Time To Pay: Kushner Seeks Gulf Investors for New Firm

Nov 29, 2021

By Staff, Agencies 

Former White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is seeking investors from the Gulf States for a new firm, according to a report in the New York Times.

The son-in-law of former US president Donald Trump established the Miami-based investment firm Affinity Partners after Trump lost his reelection bid to current president Joe Biden in November of last year.

Kushner has so far struggled to get financial backing from sovereign wealth funds, according to the Friday report, with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates declining. However, Kushner did have success in courting Saudi Arabia and the kingdom’s $450 billion Public Investment Fund, sources told the newspaper, and with negotiations over what could be a sizeable amount of money.

Over the summer it was reported that Kushner will also open an office in the apartheid “Israeli” entity that will promote trade ties between “Israel”, India, the Gulf States and North Africa.

Kushner was one of the architects of the so-called ‘Abraham Accords’ that normalized relations between ‘Israel’ and the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.

“When former White House officials start cashing in their time served with our government by cozying up to monarchs, it turns the stomach a bit. Is it illegal? No,” Nick Penniman, the head of Issue One, a good-government organization in Washington, told the Times. “Is it swampy and seemingly hypocritical? Yes.”

String of pearls: Yemen could be the Arab hub of the Maritime Silk Road

November 22, 2021

With an Ansarallah takeover of Yemen, Asia’s trade and connectivity projects could expand into some of the world’s most strategic waterways

By Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and cross-posted with TheCradle

https://media.thecradle.co/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/a.jpg

The usual suspects tried everything against Yemen.

First, coercing it into ‘structural reform.’ When that didn’t work, they instrumentalized takfiri mercenaries. They infiltrated and manipulated the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), ISIS. They used US drones and occasional marines.

And then, in 2015, they went Total Warfare: a UN-backed rogue coalition started bombing and starving Yemenis into submission – with barely a peep from the denizens of the ‘rules-based international order.’

The coalition – House of Saud, Qatar, UAE, US, UK – for all practical purposes, embarked on a final solution for Yemen.

Sovereignty and unity were never part of the deal. Yet soon the project stalled. Saudis and Emiratis were fighting each other for primacy in southern and eastern Yemen using mercenaries. In April 2017, Qatar clashed with both Saudis and Emiratis. The coalition started to unravel.

Now we reach a crucial inflexion point. Yemeni Armed Forces and allied fighters from Popular Committees, backed by a coalition of tribes, including the very powerful Murad, are on the verge of liberating strategic, oil and natural gas-rich Marib – the last stronghold of the House of Saud-backed mercenary army.

Tribal leaders are in the capital Sanaa talking to the quite popular Ansarallah movement to organize a peaceful takeover of Marib. So this process is in effect the result of a wide-ranging national interest deal between the Houthis and the Murad tribe.

The House of Saud, for its part, is allied with the collapsing forces behind former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, as well as political parties such as Al-Islah, Yemen’s Muslim Brotherhood. They have been incapable of resisting Ansarallah.

A repeat scenario is now playing in the western coastal port of Hodeidah, where takfiri mercenaries have vanished from the province’s southern and eastern districts.

Yemen’s Defense Minister Mohammad al-Atefi, talking to Lebanon’s al-Akhbar newspaper, stressed that, “according to strategic and military implications…we declare to the whole world that the international aggression against Yemen has already been defeated.”

It’s not a done deal yet – but we’re getting there.

Hezbollah, via its Executive Council Chairman Hashim Safieddine, adds to the context, stressing how the current diplomatic crisis between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia is directly linked to Mohammad bin Salman’s (MbS) fear and impotence when confronted with the liberation of strategic Marib and Hezbollah’s unwavering support for Yemen throughout the war.

A fabricated ‘civil war’

So how did we get here?

Venturing beyond the excellent analysis by Karim Shami here on The Cradle, some geoeconomic background is essential to understanding what’s really going on in Yemen.

For at least half a millennium before the Europeans started to show up, the ruling classes in southern Arabia built the area into a prime hub of intellectual and commercial exchange. Yemen became the prized destination of Prophet Muhammad’s descendants; by the 11th century they had woven solid spiritual and intellectual links with the wider world.

By the end of the 19th century, as noted in Isa Blumi’s outstanding Destroying Yemen (University of California Press, 2018), a “remarkable infrastructure that harnessed seasonal rains to produce a seemingly endless amount of wealth attracted no longer just disciples and descendants of prophets, but aggressive agents of capital seeking profits.”

Soon we had Dutch traders venturing on terraced hills covered in coffee beans clashing with Ottoman Janissaries from Crimea, claiming them for the Sultan in Istanbul.

By the post-modern era, those “aggressive agents of capital seeking profits” had reduced Yemen to one of the advanced battlegrounds of the toxic mix between neoliberalism and Wahhabism.

The Anglo-American axis, since the Afghan jihad in the 1980s, promoted, financed and instrumentalized an essentialist, ahistorical version of ‘Islam’ that was simplistically reduced to Wahhabism: a deeply reactionary social engineering movement led by an antisocial front based in Arabia.

That operation shaped a shallow version of Islam sold to western public opinion as antithetical to universal – as in ‘rules-based international order’ – values. Hence, essentially anti-progressive. Yemen was at the frontline of this cultural and historical perversion.

Yet the promoters of the war unleashed in 2015 – a gloomy celebration of humanitarian imperialism, complete with carpet bombing, embargoes, and widespread forced starvation – did not factor in the role of the Yemeni Resistance. Much as it happened with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The war was a perverse manipulation by US, UK, French, Israeli and minions Saudi, Emirati and Qatari intel agencies. It was never a ‘civil war’ – as the hegemonic narrative goes – but an engineered project to reverse the gains of Yemen’s own ‘Arab Spring.’

The target was to return Yemen back to a mere satellite in Saudi Arabia’s backyard. And to ensure that Yemenis never dare to even dream of regaining their historic role as the economic, spiritual, cultural and political reference for a great deal of the Indian Ocean universe.

Add to the narrative the simplistic trope of blaming Shia Iran for supporting the Houthis. When it was clear that coalition mercenaries would fail to stop the Yemeni Resistance, a new narrative was birthed: the war was important to provide ‘security’ for the Saudi hacienda facing an ‘Iran-backed’ enemy.

That’s how Ansarallah became cast as Shia Houthis fighting Saudis and local ‘Sunni’ proxies. Context was thrown to the dogs, as in the vast, complex differences between Muslims in Yemen – Sufis of various orders, Zaydis (Houthis, the backbone of the Ansarallah movement, are Zaydis), Ismailis, and Shafii Sunnis – and the wider Islamic world.

Yemen goes BRI

So the whole Yemen story, once again, is essentially a tragic chapter of Empire attempting to plunder Third World/Global South wealth.

The House of Saud played the role of vassals seeking rewards. They do need it, as the House of Saud is in desperate financial straits that include subsidizing the US economy via mega-contracts and purchasing US debt.

The bottom line: the House of Saud won’t survive unless it dominates Yemen. The future of MBS is totally leveraged on winning his war, not least to pay his bills for western weapons and technical assistance already used. There are no definitive figures, but according to a western intel source close to the House of Saud, that bill amounted to at least $500 billion by 2017.

The stark reality made plain by the alliance between Ansarallah and major tribes is that Yemen refuses to surrender its national wealth to subsidize the Empire’s desperate need of liquidity, collateral for new infusions of cash, and thirst for commodities. Stark reality has absolutely nothing to do with the imperial narrative of Yemen as ‘pre-modern tribal traditions’ averse to change, thus susceptible to violence and mired in endless ‘civil war.’

And that brings us to the enticing ‘another world is possible’ angle when the Yemeni Resistance finally extricates the nation from the grip of the hawkish, crumbling neoliberal/Wahhabi coalition.

As the Chinese very well know, Yemen is rich not only in the so far unexplored oil and gas reserves, but also in gold, silver, zinc, copper and nickel.

Beijing also knows all there is to know about the ultra-strategic Bab al Mandab between Yemen’s southwestern coast and the Horn of Africa. Moreover, Yemen boasts a series of strategically located Indian Ocean ports and Red Sea ports on the way to the Mediterranean, such as Hodeidah.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

These waterways practically scream Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and especially the Maritime Silk Road – with Yemeni ports complementing China’s only overseas naval base in Djibouti, where roads and railways connect to Ethiopia.

The Ansarallah–tribal alliance may even, in the medium to long term, exercise full control for access to the Suez Canal.

One very possible scenario is Yemen joining the ‘string of pearls’ – ports linked by the BRI across the Indian Ocean. There will, of course, be major pushback by proponents of the ‘Indo-Pacific’ agenda. That’s where the Iranian connection enters the picture.

BRI in the near future will feature the progressive interconnection between the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – with a special role for the port of Gwadar – and the emerging China–Iran corridor that will traverse Afghanistan. The port of Chabahar in Iran, only 80 km away from Gwadar, will also bloom, whether by definitive commitments by India or a possible future takeover by China.

Warm links between Iran and Yemen will translate into renewed Indian Ocean trade, without Sanaa depending on Tehran, as it is essentially self-sufficient in energy and already manufactures its own weapons. Unlike the Saudi vassals of Empire, Iran will certainly invest in the Yemeni economy.

The Empire will not take any of this lightly. There are plenty of similarities with the Afghan scenario. Afghanistan is now set to be integrated into the New Silk Roads – a commitment shared by the SCO. Now it’s not so far-fetched to picture Yemen as a SCO observer, integrated to BRI and profiting from Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) packages. Stranger things have happened in the ongoing Eurasia saga.

تركيا جادة في تقديم عرض لملء الفراغ السعودي


الاربعاء 17 نوفمبر 2021

ناصر قنديل

يزداد الكلام السعودي العالي السقوف بحق حلفاء السعودية التقليديين من اللبنانيين قبل خصومها، وصولاً إلى الحديث القطعي عن إدارة ظهر طويلة الأمد، لأن العقل السياسي الحالي للسعودية يعتقد بأن الفراغ الذي تتركه السعودية سيبقى فراغاً حتى ترضى وتعود إليه، كما تعتقد القيادة السعودية بأن عودتها ستكون سبباً لعروض لبنانية بتنازلات تتلاحق حتى تبلغ السقف الذي يرضي السعودية، بما في ذلك ما يعتقد المسؤولون السعوديون أنه يتعلق باليمن، كما تعتقد القيادة السعودية أنها ستتلقى عروضاً خارجية إيرانية وسورية وفرنسية وأميركية  للتعاون في توفير شروط ملء الفراغ، لكن الواقع شيء آخر، فهذا لبنان، تلك النقطة على المتوسط التي تجاور سورية وتقابل أوروبا، وتقع على حدود فلسطين، وتختزن أقوى مقاومة في الشرق تؤرق إسرائيل ومن خلفها أميركا، وهو لبنان المرفأ الاستراتيجي الذي تتسابق عليه الدول، والسوق العقارية النادرة الذي بات يمثل فرصة ذهبية مع انهيار سعر الليرة، والمصارف الواقعة تحت أعباء كبرى تجعل منها سلعة معروضة للبيع بأرخص الأسعار، وهو لبنان حيث الطوائف كيانات اجتماعية شبه مغلقة تبحث كل منها عن قيادة تقف خلفها دولة وازنة، تقدم نفسها حامياً إقليمياً وشريكاً في صناعة التوازنات.

تركيا الدولة الإقليمية الكبرى، باقتصادها وعدد سكانها وجيشها، القلقة على حبال التوازنات الدولية، التي تخوض حروباً صغيرة بعد فشل حربها الكبيرة في سورية، وهاجس رئيسها على أبواب انتخابات رئاسية صعبة، وفي ظروف اقتصادية حرجة، أن يجد انتصاراً سياسياً يفتح آفاقاً اقتصادية جديدة، ويخفف إحراجات التصادم مع عناصر المعادلة الإقليمية والدولية، تركيا هذه لم تأت إلى لبنان بوزير خارجيتها في جولة سياحية ولا بمهمة إنسانية كانت مفهومة بعد انفجار مرفأ بيروت، وتركيا لم تخف اهتمامها بالحصول على عقود الكهرباء وعقود تشغيل وإعادة إعمار مرفأ بيروت، وهي همست حيث يجب بأنها جاهزة لاستقبال البضائع اللبنانية التي توقف تصديرها إلى دول الخليج، وأنها حاضرة لتجديد عروضها الاستثمارية في مجالات كالمرفأ وسكك الحديد ومشاريع الكهرباء، بطريقة التمويل والإنشاء والتشغيل، وفتح الباب أمام مصارفها للدخول على خط الحلول المتداولة لتعويم القطاع المصرفي، وأمام تكامل سياحي لبناني تركي بحري وجوي، وتركيا مهتمة بالتوازي بتحفيز قطر التي تستمع بإصغاء للنصائح التركية، للمشاركة المالية في خطط النهوض اللبنانية بعد موافقة صندوق النقد الدولي عليها، فيما كررت قطر مراراً اهتمامها بسوق الغاز في لبنان، وبناء منصات التغويز وتشغيلها وإمدادها بالغاز.

التحفظ الفرنسي على الحضور التركي الإضافي على البحر المتوسط، في ظل مخاوف من دور تركي بين النازحين السوريين يرفع من وتيرة القلق الفرنسي خصوصاً والأوروبي عموماً، لكن التحفظ الفرنسي مبني أساساً على تطلع الشركات الفرنسية للعب الأدوار التي يهتم التركي بشغلها، والمنافسة التركية الفرنسية في ليبيا مثال مشابه، ففرنسا بقيت مترددة بالتوغل على خلفية الثقة بمكانتها كدولة عظمى، بينما كانت الشركات التركية تقفز إلى الخط الأمامي، وتؤسس للدور السياسي، وصولاً لترسيم حدود النفط والغاز، وهو ملف لا يغيب عن التنافس على لبنان، الذي تمثل ثروته مصدراً للسباق الإقليمي والدولي، وإذا كانت العقدة التي تعترض طريق تركيا هي عجزها عن اتخاذ موقف نوعي ينهي تورطها في سورية، فثمة من يقول إن تركيا أبدت الاستعداد لمقايضة من نوع التسهيل المتبادل، تسهيل تركي للتقدم السوري في شمال سورية، وتسهيل سوري للتقدم التركي في لبنان، وفي ظل ما يشهده اليمن من تحولات كبرى ترسم إيقاع المنطقة، تتقدم تركيا نحو لبنان وتأتي بعدها قطر لترصد النتائج، بينما السعودية تقفل الأبواب مع لبنان، ولا تعلم ما سيكون الحال عليه بعد تطورات اليمن.

فيديوات ذات صلة

مقالات ذات صلة

$1.25 Billion, ISIS Annual Revenue from Stolen Syrian and Iraqi Oil

 ARABI SOURI 

ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq

“ISIL (ISIS – DAESH) was getting stronger, Daesh was threatening the possibility of going to Damascus, we know that this was growing, we were watching, we saw that Daesh was growing in strength, and we thought that Assad was threatened, we thought, however, that we can probably manage that Assad might then negotiate, instead of negotiating we’ve got Putin supporting Assad.” Former US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a leaked audio recording.

“We created Al Qaeda then we left the mess for the Pakistanis to deal with them” Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a congressional hearing.

“The problem is in our allies, they were arming and funding everyone who wanted to fight Assad.” Former Vice President of the USA, currently President of the same USA Joe Biden said during a foreign policy address at Harvard University in September 2014.

