The CSTO members build a defensive system – from information and politic to logistics and equipment

The CSTO members build a defensive system – from information and politic to logistics and equipment

http://redstar.ru/eshelony-kollektivnoj-oborony/

Alexander ALEXANDROV for the Red star newspaper

Translation by Scott Humor

 

The upcoming joint operational-strategic exercises of the Joined forces of the Collective Security Treaty organization called “Combat brotherhood – 2019” are intended to demonstrate the unity of the states parties in matters of collective security. During the maneuvers that will unfold on territories of four member states, political and diplomatic tools, combat potential, as well as mechanisms of information and other non-military impact for prevention and settlement of military conflicts in the zone of responsibility of the organization will be tested.

This, in particular, was discussed at a press conference held in Moscow by acting Secretary General of the organization Valery Semerikov via the satellite connection with locations in Minsk, Yerevan, Nur Sultan and Bishkek. However, the administrative head of the Collective Security Treaty Organization began the conference discussing threats of predominantly collective nature.

According to the CSTO Secretary General, the situation in Afghanistan, primarily on the Tajik – Afghan border, and its impact on the region of Central Asia is the focus of attention of the organization’s member states. “Tensions remain in the Caucus region due to an unresolved Karabakh conflict, tensions are also rising due to NATO’s military development on the territory of Georgia,” Valery Semerikov continued.

He also expressed collective concerns about NATO’s regular exercises in Eastern Europe, at the borders with Belarus and Russia. The Alliance’s obvious unwillingness to work with the colleagues from the CSTO, and instead – NATO insistence to cooperate with each of the member states separately, only confirms the conclusions of the Russia’s Security Council about a possible preparation by NATO to stage so-called color revolutions. This was confirmed by attempts of cyber attacks on the national infrastructure of the organization.

To respond to these threats, as the acting Secretary General made it clear, is a responsibility of the Crisis Response Center, whose tasks include information and analytical support of competent structures to combat the “hidden threats” “The CSTO crisis response center is engaged in monitoring military and political situation in the zones of responsibility of the states, identifying the prerequisites for crisis situations and analyzing the appropriate response,” Valery Semerikov explained.

The focus of the organization’s member states is on the situation in Afghanistan, primarily on the Tajik-Afghan border, and its impact on the Central Asian region.

The center was involved in a recent business game, in which a set of political and diplomatic response measures of the organization’s members were worked out in response to the crisis situation in some fictional state. In development, it gave a start to preparation for the operational and strategic exercises of the CSTO Joined forces named the “Combat brotherhood – 2019”.

“In 2019, we will hold six exercises on the territory of four countries: Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan, – Valery Semerikov said, answering journalists’ questions. – The total number of forces involved, according to our calculations, will be about 12 thousand”.

During these operational and strategic exercises of the CSTO Joined forces “Combat brotherhood – 2019,” as reported, an entire complex of measures of prevention or deterrent, as well as resolution of military conflict with the subsequent restoration of peace will be worked out in a logical sequence. National contingents of troops will work out different tasks as parts of separate episodes of one untied work-frame of a single military-political situation with a single strategic plan.

For example, the training of anti-drug units of the CSTO “Thunder-2019” in August will take place in Kyrgyzstan. The actions of the intelligence units within the framework of the “Search-2019” will continue with “Interaction-2019” drill of the Joined Rapid Response forces. It is also envisaged that maneuvers of the “Unbreakable Brotherhood” of peacekeeping forces will be held in conjunction with the exercise “Rubezh-2019” of the border guards on the territory of Tajikistan.

All actions of the coalition groups in the East European and Central Asian regions of collective security will be accompanied by deployment of troops within the framework of the exercise of the collective aviation forces “Air Bridge – 2019” and for the first time with a single material and technical support in a course of joint actions of the MTO logistics troops units “Echelon-2019”.

Memo to Trump: Trade Bolton for Tulsi

 

 • JUNE 28, 2019

“For too long our leaders have failed us, taking us into one regime change war after the next, leading us into a new Cold War and arms race, costing us trillions of our hard-earned tax payer dollars and countless lives. This insanity must end.”Donald Trump, circa 2016?Nope. That denunciation of John Bolton interventionism came from Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii during Wednesday night’s Democratic debate. At 38, she was the youngest candidate on stage.
Gabbard proceeded to rip both the “president and his chickenhawk cabinet (who) have led us to the brink of war with Iran.”In a fiery exchange, Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio countered that America cannot disengage from Afghanistan: “When we weren’t in there they started flying planes into our buildings.”“The Taliban didn’t attack us on 9/11,” Gabbard replied, “Al-Qaida attacked us on 9/11. That’s why I and so many other people joined the military, to go after al-Qaida, not the Taliban.”When Ryan insisted we must stay engaged, Gabbard shot back:“Is that what you will tell the parents of those two soldiers who were just killed in Afghanistan? ‘Well, we just have to be engaged.’ As a solider, I will tell you, that answer is unacceptable. … We are no better off in Afghanistan that we were when this war began.”
By debate’s end, Gabbard was the runaway winner in both the Drudge Report and Washington Examiner polls and was far in front among all the Democratic candidates whose names were being searched on Google.Though given less than seven minutes of speaking time in a two-hour debate, she could not have used that time more effectively. And her performance may shake up the Democratic race.
If she can rise a few points above her 1-2% in the polls, she could be assured a spot in the second round of debates.If she is, moderators will now go to her with questions of foreign policy issues that would not have been raised without her presence, and these questions will expose the hidden divisions in the Democratic Party. Leading Democratic candidates could be asked to declare what U.S. policy should be — not only toward Afghanistan but Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jared Kushner’s “Deal of the Century,” and Trump’s seeming rejection of the two-state solution.
If she makes it into the second round, Gabbard could become the catalyst for the kind of globalist vs. nationalist debate that broke out between Trump and Bush Republicans in 2016, a debate that contributed to Trump’s victory at the Cleveland convention and in November.The problem Gabbard presents for Democrats is that, as was shown in the joust with Ryan, she takes positions that split her party, while her rivals prefer to talk about what unites the party, like the terribleness of Trump, free college tuition and soaking the rich.Given more airtime, she will present problems for the GOP as well.

For the foreign policy Tulsi Gabbard is calling for is not far off from the foreign policy Donald Trump promised in 2016 but has since failed to deliver.

We still have 2,000 troops in Syria, 5,000 in Iraq, 14,000 in Afghanistan. We just moved an aircraft carrier task force, B-52s and 1,000 troops to the Persian Gulf to confront Iran. We are about to impose sanctions on the Iranian foreign minister with whom we would need to negotiate to avoid a war.Jared Kushner is talking up a U.S.-led consortium to raise $50 billion for the Palestinians in return for their forfeiture of sovereignty and an end to their dream of a nation-state on the West Bank and Gaza with Jerusalem as its capital.

John Bolton is talking of regime change in Caracas and confronting the “troika of tyranny” in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Rather than engaging Russia as Trump promised, we have been sanctioning Russia, arming Ukraine, sending warships into the Black Sea, beefing up NATO in the Baltic and trashing arms control treaties Ronald Reagan and other presidents negotiated in the Cold War U.S. policy has managed to push our great adversaries, Russia and China, together as they have not been since the first Stalin-Mao decade of the Cold War.
This June, Vladimir Putin traveled to Beijing where he and Xi Jinping met in the Great Hall of the People to warn that in this time of “growing global instability and uncertainty,” Russia and China will “deepen their consultations on strategic stability issues.”Xi presented Putin with China’s new Friendship Medal. Putin responded: “Cooperation with China is one of Russia’s top priorities and it has reached an unprecedented level.”At the end of the Cold War, we were the lone superpower. Who forfeited our preeminence? Who bled us of 7,000 U.S. lives and $6 trillion in endless Middle East wars? Who got us into this Cold War II?Was all this the doing of those damnable isolationists again?Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”Copyright 2019 Creators.com.

Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War

Part I

July 3, 2019 marks the 40th anniversary of when the United States’ first military assault against Afghanistan with the CIA-backed Mujahideen began. It would be a mistake to treat the present-day conflict as being separate from the U.S. intervention that began in 1979 against the then-government of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan. Afghanistan was not always known as the chaotic, ‘failed state’ overrun by warlords as it is now; this phenomenon is a product of that U.S.-led regime change operation. The article below, originally published on March 30, 2019, summarizes and analyzes the events that transpired during and after the Cold War years as they relate to this often misunderstood, if not overlooked, aspect of the long war against Afghanistan. 

When it comes to war-torn Afghanistan and the role played by the United States and its NATO allies, what comes first to mind for most is the ‘War on Terror’ campaign launched in 2001 by George W. Bush almost immediately after the 9/11 attacks. And understandably so, considering that the United States and its allies established a direct “boots-on-the-ground” military presence in the country that year. Not only that, but during the Bush-Cheney years, there was an aggressive propaganda campaign being played out across U.S. media outlets which used women’s rights as one of the pretexts for the continued occupation. The irony of this, however, is not lost on those who understand that the conflict in Afghanistan has a long history which, much like Syria, stretches as far back as the Cold War era — especially when it was the United States that provided support for the Mujahideen in destabilizing the country and stripping away the modernizing, progressive economic and social gains, including Afghan women’s emancipation, which the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) had fought for. With the overthrow of the independent Soviet-aligned PDPA government, the Taliban emerged as a powerful faction of the Mujahideen; the U.S. would develop a working relationship with the Taliban in 1995. The war was never truly about women’s rights or other humanitarian concerns, as Stephen Gowans explains:

“Further evidence of Washington’s supreme indifference to the rights of women abroad is evidenced by the role it played in undermining a progressive government in Afghanistan that sought to release women from the grip of traditional Islamic anti-women practices. In the 1980s, Kabul was “a cosmopolitan city. Artists and hippies flocked to the capital. Women studied agriculture, engineering and business at the city’s university. Afghan women held government jobs.” There were female members of parliament, and women drove cars, and travelled and went on dates, without needing to ask a male guardian for permission. That this is no longer true is largely due to a secret decision made in the summer of 1979 by then US president Jimmy Carter and his national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski to draw “the Russians into the Afghan trap” and give “to the USSR its Vietnam War” by bankrolling and organizing Islamic fundamentalist terrorists to fight a new government in Kabul led by the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan.

The goal of the PDPA was to liberate Afghanistan from its backwardness. In the 1970s, only 12 percent of adults were literate. Life expectancy was 42 years and infant mortality the highest in the world. Half the population suffered from TB and one-quarter from malaria.”

Moreover, and contrary to the commonly held belief that the conflict in Afghanistan started in 2001, it would be more accurate to say that the war started in 1979. As a matter of fact, the Carter Administration’s 1979 decision to overthrow the PDPA and destabilize Afghanistan is at the root of why the country is in the state that it continues to be in today.

Afghan women during the PDPA era vs. Afghan women today.

The Cold War – a new phase in the age of imperialism

The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan’s military welcome their Soviet counterparts

The 1979 to 1989 period of the Mujahideen onslaught is often referred to as the ‘Soviet-Afghan War’ because of the Soviet army’s heavy involvement. Although it is true that they were heavily involved, it is not an entirely accurate descriptor because it completely ignores the fact that it was a war that was actually crafted, instigated, and led by the United States. In what was also known then as the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, the years from 1978 to 1992 are inextricably linked with Soviet history — but not because it was a Soviet “invasion” of Afghanistan and that the West had to intervene to stop it, as U.S. imperialist propaganda would have us believe. The Carter administration had already begun the planning, recruitment, and training for the Mujahideen in 1978 and had launched the attack on Afghanistan months before the Soviet army militarily intervened near the end of 1979. Also, the “Afghan trap” alone did not cause the dismantling of the Soviet Union; however, it was related. But more on that when we look at the Gorbachev years. Nevertheless, the destruction of Afghanistan was declared as a final blow to the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union’s 1991 dissolution was celebrated as “the victory of capitalism over communism” by the United States. To begin to understand the conflict in Afghanistan, it is important to examine the context in which it began: the Cold War.

In the early 1900s, Vladimir Lenin observed that capitalism had entered into its globalist phase and that the age of imperialism had begun; this means that capitalism must expand beyond national borders, and that there is an internal logic to Empire-building and imperialist wars of aggression. Lenin defines imperialism as such:

“the concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life; (2) the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of this “finance capital”, of a financial oligarchy; (3) the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities acquires exceptional importance; (4) the formation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world among themselves, and (5) the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers is completed. Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed.”

It should be clear that imperialism is not just merely the imposition of a country’s will on the rest of the world (although that is certainly a part of it). More precisely: it is a result of capital accumulation and is a process of empire-building and maintenance, which comes with holding back development worldwide and keeping the global masses impoverished; it is the international exercise of domination guided by economic interests. Thus, imperialism is less of a cultural phenomenon, and more so an economic one.

Lenin also theorized that imperialism and the cycle of World Wars were the products of competing national capitals between the advanced nations. As he wrote in Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, World War I was about the competition between major imperialist powers — such as the competing capitals of Great Britain and Germany — over the control of and the split of plunder from colonies. Thus, finance capital was the driving force behind the exploitation and colonization of the oppressed nations; these antagonisms would eventually lead to a series of world wars as Lenin had predicted. During the First World War, the goals of the two imperial blocs of power were the acquisition, preservation, and expansion of territories considered to be strategic points and of great importance to their national economies. And during the Great Depression, protectionist measures were taken up by Britain, the United States, and France to restrict the emerging industrial nations — Germany, Italy, and Japan, also known as the Axis states — from access to more colonies and territories, thereby restricting them from access to raw materials and markets in the lead up to World War II. In particular, the two advanced capitalist industrialized powers of Germany and Japan, in their efforts to conquer new territory, threatened the economic space of Britain, the U.S., and France and threatened to take their territories, colonies, and semi-colonies by force — with Germany launching a series of aggressions in most of Europe, and Japan in Asia. WWII was, in many ways, a re-ignition of the inter-imperialist rivalry between the Anglo-French bloc and the German bloc, but with modern artillery and the significant use of aerial assaults. It was also a period of the second stage of the crisis of capitalism which saw the rise of Fascism as a reaction to Communism, with the Axis states threatening to establish a world-dominating fascist regime. For the time being, WWII would be the last we would see of world wars.

At the end of WWII, two rival global powers emerged: the United States and the Soviet Union; the Cold War was a manifestation of their ideological conflict. The Cold War era was a new phase for international capital as it saw the advent of nuclear weapons and the beginning stages of proxy warfare. It was a time when the imperialist nations, regardless of which side they were on during WWII, found a common interest in stopping the spread of Communism and seeking the destruction of the Soviet Union. By extension, these anti-communist attacks would be aimed at the Soviet-allied nations as well. This would increase the number of client states with puppet governments acting in accordance with U.S. interests who would join the NATO bloc with the ultimate aim of isolating the Soviet Union. It should also be noted that the end of WWII marked the end of competing national capitals such that now, financial capital exists globally and can move instantaneously, with Washington being the world dominating force that holds a monopoly over the global markets. Those countries who have actively resisted against the U.S. Empire and have not accepted U.S. capital into their countries are threatened with sanctions and military intervention — such as the independent sovereign nations of Syria and North Korea who are, to this day, still challenging U.S. hegemony. Afghanistan under the PDPA was one such country which stood up to U.S. imperialism and thus became a target for regime change.

In addition to implementing land reforms, women’s rights, and egalitarian and collectivist economic policies, the PDPA sought to put an end to opium poppy cultivation. The British Empire planted the first opium poppy fields in Afghanistan during the 1800s when the country was still under the feudal landholding system; up until the king was deposed in 1973, the opium trade was a lucrative business and the Afghan poppy fields produced more than 70 percent of opium needed for the world’s heroin supply. These reforms in 1978 would eventually attract opposition from the United States, which had already embarked on its anti-communist crusade, providing backing to reactionary forces dedicated to fighting against various post-colonial progressive governments, many of which were a part of the ‘Soviet Bloc’ — such as the right-wing Contras in Nicaragua who mounted violent opposition to the Sandinista government. Despite having gained independence on its own merits, Afghanistan under the PDPA — much like other Soviet-allied, postcolonial successes such as Cuba, Nicaragua, Syria, Libya, and North Korea — was seen as a “Soviet satellite” that needed to be brought back under colonial domination, and whose commodities needed to be put under the exclusive control and possession of the United States. Not only that, but it was considered a strategic point of interest that could be used to enclose upon the Soviet Union.

In order to undermine the then-newly formed and popular PDPA government, the Carter administration and the CIA began the imperialist intervention by providing training, financial support, and weapons to Sunni extremists (the Mujahideen) who started committing acts of terrorism against schools and teachers in rural areas. With the assistance of the Saudi and Pakistani militaries, the CIA gathered together ousted feudal landlords, reactionary tribal chiefs, sectarian Sunni clerics, and cartel drug lords to form a coalition to destabilize Afghanistan. On September 1979, Noor Mohammed Taraki — the first PDPA leader and President of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan — was assassinated during the events of the CIA-backed coup, which was quickly stopped by the Afghan army. However, by late 1979, the PDPA was becoming overwhelmed by the large-scale military intervention by U.S. proxy forces — a combination of foreign mercenaries and Afghan Ancien Régime-sympathizers — and so they decided to make a request to the USSR to deploy a contingent of troops for assistance. The Soviet intervention provided some much-needed relief for the PDPA forces — if only for the next ten years, for the U.S. and Saudi Arabia “upped the ante” by pouring about $40 billion into the war and recruiting and arming around 100,000 more foreign mercenaries. In 1989, Mikhail Gorbachev would call on the Soviet troops to be withdrawn, and the PDPA was eventually defeated with the fall of Kabul in April 1992. Chaos ensued as the Mujahideen fell into infighting with the formation of rival factions competing for territorial space and also wreaking havoc across cities, looting, terrorizing civilians, hosting mass executions in football stadiums, ethnically-cleansing non-Pashtun minorities, and committing mass rapes against Afghan women and girls. Soon afterwards in 1995, one of the warring factions, the Taliban, consolidated power with backing from the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. On September 28, 1996 the last PDPA Presidential leader, Mohammad Najibullah, was abducted from his local UN compound (where he had been granted sanctuary), tortured, and brutally murdered by Taliban soldiers; they strung his mutilated body from a light pole for public display.

