IRANIAN-BACKED FORCES RECEIVE NEW MISSILES AS TENSIONS GROW IN IRAQ

South Fronts

The second month of 2021 began with preparations by Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) for new round of hostilities.

Kata’ib Hezbollah received short and medium range rockets through Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Kata’ib Hezbollah is a key member of the PMU, actively participates in the fight against ISIS since the emergence of the group in Iraq, and is a vocal supporter of the current attempts to oust the US presence from Iraq.

At the same time, the PMU are subject to more and more frequent ISIS attacks in recent days. As the terrorists appear to be popping up all around. On January 31st, the PMU said they repelled an ISIS attack in the region of Jurf al-Sakhar in the province of Babil.

These apparent appearances by ISIS members coincide with reports by pro-Iranian sources blaming the US for airlifting them. On January 31st, in an interview with the al-Maloumeh news website, Sabah al-Akili claimed that the US military airlifts ISIS units into areas behind PMU positions in the Jurf al-Sakhar region.

So far, US President Joe Biden’s policy for the Middle East is incredibly unsurprising. Any potential withdrawals appear to be nothing more than a pipe dream. The first-ever African American Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw was being reconsidered. Not only that, but it is likely that the deployments need to be increased.

Attacks on US supply convoys have become commonplace, all of them being blamed on the PMU. However, responsibility for the most recent attack was assumed by the Qasim Al-Jabbarin group, which does not declare its affiliation with the PMU.

With the US still leading the way for NATO in the entire region, any exit also from Afghanistan becomes more fiction than reality. This will, in turn, lead to increased Taliban activity, since the peace deal is not being honored.

US troops remaining in Syria is also indisputable, judging by the deployments that have recently taken place.

The responses to these refusals to withdraw will lead to more frequent attacks and accusations from the Axis of Resistance. The answer from the Iran-led group will be not only against the US presence, but also against its allies in the face of Israel and Saudi Arabia. Yemen’s Houthis are responsible for dealing with Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabian fighter jets continue their attacks on reported Houthi targets, but mostly civilians. The ceasefire in al-Hudaydah is not being honored. Despite the Kingdom’s best efforts, the Houthis still have the upper hand in the conflict. On January 28th, at least 150 members of the Saudi-backed forces switched sides and went over to the Ansar Allah movement (the formal name of the Houthis). Additionally, drone attacks are more frequent. The Kingdom reported that it repelled several attacks, but such reports were not as common until recently.

That is when Iran deployed brand-new loitering munitions to the Houthis, and a new group made its appearance to target Riyadh’s ambitions on the Arab Peninsula.

Tensions in the Middle East continue deepening. The advent of reports of the airlifting of terrorists is something that’s been rare since the Obama-era. It appears that the region is once again subject to this known and proven method of “diplomatic intervention.”

Assassination of Gen. Soleimani ‘was a flagrant instance of state terrorism’: Richard Falk

Source

January 4, 2021 – 11:4

 TEHRAN – The assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani by the United States in January 2020 “was a flagrant instance of state terrorism,” says Richard Anderson Falk, a professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University.

Falk makes the remarks in an exclusive interview with the Tehran Times as Iran is marking the assassination anniversary of the senior military officer in January 2020.

General Soleimani, a legendary commander in the war against terrorists, was assassinated near Baghdad’s international airport while he was on a peace mission to Iraq.

The prominent  international law professor also says, “Iran has opposed non-state political violence of groups such as ISIS or Taliban that engage in terrorist activity by committing atrocities against civilians that amount to Crimes Against Humanity.”

“Although a military officer, General Soleimani, was not in any combat role when assassinated, and was engaged in peacemaking diplomacy on a mission to Iraq” “Iran has also consistently condemned state terrorism of the sort practiced by Israel and the United States,” says the American professor who acted as the UN Human Rights Rapporteur in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Q: In 1972, a specialized Committee on Terrorism was set up at the United Nations, and member states made great efforts to provide appropriate definitions of international terrorism, but due to intense political differences, the actual definition of international terrorism and comprehensive conventions in practice was impossible. Security Council Resolution 1373 was the most serious attempt to define terrorism after 9/11, which evolved into UN Security Council Resolution 1535. Despite providing a definition of terrorism, countries approach it differently. What is the reason?

