Two Decades of Afghan War… and a Shabby U.S. Retreat

Photo: REUTERS/Nasir Wakif


March 13, 2020©

Is that it? Nearly two decades of war – America’s longest-ever, almost twice as long as the Vietnam War – and now, finally, a dubious peace deal.

It’s a “deal” that could have been signed years ago by previous U.S. administrations, thereby saving hundreds of thousands of casualties and trillions of dollars in damages.

The Afghan combatants that the U.S. vowed to defeat back in 2001 – the Taliban – are stronger than ever and look set to take back control when the Americans eventually tuck tail and get out. The militants view it as a “victory over a superpower”, according to NBC.

President Trump’s administration is of course trying to sell the conclusion of the Afghan War as some kind of honorable exit from the Central Asian country. But the shaky peace pact – cobbled together in haste and with no input from the U.S.-backed regime in Kabul – looks more like an electioneering ploy by Trump.

There are some 13,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan. That’s about 10 per cent of the levels that were there under the GW Bush and Obama administrations. Trump’s peace deal with the Taliban mandates that troop levels will be drawn down to about 8,500 in the next four months. After 14 months, the aim is to have no U.S. troops remaining there.

The scheduling looks arranged to give Trump a timely electioneering boost. After all, he took office in January 2017 promising to end the “endless” Afghan War. Nearly four years on and just in time for the November election, Trump can claim he is delivering on that promise.

The flimsiness and contradictions of the bargain – the word “deal” seems misplaced – also indicate more haste than honor. Washington wants the Taliban to cease military attacks on U.S. troops over the drawdown period, but the militants appear to have leeway to continue assaults on the local U.S.-backed Afghan security forces.

Washington says its wants to see an “intra-Afghan” political dialogue on the future polity of the country. But the Americans fatally undermined the authority of its Kabul regime by excluding it from talks with the Taliban. The regime looks set to collapse without U.S. support. Why would the Taliban bother to engage with an entity it sees as a corrupt American puppet? Trump has even admitted that he sees the possibility of the Taliban taking full control of Afghanistan once the U.S. finally pulls out.

Here there is an echo of the “Fall of Saigon” when the Americans sold out the venal South Vietnamese regime in a 1973 peace deal with Communist North Vietnam which then went on to rout the crumbling U.S. Saigon puppet in 1975.

On a wider note, it is understandable that the region is apprehensive about the future of Afghanistan. Two decades of war and a botched retreat by the Americans could leave the country as a miserable failed state with no stable government for many years to come. Russia and Iran have good grounds to be concerned about the security implications from such a failed state. Fortunately, Russia has been developing working relations with Afghan parties over recent years, including the Taliban and its opponents. Thus, Moscow may be well-placed to help stabilize the country in the aftermath of Washington’s exit from the Afghan quagmire. How ironic is that? Afghanistan was supposed to be Moscow’s “Vietnam”, according to U.S. imperial planners. Turned out, however, that Afghanistan became America’s “Second Vietnam”.

An absurd contradiction in Washington’s deal-making with the Taliban is the expectation from the Trump administration that the Taliban will cooperate to prevent the emergence of Al Qaeda-linked terror groups. Hold on a moment. The official reason why the Americans invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 was a “war on terror” against the Taliban following the September 9/11 attacks in New York. Now we are told that the Taliban are some kind of legitimate partner against terrorism.

No wonder most U.S. military veterans are disillusioned with the Afghan War and the latest attempt to end it. As one former soldier told Time magazine: “I’m okay with the Afghans fighting for their own country and us supporting them from a distance. I’m not comfortable with us just walking away. It is morally wrong to give legitimacy to an enemy that continues to murder our people,” he said. “And it undermines our credibility around the world. Who can – or should – trust an America that cavalierly surrenders an ally like this?”

War fatigue in America is understandable. But the fact is this war should never have been started in the first place. The Afghan War stands as a monumental crime by the American state. Its aim and justifications by Washington were always a farrago of lies, as declassified U.S. documents show.

About 157,000 people are estimated to have been killed, with 43,000 of the dead being civilians. If there was any justice in this world, American leaders and generals should be prosecuted in a Nuremberg-type war crimes court, including Bush, Obama and the incumbent president, Donald Trump.

A reduction in violence is unquestionably welcome. We may hope the Afghan people can somehow develop a political process for a peaceful future. But eternal shame on Washington. It’s the Afghan people and the region which are having to pick up the pieces from criminal American adventurism.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

إدلب: يدُ «الجهاديّين» على الحزام!


صهيب عنجريني الثلاثاء 10 آذار

لا يلقي «الجهاديون» بالاً كثيراً لاتفاق وقف إطلاق النار الذي أُبرم أخيراً في شأن إدلب. تتالت مواقف التنظيمات الرافضة للاتفاق، مع مواصلتها الاستعداد والتحشيد، لجولة جديدة محتملة من القتال. وانطلقت وراء الكواليس جهود تنسيقية مكثّفة، بين مختلف الجماعات، بهدف خوض المعارك القادمة «صفّاً واحداً»

«لا تنادوا بالسلام، إنّما السلم كلام. إنما السلمُ خداع، فاستفيقوا يا نيام». كانت هذه الجملة «بيت القصيد» في إصدار مرئي جديد نشرته «غرفة عمليّات وحرّض المؤمنين» أمس. تضم الغرفة المذكورة عدداً من التنظيمات «الجهادية» العاملة في سوريا (تحديداً في إدلب)، وهي «تنظيم حرّاس الدين»، و«جبهة أنصار الدين»، و«جماعة أنصار التوحيد»، و«جماعة أنصار الإسلام». حمل الشريط عنواناً لافتاً، هو «هدم الأسوار». وكما هو معروف، فقد سبق استخدام العنوان نفسه من قبل تنظيم «داعش» المتطرف، الذي أطلقه على سلسلة عمليات كانت عنوان مرحلة فارقة من مراحل صعود التنظيم.