A renewed opium trade, and the economic roots of Empire-building

U.S. troops guarding an opium poppy field in Afghanistan.

After the fall of Kabul in 1992, but some time before the Taliban came to power, the reactionary tribal chiefs had taken over the Afghan countryside and ordered farmers to begin planting opium poppy, which had been outlawed by the Taraki government. Prior to that, the Pakistani ISI (Pakistan’s intelligence agency) set up hundreds of heroin laboratories at the behest of the CIA so that by 1981, the Pakistani-Afghan border became the largest producer of heroin in the world. Alfred McCoy confirms in his study, “Drug Fallout: the CIA’s Forty Year Complicity in the Narcotics Trade”:

“Once the heroin left these labs in Pakistan’s northwest frontier, the Sicilian Mafia imported the drugs into the U.S., where they soon captured sixty percent of the U.S. heroin market. That is to say, sixty percent of the U.S. heroin supply came indirectly from a CIA operation. During the decade of this operation, the 1980s, the substantial DEA contingent in Islamabad made no arrests and participated in no seizures, allowing the syndicates a de facto free hand to export heroin.”

It is apparent that by putting an end to the cultivation of opium poppy, in addition to using the country’s resources to modernize and uplift its own population, the independent nationalist government of the PDPA was seen as a threat to U.S. interests that needed to be eliminated. A major objective of the U.S.-led Mujahideen — or any kind of U.S. military-led action for that matter — against Afghanistan had always been to restore and secure the opium trade. After all, it was during the 1970s that drug trafficking served as the CIA’s primary source of funding for paramilitary forces against anti-imperialist governments and liberation movements in the Global South, in addition to protecting U.S. assets abroad. Also, the CIA’s international drug trafficking ties go as far back as 1949, which is the year when Washington’s long war on the Korean Peninsula began. The move by the PDPA to eradicate opium-poppy harvesting and put an end to the exploitation brought about by the drug cartels was seen as “going too far” by U.S. imperialists. A significantly large loss in opium production would mean a huge loss in profits for Wall Street and major international banks, which have a vested interest in the drug trade. In fact, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that money-laundering made up 2-5% of the world economy’s GDP and that a large percentage of the annual money-laundering, which was worth 590 billion to 1.5 trillion dollars, had direct links to the drug trade. The profits generated from the drug trade are often placed in American-British-controlled offshore banks.

The rationale behind the PDPA’s campaign to eradicate the opium poppy harvest was based not only on practical health reasons, but also on the role played by narcotics in the history of colonialism in Asia. Historically, cartel drug lords enabled imperialist nations, served bourgeois interests, and used cheap exploited slave labour. Oftentimes, the peasants who toiled in these poppy fields would find themselves becoming addicted to heroin in addition to being, quite literally, worked to death. Cartels are understood to be monopolistic alliances in which partners agree on the conditions of sale and terms of payment and divide the markets amongst themselves by fixing the prices and the quantity of goods to be produced. Now, concerning the role of cartels in ‘late-stage capitalism’, Lenin wrote:

“Monopolist capitalist associations, cartels, syndicates and trusts first divided the home market among themselves and obtained more or less complete possession of the industry of their own country. But under capitalism the home market is inevitably bound up with the foreign market. Capitalism long ago created a world market. As the export of capital increased, and as the foreign and colonial connections and “spheres of influence” of the big monopolist associations expanded in all ways, things “naturally” gravitated towards an international agreement among these associations, and towards the formation of international cartels.

This is a new stage of world concentration of capital and production, incomparably higher than the preceding stages.”

International cartels, especially drug cartels, are symptoms of how capital has expanded globally and has adapted to create a global wealth divide based on the territorial division of the world, the scramble for colonies, and “the struggle for spheres of influence.” More specifically, international cartels serve as stewards for the imperialist nations in the plundering of the oppressed or colonized nations. Hence the mass campaigns to help end addictions and to crack down on drug traffickers which were not only implemented in Afghanistan under the PDPA, but in Revolutionary China in 1949 and by other anti-imperialist movements as well. Of course, the opium traffickers and their organized crime associates in Afghanistan saw the campaign against opium poppy cultivation, among other progressive reforms, as an affront; this made them ideal recruits for the Mujahideen.

But why the “breakdown” in the relationship between the U.S. and the Taliban from the early 2000s and onwards? Keep in mind that, again, the members of the Taliban were amongst the various factions that made up the Mujahideen whose partnership with the United States extends as far back as the late 1970s; and it was clear that the U.S. was aware that it was working with Islamic fundamentalists. The human rights abuses committed by the Taliban while in power were well-documented before their relations with the U.S. soured by the year 2000. What made these relations turn sour was the fact that the Taliban had decided to drastically reduce the opium poppy cultivation. This led to the direct U.S. military intervention of 2001 in Afghanistan and the subsequent overthrow of the Taliban; the U.S. used the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as a pretext even if there was no proof that the Taliban had a hand in them or had been in contact with Osama bin Laden at all during that time. The U.S. would soon replace the Taliban with another faction of the Mujahideen that was more compliant with the rules that the imperialists had set out. In other words, the Taliban were ousted not necessarily because they posed a significant challenge to U.S. hegemony as the PDPA had, or because of their treatment of women — nor were they hiding Osama bin Laden; it was because they had become more of liabilities than assets. It is yet another case of the Empire discarding its puppets when they have outlived their usefulness due to incompetence and being unable to “follow the rules properly” — not unlike the U.S. removal of military dictator Manuel Noriega who was staunchly pro-American and who, in collaboration with fellow CIA asset and notorious cartel drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, previously sold drugs for the CIA to help finance the anti-communist campaign in Central America.

George W. Bush visits Hamid Karzai, who participated in the Mujahideen in the past and led the puppet government that replaced the Taliban.

By 2002, and as a result of the 2001 intervention, the lucrative opium poppy production had seen a huge boom once again. In 2014, Afghanistan’s opium poppy production made up 90% of the world’s heroin supply, leading to a decrease in opium prices. And according to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the opium production in Afghanistan increased by 43% to 4,800 metric tons in 2016.

Although the United States has always been one of the top producers of oil in the world, another reason for establishing a permanent U.S. military presence in Afghanistan was to gain control over its vast untapped oil reserves, which the U.S. had known about prior to 9/11. Oil is yet another lucrative commodity, and ensuring that Afghanistan had a compliant government that would acquiesce to its demands was important for the U.S. in this aspect as well. Naturally, the nationalist government of the PDPA was also seen as a threat to the profit-making interests of U.S. oil companies, and any nation that was an independent oil producer (or merely a potential independent oil producer, in Afghanistan’s case) was seen as an annoying competitor by the United States. However, Afghanistan would not begin its first commercial oil production until 2013, partly because of the ongoing geopolitical instability, but also because opium production continues to dominate the economy. Plus, it is likely that neither the monarchy nor the PDPA realized that there existed such vast untapped oil reserves since there were very limited volumes of oil (compared to the higher volumes of natural gas) being produced from 1957 to 1989, and which stopped as soon as the Soviet troops left. Later, reassessments were made during the 1990s; hence the U.S. ‘discovery’ of the untapped petroleum potential. But, when intensive negotiations between U.S.-based oil company Unocal and the Taliban went unresolved in 1998 due to a dispute over a pipeline deal that the latter wanted to strike with a competing Argentine company, it would lead to growing tensions between the U.S. and the Taliban. The reason for the dispute was that Unocal wanted to have primary control over the pipeline located between Afghanistan and Pakistan that crossed into the Indian Ocean. From this point on, the U.S. was starting to see the Taliban as a liability in its prerogative of establishing political and economic dominance over Central and West Asia.

In either case, oil and other “strategic” raw materials such as opium are essential for the U.S. to maintain its global monopolistic power. It is here that we see a manifestation of the economic roots of empire-building.

*

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Continued in Part 2.

Originally published by LLCO.org on March 30, 2019. For the full-length article and bibliography, click here.

Janelle Velinais a Toronto-based political analyst, writer, and an editor and frequent contributor for New-Power.org andLLCO.org. She also has a blog at geopoliticaloutlook.blogspot.com.

All images in this article are from the author; featured image: Brzezinski visits Osama bin Laden and other Mujahideen fighters during training.

How the West’s War in Libya Has Spurred Terrorism in 14 Countries

The Saker

May 09, 2019

[this analysis was written for the Unz Review]

Introduction

It is sometimes helpful not to look at any one specific issue in detail, but rather make a survey of ongoing processes instead. The resulting picture is neither better nor worse, it is simply different. This is what I want to do today: to take a bird’s eye view of our suffering planet.

Putin trolls the Empire

It is all really simple: if the Ukrainians will give passports to Russian citizens, and we in Russia will be handing out passports to the Ukrainians, then sooner or later will will reach the expected result: everybody will have the same citizenship. This is something which we have to welcome.

Vladimir Putin

It appears that the Kremlin is very slowly changing its approach to the Ukrainian issue and is now relying more on unilateral actions. The first two measures taken by the Russians are maybe not “too little too late”, but certainly “just the bare minimum and at that, rather late”. Still, I can only salute the Kremlin’s newly found determination. Specifically, the Kremlin has banned the export of energy products to the Ukraine (special exemptions can still be granted on a case by case basis) and the Russians have decided to distribute Russian passports to the people of Novorussia. Good.

Zelenskii’s reaction to this decision came as the first clear sign that the poor man has no idea what he is doing and no plan as to how to deal with the Russians. He decided to crack a joke, (which he is reportedly good at), and declare that the Ukrainian passport was much better than the Russian one and that the Ukraine will start delivering Ukrainian passports to Russian citizens. Putin immediately replied with one of his typical comebacks declaring that he supports Zelenskii and that he looks forward to the day when Russians and Ukrainians will have the same citizenship again. Zelenskii had nothing to say to that 🙂

Zelenskii finally finds something common to Russia and the Ukraine

I have been thinking long about this “a lot in common” between Ukraine and Russia. The reality is that today, after the annexation of the Crimea and the aggression in the Donbas, of the “common” things we have only one thing left – this is the state border. And control of every inch on the Ukrainian side, must be returned by Russia. Only then will we be able to continue the search for [things in] “common”

Vladimir Zelenskii

Well, almost. He did eventually make a Facebook post in which he declared that all that Russia and the Ukraine had in common was a border. This instantly made him the object of jokes and memes, since all Russians or Ukrainians know that Russia and the Ukraine have many old bonds which even 5 years of a vicious civil war and 5 years of hysterically anti-Russian propaganda could not sever. They range from having close relatives in the other country, to numerous trade and commercial transactions, to a common language. The closest thing to a real Ukrainian language would be the Surzhik which is roughly 50/50 in terms of vocabulary and whose pronunciation is closer to the south Russian one than to the Zapadenskii regional dialect spoken in the western Ukraine and which is used (and currently imposed) by the Ukronazi junta in Kiev.

The malignant manatee threatens the planet with fire and brimstone

We have Pompeo, a malignant manatee looking to start wars in which he will not risk his flabby amorphous ass also parading his Christianity. Bolton, a mean sonofabitch who belongs in a strait jacket, at least doesn’t pose as someone having a soul. And the Golden Tufted Cockatoo, too weak to control those around him, preening and tweeting. God save us.

Fred Reed

The term “malignant manatee” is not from me, the brilliant Fred Reed came up with this one, but I can only fully endorse it because it fits. Perfectly. And our malignant manatee sure is on a roll! Just this week he managed to threaten VenezuelaIran, and even Russia and China together. I think that it is high time to declare that Pompeo is a bona fide nutcase, a dangerous, arrogant and ignorant psychopath whose crazy statements represent a direct threat to the entire planet. Not to say that his pal Bolton is any less crazy. Now combine these two rabid thugs with the spineless “Golden Tufted Cockatoo” (to use Fred Reed’s equally hilarious but accurate characterization) and you see that the planet is in big, big trouble.

Turns out that Putin is a crypto-Zionist and an Israeli puppet.

Here I won’t even bother with any quotes. The alternative Internet/blogosphere has, again, been hit by a wave of articles declaring that Putin is Netanyahu’s puppet and a crypto-Zionist. I have debunked that nonsense in the past (see here and here) and I won’t repeat it all here. Besides, what this surge in “Putin the Zionist” propaganda is, is not so much the result of a gradual realization about the true agenda or Putin himself as much as it is, yet again, a desperate scramble for clicks. I already discussed that recently too (see here). I will just reiterate my conclusion here: clickbaiters are never experts and experts are never clickbaiters.

Frankly, to all those who email me and ask “Is it really true? Putin is an Israeli puppet? He helps Netanyahu in Syria, does he not?!” I would suggest simply looking at what the Israelis and Zionists write about Putin (for starters, you can click herehere or here). Even better, ask the defenders of Putin the crytpo-Zionist to explain the hysterically anti-Putin campaign the US legacy Ziomedia has been engaged in for the past years! But don’t hold your breath for an answer – since Russia has comprehensively foiled all Israel’s many plans for Syria, it takes a remarkable determination not to see that Putin is hated by Neocons and Zionists alike, and for good cause, I would add.

Oh, and Putin is a crypto-Muslim too!

Yes, besides being a crypto-Zionist, Putin is also a crypto-Muslim. This latest nonsense usually comes from Alt-Right circles who can forgive Putin his friendliness to Israel, but not to Islam. These are the folks who believe that Putin is not a real defender of the “White Race”. They are opposed by those who believe that Putin and the Moscow Patriarchate will somehow jump-start the “Christian West”. We are talking about some hardcore “single-issue” folks here whose main disagreement is whether Jews or Muslims are to be hated (and feared!) most.

[Having had to deal with both groups myself – I have been accused of being a Jew, a Jew lover and a Muslim and a Muslim lover many times! – I know that reasoning with these folks is a total waste of time. Their paranoid hatred is completely incompatible with any fact-based and logical discussion. Besides, by arguing with them you threaten their income and livelihood – which due to their lack of expertise depends entirely on their ability to generate clickbait revenue. If you do engage with them, they will call you a Jew-lover or an Islam-lover and that’s it. Not worth your time IMHO].

The quasi-comical truth is that the Alt-Righters don’t get Russia *at all*. They keep transposing their narrow horizons on a nation with which they have absolutely nothing in common, not even religiously or racially (even if they think otherwise). Hence their love-hate relationship with Putin: on one hand, they would love to have a champion like Putin (Ann Coulter or Milo Yiannopoulos do not qualify), but on the other, they hate Putin for not endorsing their racist and fascist agenda. Truth be told: Russia has no use for these intellectual midgets.

Russia is “selling out” to the Taliban?

Well, since we are making a (tongue-in-cheek) “inventory” of all of Putin’s (and even Russia’s) sins, let’s include cozying up to the Taliban (who even agreed to put on Saint George’s Ribbons!) and… … and what exactly is happening here?

How about trying to bring peace back to Afghanistan? You know – the same thing Russia is doing in Venezuela, in Syria and elsewhere. This implies talking to the other side, and even striking smiling poses when asked by the press.

Needless to say, the thugs running the AngloZionst Empire have accused Russia or aiding and even arming the Taliban. And why not? This is no more ridiculous than saying that Saddam and Iran are helping al-Qaeda, or than saying that Russia “hacked” DNC computers, or told Maduro not to run for his life. Hey! We are living in “Skripal times” and the rules of evidence have changed to “highly likely” – so why not claim that Russia is also selling out to the Taliban (maybe even on Netanyahu’s orders?).

In the meantime, Russian soldiers are busy ducking missiles…

Yep, apparently unaware that their Commander-in-Chief is a puppet of both Israel and the worldwide Islamic Ummah, Russian servicemen are ducking missiles in Syria. The latest attack saw them shoot 36 missiles (and one targeting drone) out of the sky. This is good news, of course, but this just goes to show that these (US and Israel backed) Islamists shooting these missiles have not been informed that the Russian military in Syria is here to help Netanyahu and Trump. Somebody should probably tell them 😉

Conclusion: just one more crazy and terrifying week, with many more to come

I tried to be a little tongue-in-cheek here, but the reality is that what is taking place before our eyes is both absolutely insane and most terrifying. Why? Because the world is now ruled by a most dangerous gang of ignorant thugs who are very rapidly losing their grip on our planet and who is simply neither intellectually equipped to understand, nor deal with this very complex and rapidly changing situation.

What we are seeing is a full-spectrum collapse of the unipolar world and its gradual, but also inexorable, replacement with a multi-polar world in which things like “speaking with your adversaries or even enemies” becomes the norm rather than the exception. Even more importantly, this is a world in which US threats always fall on deaf ears simply because nobody takes the US seriously anymore. While the US military probably has the capability to re-invade Grenada or “bring democracy” to the inhabitants of the North Sentinel Island – no adults in the room will be impressed (least of all the Iranians!).

It is this quiet indifference which enrages the likes of Pompeo, Bolton or Trump – for all their narcissistic chest-thumping – they are, and will forever remain, the ultimate losers – folks who simply couldn’t get *anything* done. Even more terrifying is their sense of total impunity. If Obama was “democracy with a human face” then Trump is “democracy with a simian face” – not much better.

When I think that a “Golden Tufted Cockatoo” (to use Fred Reeds wonderful image) has the authority to press the nuclear button I feel terrified. I also realize that the survival of the human species will depend on Putin and Xi and their ability to gradually disarm or neutralize the US threat without triggering a nuclear war.

These are truly terrifying times. If you are not terrified, then you are delusional.

But if being terrified is a natural and absolutely normal reaction, we need to overcome it and fearlessly resist. Like Maduro does, surrounded by his men.

This refusal to be afraid, even while being terrified, is how we will eventually defeat the Empire!

Venezuela is, by far, the weakest link in the chain of resistance to the Empire. But look at these faces! All I can say is this: may the courage of the kids protecting not only Maduro, but also the sovereignty of their country, be an inspiration to us all, no matter how terrified we are.

UPDATE: turns out that it was not Russia or Cuba which are responsible for the failed coup. According to Neocon US Senator from Florida, Venezuela regime change crusader Marco Rubio, it’s the Chinese! I wonder whom the US leaders are going to blame next? Any guesses?