A: There exists a basic split between those political actors that seek to define ‘terrorism’ as anti-state violence by non-state actors and those actors that seek to define terrorism as violence directed at innocent civilians, regardless of the identity of the perpetrator. The latter approach to the definition reaches targeted or indiscriminate violence directed at civilians even if the state is the perpetrator. States that act beyond their borders to fulfill counterrevolutionary goals seek to stigmatize their adversaries as terrorists while exempting themselves from moral and legal accountability.

There exists a second basic split due to state practice following political rather than legal criteria when identifying terrorist actors. When the Taliban and Al Qaeda were opposing Soviet intervention in Afghanistan they were identified as Mujahideen, but when seen as turning against the West, they were put on the top of the terrorist list. Osama Bin Laden once hailed as a Western ally deserving lavish CIA support became the most wanted terrorist after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Such subjectivity and fluidity makes it virtually impossible to develop a coherent and legal approach to ‘terrorist’ activity.

“The truth is that General Soleimani had been playing a leading counterterrorist role throughout the region. He is thought to have been primarily responsible for the ending, or at least greatly weakening, the threat posed by ISIS.”In essence, geopolitical actors have always sought to have international law regard the use of force by states acting on their own as falling outside the framework of terrorism while regarding transnational political violence by adversary or enemy non-state actors as terrorism even if the targeted person or organization is a government official or member of the armed forces, or if the non-state actor is resisting occupation by foreign armed forces. Before the 9/11 attacks Israel influentially adopted this approach in its effort to portray Palestinian resistance as a criminal enterprise. After 9/11 the United States added its political weight to this statist approach to the conception of terrorism, which meant in effect that any adversary target that could be characterized as associated with a non-state actor that resorted to armed struggle was criminalized to the extent of being treated as unprotected by international humanitarian law. In practice, this subjectivity was vividly displayed in recent years by support given to anti-Castro Cuban exiles that engaged in political violence against the legitimate Cuban government, and yet were given aid, support, and encouragement while based in the United States.

The UN was mobilized after the 9/11 attacks by the United State to support this statist/geopolitical approach to political violence, which possessed these elements, and given formal expression in a series of Security Council Resolutions, including 1373, 1535:

 –terrorists are individuals who engage in political violence on behalf of non-state actors;

 –states, their officials and citizens may be guilty of supporting such activities through money, weapons, and safe haven, and therefore indictable under national law as aiding and abetting terrorism;

–political violence by states, no matter what its character, is to be treated by reference to international law, including international humanitarian law, and not viewed as terrorism;

 –even if the non-state actor is exercising its right of resistance under international law against colonialism or apartheid, its political violence will be treated as ‘terrorism’ if such a designation furthers geopolitical ambitions. 

“Iran is legally entitled to provide assistance to such a government (Syrian government) faced with insurgent challenges from within its boundaries.”The alternative view of terrorism that I endorse emphasizes the nature of political violence, rather than the identity of the perpetrator. As such, political violence can be identified as ‘state terrorism,’ which amounts to uses of force that are outside the framework of war and peace, and violate the sovereign rights of a foreign country or fundamental rights of citizens within the territory of the state. Such acts of terrorism may be clandestine or overt, and may be attributed to state actors when counterrevolutionary groups are authorized, funded, and encouraged directly or indirectly by the state. Non-state actors can also be guilty of terrorism if their tactics and practices deliberately target civilians or recklessly disregard risks of death or harm to civilians.

Q: How do you assess the role and position of Iran in the fight against terrorism in the region?

A: As far as I know, Iran has opposed non-state political violence of groups such as ISIS or Taliban that engage in terrorist activity by committing atrocities against civilians that amount to Crimes Against Humanity. Iran has also consistently condemned state terrorism of the sort practiced by Israel and the United States, and possibly other governments, within the region. In this regard, Iran has been active both in the struggle against non-state and state terrorism.

Iran has been accused of lending funding and material support to non-state actors that many governments in the West officially classify as ‘terrorist’ organizations, such as Hezbollah and Hamas. Part of the justification for U.S. sanctions arises from this allegation that Iran supports terrorism in the Middle East. These allegations are highly ‘political’ in character as both Hezbollah and Hamas engaged in violent resistance directed at unlawful occupation policies that denied basic national rights to the Lebanese and Palestinian people, including the fundamental right of self-determination, although some of their tactics and acts may have crossed the line of legality.

