Sunday, January 31, 2010

Who ever control West Asia controls the world

The New ‘Great Game’:Part 1-Birth of Radical Islamist Militancy

The Great Game -Renewed. Lord Curzon famously stated ” who ever control West Asia controls the world”. In his view this entailed the exercise of a predominant influence over the destinies of Persia and Afghanistan- a role he reserved for British India. Today we have many nations desperate to aquire that role? NATO and ISAF led by the USA, fighting Al-Qaeda and the Pakhtuns (Taliban); Even Russia and China not ignoring their strategic interests in the area ;and of course the traditional rivals India and Pakistan always ready to fight a proxy war in Afghanistan.This article –and a few others to follow- will look at the issues at stake today - primarily from Pakistan’s point of view.But first an over view of the make up and strategic importance of Central Asia.

The Demo-Graphy Of Central Asia. Once upon a time not so long ago the worlds biggest Empire possessed unimaginable land, wealth and potential. However, lacking the vision to manage what it possessed; it chose the wrong friends and made the wrong enemies resulting in an inevitable humiliation at the hands of a ‘despicable band of holy warriors’. China which should have been it’s biggest helper lifted not a finger to assist; and India which should have been it’s biggest friend shed not a single tear -in fact jumped on to the opposing band wagon with glee.

The monolith fell, and instead of the USSR we suddenly had fifteen sovereign states. In this series of articles we are concerned with only six of them now termed as the Central Asian Republics. They literally had independence thrust upon them –for none of them had lifted even a finger in any show of protest against USSR rule, or showed any solidarity with the coup of Boris Yeltsin. Yet after the events of Dec 1991 they had no choice except to be independent!

Central Asia can be termed ‘central’ as well as ‘a single region’ for more reasons then one. First it comprises most -but not all the territory - of what was formerly known as Turkistan, also as ‘inner Asia’, because of it being a land locked part of Asia; Second culturally and politically it lies in between many distinct civilizations –Roman Christianity to the west; Slavic Christianity and Communistic to the North; Chinese to the East and Islamic to the South. Third demographically and economically too it lies some where in the center –all have high rates of fertility and a high percentages of population engaged in agriculture, low per capita incomes and low rates of labor productivity as well as life expectancy. Fourth all of them have experienced Russian colonial rule and therefore have similar inefficient and corrupt post colonial government structures.

The political structures are highly centralized and based on feudally empowered ruling local elites working with the masters; while the economic structures are based on the classic definition of economic exploitation, in that the colonies were producers and suppliers of cheap agricultural as well as mineral raw material –with the additional imposition of the communistic pattern of organization in that the masters fixed what and how much had to be produced by each region. This also resulted in some startling discrepancies; in that some regions despite their primitive base gained remarkably advanced technological infrastructures and equipment–including nuclear and space technology!

Last but not least like the colonial experience every where else; despite Russian attempts to eradicate their Islamic values, in all these regions, Islam remains deeply embedded in their social and political psyche.This gives rise to ideas of regional and global Islamic unity. Although again - like else where in the Muslim world - what exactly this means remains unclear!

Endless border disputes –again like the legacies left by colonial powers else where- are a source of constant internal friction preventing any unity for common welfare and development. All of Uzbekistan’s borders for instance are in dispute with its neighbors!
The New ‘Great Game’:Part 1-Birth of Radical Islamist Militancy
The Mineral Wealth Of Central Asia. -Azerbaijan situated on the Caucasian Isthmus between Armenia and the Caspian Sea, is a major oil producing country. Turkmenistan (488,000 sq. mi) has enormous oil, gas, coal and other natural resources and directly adjoins Afghanistan to the south. Uzbekistan (172,000 sq. mi) also has vast resources in oil, gas, coal, copper and gold; and is a big cotton producer. It too adjoins Afghanistan. Tajikistan (55,000 sq. mi) also has a frontier with Afghanistan, and, has very rich deposits of oil, gas, coal, lead, zinc, uranium, radium etc. Kyrgyzstan Adjoining Tajikistan has a relatively well-developed industrial and agro-industrial base. It has a border with China to its east. Kazakhstan (1,000 000 sq. mi) has absolutely vast reserves of coal, oil, gas, manganese, copper, bauxite, gold, uranium and many other minerals. It is highly developed both agriculturally as well as industrially. Possessing much of the former Soviet aerospace and defense industries, it also has common borders with both Russia and China.

Historically too the region has always been valued for it oil potential alone. The two great World War I oil fields were in Texas and the Caspian Sea region of Imperial Russia. In WW II also Adolph Hitler launched Operation Blau to capture the Caspian Sea oil fields.
The New ‘Great Game’:Part 1-Birth of Radical Islamist Militancy
The Strategic Importance Of Afghanistan/Pakistan. In order to appreciate the strategic importance of Afghanistan /Pakistan, we have to first realize that any power which possess the major route for transit of trade revolving round Central Asia’s vast oil, gas and mineral resources will gain immensely in wealth, power and prestige. With this in mind let us have a look at all the likely routes out of the area:

1.The Routes Through The Caspian Sea. These are the most desirable route from the point of view of the EU.They are also the shortest routes out of the area and some have been operational since WW1.More over they allow for the possibility of the trans-shipment to Africa and SE Asia. This route empowers Europe. The more important sub-routes are:

Kazakhstan through Russia to Novorossiysk (Route 1) Built in 1997 by the Caspian Sea Consortium this route helps maintain Russian control of oil shipment from the region.

Old Russian Line from Baku To Novorossiysk (Route 2) .This historic line Chechnya to Novorossiysk was closed because of the Chechens’ continuing struggle. Russia has recently completed a bypass around Chechnya and reactivated the pipeline.

A Wider Northern By-Pass(Route 3).Russia has proposed exporting oil north to join its existing pipeline system at Novorossiysk .This development would remove the pipeline further from Chechnya and help maintain regular flow of Caspian Sea and Kazakh oil.

The Tran Caucasus Route. (Route 4). The Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC) built an initial line from Baku through Georgia to the Georgian port of Supsa on the Black Sea. It is pumping a limited amount of oil since l999.This is relatively inexpensive option, but the oil still has to move from Supsa by oil tanker through the Black Sea and the Bosporus. Turkey controls the traffic between the Black and Mediterranean Seas and does not want increased oil tanker traffic through the straits because of environmental concerns. Russia objects to this route because none of the pipeline passes through Russia. Further, this pipeline runs through domains of many fractious mountain tribes.
Pipe Line To Turkish Mediterranean Port Of Ceyhan (Route 5).The AIOC is considering this line. The route runs through Azerbaijan and Armenia, whose war over Nagorno-Karabakh is at a stalemate. Thus, the Baku-Armenia-Ceyhan route is not a near-term option. Should this conflict be settled, the route also passes through the Kurdish part of Turkey where a suppressed insurrection still simmers.
Clinton Alternative To Route 4.The Clinton administration tried to promote a pipeline route from Baku to Tbilisi to Supsa (Route 4) and then underwater from Supsa to Turkey where it would cut across Kurdish Turkey to Ceyhan. An underwater pipeline from Turkmenistan across the Caspian Sea to Baku would back this pipeline. This expensive option required regional political acceptance and Oil Company backing—neither of which the Clinton administration could obtain.

Since development of any of the above routes empowers Russia and Europe, development seems to be against long term US strategic interests. Even though pipe lines have existed in the area for long, the geopolitical and logistical nightmare involved in constructing and operating Tran Caucasian pipelines through Azerbaijan and Georgia are emphasized as formidable! Turkey (a key U.S. ally in the region) remains determined to restrict any use of the Bosphorus as a route for oil to Europe citing pollution! The possibility of such a route being affected by an outbreak of hostilities between Greece and Turkey is pointed out as a further obstacle.