Resistance report: Trump decides not to reissue waivers while Syrian fuel crisis reaches critical stage (with response to Andrew Korybko)

April 25, 2019

Resistance report: Trump decides not to reissue waivers while Syrian fuel crisis reaches critical stage (with response to Andrew Korybko)

by Aram Mirzaei for the Saker Blog

It has become clear by now that Washington is seeking yet another war in the region. The Zionist servants in Washington have made great efforts this year to “put pressure” on the Resistance axis. They have for months raised the stakes with their aggressive rhetoric about the “outlaw, terrorist supporting Iranian regime”.

The “maximum pressure” campaign escalated in 2019. Washington declared IRGC a terrorist organization, putting it alongside the Islamic State and Boko Haram. This designation provides Washington with a legal basis for attacking the IRGC, according to the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, a legislation originally written to provide an excuse for the invasion of Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11.

Continuing on their path from last year, with the US withdrawal from the JCPOA (Nuclear deal), “maximum pressure” campaign by the White House, Treasury Department, and State Department accelerated this week with the announcement that the United States would force China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey to cease all imports of Iranian oil or face severe U.S. sanctions. The said goal is to cut to zero all of Iran’s oil exports. According to arguably the biggest and most despicable idiot in Washington, Mike Pompeo, this is aimed at forcing Iran to “behave like a normal country”. A normal country? What exactly is a “normal country?” Is that a country that has capitulated and accepted humiliation? A country that has given up on its independence and does everything and anything Washington orders them to do? Are Saudi Arabia and Israel “normal countries?” They know as well as we do that this maximum pressure campaign won’t lead to the Islamic Republic’s capitulation, but it could very well lead to war.

To support their claims, Idiot Pompeo and his friends in Washington are selling the idea that Tehran is in league with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, because they really can’t come up with other examples of HOW Iran actually supports terrorism, which it in fact isn’t. In a speech at the Heritage Foundation, Idiot Pompeo said:

“Today we ask the Iranian people: Is this what you want your country to be known for, for being a co-conspirator with Hezbollah, Hamas, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda?”

It really doesn’t matter for the large and vastly ignorant population of the US that Iran is actually a Shia nation with a longstanding hostility towards Terrorist takfiri outfits such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Nor do they remember that Trump, the White House fool himself correctly claimed during his presidential campaign that Obama created ISIS in Syria.

Washington and its Zionist masters in Tel Aviv aim to provoke Tehran into a first strike so that they have not only legal basis for an attack on Iran but also the legitimacy to engage Iranian targets.
Tehran has threatened to block the strait of Hormuz if Iran is not allowed to use it, and Washington has vowed to respond in such a case. You can see where this is going.

Disinformation from within is on the rise as the Syrian fuel crisis reaches new levels

Simultaneously with Washington’s aggression towards Iran, US sanctions on Syria have also accelerated. Washington’s economic siege of Syria is supposed to apply pressure on the Syrian government to return to the Geneva peace process. This is a very sick and ironic policy of Washington’s as it is Washington and its vassals that have for 8 years claimed that the Syrian government engages in “siege and starve tactics” to subdue its population. As a result of Washington’s blockade on Syria, the country is facing its worst fuel crisis for many years. It has been clear for long that the Zionist Empire and its vassals cannot win in Syria, as their influence over the course of the war has been fading ever since Moscow stepped in four years ago, so now the policy has shifted from fighting to achieve victory, to obstructing any kind of victory for Syria and her allies, resorting to obstructing any kind of resources or help from entering the country. This was clear when Washington threatened to sanction anyone who would dare to help in Syria’s reconstruction, and the fact that Iranian oil shipments to Syria are blocked at the Suez Canal. So what is it that Washington really is going to achieve here?

The only result of these sanctions, and any of Washington’s sanctions for that matter will be a prolonging and worsening of the humanitarian crisis in Syria. The Western media are quick to spin articles on how Syrians living under President Assad are getting fed up with the government, while the actual case, as in the case of Iran, is a growing animosity and awareness towards the despicable sanctions that Washington and its allies impose on them. Because who really suffers from these sanctions imposed on Syria and Iran? Is it the government or the people that can barely even afford to buy bread anymore?

The fuel crisis has however created another situation that gives cause for a bigger concern than what the Zionist empire is plotting. Scrolling across Twitter, I stumbled upon an article written by Andrew Korybko in which he questions why the Oil-Rich Russians aren’t providing Syria with fuel amid this fuel crisis. It’s a fair question in my opinion but his explanation is somewhat troublesome and even worrying. Korybko wants to portray this crisis as an opportunity for Moscow to politicize the situation and compel Syria into submission. Moscow is supposedly withholding any kind of help for Syria in an attempt to push Syria to accept Moscow’s draft constitution and push Iran to withdraw from the country, thus leaving Moscow as the sole power in charge of Syria. Korybko explains this move as Moscow’s “revenge” for Assad’s supposed “humiliation” of Moscow when his government refused to implement the Russian written draft constitution in 2017, something that Putin allegedly has “never forgotten”. Korybko argues that

“every one of the many growing differences between Russia and Syria can be traced back to that moment when Moscow caught Damascus completely off guard by presenting this surprise document to it at the same time as it gave this proposal to the so-called “rebels” that also attended the event, which was an unthinkable affront to Syria’s dignity and “face” even though it was “well-intended” and meant to revive the stalled peace process.”

Why would Moscow wait two years before it decides to “punish” Damascus for refusing this offer? In these past two years Moscow has helped to liberate more than half the country since those days in early January 2017. Korybko fails to offer any further explanation for this claim.

Korybko then moves on to claim that the September incident in which Zionist planes caused Syria’s air defence to accidentally shoot down made Putin “so furious with Assad” that he refuses to speak to him and instead dispatches Defense Minister Shoigu to deliver messages. This is quite a bizarre way of seeing it. Putin is not known to be an emotionally driven politician that would let his feeling guide his strategic choices. What sort of evidence does Korybko have for this very bold claim?

Korybko then speculates that the latest message could have been a “reminder” about President Putin’s insistence that Assad complies with the constitutional changes that Moscow presented two years ago. Korybko finishes his article with a final speculation that Moscow could even seek to replace Assad for his insolence.

Firstly, I must say that Korybko seems to be on a mission to connect Putin with the Zionist empire, in doing so he seems to forget that Moscow is not Washington. Yes, Russia, Iran, Syria and Hezbollah share different goals and interests that sometimes come into conflict with each other, but Korybko seems to forget that this is how true alliances work. Washington has no allies, it has vassals and slaves, we should never forget that.

Secondly, why on earth would Moscow after 8 years seek to replace Assad? This would be absolute madness on Moscow’s part. But lets play with the idea that this was the case, who would they replace him with? Who else would guarantee that Syria doesn’t fall into the hands of Washington’s cut-throat friends? That would be counter-productive for Moscow’s efforts these past 4 years on the ground. Korybko fails to answer this.

Finally, if Putin really was angry with Assad over the September incident, why would he publicly lay the blame on the Zionist state? He didn’t shy away from holding Erdogan personally responsible for the shooting down of the Russian SU-24 back in late 2015.  Instead Moscow immediately gave Damascus the S-300 missile system and began training Syrian forces on how to use it.

The biggest danger of disinformation campaigns does not come from the mainstream media in the West, but from people who supposedly stand on our side.

 

Pakistan in the Crosshairs of New US Aggression

Pakistan in the Crosshairs of New US Aggression

Pakistan in the Crosshairs of New US Aggression

With events escalating quickly in Kashmir it’s incumbent to ask the most pertinent questions in geopolitics.

Why there?

And, Why Now?

Why Kashmir?

India and Pakistan are both making serious moves to slip out from underneath the US’s external control. India has openly defied the US on buying S-400 missile defense systems, keeping up its oil trade with Iran and developing the important Iranian port at Chabahar to help complete an almost private spur of the North South Transport Corridor.

Pakistan, under new Prime Minister Imran Khan is trying to square accounts with China over its massive investment for its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) known as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It has also been at the forefront of multiple rounds of talks spurred by the Russians and Iranians to forge some kind of peace in Afghanistan.

And the Trump administration cut off US aid to Pakistan for not being sufficiently helpful in the fight against terrorism. This opened up a war of words between Trump and Khan who reminded Trump that the little bit of money the US sent Pakistan nothing compared to the losses both economic and personal.

If there was ever the possibility of peace breaking out between India and Pakistan it would be in the context of stitching the two countries together through China’s regional plans as well as solving the thorny problem of continued US and NATO occupation of Afghanistan.

Anything that can be done to flare up tensions between these two adversaries then serves the US’s goals of sowing chaos and division to keep the things from progressing smoothly. Khan was elected to, in effect, drain the Pakistani Swamp. His, like Trump’s, is a tall order.

And at this point it looks like he’s still willing to give it a go as opposed to Trump who is simply revealing himself to be a thin-skinned version of Barack Obama, albeit with a distinctly orange hue.

But, still why right now?

Because Trump is distracted with his latest love affair with himself – taking credit for a Korean peace process that will proceed with or without him at this point. All he can do is slow it down, which is exactly what his Secretary of State has been doing since last year’s meeting in Singapore.

And that leaves people like John Bolton and the rest of the worst people in D.C. to go to work undermining an entire region of the world.

Last weekend’s terrorist attack was a planned provocation to produce the very outcome we have today. Jaish-e-Mohammed have too many direct and indirect links to Bush the Lesser era programs and Saudi Arabia to be ignored.

This attack happens just days after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman comes rushing in to save Pakistan’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves with promises of $10 billion to build a refinery of Saudi oil at the (now Chinese) port of Gwadar.

There are no coincidences in geopolitics. Timing is everything.

It reminds me of the flare up in Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2016. Then Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Azeri leader Ilham Aliyev on a Wednesday and by Sunday a nearly twenty-year peace was broken.

National Security Advisor John Bolton is desperate to keep Trump from pulling half of the troops out of Afghanistan. After a disastrous “Let Make War on Iran” conference in Warsaw two weeks ago, Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were reeling from having obtained no support outside of those already committed to such a plan.

Europe roundly said no, other than willing satrap Poland, still hoping Daddy Trump will save them from the mean old Nordstream 2 pipeline.

As Alistair Crooke pointed out recently, Bolton is putting pressure on Pakistan to forge a peace agreement with the Taliban which somehow allows for the US to maintain all of its troop presence there.

Washington is now embracing Pakistan (with Saudi Arabia and UAE writing the cheques). And Washington looks to Pakistan rather, not so much to contain and disrupt the Taliban, but to co-opt it through a ‘peace accord’ into accepting to be another US military ‘hub’ to match America’s revamped military ‘hub’ in Erbil (the Kurdish part of Iraq, which borders the Kurdish provinces of Iran). As a former Indian Ambassador, MK Bhadrakumar explains:

“What the Saudis and Emiratis are expecting as follow-up in the near future is a certain “rebooting” of the traditional Afghan-Islamist ideology of the Taliban and its quintessentially nationalistic “Afghan-centric” outlook with a significant dosage of Wahhabi indoctrination … [so as to] make it possible [to] integrate the Taliban into the global jihadi network and co-habitate it with extremist organisations such as the variants of Islamic State or al-Qaeda … so that geopolitical projects can be undertaken in regions such as Central Asia and the Caucasus or Iran from the Afghan soil, under a comprador Taliban leadership”.

Bolton was also able to get Trump to agree to pull most of the troops out of Syria, leave just enough behind to call in airstrikes to protect what’s left of ISIS and relocate the rest to Iraq.

Trump gets to say he fulfilled a campaign promise, and everyone’s plans for War with Iran stays on schedule.

So, if I’m right (and there’s no guarantee that I am) what purpose does poking a fight between India and Pakistan serve?

Many, unfortunately.

1. One it sells the regional chaos angle about the need to continue the War on Terror.

2. ISIS is gone but we still have to fight Iran.

3. It punishes India for daring to get off the reservation.

4. It reminds Khan just how tenuous his hold on power is.

5. It is a warning to China that the US will risk everything to not lose the Heartland.

Add in the proximity to the Trump-Kim meeting as well as the fractious trade talks with China and you have an orgy of related news all at the same time to drive the point home.

Bolton, the Brits, France and Netanyahu were willing to risk World War III in Syria to create a false flag event in which Russia attacked a NATO target – the downing of the IL-20 ELINT aircraft last September.

Do you not think these insane animals wouldn’t risk a nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India to blow up (literally) China’s plans to win the biggest prize in geopolitics?

If you don’t then you haven’t been paying attention.

Both Imran Khan and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi need to keep their heads here. Modi has an election coming up later this year. I’m sure the calculus was that he would jump at the opportunity to burnish his cred with voters by lobbing a few bombs inside Pakistan. For Khan, this is the first real test of his leadership and he has to resist the siren’s call of the Saudi’s money to balance all sides of the equation while de-escalating this situation as quickly as possible.

One thing is for certain, we haven’t seen the last of this.

Photo: Flickr

حرب كشمير بواجهة هندية ـ باكستانية وتورّط دولي مكشوف!

مارس 1, 2019

د. وفيق ابراهيم

تَحوّلَ النزاع الهندي الباكستاني على منطقة كشمير الفاصلة بينهما مشروع حرب فعلية قد تشعل أكثر من شبه القارة الهندية.

لا شك أنّ هناك أسباباً هندية – باكستانية للصراع لم يجد أحدٌ له حلاً حتى الآن لكنه التزم بعد اندلاع حرب كبيرة بين طرفيها في 1972 بحدود الأمر الواقع في إطار هدنة مضبوطة، فما الذي استجدّ حتى يتحضّر البلدان لمواجهة واسعة؟

تصل مساحة كشمير الى 86 الف كلم مربع تقريباً تسيطر الهند على 65 في المئة منها تقريباً والباقي لباكستان كما تحتوي على غالبية إسلامية مقابل أقلية بوذية.

للتوضيح فإنّ انفصال الولايات الإسلامية في الهند بمسمّى جديد هو باكستان كان يُراد منه انفصال كامل الأقليات الإسلامية في شبه القارة الهندية، ونتيجة للبعد الجغرافي عن باكستان بقي ملايين المسلمين في أنحاء أخرى من الهند واحترب البلدان للاستحواذ على كشمير المنطقة الحدودية بينهما.

وكان التوتر السياسي يندلع على كشمير بين الفينة والأخرى لكنه لم يصل ومنذ 1972 إلى مرحلة حرب مكتفياً باشتباكات حدودية محدودة جداً تقتصر على مشاركة قليل من الجنود المنتشرين على حدود كشمير بين البلدين.

لجهة الأسباب الداخلية فإنّ جزءاً هاماً من «الإسلام المتطرف» ذي الجذر القاعدي موجود في باكستان وخصوصاً في كشمير ونما في مئات المراكز الاسلامية التي أسّستها السعودية ولا تزال تموّلها حتى تاريخه بمشاركة إماراتية ودعم من منظمة طالبان من مراكز نفوذها من أفغانستان المحاذية.

فرَفدَ هذا الاتجاه المتطرف التيارات الإسلامية في كشمير التي تعمل على تحرير القسم التي تسيطر عليه الهند فيها.

هناك فريق رابع تولى تقديم التسهيلات اللوجستية وحرية الحركة للتنظيمات الإسلامية وهي المخابرات الباكستانية التي لا يزال الغرب يتهمها حتى الآن بدعم القاعدة وطالبان في أفغانستان وتتهمها الهند حالياً بتوفير ظروف مناسبة لشنّ ضربات على القوات الهندية في كشمير وحتى داخل الهند.

لقد شكلت هذه التحالفات الغطاء الداخلي للعملية التي نفذها تشكيل إرهابي يُدعى «جيش محمد» مستهدفاً فيها كتيبة للجيش الهندي في مركز انتشاره في كشمير وأدّت الى مذبحة موصوفة.

ما أغضب نيودلهي ليست المذبحة فقط، إنما السلوك الباكستاني المتراخي الذي لم يمنح الهجوم الإرهابي الاهمية التي يستحقها.

واكتفت بشجب الهجوم والتعهّد بالتحقيق لكشف الفاعلين وهم معروفون سلفاً من أجهزتها، مشكلين جزءاً من بنية إرهابية تنتشر في معظم الجزء الباكستاني من كشمير.

لذلك حاولت الهند تنظيم ردّ عسكري يستبقُ فكرة مواصلة الهجمات على قواتها، فكانت الغارة الجوية الهندية على مواقع «جيش محمد» وتبيّن انّ باكستان كانت تتوقع مثل هذا الردّ فجابهته بشكل صارم الأمر الذي دفع بالبلدين لحشد قواتهما على حدوديهما في كشمير في حركات تصعيدية قد تتدحرج نحو حرب بين بلدين نوويين، وتعهّدت باكستان بإعادة طيار هندي أسقطت طائرته مقابل توقف الاستنفار الهندي.

تكشف هذه التفاصيل انّ أقساماً من المخابرات الباكستانية تعمل بإيحاء خارجي قابل للمضاعفة إذا كانت الهند العدو التقليدي هي المستهدف.

والسؤال هنا، لماذا يستهدفُ هذا الإيحاء الخارجي لمخابرات اسلام أباد الهند؟ وماذا فعلت؟

لم تفعل الهند ما يعادي علاقاتها الإقليمية والدولية، لكنها استمرّت بشراء النفط من إيران في حركة كسر للمقاطعة الأميركية التي تمنع العالم من علاقات اقتصادية طبيعية مع طهران، وهذا استفز الأميركيين ولم يتمكّن ولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان في زيارته الأخيرة للهند من إقناع حكامها بشراء نفط سعودي بسعر تشجيعي مقابل وقف شراء النفط الإيراني.

أما السلوك الهندي الأهمّ الذي يستفزّ دوائر القرار في واشنطن فيتعلق بانفتاح الهند على روسيا والصين في مؤتمر يُهيّئ لتحالف جديد ترى فيه واشنطن «المكوّن العالمي الوحيد» الجدير بمجابهة الامبراطورية الأميركية المتراجعة.