“When the Taliban and Al Qaeda were opposing Soviet intervention in Afghanistan they were identified as Mujahideen, but when seen as turning against the West, they were put on the top of the terrorist list.”There are also contentions that Iran’s support for the Syrian government in dealing with its domestic adversaries involves complicity in behavior that violates the laws of war and international humanitarian law. This contention is a matter of regional geopolitics. As far as international law is concerned, the Assad government in Damascus is the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, and is treated as such at the UN. Iran is legally entitled to provide assistance to such a government faced with insurgent challenges from within its boundaries. If the allegations are true that Syria has bombed hospitals and other civilian sites, then the Syrian government could be charged with state terrorism.

Q: How do you assess the role and position of General Qassem Soleimani in the fight against terrorists, especially ISIS?

A: Although a military officer, General Soleimani, was not in any combat role when assassinated, and was engaged in peacemaking diplomacy on a mission to Iraq. His assassination was a flagrant instance of state terrorism. With considerable irony, the truth is that General Soleimani had been playing a leading counterterrorist role throughout the region. He is thought to have been primarily responsible for the ending, or at least greatly weakening, the threat posed by ISIS to the security of many countries in the Middle East.

Q: Given the conflict of interests of different countries, can we see the same action by countries against terrorism? What mechanism can equalize the performance of countries against terrorism?

A: As suggested at the outset, without an agreed widely adopted and generally agreed-upon definition of terrorism it is almost impossible to create effective international mechanisms to contain terrorism. As matters now stand, the identification of ‘terrorists’ and ‘terrorism’ is predominantly a matter of geopolitical alignment rather than the implementation of prohibitions directed at unacceptable forms of political violence within boundaries and across borders.

To imagine the emergence of effective international or regional, mechanisms to combat terrorism at least four developments would have to occur:

“As matters now stand, the identification of ‘terrorists’ and ‘terrorism’ is predominantly a matter of geopolitical alignment rather than the implementation of prohibitions directed at unacceptable forms of political violence within boundaries and across borders.”

–the reliance on legal criteria to categorize political violence as terrorism;

–the inclusion of ‘state terrorism’ in the official definition of terrorism;

–the inclusion of political violence within the sovereign territory as well as across boundaries;

–an internationally or regionally agreed definition incorporating these three elements and formally accepted by all major sovereign states and by the United Nations.

In the present international atmosphere, such an international consensus is impossible to achieve. The United States and Israel, and a series of other important states would never agree. There are two sets of obstacles: some states would not give up their discretion to attack civilian targets outside their borders and would not accept accountability procedure that impose limits on their discretion over the means used to deal with domestic transnational non-state adversaries.

Under these conditions of geopolitical subjectivity such that from some perspectives non-state actors are ‘freedom-fighters’ and from others, they are ‘terrorists,’ no common grounds for meaningful and trustworthy intergovernmental arrangements exists.

It remains important for individuals and legal experts to advocate a cooperative approach to the prevention and punishment of terrorists and terrorism by reference to an inclusive definition of terrorism that considers political violence by states and by governments within their national territory as covered.

It is also in some sense to include non-state actors as stakeholders in any lawmaking process that has any prospect of achieving both widespread acceptance as a framework or implementation at behavioral levels. It would seem, in this regard, important to prohibit torture of terrorist suspects or denial of prisoner of war rights. One-sided legal regimes tend to be rationalizations for unlawful conduct, and thus operate as political instruments of conflict rather than legal means of regulation.

Where was Osama bin Laden on September 11, 2001?

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, September 05, 2020

9 September 2006

Osama bin Laden

Author’s note

The following article was first published 14 years ago on the 9th of September 2006, in the context of the 2006 commemoration of the tragic event of September 2001.  

***

“Going after bin Laden” has served  to sustain the legend of the “world’s most wanted terrorist”, who  “haunts Americans and millions of others around the world.”

Donald Rumsfeld has repeatedly claimed that the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden remain unknown:  “It is like looking for a needle in a stack of hay”.

In November 2001, US B-52 bombers carpet bombed a network of caves in the Tora Bora mountains of eastern Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden and his followers were allegedly hiding. These caves were described as “Osama’s last stronghold”.

