Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, All roads lead out of Afghanistan, Pipelines .

The US is still pushing for new military bases in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.....,All roads lead out of Afghanistan...., Pipelines and the militarization of Energy Security for the USA of the PNAC Killers, of the CIA2/MOSSAD and OSP......FDDC in action...

MUJAHEDEEN for the SUNNA of KSA, Part 1 By: Michael Scheuer ....

Michael Scheuer served in the CIA for 22 years before leaving for a new mission of deceit, deception and lies for CIA2, in 2004. He served as the chief of the Bin Laden Unit at the Counterterrorist Center from 1996 to 1999..... He is the once anonymous author of Imperial Hubris......:

Syria: Terror's made-to-order for and on behalf of the CIA2 station in Damascus, which hijacked by force all kinds of "diplomacy" from the state Department for a decade now...
and Michael Scheuer knows that full well.... But when he departs CIA1, he has to submit anything he writes about his past work... for pre-approval by CIA1....and he is still regurgitating their lies, innuendos, deceit, deception, propaganda, half-truths, etc. to serve in any think to tow the line of your masters, old and new of the PNAC killers on the {Potomac}
the evil axis of CIA2/MOSSAD and the power behind the power in USA and Israel.
Anything and everything Syria's regime of the Assad Mafia thugs does or attempts to do, anywhere, whether in Syria or outside Syria's always coordinated in full with the PNAC assassins and Syria acts on their behalf gladly.... this is Syria's insurance policy against the downfall of the ASSAD dynasty of KILLERS and Mafiosi thugs, who still manage to get paid for all their actions on top of it all. The Assads never ever did anything for free for anybody...and they are much better wheelers-dealers than the Lebanese for sure.....

This is a remarkable piece of brazen Propaganda from a joint operational command of blatant dis-information, deceit, deception, lies, half-truth, innuendos, packaged nicely to deceive the gullible and the un-informed at large by StartforCIA1.
Stratfor is a Texas funded, Texas based CIA disinformation operation from A to Z. The worse part is that it claims to provide "intelligence".... which obviously is a blatant disregard to the people in the know....since intelligence is never ever provided, it is pure FDDC inspired propaganda, pure and simple. Intelligence, when provided to decision makers, has been cooked, re-cooked and repackaged for influence peddling of PNAC supremacists, hell-bent on dismembering the whole Planet for their sordid and selfish aims, and perpetuating a culture of crime, assassinations, through PNAC, CIA2/MOSSAD and the White House Murder Inc.

Far from being a dispassionate analyst, Michael Scheuer practices the very same 'manipulations and misuse[s]' he claims to expose...."

And you have to remember, anything that sees light of day as a published—published in the sense of a classified paper—intelligence assessment goes through usually multiple levels of review, various supervisors, branch chiefs and so on, weighing in, approving or disapproving, remanding, forcing changes....
Its been also observed that " CIA officers on the cusp of retirement often enroll in a seminar that is supposed to help them adjust to life after the agency--teaching them, for example, how to write a résumé...or re-inventing a suitable one for CIA.... I've begun to wonder if part of that program now includes a writing seminar on how to beat up on the administration in order to get a job and be heard widely in the Media frenzy and the deceit, deception and denial of facts, which CIA loves to perpetuate...." Even though we know "that analysis with every single member of Congress by writing less-classified summaries of the conclusions, as is often sheer Manipulation of Intelligence for both houses, so imagine what the CIA does for the public at large...with Media contacts or ex-CIA officials."

Now you can enjoy the article below as a prime example of what I am talking about here:

So from here on, enjoy Michael's propaganda piece, which is well formulated as usual.... but is always based on half-truths...for it to "sell". which is typical CIA and FDDC boilerplate crap, found daily on StartforCIA, and many other "think-tanks" of garbled chatter for the gullible few....

