Bitcoin spiked to $48,000 from below $46,000 just after Kabul fell to the mujahideen with it largely maintaining its gains to currently trade at $47,300.
Ethereum rose even more, above $3,300 as the ratio increased to nearly 0.07 BTC with it maintaining that price level.
There may be many reasons for its rise, but bitcoin is correlated to geopolitics, and the events unfolding in Afghanistan may have geopolitical ramifications.
The fall of the country in just over a week has plenty surprised. Was there some sort of secret deal? We know there was an open one which required the Taliban to negotiate a sharing of power, but the Afghan army was left without any air support or contractors, so the Taliban only needed to ‘negotiate’ unconditional surrender.
Was there some sort of state backing? Pakistan says no, while the Russian and Chinese embassy are continuing to operate as if nothing happened. The American embassy is in chaos as they run away.
The Kabul airport is being swamped as people are desperate to leave ahead of the declaration of an Islamic Emirate.
There’s quite a few of them as it happens and America is an ally of all of them, so yet another one is not quite the end of the world.
In addition the Afghani people de facto consented to all of this presuming there has not been a secret deal, or they were scared when faced with the Taliban, which they call the mujahideen.
As such, in the midst of fear presumably there is some celebration too in Afghanistan. The war is finally over, some Tali said.
Amid all this chaos thus, there’s also a sense of relief. As if a burden is lifted, or a chapter is closed. Back to the 90s? Though hopefully this time without a spectacular unravelling.
Yes women’s rights, yes sharia, but it is also ultimately their land, and a fundamental sort of liberty won in the end, within about a week, and without one shot fired.
America was never going to win because America at the end of the day was an invader at the edges of its reach over a land they didn’t care to invade. Yet not without reason. Bin Laden did declare war, but Bin Laden is now gone and so the war is over.
Or so we must hope, and an apology for hosting Bin Laden would go some way. The big question being now: who will win the real war?
The Pen vs The Gun
The men of pen in that whole region have only been whispering amid the loud bangs as the gun has been dominating for far too long, but now clearly it seems to have peaked as it can’t go further than the presidential palace.
This ragtag of seemingly poor men looking a bit theatrical will, perhaps even today, get down to the business of running a country of nearly 40 million people with a GDP of about $20 billion. That’s as much as Albania with 3 million people, so they’re ten times poorer than one of the poorest country in Europe.
But not all of them are poor. America has spent about $1 trillion in the country, most to its own contractors but some towards Afghanistan proper. In addition many of them have emigrated and generally have been given refugee status in Europe and America. They are probably helping their families back home.
As poor as this country is, it does have internet, they do have homes, some of the rich can even book private jets.
And as peasanty as the above men look, they do also have men in suits in their ranks, including unbearded ones, albeit not too much in front of the camera.
It will probably be educated people that will soon show themselves as in charge, not least because there must be quite a few to achieve a country wide takeover in about a week effectively without a shot.
And those men have some very big decisions to make because there are all sorts of Emirates. There’s Saudi Arabia, which is more an absolute monarchy, and then there’s Qatar, which is to hold elections this October in a first for an Arab nation.
Those men pictured above may well be locals, but they probably answer to well travelled men. As such you’d expect a more modernized version, not least because the Afghani now are a numerous diaspora.
You’d expect them thus to continue educating their people, both women and men, and to continue allowing them to do what they were doing, including going to work, including for women.
There’s some reports some women were told to go home for their male relatives to take over their job, but it’s not clear whether such directions were by low ranking rebels.
What has been said officially is that women will be allowed to go out, even unaccompanied, as long as they wear the hijab, not the burka. Making it little different than previously.
Not least because whoever now leads the country will have to be pragmatic, and in taking it over they have shown some pragmatism.
One hopes therefore after two decades of war we finally get to see the men of pen, and that includes the right to elections at least Qatar style, because the Afghani do have the opportunity to turn a page towards a far better future as the latest independent nation.
Help v Hate
The world also has choices which largely depend on what the Taliban chooses. The easiest one for Americans is probably to hate them as they have afterall been fighting them for the past two decades. The Taliban may make that even easier if they purge or confront.