هذا ما دفع بالبيت الأبيض إلى بناء خطة من مستويين: زعزعة الاستقرار الداخلي الهندي بواسطة الإسلام المتطرف الذي لا يصيبه في كشمير فقط، بل داخل الهند أيضاً حيث تنتشر أقليات إسلامية كبيرة.

فكانت بداية الخطة في هجوم جيش محمد في كشمير وبذلك يكسب الأميركيون على مستويين: إضعاف الهند داخلياً والاستمرار في تشويه علاقة الإسلام بالأديان الاخرى، والعالم عموماً.

من جانب آخر، يواصل الأميركيون عبثاً محاولة الحدّ من الصعود الصيني بمفاوضات تتحسّن وتسوء إلا انها لا تستطيع كبح الاندفاع الصيني نحو حلف مع الهند وروسيا يبدو ضرورياً لكسر أحادية التسلط الأميركي على العالم.

فهل يجد الأميركيون ضرورة لخلق ظروف مؤاتية لتفجير حرب كبيرة بين الهند وباكستان؟

الموضوع جدير بالانتباه لانه يندرج في إطار إشعال الأميركيين لكامل الحروب في العالم.

أليست واشنطن من احتلّ افغانستان والعراق وسورية وقسماً من أميركا اللاتينية، وتستعدّ لمغامرة عسكرية في فنزويلا، وهناك ليبيا المدمّرة وتونس المتأرجحة ومصر المتدهورة والسودان الذي يتحضّر لحروب أهلية، أليس الأميركيون من ينشر الصواريخ في شرق أوروبا؟

يتبيّن أنّ على روسيا والصين مهمة وقف مشروع الحرب الباكسانية الهندية بمفاوضات معمّقة لأنها حرب أميركية تستهدفهم أيضاً وتقع في مواجهة حدودهم السياسية وأمنهم الداخلي.

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Mr Bolton’s Long Game Against Iran – Pakistan Becomes Saudi Arabia’s New Client State

Mr Bolton’s Long Game Against Iran – Pakistan Becomes Saudi Arabia’s New Client State

Mr Bolton’s Long Game Against Iran – Pakistan Becomes Saudi Arabia’s New Client State

The Wall Street Journal has an article whose very title – Ambitions for an ‘Arab NATO’ Fade, Amid Discord – more or less, says it all. No surprise there at all. Even Antony Zinni, the retired Marine General who was to spearhead the project (but who has now resigned), said it was clear from early on that the idea of creating an “Arab NATO” was too ambitious. “There was no way that anybody was ready to jump into a NATO-type alliance,” he said. “One of the things I tried to do was kill that idea of a Gulf NATO or a Middle East NATO.” Instead, the planning has focused on ‘more realistic expectations’, the WSJ article concludes.

Apparently, “not all Middle Eastern nations working on the proposal, want to make Iran a central focus – a concern that has forced the US to frame the alliance as a broader coalition”, the WSJ recounts. No surprise there either: Gulf preoccupations have turned to a more direct anxiety – which is that Turkey intends to unloose (in association with Qatar) the Muslim Brotherhood – whose leadership is already gathering in Istanbul – against Turkey’s nemesis: Mohammad bin Zaid and the UAE (whom Turkish leadership believes, together with MbS, inspired the recent moves to surround the southern borders of Turkey with a cordon of hostile Kurdish statelets).

Even the Gulf leaders understand that if they want to ‘roll-back’ Turkish influence in the Levant, they cannot be explicitly anti-Iranian. It just not viable in the Levant.

So, Iran then is off the hook? Well, no. Absolutely not. MESA (Middle East Security Alliance) maybe the new bland vehicle for a seemingly gentler Arab NATO, but its covert sub-layer is, under Mr Bolton’s guidance, as fixated on Iran, as was ‘Arab NATO’ at the outset. How would it be otherwise (given Team Trump’s obsession with Iran)?

So, what do we see? Until just recently, Pakistan was ‘on the ropes’ economically. It seemed that it would have to resort to the IMF (yet again), and that it was clear that the proximate IMF experience – if approved – would be extremely painful (Secretary Pompeo, in mid-last year, was saying that the US probably would not support an IMF programme, as some of the IMF grant might be used to repay earlier Chinese loans to Pakistan). The US too had punished Pakistan by severely cutting US financial assistance to the Pakistani military for combatting terrorism. Pakistan, in short, was sliding inevitably towards debt default – with only the Chinese as a possible saviour.

And then, unexpectedly, up pops ‘goldilocks’ in the shape of a visiting MbS, promising a $20 billion investment plan as “first phase” of a profound programme to resuscitate the Pakistani economy. And that is on top of a $3 billion cash bailout, and another $3 billion deferred payment facility for supply of Saudi oil. Fairy godmothers don’t come much better than that. And this benevolence comes in the wake of the $6.2 billion, promised last month, by UAE, to address Pakistan’s balance of payments difficulties.

The US wants something badly – It wants Pakistan urgently to deliver a Taliban ‘peace agreement’ in Afghanistan with the US which allows for US troops to be permanently based there (something that the Taliban not only has consistently refused, but rather, has always put the withdrawal of foreign forces as its top priority).

But two telling events have occurred: The first was on 13 February when a suicide attacker drove an explosives-laden vehicle into a bus that was transporting IRGC troops in the Sistan-Baluchistan province of Iran. Iran’s parliamentary Speaker has said that the attack that killed 27 members of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was “planned and carried out, from inside Pakistan”. Of course, such a provocative disruption into Iran’s most ethnically sensitive province may mean ‘nothing’, but perhaps the renewed inflow of Gulf money, fertilizing a new crop of Wahhabi madrasa in Pakistan’s Baluch province, may be connected – as IRCG Commander, General Sulemani’s stark warning to Pakistan suggests.

In any event, reports suggest that Pakistan, indeed, is placing now intense pressure on the Afghan Taliban leaders to accede to Washington’s demand for permanent military bases in Afghanistan.

The US, it seems, after earlier chastising Pakistan (for not doing enough to curb the Taliban) has done a major U-turn: Washington is now embracing Pakistan (with Saudi Arabia and UAE writing the cheques). And Washington looks to Pakistan rather, not so much to contain and disrupt the Taliban, but to co-opt it through a ‘peace accord’ into accepting to be another US military ‘hub’ to match America’s revamped military ‘hub’ in Erbil (the Kurdish part of Iraq, which borders the Kurdish provinces of Iran). As a former Indian Ambassador, MK Bhadrakumar explains:

“What the Saudis and Emiratis are expecting as follow-up in the near future is a certain “rebooting” of the traditional Afghan-Islamist ideology of the Taliban and its quintessentially nationalistic “Afghan-centric” outlook with a significant dosage of Wahhabi indoctrination … [so as to] make it possible [to] integrate the Taliban into the global jihadi network and co-habitate it with extremist organisations such as the variants of Islamic State or al-Qaeda … so that geopolitical projects can be undertaken in regions such as Central Asia and the Caucasus or Iran from the Afghan soil, under a comprador Taliban leadership”.

General Votel, the head of Centcom told the US Senate Armed forces Committee on 11 February, “If Pakistan plays a positive role in achieving a settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan, the US will have opportunity and motive to help Pakistan fulfill that role, as peace in the region is the most important mutual priority for the US and Pakistan.” MESA is quietly proceeding, but under the table.

And what of that second, telling occurrence? It is that there are credible reports that ISIS fighters in the Deir a-Zoor area of Syria are being ‘facilitated’ to leave East Syria (reports suggest with significant qualities of gold and gemstones) in a move to Afghanistan.

Iran has long been vulnerable in its Sistan-Baluchistan province to ostensibly, secessionist factions (supported over the years by external states), but Iran is vulnerable, too, from neighbouring Afghanistan. Iran has relations with the Taliban, but it was Islamabad that firstly ‘invented’ (i.e. created) the Deobandi (an orientation of Wahhabism) Taliban, and which traditionally has exercised the primordial influence over this mainly Pashtoon grouping (whilst Iran’s influence rested more with the Tajiks of northern Afghanistan). Saudi Arabia of course, has had a decades long connection with the Pashtoon mujahidin of Afghanistan.

During the Afghan war of the 1980s and later, Afghanistan always was the path for Islamic fundamentalism to reach up into Central Asia. In other words, America’s anxiety to achieve a permanent presence in Afghanistan – plus the arrival of militants from Syria – may somehow link to suggest a second motive to US thinking: the potential to curb Russia and China’s evolution of a Central Asian trading sphere and supply corridor.

Putting this all together, what does this mean? Well, firstly, Mr Bolton was arguing for a US military ‘hub’ in Iraq – to put pressure on Iran – as early as 2003. Now, he has it. US Special Forces, (mostly) withdrawn from Syria, are deploying into this new Iraq military ‘hub’ in order, Trump said, to “watch Iran”. (Trump rather inadvertently ‘let the cat out of the bag’ with that comment).

The detail of the US ‘hub encirclement’ of Iran, however, rather gives the rest of Mr Bolton’s plan away: The ‘hubs’ are positioned precisely adjacent to Sunni, Kurdish, Baluch or other Iranian ethnic minorities (some with a history of insurgency). And why is it that US special forces are being assembled in the Iraqi hub? Well, these are the specialists of ‘train and assist’ programmes. These forces are attached to insurgent groups to ‘train and assist’ them to confront a sitting government. Eventually, such programmes end with safe-zone enclaves that protect American ‘companion forces’ (Bengahazi in Libya was one such example, al-Tanaf in Syria another).

The covert element to the MESA programme, targeting Iran, is ambitious, but it will be supplemented in the next months with new rounds of economic squeeze intended to sever Iran’s oil sales (as waivers expire), and with diplomatic action, aimed at disrupting Iran’s links in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

Will it succeed? It may not. The Taliban pointedly cancelled their last scheduled meeting with Pakistani officials at which renewed pressure was expected to be exerted on them to come to an agreement with Washington; the Taliban have a proud history of repulsing foreign occupiers; Iraq has no wish to become ‘pig-in-the middle’ of a new US-Iran struggle; the Iraqi government may withdraw ‘the invitation’ for American forces to remain in Iraq; and Russia (which has its own peace process with the Taliban), would not want to be forced into choosing sides in any escalating conflict between the US, Israel and Iran. Russia and China do not want to see this region disrupted.

More particularly, India will be disconcerted by the sight of the MESA ‘tipping’ toward Pakistan as its preferred ally – the more so as India, likely will view (rightly or wrongly), the 14 February, vehicle-borne, suicide attack in Jammu-Kashmir that resulted in the deaths of 40 Indian police, as signaling the Pakistan military recovering sufficiently confidence to pursue their historic territorial dispute with India over Jammu-Kashmir (perhaps the world’s most militarised zone, and the locus of three earlier wars between India and Pakistan). It would make sense now, for India to join with Iran, to avoid its isolation.

But these real political constraints notwithstanding, this patterning of events does suggest a US ‘mood for confrontation’ with Iran is crystalizing in Washington.

Photo: Flickr

We’ve seen the west’s approach to Venezuela before – in Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan, need I go on?

Instead of pleading with those who will not support him, the self-proclaimed interim president of Venezuela might want to take a closer look at who his foreign friends are

By Robert Fisk

February 13, 2019 “Information Clearing House” –    The closest I ever came to Venezuela, many years ago, was a transit connection at Caracas airport. I noticed a lot of soldiers in red berets and a clutch of goons, and it reminded me, vaguely, of the Middle East.

Now, sitting in the rain squalls of the wintry Levant, I flick through my newspaper clippings of our recent local autocrats – Saddam, Assad, al-Sisi, Erdogan, Mohammed bin Salman (you can fill in the rest for yourself) – and I think of Nicolas Maduro.

The comparisons are by no means precise. Indeed, it’s not the nature of the “strongmen” I’m thinking about. It’s our reaction to all these chaps. And there are two obvious parallels: the way in which we sanction and isolate the hated dictator – or love him, as the case may be – and the manner in which we not only name the opposition as the rightful heir to the nation, but demand that democracy be delivered to the people whose torture and struggle for freedom we have suddenly discovered.

And before I forget it, there’s one other common thread in this story. If you suggest that those who want presidential change in Venezuela may be a little too hasty, and our support for – let us say – Juan Guaido might be a bit premature if we don’t want to start a civil war, this means you are “pro-Maduro”

Just as those who opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq were “pro-Saddam”, or those who thought the west might pause before it supported the increasingly violent opposition in Syria were labelled “pro-Assad”.

And those who defended Yasser Arafat – over a long period a super-terrorist, a super-diplomat and then a super-terrorist again – against those who would oust him as leader of the Palestinians, were abused as “pro-Arafat”, “pro-Palestinian”, “pro-terrorist” and, inevitably, “anti-Semitic”. I recall how George W Bush warned us after 9/11, that “you are either with us or against us”. The same threat was made to us about Assad.

Erdogan has used it in Turkey (less than three years ago) and it was a common line in the forgotten 1930s used by none other than Mussolini. And now I quote Trump’s US secretary of state Michael Pompeo on Maduro: “Now it is time for every other nation to pick a side … either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem.”

You get the point. Now is the time for all good people to stand alongside the United States, the EU, the nations of Latin America – or do you support the Russkies, Chinese, Iranian headbangers, the perfidious Corbyn and (of all people) the Greeks? Talking of the Greeks, European pressure on Alexis Tsipras to conform to the EU’s support for Guaido – proving that the EU can indeed bully its smaller members – is a good argument for Brexiteers (though far too complex for them to understand).

But first, let’s take a look at our favourite tyrant, in the words of all who oppose him. He’s a powerful dictator, surrounded by generals, suppressing his people, using torture, mass arrests, secret police murders, rigged elections, political prisoners – so no wonder we gave our support to those who wish to overthrow this brutal man and stage democratic elections.

Not a bad precis of our current policy towards the Maduro regime. But I am referring, of course, word-for-word, to the west’s policy towards the Assad regime in Syria. And our support for opposition democracy there wasn’t terribly successful.

We were not solely responsible for the Syrian civil war – but we were not guiltless since we sent an awful lot of weapons to those trying to overthrow Assad. And last month the notepad of US national security advisor John Bolton appeared to boast a plan to send 5,000 US troops to Colombia

And now let’s tick the box on another Maduro-lookalike – at least from the west’s simplistic point of view: the military-backed elected field marshal-president al-Sisi of Egypt, whom we love, admire and protect. Powerful dictator? Yup. Surrounded and supported by generals? You bet, not least because he locked up a rival general before the last election. Suppression? Absolutely – all in the interest of crushing “terrorism”, of course.

Mass arrests? Happily yes, for all the inmates of Egypt’s savage prison system are “terrorists”, at least according to the field marshal-president himself. Secret police murders? Well, even forgetting the young Italian student suspected by his government to have been allegedly tortured and bumped off by one of Sisi’s top Egyptian cops, there’s a roll call of disappeared activists.

Rigged elections? No doubt about it, although al-Sisi still maintains that his last triumph at the polls – a cracking 97 per cent – was a free and fair election.

President Trump sent his “sincere congratulations”. Political prisoners? Well, the total is 60,000 and rising. Oh yes, and Maduro’s last victory – a rigged election if ever there was one, of course – was a mere 67.84 per cent.

As the late sage of the Sunday Express, John Gordon, might have said: it makes you sit up a bit. So, too, I suppose, when we glance a bit further eastwards to Afghanistan, whose Taliban rulers were routed in 2001 by the US, whose post-9/11 troops and statesmen ushered in a new life of democracy, then corruption, warlordism and civil war.

The “democracy” bit quickly came unstuck when “loya jurgas”, grand councils, turned into tribal playpens and the Americans announced that it would be an exaggeration to think that we could achieve “Jeffersonian democracy” in Afghanistan. Too true.

Now the Americans are negotiating with the “terrorist” Taliban in Qatar so they can get the hell out of the Graveyard of Empires after 17 years of military setbacks, scandals and defeats – not to mention running a few torture camps which even Maduro would cough to look at.

Now all this may not encourage you to walk down memory lane. And I haven’t even listed the sins of Saddam, let alone our continuing and cosy relationship – amazing as it still seems – with that Gulf state whose lads strangled, chopped up and secretly buried a US-resident journalist in Turkey.

Now just imagine if Maduro, tired of a journalist critic slandering him in Miami, decided to lure him to the Venezuelan embassy in Washington and top the poor guy, slice him up and bury him secretly in Foggy Bottom. Well now, I have a feeling that sanctions might have been applied to Maduro a long time ago. But not to Saudi Arabia, of course, where we are very definitely not advocating democracy.

“Now is the time for democracy and prosperity in Venezuela,” quoth John Bolton this week. Oh, yes indeed. Maduro runs an oil-soaked nation yet its people starve. He is an unworthy, foolish and vain man, even if he’s not Saddamite in his crimes. He was rightly described by a colleague as a dreary tyrant. He even looks like the kind of guy who tied ladies to railway lines in silent movies.

So good luck to Guaido. Palpably a nice guy, speaks eloquently, wise to stick to aid for the poor and fresh elections rather than dwell on just how exactly Maduro and his military chums are going to be booted out.

In other words, good luck – but watch out. Instead of pleading with those who will not support him – the Greeks, for example – he might take a closer look at who his foreign friends are. And do a quick track record on their more recent crusades for freedom, democracy and the right to life. And by the way, I haven’t even mentioned Libya.

This article was originally published by The Independent“-

Do you agree or disagree? Post your comment here

 The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

US revisits Vietnam Syndrome in Afghanistan after 17 years of war and destruction

By  Finian Cunningham
Source

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It is America’s longest war, costing huge amounts of “blood and treasure” as US leaders claim. Yet, the signs are that Washington is finally accepting a historic defeat in Afghanistan comparable to the ignominious Vietnam War.

Intensive negotiations between American officials and Taliban insurgents have produced the “biggest tangible step” towards ending the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan, according to the New York Times.

More talks are scheduled in the coming weeks to firm up details, but already it is reported that the US is to withdraw its remaining 14,000 troops from the Central Asian country over the next year without any guarantees of reciprocation by the enemy.

That unilateral pullout is not yet officially admitted by Washington, but analysts believe the US has tacitly accepted the long-held demand by the Taliban for foreign troops to get out.