Finally any European attempts at developing its own sphere of influence in Central Asia have been ruled out by two American initiatives. First, as we shall see later in this series of articles US has instigated Islamic insurgency in Chechnya. Second it engineered the dis -integration of the former Republic of Yugoslavia and carried out bombardment of Belgrade. This effectively established mutually contentious client states in the area, while also preventing the use of small sea/river tankers into Europe via the Danube, at least for the time being.

2.The China Route (Route 9). China itself as well as the Pacific Rim is potentially huge markets. The pipe line would run from western Kazakhstan through China to the Pacific serving Chinese, Japanese and Korean markets (Route 9). It requires an enormous outlay of $10 to $14 billion. The Chinese have signed a memorandum of understanding to build a shorter $3.5-billion pipeline that would stop in China proper. It empowers China.
3.The Iranian Routes (Route 7). Iran’s preferred route is a pipeline south from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf (Route 7). It is the shortest, cheapest and easiest route to an open port. Iran has an extended pipeline system in place, and Turkmenistan opened a gas pipeline into Iran in December 1997. The United States opposes this pipeline and tries to enforce sanctions, but other nations’ oil firms ignore the sanctions and cut oil deals with Iran. US firms continue lobbying in Washington, DC, for improved relations with Iran. It empowers Iran.
4.The Afghanistan-Pakistan Route (Route 8). The pipe line would run from Central Asia through Herat /Kandahar in Afghanistan, on to Quetta and Gwadar/Karachi ports in Pakistan. The pipe line is relatively cheap at $1.9 billion. More over this is the only route supported by a deep water port at Gwadar allowing for bulk transportation of both Oil and minerals through super tankers. Presently the US remains opposed to development of Gwadar because of fears it would provide the Chinese a shorter approach to the Gulf. The US is therefore busy in attempts to establish hegemony in the region through exploitation of Afghanistan –Pakistan friction and China-India rivalry.USA would prefer this route over all others provided it can establish firm grip on the area to prevent any Chinese influence .This is because it is the only exit the US has a chance of controlling; also it is a route which does not empower Europe, USSR, China or Iran.The route empowers Pakistan a nation the US aims at controlling.
The New ‘Great Game’:Part 1-Birth of Radical Islamist Militancy
Pakistan-Afghanistan Friction. This dates back to 1893 with the British creation of The “Durand line” as a buffer between the Czars and the British Empire. After the British departure Kabul refused to recognize Pakistan, challenging the legitimacy of its borders. India jumped in to encourage Afghan claims - supported by its ally the USSR. Despite the tension in the Frontier Pakistan’s founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah had already pulled out troops from the Pashtun areas, confident that Pakistan had the allegiance of the tribes. Subsequent events were to prove him correct.

Even though by 1956-57 Indian and USSR interference had created a full-blown ‘Afghan Problem’ for Pakistan,till as late as the early 70’s no military presence would be needed. Aslam Khattak then first First Secretary and later Ambassador in Kabul started a proposal for a Pakistan-Afghan confederation.The response was encouraging . Following a visit by the President and PM of Pakistan to Kabul,both sides agreed to work for a confederation in which the two regions would be autonomous in all matters , except for defence, foreign policy, foreign trade and communications. The Prime Minister’s office would rotate between the two,while King Zahir Shah would be the constitutional monarch of The Republic. Even the Americans agreed to help in a big way,and actually got into post-confederation details.

But Daud on a return visit to Pakistan was fired at while inspecting a shipyard at Karachi.The bullet ricocheted off a ship to hit Aslam Khattak instead. Ghaffar Khan was released from prison and sent to Kabul, to help remove resultant mis-understanding.He agreed to help provided a referendum was held on the issue of One Unit.Pakistani President Mirza agreed to do so.Even the American Ambassador in Karachi also assured Ghaffar Khan through the American Ambassador in Kabul that the referendum would be held. But it wasn’t. And great chance to change the course of history was thus missed.

Yet Pakistan never faced a threatening military posture from Afghanistan till the mid-70s. This pattern stayed in place even during the two wars with India (1965 and 1971).

The Birth of Militancy Inside Afghanistan/Pakistan. In 1973 Prince Daud staged a Soviet assisted coup to oust King Zahir Shah. The Daud regime not only raised the issue of Pashtunistan (Afghans claims to Pakistan provinces of NWFP and Baluchistan), but also for the first time moved the Afghan army closer to the borders. More importantly KHAD the Afghan Intelligence agency (aided and abetted by the Russian KGB and Indian RAW as all three were allied in those days) used several Pakistani tribal leaders (Sardars) to start as uprising in the tribal areas of Baluchistan and parts of NWFP.

Z.A. Bhutto’s government retaliated by supporting the disenchanted elements within Afghanistan. These included Burhanuddin Rabbani, Ahmad Shah Masud and Gulbadin Hikmatyar. Thus relations in the 1970s began with each country supporting the other’s dissidents on a purely nationalistic agenda on a quid pro quo basis; and till the mid-70’s Pakistan army was busy fighting a bitter insurgency in the province of Baluchistan – with the help of it’s ‘Militants’ within Afghanistan. There was no question of an Islamic Jehadi motivational base for either; as ‘enemies’ of both sides were Muslim. As we shall see this was to come much later when the CIA would conceive the theory of turning ‘Afghan militants’ into ‘Islamic militants’ for use against the ‘USSR’.

The Birth of Islamic (Wahabi) Radical Militancy. We have noted the birth of Afghan militancy following a pro-Soviet coup in Afghanistan and attempts at destabilization of Baluchistan. A natural consequence should have been the involvement of the USA and CIA on the Pakistani side in a communistic vs. free world conflict as was the norms of the time; more so as both sides were Muslims. Yet two development on the inter –national stage were to give it an irretrievable ‘Wahabi’ lusture which US supported militancy carries to this day. The first was the vast growth in Saudi wealth due to sharp rise in oil prices. The second was the castration of CIA as a result of post Watergate repercussions!

Saudi Wealth. In 1973, rise in oil prices brought great wealth to Saudi Arabia. Between 1973 to 1979 over $70 billion of this was used for furthering Wahabi Islamist purposes. Private Saudi citizens donated additional billions to private charities such as the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) which built 575 new mosques in Indonesia alone. The King Faisal mosque in Islamabad –and its seminary- was also funded by Saudi money. Alex Alexiev calls this “the largest world wide religious campaign ever mounted”. It was this large scale preaching of Wahabism (an exclusively Saudi brand of mistrust of infidels as unfit to survive, branding of rival Muslim sects as apostates to be killed, and emphasis on a violent exterminative jihad against all others who count as infidels as a means of gaining paradise) which laid the groundwork for the defamation of Islam and the spread of terrorist groups in the name of Islam world wide.

The Castration Of CIA. It started with FBI, and Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward discovering what seemed to be CIA fingerprints in the Watergate burglary. The agency was not involved, but it’s refusal to cooperate in unveiling Nixon’s obstruction of justice led directly to the firing of its director, Richard Helms, who was replaced by William E. Colby. In the preliminary congressional inquiries staffers had stumbled upon a number of domestic operations by the CIA. Colby acquiesced in unmasking these and soon assembled a list of CIA sins which ran into 693 typed pages – these later became famous as the “Family Jewels.”

The crown jewel in the lot was a program known as Operation Chaos involving CIA surveillance of antiwar protesters - the program being disclosed to the New York Times by Colby himself. This marked a turning point in public attitudes toward spying.
Overnight in public eyes the CIA became, a shadowy, sinister organization. President Ford called former CIA Director Helms into the Oval Office for advice. Helms reminded Ford that “The CIA is the president’s creature,” and defended Operation Chaos, to which Ford replied, “I plan no witch hunt, but in this environment I don’t know if I can control it.”