CIA “intelligence analysts” subsequently concluded that Osama had escaped from his Tora Bora cave in the first week of December 2001. And in January 2002, the Pentagon launched a Worldwide search for Osama and his top lieutenants, beyond the borders of Afghanistan. This operation, referred to by Secretary of State Colin Powell as a “hot pursuit”, was carried out with the support of the “international community” and America’s European allies. US intelligence authorities confirmed, in this regard, that

“while al Qaeda has been significantly shattered, … the most wanted man – bin Laden himself remains one step ahead of the United States, with the core of his worldwide terror network still in place. (Global News Wire – Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, InfoProd, January 20, 2002)

For the last five years, the US military and intelligence apparatus (at considerable expense to US taxpayers) has been “searching for Osama”.

A CIA unit with a multimillion dollar budget was set up, with a mandate to find Osama. This unit was apparently disbanded in 2005. “Intelligence experts agree”, he is hiding in a remote area of Pakistan, but “we cannot find him”:

“Most intelligence analysts are convinced that Osama bin Laden is somewhere on the Afghan-Pakistan border. Lately, it has been said that he’s probably in the vicinity of the a 7700m Hindu Kush peak Tirich Mir in the tribal Chitral area of northwest Pakistan.” Hobart Mercury (Australia), September  9, 2006)

President Bush has repeatedly promised to “smoke him out” of his cave, capture him dead or alive, if necessary through ground assaults or missile strikes. According to a recent statement by president Bush, Osama is hiding in a remote area of Pakistan which “is extremely mountainous and very inaccessible, … with high mountains between 9,000 to 15,000 feet high….”. We cannot get him, because, according to the president, there is no communications infrastructure, which would enable us to effectively go after him. (quoted in Balochistan Times, 23 April 2006)

The pursuit of Osama has become a highly ritualized process which feeds the news chain on a daily basis. It is not only part of the media disinformation campaign, it also provides a justification for the arbitrary arrest, detention and torture of numerous “suspects”, “enemy combatants” and “accomplices”, who allegedly might be aware of Osama’s whereabouts. And that information is of course vital to “the security of Americans”.

The search for Osama serves both military and political objectives. The Democrats and Republicans compete in their resolve to weed out “islamic terrorism”.

The Path to 9/11, a five-hour ABC series on “the search for Osama” –which makes its debut on the 10th and 11th of September to marks the fifth anniversary of the attacks– casually accuses Bill Clinton of having been  “too busy with the Monica Lewinsky scandal to fight terrorism.” The message of the movie is that the Democrats neglected the “war on terrorism”.

The fact of the matter is that every single administration, since Jimmy Carter have supported and financed the “Islamic terror” network, created during the Carter administration at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war. (See Michel Chossudovsky, Who is Osama bin Laden, 12 September 2001). al Qaeda is a instrument of US intelligence: a US sponsored intelligence asset.

Where was Osama on Septembers 11? 

There is evidence that the whereabouts of Osama are known to the Bush Administration.

On September 10. 2001, “Enemy Number One” was in a Pakistani military hospital in Rawalpindi, courtesy of America’s indefectible ally Pakistan, as confirmed by a report of Dan Rather, CBS News. (See our October 2003 article on this issue)

He could have been arrested at short notice which would have “saved us a lot of trouble”, but then we would not have had an Osama Legend, which has fed the news chain as well as George W’s speeches in the course of the last five years.

According to Dan Rather, CBS, Bin Laden was hospitalized in Rawalpindi. one day before the 9/11 attacks, on September 10, 2001.
https://www.youtube.com/embed/dUj2905unnw

“Pakistan. Pakistan’s Military Intelligence (ISI) told CBS that bin Laden had received dialysis treatment in Rawalpindi, at Pak Army’s headquarters.

DAN RATHER, CBS ANCHOR: As the United states and its allies in the war on terrorism press the hunt for Osama bin Laden, CBS News has exclusive information tonight about where bin Laden was and what he was doing in the last hours before his followers struck the United States September 11.

This is the result of hard-nosed investigative reporting by a team of CBS news journalists, and by one of the best foreign correspondents in the business, CBS`s Barry Petersen. Here is his report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARRY PETERSEN, CBS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Everyone remembers what happened on September 11. Here`s the story of what may have happened the night before. It is a tale as twisted as the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

CBS News has been told that the night before the September 11 terrorist attack, Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan. He was getting medical treatment with the support of the very military that days later pledged its backing for the U.S. war on terror in Afghanistan.

