Umm Muhammed Umar
Scott Lucas, founding editor of EA Worldview, a professor at University of Birmingham, in the United Kingdom, spoke to Radio Islam about some of the significant events that have taken place in the last few weeks.
Touching on the developments in Afghanistan, Lucas said that many of the stories, might be just out of the capital Kabul or out of the eastern city of Jalalabad when Afghanistan is a big country. He said that beyond that, it would probably be wise to keep an eye on say two levels, the first of which was if the Taliban was even able at this point to form a government. He said, “Now they have finally, after weeks, named certain ministers, but there’s actually a division within the Taliban, between a faction which includes a group called the Haqqani Network, which have been based out of Pakistan, and the group which had been negotiating in the Gulf, in the political talks until recently, led by Mullah Baradar.” He added, “So, it’s not even a question of what the Taliban are going to do yet economically or socially in a national way because they really haven’t yet established authority.” Lucas said that while there are people who welcomed the Taliban, there is also a lot of fear, and concern. He said that it was yet to be seen whether the Taliban government would try to be more inclusive of all Afghans.
Moving on to the Australia – UK – US deal for nuclear powered submarines, Lucas said nuclear sharing and military sharing was not new. He said that the alliance between these three countries may be an old form of alliance which is obsolete and even counterproductive – the other Asian allies, Indonesia, and Malaysia have opposed this, and Japan has called upon Europe, to work with it, feeling it’s been isolated by the Anglo-Saxon powers. South Korea also seems bewildered. The effect on the US with its European allies is also significant, because the three countries had not even informed the French, who had the submarine contract with Australia, worth $66 billion. Lucas said that with the French, it is not just a question of them feeling snubbed – there is the very real possibility of a European Defence bloc being established for the first time since the 1940s that is not just following the United States. It was signalled last week by the European Union head. He said, “We could be entering a 21st century world which is very different from the alliances and connections that we had in the 20th century, until recently.”
Russian elections concluded over the course of the weekend with opponents accusing Russian authorities of mass fraud. Lucas called it a ‘managed’ election, saying, “You don’t have to look at the reports in the last 24 hours, and especially in recent weeks, opposition parties have been shut out of the elections, not allowed to participate. There’s been a clamp down on social media. Even Apple and Google were threatened by the Kremlin, to block certain apps before the election.” These were apps that apparently simply said which candidates were running and in which areas. Lucas said that there was extensive evidence of ballot stuffing and massaging the figures. He emphasized that that did not mean that Vladimir Putin and his United Russia party had no support, and that they quite likely would have won the most votes. He did, however add that Putin was trying to set up a system where he would lead up until 2026. Lucas said that although there was still an opposition in Russia, it would not be seen through the elections, but as they try to make efforts, despite the social media clampdown, to say, ‘we’re still here’. In Russia, it’s not just a political issue. The Russian economic system is extremely weak, and is now effectively a kleptocracy, which benefits the few rather than the many, according to Lucas.