At the height of the war, US forces numbered up to 100,000 personnel. The remnant American military therefore have no way of countering the growing insurgency. Even with an additional 8,000 NATO troops and thousands of private contractors also present in Afghanistan supporting the US-backed government in Kabul, the sordid game is up.

Zalmay Khalilzad, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, during the latest round of talks held in Doha, Qatar, sought to portray an “agreed framework for a peace deal” being contingent on the Taliban delivering on three items: a ceasefire; entering into negotiations with the government in Kabul; and a vow to never allow Afghanistan to become a haven for terror groups.

But media reports cite Taliban officials as giving no firm commitment to those US demands, while it appears Washington has accepted its troops are to be repatriated regardless. In other words, the American side is looking for a face-saving, apparent bilateral “deal” when the reality is Washington knows its war is over.

Ryan Crocker, a former US ambassador to Afghanistan, puts it acerbically. Washington is only polishing the optics, while finessing “the terms of surrender.”

He compares the American withdrawal from Afghanistan to the disorderly retreat and defeat that US forces incurred at the end of the Vietnam War in the mid-1970s. “Then, as now, it was clear that by going to the table we were surrendering; we are just negotiating the terms of our surrender,” opined Crocker in the Washington Post.

The defeat of US military might in Indochina gave rise to the Vietnam Syndrome which entailed a grave loss in national confidence and international standing. The war in Afghanistan has already exceeded the duration of the Vietnam debacle by nearly eight years. While the death toll among American forces is a lot less, the financial cost of Afghanistan is potentially ruinous. Up to $2 trillion of taxpayer money is estimated to have been poured into waging war in that country, yet the strategic achievements are arguably zero.

Not only that, but the launching of “Operation Enduring Freedom” in October 2001 by the GW Bush administration was the catalyst for a global so-called “war on terror” which engulfed several countries. The total financial cost for those wars is reckoned to be around $5 trillion – or nearly a quarter of America’s spiraling national debt.

In cost of human lives, the Afghan war and its derivative “anti-terror” operations elsewhere have resulted in millions of deaths and casualties, millions of refugees and the decimation of whole nations, which have further spawned conflict and the spread of terrorism. Suicide rates and pathological self-destruction among US veterans who served in Afghanistan (and Iraq) are off the charts and will have long-term detriment on American society for generations to come.

The Afghan Syndrome is going to haunt the US for decades in the same way the Vietnam forerunner did.

What’s more despicable is the utter waste and futility. When Bush ordered the troops into Afghanistan at the end of 2001, it was supposed to be in revenge for the terror attacks on the US on September 11. Never mind that the evidence linking those attacks to Afghanistan was tenuous at best.

The Taliban regime, which had been in power from 1996, was toppled by the US. But three presidents later, the Taliban now are reckoned to control over half the territory in Afghanistan, and can carry out deadly attacks on US-backed local forces seemingly at will on a daily basis, including in the capital Kabul.

Now it seems only a matter of time until the Taliban will be back in power with the US and allied NATO forces gone.

Richard Haass, a former senior US State Department planner, commented: “The Taliban have concluded that it is only a matter of time before the United States grows weary of stationing troops in a far-off country and spending $45 billion a year on a war that cannot be won… they have little need to compromise.

The irony is that the Taliban grew out of the tribal militants that the US cultivated and armed to the teeth at the end of the 1970s when Afghanistan was governed by a Soviet-backed administration.

The American policy was gleefully calculated in Washington to give the “Soviets their Vietnam.” The proxy war was indeed a heavy loss for the Soviet Union, but in the longer-term it looks like Uncle Sam ended up getting another Vietnam in terms of creating the longest war ever for Washington, the unfolding ignominious defeat and the global blowback from Islamist terrorism it engendered.

Washington may be pretending it has reached a “framework deal for peace” in Afghanistan. But the brutal truth is Washington has lost another epic war.

The Taliban have always maintained they are not going to negotiate with the US-backed administration in Kabul, headed by President Ashraf Ghani. Like his predecessor, Hamid Karzai, the Taliban view Ghani and his government as a corrupt, venal puppet of the Americans.

The fact that the US sidelined the Kabul regime by talking directly with the Taliban is a crucial concession by Washington. By doing so, the US is effectively admitting that the insurgents are in the driving seat. All the talk out of Washington about supporting “intra-Afghani dialogue” and finding a “comprehensive peace settlement” is window-dressing rhetoric.

US President Donald Trump last month ordered about half of the American troops in Afghanistan – some 7,000 – to withdraw. Trump is said to be growing impatient with the huge financial drain of the never-ending war. His order to pull out forces before the latest round of negotiations in Qatar will have been taken by the Taliban as further proof the Americans know they are beaten.

Astoundingly, prominent voices in Washington are arguing that, in spite of the human calamity and cost of Afghanistan, US troops should remain there indefinitely. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell wants to pass legislation forbidding a withdrawal. The Washington Post’s editorial board – which reflects the foreign policy establishment view – admonished: “The Trump administration’s tentative deal with the Taliban could return Afghanistan to chaos.

Return to chaos”?

Afghanistan – known as the Graveyard of Empires – from centuries of defeating great powers is showing that the Americans are up their necks in chaos.

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More Flip Flopping, Trump Backtracks on Syria, Afghan Withdrawals, Facing Growing Senate Pressure

Trump Backtracks on Syria, Afghan Withdrawals

Trump now wants to keep ‘smaller number’ of troops in Afghanistan

Jason Ditz

Having drifted back and forth a few times on the US withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan, President Trump seemed solid on leaving last week, but facing growing opposition from the Senate now shows signs of backtracking once again.

Previously talking up how the wars in Afghanistan and Syria can’t last forever, Trump is now saying he wants a “smaller number” of troops to stay in Afghanistan, despite the Taliban already making it clear that was a non-starter for the peace deal.

In Syria, Trump is now focused on the idea that the pullout can only happen after assuring that “Israel is protected,” which is as close to a recipe for permanent warfare as one can get. Israeli officials have made clear they want the war to be about Iran, not ISIS.

And that seems to be he case in Iraq, as well, where President Trump is now saying US troops will remain, seemingly forever, to “watch Iran,” and make sure they don’t “do nuclear weapons or other things.”

Even with the slow, indefinitely half-departures, Trump was very hesitant, emphasizing that the US troops can “come back if we have to.” It’s going to be very hard for the US to “come back,” however, if they never get around to leaving.

All of this never leaving is neatly in line with the stated positions of the Pentagon for years, but breaks wildly from President Trump’s recent talk of actually leaving some countries. The split seems to have coincided neatly with the Senate’s non-binding resolution expressing opposition to leaving either Syria or Afghanistan.

Though originally it seemed President Trump was going to stick to his guns on the matter, having already shrugged off opposition from within his administration, the pressure seems to be getting to him, and policy is slowly defaulting back to permanent wars with nebulous goals.

Why that is suddenly happening isn’t entirely clear, as the Pentagon’s outspoken opposition to ending wars seemed to do little but alienate Trump from former Defense Secretary James Mattis, and the other hawks in the administration failing in their own efforts to “walk back” the policy.

In the end, the weakness in Trump’s commitment to the pullout may reflect both Trump’s generally back of commitment to support the policy, and more importantly, his reluctance to clarify what the pullout policy actually is, or was, beyond the most broad strokes, allowing it to be revised on the fly.

US Caught Helping ISIS Commanders Escape from Prison in Afghanistan

Source

Kabul – A large number of prisoners, all of them senior members of Daesh (also ISIS or ISIL) terrorist group, broke out of a Taliban prison in northwest Afghanistan after US troops helped them escape through a covert operation.

According to Tasnim dispatches, American forces operating in Afghanistan carried out a secret military operation in the northwestern province of Badghis two weeks ago and helped the Daesh inmates escape the prison.

The report added that 40 Daesh ringleaders, all of them foreigners, were transferred by helicopters after American troops raided the prison and killed all its security guards.

Abdullah Afzali, deputy head of Badghis provincial council, confirmed the news.

Informed sources have given a detailed account of the US operation to rescue the Daesh forces and the developments that helped Americans pinpoint the location of the prison in the mountainous areas.

Aminullah, a man from Uzbekistan, was one of the Daesh commanders held captive in the Taliban prison. His success to escape from the prison led to the dismissal of the Taliban prison guard and his punishment.

 

At least 30 Afghan civilians killed in US air strike in Helmand province

At least 30 Afghan civilians killed in US air strike in Helmand province

The latest casualties come from a surge in air operations aimed at driving the Taliban into talks

: An injured boy receives treatment at a hospital after an airstrike in Helmand province killed 30 civilians
Nov. 28, 2018: An injured boy receives treatment at a hospital after an airstrike in Helmand province killed 30 civilians. (Photo: Abdul Khaliq/AP)

The Latest on developments in Afghanistan from AP:
A U.S. military spokesman in Kabul says the airstrike that reportedly struck a house in Helmand province on Tuesday night was conducted by American aircraft.
Maj. Bariki Mallya said in an email exchange that the airstrike was conducted in self-defense after Taliban fighters armed with rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns retreated into a compound and continued firing on Afghan government forces and their American advisers.

At least 30 Afghan civilians have been killed in US air strikes in the Afghan province of Helmand, officials and residents of the area said on Wednesday, the latest casualties from a surge in air operations aimed at driving the Taliban into talks.

Afghanistan’s NATO-led force said Afghan government forces and US advisers came under fire from Taliban fighters in a compound in Garmsir district and called in an air strike. But the ground forces were not aware of any civilians in or near the compound.Helmand provincial governor Mohammad Yasin Khan said troops had called in air strikes against Taliban fighters in Garmsir, causing both civilian and Taliban casualties.

A resident of the area called Mohammadullah said the clash began late on Tuesday.

“Foreign forces bombed the area and the bombs hit my brother’s house,” he said.

He said women and 16 children were among the dead.

Another resident, Feda Mohammad, said some victims were still buried in the rubble of the compound.

“The area is under the control of Taliban but all of the victims of last night’s bombing are civilians,” he said.

The NATO-led resolute support forces said Afghan forces and US advisers came under fire from Taliban equipped with machines guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

“At the time of the strike, the ground force was unaware of any civilians in or around the compound; they only knew that the Taliban was using the building as a fighting position,” a force spokeswoman said in a statement.

“We investigate every credible allegation of error and review every mission to learn, adapt and improve,” she said.

The deaths are the latest in a growing civilian casualty toll caused by air strikes and underline the severity of the Afghan war even as moves to begin peace talks have picked up with contacts between US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban representatives.

The United Nations said last month the number of civilian casualties from air strikes in the first nine months of the year was already higher than in any entire year since at least 2009.

The increase has come together with a sharp jump in the number of air operations under a US strategy aimed at stepping up pressure on the Taliban to force them to accept a negotiated end to the 17-year war.

Read more: http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2018/11/28/at-least-30-afghan-civilians-killed-in-us-air-strike-in-helmand-province.html#ixzz5ZYKJzVtZ

 

 

Russia Hosts Milestone Conference on Afghanistan to Kick-Start Peace Process

By Peter Korzun
Source

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There’s a first time for everything. On Nov. 9, a Taliban delegation attended a one-day diplomatic conference in Russia to explore potential solutions for a peaceful settlement. It was the first time the Taliban had ever taken part in such a high-level international event that brought together India, Pakistan, Iran, China, and five countries from Central Asia. The US was invited as an observer but did not attend.

Russia hopes “to open a new page in the history of Afghanistan through joint efforts,”according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. He believes that the participation of both Afghan leaders and the Taliban was an important contribution that helped to create a favorable environment for kick-starting direct talks.

The US efforts to involve the Taliban in the negotiations not been successful thus far. Former US Ambassador to Afghanistan and Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has held meetings with the Taliban in Qatar, but to no avail. The US is not happy with the “Moscow format” talks on Afghanistan, especially with the Taliban present, but nothing can be done about it — Moscow is spearheading the Afghan peace process. Russia was the first to get the Afghan delegates and the Taliban into the same room and at the same round table, with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov seated between them. As CNN put it on Nov. 9, “Taliban Representatives in Moscow Signal Russia’s Rising Diplomatic Clout.”

Kabul was not officially represented at the Moscow conference. Instead, it sent a delegation from Afghanistan’s High Peace Council (AHPC), a semi-official body that oversees peace efforts but does not represent the government. It did not prevent the members of AHPC from communicating President Ashraf Ghani’s offer to launch peace talks without preconditions. In February 2018, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani devised a peace offer for the Taliban that included readiness to both recognize the movement as a political party as well as to engage in unconditional talks with that group.

The Taliban officials refused to hold direct talks with the government in Kabul but they reaffirmed their readiness to discuss Afghanistan’s future with the United States. They are demanding a US withdrawal from their country and the adoption of a new constitution “based on the principles of Islamic religion.”

This one-day event was not intended to be a diplomatic breakthrough, but Moscow demonstrated its ability to act as an effective mediator between the Taliban and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government — a mission the US has so far failed to accomplish. As a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Russia has become a major contributor to the Shanghai Organization’s rising prominence, promoting the credibility of the peace efforts undertaken by the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group. Afghanistan has an observer status in the SCO — a group that can turn the peace process into a multilateral effort. This will weaken US clout in the region but will stop the fighting.

The Moscow conference also demonstrated that Russia has become a potentially vital bridge between the Taliban, the Afghan government, and the US at a time when Washington is seeking to end this war that is sapping its resources and proving a distraction from its other efforts, such as setting up a major anti-Iranian military alliance in the Middle East (Arab NATO). Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai believes Russia can play a decisive role in ending America’s longest war. As the participants of the “Moscow format” talks agreed, the Russian-brokered consultations will continue. After all, Russia, the Taliban, and the Afghan government all face a common enemy — the Islamic State.

Under the Pakistani volcano

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Via The Saker

November 04, 2018Under the Pakistani volcano

While Khan plays on a complex geopolitical chessboard, Chinese aid could be a financial lifeline as Islamabad faces off against deadly religious extremism

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with The Asia Times by special agreement with the author)

It has been a breathless week, huddled in the shadow of the simmering, bubbling, politico-religious volcano that is Imran Khan’s Pakistan.

And this week’s multi-faceted developments may just signal seismic shifts in Pakistan’s internal and external relations for the foreseeable future.

Before moving on to bloodier matters, let’s start with the “Mr. Khan Goes to China” episode – essential for reviewing all aspects of what is enthusiastically described by both sides as the “all-weather strategic cooperative partnership”.

Xi’s financial lifeline for Khan?

Prime Minister Khan, leading a fresh government elected in July and facing a range colossal challenges, set the tone from the start. He did not mince words.

“Countries go in cycles, they have their high points, they have their low points,” he said. “Unfortunately, our country is going through a low point at the moment with two very big deficits, a fiscal deficit and a current account deficit. And so we, as I’ve said, have come to learn.”

Arguably few teachers beat Chinese President Xi Jinping, praised by Khan as a role model. “China’s phenomenal achievements are worth emulating,” Khan said. “No other country has tackled poverty and corruption the way China has tackled it.”

The lynchpin of the strategic partnership is inevitably the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of the New Silk Road, or Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI). Before his stint as guest of honor of the First China International Import Expo in Shanghai, Khan met a crucial player in Beijing for CPEC financing: Jin Liquan, president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Right from the start, Pakistan’s new Planning Minister Makhdoom Bukhtiar was confident that Islamabad would not need to reschedule around $2.7 billion in Chinese loans due for repayment in 2018. Instead, what’s in the cards is an improved economic package centered on taking CPEC to the next level.

A financially stable Pakistan is absolutely crucial for the success of BRI. A Pakistani audit of projects approved by the previous Nawaz Sharif administration called for streamlining CPEC, not curtailing it. Now, Team Khan does not subscribe to the notion of CPEC as a debt trap.

With Saudi Arabia and China stepping in with cash, Islamabad may avoid becoming further indebted to the IMF and its trademark “strategic adjustments”- widely dreaded across the Global South for producing a toxic mix of austerity and inflation.

Pakistan juggles China, Iran, Saudi, Turkey

Pakistan is all about its prime geopolitical location, the crossroads of South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia.

For Beijing, Pakistan as a key BRI node mirrors its new role as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). As Khan has clearly identified, this interconnection can only turbo-charge Pakistan’s geo-economic position – under the institutional framework of SCO. The Xi-Khan partnership may actually center around an economic win-win for Pakistan and the SCO.

Of course, myriad challenges lie ahead.

Take for instance Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Lu Kang having to clarify that “all the cooperation between China and Pakistan has nothing to do with territorial disputes.”

Kang was referring to the hoopla surrounding the fact that a Pakistani company launched a bus service from Lahore to Kashgar via Islamabad; essentially the northern CPEC route via the Karakoram Highway, which skirts Kashmir. China does not want any interference whatsoever in the ultra-volatile Kashmir dossier.

Saudi Arabia is also making some not-too-subtle moves. Islamabad’s official position is that Riyadh’s recent financial offer came with no strings attached. That’s unlikely to be the case; Saudi traditionally casts a long shadow over all matters Pakistani. “No strings” means Islamabad should keep closer to Riyadh, not Tehran.

The House of Saud – paralyzed by the fallout of the bloody Istanbul fiasco – will go no-holds-barred to prevent Islamabad from getting closer to Tehran. (Or Ankara, for that matter). A possibly emergent, long-term, game-changing Turkey-Iran-Pakistan alliance was the talk of the town – at least during the first part of this week of weeks.

That brings us to the crucial visitor Khan received in Islamabad before his trip to China: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Last month, 14 Iranian border guards were kidnapped by the Pakistan-based Jaish al-Adl Salafi-jihadi fanatics. Pakistan security forces have been helpless so far.

Khan and Zarif talked about that – but also talked about Khan’s offer to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia in trying to find a solution for the tragedy in Yemen. The fact is, a Tehran-Islamabad rapprochement is already a work in progress.

That is the sophisticated geo-political game Khan must play. Meanwhile at home, he has to get down and dirty as he gets to grips with violent domestic religious turmoil.