Pakistan intelligence sources tell CBS News that bin Laden was spirited into this military hospital in Rawalpindi for kidney dialysis treatment. On that night, says this medical worker who wanted her identity protected, they moved out all the regular staff in the urology department and sent in a secret team to replace them. She says it was treatment for a very special person. The special team was obviously up to no good.

“The military had him surrounded,” says this hospital employee who also wanted his identity masked, “and I saw the mysterious patient helped out of a car. Since that time,” he says, “I have seen many pictures of the man. He is the man we know as Osama bin Laden. I also heard two army officers talking to each other. They were saying that Osama bin Laden had to be watched carefully and looked after.” Those who know bin Laden say he suffers from numerous ailments, back and stomach problems. Ahmed Rashid, who has written extensively on the Taliban, says the military was often there to help before 9/11.

(…)

PETERSEN (on camera): Doctors at the hospital told CBS News there was nothing special about that night, but they refused our request to see any records. Government officials tonight denied that bin Laden had any medical treatment on that night.

(voice-over): But it was Pakistan’s President Musharraf who said in public what many suspected, that bin Laden suffers from kidney disease, saying he thinks bin Laden may be near death. His evidence, watching this most recent video, showing a pale and haggard bin Laden, his left hand never moving. Bush administration officials admit they don`t know if bin Laden is sick or even dead.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: With respect to the issue of Osama bin Laden`s health, I just am — don`t have any knowledge.

PETERSEN: The United States has no way of knowing who in Pakistan`s military or intelligence supported the Taliban or Osama bin Laden maybe up to the night before 9/11 by arranging dialysis to keep him alive. So the United States may not know if those same people might help him again perhaps to freedom.

Barry Petersen, CBS News, Islamabad.

(END VIDEOTAPE) END

(CBS News,  28 January 2002 emphasis added, the complete transcript of CBS report sis contained in annex to this article)

It should be noted, that the hospital is directly under the jurisdiction of the Pakistani Armed Forces, which has close links to the Pentagon. U.S. military advisers based in Rawalpindi. work closely with the Pakistani Armed Forces. Again, no attempt was made to arrest America’s best known fugitive, but then maybe bin Laden was serving another “better purpose”. Rumsfeld claimed at the time that he had no knowledge regarding Osama’s health. (CBS News, 28 January 2002)

The CBS report is a crucial piece of information in our understanding of 9/11.

It refutes the administration’s claim that the whereabouts of bin Laden are unknown. It points to a Pakistan connection, it suggests a cover-up at the highest levels of the Bush administration.

Dan Rather and Barry Petersen fail to draw the implications of their January 2002 report.  They suggest that the US had been deliberately misled by Pakistani intelligence officials. They fail to ask the question:

Why does the US administration state that they cannot find Osama?

If they are to stand by their report, the conclusion is obvious. The administration is lying. Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts were known.

If the CBS report is accurate and Osama had indeed been admitted to the Pakistani military hospital on September 10, courtesy of America’s ally, he was either still in hospital in Rawalpindi on the 11th of September, when the attacks occurred or had been released from the hospital within the last hours before the attacks.

In other words, Osama’s whereabouts were known to US officials on the morning of September 12, when Secretary of State Colin Powell initiated negotiations with Pakistan, with a view to arresting and extraditing bin Laden. These negotiations, led by General Mahmoud Ahmad, head of Pakistan’s military intelligence, on behalf of the government of President Pervez Musharraf,  took place on the 12th and 13th  of September in Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage’s office.

He could have been arrested at short notice on September 10th, 2001. But then we would not have been privileged to five years of Osama related media stories. The Bush administration desperately needs the fiction of an “outside enemy of America”.

Known and documented Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda is a construct of the US intelligence apparatus. His essential function is to give a face to the “war on terrorism”. The image must be vivid.

According to the White house, “The greatest threat to us is this ideology of violent extremism, and its greatest public proponent is Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden remains the number one target, in terms of our efforts, but he’s not the only target.” Recent Statement of White House Assistant for Homeland Security Frances Townsend, 5 September 2006).

The national security doctrine rests on the fiction of Islamic terrorists, led by Osama who are portrayed as a “threat to the civilized World”. In the words of President Bush, “Bin Laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them. The question is will we listen? Will we pay attention to what these evil men say? We are on the offensive. We will not rest. We will not retreat. And we will not withdraw from the fight until this threat to civilization has been removed.” (quoted by CNN, September 5, 2006)

The “hot pursuit” of Osama in the rugged mountainous areas of Pakistan must continue, because without Osama, referred to ad nauseam in news reports and official statements, the fragile legitimacy of the Bush administration collapses like a deck of cards.