“We will keep the oil, I like oil, let the others fight terrorism, I like oil.” Former US President Donald Trump.

‘When I was appointed as the financial controller of ISIS and moved to Raqqa from Iraq, there were 250 million dollars in cash and 3000 kilograms of gold stored in houses and tunnels in the city. We were selling the oil from the wells under our control in Iraq and most of them in Syria to petrol stations, factories, and merchants, and the rest we were exporting them, we were selling the oil for 180 dollars/tonne, which brought us 1.25 billion US dollars a year.’ Deputy Commander of ISIS Sami Jassim Al-Jabouri.

Deputy Commander of ISIS Sami Jassim Al-Jabouri - حجي حامد سليم جاسم الجبوري نائب القائد في داعش

The above is part of the confessions of the ISIS Deputy Commander and its former financial controller Sami Jassim Al-Jabouri, aka among his ‘colleagues as ‘Hajji Hamed,’ which were published by the Iraqi news agency INA.

Sami Al-Jabouri was detained by the Iraqi Security Forces in a ‘complex external operation’ a little over a month ago, his arrest was announced by Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi on October 11, 2021.

The war on Syria for the past 10.5 years was about everything else but saving the Syrian people, spreading democracy, or promoting freedoms; you name it, it was in their agenda: Protecting Israel to build the anti-Christ kingdom as per the Zionist and Evangelical Church beliefs, extending a gas pipeline from Qatar to Europe to bypass Iran and Russia and strangle their economies, deprive China of any access to the Mediterranean through West Asia, stealing the oil, stealing the water, stealing the food, mainly wheat, stealing Syria’s factories, then moving to the next countries on the list.

“If we didn’t go to fight the terrorists in Syria, we would have had to fight the terrorists in Russia.” President of Russia Vladimir Putin repeated several times since Oct 30, 2015.

John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden and their allies are not in prison, the first one is preaching the world on ‘climate change’ and the ‘need to reduce carbon emissions’ while traveling in his private jet and attending with his president a summit using a motorcade of 85 vehicles, the second, despite being part of or at least knowing about ‘one of the greatest hoaxes in journalism’ to smear the 3rd one in what was called the ‘Russian collusion’, she’s tweeting her congratulations to senator Patrick Leahy on his ‘long service’ because in the USA and all its cronies the politicians serve for decades but they want to see change in the countries they target, she’s also tweeting about some more acts deliberated, the 3rd one is busy launching his new platform and campaigning to strip two of the most credible [sic] US mainstream media outlets the New York Times and the Washington Post of their Pulitzer prizes because of their essential part in the 2nd’s conspiracy role against him, and the last one, we’re not sure he himself knows where he is.

Those politicians, the war criminals with their allies and their proxy terrorist groups agree on destroying the world one country at a time, Syria was too difficult for them to crack open, now they’re working hard on extending its suffering to strip its people the joy of celebrating their win on the world’s most vicious and super-rich terrorists ISIS, and its ilk, these same politicians do differ on everything else of no real value, just to entertain their sheeple who think they’re free and live in a real democracy.

The 1.25 billion US dollars that the US-created and sponsored ISIS terrorist group was earning are only from the proceeds of selling the stolen oil, this does not include the lootings, ransoms, racketeering, drug trafficking, human organs trafficking, white slavery, and all of that is not comparable to the billions in direct funding by the Gulfies and their NATO sponsors, mainly the US taxpayers, most of which were funneled by dropping weapons and other parcels ‘by mistake’ by the Pentagon to areas under ISIS control, programs to train ‘moderate terrorists’ who would join ISIS or fight on its side, and humanitarian aid sent by the different countries to areas under the control of ISIS and its brethren.

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البداوة القطرية والتمدن الفينيقي اللبناني

نوفمبر 1 2021

 ناصر قنديل

القرار السعودي بقطع العلاقات الدبلوماسية والتجارية مع لبنان، والسعي لتعميمه خليجياً، رداً على تصريح سابق لوزير الإعلام جورج قرداحي، هو كمن يطلق طائرة حربية بزعم ملاحقة عصفور يزعجه، لا يفسر إطلاقها حجم الهدف المدعى، فالقرار وما سبقه من حملة غضب مفرط يثيران تساؤلات أبعد مدى بكثير من الحدث ورد الفعل عليه، لو سلمنا باعتباره أزعج حكام السعودية، وأبعد مدى حتى من محاولة تحطيم الشخصية الوطنية وروح الكرامة فيها وإذلالها وصولاً لتطويعها، بداعي التمنين بالحاجة للمال، وفي توقيت تبدو السعودية مثقلة بهمها اليمني الآخذ في التسارع نحو الخسارة الكبرى، ويبدو لبنان في ظل حكومة تعاني صعوبة التعافي، فكلما تعافى فيها جرح تفتحت جروح، والمنطقة ولبنان على أبواب استحقاقات كثيرة، تتيح تفسير حال الاضطراب التي تعيشها قوى إقليمية ومحلية، ما يدفعها مواقف وخطوات تصعيدية تحتمل الكثير من المخاطرة والمغامرة وصولاً للمقامرة، كما كانت حال ما فعله التورط في مجزرة الطيونة، أملاً بتداعيات أكبر منها تجعلها في النسيان.

لا يمكن النظر لحجم الضغط السعودي، والسعي لجعله خليجياً، بالتناسب مع ما تعلنه الحكومة السعودية عن إدارة ظهر تجاه لبنان، أو انزعاج مما يقال بحقها من قبل أطراف لبنانية، فالسعودية منخرطة عميقاً في السياسة اللبنانية، لكن على قاعدة لا للاستقرار في لبنان، ولا لحكومة، أي حكومة في لبنان، وألم يثبت أنه لم يكن مع الرئيس سعد الحريري حصراً، تحت شعار لا للحريري، بل لا للحكومة، لأن شرط اللااستقرار هو اللاحكومة، والذهاب إلى الضغط الأقصى في استعارة لمصطلحات الرئيس الأميركي السابق دونالد ترامب، له وظيفة واحدة، هي الدفع بالانقسام اللبناني تحت عنوان الابتزاز الذي تمثله العلاقة مع السعودية، لوضع مستقبل الحكومة على بساط البحث، عبر دفع فريق لبناني للضغط باتجاه التضحية بالحكومة استرضاء للسعودية إذا تعذر ضبطها تحت سقف الرضا السعودي، وبعد إسقاط الحكومة وما يرتبه من فوضى وانهيار، وإقفال لباب البحث بالحلول السياسية والاقتصادية، والذهاب للانتخابات، يفتح الباب للتدهور الأمني، حيث القوى الحليفة للسعودية تحاول ملء الفراغ في ساحاتها الطائفية.

خلال سنوات مضت على تولي العماد ميشال عون رئاسة الجمهورية، لم يقم الرئيس بزيارة أي من سورية وإيران، بل بادر في أول زيارة خارجية إلى زيارة السعودية، وضبط إيقاع علاقته بالعرب الآخرين وبسواهم، كالحال مع إيران، على ساعة توقيت عدم إزعاج السعودية، وعندما تحدث وزير الخارجية السابق بكلام تسبب بالغضب السعودي، كان يكفي الاعتذار عن مضمون عنصري ورد فيه بحق البدو، ذهب رئيس الجمهورية لطلب الاستقالة من الوزير شربل وهبة، وخلال كل الفترة الماضية قبل احتجاز الرئيس سعد الحريري وبعد احتجازه، ولبنان بكل أطرافه يدفع فواتير السير تحت سقف ما يرضي السعودية، لكن لبنان لم ينل من كل ذلك سوى المزيد من التجهم والعبوس والتعالي، ومن يراهن أن إقالة أو استقالة الوزير جورج قرداحي ستغير الوضع واهم ومشتبه، ومن يظن أن استقالة الحكومة سيغير الوضع سواء تجاه لبنان أو تجاه من يكون سبباً في استقالة الحكومة، رئيساً أو وزراء، سرعان ما سيكتشف أن لا شيء تغير سوى أخذ لبنان إلى الأسوأ، فليس ثمة مطلب سعودي واقعي من لبنان يتم الضغط لأجل تحقيقه، هناك قرار سعودي بالانتقام من الفشل في لبنان، بدفعه نحو الفوضى واللااستقرار، فما دامت السعودية تفشل في اليمن فيجب إسقاط لبنان على رؤوس أهله، هكذا ببساطة.

كلام رئيس الحكومة تعليقاً على القرار السعودي عاقل وحكيم، تجاه تأكيد الحرص على السعي لفعل كل ما يخدم تحسين العلاقات مع السعودية، لكن دعوة وزير الإعلام للاستقالة تحت عنوان دعوته لتحكيم ضميره لفعل ما يخدم المصلحة الوطنية، في غير مكانها، وإن ذهبت الأمور بهذا الاتجاه ستكون إهانة مجانية ألحقها لبنان بنفسه بلا مقابل، أما إن تفاقمت الأمور وأودت بالحكومة ووصل رئيسها لحد الاستقالة، فلن تكون بعدها في لبنان حكومة وربما لا انتخابات، ولن يجد الذين فعلوا بنا ذلك لا باباً سعودياً مفتوحاً، وربما لا يجدون وطناً يرجعون إليه بعد السفر.

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Breaking: US-sponsored ISIS Terrorists Massacre 60 People in Diyala, Iraq

 ARABI SOURI 

Iraq: US-sponsored ISIS Terrorists Massacre 60 People in Diyala Province

ISIS terrorists stormed a town in the Miqdadiyah region of Diyala province and slaughtered dozens of people in it, initial report speak of 60 civilians slaughtered.

News coming out from the Al Hawasha village said ISIS terrorists have set up ambushes and targeted the villagers of the Shia sect killing dozens, many are still being unaccounted for, the Al Housha village is in the Miqdadiyah region of the province of Diyala northeast of Baghdad.

ISIS commits a sectarian massacre against the Shia in the Al Huwasha village of Miqdadiya, the terrorists set an ambush and targeted civilians, now there are a number of unaccounted martyrs and injured.’

Iraq is in political, economic, sectarian, and social turmoil ever since the United States decided to topple one more country with a national army that doesn’t recognize Israel and coincidently is rich with oil and gold reserves, the country after 18 years of direct invasion suffered and continue to suffer over 1.5 million of its people killed and double of those maimed, and triple of those displaced, and more than 70% of the population impoverished.

The rise of terrorist organizations like ISIS and previously Al Qaeda in the Rafiden (Iraq) mostly from tribes with connections to the Al Saud and the NATO-version of Islam they follow called Wahhabism has only come as an alternative to the ‘US boots on the ground’ after the Iraqi resistance was inflicting a heavy toll on the invaders and looters of their country.

Obama’s role in creating ISIS – Interview with the founder of ‘Jihad’ in Egypt and former friend of chief of Al Qaeda Zawahiri – July 2014

Iraq has concluded very controversial parliamentary elections earlier this month which despite the long preparations and settings developed saw hundreds of proven violations in the ballot boxes as confirmed by the special higher commission for elections which itself is accused of failing all its promises in conducting transparent elections. Protesters took to the streets from the majority of parties and independent candidates with calls to annul the results of the whole election. The USA and its Saudi allies are trying to shore up parties that want to dissolve the Iraqi PMU forces who defeated ISIS in Iraq, no coincidences in politics.

ISIS terrorist organization continues to prove it works for the Pentagon in every single crime it committed since it emerged after the USA and its British partners invaded Iraq in March 2003 based on lies of the country’s possession of weapons of mass destruction proven a completely fabricated information by the USA itself.

From Afghanistan to Iraq to Syria to Libya and the rest of Africa, wherever these ISIS terrorists spring up from nowhere obvious unmistakable NATO interests arise in the targeted countries and the creator and sponsors of ISIS come to ‘fight terrorism’ in those targeted countries. The terrorists commit their massacres against everybody and focus mainly on Muslims who do not follow Wahhabi Islam which is only followed in Saudi Arabia and the ‘democratic empire of the gas station Qatar’ in the Arabian Peninsula.

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From Russia, With (Taliban) Love

October 22, 2021

Image Credit: The Cradle
From Russia, With (Taliban) Love

By Pepe Escobar posted with permission and cross posted with The Cradle

Facing high expectations, a five-man band Taliban finally played in Moscow. Yet the star of the show, predictably, was the Mick Jagger of geopolitics: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Right from the start, Lavrov set the tone for the Moscow format consultations, which boast the merit of “uniting Afghanistan with all neighboring countries.” Without skipping a beat, he addressed the US elephant in the room – or lack thereof: “Our American colleagues chose not to participate,” actually “for the second time, evading an extended troika-format meeting.”

Asia’s powerbrokers dropped an Afghan bombshell in Moscow today: ‘the country’s reconstruction must be paid for by its military occupiers of 20 years.’

Washington invoked hazy “logistical reasons” for its absence.

The troika, which used to meet in Doha, consists of Russia, the US, China and Pakistan. The extended troika in Moscow this week featured Russia, China, India, Iran, Pakistan and all five Central Asian ‘stans.’ That, in essence, made it a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting, at the highest level.

Lavrov’s presentation essentially expanded on the themes highlighted by the recent SCO Dushanbe Declaration: Afghanistan should be an “independent, neutral, united, democratic and peaceful state, free of terrorism, war and drugs,” and bearing an inclusive government “with representatives from all ethnic, religious and political groups.”

The joint statement issued after the meeting may not have been exactly a thriller. But then, right at the end, paragraph 9 offers the real bombshell:

“The sides have proposed to launch a collective initiative to convene a broad-based international donor conference under the auspices of the United Nations as soon as possible, certainly with the understanding that the core burden of post-conflict economic and financial reconstruction and development of Afghanistan must be shouldered by troop-based actors which were in the country for the past 20 years.”

The West will argue that a donor conference of sorts already happened: that was the G-20 special summit via videoconference earlier in October, which included UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Then, last week, much was made of a European promise of 1 billion euros in humanitarian aid, which, as it stands, remains extremely vague, with no concrete details.

At the G-20, European diplomats admitted, behind closed doors, that the main rift was between the West “wanting to tell the Taliban how to run their country and how to treat women” as necessary conditions in exchange for some help, compared to Russia and China following their non-interference foreign policy mandates.

Afghanistan’s neighbors, Iran and Pakistan, were not invited to the G-20, and that’s nonsensical. It’s an open question whether the official G-20 in Rome, on 30-31 October, will also address Afghanistan along with the main themes: climate change, Covid-19, and a still elusive global economic recovery.

No US in Central Asia

So the Moscow format, as Lavrov duly stressed, remains the go-to forum when it comes to addressing Afghanistan’s serious challenges.

Now we come to the crunch. The notion that the economic and financial reconstruction of Afghanistan should be conducted mainly by the former imperial occupier and its NATO minions – quaintly referred to as “troop-based actors” – is a non-starter.

The US does not do nation-building – as the entire Global South knows by experience. Even to unblock the nearly $10 billion of the Afghan Central Bank confiscated by Washington will be a hard slog. The IMF predicted that without foreign help the Afghan economy may shrink by 30 percent.

The Taliban, led by second Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi, tried to put on a brave face. Hanafi argued that the current interim government is already inclusive: after all, over 500,000 employees of the former administration have kept their jobs.

But once again, much precious detail was lost in translation, and the Taliban lacked a frontline figure capable of capturing the Eurasian imagination. The mystery persists: where is Mullah Baradar?