Starting in 1976 a witch hunt lasting five years did ensue! Democratic Senator Frank Church of Idaho, as chairman of the Senate Select Committee to Study Government Operations with Respect to Intelligence, castrated the free worlds best intelligence agency; famously depicting it as a “rogue elephant.”

The New ‘Great Game’:Part 1-Birth of Radical Islamist MilitancyThe Safari Club- An Alternate Super Intelligence Agency. In September 1 1976, a group of countries got together and established a newly formed secret cabal of intelligence agencies called the Safari Club. It included France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Iran. The club was a brain child of Alexandre de Marenches, head of the French external intelligence service SDECE.It was likely formed with the connivance of CIA to compensate for it’s paralysis after Watergate - as a means of circumventing US Congress which had tied down the CIA! Acutely conscious of the Soviet threat these countries had decided that if the US could not do anything to counter it, they would!

The New ‘Great Game’:Part 1-Birth of Radical Islamist MilitancyMillions were spent to create an operational capability. But much more was required to be done to create its financial arm. The group needed a network of banks to help manage and conceal the enormous transactions needed to finance its intelligence operations. Saudi Intelligence Minister Kamal Adham was given the task to create one.

With the blessing of CIA director George Bush Sr, he would transformed the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), a small Pakistani merchant bank, founded in 1972 by a Pakistani partner of Adham (Agha Hasan Abedi); into a world-wide money-laundering machine, buying additional banks around the world to create the biggest clandestine money transfer and whitening network in history.

The New ‘Great Game’:Part 1-Birth of Radical Islamist MilitancyThe Rise Of BCCI.Adham, and other intelligence heads worked with Abedi to contrive “a plan that seemed too good to be true. The bank (BCCI) would solicit the business of every major intelligence – and therefore terrorist, rebel, and underground - organization in the free world. The intelligence collected - and links forged in the process - would be shared with these ‘friends’ of BCCI.” CIA operative Raymond Close worked closely with Adham during the Congressional inquiry years to help identify and tap “into CIA’s hordes of misfits and malcontents to help man a 1,500-strong group of assassins and enforcers.” Soon, BCCI became the fastest growing bank in the world. Time magazine would later describe BCCI as not just a bank, but also “a global intelligence operation and a Mafia-like enforcement squad. Operating primarily out of the bank’s offices in Karachi, Pakistan; the 1,500-employee network has used sophisticated spy equipment and techniques, along with bribery, extortion, kidnapping and even, by some accounts, murder. It stops at almost nothing to further the bank’s aims the world over.”

Saudi Prince Mohammed al-Faisal also set up Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt (FIBE) as part of the banking empire. The “Blind Sheikh,” Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman was one of its founding members. Growth of Islamic banking would directly help the growth of the Islamist movements, and allow the Saudis to pressure poorer Islamic nations, like Egypt, to shift their policies to the right. FIBE worked closely with BCCI. Investigators would later find that BCCI held $589 million in “unrecorded deposits,” $245 million of which were placed with FIBE! BCCI at a later stage was also ‘discovered’ to be deeply implicated in illegal arms and narcotics trade .But all this was to happen way in the future, when CIA wanted to get back into the driving seat!

The Activities Of Safari Club. Thus was the Safari Club established .It funded – off the books - covert operations for a ‘ghost’ CIA made up of fired agents close to ex-CIA Director George Bush Sr. and Theodore Shackley. Shackley would remain at the center of this “private, shadow spy organization within the CIA” until he was fired in 1979; when the Safari Club was exposed due to the Iranian revolution-Iran being one of the members ! It must be noted here that this “Super Spy Club” inevitably gave a front seat to Saudi, Arab and Iranian ‘Islamist’ interests. The club seems to have remained active till about 1982 when de Marenches stepped down from being head of French intelligence .By this time the issue of the witch hunt of CIA within the USA also seems to have been resolved, and the CIA was keen to get back into the driving seat. Yet as we shall see next ;the then junior officers –as they rose in rank- would continue to retain their Islamic imprint ,as they shaped Americas -and the CIA’s- future policies.

During the initial period the Safari Club played a secret role in political dramas of many countries mostly Islamic and in Africa or the Middle East. Its first operation: A rebellion in Zaire was put down by Moroccan and Egyptian troops, using French air support.It then turned to deal with the Soviet infiltrations in Ethopia, Somalia and Djibouti and Peoples republic of Yemen. It also acted to repel Libyan aggression against Chad and Sudan. It also played a role in the US-Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of 1979. Through out 1970-80 huge amounts of Saudi money backed by Safari Club covert activity helped countries like Syria,Jordan,North Yemen, Angola, Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Uganda, Mali, Nigeria, Ziare, Guinea, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Philippines –and some reports suggest even South Vietnam; survive Russian backed Libyan or leftist in roads. In most countries Saudi ‘Wahabi Jehadi’ proselytizing inevitably accompanied the cash.

The Safari Club and the ‘rogue CIA’ also played a major role in supporting Pakistani ISI backed Afghani militants.Pakistani operation was remarkably successful and by 1977 the Afghan government of Sardar Daud was willing to settle all outstanding issues in exchange for a lifting of the ban on the National Awami Party and a commitment towards provincial autonomy for Pashtuns.This was also the period in which Moro operations in the Philippines achieved their most outstanding success.

Planning For A Russian Vietnam: 1977-1982. During the period 1977 to 1982 a major re-orientation of US policy is apparent specially in the mid-east and SE Asia.To what extant the Safari Club influenced the shape of things must remain a field of conjecture;yet the circumstantial evidence is pretty clear that the Carter administration had “no clear policy” due to internal divisions and confusion – and also that Saudi(Muslim) influence was considerable through elements of the ‘rouge CIA’ which was beginning to emerge out of the shadows to merge into the main stream re-activated CIA.

Setting The Stage. In the year 1977-79 a number of remarkable events (mentioned below) took place affecting our region. An analysis of these helps us to understand how the original concept of a defensive and deterrent Islamic Jehad was shaped into one of Americas most potent intelligence assets – global Islamic(Wahabi) militancy or Islamic Terrorism:
In The USA Zbigniew Brzezinski took over as President Carter’s National Security Adviser. He established the Nationalities Working Group (NWG) for weakening the Soviet Union through Islamic militancy .By December 1978; he formalized his theory around the idea of turning the Muslim world into ‘an arc of crises. It was based on the ideas of British expert Dr. Bernard Lewis, who advocated the balkanization of the entire Muslim near East along tribal and religious lines. The chaos would spread in what he also calls an “arc of crisis” and ultimately destabilize the Muslim regions of the Soviet Union.

BCCI Even Buys The CIA’s Bank! The same year The Safari Club made a bid to buy CIA’s bank! A group fronted by Kamal Adham, bought First American Bank shares. It was the biggest bank in the Washington, D.C. - and since long the CIA’s principal banker. In 1981, the Federal Reserve after asking CIA for the mandatory clearance allows the sale! The CIA held back what it knew, including the fact that Adham was Saudi intelligence minister. But Adhami and his group were acting on behalf of BCCI.Thus by 1982 BCCI becomes (illegally) the owner of CIA’s bank. The CIA did not inform the Treasury Department about this link till as late as 1985.In fact CIA continued using both BCCI and First American. The Safari Club and its financial arm the BCCI were fully in place –even within USA by 1982!

The New ‘Great Game’:Part 1-Birth of Radical Islamist MilitancyBrzezinski’s Islamic Militant Policy Implemented In Pakistan. In Pakistan on 5 July 1977 Pakistan’s socialist minded Prime Minister Z.A.Bhutto - an advocate of the policy of independence from US domination through a combination of ‘Islamic socialism’ and a pro-China foreign policy ; as well as the architect of Muslim unity(held first Islamic summit at Lahore) and Pakistan’s nuclear program - was eliminated in a coup by General Zia –ul-Haq .Zia had already proved his worth as an American ally in Jordan , where he massacred the PLA to save the Jordanian throne for the Americans.