الشريط المصوّر يكتسب أهميّة مضاعفة بفعل كونه مجرّد حلقة في سلسلة مواقف «جهادية» رافضة للاتفاقات حول إدلب (أرشيف)

يصعب الجزم بأن اختيار تكرار العنوان مقصود، لكن احتمال المصادفة لا يبدو وارداً، في ظل شهرة «هدم الأسوار» الخاص بـ«داعش» ورمزيته الماثلة في الأذهان. وليس من المستبعد أن ينطوي الأمر على محاولة لاستمالة بقايا التنظيم في سوريا، أو إرضاءً لبعضهم، ممن نجحوا في الوصول إلى إدلب، وانضووا بالفعل تحت راية «حراس الدين». تضمّن الشريط الجديد لقطات تم تصويرها السبت الماضي، أي في اليوم التالي لسريان وقف إطلاق النار المفترض، ويظهر فيها مقاتلون تابعون لـ«غرفة عمليات وحرّض المؤمنين»، يطلقون صواريخ، ويؤكّدون عدم التزامهم باتفاق وقف إطلاق النار الذي أُبرم أخيراً، بين موسكو وأنقرة. ولم يمنع قصر مدة الشريط (خمس دقائق) احتواءه رسائل بالغة الدلالات، من بينها تنوّع لغات المقاتلين المتحدّثين، ما بين العربيّة (بلهجة سورية)، والإنكليزية، والقوقازية.

ورغم أهميّته منفرداً، فإنّ الشريط المصوّر يكتسب أهميّة مضاعفة بفعل كونه مجرّد حلقة في سلسلة مواقف «جهادية» رافضة للاتفاقات حول إدلب، من أبرزها بيان صدر عن «هيئة تحرير الشام/ النصرة»، ووسم بعنوان «اتفاقيّة موسكو.. سراب جديد»، وكلمة صوتيّة بعنوان «يا أهل الشام الثبات الثبات» لأبو همام الشامي، زعيم تنظيم «حرّاس الدين»، الفرع السوري لتنظيم «القاعدة». وتشارك التنظيمان المتطرّفان المذكوران موقفاً واحداً من «اتفاق موسكو»، رغم التباين في كثير من المواقف بينهما، ورغم علاقتهما المضطربة التي وصلت حدّ الاحتراب في بعض المراحل. ولكن كان من بين الاختلافات المتوقعة بين الموقفين، انفراد «هيئة تحرير الشام» بشكر أنقرة على «وقوفها الواضح والداعم للثورة»، الأمر الذي قابله في كلمة الشامي تحذير من «هيمنة الداعمين على إرادة المجاهدين». جاء مضمون شريط «هدم الأسوار» مشابهاً لمضمون كلمة أبو همام الشامي في ما يتعلّق بـ«الداعمين» (وهو أمر طبيعي لأن الشامي يتزعّم أكبر مكوّنات الجهة التي صدر عنها الشريط). وذهب المقاتلون الظاهرون في الشريط أبعد من زعيمهم، عبر تصعيد لهجة الخطاب الموجّه إلى أنقرة، ولكن من دون تسميتها. يقول أحد المتحدثين بالإنكليزية، موجهاً الكلام إلى «إخوانه في كل أنحاء العالم»، إن «بعض الحكومات تتظاهر بأنها صديقة للسوريين، لكنها لا تريد إلا القضاء على الحركات الجهادية، كل ما يفعلونه مصالحهم الوطنية لا غير».

«القاعدة» سبق الاتفاق!

ثمّة تفصيل شديد الأهميّة في ما يتعلّق بمواقف التنظيمات المتطرفة من «اتفاق موسكو»، وهو أن تنظيم «القاعدة» كان قد استبق الاتفاق بدعوة «المجاهدين» إلى توحيد مواقفهم و«رص صفوفهم». في مطلع الشهر الجاري، دعا التنظيم «مجاهدي الشام» إلى «رفض التفاهمات الدولية»، و«نبذ الخلافات» في ما بينهم. جاء ذلك في الإصدار الرقم 32 من نشرة «النفير» الدورية التي تصدرها «مؤسسة السحاب الإعلامية»، مصحوباً بتحريض «الجهاديين» على شنّ حرب استنزاف طويلة الأمد. والواقع أن كلمة أبو همام الشامي، جاءت أشبه بإعلان التزام سريع بتوجيهات «القاعدة» الأم، وقد تمّ تسجيلها على الأرجح قبل إبرام «اتفاق موسكو»، إذ أعلن التنظيم عنها قبل ثلاثة أيام من الاتفاق، ثم أرجأ نشرها إلى ما بعد إبرامه، لتكون بمثابة موقف رسمي. ولم تقتصر استجابة الشامي لتوجيهات «قيادته» على الكلمة المسجلة، بل اشتملت أيضاً على إطلاق «حملة تبرعات» تسعى إلى جمع أموال، لتمويل جولة جديدة من المعارك، من المقرّر أن تأخذ شكل «حرب عصابات». ويعاني «حراس الدين» من صعوبات مالية، في ظل عدم ثبات التمويلات التي يتلقّاها، خلافاً لحال «تحرير الشام» القادرة على تمويل نفسها عبر موارد عديدة، فضلاً عن أن التمويلات السياسية لم تنقطع، ولو خفّت وتيرتها. ورغم الخلافات بينهما، فقد دأبت «هيئة تحرير الشام» على إمداد «حراس الدين» بأسلحة وأموال، بين وقت وآخر، تبعاً لطبيعة المرحلة.

«جهاديو فرنسا» حاضرون

لم يلتقط «الجهاديون» الفرنسيون الحاضرون في إدلب أنفاسهم بعد. ورغم توقّف المعارك في الأيام الأخيرة، فإنّ عناصر «فرقة غرباء» لم يأخذوا فترة استراحة، بل انهمكوا في الاستعداد لجولة ثانية، لا تبدو بعيدة. تشكّل الكتيبة المذكورة إطاراً تنظيمياً حاضناً لمعظم «الجهاديين» الفرنسيين المتبقّين في سوريا، وقد سُجلت أنشطة قتالية لها بالتنسيق والتعاون مع «جبهة النصرة» في العام 2016، ثم مع «الحزب الإسلامي التركستاني» في معارك إدلب قبل عامين (راجع «الأخبار» 23 أيار). وتكرّرت مشاركة «الفرقة» في معارك إدلب الأخيرة، لكن هذه المرّة بالتنسيق والتعاون مع «حراس الدين». ويعود سبب تغيير التحالفات إلى خلافات استفحلت بين متزعّم «غرباء»، عمر أومسين، و«هيئة تحرير الشام» قبل عامين. (راجع «الأخبار»، 26 تشرين الثاني) .