Baradar, who led the political office in Doha, was widely tipped to be the face of the Taliban to the outside world after the group’s takeover of Kabul on 15 August. He has been effectively sidelined.

The background to the Moscow format, though, offers a few nuggets. There were no leaks – but diplomats hinted it was tense. Russia had to play careful mediator, especially when it came to addressing grievances by India and concerns by Tajikistan.

Everyone knew that Russia – and all the other players – would not recognize the Taliban as the new Afghan government, at least not yet. That’s not the point. The priority once again had to be impressed on the Taliban leadership: no safe haven for any jihadi outfits that may attack “third countries, especially the neighbors,” as Lavrov stressed.

When President Putin casually drops the information, on the record, that there are at least 2,000 ISIS-K jihadis in northern Afghanistan, this means Russian intel knows exactly where they are, and has the capabilities to snuff them, should the Taliban signal help is needed.

Now compare it with NATO – fresh from its massive Afghan humiliation – holding a summit of defense ministers in Brussels this Thursday and Friday to basically lecture the Taliban. NATO’s secretary-general, the spectacularly mediocre Jens Stoltenberg, insists that “the Taliban are accountable to NATO” over addressing terrorism and human rights.

As if this was not inconsequential enough, what really matters – as background to the Moscow format – is how the Russians flatly refused a US request to deploy their intel apparatus somewhere in Central Asia, in theory, to monitor Afghanistan.

First they wanted a “temporary” military base in Uzbekistan or Tajikistan: Putin–Biden actually discussed it at the Geneva summit. Putin counter-offered, half in jest, to host the Americans in a Russian base, probably in Tajikistan. Moscow gleefully played along for a few weeks just to reach an immovable conclusion: there’s no place for any US “counter-terrorism” shenanigans in Central Asia.

To sum it all up, Lavrov in Moscow was extremely conciliatory. He stressed how the Moscow format participants plan to use all opportunities for “including” the Taliban via several multilateral bodies, such as the UN, the SCO – where Afghanistan is an observer nation – and crucially, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which is a military alliance.

So many layers of ‘inclusiveness’ beckon. Humanitarian help from SCO nations like Pakistan, Russia and China is on its way. The last thing the Taliban need is to be ‘accountable’ to brain-dead NATO.

Pakistani Regional Influence is on the Rise

11.10.2021 

Author: Vladimir Platov

IMR

In recent months in the wake of the events in Afghanistan, Pakistan has conspicuously increased its regional influence, a fact noticed not only by the most active international actors, but also by Pakistan itself.

Thus, on September, 22 at a business conference in Islamabad Pakistani Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry highlighted the increased regional importance of his country pointing out that under Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan has now become a global decision-maker. To support his claim the Minister stressed out that Pakistan is taking an active part in Taliban’s efforts to form an inclusive Afghan government (banned in Russia) and is engaged in connecting Gwadar and Karachi with Central Asian countries by rail via Mazar-i-Sharif as part of the implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. In addition, the government has initiated 1,100 various projects involving other countries as well.

After a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan the US has found another reliable communications channel with Taliban via Pakistan. It became another venue in addition to Doha where under the auspices of CIA office in Central Asia talks with Taliban on the US military withdrawal were held. In an effort to establish a line of communication with Taliban CIA decided to turn to the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) which has close ties with the militant organization and had previously helped the US to facilitate contacts with it.

Beijing also decided to turn Pakistan into its foothold in the region so that it could, among other things, check US regional influence thus becoming a leading investor in the country’s economy. For that reason Chinese investors have funneled more than $70 billion into Pakistani economy.

Meanwhile, Pakistan can capitalize on its close ties with Taliban helping the US and CIA not only to escape the Afghan trap with dignity, but also to punish the culprits who had killed the US military personnel in Kabul airport during the evacuation. To achieve this goal without Pakistani intelligence’s aid will be a difficult task. China also takes interest in Pakistan’s mediation services regarding not only ensuring stability in Afghanistan but also expeditious recognition of Taliban regime in the West. In early September, to address these matters General Faiz Hamid, the head of Pakistani intelligence, visited Kabul to discuss with Taliban leaders security issues as well as economic and trade engagement thus becoming the first top foreign official to set foot on Afghan soil after Taliban seized power in this country.

At the same time on September, 13 US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was quick to announce that the US administration intends to assess Pakistan’s role in supporting the radical movement of Taliban as well in the events in Afghanistan. The US authorities are set to look at “what role Pakistan has played over the last 20 years” amid the events in Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover, he said. Washington will also take up the issue of what role, from the US perspective, Pakistan “has to play in the coming years and what it will take for it to do that”. During his speech the Secretary of State said that actions of Pakistan in many cases “are in conflict with” US interests although at some points the interests of the two powers converge. Blinken stressed out that the US cooperates with Pakistan on a range of issues regarding counterterrorism.

With Taliban’s grip on power now secure, the political significance of Pakistan has clearly swelled. Let’s recall that Pakistan was one of the three countries (the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan) that had recognized Taliban government in 1990. It also was the last to sever official ties in 2001. For more than two decades Pakistan provided injured Taliban leaders with shelter and medical care. Many Afghans who joined the movement were educated in Pakistani religious schools. For the first time in its history, Pakistan has gained global influence since such important countries as Russia, China and the US rely on its active participation in helping the interested parties in Afghanistan to engage in mutual cooperation as a new political landscape in Central and South Asian region emerges, which is a matter of interest for them.

Pakistan’s significantly increased importance was also visible during the last SCO summit as Islamabad, along with Iran, China and Russia, took an active part in debating Afghanistan’s political future. And this is understandable since Islamabad remains the only regional actor that has a direct sway on Taliban.

It should also not be forgotten that control over Taliban in Afghanistan is vital for Pakistan itself since it wants to stave off Taliban’s merging with Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (banned in Russia) or with other Taliban militants present in the country who are in control of mountainous federal territories. Such coalition would entail the creation of a gigantic Pashtunistan, a threat to Pakistan’s very existence.

Proving this point in Islamabad on September, 12 General Faiz Hameed, the head of Inter-Service Intelligence, hosted a meeting of chiefs of intelligence services of Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Iran and China. The participants discussed the situation in Afghanistan, exchanged views on what was going on in the country and also discussed measures needed to ensure “lasting peace and stability” in the region. According to Mohammad Sadiq, Pakistan’s special envoy to Afghanistan, participants “were unanimous that peace in Afghanistan is vital for security, stability and prosperity of the entire region”. He said that the region-wide approach and the active role of Pakistan in this process will help to both realize the potential of the republic, and resolve problems of mutual interest.

Meanwhile it is not coincidence that Pakistan, fearing that Afghan destabilization will have a “ricochet” effect on it, is simultaneously maneuvering within the coalition Pakistan — Qatar — Turkey. So now the Pakistani intelligence is trying to determine how deep is the rift between the parties and what it could mean both for Islamabad and the region as a whole.

Vladimir Platov, expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

ISIS Claims Responsibility for Blowing Up the Gas Pipeline near Damascus

 ARABI SOURI 

Maintenance teams repairing the Arabian gas pipeline near Deir Ali station blown up by ISIS

US-sponsored ISIS terrorists claimed responsibility for blowing up the Arabian Gas Pipeline feeding the Deir Ali thermal power station in Damascus countryside the day before yesterday, as we anticipated in our report.

Syrian minister for oil confirmed that the maintenance teams have concluded the repairs to the sabotaged gas pipeline and resumed the supplies through it as per SANA.

The ISIS statement circulated by its media and the media of its sponsors referred to the attack on the electric power generating facilities as part of its ‘economic warfare’ against the Syrian people:

‘Within the economic warfare, ISIS ‘soldiers’ managed to booby trap and blow up the gas pipeline between Tishreen and Deir Ali thermal stations and two electric towers of the Deir Ali station yesterday, this resulted in the disconnection of the electric power supplies to the entire southern region…’ the ISIS statement read.

ISIS claiming responsibility for blowing up gas pipeline feeding Deir Ali thermal power station near Damascus
ISIS Statement
Maintenance teams repairing the Arabian gas pipeline near Deir Ali station blown up by ISIS
Maintenance teams repairing the gas pipeline
Maintenance teams repairing the Arabian gas pipeline near Deir Ali station blown up by ISIS

In our post reporting on the terrorist attack when it happened we pointed the fingers at ISIS remnants operating from the At-Tanf area in southeastern Syria, the only area in the southern region with US illegal military presence where these terrorists benefit from the protection provided to them by their sponsors, and they also enjoy the generosity of the US taxpayers who provide them with the 4×4 machinegun-mounted brand new Toyota pickups, and the other weapons and munition.

In the Al-Tanf area where the infamous Rukban concentration camp for Syrian families held hostage and human shields, the ISIS terrorists are called ‘Maghawir Thawra’, or ‘Commandos of the Revolution,’ the US-led regime change ‘revolution’, that is.

US Army carrying out a military drill with ISIS terrorists in Al Tanf area in southeast Syria!
an ISIS terrorist of the Maghawir Thawra thanking the USA for its generosity for providing them with the Toyota pickups

Syria can eliminate ISIS in less than a week as per top Syrian officials if it wasn’t for the direct support these terrorists receive from NATO countries and the direct protection the US military provides them, many among the US military do not distinguish between ISIS terrorists and real rebels, it’s understandable when we know that the US military is incapable of distinguishing between an ISIS terrorist commander in a car and 7 children and 3 adults when it drone-bombs them into non-existence.

‘The Syrian Arab Army can eliminate ISIS in 3 Days – Dr. Bashar Jaafari

The Syrian Army had already defeated ISIS in Syria before July 2014 and the terrorist remnants were regrouped and shipped to Iraq, beefed up, and then sent back to Syria by the US, Jordan, Turkey, Saudi, Qatar, and the rest of the alliance against the Syrian people as per this top Al Qaeda commander, founder of ‘Jihad’ in Egypt and close friend to Zawahiri, Al Qaeda commander in a July 3, 2014 interview:

The same was confirmed by John Kerry, among other top US officials 5 years later:

The Pentagon Threatening to Revive ISIS

For the past 10.5 years, the United States of America has led a number of its stooges in NATO, Western European countries, some new Eastern European countries seeking to join NATO, the Gulfies, among others, and a host of numerous terrorist groups to destabilize Syria, destroy Syria, slaughter as many Syrian people as they could, displace millions of other Syrians from their homes, and suck dry Syrian oil, gas, and food resources, not because the US needs any of these resources or they need the Syrian land described once by Trump as the land of sand and blood, nor because the Syrians have invaded, attacked, or harmed US citizens, not at all, in the matter of fact, whenever the US regimes since Reagan and maybe before needed help to rescue their ‘innocent’ citizens who always find themselves caught up in the middle of conflicts, they would ask Syria for help and Syria was helping within its capabilities, experience in combatting terrorists groups, and by exchanging favors with its allies who can help, it was rewarded by the US regimes with only the bloodshed we’re living in, all of this just that the US serves Israel’s interests in the region and tries desperately to materialize the so-called Greater Israel Project.

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MBZ is performing a U-turn that could reshape the Middle East

Profile picture for user David Hearst

15 September 2021 10:57 UTC

David Hearst

David Hearst is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Middle East Eye. He says Middle East Eye is funded by “individual private donors” but he won’t name them. He said that his organisation is not funded by Qatar – or any other state or group – and is here to stay. He appears as a commentator on the Middle East for Al Jazeera English and Alaraby TV, TRT, Masr Al-Aan TV.

For years, Emirati foreign policy has been a disaster. Now, on the anniversary of the fundamentally flawed Abraham Accords, a rethink is underway

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed is pictured in Berlin in June 2019 (Reuters)

The fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban has triggered an earthquake that has travelled across the Gulf. The tectonic plates that defined who did what to whom in the region are shifting. 

Alliances that only a year ago seemed to be set in concrete are cracking. The vacuum created by the US withdrawal from Afghanistan has been felt just as keenly in Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv as it has in Kabul.

The clearest sign of swaying buildings and buckling tarmac are the pledges and significant amounts of money being promised by the de facto leader of the UAE to Turkey, states that are vigorous competitors for regional influence.

It is pragmatism, not a fundamental change of heart, that is causing the latest handbrake turn in Abu Dhabi’s foreign policy

And Turkey has not been the only sign of the apparent U-turn in UAE policy. Shortly after his recent meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Tahnoun bin Zayed, UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed’s brother and security chief, flew to mend fences with Qatar.

Only a year ago, the UAE was urging Saudi Arabia not to lift the blockade of Qatar. This latest visit is a recognition that the blockade was a spectacular failure. Qatar has emerged as US President Joe Biden’s strongest partner in the Gulf, and the one on whom he depended for evacuating Afghans and communicating with the Taliban.

How different from the start of the blockade, when Qatar was painted as a refuge for terrorists and Islamists, and former US President Donald Trump tweeted his approval of the Saudi action. 

Billions promised

Erdogan is keeping the transcript of his recent telephone conversation with MBZ close to his chest. Only a trusted few know what the crown prince promised. According to my sources, MBZ offered Erdogan more than $10bn in investments.

Unlike the military side of the government of Sudan, or indeed President Kais Saied in Tunisia, Erdogan is not being made to wait long for the money to arrive. The Dubai-based courier Aramex is reportedly in talks to buy the Turkish delivery company MNG Kargo.

There is much secrecy in Ankara, but one thing is clear: the momentum for this reset is coming from Abu Dhabi. Erdogan is wary, and the foreign policy establishment in Turkey is sceptical. Both have good reason for caution.

UAE National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meet in Ankara on 18 August 2021 (Turkish Presidency)
UAE National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meet in Ankara on 18 August 2021 (Turkish Presidency)

This was the state that, according to Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, spent $3bn attempting (and very nearly succeeding) to topple Erdogan on 15 July 2016. Cavusoglu did not name the UAE, but it was clear who he was referencing when he mentioned “a Muslim country”.

The same state funds neoconservative Washington think tanks that regularly debunk Erdogan and his ability to sustain the lira. It competes for influence with Turkey in Syria, Yemen, Libya, the Horn of Africa, Egypt and Tunisia. It was the brains behind, and one of the funders of, the counter-revolution that toppled former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi – and it has tried repeatedly to rearrange the furniture in Tunisia, Sudan and Yemen. Emirati planes at one point provided air cover for renegade general Khalifa Haftar’s ill-fated attempt to recapture Tripoli.The UAE’s military interventions have led to disaster – not stabilityRead More »

It has also created armies of “electronic flies” to condition public opinion through social media. The UAE’s interventions far beyond the Gulf have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East. 

Turkey has long been on the receiving end of this. So why would a leopard on a mission to hunt down political Islam and render it extinct, change its spots? It is not a question that can be convincingly answered.

Nor is this the first attempt at a kiss and make up: the UAE made a similar overture to Ankara when it thought Hillary Clinton would become US president. When Trump won, this was instantly dropped. It is pragmatism, not a fundamental change of heart, that is causing the latest handbrake turn in Abu Dhabi’s foreign policy. The sceptics in Ankara are right to be cautious. 

Nevertheless, it could still be happening. The flood of signals coming out of Abu Dhabi towards Erdogan and Turkey mostly take place in private forums, and the message is consistent, even if you don’t believe it.

‘Strategic reassessment’

According to people with knowledge of these conversations, top UAE officials claim to be conducting a “strategic reassessment” of foreign policy.

It starts with Biden. The UAE noted two features of its changed relationship with Washington since his administration came to power: the first was a consistent message from the new US administration to “de-escalate” tensions in the Middle East. The second was the unpredictability of US foreign policy. 