Apparently the US stopped all economic and military aid to Pakistan as a result of the coup .But in actual fact aid continued flowing in a big way for the militants and their Islamisation process through the Safari club and the rouge CIA; and planning was soon expedited to draw in and kill the Russian bear in Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan Daud suspected of having gone ‘soft’ on Pakistan was removed through a pro-Soviet coup on April 1978.This served as the ideal start point for implementing Brzezinski’s policy. Aid to Pakistan was resumed .The CIA commenced beaming of radio propaganda into Afghanistan, and a program and started for turning the Afghan mujahideen into radical Wahabi Islamic fighters. Zia proved invaluable at this stage.

He allowed a free hand to the CIA approved Wahabi Islamic doctrine to gain a firm foothold in Pakistan. Passing pro-Islamic legislation, he allowed FIB (Faisal Islamic bank) to start Islamic banking systems, and created Islamic courts. Most importantly, he imposed a new religious tax which was used to create tens of thousands of madrassas, or religious boarding schools, where “Islamic text books’ printed in USA and approved by CIA were taught. These schools would be used to train and indoctrinate a large portion of future Islamic militants using courses developed in the USA.

“Radical Islamist ideology began to permeate the military and the influence of the most extreme groups crept into the army,” writes journalist Kathy Gannon in her book I is for Infidel. The BBC later commented that Zia’s “Islamization” policies created a “culture of jihad” within Pakistan that continues until present day. Mean ISI took over to continue the field work and launched a massive campaign of terrorism, assassinating hundreds of teachers and civil servants in Afghanistan.”

For Iran, in November 1978 former Under Secretary of State George Ball was appointed as advisor to President Carter! This is most amazing for he was known to hold the view that the US should drop support for the Shah of Iran in favor of the radical Islamist opposition of Ayatollah Khomeini. Later during his exile The Shah would note with bitter hind sight,”It should have been clear to me that the Americans wanted me out. What else was I to make of the Administration’s sudden decision to call George Ball as advisor on Iran?”

For Al-Qaeda around 1978-79(the details are fuzzy) Osama Bin Laden visited the US and Britain -or both -ostensibly for the treatment of his son Abdul Rahman born with hydrocephalus. However the required treatment-an operation - was never carried out. More likely he went there to get his final briefs first hand!The New ‘Great Game’:Part 1-Birth of Radical Islamist Militancy

1979-The Bear Trap Is Sprung. Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile in France on January 16, 1979.By February Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi is deposed and Ayatollah Khomeini took over as Iran’s new leader. At first the US was taken aback by the new fundamentalist Islamic government, and Brzezinski contemplated a military coup to stop Khomeini.The New ‘Great Game’:Part 1-Birth of Radical Islamist Militancy

In March, there was a major revolt in Herat province. Russian Intelligence noted that it had support from outside-particularly Iran. This convinced Brzezinski that Khomeini was fiercely anti-communist, and he soon decided that Iran’s new government can become part of his “arc of crises. The US embassy remained open, and more US officials come to Iran to begin tentative talks. The CIA started working (re-working) with Iranian intelligence to destabilize the pro-Soviet government in Afghanistan.

By April 1979, US officials start having their first meetings in Pakistan with opponents of the Afghan government. Robert Gates –a junior officer then , but later to become CIA Director - recalls that in one such meeting on March 30, 1979, Under Secretary of Defense Walter Slocumbe wondered aloud whether there is “value in keeping the Afghan insurgency going, ‘sucking the Soviets into a Vietnamese quagmire.’”

In May a CIA special envoy also meets these Afghan mujaheddin leaders at Peshawar. All of them have been carefully selected by the Pakistani ISI. One of them is Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a drug dealer, and brutal warlord. His extreme ruthlessness is considered a plus. Over the next 10 years over half of all US aid to the mujaheddin will go to his faction. In June /August there are further large scale army mutinies within Afghanistan.

The New ‘Great Game’:Part 1-Birth of Radical Islamist Militancy According to the official US version CIA aid to the Mujaheddin began after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan. How ever President Carter had formally approved covert aid in July. And as Brzezinski’s confessed later on: “that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention”. Charles Cogan, who later headed the CIA covert aid program to Afghanistan, will call Carter’s approval on 6th July a “very modest beginning to US involvement.” In fact, this is not correct because the’ Safari Club’ along with the ‘rouge CIA’ had been aiding the rebels since well before 1978.

Haizullah Amin over throws Daud in a military coup in October 1979, and invites the Soviets.

In early November 1979, Brzezinski had secretly met with Iranian Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan, as well as Iran’s foreign minister and defense minister, in Algiers. But shortly before the meeting, the US agrees to allow the Shah, dying with cancer, to come to the US for medical treatment. Khomeini is enraged, and on November 4, just three days after the Algeria meeting begins, students take over the US embassy in Teheran. Brzezinski’s (Safari Club’s?) attempts to create an alliance with Khomeni’s Iran collapse.

On December 8 1979 The Soviets invaded Afghanistan; surprisingly on December 26 Russian troops turn against the invitee and kill him! Later declassified high-level Russian documents show that the Russian leadership believed Amin to have had secret contacts with the US embassy and was probably a US agent; and that because of this “the right wing Muslim opposition” has “practically established their control in many provinces… using foreign support.” They therefore installed a communist regime led by Babrak Karmal which was openly hostile to Pakistan. The Russians will later be proved correct when in a 1998 interview, Brzezinski, revealed that earlier in the year Carter authorized the CIA to destabilize the government, provoking the Russians to invade and later topple Amin’s government! It seems Russia had been invited into Afghanistan by a Khomeini cultivated US agent – even though Iran was no more a part of the team!

Brzezinski wrote a memo to President Jimmy Carter after the Soviet invasion suggesting that success in Afghanistan could give the Soviets access to the Indian Ocean. He advised that US should continue aid to the Afghan Mujaheddin. He also added, “This means more money as well as arms shipments to the rebels and some technical advice.” He concludes the memo with, “[W]e must both reassure Pakistan and encourage it to help the rebels. This will require a review of our policy toward Pakistan, more guarantees to it, more arms aid, and alas, a decision that our security problem toward Pakistan cannot be dictated by our nonproliferation policy.” Carter accepted Brzezinski’s advice. Pakistan would be rewarded to become a nuclear power in exchange for help in implementing Brzezinski doctrine of Islamic Militancy!

Over the next decade CIA and Saudi Arabia would channel a huge amount of money through ISI, (estimates range up to $40 billion total for the war) to support the Mujaheddin guerrilla fighters opposing the Russians, forcing the USSR into a decade-long war which it could ill afford. It was as Brzezinski insisted, a war that brought about “The demoralization and finally the collapse of the Soviet Empire”. In my next article I shall show how this covert operation involving ‘radical Islamist militants’ was developed and implemented by CIA.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Deal with the Taliban?

A Deal with the Taliban?

By Ahmed Rashid

My Life with the Taliban
by Abdul Salam Zaeef, translated from the Pashto and edited by Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn


For thirty years Afghanistan has cast a long, dark shadow over world events, but it has also been marked by pivotal moments that could have brought peace and changed world history.

One such moment occurred in February 1989, just as the last Soviet troops were leaving Afghanistan. Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze had flown into Islamabad—the first visit to Pakistan by a senior Soviet official. He came on a last-ditch mission to try to persuade Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the army, and the Interservices Intelligence (ISI) to agree to a temporary sharing of power between the Afghan Communist regime in Kabul and the Afghan Mujahideen. He hoped to prevent a civil war and lay the groundwork for a peaceful, final transfer of power to the Mujahideen.