Al-Qaeda's organizational goal in Iraq was to acquire contiguous territory from which to spread its influence and operatives, as well as those of its Islamist allies, into the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula and Turkey.

Having been weaned as an insurgent in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden has consistently refused to commit large al-Qaeda resources to jihads lacking country-wide maneuver room or Pakistan-like contiguous safe haven. The US-led invasion of Iraq, therefore, opened a chance for the above-described expansion by
al-Qaeda and its allies that would not have been possible under a Saddam Hussein-controlled Iraq.

This is the first of four articles that will assess the initial stages of the penetration of the Levant - an ancient term for a region stretching from the eastern Mediterranean to Mesopotamia - by al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups. This piece will look at Syria, and will be followed by analyses of the bleed-through from Iraq into Lebanon, Jordan and Israel. The quartet of articles will seek to assess the validity of the recent claim by the state-run Syrian newspaper al-Thawra that because of the war in Iraq "the [Levant] region is throbbing with terrorists".

After crushing the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (SMB) at the city of Hama in 1982 - killing up to 20,000 people and leveling a quarter of the city - president Hafiz al-Assad adopted the traditional and traditionally unsuccessful tack of Arab tyrants of trying to use government largesse to co-opt Syria's remaining Islamists and thereby moderate their message. Under Assad's program tens of thousands of new mosques were built; 22 higher-education institutions for Koran-based learning were opened; regional sharia schools for men and women were started; and Muslim students from more than sixty countries were invited to receive their Islamic schooling in Syria.

Assad's son Bashar, however, is discovering that his father's efforts to co-opt Syrian Islamists have yielded not a tame, state-sponsored Islam but a trend toward militant Islamism in both urban and rural areas of Syria. After the September 27 terrorist attack in Damascus, an Arab journalist suggested:
The Syrian regime fell - as have others - in[to] the famous illusion that they can toy with the terrorist fundamentalist bear at the beginning of the day and then get rid of it or put it back in the cage at the end of the day! This is an illusion that is repeated and always repeated in the Middle East region. No side wants to learn from the experience of others. Toying with religion or attempting to revolutionize religion or some of its aspects and then trying to benefit from this revolution on the political level without any repercussions or consequences is the biggest illusion of all. It is the first and last mistake because if you commit this mistake once it would be fatal and there would be no second time!
Compounding the failure of co-optation for Damascus is the fact that the senior al-Assad's Hama operation, although massively murderous, was not comprehensive: the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood was not wiped out. Besides members who survived Hama and remained in Syria, a number of senior SMB leaders escaped and were welcomed in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states where they found succor, academic posts, and a safe haven in which to reorganize and plan for revenge.

The bin Laden family was among the many wealthy, non-royal Saudi families that had hosted SMB leaders both before and after Hama. Indeed, Osama in his youth met senior SMB leaders on their pilgrimage, and while living in Sudan (1991-1996) several SMB members worked for or were supported by al-Qaeda's multiple businesses.

It is important to note that an al-Qaeda-led mujahedeen bleed-through from Iraq to Syria had fertile ground in which to take root in 2003. Notwithstanding the ubiquitous and brutal Syrian security services, there was a Damascus-permitted militant Islamist environment to be exploited when the US-led invasion of Iraq occurred. Not only had the targets of regime co-optation become more militant, but there were also SMB remnants in the country, as well as the long-time official presence of Hamas, Lebanese Hezbollah, and various Palestinian resistance groups.

Into this made-to-order milieu, then, came hundreds and perhaps thousands of young Muslim men from across the Arab and Muslim worlds, eager to enter Iraq and join the fatwa-sanctioned jihad against the US-led coalition. Bashar al-Assad's regime allowed these men to enter Iraq, trusting that they would make life miserable for US forces, kill enough American troops to force a US withdrawal and end up being killed before they could head for home. Washington singled out Damascus for sole responsibility for this cross-border flow of would-be mujahedeen, but al-Assad's regime was the focal point for the flow because of the easy physical access to Iraq that it afforded.