The new policy, then, is apparently to spread influence through economic cooperation, rather than military intervention and political competition

This was surely already apparent under Trump, when he refused to bomb Tehran after Iran and its Iraqi proxies sent armed drones to cripple two Saudi oil facilities, temporarily halving crude production. If ever Saudi Arabia and the UAE felt unprotected by the US military umbrella, it was then.

Coupled with this, they claim, is a hard-headed assessment of what the UAE has actually achieved. Its interventions have indeed beaten the Muslim Brotherhood back as a political force in EgyptTunisiaYemenSyria, and partly in Libya. But the cost of the UAE’s secular jihad is enormous.

Three of these countries are in smoking ruins, and the other two, Egypt and Tunisia, are nearly bankrupt. What has MBZ gained for the billions of dollars he has invested in Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi?

The new policy, then, is apparently to spread influence through economic cooperation, rather than military intervention and political competition.

Saudi-UAE rift

They don’t say it, but when questioned, there is clearly also coolness with Riyadh. One emissary claimed that the UAE delayed its pullout from Yemen for a year to allow Saudi Arabia to end the war with the Houthis, but it is clear that Yemen is a sore point between the two military allies.

Saudi Arabia recently announced a series of moves to weaken Abu Dhabi, the latest being the pullout of Al Arabiya and parent media company MBC from Dubai. It has clamped down on tax-free goods from an Emirati free trade zone, as well as insisting that foreign multinationals base their headquarters in Riyadh rather than Dubai. There is a lot more sibling rivalry to the brotherly relations between the two Gulf countries these days.

MBZ meets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah in 2018 (Bandar al-Jaloud/Saudi Royal Palace/AFP)
MBZ meets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah in 2018 (Bandar al-Jaloud/Saudi Royal Palace/AFP)

Publicly, the UAE’s licensed political analysts are hinting at a different set of regional priorities. Political scientist Abdulkhaleq Abudulla tweeted that the main message from Washington was that the US would not defend the Gulf. “And the Arab Gulf states are at a crossroads; how should they adapt to the post-America Gulf stage?”

Spot the notable absences from this list: Saudi Arabia and Egypt, its closest allies in 2013.

Abraham Accords lose value

Abu Dhabi is not the only signatory of the Abraham Accords which is reassessing the value of a pro-US bloc in the Gulf. One year on from the signing in Washington, the Abraham Accords are losing their shine. A year ago, they seemed to have so much going for them. It was a marriage of brains and brawn, the military might and technological superiority of Israel with the dollars of the Gulf.UAE-Israel deal: Abraham accord or Israeli colonialism?Read More »

It was a way of bypassing the Palestinian conflict, without the need for messy, time-wasting things like negotiations, elections or popular mandates. The accords were a solution imposed from above – a fait accompli, which the Arab masses would have to live with.

But like the megacities of Saudi Arabia, the accords were built on shifting sands. 

They had two fundamental flaws. Firstly, they depended on individual leaders – not states – meeting at first in secret as their drivers. This means that when two key players were removed from the picture – Trump and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – the project itself lost sponsorship and momentum. 

The other problem was that they were all about the relationship between regional states and the US. They did not address the fundamental problems of relations between the key regional actors themselves. 

The UAE’s motive for moving closer to Israel was to cement its relationship with Washington. Recognition of Israel was always a means to an end, not the end in itself. 

Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed sign the Abraham Accords in 2020 (AFP)
Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed sign the Abraham Accords in 2020 (AFP)

For Israel, on the other hand, the Abraham Accords were all about cementing its own security by increasing its regional influence. It fundamentally misread Arab intentions by conceiving of normalisation as a military and diplomatic safety net for its own continued existence.

Zvi Barel, writing in Haaretz, observed: “The kaleidoscopic shifting of international relations will require Israel to examine its place in the newly-forming alignment. The idea that there’s a pro-U.S. bloc that provides Israel with a military and diplomatic safety net and acts alongside it as an informal coalition against Iran, is beginning to fall apart.”

Regional realignment

The US not only supplied the carrots and sticks necessary to coerce states such as Sudan to join the accords, by removing it from its list of terrorist states. It was the very reason for the accords themselves.

The Emiratis, being quick off the mark, have seen the future shape of the post-oil world. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has yet to reconcile himself to the US military absence. Maybe he will now that Biden has just withdrawn his Patriot missiles from the kingdom and lifted the bar imposed by two of his predecessors to confidential documents on allegations of Saudi government links to two of the 9/11 hijackers

It has taken eight long years for the penny to drop. But if indeed it has, this realisation presents a genuine opportunity to reshape a post-American Middle East

Unlike MBZ, MBS harbours personal grudges. He cannot forgive Erdogan for the role he played in keeping the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on the agenda in Washington. In so doing, Erdogan permanently damaged MBS’s international reputation, making a repeat trip to London and the US impossible for the future Saudi king.

MBS’s psychology – for all its modernist patina of posing as a reformer – is still rooted in his Bedouin past. Being the future king, he considers and treats his people as his property. He is their lord and master. Deals with other states are made by him alone. He decides whether his kingdom will recognise Israel or whether, as is now the case, he could turn to Israel to provide him with missile defence systems.

Although all of these moves are brittle and by nature reversible, given that they are triggered by events outside the region and not within it, there could be light at the end of this dark, dark tunnel of permanent intervention. If regional actors themselves can establish a working relationship with each other – and no more than that is required – stability will not depend on a small group of despots. How will US disengagement shape the Middle East?Read More »

Relations between regional powers are more likely to represent state interests, rather than the personal ones of their leaders. That in itself would be progress, if indeed any of this comes to fruition. 

MBZ’s decision to reassess his foreign policy has to be genuine and not a temporary swerve. He is right to reassess his foreign policy. It has been a disaster, a complete waste of his money. It has weakened once strong states, such as Egypt, and caused massive refugee flows. 

It has taken eight long years for the penny to drop. But if indeed it has, this realisation presents a genuine opportunity to reshape a post-American Middle East.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.David HearstDavid Hearst is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Middle East Eye. He is a commentator and speaker on the region and analyst on Saudi Arabia. He was The Guardian’s foreign leader writer, and was correspondent in Russia, Europe, and Belfast. He joined the Guardian from The Scotsman, where he was education correspondent.

الفشل الذريع للإسلام الأطلسي


الجمعة 10 أيلول 2021

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موفق محادين

ما من تجربة أصابها الفشل الذريع كلما اقتربت من فكرة الدولة والاقتصاد والحداثة والمجتمع المدني، مثل تجربة الإسلام الأطلسي، والأدق التوظيف السياسي لهذا الإسلام.

اعتقد البعض أن الإسلام الأطلسي، البريطاني- الأميركي، في طريقه للسيطرة على الوطن العربي، محمولاً بقرارات أميركية وبـ”حنفيات” مالية وإعلامية من الغاز المسال، حيث يتحول هذا الإسلام إلى حصان طروادة بحقبة جديدة من الاحتلال العثماني. 

وبنى البعض أوهامه على أحلام مريضة بسقوط سوريا واستمرار الحدث العابر في تاريخ مصر ثم عبر تونس والمغرب وقبلهما السودان والعشرية السوداء في الجزائر. 

تأسيس هذا النمط من الإسلام السياسي لم يكن بعيداً منذ لحظته الأولى عن أصابع الاستخبارات البريطانية ثم الأميركية.

بيد أن هذه الأوهام سرعان ما تبخرت وراحت أحجار الدومينو الإسلاموية الأطلسية تتداعى الواحد تلو الآخر: سوريا، ثم مصر، ثم السودان، فتونس، وأخيراً السقوط المدوّي لهذا التيار في الانتخابات البرلمانية والبلدية المغربية. وقريباً من الوطن العربي؛ تتجه مؤشرات الانتخابات البلدية في تركيا وسقوط حزب إردوغان في المدن الكبرى إلى أن تركيا العثمانية قاب قوسين أو أدنى من غروبها وغروب مشروع اليهودي الأميركي برنارد لويس الذي نظّر مبكراً للانبعاث العثماني في تركيا. 

والأدعى إلى السخرية هنا أن تبدو طالبان التي تجسد ثلاثية المفكر المغربي، الجابري، القبيلة- العقيدة- الغنيمة كرمق أخير لإسلام أطلسي أنفقت عليه مئات المليارات. 

ولنا أن نقول، ما من تجربة أصابها الفشل الذريع كلما اقتربت من فكرة الدولة والاقتصاد والحداثة والمجتمع المدني، مثل تجربة الإسلام الأطلسي، والأدق التوظيف السياسي لهذا الإسلام. 

والأخطر هنا هو أن تأسيس هذا النمط من الإسلام السياسي لم يكن بعيداً منذ لحظته الأولى، حتى اليوم، عن أصابع الاستخبارات البريطانية ثم الأميركية، بل إن أول من دافع عن الدولة العثمانية في بداية انحطاطها ومنع سقوطها على أيدي الجيوش المصرية في القرن التاسع عشر، الثنائي اليهودي الذي كان يتحكم في بريطانيا: رئيس الوزراء دزرائيلي، ورجل المال روتشيلد. 

وقد تم توظيف هذا النمط من هذا الإسلام بحسب كل مرحلة، فمن الوهابية النجدية والقطرية وعلاقتها بقلم الاستخبارات البريطانية كما يعترف بيركهارت، إلى توظيف هذا الإسلام ضد حركات التحرر الوطني العربية وغير العربية، إلى استراتيجية تطويق روسيا السوفياتية ثم البوتينية والصين كحزام أخضر إسلاموي تحت سيطرة مطابخ الاستخبارات الأطلسية وأقلامها. 

ومن الوثائق والمراجع حول ذلك: 

–  مذكرات بيركهارت.

–  مارك كورتيس، التاريخ السري لتحالف بريطانيا مع الأصوليين. 

–  ستيفن هات، لعبة بعمر الإمبراطورية. 

–  روبرت درايفوس، لعبة الشيطان. 

–  مذكرات جيمس وولي، مدير الاستخبارات الأميركية الأسبق. 

–  ثروت الخرباوي، سر المعبد. 

–  ايان جونسون، مسجد في ميونخ

–  شاريل بينارد، الإسلام الديموقراطي. 

–  نوح فيلدمان، تدهور الدولة الإسلامية ونهوضها. 

–  بيرنارد لويس، لغة السياسة في الإسلام. 

–  عبد العظيم حماد، الوحي الأميركي. 

–  لوي شتراوس، أعلام الفلسفة السياسية. 

أما في التطبيق، فمن ذلك: 

1- في تونس والمغرب، فضلاً عن الفشل الاقتصادي الاجتماعي، فإن الأخطر هو التغطية على التطبيع مع العدو الصهيوني؛ ففي عهد الحكومة الإسلامية في المغرب، تم التوقيع على العديد من الاتفاقات مع العدو الصهيوني، وفي تونس رفض نواب حركة النهضة التصويت على تجريم التطبيع. 

2- في مصر، فضلاً عن محاولة الإسلاميين المذكورين وضع اليد على مصر وخصخصة ما تبقى من مؤسسات الدولة لنهبها بـ”تراب المصاري”، كما حدث في السودان، واصل حكم مرسي السابق سياسات التطبيع مع العدو وتبادل معه البرقيات بمناسبات مختلفة، وقمعت شرطته أكبر تظاهرة حاولت اقتحام سفارة العدو في القاهرة. 

3- في السودان، وبعد الانقلاب العسكري الدموي للإخوان (تصفية عشرات الضباط)، دخل الإسلام السياسي أسوأ أيامه، من كل النواحي الاقتصادية والاجتماعية والسياسية، وصار من أكثر الدول فساداً ومديونية، رغم خيرات السودان الكثيرة، وذلك فضلاً عن الصراعات الداخلية بين الأجنحة الإسلامية نفسها (الترابي- البشير) وأخيراً المجموعة الحالية التي دشّنت عهدها بالتطبيع مع العدو الصهيوني. 

ولعل الوجه الأخطر في تجربة السودان الإسلاموية تمزق الدولة نفسها بين ولايات انفصالية، مثل دارفور، والموافقة على سلخ الجنوب كمحمية إسرائيلية. 

4- في سوريا والعراق، وإضافة إلى استراتيجية تدمير الدول باسم مواجهة الأنظمة، قدم الإسلامويون للعدو الصهيوني والامبريالية واليهودية العالمية أخطر ذريعة لاتهام العرب والمسلمين بالتخلف والإرهاب الدموي المسلح، وإعادة إنتاج المعزوفة الاستشراقية العنصرية الصهيونية (إعادة الاستعمار لـ تمدين المتوحشين). 

5- ويشار كذلك إلى دور الميليشيات الإسلاموية في دعم عميل الاستخبارات الأميركية في إندونيسيا، سوهارتو، الذي يصنّف من أكثر الرؤساء فساداً ودموية في العالم، والذي نظّم مع الميليشيات الإجرامية المذكورة مذابح تقشعر لها الأبدان بحق الأرياف والطبقة العاملة والمثقفين، راح ضحيتها مليون شخص، كثالثة كبريات المذابح في القرن العشرين، بعد المذبحة التركية ضد الأرمن، والمذابح الأميركية النووية ضد المدن اليابانية. 

6- أما تركيا التي يسوّقها الإسلاميون كنموذج للتنمية، فهي ليست دولة إسلامية بل توظف الإسلام خارجها وفي المحيط العربي والآسيوي لغايات طورانية وأجندة أطلسية. فإضافة إلى وجود أكبر سفارة للعدو الصهيوني فيها، ومستوى واسع من التنسيق العسكري والأمني معه، ووجود كبرى القواعد العسكرية الأميركية مثل إنجرليك، وعضويتها في حلف الأطلسي، الذراع العسكرية الأمنية للإمبريالية العالمية، فإن اقتصادها اقتصاد رأسمالي في كل تفاصيله وليس اقتصاداً إسلامياً، ويقوم على ما يعرف بالتقسيم العالمي للبلدان المتوسطة التطور التي تحل بعد الدول الصناعية الكبرى في سياق استيعاب خطوط الإنتاج والصناعات التي تتخلى عنها البلدان الكبرى تحت تأثير الثورة المتواصلة للتكنولوجيا، مثلها في ذلك مثل البرازيل والمكسيك والهند وجنوب أفريقيا والنمور الآسيوية. 

وليس بعيداً عن ذلك، “الموديل” الاجتماعي لهذه الدول، وعلى رأسها تركيا، وهو “موديل” غير إسلامي إطلاقاً، بالنظر إلى ترخيص البغاء والمشروبات الكحولية، بل إن تركيا تعد مع كولومبيا وآذربيجان وجنوب أفريقيا من بلدان المافيا العالمية، وكذلك من أكبر مستوردي الويسكي في العالم، ومن أكبر مستهلكي المخدرات وطرقها (ممراً ومقراً). 

7- ويشار هنا إلى أن البيئة الاقتصادية عموماً لرجال الأعمال المسلمين ليست بعيدة عن بيئة (يوسف ندا) خصم جمال عبد الناصر والمتورّط في محاولة اغتياله وصاحب الاستثمارات الكبيرة في جزر غسل العملة والتهرب من الضرائب، مثل جزر المارشال، العذراء البريطانية، ومناطق مثل بنما، وفي وسع المهتمين أكثر العودة إلى كتاب ستيفن هات (لعبة بعمر الإمبراطورية) حول بنك BCCI وعلاقته بغاسلي العملة الإسلاميين، وكتاب كورتيس السابق الذكر، وخاصة حول بنك الائتمان وعلاقته بغسل العملة، وكذلك العودة إلى فيلم “التسلل” حول بنك الاعتماد ودور إسكوبار وناشطين إسلاميين. 

