviation services for the evacuation of Afghan nationals seeking asylum elsewhere. China has also called on all sides to guide the Taliban actively and try to engage in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Aren't these responsible responses? 

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan has become the laughing stock of the world. But it seems that the US and its elites think it had done something noble. US elites tend to assume all countries should follow the US lead or even make up for US mistakes, but they ignore the fact that there are countries which have made contributions in their own way. Years of wars the US waged in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan have generated huge numbers of refugees, but the way China engages with other countries - by promoting win-win principles and through infrastructure building for the welfare of local people - will never create refugees.

Song Luzheng, a research fellow at the China Institute of Shanghai-based Fudan University, told the Global Times that there are three reasons why US elites are dragging China and Russia into the mud. 

"First, they want the two countries to bear the consequence of the failed US policy in Afghanistan. Second, they want to exploit the refugee issue as a hook to trap China and Russia into the 'graveyard of empires.' Third, they could place the two in a moral predicament and take the opportunity to attack them as irresponsible major powers," said Song.

"Even now, the US and its elites are calculating their own gains on the Afghan issue," Song noted.

GT Voice: Taliban’s Drugs Ban Hinges on Regional Cooperation

Taliban’s drugs ban hinges on regional cooperation

By Global Times

Aug 31, 2021 08:28 PM

US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch as troops move a case containing the remains of Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California, during a casualty return on Sunday, at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. According to the Department of Defense, Nikoui died in an attack at Afghanistan's Kabul airport, along with 12 other US service members. Photo: AP

Despite the cold water poured by the Western media, the Taliban's pledge to ban drugs in Afghanistan may actually rest on its cooperation with other regional countries, in cracking down on drug trafficking activities and seeking to invest on alternative industries to provide jobs for ordinary Afghans. 

Ever since Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid promised at a recent press conference that the next Afghan government would not allow any narcotics production and trade, some Western media outlets have been eager to highlight how difficult it will be for the Taliban to deliver on its anti-drug promise.

According to a report published by the Washington Post, Afghanistan's production of opium had flourished after the 2001 US-led invasion. Despite US-backed eradication efforts estimated to cost $9 billion over the past two decades, the country's opium production peaked at an estimated 9,000 tons in 2017.

Given the fact that a good number of Afghan farmers depend on opium cultivation to earn a living, it is indeed not an easy for the Taliban to ban drugs in the country. But Western media claims that because the US didn't eradicate drugs in Afghanistan, neither can the Taliban, is a clear indication of the West's narrow-minded attitude toward the reconstruction of the Afghan economy.

The US has stumbled on its own misjudgment over Afghanistan, and it clearly doesn't want to see any improvement in the country that will only make its debacle there look even more incompetent. Such mindset might also explain why the US rushed to freeze funds belonging to the Afghan central bank. 

Politicians in Washington believe that economic sanctions against one of the world's least developed countries may help the US regain some face over their Afghanistan pullout chaos and embarrassment, but it is another reminder of the untrustworthiness and selfishness of Washington's political elite.

The Taliban's anti-drug effort may not succeed without vigorously developing battered Afghan economy to explore more sources of national wealth, which requires international economic cooperation to propel the country's reconstruction after the 20-year-long war. 

Cooperation between regional neighbors should play a major part in assisting Afghanistan's economy to develop rapidly, because Afghanistan's political and economic stability is closely linked to the interests of its neighboring countries. For instance, if the Taliban cannot find alternative industries to sustain a stable flow of revenues, it won't be able to wean itself off opium production and drug trafficking. And, the US and its allies have inescapable responsibility to help Afghanistan to get ride off drugs trade.

It should be noted that the fight against the illicit drug trade requires concerted efforts from all neighboring countries, and guided by the UN.