By then the Soviets were in a state of panic. They ironically shared the CIA's analysis that Afghan President Mohammad Najibullah would last only a few weeks after the Soviet troops had departed. The CIA got it wrong—Najibullah was to last three more years, until the eruption of civil war forced him to take refuge in the UN compound in April 1992. The ISI refused to oblige Shevardnadze. It wanted to get Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of the seven disparate Mujahideen leaders and its principal protégé, into power in Kabul. The CIA had also urged the ISI to stand firm against the Soviets. It wanted to avenge the US humiliation in Vietnam and celebrate a total Communist debacle in Kabul—no matter how many Afghan lives it would cost. A political compromise was not in the plans of the ISI and the CIA.

I was summoned to meet Shevardnadze late at night and remember a frustrated but visibly angry man, outraged by the shortsightedness of Pakistan and the US and the clear desire of both governments to humiliate Moscow. He went on to evoke an apocalyptic vision of the future of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the region. His predictions of the violence to come turned out to be dead right.

At that pivotal moment, if Shevardnadze's compromise had been accepted, the world might well have avoided the decade-long Afghan civil war, the destruction of Kabul, the rise of the Taliban, and the sanctuary they provided al-Qaeda. Perhaps we could have avoided September 11 itself—and much that has followed since, including the latest attempt by a Nigerian extremist to blow up a transatlantic airliner, the killing of seven CIA officers at an Afghan base, and the continuing heavy casualties among NATO troops and Afghan civilians in Afghanistan.

With Obama's controversial and risk-laden plan to first build up and then, in eighteen months, start drawing down US troops in Afghanistan, every nation and political leader in the region now faces another pivotal moment. At stake is whether the US and its allies are willing to talk to the Afghan Taliban, because there is no military victory in sight and no other way to end a war that has been going on for thirty years.

When that moment comes—as it must—will the US and NATO be ready to talk with the Taliban or will they be internally divided, as they are now? Will President Hamid Karzai have the credibility to take part in such talks and deliver on an agreement that might be reached? Will the ISI demand that their own Taliban protégés return to power? Will the Taliban hard-liners, now scenting victory, even agree to talks and, as a consequence, be prepared to dump al-Qaeda? Or will they sit out the next eighteen months waiting for the Americans to begin to leave?


The Afghan Taliban are now a country-wide movement. During the last year they expanded to the previously quiet west and north of Afghanistan. Their leadership has safe havens in Pakistan. Casualties on all sides have risen dramatically. According to the UN, in 2009 there were an average of 1,200 attacks a month by Taliban or other insurgent groups—a 65 percent increase from the previous year. Over the twelve-month period, 2,412 Afghan civilians were killed, an increase of 14 percent; of those, two thirds were killed by the Taliban, a 40 percent increase. In addition, US and NATO combat deaths rose 76 percent, from 295 in 2008 to 520 in 2009.

Adding to the challenges facing the Afghan government, over the years it has been difficult to recruit Pashtuns for the Afghan army and police from the southern Pashtun provinces, which are largely controlled by the Taliban, although recently Pashtun recruitment has increased following a pay rise for security forces. Even so, the Taliban have infiltrated parts of the Afghan army and police—the key components of the US plan to start the handover of power to local forces by July 2011. In large parts of Afghanistan, development programs have come to a halt and nearly half of the UN staff assigned to Afghanistan have been relocated to Dubai and Central Asia because of security concerns.

According to Major General Michael Flynn, the NATO military chief of intelligence in Afghanistan, the Taliban now have shadow governors in thirty-three out of thirty-four provinces—they serve to organize the movement at a provincial level and disrupt government initiatives in their area—and the movement "can sustain itself indefinitely." Flynn has described US intelligence in Afghanistan as "clueless" and "ignorant."*

Taliban commanders have stepped up their vicious campaign to intimidate or kill any Afghan civilians working for the Karzai government, aid agencies, women's groups, and even the UN. On January 18, militants launched a double suicide attack just yards from the presidential palace in central Kabul, provoking a gun battle in which three soldiers and two civilians were killed and more than seventy wounded. "We are now at a critical juncture.... The situation cannot continue as is if we are to succeed in Afghanistan," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the UN Security Council earlier in the month. "There is a risk that the deteriorating overall situation will become irreversible," he added.

The prevailing view in Washington is that many Taliban fighters in the field can eventually be won over, but that the present US troop surge has to roll them back first, reversing Taliban successes and gaining control over the population centers and major roads. According to the current American strategy, the US military has to weaken the Taliban before negotiating with them. The commander of US and NATO forces, General Stanley McChrystal, has both a special fund of $1.5 billion to provide incentives and other forms of support to Taliban who put down their arms, and a group of British and American officers who are drawing up plans to win over Taliban commanders and fighters as the troop surge tilts the battlefield back in favor of the US. General McChrystal told me in Islamabad in early January that he is confident that many Taliban will be won over in the field. This US reconciliation effort would be led by Karzai, who for several years has called for talks with Taliban leaders.

There is another way of looking at the present crisis. Despite their successes, the Taliban are probably now near the height of their power. They do not control major population centers—nor can they, given NATO's military strength and air power. There are no countrywide, populist insurrections against NATO forces as there were against the coalition forces in Iraq. The vast majority of Afghans do not want the return of a Taliban regime despite their anger at the Karzai government and the general international failure to deliver economic progress. Many Afghans believe that as long as Western troops remain, there is still the hope that security can return and their lives change for the better.

Thus the next few months could offer a critical opportunity to persuade the Taliban that this is the best time to negotiate a settlement, because they are at their strongest.


Both Generals McChrystal and David Petraeus, the head of the US military's Central Command, have said that they cannot shoot their way to victory. Obama is clear about defeating al-Qaeda, but he is more inclined toward negotiations with the Taliban. In his West Point speech in December, Obama said he supported Kabul's efforts to "open the door to those Taliban who abandon violence and respect the human rights of their fellow citizens."

The present US military strategy aims to peel away Taliban commanders and fighters and resettle them without making any major political concessions or changes to the Afghan constitution. But Washington remains deeply divided about talking to the Taliban leaders. The State and Defense Departments, the White House, and the CIA all have different views about it, and there are also divisions between the US and its allies.

General McChrystal told me that many mid-level Taliban commanders and their men are waiting for Karzai to announce a reconciliation strategy before offering to change sides. "The reintegration of former Taliban into society offers a good chance to reduce the insurgency in Afghanistan...while al-Qaeda needs to be hunted and destroyed." Whether the US and its allies should hold talks with the Taliban leadership, he said, is a political decision to be made by Washington. In December Richard Holbrooke, the US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told me that in his estimation some 70 percent of the Taliban fight for local reasons or money rather than because of ideological commitment to the movement, and they can be won over.

Meanwhile the Taliban have shown the first hint of flexibility, as suggested in a ten-page statement issued in November 2009 for the religious festival of Eid. The Taliban leader Mullah Omar, while urging his fighters to continue the jihad against "the arrogant [US] enemy," also pledged that a future Taliban regime would bring peace and noninterference from outside forces, and would pose no threat to neighboring countries—implying that al-Qaeda would not be returning to Afghanistan along with the Taliban. Sounding more like a diplomat than an extremist, Omar said, "The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan wants to take constructive measures together with all countries for mutual cooperation, economic development and good future on the basis of mutual respect."

A week later, the Taliban's response to Obama's West Point speech again suggested a changed attitude. There was not a single mention of jihad or imposing Islamic law. Instead the Taliban spoke of a nationalist and patriotic struggle for Afghanistan's independence and said they were ready to give legal guarantee if the foreign forces withdraw from Afghanistan." In a New Year's message the Taliban, while condemning the US surge, even seemed to empathize with Obama, observing that the American president faces "a great many problems and opposition" at home.