‘Go legal – or else…’

I’ve been in Islamabad since Monday – right on the lip of the volcano, and enjoying the privilege of being part of one of the most extraordinary geopolitical conferences in recent times, something that in the current polarizing dynamic could only happen in Asia, not the West. But that’s another story.

While I was parsing elaborate analyses of this geopolitical chessboard, reality intervened.

Or – perhaps – it was a graphic intimation that Pakistan may just be changing for the better.

Street blockades paralyzed key nodes of the nation because Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman laborer, in jail for nine years, was finally acquitted by the Supreme Court of spurious charges of blasphemy. There are less than 4 million Christians in Pakistan out of a total population of 197 million.

I was with a small group on the motorway to Peshawar, prior to taking a detour to Taxila – Alexander-the-Great land, where I planned further research on ancient Silk Roads – when suddenly we were halted.

A mullah was blaring his hate through a loudspeaker. A couple of his minions blocked all circulation.

Why the police would not dislodge this small group is the matter of all matters in Khan’s arguably new Pakistan. The highway standoff embodies the high-stakes grapple underway between the state and religion.

Back in Islamabad, as he led me around the campus of the National Defense University, Timoor Shah, a bright young man at the Center for Policy Studies, gave me a crash course on the nuances.

What a global audience should understand is this. On one side stand the state, the military and the judiciary. (Accusations continue to be hurled that Khan was privileged in the July elections by the military – the top institution in Pakistan – and an activist judiciary.) On the other side, stand fringe religious nuts and an opportunistic, discredited opposition.

The Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP), a minor extremist political party whose only platform is to punish blasphemy, has issued death threats against the three Supreme Court judges. Pakistan could do worse than import a strangle/bone-saw/dissolve-in-acid Saudi execution squad to deal with such groups.

It’s instructive to consider what the director general of the PR arm of the powerful intelligence service, ISI, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor had to say: This is a legal matter and the Pakistan Army should not be dragged into it. Ghafoor also stressed, “We are close to winning the war against terrorism and our attention should not be diverted.”

Ghafoor told politico-religious parties protesting against the Supreme Court judgment – quite a few of which were firmly on the lunatic fringe – to go legal or else. Amid this, TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi swears that that the Army has threatened to “destroy” his party.

The military sent a delegation, including ISI officials, to talk to the religious protesters. Ghafoor was careful to stress that the ISI is an intelligence department that reports to the prime minister.

In the end, the government caved in. Despite knowing that Aasia Bibi faces fundamentalist wrath and her only path to safety would be a one-way ticket out, they agreed to put her on something called the “Exit Control List.” Even that did not prevent TLP fanatics from threatening “a war if they sent Aasia Bibi out of the country.”

‘Taliban Godfather’ killed

As if all this were not toxic enough, on Friday evening Maulana Samiul Haq – the fabled “Godfather of the Taliban” – was stabbed to death in his house in Rawalpindi, Islamabad’s twin city.

Haq led the sprawling Darul Uloom Haqqania, a madrassa, or religious school, in Akhora Khattak, near Peshawar, founded in 1988. The madrassa graduated none other than Mullah Omar, as well as other Taliban notables.

Haq embodies a torrent of turbulence in modern Pakistani history – including his stints as senator during the Zia ul Haq and Nawaz Sharif administrations. He also tabled a notorious Sharia bill during Sharif’s last term.

But for me, the story was personal. In a tortuous way, Samiul Haq saved my life – courtesy of a letter of introduction he had signed after I visited his madrassa to follow a Talibanesque indoctrination in progress.

When, along with my photographer Jason Florio, we were arrested by the Taliban at a military base in Ghazni in the summer of 2000, we were only released from waiting six months to be tried as “spies” because of Samiul Haq’s letter.

This obviously pales when compared to the high-profile, principled move by the Pakistani Supreme Court to save Aasia Bibi from a death sentence.

But it could be the first salvo in a Khan-era Pakistani war against religious fundamentalism.

Pakistan and China Share the Same Fight Against Extremism and Extreme Disinformation

By Adam Garrie
Source

Not long ago, the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in north-west Pakistan was a no-go area where a combination of foreign terrorists and local extremists ruled the roost. Frequent attacks against civilians continued to scar the landscape while poorly coordinated US drone attacks on civilians only served to add to the blood bath. All the while, US “assistance” to Pakistan often served to perversely feed the dangerous cycles of extremism that all patriotic Pakistanis sought to eradicate.

Today, the region’s fortunes have largely been turned around thanks to an unrelenting anti-terror campaign by Pakistan’s army as well as key intelligence operations by the country’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). On the political front, it cannot be ignored that the 2013 regional election victory of Imran Khan’s PTI helped to bring about the new wave of social normalcy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that continues to this day now that PTI heads a government at a national level.

While Pakistan’s war on terror is not over and won’t be so long as a single violent extremist seeks to harm the peaceful operations of society, Pakistan’s war on terror has largely been won both in terms of neutralising multiple extremists (both foreign and local) and in terms of restoring law, order and normal civil society to parts of the country that were once de-facto “governed” by terror groups.

While the US launched a war in neighbouring Afghanistan in 2001, ostensibly to avenge the 9/11 terror attacks, America’s “war on terror” in Afghanistan became a war of terror for innocent Pakistani civilians who had their lives destroyed by the inflow of terrorists and other radicals from Afghanistan.

Today’s Naya Pakistan under the leadership of Imran Khan who for years has articulated the need to combat extremism both through traditional security means and through positive political reform is emblematic of a nation that is looking forward after waves of terror sought to push Pakistan to the brink. While the United States continues to deride Pakistan’s record on combating terrorism rather than laud the country for largely destroying the notorious terror group Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, China is all too aware of Pakistan’s fight against terrorism and if anything seeks to learn from Pakistan’s harrowing experience.

China’s north-west Xinjiang province has itself been subject to a wave of extremism, albeit one that has thankfully been far smaller than that which Pakistan has faced in recent years. China’s solution to the problem, much like Pakistan’s, has been to implement modern security measures against extremists while simultaneously investing in the province’s infrastructure, economic development and educational institutions for both children and adults seeking to learn modern vocations.

While many people in the west who are unfamiliar with the cultural characteristics of both Pakistan and China continue to deride both, Pakistani author and scholar S M Hali is deeply familiar with Xinjiang and stated the following about the progress of development in the province based on his experience through multiple visits to north-western China:

“In the past, China’s eastern provinces enjoyed greater opulence and a higher rate of development, perhaps because they are closer to the coastal region and ports. However, this disparity caused Xinjiang’s population to face a sense of deprivation, which was manipulated by China’s detractors, who tried to incite the Muslim population, ethnic Uighurs, into insurgency.

President Xi Jinping quelled the insurgency with a two pronged policy. Security forces cracked down on the troublemakers with an iron hand, while development projects with the inclusion of Uighurs ushered an era of prosperity. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) or the New Silk Road, which promises a new age of affluence, has Xinjiang as its focal point. The flagship BRI project, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) terminates at Xinjiang’s ancient city of Kashgar, which was a major city of the ancient Silk Road and has become BRI’s launching pad into Central Asia and beyond.

The steps taken by both the central government and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to dispel a sense of deprivation, promote conventions of religious beliefs and conduct an era of harmony is remarkable.

I have been visiting Xinjiang for the past four decades and am a witness to its various stages of development. From a sleepy backwater of the 1970s, Urumqi has become a sprawling metropolis, with high-rise buildings, busy roads, marketplaces and shopping malls. A network for underground Metro trains and high-speed railways is reaching the final stages of completion.

Currently I am touring Xinjiang as a guest of the BRI to delve deep into its core and feel the pulse of this massive project. A detailed tour of the Xinjiang Islamic Institute and discussions with AdudulrekepTumniaz, President of the Institute and deputy director of Xinjiang Islamic Association was very reassuring. The Institute is 28 years old and has came a long way. My previous visit was in 2011 and since then, a new campus with modern class rooms, an impressive mosque, well equipped library, cosy dormitories and state of the art sports facilities has been completed in 2017, which can compete with any modern western university.

The Chinese constitution ensures freedom of religion and Islam is no exception, however, western critics and detractors of China have been spreading rumours about the practice of Islam being curtailed. Since extremists have been distorting the tenets of Islam, quoting verses out of context and leading the faithful astray with their particular brand of religion to fulfil their heinous designs, the Islamic Institute has picked up the cudgel to produce scholars and religious teachers who can become Imams in various mosques and University Professors and teachers as well as research scholars to guide the faithful and protect them from extremism.

The Bachelor’s Degree being conferred upon the Islamic Scholars from the Institute — which numbers around 1200 per year — is spread over five years. Imbibed with the knowledge of Islam, equipped with the wherewithal to take up the responsibility of guiding others, these graduates have an open mind and are well versed in technology science, social studies and current international affairs to meet the challenge head on.

The scourge of extremism, which had hit Xinjiang in 2009 and later in 2014 is now diminishing because of the measures taken by the Central Government of China and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are bearing fruit. Security is tight; vigilance is efficient and more effective because the physical, financial and moral well-being of the citizens is being guarded. More opportunities for education, vocational training, employment opportunities and religious freedom are producing healthy students. Young boys and girls especially from the less developed and impoverished regions are being afforded the opportunity to study in state of the art boarding schools, where they are being provided quality education, mastery over arts, sciences, languages and extracurricular activities at state expense to complete high school and gain admission in inland institutions of higher learning. Facilities for practicing religion are also being enhanced. Modern and well equipped mosques, slaughter houses where halal meat can be procured or the Eid-ul-Azha rituals practiced and support in pilgrimage are paying rich dividends. The government is ensuring that pilgrims for Hajj and Umrah are provided logistic support, while spiritual education and respect for the rights of the faithful is maintained. Medical facilities, which were redundant in Xinjiang once upon a time, have now been established to a level which is unprecedented. Traditional as well as conventional medicine is offered to the urban as well as rural dwellers with the additional advantage of telemedicine, on concessional or gratis basis.

With such a heavy investment, financially, spiritually and morally, there is no way the detractors of China can lead the faithful astray any longer”.

With the US and many European states, so-called “NGOs” and dishonest so-called “journalists” attempt to defame Pakistan for “harbouring religious extremism” while simultaneously running an infowar suggesting that China is repressive towards peaceful Muslims, both of these dystopian narratives are far from true as most ordinary Pakistanis and ordinary Chinese can attest to. The key therefore is for an increased amount of cross-border communication so that China and Pakistan can fight the infowar together, just as sure as China’s largely victorious war against extremism in Xinjiang was partly inspired by Pakistan’s own difficult but ultimately rewarding success story when it comes to suppressing extremism within Pakistan’s border.

The nature of the manifold infowar against China and Pakistan is clearly designed to sow mutual suspicion among all-weather fraternal partners. While the erroneous and defamatory “debt trap” narrative regarding Belt and Road is easily dispelled through the observation of well known case studies, western attempts to defame China as an anti-Islamic society must be dispelled through an increased amount of physical contact between Muslims from places like Pakistan and those living in modern Xinjiang. Like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Xinjiang is today a much better place than it was even eight years ago. In both cases, economic, social and infrastructural development has replaced extremist tendencies. Likewise, in both cases the central governments of China and Pakistan continue to respect the unique local characteristics of the respective regions.

To conclude, it is necessary to publish a recent interview that the Chairman of the Government of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Shohrat Zakir recently gave with domestic media. When comparing the words of the Pakistani Hali with Chinese Xinjiang politician Shohrat Zakir, it becomes clear that both men are speaking of similar experiences in the same place. By contrast, the Xinjiang described by many western actors is a fictional place that has nothing to do with China, nothing to do with Islam and nothing to do with China’s multiple fraternal partners in the Islamic world, first and foremost Pakistan.

Below is the full interview with Shohrat Zakir from Xinhua: 

Question: Would you please brief us on the current situation in Xinjiang, given that under the influence of international terrorism and religious extremism, the number of violent terrorist attacks had been on the rise in parts of the region over a period of time?

Answer: Since the 1990s, the “three evil forces” (terrorism, extremism and separatism) in China and abroad have plotted, organized and conducted thousands of violent terrorist attacks including bombings, assassinations, poisoning, arson, assaults, unrest and riots, causing the deaths of a large number of innocent people and hundreds of police officers, as well as immeasurable property damage. The horrific crimes of terrorists not only severely undermined the stable and peaceful order and the atmosphere of solidarity and progress of Xinjiang, but also trampled upon the essential human rights of people of all ethnic groups in the region, such as their rights to life, health, property and development. People of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang were enraged and shared hatred toward the terrorist crimes. A child of a Uygur police officer who died in the line of duty wrote me a letter. In emotional words, the letter reads: “My father sacrificed his life on the counterterrorism frontline. His upright personality will always inspire me. I hope that the Party and government can unwaveringly root out terrorism so that no children grow up without their fathers.”

Facing complex and grave circumstances as well as the pressing anti-terrorism desire of the people, the Chinese government has resolutely taken measures in preventing and combating violent terrorist crimes in accordance with the law. In the past few years, under the firm leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, Xinjiang has thoroughly carried out the policies of the CPC Central Committee on governing Xinjiang, unswervingly worked for the general goal of ensuring social stability and long-term security and made major achievements in fighting against terrorism and safeguarding stability. Now Xinjiang is generally stable, with the situation under control and improving. In the past 21 months, no violent terrorist attacks have occurred and the number of criminal cases, including those endangering public security, has dropped significantly. Public security has notably improved with religious extremism effectively contained, while people are now feeling more secure. We have laid a good foundation for completely solving the deeply-rooted problems that affect the region’s long-term stability.

Xinjiang has started to enjoy the dividend of effective counter-terrorism efforts with its economy steadily growing, people’s livelihood improving, and overall progress being made in all respects. In 2017, the region had a 7.6 percent growth in GDP while the per capita disposable income of urban and rural residents increased by 8.1 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively. Tourism boomed in 2017 when the region registered more than 100 million trips by domestic and international tourists, a year-on-year growth of 32.4 percent. In the first nine months of this year, Xinjiang has already recorded 132 million trips by tourists from home and abroad, a 40 percent year-on-year increase. Many people who have visited Xinjiang used social media to extol the region’s progress: Today’s Xinjiang is not only beautiful but also safe and stable. No matter where they are or at what time of the day, people are no longer afraid of going out, shopping, dining and traveling.

Question: It has been reported that Xinjiang has launched a vocational education and training program in a bid to facilitate its efforts to counter terrorism and extremism. What’s the thinking behind this move?

Answer: Terrorism and extremism go against human civilization and are the common enemy of the international community. Countering terrorism and eradicating extremism is a global issue as well as a global headache. Over the years, many countries have pursued approaches to countering terrorism and extremism according to their own conditions and have made headway in this regard. The international community has also realized that terrorism and extremism are very hard to root out and can easily resurge. Drawing on the anti-terrorism experience of the international community, China has actively responded to the UN General Assembly’s resolution on Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and has been committed to addressing conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, while preventing and combating terrorism. Based on its realities, China has combined fighting and preventing terrorism with an emphasis on prevention. China has been actively exploring and applying preventive measures in countering terrorism and extremism.

Based on its own realities, Xinjiang has given equal importance to fighting and preventing terrorism, and sought to combine the fight against violent terrorist crimes with the protection of human rights. On one hand, Xinjiang has put emphasis on strictly countering a small number of violent terrorist crimes according to law, and spared no efforts in protecting the basic human rights of the citizens from the harm of terrorism and extremism. On the other hand, Xinjiang has also stressed addressing the root cause of terrorism, and moved to bring around, educate and save the majority of those who committed petty crimes, through assistance and education, to prevent them from becoming victims of terrorism and extremism.

Today, despite the significant progress Xinjiang has made, countering terrorism and extremism is still a long-standing, complicated and serious issue and calls for high alert. In particular, the four prefectures in southern Xinjiang were threatened by terrorism and seriously influenced by the spread of religious extremism in the past. Some residents there have a limited command of the country’s common language and a limited sense and knowledge of the law. They often have difficulties in finding employment due to limited vocational skills. This has led to a low material-basis for residents to live and work there, making them vulnerable to the instigation and coercion of terrorism and extremism. There is still a long way to go for southern Xinjiang to eradicate the environment and soil of terrorism and religious extremism.

Based on the above-mentioned situation, Xinjiang has launched a vocational education and training program according to the law. Its purpose is to get rid of the environment and soil that breeds terrorism and religious extremism and stop violent terrorist activities from happening.

Question: Could you tell us more about the legal basis and relevant procedure of the vocational education and training program?

Answer: In recent years, the Chinese government has accelerated the legislation of its anti-terrorism efforts to strictly prevent and combat violent terrorist crimes according to law.

The National People’s Congress passed the Anti-Terrorism Law in 2015 and the Ninth Amendment to the Criminal Law, while the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, together with the Supreme People’s Court, the Ministry of Public Security, and the Ministry of Justice, in 2018 issued guidelines on the application of law in cases involving terrorism and extremism, which have improved and clarified the definitions of terrorist crimes, criteria for conviction, case handling procedures, and working mechanisms. Together with the Criminal Procedure Law, these laws and regulations have formed a relatively sound Chinese anti-terrorism legal framework. While strictly following the Constitution, the law on regional ethnic autonomy and the legislation law, Xinjiang has taken its local conditions into consideration and formulated the region’s enforcement measures of the anti-terrorism law, de-extremization regulations, among others. These laws and regulations are subject to revisions to keep them up to date.

In practice, when dealing with those who have been instigated, coerced, or lured into terrorist or extremist activities, or people who only committed minor offenses when involved in terrorist and extremist activities, Xinjiang combines punishment with leniency and gives prominence to their rehabilitation and redemption in accordance with the Criminal Law, the Criminal Procedure Law, the Anti-Terrorism Law and other relevant laws and regulations. As for most people who are influenced by terrorism and extremism, those suspected of minor criminal offenses but do not have to be subject to penalties or can be exempted from criminal punishment, Xinjiang has provided them with free vocational training through vocational education institutions to improve their ability in commanding the country’s common language, acquiring legal knowledge and vocational skills, among others. In that way, Xinjiang can better guard against the infiltration of terrorism and extremism. The detailed procedures include, on the premise that training goals, methods, program completion standards and testing methods are clearly identified, that vocational training institutions sign an agreement with the trainees. The institutions will then conduct the free programs through various forms such as collective courses, boarding schools and hands-on training. The trainees will be issued certificates of completion after they meet the required standards.