Russia, China Should Communicate with New Afghan Authorities Independently from US: Russian Scholar

By Global Times

Aug 31, 2021 11:07 PM

Editor's Note: As the curtain of the US' 20-year war in Afghanistan finally falls with the last US troops leaving the country, some observers noted the withdrawal, ugly as it looks, frees the US from a costly distraction to focus on its primary rivals - China and Russia. Meanwhile, the US did not cease sowing discord between Beijing and Moscow. How should China and Russia deal with and cooperate on the Afghan issue? What changes may take place in the China-Russia-US triangle in the years to come? Alexander V. Lomanov (Lomanov), deputy director for Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow), shared his views with Global Times (GT) reporter Li Aixin. 

GT: The US has evacuated from Afghanistan in haste. Although some critics, including some from the US, call it a chaotic "defeat," some also point out that US strategic contraction in the Middle East is aimed at shoring up core strengths to focus on China and Russia. What is your take?

Lomanov: While American troops were in Afghanistan, they were stationed very close to Western China and the post-Soviet republics of Central Asia. After the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the American presence in this important region will decrease, not increase.

What happened in Afghanistan was a defeat for the US, but this defeat has little to do with military might. The "soft power" of the US suffered the most. In the 1970s and 80s, during the Cold War, an important moral argument in the hands of the US was the economic prosperity of Germany and Japan. Both countries were defeated in the World War II and occupied by American troops. Their example demonstrated that the US did not seek to keep the former enemy poor and weak forever. 

Moreover, an alliance with America provided them with an opportunity to gain economic wealth and political democracy. Now this is no more than a closed page from a history textbook, and not and appealing example from real life. The Western invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have not made these countries more prosperous and more developed. The US has demonstrated to the whole world that it can easily destroy a small state that it does not like, but it is not able to re-build a new prosperous country from its ruins.

This awareness is very important not only for average third world countries, but also for Russia and China. The events in Afghanistan have finally deconstructed the myth about the ability of the US to act benevolently by imposing a more effective and progressive state structure on another country. The US attempts to "take care" of others over and over again end in a large-scale catastrophe. Russia and China need to move toward the future along their own paths and never allow external forces to dictate them the course of development.

GT: The security situation in Afghanistan affects the regional situation, including the security of China and Russia. How do you think China and Russia cooperate can in terms of the situation in Afghanistan?

Lomanov: At present, it is most reasonable to follow the wisdom of Confucius - "listen to their words, look at their deeds." The ability of the new Afghan authorities to carry out the tasks of public governance is not yet clear, their domestic and foreign policy is far from being certain. However, we should not be passive and indifferent. Russia and China should communicate with the new Afghan authorities in order to independently listen to their words, and look at their deeds by own eyes. We should not trust too much what the West tells and will tell about the situation in Afghanistan. There will be a lot of confusion, emotions, self-justifications and outright lies in Western reports.

The Afghan people will be able to embark on the path of sustainable development only if this choice is made independently. The stabilization of the situation can create a precious chance to develop a national consensus within Afghanistan, to end a long domestic conflict and to start peaceful construction. Russia and China understand the value of peace and development. However, they also understand that the policy of peace and development cannot be imposed from the outside. The West is already trying to talk to Afghanistan in the language of political blackmail, threatening to take away Afghan state money held in foreign banks and stop the delivery of humanitarian aid. For Russia and China, such a language is equally unacceptable when communicating with other countries.

GT: In your recent interview, you mentioned that the Russia, China joint military drills defy Western expectations that there will never be close cooperation between Beijing and Moscow. In your opinion, in addition to military exercises, what other "close cooperation" between the two have taken place? Why else will be carried out between China and Russia going forward?

Lomanov: In the past twenty years since the signing of the Russia-China Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation, our bilateral relations have been continuously developing. Now we have an opportunity to use this basis to upgrade our bilateral cooperation to a qualitatively new level. New areas of scientific and technical cooperation are emerging, including future-oriented plans of joint space exploration. We need to use precious capital of mutual political trust to intensify trade and investment cooperation, reduce barriers of entering the partner country's market, adapt our economic interaction to the Chinese strategy of "dual circulation."