The Taliban's new tone can be traced to secret talks in the spring of 2009. Sponsored by Saudi Arabia at Karzai's request, the talks included former (or now retired) Taliban, former Arab members of al-Qaeda, and Karzai's representatives. No breakthrough took place, but the talks led to a series of visits to Saudi Arabia by important Taliban leaders during the rest of 2009. The US, British, and Saudi officials who were indirectly in contact with the Taliban there quickly encouraged them to renounce al-Qaeda and lay out their negotiating demands. In turn, the Taliban said that distancing themselves from al-Qaeda would require the other side to meet a principal demand of their own: that all foreign forces must announce a timetable to leave Afghanistan.

Istakhbarat, the Saudi intelligence service, is not set up to produce political results, but it has given the Taliban a safe venue to meet and it has acted as an interlocutor with Afghan government and Western officials. Significantly the ISI, which has demanded a key part in the negotiations from its erstwhile Saudi allies, has so far been left out at the request of both the Taliban and the Afghan government—neither of whom trust it. That now may be about to change. The key to more formal negotiations with Taliban leaders lies with Pakistan and the ISI.


Tensions between the US and Pakistan have escalated in recent months as Washington demands that the Pakistani military "capture or kill" Afghan Taliban leaders as well as top militants in Pakistan. These include the Afghan Taliban leadership living in Quetta and Karachi, as well as their allies such as Jalaluddin Haqqani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who live in North Waziristan in the tribal areas abutting Afghanistan. Pakistan says it is too busy dealing with its own acute problems with the Pakistani Taliban and a growing number of terrorist attacks by various insurgent groups. Its forces are overstretched, it has little money, and it will oblige the Americans only when it is ready to do so. In fact Pakistan would never launch a military offensive against the Afghan Taliban leaders since it has viewed them as potential allies in a post-American Afghanistan, when the US will probably ditch Pakistan as well.

Pakistan's military is deeply fearful of a US withdrawal from Afghanistan; the result could be civil war and mayhem in its backyard once again. "We want the American surge to succeed in Afghanistan, because if they don't we will pay the price," a senior Pakistani military officer told me. The army is also convinced that the US will eventually align itself with India and that it has allowed India to strengthen its influence in Kabul at Pakistan's expense. Despite all the sacrifices it has made for the Afghans over thirty years, supporting them against the Soviets, Pakistanis are now friendless in Afghanistan—except for the Afghan Taliban, who are more wary than friendly toward the ISI.

To regain influence in Afghanistan and drive the Indians out once the Americans leave, the Pakistan military could, as an alternative, back the Taliban in a plan to retake Kabul and set up a government that would do Pakistan's bidding. However that possibility is now too risky; the international community would never tolerate it, and such a regime would also provide a base from which the Pakistani Taliban could launch further attacks in Pakistan.

In a major policy shift, senior Pakistani military and intelligence officials say they have offered to help broker talks between Taliban leaders, the Americans, and Karzai. "We want the talks to start now, not in eighteen months when they are leaving; but the Americans have to trust and depend on us," a senior military officer told me. There is a deep lack of trust between the CIA and the ISI, and other countries may also balk at Pakistan's insistence that all negotiations should be channeled through the ISI. Pakistani officials suggest that if the ISI helps arrange talks, then independent contacts between Taliban leaders and the CIA, British intelligence (MI6), and Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS) would have to stop. In return, Pakistani officials say only that they want to be sure "that Pakistan's national interests in Afghanistan are looked after"—interests that have yet to be clearly spelled out to the Americans and Afghans.

This is an important change in the official position of Pakistan. For the past nine years—despite the well-known connections between the ISI and the Afghan Taliban—Pakistan has denied that it has influence over the Taliban leaders, and openly playing host to them was considered out of the question. Pakistan will have to make serious efforts to gain the confidence of the US and the Afghans if it is to sponsor negotiations with the Taliban; but their differences could be worked out through arrangements made between the various intelligence agencies and governments involved. Senior US officials say that Pakistan is showing itself to be "more flexible" on Afghan policy than before.

How will the Taliban leaders respond? Many of them are fed up with years of ISI manipulation and strategizing on their behalf and would prefer to keep the ISI out of such talks. Some members of the Taliban have built up a rapport with Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security, the domestic intelligence agency of the Kabul government. The NDS and the ISI loathe and mistrust each other, and the NDS would be extremely reluctant to allow the ISI a central part in negotiations. Moreover the crucial acceptance of reconciliation with the Taliban has to come from the non-Pashtun population in the north who are extremely hostile to the Taliban and the ISI. If the northern ethnic groups who make up just over 50 percent of the population do not accept the reconciliation plan, there could be a renewed civil war as in the 1990s.

But the ISI has power and influence over the Taliban. Not only are the Taliban able to resupply their fighters from Pakistan, and seek medical treatment and other facilities, but the families of most Taliban leaders live in Pakistan where they own homes and run businesses and shops. Taliban leaders travel to Saudi Arabia on Pakistani passports. All this makes them vulnerable to ISI pressure. Even before the US military can consider coopting mid-level Taliban commanders, both sides would have to ascertain how this would play with the ISI.

The Pakistani army's desperate desire to have some control over future events in Afghanistan is partly due to its strategic aim of avoiding encirclement by India; but it is also a result of the setbacks it has received since 2001. The military is still smarting from former President Bush's decisions to allow the anti-Pakistan Northern Alliance to take Kabul in 2001, to ignore Islamabad's later requests for consultations on US strategy in Afghanistan, and to treat all Afghan Pashtuns as potential Taliban. This helped radicalize Pakistan's own Pashtun population, which is more than twice the size of Afghanistan's. (There are 12 million Pashtuns in Afghanistan and 27 million in Pakistan.)


Talking to the Taliban requires more than just secret cooperation among intelligence agencies or the CIA handing out bribes to Taliban commanders to change sides—as it did with the Northern Alliance in 2001. There is an urgent need for a publicly promoted strategy involving concrete efforts to build political institutions and provide humanitarian aid in ways that do not require intrusive Western control—a strategy that could attract many members of the Taliban, reduce violence, and placate Afghans who are opposed to all such compromises. Obama officials have talked up the need for such a public strategy but accomplished little during his first year in office. Yet such goals are of paramount importance.

Here are some suggestions of steps that should be taken in advance of talking to the Taliban. Almost all these points have theoretically been accepted by the US and NATO but none have been acted upon:

1. Convince Afghanistan's neighbors and other countries in the region to sign on to a reconciliation strategy with the Taliban, to be led by the Afghan government. Creating a regional strategy and consensus on Afghanistan was one of the primary aims of the Obama administration; but little has been achieved. From Iran to India, regional tensions are worse now than a year ago.

2. Allow Afghanistan to submit to the UN Security Council a request that the names of Taliban leaders be removed from a list of terrorists drawn up in 2001—so long as those leaders renounce violence and ties to al-Qaeda. Russia has so far refused to entertain such a request; but Obama has not tried hard enough to extract this concession from Russian leaders.

3. Pass a UN Security Council resolution giving the Afghan government a formal mandate to negotiate with the Taliban, and allow the US, NATO, and the UN to encourage that process. This would mean persuading reluctant countries like Russia and India to support such a resolution.

4. Have NATO and Afghan forces take responsibility for the security of Taliban and their families who return to Afghanistan, enlisting the help of international agencies such as the UN High Commission for Refugees or the International Committee of the Red Cross to work with the Afghan government to assist these returning Taliban members, arranging for compensation, housing, job training, and other needs they may have in facing resettlement.

5. Provide adequate funds, training, and staff for a reconciliation body, led by the Afghan government, that will work with Western forces and humanitarian agencies to provide a comprehensive and clearly spelled-out program for the security of the returning Taliban and for facilities to receive them.