Al-Assad certainly assisted his domestic Islamist firebrands to get to Iraq, but the non-Syrian Muslims who came to Syria en route to Iraq were sent by their own governments - Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Sudan, etc - in an effort that mirrored Assad's: send the young Islamists to Iraq to fight and die and thereby create a safety valve that lessens the pressure from domestic Islamist militancy. Obviously, al-Assad indulged the other Arab regimes by permitting the flow through. This is the same method of operation that most Arab and many Muslim regimes used during Moscow's occupation of Afghanistan (1979-89).

Having now tightened up Syria's borders with Iraq under pressure from Washington and the French government, Bashar al-Assad is now running a country-size hotel for a variety of ill-tempered Islamist guests. In addition to long-term tenants Hamas, Hezbollah, and the secular Palestinian fraternity, Syrian security has to keep tabs on newer and not fully domesticated guests: a growing Syrian Muslim Brotherhood organization; a militant "official" clergy that is stoking greater Islamic fervor at the grassroots level; more than a half-million Iraqi refugees; a multinational assortment of veteran mujahedeen stranded in Syria after leaving Iraq; and would-be fighters who got to Syria but were prevented from entering Iraq.

Among the veteran fighters are a contingent of Syrians who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan - some commentators are calling them the "Syrian Afghans" - with military skills they can impart at home and in other countries of the Levant.

All told, Assad - a man not as skilled as his father or as able to control the regime's security services - is faced with a growing Islamist threat to the stability of his regime. While the regime is not in danger of falling, it is likewise not in the same position as it was in the "seventies and eighties when the [Syrian] authorities were able to liquidate, with the use of force only, what they then called the conspiracy of the 'Muslim Brothers'."

For the foreseeable future, al-Assad and his security forces will have to deal with internal Islamist anger and threats - based on Damascus' decision to tighten its borders to prevent jihadists going to Iraq, and its indirect talks with Israel - in a manner that is not so severe and brutal as to promote the coalescing of the disparate Sunni militant groups now in Syria.

They also will have to cope with an external threat by better controlling the Syria-Lebanon border to prevent the infiltration of Islamist fighters angry with Damascus and eager to strike back for the blocking of routes to Iraq. Assad and other Syrian officials have already claimed the border is being infiltrated by violent, Saudi-backed "Salafists", "Takfiris" and other "extremist forces" from northern Lebanon, and several Arab commentators have noted that this is a legitimate concern for Damascus because northern Lebanon lies close to Syria's "Sunni belt", once a hotbed of support for the SMB.

Damascus' recent decision to sign a security-cooperation deal with the Lebanese regime shows the depth of the Assad regime's concern with the Islamist threat, but the time may be passing when either Damascus or Beirut can fully control the Sunni militant forces operating on or from their territory.....

NEXT: Lebanon...... it's going to be a fun read.....

All roads lead out of Afghanistan...., Pipelines and the militarization of Energy Security for the USA of the PNAC Killers, of the CIA2/MOSSAD and OSP......FDDC in action....

The measure of success of president-elect Barack Obama's new "Afghan strategy" will be directly proportional to his ability to delink the war from its geopolitical agenda inherited from the George W Bush administration....

It is obvious that Russia and Iran's cooperation is no less critical for the success of the war than what the US is painstakingly extracting from the Pakistani generals. Arguably, Obama will even be in a stronger negotiating position vis-a-vis the tough generals in Rawalpindi if only he has Moscow and Tehran on board his Afghan strategy.....
But then, Moscow and Iran will expect that Obama reciprocates ;
with a willingness to jettison the US's containment strategy towards them. The signs do not look good. This is not only from the look of Obama's national security team and the continuance of Robert Gates as defense secretary.

On the contrary, in the dying weeks of the Bush administration, the US is robustly pushing for an increased military presence in the Russian (and Chinese) backyard in Central Asia on the ground that the exigencies of a stepped-up war effort in Afghanistan necessitate precisely such an expanded US military presence.