It is very important to promote dialogue and cooperation between the intellectual elites of the two countries. On the one hand, we are grateful to President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping for their great efforts to develop friendship and cooperation between Russia and China, both leaders have created and accumulated a significant amount of capital of mutual political trust. On the other hand, one can often hear regrets that in our bilateral relations it is "hot at the top, cold at the bottom" - that is, active contacts between political elites still do not affect the broad masses of the people. This observation is justified, but in order to expand the grass-root base of bilateral cooperation, it is first of all necessary to involve the economic and intellectual elites of both countries.

We should admit that the intellectual elites of Russia and China are still adjusting to the new international situation. They have never been opposed to Russian-Chinese cooperation, but their priorities were previously placed beyond its framework. The dream of Russian intellectuals of the late twentieth century about joining the "common European house" did not materialize. The dream of the Chinese educated class of a stable, equal and mutually respectful partnership with the US has also become a story of the past. Now it is time to turn to each other to conduct deep and meaningful dialogue. 

Experts from both sides need to learn about the partner country directly, and not through Western English-language media, where the image of Russia and China is distorted beyond recognition. The former improper trust in Western publications about Russia or China is becoming dangerous, since uncritical assimilation of the theses of Western propaganda can lead to erroneous judgments and miscalculations in our mutual assessments and planning. As a practical step, we can think about declaring a Year of Cooperation between Think Tanks of Russia and China following the Years of Scientific, Technical and Innovative Cooperation. That will help attract additional attention and resources to establishing direct and profound cooperation between intellectual elites of Russia and China.

GT: In early August, the US kick-started two "large-scale" military exercises, LSE2021 and LSGE21. Some observers said the drills intended to demonstrate that the US can simultaneously confront China and Russia. Do you think the US can simultaneously confront China and Russia, militarily or geopolitically? 

Lomanov: The US military power has been huge for many decades, and no one ignores it. The US military budget significantly exceeds the military budgets of Russia and China. This is remembered clearly both in Russia and in China. 

On the other hand, the scenario of a simultaneous conflict between the US and Russia and China is speculative, since in case of such development the world will immediately be on the verge of a full-scale nuclear war. American military exercises were indeed demonstrative, but this demonstration was intended primarily for US allies. As the US talks more and more about its desire to contain China by military means, US allies in Europe are increasingly afraid of losing American support in their confrontation with Russia.

Washington understands it and therefore seeks to convince its allies that they can afford to offend the interests of both Russia and China without fearing about consequences. The West uses the tools of NATO and the QUAD, along with the slogans of a broad "democratic alliance" to create new frontiers of global confrontation. The US hopes that Russia and China will have an ever-increasing number of adversaries that will divert the forces and resources of our nations away from the needs of domestic development. Taiwan will be used against China again and again, and political elites of Eastern Europe will continue to perpetuate their anti-Russian policy. In exchange for participation in the confrontation, they will get more US military assistance and new promises of economic support. Therefore, Russia and China have common tasks in the outside world - we should to build bridges of friendship instead of erecting new walls of discord, and have more and more friends and like-minded supporters.

GT: Some analysts suggest that the Biden administration may take measures to ease tensions with Russia in order to concentrate on dealing with China. What is your take on this? Will this strategy alienate Russia from China and draw it closer to the US?

Lomanov: This is not the only possible scenario for the implementation of the American divide and rule strategy. Some experts are discussing the prospects of new "big deal" between China and the US, as a result of which the US would stop attacking the Chinese political system and abandon military pressure on China on its near borders in exchange for indisputable recognition by China of American leadership in the world order. 

However, the US does not want equal partnership relations with either Russia or China. American experts routinely discuss the prospects of inducing a split in Russia-China relations using methods of psychological warfare and propaganda. They are not talking about the complete lifting of unfair sanctions, nor to mention about the rejection of the hegemonic policy.

An article published recently on the Foreign Affairs website by influential international relations expert Charles Kupchan on how the US could most effectively split Russia and China should be of great interest to both Russian and Chinese analysts. The US intends to constantly remind Russia that China's power is much greater to fan psychological inferiority complex, and to inflame Russian suspicions about China's presence in Central Asia and the Arctic. Special attention should be paid to the advice of an American expert to start immediately sowing the seeds of discord between Russia and China among the young generation of Russian bureaucrats. 

