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By Saeed Naqvi
Two parallel peace processes on Afghanistan are underway. In Doha, Zalmay Khalilzad, US Special Representative for Afghanistan, has held extensive round of talks with Taliban leaders, spread over several days last month. The authorship of this process is, quite jealously, America’s. But on February 5 and 6, Taliban and other Afghan political groups also met in Moscow. A roadmap for the future, titled the Moscow Declaration, was announced. Among its nine points is one which also suggests coordination with the Doha process – there is no jealous guarding of ownership of the peace process here. Anyone interested in peace is the joint author. The Declaration was immediately rubbished by the Presidential Palace in Kabul.”Moscow declaration will not have impact on the peace process in Afghanistan,” said palace spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri.
There are, meanwhile, doubts in many capitals on whether the US is truly contemplating total withdrawal. To some extent these doubts are a function of Donald Trump’s confusing statements and tweets. Take his recent statement in Iraq. His troops in Iraq will enable him “to keep a check on Iran”, something way outside the US-Iraq agreement. In Afghanistan too, while Khalilzad is ploughing the furrow promising one kind of crop, his President makes a totally confusing statement. Trump says he will leave behind in Afghanistan “intelligence elements”. How many?
I have Russian estimates of five years ago. They may have changed, but in those days the Russians were convinced of 30 US bases in Afghanistan.
Of these, the ones at Bagram, Jalalabad, Kandahar, Helmand, Shindand (Herat) and Mazar-e-Sharif were, by the sheer volume of masonry and architecture, not temporary. These bases will remain. Are we then talking about a qualified departure?
If the US is actually planning departure, why would it build a consulate in the heart of Mazar-e-Sharif on a scale which would dwarf large embassies? Renaissance is the only reasonable hotel in Mazar-e-Sharif.
It does not take long for great powers to develop more than one point of interest once they have entered an area of strategic significance. It would therefore be fanciful to imagine an America-free Afghanistan in the foreseeable future. “All this blood and treasure was spent for what?” some Americans will ask. Also the chant in Kabul once was “We must remain in the vicinity to keep a watch on the world’s only Muslim nuclear state.”
After Obama announced in a speech delivered on December 1, 2009 US intention to leave Afghanistan in July 2011, I had argued in a paper for the Observer Research Foundation that Americans can simply not leave Afghanistan. I have been proved right so far. And now once again the “We are leaving” story has been let loose. True, this time the circumstances are different, but let us take a look.
Last July, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Morgulov Igor Vladimirovich, Russia’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, (who was behind the scene in the Intra-Afghan dialogue in Moscow on February 5 and 6) attended a high-power meet in New Delhi on Regional Issues.
In a more cooperative world order, one would have expected the representatives of the US and Russia to exchange notes on Afghanistan. What transpired was to the contrary. Vladimirovich made an allegation that startled the gathering. “ISIS fighters were being flown to Northern Afghanistan” from Syria. The Afghan air space is under the control of the US and the government in Kabul. “So, who is responsible?” Khalilzad offered a tepid denial. The denial lacked credibility because the Russian allegation had been preceded by another made by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatullah Khamenei. In the course of his Friday address in January 30, 2018. Khamenei said: “The US transfer of IS terrorists to Afghanistan is aimed at creating a justification for its (US’) continued presence in the region.”
In countries surrounding Afghanistan, doubts about American intentions may be more muted but are quite as strong. It is deeply ironical that Jehadism, terrorism and Islamism manufactured in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets in the 80s may be returning to complete the circle. Indeed, there is a certain inevitability about Islamic militancy becoming a tool of American foreign policy. The triangular romance between Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh will ensure this state of affairs for as long as this romance lasts.
Let me explain the inevitability. When Animal Rights groups forced the famous annual fox hunt to stop in South India’s most Anglaise hill station, Ooty, I expressed my curiosity to the master of the Hunt: “What have you done to the hundreds of hounds of high pedigree trained diligently for the Hunt.” The lovely canines had been transferred to an expensive kennel from where dog lovers could acquire them.
So now we know what to do with redundant foxhounds of high pedigree. But what does a state like Saudi Arabia do with spare Islamic militants who have been heavily equipped and trained to kill at the cost of billions? They can only be relocated to newer theatres of conflict like Afghanistan. From here they can plague all the countries the US wishes to destabilize – Xinxiang in China, the Caucasus in Russia, Iran and Pakistan too if it does not behave according to the US diktat.
To make confusion worse confounded, Erik Prince, founder of the world’s biggest mercenary military company, which has mutated from Blackwater to Academi and Triple Canopy, is back in Afghanistan floating the idea of US troops to be replaced by Prince’s mercenary army. His plan that Afghanistan be administered by a “Viceroy” was shot down by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Defence Secretary James Mattis. After the two were shown the door, Prince has been all over Afghanistan again in and Khalilzad’s notice. The only person who has refused to meet him in Kabul is President Ghani. (IANS)
The Reformation in England is notorious for the religious impact it had on the countries of the world, and the current ongoing dispute among the various factions of Catholicism and Protestantism. Three Blind Mice, a rhyme that emerged in 1609, roughly a few years after the death of Queen Elizabeth I, is somewhat a dark reminder of the Dark Ages.