Again, the Bush administration's insistence on bringing Saudi Arabia into the Afghan problem on the specious plea that a Wahhabi partner will be useful for taming the Taliban doesn't carry conviction with Iran. Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Wednesday pointedly stressed the need to be vigilant about "plots by the world's arrogance to create disunity" between Sunnis and Shi'ites.

Russian-Iranian proximity ....

It seems almost inevitable that Moscow and Tehran will join hands. In all likelihood, they may have already begun doing so. The Central Asian countries and China and India will also be closely watching the dynamics of this grim power struggle. They are interested parties insofar as they may have to suffer the collateral damage of the great game in Afghanistan. The US's "war on terror" in Afghanistan has already destabilized Pakistan. The debris threatens to fall on India, too.

Most certainly, the terrorist attack on Mumbai last month cannot be seen in isolation from the militancy radiating from the Afghan war. Even as the high-level Russian-Indian Working Group on terrorism met in Delhi on Tuesday and Wednesday, another top diplomat dealing with the Afghan problem arrived in the Indian capital for consultations - Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Mahdi Akhounjadeh.

Speaking in Moscow on Tuesday, chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, General Nikolai Makarov, just about lifted the veil on the geopolitics of the Afghan war to let the world know that the Bush administration was having one last fling at the great game in Central Asia. Makarov couldn't have spoken without Kremlin clearance. Moscow seems to be flagging its frustration to Obama's camp. Makarov revealed Moscow had information to the effect that the US was pushing for new military bases in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Coincidence or not, a spate of reports has begun appearing that Russia is about to transfer the S-300 missile defense system to Iran. S-300 is one of the most advanced surface-to-air missile systems capable of intercepting 100 ballistic missiles or aircraft at once, at low and high altitudes within a range of over 150 kilometers. As long-time Pentagon advisor Dan Goure put it, "If Tehran obtained the S-300, it would be a game-changer in military thinking for tackling Iran. This is a system that scares every Western air force."

It is hard to tell exactly what is going on, but Russia and Iran seem to be bracing for a countermove in the event of the Obama administration pressing ahead with the present US policy to isolate them or cut them out from their "near abroad".

Aviation Week magazine recently quoted US officials as claiming that Moscow was using Belarus as a conduit for selling the SA-20 missile systems to Iran. "The Iranians are on contract for the SA-20," one of the US officials said. "We've got a huge set of challenges in the future that we've never had [before]. We've been lulled into a false sense of security because our operations over the last 20 years involved complete air dominance and we've been free to operate in all domains."

The US official said the deployment of SA-20 around Iranian nuclear facilities would be a direct threat to Israel's fleet of advanced but "non-stealthy" F-15Is and F-16Is. Ha'aretz newspaper reported on Tuesday that the head of political-military policy in the Israeli Defense Ministry, Major General Amos Gilad, was traveling to Moscow with a demarche that Russia should not transfer S-300 to Iran.

Evidently, Moscow is maintaining an air of "constructive ambiguity" as to what is exactly happening. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov commented in October that Moscow would not sell the S-300 to countries in "volatile regions".....
For the USA to survive in one piece, the challenges are enormous to say the least, and likely insurmountable. Between its rising domestic woes and its overextension on the foreign policy front from DC/ PNAC to Iraq to Afghanistan, the Americans cannot continue to press ahead with their global ambitions for long without resolving their chronic status as international pariah. Before that reckoning becomes reality for the power behind the power in USA, the sliding economy is bound to affect the outcome of the presidential term completely, as of January 20th 2009, until January 20th 2012....since the PNAC KILLERS are broke, greedy and immoral. Barack Hussein Obama and his buddy Rahm Emanuel.... Chicago's paid thugs are toast, thus the power behind the power, and the USA's White House Murder Inc. are in quiet disbelief at their loss of wherewithal, but will attempt more murderous, savage assassinations to advance their goal of domineering the world again, but will eventually fail miserably. " Case in point, the Mumbai attacks and the Benazir Buttho assassination....made in PNAC, CIA2/MOSSAD Evil Axis....