«القاعدة» كان قد استبق «اتفاق موسكو» بدعوة «المجاهدين» إلى «رصّ صفوفهم»

ونشرت قناة «فرانس 24» قبل أيام تقريراً لافتاً، يسلط الضوء على مشاركة الفرقة في المعارك. ويجدر التذكير بأن العنصر «الجهادي» الأوروبي يشكّل عاملاً شديد الأهمّية في مواقف دول الاتحاد من معارك إدلب، إذ باتت المنطقة ملاذاً أخيراً لـ«الجهاديين» الأوروبيين بمختلف جنسياتهم. ويبدو تسرّب هؤلاء إلى دولهم الأم أكبر الهواجس الأوروبية، وهو أمر تعيه أنقرة جيداً، وما فتئت تلوّح به بين سطور تهديداتها المستمرة بفتح الحدود أمام اللاجئين. وحتى اليوم، لم يصل الأوروبيون (ولا سيّما الفرنسيّون) إلى خاتمة «معقولة» لملف «الجهاديين» الأوروبيين الذين كانوا يقاتلون في صفوف «داعش» أو عائلاتهم. وما زالت أعداد كبيرة من هؤلاء تقبع في «مخيّمات» شرقي الفرات في مناطق نفوذ «قسد».

والأوزبك… والألبان

شاركت «كتيبة الإمام البخاري» بفاعلية في معارك إدلب الأخيرة، وتحديداً معارك مدينة سراقب. وتقول مصادر «جهادية» حاضرة في إدلب إن عدداً من قادة «البخاري» عقدوا اجتماعات منفصلة في الأيام الأخيرة مع قادة مجموعات مختلفة، من بينها «تحرير الشام»، و«حراس الدين». تعدّ المجموعة المذكورة واحدة من أشرس المجموعات «الجهادية» في سوريا، وكانت قد بايعت «جبهة النصرة» حين كانت الأخيرة فرعاً لتنظيم «القاعدة» (راجع «الأخبار» 1 تشرين الأول 2015). بدأت «البخاري» العمل منفردة، عقب فك «النصرة» ارتباطها التنظيمي بـ«القاعدة»، وكان هذا على الأرجح أحد الأسباب التي دفعت الولايات المتحدة إلى إدراج الكتيبة على لوائح الإرهاب. وكانت «البخاري» واحدة من المجموعات «الجهادية» القليلة التي أعلنت موقفاً واضحاً من الاتفاق الذي عقدته «حركة طالبان» مع واشنطن أخيراً. وأرسل أبو يوسف المهاجر، زعيم الجماعة، رسالة تهنئة إلى «طالبان» بتاريخ 29 شباط الماضي، عدّ فيه الاتفاق «نصراً للجهاد». كما كانت «الكتيبة» قد ربطت نفسها بـ«بيعة» علنية لـ«إمارة أفغانستان الإسلامية» في العام 2018، فيما بدأت بتوريد بعض «الجهاديين» عكسيّاً، من سوريا إلى أفغانستان عام 2016، حين استحدثت فرعاً لها هناك. ومنذ العام الماضي، سجّلت «البخاري» تنسيقاً عالي المستوى مع جماعة «جهادية» أوروبية مستحدثة في سوريا، هي «جماعة الألبان» التي باتت رأس حربة «الجهاد» الأوروبي في سوريا. لم ينخرط «الألبان» في معارك إدلب الأخيرة، بسبب تمركزهم في ريف اللاذقية الشمالي، معقلهم الأبرز (راجع «الأخبار» 25 أيلول 2019) . رغم ذلك، تفيد معلومات موثوقة بأنّ «جماعة الألبان» كانت في «استنفار» مفتوح طوال فترة المعارك، ولم تنهه حتى اليوم.


The Afghanistan ‘peace deal’ riddle

Pepe Escobar for the Saker Blog : Posted with permission 

As far as realpolitik Afghanistan is concerned, with or without a deal, the US military want to stay in what is a priceless Greater Middle East base to deploy hybrid war techniques

In this photo taken on February 21, youths and peace activists gather as they celebrate the reduction in violence, in Kandahar. A week-long partial truce took hold across Afghanistan on February 22, with some jubilant civilians dancing in the streets as the war-weary country prepared for this coming Saturday’s planned agreement on a peace deal between the Taliban and the United States. Photo: AFP / Javed Tanveer

Nearly two decades after the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan post-9/11, and after an interminable war costing over $ 2 trillion, there’s hardly anything “historic” about a possible peace deal that may be signed in Doha this coming Saturday between Washington and the Taliban.

We should start by stressing three points.

1- The Taliban wanted all US troops out. Washington refused.

2- The possible deal only reduces US troops from 13,000 to 8,600. That’s the same number already deployed before the Trump administration.

3- The reduction will only happen a year and a half from now – assuming what’s being described as a truce holds.

So there would be no misunderstanding, Taliban Deputy Leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, in an op-ed certainly read by everyone inside the Beltway, detailed their straightforward red line: total US withdrawal.

And Haqqani is adamant: there’s no peace deal if US troops stay.

Still, a deal looms. How come? Simple: enter a series of secret “annexes.”

The top US negotiator, the seemingly eternal Zalmay Khalilzad, a remnant of the Clinton and Bush eras, has spent months codifying these annexes – as confirmed by a source in Kabul currently not in government but familiar with the negotiations.

Let’s break them down to four points.

1- US counter-terror forces would be allowed to stay. Even if approved by the Taliban leadership, this would be anathema to the masses of Taliban fighters.

2- The Taliban would have to denounce terrorism and violent extremism. That’s rhetorical, not a problem.