This is a good reminder to us that the future belongs to young people, and that the slogan of passing the tradition of friendship between Russia and China from one generation to another should not be empty and formal. Our friendship is not a propaganda cliché, but a guarantee of a peaceful future and economic prosperity of both countries. There is no doubt that the American side will try sow the seeds of discord on the Chinese side with no less zeal, supporting inside China in every possible way the forces of blind nationalism that looks with superiority at all other countries. We must find the common strength to resist irrational emotions that an external force wants ignite in our societies.

After Disgraceful Afghan Retreat, Will US Do Well in Western Pacific?: Global Times Editorial

By Global Times

Aug 31, 2021 09:23 PM

Illustration: Liu Rui/Global Times

The photo of the last US soldier leaving Kabul airport in the dark has gone viral across the world. With sensational words, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin described this humiliating rout as a great evacuation, expressing a sense of solemn and stirring "pride."

Austin's sensationalism is disgusting. The US could have avoided today's retreat had it not launched the stupid invasion 20 years ago. If the US had even a little judgment and strategy, it would not have been so embarrassed even in its retreat. What Washington needs is the courage to reflect on its mistakes and learn a lesson. However, US officials are touched by themselves, once again, and they are trying to show that even their mistakes and crimes look so noble.

Such a despicable attitude toward mistakes makes people worried.  Withdrawing troops from Afghanistan does not mean the US is refraining from releasing its destructive power in the modern world. It is a turning point instead, showing that the US will find the next target to do evil. Such evildoing is low-end in US politics: No US president or any senior official has been held accountable for wrongly launching the war in Afghanistan. The war has long been seen as a mistake, but there has always been a lot of fancy rhetoric whitewashing it all the time.

The US cannot conquer Afghanistan, nor can it remold Afghanistan. During the heyday of the US, the George W. Bush administration had a presumptuous plan of setting a "democratic model" in the Greater Middle East, but the plan failed from Iraq to Afghanistan. However, some US elites now hold the fantasy of using the resources withdrawn from Afghanistan to contain China. They want to come up with a more ambitious plan to stop the process of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and to change China's future.

It seems Washington remembers nothing but its good old days. The US has achieved the transformation of fascist Germany and militaristic Japan through the overthrow of the regime, military occupation, constitutional reform and implementing constitutionalism. Therefore, the US was convinced that it can replicate its previous successes in Afghanistan and Iraq. By group confrontation and comprehensive containment, the US brought down the Soviet Union and won the Cold War. The US believes that it can revive its old dream and bring China to its knees in a new cold war.

The world has watched clearly when the US made a fool of itself in Afghanistan over the past two weeks. While the world criticizes the Biden administration, the Chinese people need to concentrate on its own issues as soon as possible. We should prepare for Washington's new round of moves in the Western Pacific due to its imperial ambitions and "hyperactivity."

The US is ready to engage in a full-scale geopolitical competition with China, but it is clear that most of Washington's moves are merely bluster without substance. What the US fears most is China's ability to develop continuously. China's economic power is gradually catching up with that of the US and will even surpass it, while China's military power is becoming stronger and stronger to defy the latter's intimidation. These momentums of China have formed a trend to disintegrate US global hegemony. Washington has been dreaming that China would lose its development momentum, while the US obtains China's development dynamics.

However, China's future depends on its own efforts. This will give us the great initiative to maintain China's self-development momentum. No matter how the US deploys its troops, it will be, to a large extent, useless as long as China maintains its well-functioning internal mechanisms. Maintaining such strategic awareness and confidence is decisive for us to win the game with the US. 

Therefore, China should pay attention to the shift in US strategic focus, but there is no need to be terrified by it. The impatient and impetuous US political elites think that playing the strategic and geopolitical game is everything. What they lack is patience and resilience at the operational level. The US system cannot provide the long-term support needed for a complex struggle. The US will lose as long as we are fighting in a protracted war and we transform the strategic game into a tactical entanglement and consumption.