Israel And Iran Scramble In The Shadows....but Putin sells the S300s to IRAN... Israel objects for show....because Putin always sells Arabs/Iran "sophisticated air defense systems", then turns around and gives MOSSAD all the necessary "Codes" and electronic tags...which will ensure that the system will not protect any country in times of war and invasions by Israeli Air Force, which will have at its disposal all the countermeasures to block these systems dead in its tracks. Latest case in point, the attack on Syria's facility in Dair Al-Zour, and I am sure that Putin has done the same with Iranian air defense systems bought from Russia....It's a kind of a Kremlin Insurance Policy made by AIG/CIA....
But, on Wednesday, Russia's Novosti news agency cited unnamed Kremlin sources as saying that Moscow was "currently implementing a contract to deliver S-300 systems". Again, on Wednesday, the deputy head of the Federal Service of Russia's Military-Technical Cooperation, Alexander Fomin, publicly defended Russian-Iranian military cooperation as having a "positive influence on stability in this region". Fomin specifically commented that systems such as the S-300 benefited the whole region by "preventing new military conflicts".

The US thrust into the Russian backyard in the Caucasus and Central Asia will most certainly have a bearing on the Russian-Iranian tango over the S-300. Moscow and Tehran will be on guard that despite the stalemate of the Afghan war and the mounting difficulties faced by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces, the cold warriors in Washington continue their great game in the Hindu Kush.

Politics of transit routes ....

This becomes glaring if we look at the saga of the US's supply routes to Afghanistan. Recent events have shown that militants are capable of holding NATO to ransom by disrupting the supply routes to Afghanistan via Karachi port. Logically, the US ought to look for alternate supply routes.

Apart from the Karachi route, there are three alternate routes to supply the troops in Afghanistan: one, via Shanghai port straight across China to Tajikistan and to Afghanistan; two, the Russia-Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan/Turkmenistan land routes up to the Afghan border on the Amu Darya; three, the shortest and the most practical route via Iran.

Russia has both road and rail links connecting the Afghan border. China, on the other hand, has at present only one rail connection to Central Asia - the line from Urumqi in Xinjiang Autonomous Province ending on the Kazakh border. But China is currently working on two additional loops - one from Korgas on the Kazakh border to Almaty and the second from Kashi to Kyrgyzstan. Both these loops connect China to the Central Asian rail grid of the Soviet era leading to the southern Uzbek port city of Termez on the Amu Darya, which is a traditional gateway to Afghanistan.

But surprisingly, Washington wouldn't look at any of these alternate routes. Iran is understandably a no-go area (even though, in the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan the Bush administration sought and obtained logistical support from Iran). But the US is equally wary of involving Russia and China in the war effort. It apprehends that tomorrow these countries might well demand a say in war strategy, which has so far been the US's exclusive turf. Then, there are other implications.

The containment strategy towards Russia and China cannot be sustained if there is a critical dependence on these countries for the US's war effort in Afghanistan. Again, their involvement will effectively freeze any expansion plans for NATO into Central Asia - let alone the scope for establishing new US military bases in the region. All-in-all, therefore, by involving Russia and China in the supply routes for US troops in Afghanistan, the US would be under compulsion to shelve its entire "Great Central Asia" strategy, which aims at rolling back Russian and Chinese influence in the region.

So, what does the US do? It has decided on a three-pronged approach. First, the US will motivate the recalcitrant Pakistani generals not to create problems for NATO convoys passing through Pakistan. Thus, US Senator John Kerry, who visited India on route to Pakistan last week on a mediatory mission, pledged, inter alia, that the US would urgently act on the Pakistani top brass's demand for upgrading its F-16 fleet capable of carrying nuclear weapons, apart from expediting a fresh multi-billion dollar new aid package for Pakistan.