3- There will be a scheme to monitor the so-called truce while different warring Afghan factions discuss the future, what the US State Dept. describes as “intra-Afghan negotiations.” Culturally, as we’ll see later, Afghans of different ethnic backgrounds will have a tremendously hard time monitoring their own warring.

4- The CIA would be allowed to do business in Taliban-controlled areas. That’s an even more hardcore anathema. Everyone familiar with post-9/11 Afghanistan knows that the prime reason for CIA business is the heroin rat line that finances Langley’s black ops, as I exposed in 2017.

Otherwise, everything about this “historic” deal remains quite vague.

Even Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was forced to admit the war in Afghanistan is “still” in “a state of strategic stalemate.”

As for the far from strategic financial disaster, one just needs to peruse the latest SIGAR report. SIGAR stands for Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. In fact virtually nothing in Afghanistan has been “reconstructed.”

No real deal without Iran

The “intra-Afghan” mess starts with the fact that Ashraf Ghani eventually was declared the winner of the presidential elections held in September last year. But virtually no one recognizes him.

The Taliban don’t talk to Ghani. Only to some people that are part of the government in Kabul. And they describe these talks at best as between “ordinary Afghans.”

Everyone familiar with Taliban strategy knows US/NATO troops will never be allowed to stay. What could happen is the Taliban allowing some sort of face-saving contingent to remain for a few months, and then a very small contingent stays to protect the US embassy in Kabul.

Washington will obviously reject this possibility. The alleged “truce” will be broken. Trump, pressured by the Pentagon, will send more troops. And the infernal spiral will be back on track.

Another major hole in the possible deal is that the Americans completely ignored Iran in their negotiations in Doha.

That’s patently absurd. Teheran is a key strategic partner to its neighbor Kabul. Apart from the millenary historical/cultural/social connections, there are at least 3.5 million Afghan refugees in Iran.

Post 9-11, Tehran slowly but surely started cultivating relations with the Taliban – but not at a military/weaponizing level, according to Iranian diplomats. In Beirut last September, and then in Nur-Sultan in November, I was provided a clear picture of where discussions about Afghanistan stand.

The Russian connection to the Taliban goes through Tehran. Taliban leaders have frequent contacts with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Only last year, Russia held two conferences in Moscow between Taliban political leaders and mujahideen. The Russians were engaged into bringing Uzbeks into the negotiations. At the same time, some Taliban leaders met with Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) operatives four times in Tehran, in secret.

The gist of all these discussions was “to find a conflict resolution outside of Western patterns”, according to an Iranian diplomat. They were aiming at some sort of federalism: the Taliban plus the mujahideen in charge of the administration of some vilayets.

The bottom line is that Iran has better connections in Afghanistan than Russia and China. And this all plays within the much larger scope of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The Russia-China strategic partnership wants an Afghan solution coming from inside the SCO, of which both Iran and Afghanistan are observers. Iran may become a full SCO member if it holds on to the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, until October – thus still not subjected to UN sanctions.

All these actors want US troops out – for good. So the solution always points towards a decentralized federation. According to an Afghan diplomat, the Taliban seem ready to share power with the Northern Alliance. The spanner in the works is the Hezb-e-Islami, with one Jome Khan Hamdard, a commander allied with notorious mujahid Gulbudiin Hekmatyar, based in Mazar-i-Sharif and supported by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, more interested in restarting a civil war.

Understanding Pashtunistan

Here’s a blast from the past, reliving the context of the Taliban visit to Houston, and showing how things have not changed much since the first Clinton administration. It’s always a matter of the Taliban getting their cut – at the time related to Pipelineistan business, now to their reaffirmation of what can be described as Pashtunistan.

Not every Pashtun is a Taliban, but the overwhelming majority of Taliban are Pashtuns.

The Washington establishment never did their “know your enemy” homework, trying to understand how Pashtuns from extremely diverse groups are linked by a common system of values establishing their ethnic foundation and necessary social rules. That’s the essence of their code of conduct – the fascinating, complex Pashtunwali. Although it incorporates numerous Islamic elements, Pashtunwali is in total contradiction with Islamic law on many points.

Islam did introduce key moral elements to Pashtun society. But there are also juridical norms, imposed by a hereditary nobility, that support the whole edifice and that came from the Turko-Mongols.

Pashtuns – a tribal society – have a deep aversion to the Western concept of the state. Central power can only expect to neutralize  them with – to put it bluntly – bribes. That’s what passes as a sort of system of government in Afghanistan. Which brings the question of how much – and with what – the US is now bribing the Taliban.

Afghan political life, in practice, works out from actors that are factions, sub-tribes, “Islamic coalitions” or regional groups.

Since 1996, and up to 9/11, the Taliban incarnated the legitimate return of Pashtuns as the dominant element in Afghanistan. That’s why they instituted an emirate and not a republic, more appropriate for a Muslim community ruled only by religious legislation. The diffidence towards cities, particularly Kabul, also expresses the sentiment of Pashtun superiority over other Afghan ethnic groups.

The Taliban do represent a process of overcoming tribal identity and the affirmation of Pashtunistan. The Beltway never understood this powerful dynamic – and that’s one of the key reasons for the American debacle.

Lapis Lazuli corridor

Afghanistan is at the center of the new American strategy for Central Asia, as in “expand and maintain support for stability in Afghanistan” coupled with an emphasis to “encourage connectivity between Central Asia and Afghanistan.”

In practice, the Trump administration wants the five Central Asian “stans” to bet on integration projects such as the CASA-1000 electricity project and the Lapis Lazuli trade corridor, which is in fact a reboot of the Ancient Silk Road, connecting Afghanistan to Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia before crossing the Black Sea to Turkey and then all the way to the EU.

But the thing is Lapis Lazuli is already bound to integrate with Turkey’s Middle Corridor, which is part of the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative, as well as with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Plus, also part of Belt and Road. Beijing planned  this integration way before Washington.

The Trump administration is just stressing the obvious: a peaceful Afghanistan is essential for the integration process.