6. Encourage the Pakistani military to assist NATO and Afghan forces in providing security to returning Taliban and their families and allow necessary cross-border support from international humanitarian agencies. Encourage Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to help the Taliban set up a legal political party, as other Afghan militants—such as former members of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hizb-i-Islami party—have done. This would be a tremendous blow to al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban and it would give concrete form to Obama's repeated pledge that he is ready to reach out to foes in the Muslim world.

7. The Taliban leadership should be provided with a neutral venue such as Saudi Arabia or elsewhere, where it can hold talks with the Afghan government and NATO. The US should release the remaining Afghan prisoners held at Guantánamo and allow them to go to either Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia.

Unless such publicly announced policies are carried out, the Taliban may well conclude that it is better and safer to sit out the next eighteen months, wait for the Americans to start leaving, and then, when they judge Afghanistan to be vulnerable, go for the kill in Kabul—although that would only lead to a renewed civil war.


Just as Afghanistan faces a crucial choice, we have a book that for the first time places readers at the heart of the Taliban's way of thinking—My Life with the Taliban, by Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the former Taliban minister and ambassador to Pakistan, who spent over four years in Guantánamo prison. Originally published in Pashto, the language of the Pashtuns, the book has been beautifully translated and extensively edited for easier understanding by Alex Strick van Linschoten and Feliz Kuehn, two researchers who live in Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban.

Zaeef was born in 1968 and grew up in a small dusty village in Kandahar province. Like many Taliban, he came from a family of mullahs and grew up an orphan, having lost his parents at an early age. Economic development never penetrated such Afghan villages as his and daily life was centered on learning at the madrasa, farming, and sustaining the Pashtun tribal code of honor and revenge. His extended clan fled to Pakistan after the 1979 Soviet invasion, but at the age of fifteen he secretly returned home to fight the Soviets. In the 1980s he served under several commanders, including Mullah Omar.

Zaeef dramatically brings to life the extremely harsh conditions under which the Afghans fought—without food, medical aid, or enough ammunition, and under constant Soviet bombardment:

When I first joined the jihad I was fifteen years old. I did not know how to fire a Kalashnikov or how to lead men. I knew nothing of war. But the Russian front lines were a tough proving ground and...I eventually commanded several mujahedeen groups.

After the Soviets left Afghanistan, Zaeef became a mullah in a small village near Kandahar. He describes how the situation deteriorated in the south as warlords and criminals extracted tolls from trucks on the road, kidnapped and raped women, and held young boys captive to become their forced lovers. Zaeef was one of the original Taliban; in the winter of 1994 he joined with like-minded young men to work out a strategy for dealing with the warlords.

He was and remains intensely loyal to Mullah Omar, who would, he writes,

listen to everybody with focus and respect for as long as they needed to talk, and would never seek to cut them off. After he had listened, he then would answer with ordered, coherent thoughts.

When Zaeef attended the founding meeting of the Taliban, each man took an oath of loyalty to Omar. That oath is still in effect, which is why no senior Taliban commander has ever betrayed the whereabouts of Omar. As the Taliban started to conquer Afghanistan, Zaeef was promoted from one job to the next.

After the Taliban capture of Kabul in 1996, Zaeef was moved to the defense ministry where, he writes, the weekly budget for the various Taliban militias fighting the Northern Alliance was $300,000 a week, or just $14 million a year. By 1999 when the Taliban controlled 80 percent of the country, their entire annual budget was just $80 million—from the Islamic taxes the Taliban imposed as well as donations from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and, after 1996, Osama bin Laden (although Zaeef does not mention his contribution). He describes a chaotic and uncoordinated government:

The budget didn't even come close to what was needed in order to start any serious development; it was like a drop of water that falls on a hot stone, evaporating without leaving any trace.

Early in his book Zaeef describes his intense hatred for the ISI, which deepened in 2000 when he was appointed Taliban ambassador to Pakistan. He claims he resisted being recruited by the ISI. "In my dealings with them I tried to be not so sweet that I would be eaten whole, and not so bitter that I would be spat out." He describes how "the ISI extended its roots deep into Afghanistan like a cancer puts down roots in the human body," and how "every ruler of Afghanistan complained about it, but none could get rid of it." Zaeef set up his own clandestine network of Pakistani officials who provided him information about what the ISI was planning regarding the Taliban.

What Zaeef omits or fudges is significant. He makes no mention of the ISI's financial and material support to the Taliban, and says hardly anything about al-Qaeda or how his hero Mullah Omar became so close to Osama bin Laden. He has nothing to say about the Taliban's repressive attitudes toward women, including the ban on their education, and he makes no mention of the Taliban's harsh punishments, including public stonings.

By 2001, after UN sanctions restricted the Taliban's international contacts, Zaeef became the only Taliban leader who could meet with US and Western envoys. His relationship with the US embassy in Islamabad was dominated by American demands to hand over Osama bin Laden. In the days after September 11, he frantically tried to stave off the impending US attack on his country by appealing to Western embassies, writing letters to the UN, and trying to enlist support from Islamic countries. He met with Mullah Omar, who was convinced that the Americans would not dare attack. In Omar's mind, Zaeef writes, "there was less than a 10 percent chance that America would resort to anything beyond threats and so an attack was unlikely."

In January 2002 he was turned over to the Americans by the ISI—sold, according to him—and ended up in Guantánamo. He now lives in Kabul under government protection and his final plea is for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. He says he does not believe in al-Qaeda, but speaks as an Afghan patriot with strong Islamist leanings toward the Taliban. Afghanistan, he writes, is "a family home in which we all have the right to live...without discrimination and while keeping our values. No one has the right to take this away from us." Can Afghanistan ever be a peaceful home for all Afghans? They certainly deserve it.

—January 20, 2010


*See Noah Shachtman, "'Afghan Insurgency Can Sustain Itself Indefinitely': Top U.S. Intel Officer,", January 8, 2010. General Flynn's briefing, called " State of the Insurgency: Trends, Intentions and Objectives," was presented on December 23, 2009. Also see "NATO Official: US Spy Work Lacking in Afghanistan," Associated Press, January 5, 2010.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

CIA Killings Spell Defeat In Afghanistan

CIA Killings Spell Defeat In Afghanistan

Disrupting the Accommodation:


“Why?” The grieving family members ask. “Why did the terrorists kill our loved ones?”
The hardnosed colleagues of the four fallen CIA officers comfort the wives and children (and one husband). They shake off their sorrow, huddle together by the graves, and vow vengeance. They bathe themselves in their seething anger like it was the blood of the lamb.

“Why? The American public and its officials ask. Why? The media repeats, adding in shock and awe, “Don’t the terrorists know that you can’t kill CIA officers?”

Why, everyone wonders, did a Jordanian suicide bomber target the CIA, knowing that the wrath of the biggest, baddest, bloodthirstiest Gang on Planet Earth is going to start dropping bombs and slitting throats until its lust for death and suffering is satisfied?

Over the course of its sixty year reign of terror, in which it has overthrown countless governments, started countless wars costing countless lives, and otherwise subverted and sabotaged friends and foes alike, the CIA has lost less than 100 officers.

On a good day, one CIA drone, and one CIA hit team, kills 100 innocent women and children, and nobody bats an eye.

Why would the terrorists suddenly deviate from the norm – the sacred accommodation – and throw the whole game into chaos?

OK, I’ll Tell You Why

There is a phenomenon called “The Universal Brotherhood of Officers.” It exists in the twilight zone between imagination and in reality, in the fog of war. It is why officers are separated from enlisted men in POW camps and given better treatment. It is why officers of opposing armies have more in common with one another than they have with their own enlisted men.

Officers are trained to think of their subordinate ranks as canon fodder. Their troops are expendable. They know when they send a unit up a hill, some will be killed. That is why they do not fraternize with thee lower ranks. This class distinction exists across the world, and is the basis of the sacred accommodation. No slobs need apply.