Second, the US had began working on an entirely new supply route for Afghanistan which steers clear of Tehran, Moscow and Beijing and which, more importantly, not only dovetails but holds the prospects of augmenting and even strengthening the US's containment strategy towards Russia and Iran.

US's Caucasian thrust ....

Thus, the US has begun developing an altogether new land route through the southern Caucasus to Afghanistan, which doesn't exist at present. The US is working on the idea of ferrying cargo for Afghanistan via the Black Sea to the port of Poti in Georgia and then dispatching it through the territories of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. A branch line could also go from Georgia via Azerbaijan to the Turkmen-Afghan border.

The project, if it materializes, will be a geopolitical coup - the biggest ever that Washington would have swung in post-Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus. At one stroke, the US will be tying up military cooperation at the bilateral level with Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Furthermore, the US will be effectively drawing these countries closer into NATO's partnership programs. Georgia, in particular, gets a privileged status as the key transit country, which will ;
offset the current European opposition to its induction as a NATO member country. Besides, The US will have virtually dealt a blow to the Russia-led Collective Security Treat Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Not only will the US have succeeded in keeping the CSTO and the SCO from poking their noses into the Afghan cauldron, it will also have made these organizations largely irrelevant to regional security when Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the two key players in Central Asia, simply step out of the ambit of these organizations and directly deal with the US and NATO.

Third, Russian newspaper Kommersant reported on December 12 that the US was also concurrently setting up a presence in Almaty. It said, "The talks that the US administration officials are having in Central Asia confirm the view that a new project exists. Last week, Kazakhstan's parliament ratified memorandums of support for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. They allow the US to use the military section of Almaty airport for emergency landings by military planes."

Therefore, the US is making a determined bid to render Russian diplomacy on Afghanistan toothless. Interestingly, the US has allowed NATO at the same time to negotiate with Russia for transit route facilities, which Moscow will be hard-pressed to refuse. Last week, the NATO envoy for Central Asia, Robert Simmons, visited Moscow. If Moscow had calculated that assisting the NATO supply route would enable it to gain influence on other issues of Russia-West relations or on Afghanistan, that is not going to happen as the US would have no dependence on Russia as such and would have no compulsion to reciprocate.

Washington has certainly done some smart thinking. It is having the best of both worlds - NATO taking help from Russia with the US at the same time puncturing the CSTO and undercutting Russian interests in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

What hits Russian interests most is that if the Caucasian route materializes, the US would have consolidated its military presence in South Caucasus on a long-term basis. Ever since the conflict in the Caucasus in August, the US has maintained a continuous naval presence in the Black Sea, with regular port calls in Georgia. The indications are that the US is planning a carefully calibrated ground presence in Georgia as well. Talks are in the final stages for a US-Georgia Security and Military Agreement. US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matt Bryza visited Tbilisi on Tuesday for consultations in this regard.

According to reports, Washington is finalizing a document that includes helping Georgia fulfill the criteria for NATO membership and promoting "security cooperation and strategic partnership". As a US expert summed up, "The South Caucasus option is more expensive but incomparably more secure. It is also immune to Russian political manipulation ... a larger flow of supplies by land and air would presuppose an unobtrusive US military-logistical presence on the ground. It would also require reliable control of Georgian and Azerbaijani air space."

Another dramatic fallout is that the proposed land route covering Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan can also be easily converted into an energy corridor and become a Caspian oil and gas corridor bypassing Russia. Such a corridor has been a long-cherished dream for Washington. Furthermore, European countries will feel the imperative to agree to the US demand that the transit countries for the energy corridor are granted NATO protection in one form or the other. That, in turn, leads to NATO's expansion into the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Surely, the renewed Taliban threat in Afghanistan and the escalation of combat is providing a fantastic backdrop. For the first time, the US would be establishing a military presence in the Caucasus and the distinct possibility emerges for a Caspian energy corridor leading to the European market. Both Russia and Iran will feel directly threatened by the US military presence virtually in their border regions, and both would feel outplayed by Washington in the Caspian energy sweepstakes.