9/9 and 9/11, 20 years later

September 09, 2021

9/9 and 9/11, 20 years later

By Pepe Escobar posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times

It’s impossible not to start with the latest tremor in a series of stunning geopolitical earthquakes.

Exactly 20 years after 9/11 and the subsequent onset of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), the Taliban will hold a ceremony in Kabul to celebrate their victory in that misguided Forever War.

Four key exponents of Eurasia integration – China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan – as well as Turkey and Qatar, will be officially represented, witnessing the official return of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. As blowbacks go, this one is nothing short of intergalactic.

Massoud leaving Bazarak in the Panjshir after our interview in August 2001, roughly three weeks before his assassination. Photo: Pepe Escobar

The plot thickens when we have Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid firmly stressing “there is no proof” Osama bin Laden was involved in 9/11. So “there was no justification for war, it was an excuse for war,” he claimed.

Only a few days after 9/11, Osama bin Laden, never publicity-shy, released a statement to Al Jazeera: “I would like to assure the world that I did not plan the recent attacks, which seems to have been planned by people for personal reasons (…) I have been living in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and following its leaders’ rules. The current leader does not allow me to exercise such operations.”

On September 28, Osama bin Laden was interviewed by the Urdu newspaper Karachi Ummat. I remember it well, as I was commuting non-stop between Islamabad and Peshawar, and my colleague Saleem Shahzad, in Karachi, called it to my attention.

Saudi-born alleged terror mastermind Osama bin Laden in a video taken ‘recently’ at a secret site in Afghanistan. This was aired by Al Jazeera on October 7, 2001, the day the US launched retaliatory bombing of terrorist camps, airbases and air defense installations in the first stage of its campaign against the Taliban regime for sheltering bin Laden. Photo: AFP / Al Jazeera screen grab

This is an approximate translation by the CIA-linked Foreign Broadcast Information Service: “I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. Neither I had any knowledge of these attacks nor I consider the killing of innocent women, children and other humans as an appreciable act. Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children and other people.

“I have already said that we are against the American system, not against its people, whereas in these attacks, the common American people have been killed. The United States should try to trace the perpetrators of these attacks within itself; the people who are a part of the US system, but are dissenting against it.

“Or those who are working for some other system; persons who want to make the present century as a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity so that their own civilization, nation, country or ideology could survive. Then there are intelligence agencies in the US, which require billions of dollars worth of funds from the Congress and the government every year (…) They need an enemy.”

This was the last time Osama bin Laden went public, substantially, about his alleged role in 9/11. Afterward, he vanished, and seemingly forever by early December 2001 in Tora Bora: I was there, and revisited the full context years later.

And yet, like an Islamic James Bond, Osama kept performing the miracle of dying another day, over and over again, starting in – where else – Tora Bora in mid-December, as reported by the Pakistani Observer and then Fox News.

So 9/11 remained a riddle inside an enigma. And what about 9/9, which might have been the prologue to 9/11?

Arriving in the Panjshir valley in one of Massoud’s Soviet helicopters in August 2001. Photo: Pepe Escobar  

A green light from a blind sheikh

“The commander has been shot.”

The terse email, on 9/9, offered no details. Contacting the Panjshir was impossible – sat-phone reception is spotty. Only the next day it was possible to establish Ahmad Shah Massoud, the legendary Lion of the Panjshir, had been assassinated – by two al-Qaeda jihadis posing as a camera crew.

In our Asia Times interview with Massoud, by August 20, he had told me he was fighting a triad: al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the Pakistani ISI. After the interview, he left in a Land Cruiser and then went by helicopter to Kwaja-Bahauddin, where he would finish the details of a counter-offensive against the Taliban.

This was his second-to-last interview before the assassination and arguably the last images – shot by photographer Jason Florio and with my mini-DV camera – of Massoud alive.

One year after the assassination, I was back in the Panjshir for an on-site investigation, relying only on local sources and confirmation on some details from Peshawar. The investigation is featured in the first part of my Asia Times e-book Forever Wars.

The conclusion was that the green light for the fake camera crew to meet Massoud came via a letter sponsored by CIA crypto-asset warlord Abdul Rasul Sayyaf – as a “gift” to al-Qaeda.

In December 2020, inestimable Canadian diplomat Peter Dale Scott, author among others of the seminal The Road to 9/11 (2007), and Aaron Good, editor at CovertAction magazine, published a remarkable investigation about the killing of Massoud, following a different trail and relying mostly on American sources.

They established that arguably more than Sayyaf, the mastermind of the killing was notorious Egyptian blind sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, then serving a life sentence in a US federal prison for his involvement in the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

Among other nuggets, Dale Scott and Good also confirmed what former Pakistani foreign minister Niaz Naik had told Pakistani media already in 2001: the Americans had everything in place to attack Afghanistan way before 9/11.

In Naik’s words: “We asked them [the American delegates], when do you think you will attack Afghanistan? … And they said, before the snow falls in Kabul. That means September, October, something like that.”

As many of us established over the years after 9/11, everything was about the US imposing itself as the undisputed ruler of the New Great Game in Central Asia. Peter Dale Scott now notes, “the two US invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 were both grounded in pretexts that were doubtful to begin with and more discredited as years go by.

“Underlying both wars was America’s perceived need to control the fossil fuel economic system that was the underpinning for the US petrodollar.”

Deceased Taliban founder Mullah Mohammed Omar in a file photo. Photo: Wikimedia

Massoud versus Mullah Omar

Mullah Omar did welcome Jihad Inc to Afghanistan in the late 1990s: not only the al-Qaeda Arabs but also Uzbeks, Chechens, Indonesians, Yemenis – some of them I met in Massoud’s riverside prison in the Panjshir in August 2001.

The Taliban at the time did provide them with bases – and some encouraging rhetoric – but deeply ethnocentric as they were, never manifested any interest in global jihad, in the mold of the “Declaration of Jihad” issued by Osama in 1996.

The official Taliban position was that jihad was their guests’ business, and that had nothing to do with the Taliban and Afghanistan. There were virtually no Afghans in Jihad Inc. Very few Afghans speak Arabic. They were not seduced by the spin on martyrdom and a paradise full of virgins: they preferred to be a ghazi – a living victor in a jihad.

Mullah Omar could not possibly send Osama bin Laden packing because of Pashtunwali – the Pashtun code of honor – where the notion of hospitality is sacred. When 9/11 happened, Mullah Omar once again refused American threats as well as Pakistani pleas. He then called a tribal jirga of 300 top mullahs to ratify his position.

Their verdict was quite nuanced: he had to protect his guest, of course, but a guest should not cause him problems. Thus Osama would have to leave, voluntarily.

The Taliban also pursued a parallel track, asking the Americans for evidence of Osama’s culpability. None was provided. The decision to bomb and invade had already been taken.

That would have never been possible with Massoud alive. A classic intellectual warrior, he was a certified Afghan nationalist and pop hero – because of his spectacular military feats in the anti-USSR jihad and his non-stop fight against the Taliban.

Jihadis captured by Massoud’s forces in a riverside prison in the Panjshir in August 2001. Photo: Pepe Escobar

When the PDPA socialist government in Afghanistan collapsed three years after the end of the jihad, in 1992, Massoud could easily have become a prime minister or an absolute ruler in the old Turco-Persian style.

But then he made a terrible mistake: afraid of an ethnic conflagration, he let the mujahideen gang based in Peshawar have too much power, and that led to the civil war of 1992-1995 – complete with the merciless bombing of Kabul by virtually every faction – that paved the way for the emergence of the “law and order” Taliban.

So in the end he was a much more effective military commander than politician. An example is what happened in 1996, when the Taliban made their move to conquer Kabul, attacking from eastern Afghanistan.

Massoud was caught completely unprepared, but he still managed to retreat to the Panjshir without a major battle and without losing his troops – quite a feat – while severely smashing the Taliban that went after him.

He established a line of defense in the Shomali plain north of Kabul. That was the frontline I visited a few weeks before 9/11, on the way to Bagram, which was a – virtually empty and degraded – Northern Alliance airbase at the time.

All of the above is a sorry contrast to the role of Masoud Jr, who’s in theory the leader of the “resistance” against Taliban 2.0 in the Panjshir, now completely smashed.

Masoud Jr has zero experience either as a military commander or politician, and although praised in Paris by President Macron or publishing an op-ed in Western mainstream media, made the terrible mistake of being led by CIA asset Amrullah Saleh, who as the former head of the National Directory of Security (NDS), supervised the de facto Afghan death squads.

Masoud Jr could have easily carved a role for himself in a Taliban 2.0 government. But he blew it, refusing serious negotiations with a delegation of 40 Islamic clerics sent to the Panjshir, and demanding at least 30% of posts in the government.

In the end, Saleh fled by helicopter – he may be now in Tashkent – and Masoud Jr as it stands is holed up somewhere in the northern Panjshir.

In this file photo taken on September 11, 2001, a hijacked commercial aircraft approaches the twin towers of the World Trade Center shortly before crashing into the landmark skyscraper in New York. Photo: AFP / Seth McAllister

The 9/11 propaganda machine is about to reach fever pitch this Saturday – now profiting from the narrative twist of the “terrorist” Taliban back in power, something perfect to snuff out the utter humiliation of the Empire of Chaos.

The Deep State is going no holds barred to protect the official narrative – which exhibits more holes than the dark side of the moon.

This is a geopolitical Ouroboros for the ages. 9/11 used to be the foundation myth of the 21st century – but not anymore. It has been displaced by blowback: the imperial debacle allowing for the return of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to the exact position it was 20 years ago.

We may now know that the Taliban had nothing to do with 9/11. We may now know that Osama bin Laden, in an Afghan cave, may not have been the master perpetrator of 9/11. We may now know that the assassination of Massoud was a prelude to 9/11, but in a twisted way: to facilitate a pre-planned invasion of Afghanistan.

And yet, like with the assassination of JFK, we may never know the full contours of the whole riddle inside an enigma. As Fitzgerald immortalized, “so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,” probing like mad this philosophical and existential Ground Zero, never ceasing from asking the ultimate question: Cui Bono?


Ed Note:  Pepe Escobar started a new Twitter Stream:  https://twitter.com/RealPepeEscobar

 

Why the Taliban still can’t form a government

September 03, 2021

Why the Taliban still can’t form a government

Internal Taliban divisions come to the fore as squabbling hinders the formation of Afghanistan’s new Islamic Emirate

By Pepe Escobar, posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times

It looked like everything was set for the Taliban to announce the new government of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan after this Friday’s afternoon prayers. But then internal dissent prevailed.

That was compounded by the adverse optics of a ragtag “resistance” in the Panjshir Valley that is still not subdued. The “resistance” is de facto led by a CIA asset, former vice president Amrullah Saleh.

The Taliban maintain they have captured several districts and at least four checkpoints at the Panjshir, controlling 20% of its territory. Still, there’s no endgame in sight.

Supreme Leader Haibatullah Akhundzada, a Kandahar religious scholar, is expected to be the new power of the Islamic Emirate when it’s finally formed. Mullah Baradar will likely preside just below him as a presidential figure along with a 12-member governing council known as a “shura.”

If that’s the case, there would be certain similarities between the institutional role of Akhundzada and Ayatollah Khamenei in Iran, even though the theocratic frameworks, Sunni and Shiite, are completely different.

Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada posing for a photograph at an undisclosed location in 2016. Photo: Afghan Taliban via AFP

Mullah Baradar, co-founder of the Taliban with Mullah Omar in 1994 and imprisoned in Guantanamo then Pakistan, has served as the Taliban’s top diplomat as the head of its political office in Doha.

He has also been a key interlocutor in the protracted negotiations with the now-extinct Kabul government and the expanded troika of Russia, China, the US and Pakistan.

To call the negotiations to form a new Afghan government fractious would be a spectacular understatement. They have been managed, in practice, by former president Hamid Karzai and ex-head of the Reconciliation Council Abdullah Abdullah: a Pashtun and a Tajik who have vast international experience.

Both Karzai and Abdullah are shoo-ins to be part of the 12-member shura.

As the negotiations seemed to advance, a frontal clash developed between the Taliban political office in Doha and the Haqqani network regarding the distribution of key government posts.

Add to it the role of Mullah Yakoob, son of Mullah Omar, and the head of the powerful Taliban military commission overseeing a massive network of field commanders, among which he’s extremely well-respected.

Recently Yakoob had let it leak that those “living in luxury in Doha” cannot dictate terms to those involved in fighting on the ground. As if this was not contentious enough, Yakoob also has serious problems with the Haqqanis – who are now in charge of a key post: security of Kabul via the so far ultra-diplomatic Khalil Haqqani.

Mullah Yakoob in a file photo. Photo: AFP

Apart from the fact that the Taliban amount to a complex collection of tribal and regional warlords, the dissent illustrates the abyss between what could roughly be explained as more Afghan nationalist-centered and more Pakistani-centered factions.

In the latter case, the key protagonists are the Haqqanis, who operate very close to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

It’s a Sisyphean task, to say the least, to create political legitimacy even in an Afghanistan that is bound to be ruled by Afghans who rid the nation of a foreign occupation.

Since 2002, both with Karzai and then Ashraf Ghani, the regime in power for most Afghans was regarded as an imposition by foreign occupiers validated by dodgy elections.

In Afghanistan, everything is about tribe, kin and clan. The Pashtuns are a vast tribe with myriad subtribes that all adhere to the common pashtunwali, a code of conduct that blends self-respect, independence, justice, hospitality, love, forgiveness, revenge and tolerance.

They will be in power again, as during Taliban 1.0 from 1996 to 2001. The Dari-speaking Tajiks, on the other hand, are non-tribal and form the majority of urban residents of Kabul, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif.

Assuming it will peacefully solve its internal Pashtun squabbles, a Taliban-led government will necessarily need to conquer Tajik hearts and minds among the nation’s traders, bureaucrats and educated clergy.

Dari, derived from Persian, has long been the language of government administration, high culture and foreign relations in Afghanistan. Now it will all be switched to Pashto again. This is the schism the new government will have to bridge.

Taliban fighters stand guard in a vehicle along the roadside in Kabul on August 16, 2021, after a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan’s 20-year war. Photo: AFP

There are already surprises on the horizon. The extremely well-connected Russian ambassador in Kabul, Dmitry Zhirnov, revealed that he is discussing the Panjshir stalemate with the Taliban.

Zhirnov noted that the Taliban considered some of the demands of the Panjshiris as “excessive” – as in they wanted too many seats in the government and autonomy for some non-Pashtun provinces, Panjshir included.

It’s not far-fetched to consider the widely-trusted Zhirnov could become a mediator not only between Pashtuns and Panjshiris but even between opposed Pashtun factions.

The delightful historical irony will not be lost on those who remember the 1980s jihad of the unified mujahideen against the USSR.

Baghdad summit | Mideastream

Iraq hosted a regional summit on Saturday supposedly aimed at easing tensions in the Middle East while emphasizing the Arab country’s new role as a mediator. Heads of state attending included Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Kabul Is Not Saigon : Afghanistan: Drug Trade and Belt and Road

AUGUST 31, 2021

By Peter Koenig for The Saker Blog

All flags are on half-mast in the US of A. The cause are the 13 American soldiers killed in this huge suicide bombing outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, on Thursday, 26 August.