Moreover, the search for Osama protects the real architects of the 911 attacks. While there is no evidence that Al Qaeda was behind the 911 attacks, as revealed by nuerous studies and documents, there is mounting evidence of complicity and coverup at the highest levels of the State, Military and intelligence apparatus.

The continued arrest of alleged 911 accomplices and suspects has nothing to do with “national security”. It creates the illusion that Arabs and Muslims are behind the terror plots, while shunting the conduct of a real criminal investigation into the 911 attacks. And what were dealing with is the criminalization of the upper echelons of State.

Michel Chossudovsky is the author of the international best America’s “War on Terrorism”  Global Research, 2005. He is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Center for Research on Globalization. 

To order Chossudovsky’s book  America’s “War on Terrorism”, click here

Note: Readers are welcome to cross-post this article with a view to spreading the word and warning people of the dangers of a broader Middle East war. Please indicate the source and copyright note.

media inquiries crgeditor@yahoo.com

CBS Evening News with Dan Rather;

Author: Dan Rather, Barry Petersen

CBS, 28 January 2002

DAN RATHER, CBS ANCHOR: As the United states and its allies in the war on terrorism press the hunt for Osama bin Laden, CBS News has exclusive information tonight about where bin Laden was and what he was doing in the last hours before his followers struck the United States September 11.

This is the result of hard-nosed investigative reporting by a team of CBS news journalists, and by one of the best foreign correspondents in the business, CBS`s Barry Petersen. Here is his report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARRY PETERSEN, CBS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Everyone remembers what happened on September 11. Here`s the story of what may have happened the night before. It is a tale as twisted as the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

CBS News has been told that the night before the September 11 terrorist attack, Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan. He was getting medical treatment with the support of the very military that days later pledged its backing for the U.S. war on terror in Afghanistan.

Pakistan intelligence sources tell CBS News that bin Laden was spirited into this military hospital in Rawalpindi for kidney dialysis treatment. On that night, says this medical worker who wanted her identity protected, they moved out all the regular staff in the urology department and sent in a secret team to replace them. She says it was treatment for a very special person. The special team was obviously up to no good.

“The military had him surrounded,” says this hospital employee who also wanted his identity masked, “and I saw the mysterious patient helped out of a car. Since that time,” he says, “I have seen many pictures of the man. He is the man we know as Osama bin Laden. I also heard two army officers talking to each other. They were saying that Osama bin Laden had to be watched carefully and looked after.” Those who know bin Laden say he suffers from numerous ailments, back and stomach problems. Ahmed Rashid, who has written extensively on the Taliban, says the military was often there to help before 9/11.

AHMED RASHID, TALIBAN EXPERT: There were reports that Pakistani intelligence had helped the Taliban buy dialysis machines. And the rumor was that these were wanted for Osama bin Laden.

PETERSEN (on camera): Doctors at the hospital told CBS News there was nothing special about that night, but they refused our request to see any records. Government officials tonight denied that bin Laden had any medical treatment on that night.

(voice-over): But it was Pakistan`s President Musharraf who said in public what many suspected, that bin Laden suffers from kidney disease, saying he thinks bin Laden may be near death. His evidence, watching this most recent video, showing a pale and haggard bin Laden, his left hand never moving. Bush administration officials admit they don`t know if bin Laden is sick or even dead.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: With respect to the issue of Osama bin Laden`s health, I just am — don`t have any knowledge.

PETERSEN: The United States has no way of knowing who in Pakistan`s military or intelligence supported the Taliban or Osama bin Laden maybe up to the night before 9/11 by arranging dialysis to keep him alive. So the United States may not know if those same people might help him again perhaps to freedom.

Barry Petersen, CBS News, Islamabad.

(END VIDEOTAPE) END

Copyright CBS News 2002

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/01/28/eveningnews/main325887.shtml

Hospital Worker: I Saw Osama

Jan. 28, 2002

Quote

“They military had him surrounded. I have seen many pictures of the man. He is the man we know as Osama bin Laden.” Hospital employee

(CBS) Everyone remembers what happened on Sept. 11 and, reports CBS News Correspondent Barry Petersen, here’s the story of what may have happened the night before.