It is why the Bush Family flew the Bin Laden Family, and other Saudi Royals, out of the United States in the days after 9-11. If anyone was a case officer to the 9-11 bombers, or had knowledge about the bombers or any follow-up plots, it was these “protected” people.

CIA officers are at the pinnacle of the Universal Brotherhood. They are the Protected Few, blessed with false identities and bodyguards, flying in jet planes, living in villas, eating fancy food and enjoying state of the art technology. CIA officers tell army generals what to do.They direct Congressional committees. They assassinate heads of state and innocent children equally, with impunity, with indifference.

In Afghanistan they manage the drug trade from their hammocks in the shade.They know the Taliban tax the farmers growing the opium, and they know that Karzai’s warlords convert the opium into heroin and fly it to the Russian mob. They are amused by the antics of earnest DEA agents, who, in their ignorant patriotic bliss, cannot believe such an accommodation exists.

CIA officers are trained to exist in this moral netherworld of protected drug dealers, for the simple reasons that the CIA in every conflict has a paramount need to keep secure communication channels open to the enemy. This is CIA 101. The CIA, as part of its mandate, is authorized to negotiate with the enemy, but it can only do so as long as the channel is secure and deniable.

No proof will ever exist, so the American public can be deceived.

Take Iran Contra, when Reagan vowed never to negotiate with terrorists, then a team to Tehran to sell missiles to thee Iranians and use the money to buy guns for the drug dealing Contras.
There’s stated and unstated policy – and the CIA is always pursuing the unstated, which is why it relies so heavily on its patriotic and witless assets in the mainstream media.

In Afghanistan the accommodation is the environment that allows the CIA to have a secure channel to the Taliban to negotiate on simple matters like prisoner exchanges.

The exchange of British journalist Peter Moore for an Iraqi “insurgent” in CIA custody was an example of how the accommodation works in Iraq. Moore was held by a Shia group allegedly allied to Iran, and his freedom depended entirely on the CIA reaching an accommodation with America’s enemies in the Iraq resistance. The details of such prisoner exchanges are never revealed, but involve secret negotiations by the CIA and the resistance over issues of strategic importance to both sides.

The accommodation is the intellectual environment which provides a space for any eventual reconciliation. There are always preliminary negotiations for a reconciliation or ceasefire, and in every modern conflict that’s the CIA’s job.

And the Afghanis want reconciliation. Apart from the US and CIA, Karzai and his clique at every level have filial relations with the Taliban.

No matter how powerful the CIA is, it can’t overcome that.
Ed Brady, an Army officer detailed to the CIA and assigned to the Phoenix Directorate in Saigon in 1967 and 1968, explains how the accommodation worked in Vietnam.

While Brady and his Vietnamese counterpart Colonel Tan were lunching at a restaurant in Dalat, Tan pointed at a woman eating noodle soup and drinking Vietnamese coffee at the table next to them. He told Brady that she was the Viet Cong province chief’s wife. Brady, of course, wanted to grab her and use her for bait.

Coolly, Colonel Tan said to him: “You don’t understand. You don’t live the way we live. You don’t have any family here. You’re going to go home when this operation is over. You don’t think like you’re going to live here forever. But I have a home and a family and kids that go to school. I have a wife that has to go to market…. And you want me to go kill his wife? You want me to set a trap for him and kill him when he comes in to see his wife? If we do that, what are they going to do to our wives?”

“The VC didn’t run targeted operations against them either,” Brady explains. “There were set rules that you played by. If you went out and conducted a military operation and you chased them down fair and square in the jungle and you had a fight, that was okay. If they ambushed you on the way back from a military operation, that was fair. But to conduct these clandestine police operations and really get at the heart of things, that was kind of immoral to them. That was not cricket. And the Vietnamese were very, very leery of upsetting that.”

Obama’s Dirty War in Afghanistan relies largely on such clandestine CIA operations, in which wives and children are used as bait to trap husbands – or are killed as a way of punishing men in the resistance.
The CIA plays the same role in Afghanistan that the Gestapo played in the cities and the Einsatzgruppen performed in the countryside for the Nazis in World War Two – killing and terrorizing the urban resistance and partisan bands.

Its unstated object is to rip apart working and middle class families and thus the whole fabric of Afghan society, until the Afghan people accept American domination, through its suppletif ruling class.(1)

And this is why the CIA was targeted.

The CIA is utterly predictable. It will invoke the “100-1 Rule” used by the Gestapo and Einsatzgruppen and go on a killing spree until its vengeance is satisfied. At the end of the day, the Afghan people will only hate the Americans more. This makes the CIA happy, on the premise that terror will make the people submit. But in Afghanistan it spells protracted war, and as in Vietnam, eventual defeat.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Jordanian Among Dead in Attack on CIA Base

Jordan has always been a breeding ground for CIA lackeys at the royal CIA Jordanian court, and the home away from home...for the infamous White House Murder INC's dark rooms for decades....

According to the CIA, a suicide attack last Wednesday at a base in eastern Afghanistan killed seven members of the US Central Intelligence Agency and wounded six others. CIA director Leon Panetta stated that seven members of the CIA were killed last in an attack during last Wednesday 30 Dec. 2009 in Afghanistan. The American President, his family and their dog sent condolences to the families of the dead.

What Mr. Panetta did not mention was that among the dead was also a Jordanian CIA employee, Captain “Al-Sherif” Ali bin Zeid bin Shaker. In the same fashion, the Jordanian government also avoided to mention this in public, or even to confirm the presence of Jordanian troops in Afghanistan, because of the obvious embarrassment this would cause to the Jordanian regime. How shameful this incident is to the jordanian regime can be seen in the scant mention in the media of the death of this “holy” man (al-sherif means holy in Arabic).

Today Saturday, the Jordanian official news agency Petra stated that the body of Bin Zeid had arrived in Jordan and was received by King Abdullah II, Queen Rania, Prince Hassan and other royals. Petra did not say that Bin Zeid was among the CIA employees killed last Wednesday in Afghanistan, but they did not shrink from the shamelessness of calling the Bin Zeid a “martyr”, an apostrophe of respect usually given to those fallen in resistance to foreign occupiers such as Israel, as if this collaborator had been protecting anything of value.

CIA agent Ali bin Zeid carried the title of “Al-Sherif”, which is only bestowed on members of the Jordanian royal family and those near to it. His father was prime minister under the late King Hussein, and one of the closest people to the royal family. His family said that he was in Afghanistan for 20 days and had been due to return home on the day he was killed. The family added that the precise circumstances in which their son died “remain unclear”.

It should be noted that the CIA maintains a secret jail for torture in Jordan, and that Bin Zeid was not precisely in a holy peace mission in Afghanistan, as could be concluded from the statements of his family and the Jordanian government, but rather that he was working for the CIA, most likely involved in interrogation and torture of Afghani prisoners at the CIA base where the attack occurred.

According to the media, the head of the base, a woman mother of three was among the dead in the attack. While all deaths are a sad affair and no child should grow up without their parents, it can be assumed that it is in the best interest of these children to have a chance to grow up far away from the influence of an antisocial woman involved in a commanding position in torture and probably many cold blooded murders.....

In Palestine, CIA members work among the Palestinian alternative security forces, the Intelligence forces, and they are issuing arrest warrants against leaders of Hamas and members of the resistance, and are widely known to be engaged in torturing them during interrogations. The Americans from the CIA in Palestine were also involved in the Israeli murder of three Palestinians in Nablus in the northern of the West Bank last Saturday 26 December 2009.

These Jordanians are little puppets and are engaged in these operations from Yemen to Paksistan, to Iraq, to Lebanon...... It is just disgusting what these treacherous people would do for aid since the days of the CIA agent King Hussein until this very day.....