As it stands, at least 150 people – Afghans, including at least 30 Taliban – plus 13 American military – were killed and at least 1,300 injured, according to the Afghan Health Ministry.

The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the bombing via Amaq Media, the official Islamic State (ISIS) news agency. The perpetrators, the message says, were members of the ISIS-Khorasan, or ISIS-K.

As reported by RT, US military leaders knew “hours in advance” that a “mass casualty event” was planned at Kabul airport. However, accounts from the troops in harm’s way suggest that nothing was done to protect them or the airport. See this https://www.rt.com/usa/533462-pentagon-knew-kabul-suicide-bombing/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Email .

Rt further reports, “The bombing provoked the US into launching two drone strikes, one targeting an alleged “planner” and “facilitator” with the group responsible, and another supposedly wiping out “multiple” would-be suicide bombers but reportedly annihilating a family and children alongside them.

Why was nothing done to prevent this bloody, atrocious attack? – In fact, the Pentagon announced just yesterday that another massive attack was likely, meaning they have information that another mass-killing may take place?

In the meantime, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed that the last three US military transport planes have departed the Hamid Karzai Airport just ahead of the August 31, 2021, deadline, officially ending the American withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“The war is over. America’s last troops have just left Kabul airport,” RT’s Murad Gazdiev tweeted from Kabul, adding that the war lasted “19 years, 10 months and 25 days.

What he didn’t say is that the monetary cost of the war was at least 3 trillion dollars, that about 241,000 people have been killed in the Afghanistan and Pakistan war zone since 2001. More than 71,000 of those killed have been civilians. These figures include (through April 2021) 2,448 American service members; 3,846 U.S. contractors, and some 66,000 Afghan national military and police. See this https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/costs/human/civilians/afghan .
—-
Twenty years of war – and only ten days to defeat the US military.

Really? – Is this really the end of the US involvement in Afghanistan? Too many strange events and occurrences are pointing in a different direction.

Let’s have a closer look. The Islamic State – ISIS claims responsibility. As we know by now and since quite a while, ISIS is a creation of the CIA. The sophistication of the attack, the Pentagon non-interference, despite their prior knowledge, might, just might – indicate that this attack may have been a well-coordinated “false flag”?

Who benefits? Cui Bono?

On August 19, 2021, the Washington Post, referring to President Trump’s Peace Agreement with Taliban in Doha, Qatar, in February 2020, reports – “As President Donald Trump’s administration signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February 2020, he optimistically proclaimed that “we think we’ll be successful in the end.” His secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, asserted that the administration was “seizing the best opportunity for peace in a generation.”


“Eighteen months later, President Joe Biden is pointing to the agreement signed in Doha, Qatar, as he tries to deflect blame for the Taliban overrunning Afghanistan in a blitz. He says it bound him to withdraw U.S. troops, setting the stage for the chaos engulfing the country.”

“But Biden can go only so far in claiming the agreement boxed him in. It had an escape clause: The U.S. could have withdrawn from the accord if Afghan peace talks failed. They did, but Biden chose to stay in it, although he delayed the complete pullout from May to September.”
See full story: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/was-biden-handcuffed-by-trumps-taliban-deal-in-doha/2021/08/19/a7ee1a50-00a2-11ec-87e0-7e07bd9ce270_story.html

So, again who benefits from such an atrociously deadly attack, like the one of 26 August at Kabul Airport?

President Biden, though unjustified, can and does blame President Trump for the chaos he left behind by negotiating this “irresponsible” Peace Deal. Why “irresponsible”?  Wasn’t it time after 20 years without apparent “success” – whatever that means, or may have meant at some point in time – to end this senseless bloodshed and destruction of a sovereign Afghan society – let alone the killing of hundreds of thousands of people, most of them civilians?

It seems that Mr. Trump may have done the right thing. Peace over war should always win, on the ground as well as in the minds of people, and foremost of politicians. However, there are several reasons, why Peace is not welcome. And chaos and destruction and death as demonstrated by the 26 August suicide attack, and who knows, maybe more to follow, might justify sending back US troops?

There are several other irons in the fire about which hardly anybody talks and the bought anti-Trump and pro-Biden mainstream media are silent.

The Heroin Trade

There is a multi-multi-billion, perhaps up to a trillion-dollar heroin trade at stake, for the US and for the US and European pharma-industry – the huge and deadly opioid-market.

As reported by Michel Chossudovsky on 21 August 2021, One of the key strategic objectives of the 2001 war on Afghanistan was to restore the opium trade following the Taliban government’s successful 2000-2001 drug eradication program which led to a 94% collapse in opium production. This program was supported by the United Nations. (For details, see below)
In the course of the last 19 years following the US-NATO October 2001 invasion, there has been a surge in Afghan opium production. In turn the number of heroin addicts in the US has increased dramatically. Is there a relationship?

There were 189,000 heroin users in the US in 2001, before the US-NATO invasion of Afghanistan.

By 2016 that number went up to 4,500,000 (2.5 million heroin addicts and 2 million casual users).

In 2020, at the height of the covid crisis, deaths from opioids and drug addiction increased threefold.
It’s Big Money for Big Pharma.”
See the full report https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-spoils-of-war-afghanistan-s-multibillion-dollar-heroin-trade/91

The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative

Both, China and Russia have already indicated that they would help the new Taliban regime to gain stability – and to develop towards a newly independent, sovereign state. Afghanistan’s border with China, only about 70 km wide, but it forms a crucial connection to China’s western most Province, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. It is a vital pivot for China’s Belt and Road, or “One Belt One Road” – OBOR – also called the New Silk Road.

While transit routes already go through Pakistan to the Indian Ocean, an OBOR rail and road transit through Afghanistan would connect China directly with Iran, facilitating among other trade, hydrocarbon transport from Iran to China. OBOR would also be an effective development instrument for war destroyed Afghanistan – a reconstruction and economic development scheme for Afghanistan could bring Afghanistan back to a respected nation state – even through the Taliban.

Furthermore, Afghanistan might be prepared for becoming an active member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), one of the world’s most significant political, economic and strategic defense organization. In addition to China and Russia and the Central Asian former Soviet Republics, India and Pakistan are already full members, while Iran, Malaysia and Mongolia are, so far, in observer and associate status.

SCO covers almost half of the world population and controls some 30% of the world’s GDP. Afghanistan would be in a solid and guiding association as an SCO member. Afghanistan’s socioeconomic development and improvement of war-damaged people’s standard of living, could benefit enormously.

Washington however dislikes OBOR with a passion. They see it as Chinese expansionism and competition. It is actually neither. China has in her thousands of years of history never had expansionist trends, or ambitions, and always respected other countries’ sovereignty. OBOR, an ingenious idea of President Xi Jinping, is patterned according to the ancient Silk Road, a trading route of 2100 years ago connecting Asia with Europe and the Middle East.

OBOR is an instrument to help develop and connect the world, while respecting each nation state’s independence and sovereignty.
——

The hugely profitable Heroin Trade and the further development of China’s OBOR – and particularly bringing Afghanistan under the wings of the east through association with the SCO – would spoil America’s multi-multibillion heroin trade, as well as another Middle East country would orient itself to the east – and away from the fangs of the ever weakening and crumbling Anglo-US empire.

Hence, commanding US-created ISIS to sow chaos and death in Afghanistan, blaming the Taliban, might be a good reason for Biden to bring back US troops – to fight a new kind war – fighting for the continuing highly profitable heroin trade and, simultaneously, fighting against OBOR. On top of it all, it would suit the Biden’s and his globalist agenda’s image – and standing in a totally misinformed world.


Peter Koenig is a geopolitical analyst and a former Senior Economist at the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), where he has worked for over 30 years on water and environment around the world. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals and is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed; and  co-author of Cynthia McKinney’s book “When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis” (Clarity Press – November 1, 2020)

Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He is also a a non-resident Sr. Fellow of the Chongyang Institute of Renmin University, Beijing.

المهمة المستحيلة (2) أفغانستان

الأحد 22 آب 2021

 سعادة مصطفى أرشيد*

لا تزال المهمة الأفغانية المستحيلة تراوح في دائرة انعدام اليقين، حول مصير البلد الذي مثلت ثقافة الحرب والصراع مكوّنه النفسي ـ السياسي الأول من فجر تاريخه، ولا يزال من غير المعروف إذا كانت التحوّلات الأفغانية سوف تذهب باتجاه حداثي، أيّ أن تصبح إعادة بناء البلد على غرار الدولة العصرية الحديثة أم باتجاه أفغاني خاص مع الحفاظ على البلد وأمنه وشعبه وثرواته واعتبارها أولوية، أم باتجاه ارتباطات مع هذا المحور أو ذاك، دولياً وإقليمياً؟

من المؤكد أنّ السياسة الصينية تؤمن بالمثل القائل: السعيد من اتعظ بغيره، والشقي من اتعظ بنفسه، إذ أن الصين لن تجرّب حظها وتذهب بطريق إنجلترا وشركة الهند الشرقية في أربعينات القرن التاسع عشر، ولن تكرّر الخطأ السوفياتي عام 1979، ولن تتورّط كما تورّطت الولايات المتحدة عام 2002، وإنما ستعتمد على قوتها الناعمة، وعلى قدراتها التفاوضية في كسب أرباح الحرب التي لم ولن تخوضها، في الحصول على مواد أفغانستان الخام ـ الثمينة والقريبة مكانياً، وبأسعار تفضيلية، وسوف تجعل من بضائعها عماد السوق الأفغاني، المتعطش للبضائع والفقير مالياً والذي سيجد في بضائع الصين زهيدة الثمن ومستحيلة المنافسة، ما يشبع جوعه الاستهلاكي، لذلك لن تجد حاجة للتورّط في حروب هذا البلد فهي ستكون داخله دون مغامرات غيرها وحروبهم، الذي لا يزال لديه ما يكفيه من حروب مرشحة للاشتعال بين مكوّناته الداخلية.

حركة طالبان قاتلت طويلاً بالنار والدم، لكنها في النهاية انتصرت في هذه الحرب العالمية الطويلة دون قتال، ولم تضطر إلى استعمال النار والبارود في معركتها الأخيرة الحاسمة، إذ اكتفت بسلاح بالغ الخفة، ألا وهو الهاتف النقال، الذي كان كافياً لجعل الرئيس أشرف غني (آخر طبعة أميركية) يسارع إلى حمل كلّ ثمين خفيف، ويغادر البلاد دون إعلام من حوله من مستشارين ووزراء وقادة، وليلحق به هؤلاء، أو من تمكن. فيما تركوا جماعتهم من الصغار الذين أصبحوا من لزوم ما لا يلزم، وصاروا يتعلقون ويسحقون تحت عجلات الطائرات المغادرة، فيما يتولى الثائرون والغاضبون والرعاع التعامل بقسوة مع من بقي منهم. حركة طالبان، التي انطلقت من مدارس بيشاور الأفغانية، كحركة شباب يملؤهم الحماس ويشعلهم الإيمان قبل عقود، قد اختلفت اليوم بحكم الزمن وتراكم التجربة والنضج، أدخل بعض من قادتها ومنظروها إلى مدارس الحياة الجميلة والعصرية لسنوات في العاصمة القطرية ـ الدوحة، وعرفوا جنة الدنيا في فنادقها ومطاعمها ونواديها الرياضية (spa)، وخاضوا في نقاشات فكرية غنية وممتعة ولا بدّ، مع مفكرين وإعلاميين وأكاديميين من توجهات ومدارس مختلفة، وأدخل بعض آخر من قادتها ومناضليها قسراً إلى مدارس معتمة، بالغة القسوة، في غوانتانامو، فتعرّفوا على الصورة المناقضة تماماً، وعاينوا بين تلك الجدران والقضبان من عذابات الجحيم الأرضي، فيما بقي آخرون في الجبال والصحارى، وأصبح يفصل بينهم وبين رفقائهم على الأرض لا المسافة والجغرافية فحسب، وإنما خندق عميق من اختلاف التجربة، ففي حين عرف بعض منهم جنة الدنيا وذاقوا بعض فاكهتها في قطر، وعرف قسم آخر جحيم الدنيا وزقومها وسعيرها في غوانتانامو، لم ينل رفقاؤهم على الأرض مثل ذلك الحظ، ولا تلك القسوة، من أولئك الذين يعيشون في جليد الجبال وكهوفها، وقيظ الصحارى وشمسها، ويقتاتون من خبز الشعير ويتلقون السلاح وبعض القوت من إيران، إذ انه حصتهم ستكون في جنة الآخرة التي تدوم ولا تزول.

قد يكون جذر التفكير مشتركاً، ولكن ظروف الزمان والمكان لها دور في افتراق مذاهب العمل والتطبيق، فهذه الحركة الطلابية (طالبان)، قد فعلت بها التجارب أفاعيلها وأخذت مكانها في عقول قادتها، ومن هذه النقطة سوف تفترق طرائق العمل بين طالبان وطالبان، فقد أصبح لكلّ منهم جدليته، بعضهم سيعتمد على بناء أفغاني جديد، تخاطبه القوة الناعمة الجديدة، ومنظمات غير حكومية ستسارع لإيجاد دور لها، وعلى الوعود للشعب بحياة رغيدة وكماليات استهلاكية وافرة، واقتصاد سوق، ووسائل اتصال وتكنولوجيا عصرية، ولكن بعضاً آخر، لا يزال يحمل بإيمان ويتوارث ثقافة آلاف السنين ـ الثقافة الأفغانية، حيث يولد الطفل ليكون مقاتلاً، ويرى في القتال أسلوب حياة، وفي الجهاد فرض عين، وأنّ الله سوف يعطيهم ما يرضونه، وأنّ الآخرة خير لهم من الأولى.

خلاصة القول، إنّ حرباً قد انتهت في تلك البلاد، لتبدأ حرب أخرى، شيء يشابه العراق في مرحلة سيّئ السمعة بريمر ومن تلاه، سيكون في أفغانستان من ينفخ في نار الفتنة ويمارس فساداً في السياسة وفي الاقتصاد، والأهمّ أنّ الحزب المنتصر أيضاً سيكون عليه دفع ثمن السلطة وأعبائها، وثمن اختلاف وتباين الرؤى، ربما بما يؤثر على وحدته وتماسكه، ويعرّضه لحرب داخلية مع ذاته إضافة إلى حربه مع المكوّنات الأفغانية الأخرى.

الحرب الخارجية ـ العالمية انتهت في تلك البلاد، ولكن حروباً مقبلة على الطريق لن تجعل من أفغانستان بلداً مطمئناً في القريب، وها هو أحمد شاه مسعود الابن، قد أخذ يحشد ويعبّئ في وادي بنشير، معقل والده الشهير أثناء الحرب الأفغانية ـ السوفيتية، وهو ليس بقائد سهل وإنما لديه تجربته وخبرته وسلاحه ومصادر الدعم التي ورث بعض منها عن والده الراحل، وأستذكر هنا مقولة الجنرال حميد غول رئيس الاستخبارات العسكرية الباكستانية الأسبق: إنّ الشعب الأفغاني وخاصة البشتون لا يعيشون سلاماً داخلياً إلا في حالة الحرب الخارجية التي توحّدهم، ولكنهم فور انتهائها يعودون إلى قتالهم الداخلي.