Question: Could you please elaborate on the main content of the vocational training?

Answer: Currently, Xinjiang has established a training model with professional vocational training institutions as the platform, learning the country’s common language, legal knowledge, vocational skills, along with de-extremization education, as the main content, with achieving employment as the key direction. The vocational training institutions have set up departments of teaching, management, medical care, logistics and security, and allocated a corresponding number of faculty, class advisors, medical, catering, logistics and security staff.

In the process of learning and training, the trainees will advance from learning the country’s common language, to learning legal knowledge and vocational skills. Firstly, the trainees will take learning the country’s common language as the basis to improve their communication abilities, gain modern science knowledge and enhance their understanding of Chinese history, culture and national conditions. The teaching follows standardized plans, textbooks, materials and systems. The trainees are taught in various methods suited to their literacy to raise their abilities to use the country’s common language as soon as possible. Secondly, the learning of legal knowledge is taken as a key part of cultivating the trainees’ awareness of the nation, citizenship and rule of law. Legal experts are hired to lecture on the Constitution, the criminal law and the civil law, etc., and judges, prosecutors and lawyers are invited to teach the criminal law, the law on public security administration, the anti-terrorism law, the marriage law, the education law and Xinjiang’s de-extremization regulations. Thirdly, vocational learning is taken as a key way to help trainees find employment. Courses on clothing and footwear making, food processing, electronic product assembly, typesetting and printing, hairdressing and e-commerce have been set up to suit local social needs and job market. Multi-skill training is provided to trainees who have the desire and capability to learn, so that they acquire one to two vocational skills upon graduation. Businesses in garment making, mobile phone assembly and ethnic cuisine catering are arranged to offer trainees practical opportunities. In the meantime, they are paid basic incomes and a bonus. The mechanism has taken shape in which the trainees can “learn, practice and earn money.”

In daily life, vocational institutions and schools strictly implement the spirit of laws and regulations, including the Constitution and religious affairs regulations, and respect and protect the customs and habits of various ethnic groups and their beliefs in diet and daily life. Faculties of the institutions and schools also try their best to ensure and meet the trainees’ needs in study, life, and entertainment on the basis of free education. The cafeteria prepares nutritious free diets, and the dormitories are fully equipped with radio, TV, air conditioning, bathroom and shower. Indoor and outdoor sports venues for basketball, volleyball and table tennis have been built, along with reading rooms, computer labs, film screening rooms, as well as performance venues such as small auditoriums and open-air stages. Various activities such as contests on speech, writing, dancing, singing and sports are organized. Many trainees have said that they were previously affected by extremist thought and had never participated in such kinds of art and sports activities, and now they have realized that life can be so colorful.

Moreover, the vocational institutions and schools pay high attention to the trainees’ mental health and helped them solve problems in life. They not only provide professional psychological counseling services, but also duly deal with complaints from the trainees and their families. All this shows that the management of the vocational institutions and schools are people-oriented.

Question: Could you please elaborate on the progress of the vocational training?

Answer: Through vocational training, most trainees have been able to reflect on their mistakes and see clearly the essence and harm of terrorism and religious extremism. They have notably enhanced national consciousness, civil awareness, awareness of the rule of law and the sense of community of the Chinese nation. They have also been able to better tell right from wrong and resist the infiltration of extremist thought. They have become more proactive in shaking off poverty, and becoming better off. It has been a common practice among them to expect and pursue a modern life. They are confident about the future. “I didn’t understand the country’s common language, nor did I know about the laws. I wouldn’t even have known that I had made mistakes. But the government didn’t give me up. It has actively saved and assisted me, giving me free food, accommodation and education. Now I have made great progress in many aspects. I will cherish this opportunity and become a person useful to the country and society,” a trainee said.

On the whole, the following achievements have been made. Firstly, the trainees have gained progress in mastering the country’s common language. In the past, many of them had difficulties in listening, speaking and reading. They now are able to basically understand and use it in communication, which has broadened their sources to acquire modern knowledge and information. Many trainees said they were affected by religious extremism and failed to understand the significance of bilingual education. They said they had thought of merely sticking to their own ethnic language as the way to preserve their ethnic culture, so they refused to learn the country’s common language. Now they have realized they should not only learn the common language well, but also foreign languages to follow modernization trends.

Secondly, the trainees have been increasing their awareness of the rule of law. Affected or coerced by religious extremist thought, many of the trainees acted under “religion discipline” or “family discipline” that was distorted or concocted by extremists. Many trainees have now realized that they are firstly citizens of the nation, and their behavior is both protected and regulated by law. They have truly understood what is legitimate and what is not. They now also know how to turn to the law for help. “As a divorced woman, I am raising a son and a daughter with the help of my parents, living in poverty. I did not know that my ex-husband had the obligation to raise the children, too,” said a female trainee, who is now able to use the law to claim overdue alimony from her ex-husband.

Thirdly, the trainees’ vocational skills have been enhanced. Many trainees had no vocational skills before. Even though they wanted to get a job, it was hard for them to find one. By learning vocational skills and knowledge, and participating in practical training, the trainees have now mastered preliminary practical skills. It has gradually become realistic for them to increase their incomes, get rid of poverty and acquire wealth. “Through practicing vocational skills, I can earn 1,500 yuan per month now. My income has increased a lot and I have become the main support for my family. I can stand tall and start receiving praise from my elders. My wife has become more considerate. My kids are proud of me. I have regained respect and confidence,” a trainee said.

As a result of the vocational education and training, the social environment of Xinjiang has seen notable changes, with a healthy atmosphere on the rise and improper practices declining. There has been a growing trend to pursue modern scientific and technological knowledge and etiquette; the dissemination of religious extremism is resisted consciously; communication, exchanges and integration among various ethnic groups are closer; public support for countering terrorism, maintaining stability and de-extremization is stronger; and people of all ethnic groups are full of hope for better lives.

Question: After your introduction, we have got a clear and comprehensive understanding of the work of vocational education and training. Would you please give us some information on the future plan of vocational education and training?

Answer: Facts have proven that vocational education and training fits the reality of current efforts in countering terrorism, maintaining stability and eradicating extremism in Xinjiang. It is an effective measure of Xinjiang to explore ways to remove the environment and soil of terrorism and extremism, and prevent violent terrorist crimes. Since its launch, the work has won high recognition and sincere support from people of all ethnic groups across Xinjiang. It has played an important role in achieving social stability and enduring peace and security in Xinjiang, and served as a positive exploration and constructive attempt for the international community in countering terrorism and eradicating extremism.

According to feedback from the vocational education and training institutions, some trainees have come close to or reached the completion standard agreed in the training agreements. They are receiving course-completion tests in an orderly manner. They are expected to complete their courses successfully by the end of this year. We are busy with their employment arrangements. Meanwhile, Xinjiang will carry out programs to invite investments that suit the vocational skills of trainees. By bringing more businesses to Xinjiang, we will create jobs and alleviate poverty. We will try to achieve a seamless connection between school teaching and social employment, so that after finishing their courses, the trainees will be able to find jobs and earn a well-off life.

Next, Xinjiang will further implement the strategies and policies on the region, set by the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, adhere to the people-centered philosophy of development, properly handle the relations between stability and development, and concentrate on the three major tasks: construction of the core zone of the Silk Road Economic Belt, the implementation of the rural vitalization strategy and the development of the tourism industry. It will also take the four prefectures in southern Xinjiang as the main battlefield to fight against poverty with targeted measures to ensure that by 2020, all rural residents living below the poverty line are lifted out of poverty. Xinjiang will also work to see that people of all ethnic groups have a stronger sense of fulfillment, happiness and security, and that the gains of development benefit people of all ethnic groups in a fair way.

Oil, Gas and Pipelines, Why the United States Will Not Leave Afghanistan Voluntarily

Why the United States Will Not Leave Afghanistan Voluntarily

The events of 11 September 2001 gave the United States its excuse to once again focus on ‘regime change’ in Kabul

By James ONeill

In 2013 Tom Engelhardt wrote, referring to the United States presence in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen, where at eight United States air strikes had killed almost 300 wedding guests: “we have become a nation of wedding crashers, the uninvited guests who arrived under false pretenses, tore up the place, offered nary and apology, and refused to go home.”

That was never truer than in Afghanistan. Contrary to widespread news reports, the United States did not begin its involvement in Afghanistan with the invasion and occupation of the country in October 2001. Its modern focus on Afghanistan can be traced back at least to the 1970s.

In the late 1970s Afghanistan was ruled by a relatively secular regime. The last King, Mohammad Zahir Shah had been deposed in a 1973 coup and a republic established. Shah was replaced by Mohammad Daoud Khan who ruled from July 1973 to April 1978 when he was assassinated. His replacement, Nur Mohammed Taraki lasted until September 1979 when he was also assassinated, a fate that also befell his successor Hafizullah Amin.

The turmoil was not entirely domestic related. Throughout the 1970s, Afghanistan’s only real foreign friend was the Soviet Union. This was a temptation too great for the Americans to resist. United States President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski persuaded Carter to support an insurrection against the Taraki Government. To this end, foreign insurgents were to be trained in Pakistan, armed by the Americans, and largely financed by Saudi Arabia.

These insurgents were then infiltrated not only into Afghanistan, but also the Muslim dominant Central Asian republics of the Soviet Union, and Xinjiang province of China, also with a large Muslim population.

The objective, as Brzezinski disclosed in his book The Grand Chessboard, (1997) was “to give the Soviet Union it’s own Vietnam.” The program to train and infiltrate terrorists into Afghanistan, Xinjiang and the Central Asian republics was code named Operation Cyclone. This was the origin of the group that came to be known as al Qaeda, which in Arabic means “the list.” The members of that list were then known as Mujihideen, foreign fighters that could be relied upon to pursue goals consistent with the objectives of United States geopolicy.

One of the leaders of this fighting force was Osama bin Laden a Saudi Arabian from a wealthy Saudi family.

Brzezinski’s task was at least partially successful. The Soviet leader Brezhnev eventually agreed to the multiple requests of the Afghanistan government for assistance, and dispatched troops to Afghanistan. This has been falsely depicted as a Soviet “invasion” ever since. Militarily and politically it was a disastrous for the Soviet Union. The last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev ordered the withdrawal of the combat troops in May 1988 and it was successfully concluded by the following February.

Political instability continued however, with a bitter civil war that eventually led to the formation of the Taliban government. That government never had full control of all of Afghanistan’s territory, with significant portions under the control of sundry warlords, particularly in the north of the country. The Taliban’s singular achievement was to slash opium production to a tiny fraction of the volume that had produced more than 90% of the world’s heroin supply.

The events of 11 September 2001 gave the United States its excuse to once again focus on ‘regime change’ in Kabul. What the western media resolutely fails to tell its readers/ listeners is that the decision to invade Afghanistan was in fact taken in July 2001 when the Taliban Government refused to award the contract for a gas pipeline from the enormously resource-rich Caspian basin through Afghanistan to an American company, and instead gave to an Argentinian company Bridas.

Afghanistan was, for the Americans, the only feasible route for the pipeline as alternative routes were through Iran, Russia or China, none of whom were geopolitically feasible for the United States.

The ostensible public reason for the invasion and occupation was the alleged refusal of the Taliban Government to hand over Osama bin Laden, the alleged ringleader of the 9/f that evidence was produced they were willing to hand bin Laden over to an international tribunal for trial.

That evidence was never forthcoming. There were two reasons for this: the evidence is non-existent; and more importantly for present purposes, the decision to invade had already been made. Regardless of what the Afghanistan government did or did not do, their fate had already been determined.

Now, nearly 17 years later, the Americans and their allies such as Australia are still there. As Engelhardt said, they arrived uninvited, trashed the place, and refused to leave.

The longer they stay, the hollower the original justification is revealed to be the case. The public is still fed the same nonsensical excuses, such as training the Afghan troops to be able to be responsible for their own security. Evidence of ‘ghost’ troops, rampant corruption and a manifest unwillingness as well as an inability to be an effective fighting force has done nothing to diminish the propaganda.

Rather than bringing ‘peace and stability’, training Afghans to a mythical self-sufficiency, or helping rebuild Afghanistan’s shattered infrastructure, the time is long past for an honest appraisal of what western Allied forces are really trying to achieve in Afghanistan. There are a number of motives that readily reveal themselves.

The first relates to Afghanistan’s geography. It is strategically located in close proximity to, or bordering upon, the United States’ designated enemies, China, Iran and Russia. A map of US military bases shows that they closely follow the pipeline route, and are readily accessible to the poppy fields that once again produce more than 90% of the world’s heroin.

The refining of opium into heroin requires imported chemicals, and those are flown into Afghanistan on planes operated by the occupying NATO forces. This should not come as a surprise, despite being totally suppressed by the western media. Peter Dale Scott (American War Machine, 2010) and Alfred McCoy (Politics of Heroin New ed. 2003) have long pointed out the central role of drug trafficking in the financing of CIA clandestine operations.

Those military bases have also fulfilled a further role as ‘black sites’ where alleged terrorists are illegally rendered, to be tortured, indefinitely imprisoned, or simply disappeared.

A second reason relates to Afghanistan’s resource wealth. One of the least publicized facts about Afghanistan is it is enormous potential as a source of oil, gas, precious metals, precious stones, and perhaps most significantly rare earth minerals.

A number of US geological survey reports in recent years have conservatively estimated Afghanistan’s resources and those areas to be in excess of $3 trillion. It is hardly surprising given this potential bonanza, which Trump himself described as being sufficient to pay for Afghanistan’s own occupation, that the United States and its allies “refuse to go home.”

The third factor relates to the geopolitical changes occurring in the region. As corrupt and incompetent as the current Afghanistan government is, it is still able to discern that the continued US occupation is a road to nowhere. Afghanistan has, since June 2012 had observer status of the Shanghai Corporation Organisation, rapidly emerging as one of the most influential groups in the Eurasian region.

The SCO grouping poses a progressively stronger challenge to the US centred geopolitical world, and the US is not giving up its previous unipolar status without a fight.

The Mujihideen of the 1970s and 1980s, now morphed into various guises but still under US direction, is being used to destabilize and disrupt those same nations targeted during those earlier decades. It is one of the major reasons why the SCO has security related issues as a central focus.

On 4 September 2018 the Taliban will be participating in Russian sponsored peace talks in Moscow. Twelve countries and the Taliban were invited, but the United States and Afghanistan governments have announced that they will not be attending. The Afghan government says it prefers “direct talks” with the Taliban, although given the realities of the presence of foreign occupying troops, it is difficult to see how direct talks will produce a meaningful result while their status remains undetermined. It is also an open question as to how freely the Afghan government decision was made.

The Americans have also declined to take part, saying that the talks were “unlikely to yield any progress” toward a settlement. Rather obviously, progress is difficult if one of the principal players refuses to participate. The more likely real reason for American non-participation is that they do not control the agenda, the venue, or the outcome. Rather than being part of the solution, they remain instead a major part of the problem.

After nearly 17 years of occupation, destruction, civil war and a manifest absence of progress, it is clearly way past the time when there was a fresh approach with Afghanistan’s needs being the top priority. For the reasons set up above that has not been the case for the past several decades. Progress is unlikely to be achieved as long as the uninvited guests refuse to go home.

James O’Neill is an Australian-based Barrister at Law, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Read more: http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2018/08/25/why-the-united-states-will-not-leave-afghanistan-voluntarily.html#ixzz5ThXYP3kC

Visit of bullies to Pakistan

By  Brig Asif H. Raja

by Asif Haroon Raja

Bullying is the hallmark of the US foreign policy. The bullying tools employed to achieve foreign policy goals are threats, coercion, use of proxies, propaganda war, economic sanctions, financial strangulation, human rights abuses and fake allegations.

Suspension of $300 million Close Support Fund (CSF) by the US just three days before the arrival of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and CJCSC Gen Joseph Dunford to Islamabad has given a clear signal to the new regime led by Imran Khan (IK) that there will be no change in the US bullying attitude.

This is the second cut in CSF. $500 million were suspended early this year. $ 800 million were due to be reimbursed to Pak Army for the services rendered and expenditures incurred in the war on terror in 2016/17 and was not aid or a grant.

We expect IK to eat “Fatass Dunford” alive

In the last 14 years, Pakistan has received $ 14 billion from USA. Over $ 9 billion are still pending on account of CSF. Rupees 15.9 billion are due for the current fiscal year 2018/19.

These cuts and other punitive actions are being taken to express unhappiness of the US and to remind Pakistan that the US would release the said amount and renew CSF if it forgoes its defiance and revert to its traditional pliant behavior and agree to abide by the US dictates and not otherwise.

Brief stopover of the visitors followed by their two-day visit to India where Secretary Defence Mattis will join them and sign more agreements is another indication that the trend of keeping India as a favored ally and Pakistan as a distrusted ally will continue.

After the announcement of the new US policy on Af-Pak region by Donald Trump on August 22, 2017, Pakistan has been constantly pressed by Washington to destroy the safe havens of Haqqani network (HN) and Afghan Taliban and to effectively deal with them.

The tone and tenor of the US civil and military leaders became more menacing after the callous tweet of Trump on the occasion of New Year eve, dubbing Pakistan as dishonest, double dealer and betrayer having gobbled up $30 billion US aid without doing enough to control terrorism.

Despite Pakistan’s denials, and explanations and reminders of the human losses of over 70,000 and the financial loss of $123 billion incurred in the US imposed war, which were snootily ignored, the US has stuck to its allegations that the HN and Afghan Taliban leaders are based in Pakistan and are the main cause of instability in Afghanistan.

No proof has is far been given to substantiate their accusations. The narrative of safe havens of the militants is being drummed up by the Indo-US-Afghan nexus with a view to browbeat Pakistan into submission and to blacklist Pakistan.