In a tale as twisted as the hunt for Osama bin Laden, CBS Evening News has been told that the night before the Sept. 11 terrorists attack, Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan. He was getting medical treatment with the support of the very military that days later pledged its backing for the U.S. war on terror in Afghanistan.

Pakistan intelligence sources tell CBS News that bin Laden was spirited into a military hospital in Rawalpindi for kidney dialysis treatment.

“On that night,” said a medical worker who wanted her identity protected, “they moved out all the regular staff in the urology department and sent in a secret team to replace them.” She said it was treatment for a very special person and “the special team was obviously up to no good.”

“They military had him surrounded,” said a hospital employee who also wanted his identity masked, “and I saw the mysterious patient helped out of a car. Since that time,” he said, “I have seen many pictures of the man. He is the man we know as Osama bin Laden. I also heard two army officers talking to each other. They were saying that Osama bin Laden had to be watched carefully and looked after.”

Those who know bin Laden say he suffers from numerous ailments — back and stomach problems.

Ahmed Rashid, who has written extensively on the Taliban, said the military was often there to help before Sept. 11.

“There were reports that Pakistan intelligence had helped the Taliban buy dialysis machines and the rumor was that these were for wanted for Osama bin Laden,” said Rashid.

Doctors at the hospital told CBS News there was nothing special about that night, but they declined our request to see any records. Government officials reached Monday night denied that bin Laden received any medical treatment that night.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday the United States has seen nothing to substantiate the report.

It was Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf who said in public what many suspected: that bin Laden suffers from kidney disease, saying he thinks bin Laden may be near death.

His evidence — watching the most recent video, showing a pale and haggard bin Laden, his left hand never moving. Bush administration officials admit they don’t know if bin Laden is sick or even dead.

“With respect to the issue of Osama bin Laden’s health, I just am…don’t have any knowledge,” said Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

The U.S. has no way of knowing who in Pakistan’s military or intelligence supported the Taliban or Osama bin Lade, maybe up to the night before Sept. 11 by arranging dialysis to keep him alive. So the U.S. may not know if those same people might help him again — perhaps to freedom.

Copyright CBS News 20029/11 ANALYSIS: Where was Osama bin Laden on September 11, 2001.The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2020

Should Pakistan expect US withdrawal from Afghanistan? — Agha Hussain

Posted originally to CRSS on 12 may 2019. Diligent minds in Pakistan pay adequate attention to the Indo-US strategic partnership across Asia. However, with this partnership as the framework, analysts may find it difficult to explain why the US began peace talks with the Afghan Taliban and negotiations as to when and how the US […]

via Should Pakistan expect US withdrawal from Afghanistan? — Agha Hussain

America Has Gone Full Circle in Afghanistan

By Adam Garrie
Source

America’s Special Representative for Afghan affairs,  Zalmay Khalilzad has announced that a preliminary draft agreement between the Afghan Taliban and Washington has been reached. Although it is clear that nothing has been finalised as of yet, this week’s announcement is the most throughout to-date when it comes to understanding America’s position vis-a-vis the Taliban.  Khalilzad said the following:

Just finished a marathon round of talks with the Taliban in Doha. The conditions for peace have improved. It’s clear all sides want to end the war. Despite ups and downs, we kept things on track and made real strides. Peace requires agreement on four issues: counter-terrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue, and a comprehensive ceasefire. In January talks, we “agreed in principle” on these four elements. We’re now “agreed in draft” on the first two.

When the agreement in draft about a withdrawal timeline and effective counter-terrorism measures is finalized, the Taliban and other Afghans, including the government, will begin intra-Afghan negotiations on a political settlement and comprehensive ceasefire.

My next step is discussions in Washington and consultations with other partners. We will meet again soon, and there is no final agreement until everything is agreed”. 

Whilst Khalizad’s statement ping-pongs between clarity and State Department jargon, several things become clear upon reading the text.

First of all, the United States appears more serious about leaving Afghanistan than Syria. This is to say that the US appears to be on the verge of solidifying a timeline for withdrawal that is being agreed upon through cooperation with Afghanistan’s strongest indigenous military force, the Taliban.