تذكر الحالة الأفغانية الطالبانية، بملحمة الشاعر الإيطالي دانتي (الكوميديا الإلهية) إذ يتقاسم قادتها مراحل الملحمة الثلاث، منهم من كان نصيبه في الجحيم ومنهم من كانت له الجنة وأكثرهم من عاش في المطهر.

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*سياسي فلسطيني مقيم في الكفير ـ جنين ـ فلسطين المحتلة

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan back with a bang

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August 16, 2021

Source

The US ‘loss’ of Afghanistan is a repositioning and the new mission is not a ‘war on terror,’ but Russia and China

By Pepe Escobar, posted with permission and first published at Asia Times

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Taliban fighters stand guard along a roadside near the Zanbaq Square in Kabul on August 16, 2021, after a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan’s 20-year war, as thousands of people mobbed the city’s airport trying to flee the group’s feared hardline brand of Islamist rule. Photo: AFP /

Wakil Kohsar

Wait until the war is over
And we’re both a little older
The unknown soldier
Breakfast where the news is read
Television children fed
Unborn living, living, dead
Bullet strikes the helmet’s head
And it’s all over
For the unknown soldier

The Doors, “The Unknown Soldier”

In the end, the Saigon moment happened faster than any Western intel “expert” expected. This is one for the annals: four frantic days that wrapped up the most astonishing guerrilla blitzkrieg of recent times. Afghan-style: lots of persuasion, lots of tribal deals, zero columns of tanks, minimal loss of blood.

August 12 set the scene, with the nearly simultaneous capture of Ghazni, Kandahar and Herat. On August 13, the Taliban were only 50 kilometers from Kabul. August 14 started with the siege of Maidan Shahr, the gateway to Kabul.

Ismail Khan, the legendary elder Lion of Herat, struck a self-preservation deal and was sent by the Taliban as a top-flight messenger to Kabul: President Ashraf Ghani should step out, or else.

Still on Saturday, the Taliban took Jalalabad – and isolated Kabul from the east, all the way to the Afgan-Pakistan border in Torkham, gateway to the Khyber Pass. By Saturday night, Marshal Dostum was fleeing with a bunch of military to Uzbekistan via the Friendship Bridge in Termez; only a few were allowed in. The Taliban duly took over Dostum’s Tony Montana-style palace.

By early morning on August 15, all that was left for the Kabul administration was the Panjshir valley – high in the mountains, a naturally protected fortress – and scattered Hazaras: there’s nothing there in those beautiful central lands, except Bamiyan.

Exactly 20 years ago, I was in Bazarak getting ready to interview the Lion of the Panjshir, commander Masoud, who was preparing a counter-offensive against … the Taliban. History repeating, with a twist. This time I was sent visual proof that the Taliban – following the classic guerrilla sleeping cell playbook – were already in the Panjshir.

And then mid-morning on Sunday brought the stunning visual re-enactment of the Saigon moment, for all the world to see: a Chinook helicopter hovering over the roof of the American embassy in Kabul.

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A US military helicopter flying above the US embassy in Kabul on August 15, 2021. Photo: AFP / Wakil Kohsar

‘The war is over’

Still on Sunday, Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem proclaimed: “The war is over in Afghanistan,” adding that the shape of the new government would soon be announced.

Facts on the ground are way more convoluted. Feverish negotiations have been going on since Sunday afternoon. The Taliban were ready to announce the official proclamation of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in its 2.0 version (1.0 was from 1996 to 2001). The official announcement would be made inside the presidential palace.

Yet what’s left of Team Ghani was refusing to transfer power to a coordinating council that will de facto set up the transition. What the Taliban want is a seamless transition: they are now the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Case closed.

By Monday, a sign of compromise came from Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen. The new government will include non-Taliban officials. He was referring to an upcoming “transition administration,” most probably co-directed by Taliban political leader Mullah Baradar and Ali Ahmad Jalali, a former minister of internal affairs who was also, in the past, an employee of Voice of America.

In the end, there was no Battle for Kabul. Thousands of Taliban were already inside Kabul – once again the classic sleeper-cell playbook. The bulk of their forces remained in the outskirts. An official Taliban proclamation ordered them not to enter the city, which should be captured without a fight, to prevent civilian casualties.

The Taliban did advance from the west, but “advancing,” in context, meant connecting to the sleeper cells in Kabul, which by then were fully active. Tactically, Kabul was encircled in an “anaconda” move, as defined by a Taliban commander: squeezed from north, south and west and, with the capture of Jalalabad, cut off from the east.

At some point last week, high-level intel must have whispered to the Taliban command that the Americans would be coming to “evacuate.” It could have been Pakistan intelligence, even Turkish intelligence, with Erdogan playing his characteristic NATO double game.

The American rescue cavalry not only came late, but was caught in a bind as they could not possibly bomb their own assets inside Kabul. The horrible timing was compounded when the Bagram military base – the NATO Valhalla in Afghanistan for nearly 20 years – was finally captured by the Taliban.

That led the US and NATO to literally beg the Taliban to let them evacuate everything in sight from Kabul – by air, in haste, at the Taliban’s mercy. A geopolitical development that evokes suspension of disbelief.

Ghani versus Baradar

Ghani’s hasty escape is the stuff of “a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing” – without the Shakespearean pathos. The heart of the whole matter was a last-minute meeting on Sunday morning between former President Hamid Karzai and Ghani’s perennial rival Abdullah Abdullah.

They discussed in detail who they were going to send to negotiate with the Taliban – who by then not only were fully prepared for a possible battle for Kabul, but had announced their immovable red line weeks ago – they want the end of the current NATO government.

Ghani finally saw the writing on the wall and disappeared from the presidential palace without even addressing the potential negotiators. With his wife, chief of staff and national security adviser, he escaped to Tashkent, the Uzbek capital. A few hours later, the Taliban entered the presidential palace, the stunning images duly captured.

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A screengrab from a video showing Taliban leader Mullah Baradar Akhund, front, center, with his fellow insurgents, in Kabul on August 15. Born in 1968, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, also called Mullah Baradar Akhund, is the co-founder of the Taliban in Afghanistan. He was the deputy of Mullah Mohammed Omar. Photo: AFP / Taliban / EyePress News

Commenting on Ghani’s escape, Abdullah Abdullah did not mince his words: “God will hold him accountable.” Ghani, an anthropologist with a doctorate from Columbia, is one of those classic cases of Global South exiles to the West who “forget” everything that matters about their original lands.

Ghani is a Pashtun who acted like an arrogant New Yorker. Or worse, an entitled Pashtun, as he was often demonizing the Taliban, who are overwhelmingly Pashtun, not to mention Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras, including their tribal elders.

It’s as if Ghani and his Westernized team had never learned from a top source such as the late, great Norwegian social anthropologist Fredrik Barth (check out a sample of his Pashtun studies here).

Geopolitically, what matters now is how the Taliban have written a whole new script, showing the lands of Islam, as well as the Global South, how to defeat the self-referential, seemingly invincible US/NATO empire.

The Taliban did it with Islamic faith, infinite patience and force of will fueling roughly 78,000 fighters – 60,000 of them active – many with minimal military training, no backing of any state – unlike Vietnam, which had China and the USSR – no hundreds of billions of dollars from NATO, no trained army, no air force and no state-of-the-art technology.

They relied only on Kalashnikovs, rocket-propelled grenades and Toyota pick-ups – before they captured American hardware these past few days, including drones and helicopters.

Taliban leader Mullah Baradar has been extremely cautious. On Monday he said: “It is too early to say how we will take over governance.” First of all, the Taliban wants “to see foreign forces leave before restructuring begins.”

Abdul Ghani Baradar is a very interesting character. He was born and raised in Kandahar. That’s where the Taliban started in 1994, seizing the city almost without a fight and then, equipped with tanks, heavy weapons and a lot of cash to bribe local commanders, capturing Kabul nearly 25 years ago, on September 27, 1996.

Earlier, Mullah Baradar fought in the 1980s jihad against the USSR, and maybe – not confirmed – side-by-side with Mullah Omar, with whom he co-founded the Taliban.

After the American bombing and occupation post-9/11, Mullah Baradar and a small group of Taliban sent a proposal to then-President Hamid Karzai on a potential deal that would allow the Taliban to recognize the new regime. Karzai, under Washington pressure, rejected it.

Baradar was actually arrested in Pakistan in 2010 – and kept in custody. Believe it or not, American intervention led to his freedom in 2018. He then relocated to Qatar. And that’s where he was appointed head of the Taliban’s political office and oversaw the signing last year of the American withdrawal deal.

Beware of a peasant guerrilla army

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Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada posing for a photograph at an undisclosed location in 2016. Photo: AFP / Afghan Taliban

The collapse of the Afghan National Army (ANA) was inevitable. They were “educated” the American military way: massive technology, massive airpower, next to zero local ground intel.

The Taliban is all about deals with tribal elders and extended family connections – and a peasant guerrilla approach, parallel to the communists in Vietnam. They were biding their time for years, just building connections – and those sleeper cells.

Afghan troops who had not received a salary for months were paid not to fight them. And the fact they did not attack American troops since February 2020 earned them a lot of extra respect: a matter of honor, essential in the Pashtunwali code.

It’s impossible to understand the Taliban – and most of all, the Pashtun universe – without understanding Pashtunwali. As well as the concepts of honor, hospitality and inevitable revenge for any wrongdoing, the concept of freedom implies no Pashtun is inclined to be ordered by a central state authority – in this case, Kabul. And no way will they ever surrender their guns.

In a nutshell, that’s the “secret” of the lightning-fast blitzkrieg with minimal loss of blood, inbuilt in the overarching geopolitical earthquake. After Vietnam, this is the second Global South protagonist showing the whole world how an empire can be defeated by a peasant guerrilla army.

And all that accomplished with a budget that may not exceed $1.5 billion a year – coming from local taxes, profits from opium exports (no internal distribution allowed) and real estate speculation. In vast swaths of Afghanistan, the Taliban were already, de facto, running local security, local courts and even food distribution.

Taliban 2021 is an entirely different animal compared with Taliban 2001. Not only are they battle-hardened, they had plenty of time to perfect their diplomatic skills, which were recently more than visible in Doha and in high-level visits to Tehran, Moscow and Tianjin.

They know very well that any connection with al-Qaeda remnants, ISIS/Daesh, ISIS-Khorasan and ETIM is counter-productive – as their Shanghai Cooperation Organization interlocutors made very clear.

Internal unity, anyway, will be extremely hard to achieve. The Afghan tribal maze is a jigsaw puzzle, nearly impossible to crack. What the Taliban may realistically achieve is a loose confederation of tribes and ethnic groups under a Taliban emir, coupled with very careful management of social relations.

Initial impressions point to increased maturity. The Taliban are granting amnesty to employees of the NATO occupation and won’t interfere with businesses activities. There will be no revenge campaign. Kabul is back in business. There is allegedly no mass hysteria in the capital: that’s been the exclusive domain of Anglo-American mainstream media. The Russian and Chinese embassies remain open for business.

Zamir Kabulov, the Kremlin special representative for Afghanistan, has confirmed that the situation in Kabul, surprisingly, is “absolutely calm” – even as he reiterated: “We are not in a rush as far as recognition [of the Taliban] is concerned. We will wait and watch how the regime will behave.”

The New Axis of Evil

Tony Blinken may blabber that “we were in Afghanistan for one overriding purpose – to deal with the folks who attacked us on 9/11.”

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Photo: AFP / Patrick SemanskyEvery serious analyst knows that the “overriding” geopolitical purpose of the bombing and occupation of Afghanistan nearly 20 years ago was to establish an essential Empire of Bases foothold in the strategic intersection of Central and South Asia, subsequently coupled with occupying Iraq in Southwest Asia.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Every serious analyst knows that the “overriding” geopolitical purpose of the bombing and occupation of Afghanistan nearly 20 years ago was to establish an essential Empire of Bases foothold in the strategic intersection of Central and South Asia, subsequently coupled with occupying Iraq in Southwest Asia.

Now the “loss” of Afghanistan should be interpreted as a repositioning. It fits the new geopolitical configuration, where the Pentagon’s top mission is not the “war on terror” anymore, but to simultaneously try to isolate Russia and harass China by all means on the expansion of the New Silk Roads.

Occupying smaller nations has ceased to be a priority. The Empire of Chaos can always foment chaos – and supervise assorted bombing raids – from its CENTCOM base in Qatar.

Iran is about to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a full member – another game-changer. Even before resetting the Islamic Emirate, the Taliban have carefully cultivated good relations with key Eurasia players – Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran and the Central Asian ‘stans. The ‘stans are under full Russian protection. Beijing is already planning hefty rare earth business with the Taliban.

On the Atlanticist front, the spectacle of non-stop self-recrimination will consume the Beltway for ages. Two decades, $2 trillion, a forever war debacle of chaos, death and destruction, a still shattered Afghanistan, an exit literally in the dead of night – for what? The only “winners” have been the Lords of the Weapons Racket.

Yet every American plotline needs a fall guy. NATO has just been cosmically humiliated in the graveyard of empires by a bunch of goat herders – and not by close encounters with Mr Khinzal. What’s left? Propaganda.

So meet the new fall guy: the New Axis of Evil. The axis is Taliban-Pakistan-China. The New Great Game in Eurasia has just been reloaded.

طالبان اليوم ليست داعش ولا القاعدة ولكن…!


أغسطس 14 2021

 محمد صادق الحسيني

طالبان جمع طالب باللغة المحلية، وهي إشارة الى جماعة من الطلبة الأفغان الذين درسوا او تدرّبوا في مدارس مولوي جلال الدين حقاني صاحب «شبكة حقاني» العسكرية القتالية السلفية الباكستانية في منطقة وزيرستان المحاذية لأفغانستان..!

والمعروف انّ حركة طالبان السلفية الجهادية قد تشكلت في العام ١٩٩٤ في شرق أفغانستان على يد الملا محمد عمر الشهير.

في حقبة الملا عمر برز الجانب المتشدّد المعروف لطالبان وكلّ من عداه من المؤسسين ظلّ مغموراً بمن فيهم واحداً من أهمّ مساعديه وقادة التأسيس الحركي الملا عبد الغني برادر…!

وقد اشتهر في أروقة الديبلوماسيين والسياسيين للدول المحيطة بأفغانستان يومها بأن هذه الحركة الأفغانية المتشددة، قد تمّت رعايتها بشكل ملحوظ وبارز من قبل الاستخبارات العسكرية الباكستانية.

كما عرف ولا يزال معروفاً بأنّ باكستان ظلت على علاقة وثيقة بالحركة، وانها لطالما استخدمتها كورقة قوية في علاقاتها الإقليمية ومفاوضاتها حول مستقبل أفغانستان والمنطقة.

ثمة واقعة مهمة حصلت قبل نحو ١٠ سنوات لا بدّ من ذكرها هنا لعلها شكلت محطة مهمة وعلامة فارقة فيما جرى وربما لا يزال يجري في أفغانستان.

في العام ٢٠١٠ وفي عملية مشتركة للمخابرات الأميركية والباكستانية يتمّ القبض على أحد أهمّ الرموز الطالبانية التي كانت تطاردها واشنطن بعد موت ملا عمر الا وهو ملا عبد الغني برادر الزميل الحميم لبن لادن.