Let the US make all the adjustments and arrangements, and arouse people's sentiment. China is accelerating the construction of its defense capacity. It is succeeding in the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic. It is stopping monopolies and solving the involution in the country's basic education. In general, China is strengthening its competitiveness in all aspects. And it will use its strength in all spots needed in the competition with the US, be it the knife's edge, or the hand, the arm, the entire body that holds the weapon. 

The US, which has made such a fool of itself in Afghanistan, can never hold or defend the banner of justice in the Western Pacific or have the situation well in hand there. The US attempt, out of its hegemonic selfishness, to block 1.4 billion Chinese people from realizing national rejuvenation will inevitably suffer greater failure. The US will learn a profound lesson, which may come in way less than 20 years. 

Monday, August 30, 2021

Last Troops Exit Afghanistan, Ending America’s Longest War


In this image made through a night vision scope and provided by U.S. Central Command, Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue, commander of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division, XVIII Airborne Corps, boards a C-17 cargo plane at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, as the final American service member to depart Afghanistan. (U.S. Central Command via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan late Monday, ending America’s longest war and closing a chapter in military history likely to be remembered for colossal failures, unfulfilled promises and a frantic final exit that cost the lives of more than 180 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members, some barely older than the war.

Hours ahead of President Joe Biden’s Tuesday deadline for shutting down a final airlift, and thus ending the U.S. war, Air Force transport planes carried a remaining contingent of troops from Kabul airport. Thousands of troops had spent a harrowing two weeks protecting the airlift of tens of thousands of Afghans, Americans and others seeking to escape a country once again ruled by Taliban militants.

In announcing the completion of the evacuation and war effort. Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, said the last planes took off from Kabul airport at 3:29 p.m. Washington time, or one minute before midnight in Kabul. He said a number of American citizens, likely numbering in “the very low hundreds,” were left behind, and that he believes they will still be able to leave the country.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken put the number of Americans left behind at under 200, “likely closer to 100,” and said the State Department would keep working to get them out. He praised the military-led evacuation as heroic and historic and said the U.S. diplomatic presence would shift to Doha, Qatar.

Biden said military commanders unanimously favored ending the airlift, not extending it. He said he asked Blinken to coordinate with international partners in holding the Taliban to their promise of safe passage for Americans and others who want to leave in the days ahead.

The airport had become a U.S.-controlled island, a last stand in a 20-year war that claimed more than 2,400 American lives.

The closing hours of the evacuation were marked by extraordinary drama. American troops faced the daunting task of getting final evacuees onto planes while also getting themselves and some of their equipment out, even as they monitored repeated threats — and at least two actual attacks — by the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate. A suicide bombing on Aug. 26 killed 13 American service members and some 169 Afghans.

The final pullout fulfilled Biden’s pledge to end what he called a “forever war” that began in response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington and rural Pennsylvania. His decision, announced in April, reflected a national weariness of the Afghanistan conflict. Now he faces criticism at home and abroad, not so much for ending the war as for his handling of a final evacuation that unfolded in chaos and raised doubts about U.S. credibility.

The U.S. war effort at times seemed to grind on with no endgame in mind, little hope for victory and minimal care by Congress for the way tens of billions of dollars were spent for two decades. The human cost piled up — tens of thousands of Americans injured in addition to the dead.

More than 1,100 troops from coalition countries and more than 100,000 Afghan forces and civilians died, according to Brown University’s Costs of War project.

In Biden’s view the war could have ended 10 years ago with the U.S. killing of Osama bin Laden, whose al-Qaida extremist network planned and executed the 9/11 plot from an Afghanistan sanctuary. Al-Qaida has been vastly diminished, preventing it thus far from again attacking the United States.

Congressional committees, whose interest in the war waned over the years, are expected to hold public hearings on what went wrong in the final months of the U.S. withdrawal. Why, for example, did the administration not begin earlier the evacuation of American citizens as well as Afghans who had helped the U.S. war effort and felt vulnerable to retribution by the Taliban?