The US has for the first time hurled threats of physical intervention if Pakistan refuses to do as told to do and has cut off military training programs. The IMF has been cautioned by Washington not to give bailout package to Pakistan if it uses the loan for repayment of loans to China or for the CPEC. Indian Army chief has on more than one occasion threatened to launch surgical strikes and wage a limited war against Pakistan in the zone of its choice. Likewise, Afghanistan has also maintained a belligerent posture and on several occasions carried out attacks on military posts along the western border.

In spite of the fact that Pakistan had earned the title of ‘most allied ally of USA’, the Pak-US relations spread over 64 years have never been at ease and has seen many ups and downs. The US used Pakistan as a client state to serve its geo-strategic interests and disregarded Pakistan’s security concerns.

In its bid to win the affections of India, the US remained tilted towards India during the Cold War, well knowing that India was the Soviet camp follower and felt no compunction in tilting the regional balance in favor of India. The US never came to the help of Pakistan when its assistance was needed the most in the two wars with India. Seeing its self-serving attitude, Ayub Khan was constrained to lean towards China and to say, “We need friends not masters”.

After 1990 when India fell into the lap of USA, India became the darling of USA and the West, while Pakistan which had played a key role in pushing out the Soviet forces from Afghanistan and in making USA the sole super power and in unifying Germany, fell from grace and became the most sanctioned country.

After 9/11, the US once again befriended Pakistan and made it a coalition partner and Non-NATO ally to fight war on terror as a frontline state. In reality, Pakistan was never an ally but a target of Indo-US-Israel nexus, all three wanting to destroy Pakistan’s nuclear program.

While India had been accusing Pakistan of supporting the freedom fighters in occupied Kashmir since 1990, and constantly urged USA to declare Pakistan a terrorist state, it stepped up this accusation after a terrorist attack on Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001, which it propagated was the doing of Pakistan and Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM).

From 2004 onwards, the US and Afghanistan started blaming Pak military and the ISI of their collusion with Al-Qaeda, Taliban, JeM and Lashkar-e-Taeba. The latter two groups were added expressly at the behest of India.

For all practical purposes, the Indo-US-Afghan strategic partners are anti-Pakistan, and have been conspiring to fragment Pakistan. Greater Baluchistan, Greater Pashtunistan and Jinnahpur movements were foreign inspired to cut Pakistan to size.

Covert war coupled with propaganda war and ‘Do More’ mantra were designed to weaken Pakistan from within, and create conducive conditions for India to launch its Cold Start Doctrine (CSD), which it had made fully operational in 2008. From 2001 to 2008, all the terrorist attacks that took place in India were put in the basket of Pakistan.

The US installed regime in Kabul also followed suit by blaming Pakistan for the attacks in Afghanistan. It came to light at a later date that all the attacks in India including the Parliament and Mumbai attacks were engineered by RAW and executed by Hindu extremist groups to get Pakistan declared a terrorist state. The trio built up this narrative systematically with a view to achieve following objectives:

  1. Keep Pakistan under pressure and on the back foot.
  2. Keep whipping Pakistan for its uncommitted sins and force it to do more.
  3. Paint Pakistan as a terror abetting state and the trio as victims of terrorism.
  4. To hide cross border terrorism of CIA, RAW, NDS from Afghan soil.
  5. Pave the way for blacklisting Pakistan.
  6. As a consequent to massive covert war supplanted by hybrid war, bleed Pakistan economically and militarily, create insecurity and political instability and eventually trigger civil war.

Net result. Compel Pakistan to surrender nukes in return for survival. Water war launched by India war was part of the overall plan to make the arid lands of Pakistan dry and force it to beg for mercy.

Development of tactical nukes and short, medium, long range missiles by Pakistan and upgradation of minimum nuclear deterrence to optimum levels by Pakistan have effectively stalled the CSD, which envisages capturing several tactical objectives with strategic effects situated close to the border/LoC. Concept of limited war also fall within the purview of CSD.

Besides upgrading nuclear capability, Pakistan military has configured its force goals in a manner which can not only tackle the twin threat posed by India in the east and Afghanistan in the northwest as well as externally supported internal threat, but also retains offensive options.

CPEC has posed a bigger challenge to the Indo-US global ambitions. Suffering from nervousness and anxiety, both have stepped up the covert and hybrid wars as well as water war to internationally isolate Pakistan, destroy its economy, cow it down and make it a compliant state.

While Pakistan today finds itself in a precarious situation due to massive debt burden, penurious economy, and disturbed geo-political environments, the situation of US is equally upsetting. In 2001, the Americans had fully backed George W. Bush’s Afghan adventure.

Today the Americans are wary of the war and want an end to the futile 17-year war. Trump’s Afghan policy and other erratic decisions are being severely criticized and he faces impeachment, while his wife has separated.

The US is badly stuck in the quagmires of Afghanistan and Syria, it is faced with Ukraine crisis, it has locked horns with Russia, China, Mexico, North Korea, Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan and there are vibrations in US-EU/NATO relations. Trump’s bullying tactics are not working and anti-Americanism is scaling new heights and so is defiance by the targeted countries.

Of all its problems, Afghanistan is the worst. The US military stationed in Afghanistan together with ANSF made a last ditch effort to emasculate the power of Taliban by using excessive force and then force them to negotiate a political settlement on its terms. Except for causing high civilian casualties, it failed to even slow down the Taliban offensive what to talk of defeating them.

The Taliban enjoy a distinct edge over their opponents and their recent assault of Ghazni has rattled Resolute Support Group (RSG) and the unity government whose writ has got confined to Kabul. It has started cracking as was seen by the resignation and reshuffle of top appointment holders in Kabul.

The attack in Ghazni has brought to light the vulnerability of Afghan security forces (ANSF) whose casualty rate as well as the desertion rate is very high. According to the third quarterly report by SIGAR released on July 30, 2018, the ANSF lost 8,500 personnel from April 2017 to April 2018. They are no match to the Taliban in combat and lack fighting spirit and remain wholly dependent upon American close air support. In Ghazni, the American Air Force conducted 32 airstrikes killing 220 Taliban fighters. The day RSG exits, ANSF will crumble.

Taliban are in no mood to call off their offensive since they want to have second round of direct talks with the US officials from a position of strength. Diplomatically, they are winning friends. Russia invited them for an international peace conference in Moscow. Besides Russia, Iran is also supporting them because of the Daesh factor.

According to research conducted by the BBC, Taliban presently threaten 70 percent of Afghanistan. Another independent website ‘The Long War Journal’ says that Taliban out rightly control 47 districts, while the control of 198 districts is contested between the Afghan government and the Taliban fighters.

The morale of US/NATO troops stationed in eight military bases in Afghanistan is low and they have no heart to take part in ground operations. There have been largescale suicides and post stress disorders cases.

What has depressed the US leadership is that Afghanistan is slipping out of their hands where an amount of $1.3 trillion has been sunk. In 2012-13, when the troop level of USA was 100,000, the expenditure incurred was $100 billion annually. Expenditure incurred on 16000 strong RSG is $13 billion, while $5 billion is spent on ANSF and $78 crores on development.

Despite spending so much and losing 2372 soldiers, the US could neither defeat the Taliban nor achieve any of its objectives. The US had to eat a humble pie by finally agreeing to the demand of the Taliban to hold direct talks with them and not through the unity government.

Pakistan military with meagre resources and against all odds has successfully fought the foreign paid terrorist groups numbering over 60, smashed their network and flushed them out and restored the writ of the government in all parts of the country. The integrity and sovereignty of the state and strategic assets are in safe hands. Pakistan is the only country which has achieved laudable results against terrorism.

The US wants to ditch Pakistan but cannot since the air and land routes through Pakistan are vital for the US military to stay in Afghanistan or to exit. What it wants from Pakistan is to either fight the HN and Afghan Taliban, or else bring them to the negotiating table.

The first demand has been rejected by Pakistan saying it cannot fight others war. The second request merits consideration provided the US gives a guarantee that like in the past, it will not scuttle peace-talks midway and give peace a chance.

Unlike Pakistan, China and Russia desiring peace, the US, India, and the Afghan puppet regime are anti-peace since continuation of war fetches them strategic gains. The security contractors, drug barons, smugglers and businessmen are interested in material profits. Peace in Afghanistan would mean the fall of unity government and exit of US and India.

Open war against Pakistan is no more an option for the US and its allies due to nuclear factor, robust armed forces that are second to none, and unmatched resilience of the people. Even the option of covert operations in which the adversaries had kept Pakistan fully embroiled for the last 17 years is getting untenable.

All the known terrorist groups are now based in Afghanistan and their infiltration will get impeded after the completion of fencing of the western border. Operation Raddul Fasaad is netting the handlers, facilitators and financiers of the terrorists. Decision to expedite sending 2.7 million Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan will cause a big setback to RAW and NDS since the duo had been exploiting a segment among them for fomenting terrorism in Pakistan.

The other worrying development for the US is the Bajwa doctrine, which disregards the US dictates that are against national interests, and asks the US and its allies engaged in counter terrorism to do more to put their own house in order. It is this defiance which has flustered and angered Trump regime filled with hawks.

Series of economic related punitive steps undertaken by fuming USA are intended to create grave economic crisis in Pakistan. IK has added to the woes of Trump administration by stating that 

Pakistan will be an ally of USA for peace and not for war since both Pakistan and Afghanistan have suffered grievously in this insane war.

A message given to the American visitors that Pakistan would like to maintain friendly relations with USA based on mutual trust, respect and benefit must not be to their liking. Foreign Minister Qureshi has made it clear that while the concerns of the visitors will be listened to, the security concerns of Pakistan will also be put forward.

Landmark visit of PM IK to GHQ and his meeting with Gen Bajwa on Sept 3 has removed all the irritants in civil-military relations and brought the two on one page. This kind of a rapport between the two top power centres was never seen before.

It has strengthened the hands of Qureshi to deal with the visitors boldly and to inform them forthrightly that the policy pursued by the US in the aftermath of 9/11 is highly discriminatory, unjust and flawed, which needs correction to make it even based.

They must be politely but firmly asked as to why Pakistan is being singled out for ridicule and whips, and why all the plaudits and rewards for India and Afghanistan, while hypocritically calling Pakistan an ally? Highly discriminatory policy of the US has compelled Pakistan to look for other venues and gravitate towards China-Russia-SCO axis. Turkey and Iran too are shifting towards the East and so is the global pivot of geo-economics.

Frankly speaking, we ourselves are to be blamed for making Pakistan a whipping boy by adopting a self-defeating policy of appeasement and encouraging the US to take Pakistan for granted. Instead of strongly rebutting the false allegations, our leaders remained in a defensive, apologetic and reactive mode. In our bid to keep USA and India in good humor, we failed to build a counter narrative to defeat the fake narrative of our adversaries.

Neither the civil nor the military leaders picked up courage to adopt a proactive foreign policy and pursue aggressive diplomacy and effective media war to impress upon the world community that Pakistan is the only country which has achieved spectacular results in the war on terror and has rendered much more sacrifices than any other country but is being censured and pressured by the losers and real perpetrators of terrorism.

Our timidity and spinelessness has emboldened the US to make Pakistan a convenient scapegoat to hide its failures in Afghanistan. This faulty policy must be reversed and dignity of the nation restored by the builders of Naya Pakistan.

The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, Member Council PESS and TJP. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

Brig Asif H. Raja

Brig Asif Haroon Raja an Member Board of Advisors Opinion Maker is Staff College and Armed Forces WarCoursequalified, holds MSc war studies degree; a second generation officer, he fought epic battle of Hilli in northwest East Bengal during 1971 war, in which Maj M. Akram received Nishan-e-Haider posthumously.

He served as Directing Staff Command & Staff College, Defence Attaché Egypt and Sudan and Dean of Corps of Military Attaches in Cairo. He commanded the heaviest brigade in Kashmir. He is lingual and speaks English, Pashto and Punjabi fluently.

He is author of books titled ‘Battle of Hilli’, ‘1948, 1965 & 1971 Kashmir Battles and Freedom Struggle’, ‘Muhammad bin Qasim to Gen Musharraf’, Roots of 1971 Tragedy’; has written number of motivational pamphlets. Draft of his next book ‘Tangled Knot of Kashmir’ is ready.

He is a defence analyst and columnist and writes articles on security, defence and political matters for numerous international/national publications.

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ARKADY SAVITSKY | 05.09.2018 | WORLD / ASIA PACIFIC

US-Pakistani Relations Head South: Pentagon Cancels Military Aid to Islamabad

The US Defense Department has made a final decision to cancel $300 million (the Coalition Support Funds) in aid to Pakistan. The official reason is Islamabad’s failure to take decisive action against the militants who are waging war in Afghanistan: the Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban. The move is subject to approval by Congress. It was announced mere days before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to visit Pakistan to meet Imran Khan, the country’s new prime minister. It also took place right on the heels of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s visit to Pakistan, where the leadership expressed support for Iran and the nuclear deal the US abandoned. One is reminded of President Trump’s Aug. 7 tweet warning that “[a]nyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States.”

The announced decision is part of a broader suspension that was proclaimed at the beginning of the year. “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit,”President Trump tweeted on January 1, 2018. “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” The statement was followed by announcement that Secretary Jim Mattis was authorized to grant $300 million in CSF funds over the summer if he saw a change of attitude in Islamabad. He didn’t.

The US has started to suspend its training and educational programs for Pakistani officers. No funds have been provided for the coming academic year. US military institutions, including the National Defense University in Washington DC, the US Army’s War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the US Naval War College, the Naval Staff College, and other courses they offered, including cybersecurity studies, eliminated the 66 slots they had reserved for cadets from Pakistan. It’s rather symbolic that Moscow and Islamabad signed an agreement on August 7 to train Pakistani military personnel in Russia.

With that country’s foreign-exchange reserves plummeting, PM Imran Khan will have to decide whether his government will seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), where the United States controls more votes than any other member. The alternative would be to turn to China, Russia, and other friendly nations. After the victory of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party in the 2018 general elections, China agreed to grant a $2 billion loan to Islamabad. On July 30, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that any potential IMF bailout for Pakistan’s new government must not include funds to pay off the country’s Chinese lenders. Pakistan is pinning its hopes on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

Russia and Pakistan marked the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic relations on May 1, 2018. That relationship has seen its ups and downs, but today it has risen to a new historic high.

Moscow and Islamabad see eye-to-eye on the prospects for ending the conflict in Afghanistan. Pakistan has endorsed the Russian-brokered peace talks that exclude the United States but include the Taliban. Pakistan strongly supports Russia’s Syria policy. Islamabad’s membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) opens up new prospects for cooperation. Russian President Vladimir Putin has put forward a proposal to create a more extensive Eurasian partnership based on the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), which would involve China, India, Pakistan, Iran, and those from the Community of Independent States (CIS) that are willing to join. Islamabad is also interested in signing a free-trade agreement with the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

Pakistan has shown its interest in buying military hardware from Russia, has participated in Russian war games, and has also attended Army exhibitions. In September 2016, Russia and Pakistan held their first-ever joint military exercise. It’s been held yearly ever since. Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Javed Bajwa paid his first visit to Russia in April of this year. In late July, the two countries signed a naval cooperation agreement during the visit of Pakistan’s Vice Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Admiral Kaleem Shaukat to Russia. The Pakistani military plans to purchase Su-35 fighter jets and T-90 tanks from Russia.

Russia is involved in many economic projects, such as the Karachi Steel Mill and Gudhu Power Plants. In 2015, Russia and Pakistan signed a contract to build a 1,100-kilometer gas pipeline from Karachi to Lahore (the North-South pipeline) with a capacity of 12.4 billion cubic meters per annum — the largest economic deal ($1.7 billion) between the two countries since the USSR built the Pakistan Steel Mills in the 1970s. Delayed several times because of tariff disputes, it will be set in motion this year by a Russian company called RT – Global Resource.

Pakistan has already invited the Russian Federation to join the $1.16 billion Central Asia-South Asia power project or CASA-1000, which will allow for the export of surplus hydroelectricity from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Pakistan and Afghanistan. In 2017, Pakistan’s government gave the go-ahead for the initiation of an agreement with Russia to construct a 600MW Natural Gas Combined Cycle (NGCC) power plant in Jamshoro, Sindh.

US-Pakistani relations are evidently at a low ebb but every coin has two sides. This is prompting Islamabad to diversify its foreign relationships. There are other partners with a lot to offer that could make that country stronger and much less vulnerable to outside pressure.

MAJOR DEVELOPMENT: Moscow Records ‘NATO-AIRSPACE’ WEAPONS DROP TO ISIS By ‘BLACK’ Helicopters

THE KREMLIN STRONGLY IMPLIES THE U.S HAS MADE THIS DROP

In this major development, it has been revealed to FRN that ISIS has been now recorded receiving a weapons drop from ‘unmarked’ helicopters. Serious questions are raised by the Russian Foreign Ministry on the delivery of arms and ammunition to the ISIS terrorist organization close to the Afghanistan border with other Central Asian states.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has revealed that Russia has registered helicopters of unknown origin delivering weapons to forces of ISIS and other jihadist organizations in Afghanistan.

The revelation was made by the spokesman of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zacharova. She said:

“We again draw attention to the flights of unknown helicopters in northern Afghanistan that deliver arms and ammunition to Islamic State [ISIS] fighters and Taliban militants,” 

“According to Afghan media reports, as well as local residents, such flights have recently been recorded in Sari-Pul province,” the ministry spokesman said.

Ms. Zacharova also stressed that neither the Afghan army nor NATO forces are examining these flights, adding that flights are taking place near the Afghanistan border with Central Asian countries. She continued:

“There is a question: who is behind these flights, who supplies terrorists with weapons and creates their bases near the southern border of the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (international organization of the former Soviet republics) and why this is happening in the Afghan airspace, which is controlled by NATO forces?” 

This information from the Russian Foreign Ministry is only a few days before the start of the Afghanistan peace talks to be held in Moscow next September.

As it becomes seemingly evident that the Taliban will resume control of the country whenever US-led NATO forces leave Afghanistan, Russia and China who have relations with the group will surely have access to the trillion+ dollar worth of natural resources in the country while the US will be left out. It is most likely that ISIS will be utilized again to serve US interests just as they were suppose to in Syria by toppling President Bashar al-Assad, but ultimately failed.

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