Andrew Korybko correctly argues that “Russia and China could make more progress on building the Golden Ring between themselves, Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey by that time, thus ‘embracing’ Central Asia with potentially limitless opportunities that far surpass those that the US is offering or ‘encircling’ the region from a zero-sum American strategic perspective and ‘forcing’ it out.”

The late Zbigniew “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski’s wishful thinking “Eurasian Balkans” scenario may be dead, but the myriad US divide-and-rule gambits imposed on the heartland have now mutated into hybrid war explicitly directed against China, Russia  and Iran – the three major nodes of Eurasia integration.

And that means that as far as realpolitik Afghanistan is concerned, with or without a deal, the US military have no intention to go anywhere. They want to stay – whatever it takes. Afghanistan is a priceless Greater Middle East base to deploy hybrid war techniques.

Pashtuns are certainly getting the message from key Shanghai Cooperation Organization players. The question is how they plan to run rings around Team Trump.

Pakistan’s Big Victory Against Terrorism

February 11, 2020


by Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan for The Saker Blog

The term “terroriste” in French, meaning “terrorist”, is first used in 1794 by the French philosopher François-Noël Babeuf, who denounces Maximilien Robespierre’s Jacobin regime as a dictatorship. Terrorism has many definitions but the well-recognized by the UN is “intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act”.

Although the terms “terrorist” and “terrorism” originated during the French Revolution of the late 18th century but gained mainstream popularity in the 1970s in news reports and books covering the conflicts in Northern Ireland, the Basque Country, and Palestine. The increased use of suicide attacks from the 1980s onwards was typified by the September 11 attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. in 2001.

Pakistan became the victim of Terrorism since the 1980s, the Afghan War. Traditionally, Pakistan was a very peaceful state and the people of Pakistan were known for its peace, hospitality, and tolerance. In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, Pakistan was heaven for foreign tourists, especially from the Western World. Pakistan is blessed with natural beauty, high mountains, Glaciers, Rivers, Beaches, Pilatus, Jungles, Deserts, Archaeological & historical places, and religious places. Pakistani society was famous for the acceptance of Foreigners with all different backgrounds, religions, cultures, and ethnicities. In history, Pakistan has absorbed various cultures, especially the National Language of Pakistan “Urdu” is a mixture of Arabic, Persian and Turkish. The typical Pakistani cultures have roots from Central Asia, the Arabian Peninsula and Greek-Alexander the Great. During the one century-long British rule, has Westernized Pakistani Society and is a member of Commonwealth Country, English language and culture was dominating visibly. By nature, Pakistanis are peace-loving nature and a rather submissive society.

However, due to the former USSR invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the US gathered Muslim youth from all over the world in Pakistan. Provided them training, weapons, and Dollars to fight against the Russians in Afghanistan. This all was possible by radicalizing them. The US used religion to charge these youth for “Jihad”. The Muslim scholars were paid to promote “Jihad” and textbooks taught in educational schools were modified to promote “Jihad”. The US has funded such scholars’ generously who preach “Jihad”.

Cash and religion were used to exploit Muslim youths for “Jihad” (Holy War). And Taliban, involved in Jihad were treated as heroes. White House was open for them and President Reagan hosted banquets in honor of the Taliban. Some of President Regan’s remakes about the Taliban are denied recently, but it was acknowledged that the Taliban enjoyed the highest degree of respect and honor in the US during the Afghan War during the 1980s.

However, with the help of the Taliban, the US won the war in Afghanistan and the former USSR was to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in 1988-89, under an agreement. But unfortunately, the US also lost its interest in Afghanistan and left Pakistan alone to face the consequences of unstable Afghanistan.

Deliberately, Pakistani society was radicalized. Intolerance, extremism, religious divide, ethnicity, and factionists were promoted. The US-funded the individuals with an extremist ideology to promote a division in the society. Insurgency and separatist movements were supported and society was led toward chaos.

Furthermore, during the former USSR invasion of Afghanistan since 1979, Pakistan became the hub of international intelligence agencies. In the beginning, their operations were focused on Afghanistan only. But later on, it was spread and their scope also covers Pakistan is self too. It was not only the US, but many friendly countries also strengthen their Intelligence operation from Afghanistan. Later on, it was noticed that some of the unfriendly countries were also involved in similar operations. After the former USSR withdrawal, some of the international intelligence agencies were using Pakistan as a training ground and executing live operations, sometimes only for the experience.

The easiest way was to identify disgruntles or destitute Pakistanis, brainwash them, fund them and exploit them, was a routine matter. Still, we are facing such incidents, that Pakistanis were used by foreign agents in sabotage, subversion, insurgencies, separatism, and terrorism. This practice is still in exercise, but with a lot reduction in size.

Although the terrorism phenomenon was started since the USSR invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the intensity gained momentum from 200 to 2014, with a peak in 2009. Only in 2009, the worst of any year, 2,586 terrorist, insurgent, and sectarian-related incidents were reported that killed 3,021 people and injured 7,334, according to the “Pakistan Security Report 2009” published by PIPS. These casualties figure 48 percent higher as compared to 2008. On the other hand, the rate of suicide attacks surged by one third to 87 bombings that killed 1,300 people and injured 3,600.

Turning point

Since, the 16 December 2014 attack on an army-run school in Peshawar, which killed 150, mainly children, claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (Taliban Movement of Pakistan-TTP), was ostensibly a game-changer. A week later the government unveiled a new counter-terrorism strategy, the twenty-point National Action Plan (NAP), with Prime Minister and Army Chief, vowing to target all terror groups without distinction.

A massive military action was taken along with the judicial reforms with the involvement of civil society. The death penalty was restored, military courts were established, through media and civic society educational reforms were implemented. Military action was supported by the educational reforms and rehabilitation of effect was implemented. As a re4sult some of the terrorists were killed, some were run into Afghanistan and remaining were changed by education. People were educated toward tolerance, and acceptance of diversity in this society.