It was not supposed to end this way. The administration’s plan, after declaring its intention to withdraw all combat troops, was to keep the U.S. Embassy in Kabul open, protected by a force of about 650 U.S. troops, including a contingent that would secure the airport along with partner countries. Washington planned to give the now-defunct Afghan government billions more to prop up its army.

Biden now faces doubts about his plan to prevent al-Qaida from regenerating in Afghanistan and of suppressing threats posed by other extremist groups such as the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate. The Taliban are enemies of the Islamic State group but retain links to a diminished al-Qaida.

The final U.S. exit included the withdrawal of its diplomats, although the State Department has left open the possibility of resuming some level of diplomacy with the Taliban depending on how they conduct themselves in establishing a government and adhering to international pleas for the protection of human rights.

The speed with which the Taliban captured Kabul on Aug. 15 caught the Biden administration by surprise. It forced the U.S. to empty its embassy and frantically accelerate an evacuation effort that featured an extraordinary airlift executed mainly by the U.S. Air Force, with American ground forces protecting the airfield. The airlift began in such chaos that a number of Afghans died on the airfield, including at least one who attempted to cling to the airframe of a C-17 transport plane as it sped down the runway.

By the evacuation’s conclusion, well over 100,000 people, mostly Afghans, had been flown to safety. The dangers of carrying out such a mission came into tragic focus last week when the suicide bomber struck outside an airport gate.

Speaking shortly after that attack, Biden stuck to his view that ending the war was the right move. He said it was past time for the United States to focus on threats emanating from elsewhere in the world.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “it was time to end a 20-year war.”

The war’s start was an echo of a promise President George W. Bush made while standing atop of the rubble in New York City three days after hijacked airliners slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

“The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!” he declared through a bullhorn.

Less than a month later, on Oct. 7, Bush launched the war. The Taliban’s forces were overwhelmed and Kabul fell in a matter of weeks. A U.S.-installed government led by Hamid Karzai took over and bin Laden and his al-Qaida cohort escaped across the border into Pakistan.

The initial plan was to extinguish bin Laden’s al-Qaida, which had used Afghanistan as a staging base for its attack on the United States. The grander ambition was to fight a “Global War on Terrorism” based on the belief that military force could somehow defeat Islamic extremism. Afghanistan was but the first round of that fight. Bush chose to make Iraq the next, invading in 2003 and getting mired in an even deadlier conflict that made Afghanistan a secondary priority until Barack Obama assumed the White House in 2009 and later that year decided to escalate in Afghanistan.

Obama pushed U.S. troop levels to 100,000, but the war dragged on though bin Laden was killed in Pakistan in 2011.

When Donald Trump entered the White House in 2017 he wanted to withdraw from Afghanistan but was persuaded not only to stay but to add several thousand U.S. troops and escalate attacks on the Taliban. Two years later his administration was looking for a deal with the Taliban, and in February 2020 the two sides signed an agreement that called for a complete U.S. withdrawal by May 2021. In exchange, the Taliban made a number of promises including a pledge not to attack U.S. troops.

Biden weighed advice from members of his national security team who argued for retaining the 2,500 troops who were in Afghanistan by the time he took office in January. But in mid-April he announced his decision to fully withdraw.

The Taliban pushed an offensive that by early August toppled key cities, including provincial capitals. The Afghan army largely collapsed, sometimes surrendering rather than taking a final stand, and shortly after President Ashraf Ghani fled the capital, the Taliban rolled into Kabul and assumed control on Aug. 15.

Some parts of the country modernized during the U.S. war years, and life for many Afghans, especially women and girls, improved measurably. But Afghanistan remains a tragedy, poor, unstable and with many of its people fearing a return to the brutality the country endured when the Taliban ruled from 1996 to 2001.

The U.S. failures were numerous. It degraded but never defeated the Taliban and ultimately failed to build an Afghan military that could hold off the insurgents, despite $83 billion in U.S. spending to train and equip the army.