Intellectuals and respected Afghan professionals are convinced the west is prolonging conflict to maintain influence in the region
It’s near-impossible to find anyone in Afghanistan who doesn’t believe the US are funding the Taliban: and it’s the highly educated Afghan professionals, those employed by ISAF, USAID, international media organisations – and even advising US diplomats – who seem the most convinced.
One Afghan friend, who speaks flawless English and likes to quote Charles Dickens, Bertolt Brecht and Anton Chekhov, says the reason is clear. “The US has an interest in prolonging the conflict so as to stay in Afghanistan for the long term.”
The continuing violence between coalition forces and the Taliban is simple proof in itself.
“We say in this country, you need two hands to clap,” he says, slapping his hands together in demonstration. “One side can’t do it on its own.”
His arguments are reasoned, although he slightly ruins the effect by explaining to me that no Jews died in the Twin Towers. It’s not just the natural assets of Afghanistan but its strategic position, the logic goes. Commanding this country would give the US power over India, Russia, Pakistan and China, not to mention all the central Asian states.
“The US uses Israel to threaten the Arab states, and they want to make Afghanistan into the same thing,” he says. “Whoever controls Asia in the future, controls the world.”
“Even a child of five knows this,” one Kabuli radio journalist tells me, holding his hand a couple of feet from the ground in illustration. Look at Helmand, he says; how could 15,000 international and Afghan troops fail to crush a couple of thousand of badly equipped Taliban?
And as for the British, apparently they want to stay in Afghanistan even more than the Americans. The reason they want to talk to the Taliban is to bring them into the government, thus consolidating UK influence.
This isn’t just some vague prejudice or the wildly conspiratorial theories so prevalent in the Middle East. There is a highly structured if convoluted analysis behind this. If the US really wanted to defeat the Taliban, person after person asks me, why don’t they tackle them in Pakistan? The reason is simple, one friend tells me. “As long as you don’t get rid of the nest, the problem will continue. If they eliminate the Taliban, the US will have no reason to stay here.”
The proof is manifold, they say (although it does tend to include the phrase guaranteed to dismay every journalist: “everybody knows that …”).
Among the things everybody knows are that Afghan national army troops report taking over Taliban bases to find identical rations and weapons to their own US-supplied equipment. The US funds the madrasas both in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, which produce the young Talibs. US army helicopters regularly deliver supplies behind Taliban lines. The aid organisations are nothing more than intelligence-collecting agencies, going into regions the army cannot easily reach to obtain facts on the ground. Even the humblest midwife-training project is a spying outfit.
One political scientist, who works as an advisor to US agencies in the north of the country, recounts how people fear the continuing influence of the warlords, illustrating his point with descriptions of violence and corruption that extends into the realms of banking, government and trade.
Afghans hate these warlords, he says, but the US wants them kept in place. “If they were removed, and competent and clean people brought in, we would bring in revenues of our own. We could have our own economy, and demand foreign investment with transparency. We would have a true army, to protect us and serve Afghanistan.”
So why do these well-educated Afghan professionals work for governments they are convinced want to sink their claws into their country?
There’s nothing contrived about their patriotism – with their skills they could easily study or work abroad, but choose to stay to build a better future for their country. Afghans have a historical suspicion towards any foreign power involved in their country and maybe with the resilience of a nation which has seen off one occupier after another, they are willing to wait it out, confident the will of the US will break before their own.
They don’t want Nato to leave for 15, maybe 20 years, anyway. It will take that long for Afghan institutions to be able to survive independently. In the meantime, as my literature-loving friend – who works for a number of US agencies – tells me, there is no contradiction in survival. “I like Benjamin Franklin in my pocket,” he smiles. So much for hearts and minds.
Tuesday 25 May 2010
Source: The Guardian
More on the war on terror:
– US special forces soldiers dug bullets out of their victims’ bodies in the bloody aftermath of a botched night raid, then washed the wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened
– Obama: ‘I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am President, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.’ (!)
Murray asserts that the primary motivation for US and British military involvement in central Asia has to do with large natural gas deposits in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. As evidence, he points to the plans to build a natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan that would allow Western oil companies to avoid Russia and Iran when transporting natural gas out of the region.
Murray alleged that in the late 1990s the Uzbek ambassador to the US met with then-Texas Governor George W. Bush to discuss a pipeline for the region, and out of that meeting came agreements that would see Texas-based Enron gain the rights to Uzbekistan’s natural gas deposits, while oil company Unocal worked on developing the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline.
“The consultant who was organizing this for Unocal was a certain Mr. Karzai, who is now president of Afghanistan,” Murray noted.
“There are designs of this pipeline, and if you look at the deployment of US forces in Afghanistan, as against other NATO country forces in Afghanistan, you’ll see that undoubtedly the US forces are positioned to guard the pipeline route. It’s what it’s about. It’s about money, it’s about oil, it’s not about democracy.”
“I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan,” he wrote Sept. 10 in a four-page letter to the department’s head of personnel. “I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end.”
“I’m not much for this war. I’m not sure it’s worth all those lives lost,” said Sergeant Christian Richardson as we walked across corn fields that will soon be ploughed up to plant a spring crop of opium poppy.
Opium production rate has soared to 6,900 tons in Afghanistan in the past 10 years ‘despite‘ the presence of 100,000 foreign troops in the country for nearly eight years.
A report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said on Wednesday that Afghanistan produces 92 percent of the world’s opium that has devastating global consequences.
The UN report also noted that Afghanistan’s illegal opium production is worth 65 billion dollars.
The heroin and opium market feeds 15 million addicts, with Europe, Russia and Iran consuming half the supply, UNODC reported.
– Top US commander in Afghanistan: The Taliban have gained the upper hand:
The Taliban have gained the upper hand in Afghanistan, the top American commander there said, forcing the U.S. to change its strategy in the eight-year-old conflict by increasing the number of troops in heavily populated areas like the volatile southern city of Kandahar, the insurgency’s spiritual home. Gen. Stanley McChrystal warned that means U.S. casualties, already running at record levels, will remain high for months to come.
(Source: The Wall Street Journal)