These maneuverings over the supply routes bring out the full range of the bitterly fought geopolitical struggle in the Hindu Kush, which mostly lies hidden from the world opinion that remains focused on the fate of al-Qaeda and Taliban. The fact is, seven years down the road from the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, the US has done exceedingly well in geopolitical terms, even if the war as such may have gone rather badly both for the Afghans and the Pakistanis and the European soldiers serving in Afghanistan.

US holds trump card ....?

The US has succeeded in establishing its long-term military presence in Afghanistan. Ironically, with the deterioration of the war, a case is now being built for establishing new US military bases in Central Asia. While the US's close partnership with the Pakistani military continues intact, the search for new supply routes becomes the perfect backdrop for expanding its influence into the Russian and Chinese (and Iranian) backyards in Central Asia.

The veiled threat of reopening the "Kashmir file", which is patently aimed at keeping India at bay, also serves a useful purpose. Plainly put, the US faces a real geopolitical challenge in Afghanistan if only a coalition of like-minded regional powers like Russia, China, Iran and India takes shape and these powers seriously begin exchanging notes about what the Afghan war has been about so far and where it is heading and what the US strategy aims at. So far, the US has succeeded in stalling such a process by sorting out these regional powers individually. Indeed, Washington has been a net beneficiary from the contradictions in the mutual relations between these regional powers.

On the whole, the US holds several trump cards, given the contradictions in Sino-Indian relations, Sino-Russian relations, the situation around Iran, India-Pakistan relations and Iran-Pakistan and, of course, Russia-Pakistan relations. The US's number one diplomatic challenge at this juncture will be to pre-empt and scatter any sort of incipient coordination that may take place between the regional powers surrounding Afghanistan in the nature of a regionally initiated peace process. The US has done its utmost to see that the SCO proposal for holding an international conference on Afghanistan doesn't materialize.

But as the Russian-Indian and Iranian-Indian consultations this week in Delhi testify, the regional powers may be slowly waking up and becoming wiser about the US's geostrategy in Afghanistan. The time may not be far off before they begin to sense that the "war on terror" is providing a convenient rubric under which the US is incrementally securing for itself a permanent abode in the highlands of the Hindu Kush and the Pamirs, Central Asian steppes and the Caucasus that form the strategic hub overlooking Russia, China, India and Iran.

The million-dollar question is Obama's sincerity. If he genuinely wants to end the bloodshed and the suffering in Afghanistan, tackle terrorism effectively and enduringly, as well as stabilize Afghanistan and secure South Asia as a stable region, he has to make a definitive choice. All he needs to do is to feel disgusted with the "collateral damage" that the great game is causing to the human condition, and seek an inclusive Afghan settlement in terms of the imperatives of regional security and stability.

Such a break will be consistent with what he claims his sense of values to be. The existential choice is whether he will break with the past out of principle.

No doubt, Obama faces a tough call, being a quintessential "outsider" in Washington, as he will run into the vested interests of the US security establishment, the military-industrial complex, Big Oil and the influential corpus of cold warriors who are bent on pressing ahead. The war in the Hindu Kush enters a decisive phase for the New American Century project.....the re-cooked and repackaged for influence peddling of PNAC supremacists, hell-bent on dismembering the whole Planet for their sordid and selfish aims, and perpetuating a culture of crime, assassinations, through PNAC, CIA2/MOSSAD and the White House Murder Inc., starting with the odious assassination of January 24th 2002 of Mr. Elie HOBEIKA in Hazmieh Lebanon, the heartland of the infamous Lebanese military Intelligence assassins for hire, and Asef Shawkat....