The Reformation began in England when King Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic church because he wanted to divorce his wife, to marry another woman who would bear him a male heir. His wife was a devout catholic and refused to give up her crown to another. The king decided to break away from the Papacy, from Rome, where the Catholic church reigned from. He created the Church of England, and put himself as the legal head. England broke into two factions based on religion, and after Henry's death, the country was plunged in war.
Henry's eldest daughter, Queen Mary I took the throne after her father, and propagated Catholicism, as taught by her mother. Henry's other daughter, through his second wife, Queen Elizabeth I embraced the Protestant faith. Queen Mary was always paranoid of losing her throne to Elizabeth, and she hated the Protestants because of what happened to her mother. She set about ruthlessly persecuting anyone who openly professed their faith, which led to her being known as 'Bloody Mary'.
Illustration of Christian protestants being burned at the stake Image source: wikimedia commons
History has recorded the death of three Bishops, Ridley, Lattimer, and Crammer, known as the Oxford martyrs. They were burned at stake for teaching the Protestant doctrine. The rhyme Three Blind Mice is believed to be an allegorical allusion to the incident of the bishops' execution. They are called 'blind' because of their refusal to recant their confession. Queen Mary is said to have "cut off their tales with a carving knife" and is referred to as a farmer's wife to lighten the scene for children; perhaps to also reduce the ruthlessness of the act.
Three blind mice. Three blind mice.
See how they run. See how they run.
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a sight in your life,
As three blind mice (Modern version of the rhyme, Wikipedia)
Three Blind Mice is sung widely in nurseries of the world by little children, often innocent of the true story behind it.
Keywords: Three Blind Mice, Nursery Rhymes, Reformation, Persecution, England, Queen Mary
The pandemic brought about a global boom of entrepreneurship in 2020. Thousands of small businesses launched in the UK last year, and many were very successful. Some businesses started as passion projects, while others aimed to fill a hole in the pandemic market. Services and products, like at-home workouts, popped up all over social media from new and exciting businesses. The pandemic left many Brits financially unstable and scared for the future of their career. Launching their own business gave them something to focus on again and a small amount of income.
The Financial Times reported that the number of registered companies in the UK increased by 30% in 2020. As the world returns to normal, it will be interesting to see how these new businesses approach the post-pandemic world.
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If you have just set up a new business, here are some essential marketing tips to get the ball rolling:
Exploit social media
Social media is one of the most effective marketing platforms available. You can connect with a global audience for free and market your product or service to them. Post consistently and use high-quality imaging to catch your audience's attention. Engage with potential customers by replying to direct messages, comments, shares and likes. Use a few platforms to maximise your exposure and create a strong brand identity.
You can connect with a global audience for free and market your product or service to them. | Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash
Network as much as you can
Networking is a vital part of business, and you can do it on and offline. Use sites like LinkedIn to connect with fellow entrepreneurs and those in different industries. Reach out to them directly and ask about their company or role. You might be surprised by how much you can learn from one conversation. Once in-person events return, you should look to make the most out of meeting people in your industry. You might find brands to collaborate with or a mentor to learn from. Make sure to hand out your business cards at the event so people can get in touch with you in the future.
Networking is a vital part of business, and you can do it on and offline. | Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash
Create a blog
You need to be an expert in your industry. Create a blog and share your journey of learning to be a business owner. You can share your expertise and why you started the company, which other entrepreneurs can read and learn from. Your knowledge and experience might be extremely helpful for those just starting out. Use a range of marketing techniques to launch your business into the next phase.
Use a range of marketing techniques to launch your business into the next phase. | Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash
(Disclaimer: This article is sponsored and include some commercial links)
One of Indias fast growing Direct To Consumer (DTC) beauty and personal care brands, MyGlamm, launches its national TVC around the message 'All Natural #NoNasties today with actress Shraddha Kapoor, who is also an investor in the brand.
Kapoor who has a great millennial and Gen Z connect introduces 'My SUPERFOODS Kajal' which has No Parabens, No Mineral Oils, No Nasties while still being long-lasting and smudge-free and made with the goodness of nature. This is followed by many girls trying applying the kajal with confidence and while highlighting the ingredients Avocado Oil, Goji Berries, Vitamin E and Sunflower Seed Oil.
Commenting on the campaign, Apratim Majumder, CMO, MyGlamm says "Women have been telling us about what they want from their beauty products for a while now. Wikimedia Commons
The brand focuses on creating quality products that are high efficacy made with all-natural and no chemicals in the formulae. his campaign follows the #TellMyGlammWhatYouWant campaign where women logged in to tell the company what they wanted from their beauty products. It aims to establish a beauty democracy by giving consumers the power to tell the brand what they want thus changing the entire experience of how women buy beauty products in India.
Commenting on the campaign, Apratim Majumder, CMO, MyGlamm says "Women have been telling us about what they want from their beauty products for a while now. We have been innovating to serve those needs with products. When they told us that they want a kajal that is not only long-lasting and smudge-proof but also takes care of their eyes, we knew we had to do this. The campaign is about telling everyone out there who told us they need a kajal that cares, MyGlamm Superfoods Kajal is here for you! The campaign debued on MyGlamm's social channels- YouTube & Instagram on September 16. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: India, Direct beauty brands, My Glamm national, girls, kajal, confidence ingredients, Avocado Oil, Shraddha Kapoor