While fighting against terrorism, we encountered many tough challenges. The terrorists were well trained and well equipped. Sometimes, they were using many advance tactics and weapons, even better than the Pakistan Army. They were using Satellite phones and Hummer Jeeps, while the Pakistan Army was using rather old communication systems and vehicles. Terrorists were supported by foreign powers and getting logistics and supplies against Pakistan. The terrain was very tough and the region was mountainous and difficult to accessibility. Pakistan blames India and Afghanistan for supporting Terrorists officially. However, India kept on denying and Afghanistan has confirmed. In fact, there were many other foreign powers supporting these terrorists. We suspect many countries like the US, Russia, Israel, Iran, etc. But with no confirmed evidence.

Pakistan Army, Civilian Government, and General public was committed to rooting out the menace of terrorism, once for all. Devotion and firm commitment made us possible to overcome this serious issue. Pakistan is the only country with the highest success in its war against terrorism. Today the number of terrorist attacks has been reduced to around 200 from 2500 at the peak in 2009. Pakistan is still engaged in a war footing against terrorism.

The Irony is that Pakistan was radicalized by some of the friendly nations to achieve their goals. Once they achieved their goals, they left, Pakistan alone to suffer. In fact, those friends played a dirty role to isolate Pakistan and made propaganda against Pakistan as a hub of terrorism. While in fact, Pakistan was the victim of terrorism and suffered huge losses. Pakistan’s sacrifices were not acknowledged or recognized. Pakistan is not seeking any reward for its sacrifices but deserves compensation from those friends who caused this terrorism in Pakistan. Hilary Clinton has committed publically that the US has created the Taliban. It is obvious that Islamophobia is the root cause of terrorism. It is a moral obligation that those who are responsible for the creation of terrorism should assist Pakistan to overcome it. Pakistan expects from the international community to acknowledge and recognition of its sacrifices. I believe, it is the moral duty of the Western World to extend cooperation toward Pakistan to defeat terrorism.

However, Pakistan is a resilient nation and after a lot of effort has succeeded to eliminate terrorism in Pakistan. Pakistanis are genetically peace-loving people and very much accommodative. Our society is open and integrate all immigrants or foreigners in this country. Pakistan accommodated many immigrants from many different countries. These immigrants are well integrated into our society and face no discrimination. There were around 5 million Afghanis in Pakistan at the peak time of war and around 3 million are settled in Pakistan since the 1980s. Their third and fourth generations are living in Pakistan now. There also exists a huge number of Bengalis, Indians, Burmese, Iranian, Iraqis, Syrians, Palestinians, African, Chinese, etc., in Pakistan and enjoying a complete harmony.

Pakistan is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious society and diversity is our strength. We won against terrorism by promoting tolerance, education, and traditional culture. I believe Pakistan’s soft power is our best tool to win against all challenges. Today, Pakistan has emerged as a Peace-Loving nation, a mature and responsible state. Prime Minister Imran Khan is a visionary leader and a messenger for Peace. He believes in Peace and wanted to resolve all regional and global issues through peaceful dialogue. He has demonstrated to avert a War with Indian in February 2019 and still insists on his stand of Peaceful resolution of all issues between India and Pakistan, as well as all international disputes.

The rest of the world may avail Pakistan’s experience to counter-terrorism and utilize Pakistan’s expertise in fighting against terrorism globally. We wish to eliminate the menace of terrorism completely.

Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan.


ٍSouth Front

On January 27, an E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node aircraft of the US Air Force crashed in the Taliban-controlled Deh Yak district of Ghazni province, 150 kilometers from the Afghan capital.

When the incident took place, the crashed plane was initially described as a passenger plane with up to 83 people on board. However, after Taliban-affiliated media accounts released videos from the crash site, the passenger plane version was debunked and the Pentagon confirmed that the incident happened with a US military aircraft.

The crashed E-11A (tail number 11-9358) was one of just four Bombardier Global Express Business jet aircraft purchased by the U.S. Air Force and equipped with the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN).

The BACN is a communications relay and gateway system that enables real-time information flow across the battlespace between similar and dissimilar tactical data link and voice systems through relay, bridging, and data translation in line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight situations.

The BACN can allow surface and air forces to overcome communications difficulties caused by rough terrain, distance and different types of communications networks employed by different types of aircraft and equipment.

The unit cost of a single E-11A equipped with the BACN has not been officially revealed. However, it is approximately $1 billion. In January 2020, the Pentagon announced that Northrop Grumman Systems was awarded a $217.2 million modification contract to support payload equipment and services for the BACN. Work will be carried out in San Diego and at undisclosed overseas locations, with an expected completion date of January 23, 2021. The total cost of the contract after the recent modification is $570.2 million.

The crashed aircraft was assigned to the 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron based at Kandahar Air Field and providing service across the CENTCOM area of operations.

All existing E-11As are deployed in Kandahar. The E-11A flies over Afghanistan constantly. It surpassed 10,000 sorties in 2017, about eight years after being initially deployed to the country.

The loss of such a high-value asset as the E-11A is a major blow to the US capabilities in the region by itself. Prior to the January 27 incident, the US had 8 aircraft equipped with the BACN: four E-11As and four unmanned EQ-4Bs which are modernized variants of the RQ-4 Global Hawk. Now, there are only 7 such aircraft capable of performing command-and-control battle management functions, communication, electronic warfare tasks, and surveillance. 12.5% of the BACN fleet was lost in a single day.

The mystery surrounding the crash is another issue. The Taliban was first to report that the incident involved a US military aircraft on January 27 and release videos and photos from the site. The movement claimed that the aircraft was shot down by a rocket and applauded “the bravery and courage” of the “men” that did this.

Reports appeared claiming that Michael D’Andrea, head of the CIA’s Iran Mission Centre and one of the persons that orchestrated the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, died in the E-11A crash, which he supposedly used as a mobile command. This story describes the E-11A crash as Iranian revenge for the actions of the United States. Nonetheless, these claims remain unconfirmed.

The US military did not comment on the supposed death of D’Andrea, but strongly denied reports that the aircraft was shot down by enemy fire. It also announced that on January 28 US forces recovered the remains of two personnel from the site, the flight data recorder and destroyed the remnants of the aircraft.

The aircraft destruction was needed to prevent high-tech equipment from falling into the hands of the Taliban. The aforementioned casualties were identified as Lt. Col. Paul K. Voss, 46, and Capt. Ryan S. Phaneuf, 30.