But, the war which is The war that worries most people in the Middle East is the one going on between Shia Iran and Arab Sunnis. This conflict ultimately takes over every other conflict. For example, Iran has been trying to get a Cyber War going against Israel. Prizes were offered for the most daring attacks on Israeli web sites by Moslem hackers. But the effort went sideways last year when some of the Shia hackers began attacking Sunni websites, in retaliation for some Sunni attacks on Shia sites. For the Shia, this was also payback for the increasingly anti-Shia tone of Sunni mass media. This, in turn, was in response to Iran's nuclear weapons program, and increasingly belligerent Iranian claims that it should be the leader of the Islamic world.
For the last three months, Shia and Sunni radicals have escalated their attacks on each other's web sites. What really got things going was a Shia attack on the two main web sites for Sunni radical religious propaganda (including al Qaeda) on September 11, 2008. Sunni hackers retaliated shortly thereafter by defacing 300 web sites belonging to Shia clergy and religious organizations. Shia hackers then came back with more attacks on Sunni clergy, media and religious sites. The two main Sunni radical propaganda sites, and, have been down most of the time since September 11. Since some 80 percent of Moslems are Sunni (versus about ten percent Shia), the Shia soon began taking more damage than they were dishing out, by a margin of more than two to one.

At first Arab media and religious leaders pleaded for the hackers to stop. Some chastised the hackers for fighting fellow Moslems, rather than going after infidels (particularly Israel.) But Moslem hackers don't like tangling with the Israelis, who have a much deeper bench in the hacking department.

Escalation was assured when sheikh Yousef al Qaradhawi, head of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, recently called in the Arab media, and denounced Shia in general, and Iran in particular, for being heretics and beyond redemption. These statements got wide coverage in the Egyptian and Saudi press, and were soon picked up by Islamic media worldwide. The leaders of most Sunni nations are content to play down the theological differences between Sunni and Shia. This includes Saudi Arabia, the guardian of Islam's most sacred shrines. But now this Internet based war threatens to spill over into the real world.

This particular Cyber War seems to have attracted Arab and Iranian hackers who do not normally get involved in Islamic radicalism. The animosity between the Shia and Sunni sects goes back nearly a thousand years, and has led to much bloodshed in that time. While Sunni and Shia leaders try to play down this feud (over who should have inherited the leadership of Islam over a thousand years ago), grass roots hatred is tolerated. Thus lower ranking religious leaders in Iran and the Arab world spew hatred for each other's religious beliefs. This has little to do with the current plague of Sunni terrorism (al Qaeda and so on), but is more of a deep seated cultural dispute.

Meanwhile, Iran has been trying to get Moslem hackers united against Israel. For two years now, the Hamas office in the capital of Iran, has sponsored a hacking contest. Whoever makes the most spectacular attack on the most important Israeli web sites (belonging to a government agency or one of the major political parties), wins a prize of $2,000. Not that a lot of Moslem hackers need much encouragement for this sort of thing. But the Islamic radical groups have noticed that they are not getting the best hacking talent, and the Israelis typically respond much more forcefully. It has been found, however, that a prize, and a formal competition, tends to bring in the more skilled, if less religiously radical, Moslem hackers.

There are a growing number of programmers and Internet specialists in the Moslem world, but most of them have legitimate jobs in software firms, or maintaining software and Internet services for companies. Some are involved with Internet crime, and a very few spend some time trying to get some Internet based terrorism going.

It was hoped that this contest would defuse the Internet based war between Sunni and Shia Moslems. Although most Hamas members are Sunni, Shia Iran is a major backer of Hamas. So it makes sense for Hamas to come up with something to stop the Internet war between Shia and Sunni Moslems, and unite everyone against Israel. It hasn't worked, and Israeli and Western counter-intelligence agencies appear to have joined in, making attacks on Shia and Sunni sites, and letting paranoia take its course.