On the other hand, peace is sweat, and the Afghani presumably welcomed them since no one resisted.
That may change of course if pragmatism is short lived, but Saudi Arabia is also quite oppressive in some ways. It is an absolute monarchy first of all, and women there do have to wear a black hijab, and you shouldn’t listen to music or drink alcohol. Although there is a silent revolt going on there, especially among the young women, with more parties seemingly either tolerated or overwhelming enforcement.
Whatever system, governance is always by general consent. Their government, their country, ruled by their own, and thus it is easy to say their business.
Not least because they have given guarantees in regards to not hosting hostile groups. Also they’re now in charge, so what use would hate be at this stage.
Europe in particular has a continental interest to ensure that the new Afghanistan offers some hope to its people so that they don’t flood the continent, something that would be in America’s interest too because they would be blamed fully if there is a refugee wave.
Qatar most likely does have some influence, and that means Turkey does, and that means Europe does. That should be used to persuade them towards a peaceful and prosperous direction with a focus on economy first.
The country does have some resources and nice carpets, with it in Europe’s interest for peace to be secured and for their economy to be improved.
The alternative gets us nothing clearly and gets the Afghani nothing with those two decades painful for them of course, but also very painful for the west.
Thus it may be time for a long lasting peace in the whole region. We’ll call it the two decades of madness, and so attribute what happened to mad men, and thus move forward afresh with the battles now by pen.
That’s at least what one has to hope or even dream. What unfolds in reality is for time to tell, but despite how all this developed, there is perhaps no reason to not give a chance to optimism and pragmatism and see how it can all be for the better in the end, not least because there’s no choice but to try as they are now in charge.
As such perhaps they should be helped especially if they give an olive branch by going with Qatar style democracy because at the end of the day these men are no longer playing soldiers, they are now servants of their own people and ultimately are under their orders which includes providing the basics, like food and work.
So as much as there may be fear, we choose hope, primarily the hope that the guns will finally fall silent and the battles will be by the pen and by pen only.
Stock futures indicate they’re going to open slightly lower. America got defeated, twenty years wasted, big bad tali back in charge, will there be refugees flooding, will it destabilize the region?
That’s presumably what’s gone into bitcoin’s rise as well. There may be some direct demand. Afghanistan as a whole is poor, but it does have rich people, and some of them may well have bitcoined to take their savings with them in a secure and liquid manner while fleeing the country.
That direct demand however is probably a small part of what are now the implications. Is America weakened by the sight of chaotic scenes at the airport as personnel is evacuated with ‘trust the experts’ shown to be wrong again?
Does that weakness translate to dollar weakness? Are allies now less confident in US might? Is that all by zero sum a win for China?
Well, depends what happens next. If the big bad tali do behave like big bad talis, and especially if that translates to a refugee wave into Europe, then America’s reputation will of course take a hit, European Union nationalism will probably increase as the need to unite to stand for continental interest becomes self evident, Pakistan in particular may even be slightly destabilized, as may some regions in Russia or in China, with it unclear then whether that weakness would actually mean strength for America, except a united European nationalism would probably mean even more strength for Europe, and big bad tali would mean fighting the tali again in a broken tape repeat.
If the mujahideen, as they call them, are instead pragmatic and heed Qatar’s advice in governing like a peace-seeking nation that wants prosperity and all the other things everyone wants, then a burden has been lifted from America and Nato and for the better if they turn towards becoming like any other Emirates which we’re generally allies with.
So the current markets reaction may be more due to the uncertainty of what happens next, but it has been to a slight degree with bitcoin up just 2% or so while stocks futures are down just 0.4% or so.
It’s an interesting development, and it can be very interesting if it all goes very wrong, but it’s in no one’s interest for it to do so and thus economically it’s a small development that seems to have courted some reaction, but not very much.
There has been panic within Kabul though, including bank runs, but the Afghanistan Banks Association (ABA) said on Sunday savings in banks are safe.
That too depends on what happens next, but hopefully what happens next is that next week we forget all this happened because Afghanistan moves towards normalizing relations and towards securing peaceful economic development like all other nations.
Maybe like Vietnam is now. There’s no reason why they and everyone else can’t also move on and forgive and forget, what else can you do.