In general, the E-11 flies with a crew of two. So, the casualtie part of the US official version is plausible. The problem is the ability of US forces to ensure that no high-tech equipment or sensitive data leaked to the Taliban.

Images from the crash site released from the Taliban on January 27 show at least one burned body.

  • If we adopt the version that two US personnel died in the crash and US forces evacuated their bodies, it becomes evident that Taliban forces were there first and took all that they wanted. This may include BACN components that will later become accessible for third parties. Washington and mainstream media have repeatedly accused Russia and Iran of contacting the Taliban despite the fact that the US itself is in talks with the group.
  • If we imagine that US forces somehow reached the crash site first and just announced this on January 28 to trick its rivals, the question appears: to whom did the images of the body shown by the Taliban belong? In this case, reports claiming that the US is hiding some vital casualties become reasonable.

The D’Andrea death story could easily appear to be just a successful example of propaganda in the ongoing US-Iranian media and diplomatic standoff. However, the reality behind this media noise may appear even more hard-hitting with some BACN components soon appearing in the hands of key US geopolitical competitors.

Afghan Peace: A Pre-requisite for Prosperity in Eurasia Region

Afghan Peace: A Pre-requisite for Prosperity in Eurasia Region

October 10, 2019

by Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan for The Saker blog

Afghanistan is a landlocked country located within South-Central Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China. With its population of 35 million approximately, having a GDP (nominal) of 22 billion US dollars in total, and per capita income of 600 Dollars only. Rich with minerals and natural resources, and well-known for its fruits and nuts, still suffering and laying among the least developed country of the world, ranked 177. Four decades of war have damaged the whole country and the whole nation is a victim of war imposed on them.

Its geopolitical location is vital for the whole Eurasian region, as it connects Central Asia, Iran, China, and Russia, with Pakistan, leading towards Warm Waters – the Arabian Sea or the Indian Ocean. All of the countries are suffering due to instability in Afghanistan and desires a long-lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Very unfortunate! Afghanistan is under war or war-like situation for the last 4 decades. Are Afghans are people of lesser God??? No sufficient food, No education, No health care, severe shortage of electricity, Shortage of fuel, are witnessed in Afghanistan. It seems the sufferings of Afghans are going to end. The world has realized that it is enough and now think in the restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan. The common man has suffered for more than 4 decades, which started with the former USSR entry of Afghanistan on the 25th of December 1979 and then internal power struggle among various factions of Afghanistan and finally after 9-11 incident happened in the US, NATO and allied forces entered into Afghanistan. NATO allies have been fighting in Afghanistan for 18 long years, but are still without control anywhere in the country. Even now, the US Army cannot move freely and fearlessly outside of Bagram Airbase. Taliban forces still control major parts of the country. After spending trillion Dollars, killing thousands of innocent people, testing and dumping tons of explosives, finally, the US has understood that they cannot win in Afghanistan. As a matter of fact, the US economy cannot sustain anymore, such as heavy and expensive wars. That is why the US has also decided to withdraw its troops from Syria too.

In fact, Afghanistan was never totally ruled by foreign powers, although in the country’s history many misadventures happened. The people of Afghanistan always defeated invaders. It has been invaded by Alexander the Great, Mauryas, Muslim Arabs, Mongols, British, Soviets and since 2001, by the United States with NATO-allied countries. But it has proved itself unconquerable. Afghans are brave people and believe in freedom only.

All of the regional countries, including Central Asian States, Russia, Iran, China, and Pakistan were trying to bring Peace and Stability in Afghanistan. Several initiatives for peace in Afghanistan were taken in the past, but none as successful as they were not involved or owned by locals –Taliban and were opposed by the US and its allies. The US-backed elected Governments in Afghanistan, do not enjoy popularity among masses and may not represent the voice of common Afghan nationals.

Pakistan, being neighbors with a long common border, understands Afghanistan well. We share rivers, mountains and a common culture, language and ethnicity, and language. That is why we understand Afghanistan much better than anybody else. The role which Pakistan can play, no other nation can. There is no other country to substitute Pakistan in this regard. The US was trying to involve India in Afghan Issues, but due to the reason it does not have any land linkage, neither any cultural or ethnic commonalities with Afghan, cannot understand their society or issues and helpless in resolving their issues. The world may acknowledge Pakistan’s sacrifices and positive role in this region. Pakistan sincerely wishes for peace and stability in Afghanistan, and as we have suffered losses of around 75,000 lives and $250 billion due to unrest in Afghanistan. We will be the first nation to support peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Pakistan was a very close ally with the US-led West alliance, for almost seven decades. We were partners during the Cold War against “Communism Threat” and a frontline state against the USSR invasion of Afghanistan, a strong supporter and close ally during the war on terror. Pakistan was strongest ally with West out-side NATO. Pakistan can play a vital role in a sustainable solution to the Afghan conflict. Complete withdrawal and an Afghan-led solution is the only permanent way out. Pakistan can facilitate an honorable and safe passage for US withdrawal.

Prime Minister, Imran Khan, a longtime critic of the Afghan war, is in the driving seat in Pakistan. In his maiden speech after winning the election on July 26, he expressed his wish to resolve Afghan issues. His stance, though very unpopular a few years ago, is extremely popular now, domestically as well as internationally, especially coincides with the currently emerged Americans approach. The US government knows that Pakistan under Khan’s leadership can woo the Taliban into accepting some kind of long-term ceasefire.

Pakistan wants to help with the Afghan peace process; peace in Afghanistan would be the best thing that could happen to Pakistan in decades, but certainly not at Pakistan’s expense. The US has asked Pakistan to bring the Taliban back to the table. How can Pakistan do this when the US had previously intentionally derailed the peace process? Recently U-turns by President Trump is even a major obstacle as a credibility issue. Yet, Pakistan did a lot to bring the Taliban on the negotiating table. But the peace process needs sincerity and persistence.

The US has to wake up to the realities in Pakistan. It cannot expect on one hand to harm Pakistan’s core interests and on the other hand strengthening its ties with India, especially after the Indian accession of Kashmir on the 5th of August 2019.