Secondly, based on what Khalilzad said has been accomplished when contrasted with what he said has yet to be accomplished, he has (perhaps unintentionally) alluded to the fact that it is now easier for the US and Taliban to agree on a framework for the future than it is for the US and the Kabul regime to do so. This is the case because Khalilzad indicated that of the four goals that must be achieved to finalise a peace deal, the two that have been agreed upon at the highest level thus far, are those which only require cooperation between American officials and Taliban officials. Counter-terrorism assurances and troop withdrawal in this context means that the Taliban will commit themselves to fighting various terror groups (they are already fighting Daesh for example), whilst the Taliban will work with the US to assure an orderly withdrawal of American troops.

The second too principles, “intra-Afghan dialogue, and a comprehensive ceasefire”, require not only the consent and cooperation of the Taliban, but also that of the current Kabul regime, in order to be fulfilled. Therefore, without saying so directly, Khalizad has tacitly admitted that the US is further along in its agreements that only require discussions between American and Taliban officials than it is with discussions that involve American officials, the regime, the Taliban and other smaller factions.

This about face from the US should not surprise Afghanistan’s putative leader Ashraf Ghani. The US is infamous for being a friend one day and an enemy the next, when it comes to international relations. As Ghani remains a figurehead who even with US assistance cannot control a majority of Afghan territory, the US looks as though it is on the verge of dumping its bad investment in favour of working with a reformed Taliban that might actually be able to get things done in the country.

By working with a reformed Taliban rather than a de facto illegitimate, albeit UN recognised Ganhi regime, the US would be able to save both money and save the lives of US troops, whilst still ostensibly retaining the right to exploit some Afghan resources, whilst maintaining the presence of some American mercenaries to guard US economic interests in the country. The fact that this would happen under a government that leans heavily towards the Taliban, does in fact make it clear that both sides are willing to compromise and that for Taliban officials, removing an illegitimate government and removing uniformed US troops is now more important than a blanket extrication of American economic interests from the country. The comparative rapidity with which the US became a key economic partner of Vietnam after the Cold War is a clear model for the kind of US-Afghan relationship that could well be on the horizon. If indeed the US retains economic ties with a Taliban led Afghanistan, it would perhaps be the greatest geo-economic surprise since American Presidents have embraced a Vietnamese government whose founding father is the anti-American fighter Ho Chi Minh. That being said, whilst Afghanistan remains a more difficult place in which to do business than Vietnam was in the late 1970s, the prospect for sustained economic ties looks more and more likely in respect of the US and an Afghanistan led by a new generation of Taliban.

Furthermore, as the kind of peace process that Khalilzad has said is progressing in a positive manner, is that which Pakistan has advocated for over a decade, a proper peace in Afghanistan could help to ease Pakistan-US tensions at a time when the US is leaning heavily towards India, but still seeks to retain what is left of its partnership with Pakistan. In this sense, whilst the US is more comfortable playing zero-sum games in foreign affairs, when it comes to Pakistan, the US won’t be willing to see Islamabad fully exit from the US sphere of influence and as such, by settling Afghanistan’s crisis in a manner consistent with Pakistan’s long held views, this will eliminate at least one point of contention between Washington and Islamabad. As such, the US may well be trying to engage in some sort of balancing act in the region that leans towards India, but one which is not yet willing to see Pakistan fully alienated.

In this sense, the agreement of which Khalilzad has spoken could potentially be a major win-win. China, Russia and Pakistan are now on the same page when it comes to an all parties peace settlement and ceasefire that mandates an orderly withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. Even Iran is largely in this camp now that the Taliban have assured Tehran that a new Taliban government will neither be anti-Iranian nor anti-Afghan Shi’a. For Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, it goes without saying that a stable Afghanistan is in their interests.

Finally, while India does not border Afghanistan, New Delhi has for decades sought strong relations with Kabul as part of a wider Indian desire to encircle Pakistan. This has been especially true since the war of 1971 between India and Pakistan. Just as it is increasingly likely that a new Taliban government will work with some US business firms after a formal US troop withdrawal, the same is true of Indian firms. The difference is that without US troops or those from the current regime there to protect Indian assets, India might find that investing in Afghanistan is more effort than it is wroth. In many ways, some in India are already reaching this conclusion.

In this sense, while India’s plans to encircle Pakistan may be on the verge of being thwarted, for all other parties involved, including the US and Taliban, this new reality is increasingly looking like a win-win conclusion to a war that should have never been fought in the first place. Now that American and Taliban officials are shaking hands and making agreements, many will begin to question the wisdom of a war which began in 2001 for the stated purpose of removing the Taliban from power…only to see the US help to re-legitimise the Taliban eight years later.

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