وبعد اختفاء تامّ للرجل لمدة ٨ سنوات أسيراً لدى الأميركيين، وبعد مفاوضات شاقة أجرتها الحركة وبوساطة قطرية ملحة، يتمّ إطلاق سراحه في العام ٢٠١٨…!

وبسرعة يتقدم الملا عبد الغني برادر، ليصبح مديراً للمكتب السياسي للحركة وممثلها في الدوحة، ومن ثم يصبح كما هو الآن الرجل الأول للحركة بلا منازع، وهو الذي قاد كل المفاوضات الأخيرة مع الأميركيين، وعقد كلّ الاتفاقيات العلنية والسرية معهم، وهو الذي يشرف حالياً على كلّ التطورات الأمنية والعسكرية والسياسية لحركة طالبان، وهو الذي يفترض أنه دخل كابول فاتحاً…

لا احد من المتابعين الجديين يعتقد ان طالبان ستسلم مقاليد البلاد بولاياتها الـ ٣٤ للأميركيين ومخططاتهم المستجدة بسهولة فهم قاتلوا طوال العقدين الماضيين من اجل اهداف حركتهم وقدموا آلاف الشهداء في هذا الطريق…!

والاغلب انهم سيلعبون على التناقضات الاميركية وتوظيفها لفرض امارتهم الاسلامية كامر واقع بدون قرقعة سلاح…!

في هذه الأثناء وكما تقول مصادر أفغانية متابعة فإنّ الأميركيين من جهتهم، عملوا ما استطاعوا الى ذلك سبيلاً خلال العقدين الماضيين – وعلى طريقة إعداد الخطة «ب» والخطة «ج» لكلّ مخطط – في القضاء او الامحاء او الازاحة لكل الرموز الطالبانية المتشددة، لتظهر «طالبان» جديدة، ديمقراطية، تعددية، تقدمية معتدلة، عاقلة، مسالمة، تتربّع عرش كابول لتكون واجهة أفغانية (پشتونية) كاملة الدسم، مطعّمة ببعض من الوان الطيف الافغاني من الطاجيك الى الاوزبك الى الهزارة الى الدرانيين او النورستانيين وذلك عندما تحين لحظة الانسحاب التي لا بدّ منها، وها هو زمانها قد حان…!

وهذا يعني في ما يعني انّ العقدين الماضيين كانا كفيلين في بلورة نسخة جديدة من طالبان غير نسخة طالبان الأولى الملتصقة بذهن الناس بملا عمر وبن لادن…!

طالبان الجديدة هي طالبان السنية الحنفية السلفية القوية، لكنها غير الوهابية التكفيرية، طالبان المنفتحة على العالم الخارجي بكل تلاوينه ولكن:

 طالبان التي ستشكل كما يتمنى الأميركيون بالطبع جداراً يشبه سور الصين العظيم بوجه كلّ من بكين وموسكو وطهران…!

جدار يمنع التحام الثنائي الصيني الروسي العملاق، مع القطب الإيراني الصاعد والواعد…!

لم يكن ذلك ممكناً بدون تحوّل حقيقي في طالبان نفسها، ورجل المرحلة لم يكن سوى ملا عبد الغني برادر، ومساعديه الذين يملأون الشاشات اليوم ويقودون المفاوضات والحوارات في كل من طهران وموسكو وبكين بالإضافة الى الدوحة…!

موقع أفغانستان الجيوبوليتيكي والجيواستراتيجي بمثابة نقطة تقاطع التاريخ والجغرافيا بين الحضارات والمدنيات الشرقية وحتى الغربية منها، كفيل بنظر الاميركيين اذا ما ظلّ قلقاً وغير مستقراً على ان يكون كفيلاً بزعزعة مشروع «حزام واحد طريق واحد» الصيني وجعله يتعثر، وطريق الحرير الحديدي الشرقي مقطوع عند النقطة الافغانية، وان يشاغب قدر الإمكان على منتدى او منظمة شانغهاي للتعاون وهي المنظمة الأمنية السياسية الاقتصادية التي تضم نحو عشر دول أهمّها الصين وروسيا والهند والتي يفترض ان تصبح إيران رئيسي الدولة الجديدة كاملة العضوية فيها في ١٧ من آب المقبل…

 واذا ما استحضرنا المشهد التلمودي والهوليودي الأميركي الى واجهة الأحداث الجارية حالياً في أفغانستان ومحيطها، فإنّ ثمة من يجزم في أفغانستان وفي محيطها من الباحثين، بأنّ الأميركي الذي طالما ناور بداعش والقاعدة واستعملهما بطريقة تدوير النفايات، فإنه سرعان ما سيلجأ الى خلط الأوراق قريباً، لتنطلق دورات عنف متعددة تشعل كل آسيا الوسطى والقوقاز انطلاقاً من أفغانستان لتصل الى داخل روسيا والصين من خلال تحريك الأقليات العرقية المجنّدة بالآلاف تحت الرعاية الاستخبارية الأميركية..!

وهذا هدف أميركي معلن ومعروف، وتتمّ الدعاية له على طول الخط، تحت عنوان مخادع وهو الدفاع عن حقوق الإنسان وحرية المعتقد ومحاربة الديكتاتوريات والأنظمة الشمولية!

طبعاً يحصل هذا في إطار المخطط الأميركي الذي يحاول دوماً ان يحوّل هزيمته المرة الى نصر مزيف…!

انها معركة عالمية جديدة أميركا بحاجة ماسّة لها، في خطتها لوقف الصعود الصيني المتسارع في كلّ شيء، والقوة العسكرية الروسية المتفوّقة على أميركا بالأسلحة التقليدية وغير التقليدية، وما تسمّيه بالنفوذ الإيراني المتعاظم والذي بدأ يشكل تهديداً وجودياً لقاعدتها المتقدمة في المنطقة التي اسمها «إسرائيل»…!

الإيرانيون والروس والصينيون يدركون تماماً دلالات ما حصل ويحصل في أفغانستان من هزيمة منكرة للأميركيين، ومن خبث في نسخهم الجديدة في المواجهة، ولكنهم يعرفون أيضا لا سيما الايرانيين، كيف تخاض معارك الحروب الناعمة وهم الأبرع في لعبة الشطرنج…!

ووادي پنج شير وقاسم سليماني مع احمد شاه مسعود… يشهد لهم…

وفيلق فاطميون يشهد لهم، وأمور اخرى تبقى قيد المفاجآت ستكشف مدى سطحية وسذاجة الأميركي، وكيف ان اليانكي الكاوبوي سيلدغ من نفس الجحر مرتين…!

كلّ هذه التحليلات متحركة بانتظار موقف طالبان الحقيقي الذي ننتظره بفارغ الصبر من «إسرائيل» وسيدها الأميركي!

بعدنا طيبين قولوا الله…

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Thieves Storm Qatari Emir’s Palace near Cannes

August 14 2021

Thieves storm the palace of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, near the French resort of Cannes, and a local source explains that “valuable pieces” were stolen.

Local source: No violence was used in the theft

Thieves broke into the palace of the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, near the French resort of Cannes, and seized watches and other valuables, according to a source close to the scene. 

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad was not present when four people stormed his house in Mouan-Sartou, but several of his family members were, RTL radio reported. 

It added that the robbery was carried out without violence, as the thieves did not threaten the residents of the palace, who surrendered upon spotting a weapon.

Moreover, several law enforcement agencies in the cities of Grasse, Nice, and Marseille have opened an investigation into the incident. 

A Saigon moment looms in Kabul

August 13, 2021

See the source image
Vietnam Civilians try to board a US helicopter at the US Embassy in Saigon, 1975

August 12, 2021 will go down as the day the Taliban avenged America’s invasion and struck the blow that brought down its man in Kabul

A Saigon moment looms in Kabul

by Pepe Escobar,  posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times

August 12, 2021. History will register it as the day the Taliban, nearly 20 years after 9/11 and the subsequent toppling of their 1996-2001 reign by American bombing, struck the decisive blow against the central government in Kabul.

In a coordinated blitzkrieg, the Taliban all but captured three crucial hubs: Ghazni and Kandahar in the center, and Herat in the west. They had already captured most of the north. As it stands, the Taliban control 14 (italics mine) provincial capitals and counting.

First thing in the morning, they took Ghazni, which is situated around 140 kilometers from Kabul. The repaved highway is in good condition. Not only are the Taliban moving closer and closer to Kabul: for all practical purposes they now control the nation’s top artery, Highway 1 from Kabul to Kandahar via Ghazni.

That in itself is a strategic game-changer. It will allow the Taliban to encircle and besiege Kabul simultaneously from north and south, in a pincer movement.

Kandahar fell by nightfall after the Taliban managed to breach the security belt around the city, attacking from several directions.

In Ghazni, provincial governor Daoud Laghmani cut a deal, fled and then was arrested. In Kandahar, provincial governor Rohullah Khanzada – who belongs to the powerful Popolzai tribe – left with only a few bodyguards.

He opted to engage in an elaborate deal, convincing the Taliban to allow the remaining military to retreat to Kandahar airport and be evacuated by helicopter. All their equipment, heavy weapons and ammunition should be transferred to the Taliban.

Afghan Special Forces represented the cream of the crop in Kandahar. Yet they were only protecting a few select locations. Now their next mission may be to protect Kabul. The final deal between the governor and the Taliban should be struck soon. Kandahar has indeed fallen.

In Herat, the Taliban attacked from the east while notorious former warlord Ismail Khan, leading his militia, put up a tremendous fight from the west. The Taliban progressively conquered the police HQ, “liberated” prison inmates and laid siege to the governor’s office.

Game over: Herat has also fallen with the Taliban now controlling the whole of Western Afghanistan, all the way to the borders with Iran.

Tet Offensive, remixed

Military analysts will have a ball deconstructing this Taliban equivalent to the 1968 Tet Offensive in Vietnam. Satellite intel may have been instrumental: it’s as if the whole battlefield progress had been coordinated from above.

Yet there are some quite prosaic reasons for the success of the onslaught apart from strategic acumen: corruption in the Afghan National Army (ANA); total disconnect between Kabul and battlefield commanders; lack of American air support; the deep political divide in Kabul itself.

In parallel, the Taliban had been secretly reaching out for months, through tribal connections and family ties, offering a deal: don’t fight us and you will be spared.

Add to it a deep sense of betrayal by the West felt by those connected with the Kabul government, mixed with fear of Taliban revenge against collaborationists.

A very sad subplot, from now on, concerns civilian helplessness – felt by those who consider themselves trapped in cities that are now controlled by the Taliban. Those that made it before the onslaught are the new Afghan IDPs, such as the ones who set up a refugee camp in the Sara-e-Shamali park in Kabul.

A new generation of IDPs in Afghanistan. Image: Supplied

Rumors were swirling in Kabul that Washington had suggested to President Ashraf Ghani to resign, clearing the way for a ceasefire and the establishment of a transitional government.

On the record, what’s established is that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin promised Ghani to “remain invested” in Afghan security.

Reports indicate the Pentagon plans to redeploy 3,000 troops and Marines to Afghanistan and another 4,000 to the region to evacuate the US Embassy and US citizens in Kabul.

The alleged offer to Ghani actually originated in Doha – and came from Ghani’s people, as I confirmed with diplomatic sources.

The Kabul delegation, led by Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of something called the High Council for National Reconciliation, via Qatar mediation, offered the Taliban a power-sharing deal as long as they stop the onslaught. There’s been no mention of Ghani resigning, which is the Taliban’s number one condition for any negotiation.

The extended troika in Doha is working overtime. The US lines up immovable object Zalmay Khalilzad, widely mocked in the 2000s as “Bush’s Afghan.” The Pakistanis have special envoy Muhammad Sadiq and ambassador to Kabul Mansoor Khan.

The Russians have the Kremlin’s envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov. And the Chinese have a new Afghan envoy, Xiao Yong.

Russia-China-Pakistan are negotiating with a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) frame of mind: all three are permanent members. They emphasize a transition government, power-sharing, and recognition of the Taliban as a legitimate political force.

Diplomats are already hinting that if the Taliban topple Ghani in Kabul, by whatever means, they will be recognized by Beijing as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan – something that will set up yet another incendiary geopolitical front in the confrontation against Washington.

As it stands, Beijing is just encouraging the Taliban to strike a peace agreement with Kabul.

The Pashtunistan riddle

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has minced no words as he stepped into the fray. He confirmed the Taliban leadership told him there’s no negotiation with Ghani in power – even as he tried to persuade them to reach for a peace deal.

Khan accused Washington of regarding Pakistan as “useful” only when it comes to pressing Islamabad to use its influence over the Taliban to broker a deal – without considering the “mess” the Americans left behind.

Khan once again said he “made it very clear” there will be no US military bases in Pakistan.

This is a very good analysis of how hard it is for Khan and Islamabad to explain Pakistan’s complex involvement with Afghanistan to the West and also the Global South.

The key issues are quite clear:

1. Pakistan wants a power-sharing deal and is doing what it can in Doha, along the extended troika, to reach it.

2. A Taliban takeover will lead to a new influx of refugees and may encourage jihadis of the al-Qaeda, TTP and ISIS-Khorasan kind to destabilize Pakistan.

3. It was the US that legitimized the Taliban by striking an agreement with them during the Donald Trump administration.

4. And because of the messy withdrawal, the Americans reduced their leverage – and Pakistan’s – over the Taliban.

The problem is Islamabad simply does not manage to get these messages across.

And then there are some bewildering decisions. Take the AfPak border between Chaman (in Pakistan’s Balochistan) and Spin Boldak (in Afghanistan).

The Pakistanis closed their side of the border. Every day tens of thousands of people, overwhelmingly Pashtun and Baloch, from both sides cross back and forth alongside a mega-convoy of trucks transporting merchandise from the port of Karachi to landlocked Afghanistan. To shut down such a vital commercial border is an unsustainable proposition.

All of the above leads to arguably the ultimate problem: what to do about Pashtunistan?

The absolute heart of the matter when it comes to Pakistan’s involvement in Afghanistan and Afghan interference in the Pakistani tribal areas is the completely artificial, British Empire-designed Durand Line. 

Islamabad’s definitive nightmare is another partition. Pashtuns are the largest tribe in the world and they live on both sides of the (artificial) border. Islamabad simply cannot admit a nationalist entity ruling Afghanistan because that will eventually foment a Pashtun insurrection in Pakistan.

And that explains why Islamabad prefers the Taliban compared to an Afghan nationalist government. Ideologically, conservative Pakistan is not that dissimilar from the Taliban positioning. And in foreign policy terms, the Taliban in power perfectly fit the unmovable “strategic depth” doctrine that opposes Pakistan to India.

In contrast, Afghanistan’s position is clear-cut. The Durand Line divides Pashtuns on both sides of an artificial border. So any nationalist government in Kabul will never abandon its desire for a larger, united Pashtunistan.

As the Taliban are de facto a collection of warlord militias, Islamabad has learned by experience how to deal with them. Virtually every warlord – and militia – in Afghanistan is Islamic.

Even the current Kabul arrangement is based on Islamic law and seeks advice from an Ulema council. Very few in the West know that Sharia law is the predominant trend in the current Afghan constitution.

Closing the circle, ultimately all members of the Kabul government, the military, as well as a great deal of civil society come from the same conservative tribal framework that gave birth to the Taliban.

Apart from the military onslaught, the Taliban seem to be winning the domestic PR battle because of a simple equation: they portray Ghani as a NATO and US puppet, the lackey of foreign invaders.

And to make that distinction in the graveyard of empires has always been a winning proposition.

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