Criticizing Pakistan only, while ignoring Israel and India, who are engaged in genocide and worst atrocities against muslin and other minorities in their countries. On one hand, the US objects to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and resists Pakistan’s economic takeoff. And not extending any support to Pakistan to overcome its economic crisis.

The Taliban have been very clear in their demands from the very beginning, and that is a complete withdrawal of the US and its allied forces from Afghanistan. However, the US cannot sustain economic pressure and have to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan just like Syria. There are people in the US who think that after spending trillions of dollars, and still no achievement on the ground, is a blunder. Taxpayer are asking the government for accountability of heavy expenditures and wastage of their tax collected money. We hope, in the wider interest of humanity, the US may show flexibility and seriously consider the Afghan Peace Process. It will be good for Afghanistan, the region and over-all for the whole world.

Instability in Afghanistan makes many of its people flee into Pakistan, which has hosted up to 5 million Afghan refugees at peak times. No other country has accepted such a huge number of refugees, while Pakistan, a country with meager resources and a weak economy has accommodated them for such long 4 decades.

Pakistan was in the past a very tolerant and peace-loving, balanced society, but during the 1980s war in Afghanistan, Pakistan suffered extremism, intolerance, terrorism, gun culture, and drug culture. For four decades, the war in Afghanistan pushed Pakistan to give the highest priority to its defense and ignore other sectors such as education, health, science and technology, and innovation, as well as the social sector and developmental sectors. As a result, the nation was pushed backward.

In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s Pakistan’s economy was performing very well – it was one of the most rapidly developing countries in South Asia. Singapore, South Korea, and Malaysia wanted to learn from Pakistan and its development model. The Pakistani passport was well respected in the world, with many countries offering us visas on arrival.

But since December 25, 1979, with the situation in Afghanistan has impacted Pakistan severely. Terrorism reached extreme levels and bombings, suicidal attacks and insecurity were witnessed everywhere.

After a school attack on December 16, 2016, in Peshawar, Pakistan formulated a National Action Plan (NAP). With the implementation of this program, Pakistan has achieved significant improvement in the country’s overall security landscape in recent years.

However, while Pakistan is successfully fighting the terrorists on its soil, it also expects the US, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Afghan forces to do the same in Afghanistan.

Several Peace initiatives are witnessed recently, either it is Doha talks, Moscow Format, Beijing or Islamabad talks, Talban’s are serious and moving forward with a hope to restore peace in Afghanistan permanently. Talban’s are the actual pillar of Power in Afghanistan, who holds major part of the country in their control and enjoys popularity inside Afghanistan. The US administrations has also realized their power and believes talking with them directly. A peaceful and developed Afghanistan is vital for the whole Eurasian region. It will promote trade and economic activities and change the whole pattern of trade around the world. Beneficiary will be not only Afghanistan only, but the whole Eurasian region.

Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist, ex-Diplomate, Academician, Researcher, Peace-activist, Geo-analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), Islamabad, Pakistan. E-mail:

Video: Why Are We Still in Afghanistan?

Global Research, September 13, 201

18 years later, the US and its NATO allies still have troops in Afghanistan with no plans on leaving.

We were told this was about 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden, but these were lies.

So why are the troops still there?

What was the war in Afghanistan really about?

The decision to invade Afghanistan was taken by the Bush-Cheney war cabinet in the evening of September 11, 2001. It was based on the presumption, “confirmed” by the head of the CIA that Al Qaeda was behind the attacks and that Al Qaeda was supported by the Afghan government.

On the following morning, September 12, 2001, NATO’s Atlantic Council meeting in Brussels, endorsed the Bush administration’s declaration of war on Afghanistan, invoking Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.

Michel Chossudovsky of the Centre for Research on Globalization joins us to explain.

(Interview conducted in 2016)


October 7, 2001: Waging America’s 9/11 War of Retribution against Afghanistan

The immediate response of the US and its allies to the 9/11 attacks was to the declare a war of retribution against Afghanistan on the grounds that the Taliban government was protecting “terror mastermind” Osama bin Laden. By allegedly harboring bin Laden, the Taliban were complicit, according to both the US administration and NATO, for having waged an act of war against the United States.

Parroting official statements, the Western media mantra on September 12, 2001 had already approved the launching of “punitive actions” directed against civilian targets in Afghanistan. In the words of William Saffire writing in the New York Times: “When we reasonably determine our attackers’ bases and camps, we must pulverize them — minimizing but accepting the risk of collateral damage” — and act overtly or covertly to destabilize terror’s national hosts”.

This decision was taken by the Bush-Cheney war cabinet in the evening of September 11, 2001. It was based on the presumption, “confirmed” by the head of the CIA that Al Qaeda was behind the attacks.

On the following morning, September 12, 2001, NATO’s Atlantic Council meeting in Brussels, endorsed the Bush administration’s declaration of war on Afghanistan, invoking Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.

An act of war by a foreign nation (Afghanistan) against a member of the Atlantic Alliance (the USA) is an act of war against all members under NATO’s doctrine of collective security. Under any stretch of the imagination, the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon cannot be categorized as an act of war by a foreign country. But nobody seemed to have raised this issue.

Meanwhile, on two occasions in the course of September 2001, the Afghan government –through diplomatic channels– offered to hand over Osama Bin laden to US Justice. These overtures were turned down by president Bush, on the grounds that America “does not negotiate with terrorists”.

The war on Afghanistan was launched 26 days later on the morning of October 7, 2001. The timing of this war begs the question: how long does it take to plan and implement a major theater war several thousand miles away. Military analysts will confirm that a major theater war takes months and months, up to a year or more of advanced preparations. The war on Afghanistan was already in the advanced planning stages prior to September 11, 2001, which begs the question of foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks.

The repeal of civil liberties in America was launched in parallel with the bombing and invasion of Afghanistan, almost immediately following 9/11 with the adoption of the PATRIOT legislation and the setting up of a Homeland Security apparatus, under the pretext of protecting Americans. This post-911 legal and institutional framework had been carefully crafted prior to the 9/11 attacks.

Michel Chossudovsky, September 12, 2019

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