Posts Tagged ‘balochistan’
by stuartbramhall in China Watch, End of Capitalism
My last blog suggested that the current US wars in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia are really proxy wars with China over oil and gas resources. I continue the discussion by outlining the crucial Chinese and US alliances in the region.
China‘s Strategic Alliance with Pakistan
Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s recent threats against Pakistan for allegedly promoting Taliban terrorism are pure rhetoric. Their purpose is to conceal the strategic importance of Pakistan (and Afghanistan) in US competition with China over oil and national gas resources. It also conceals the reality that the undeclared US war against Pakistan (approximately 2,000 civilians have been killed since the drone attacks started in 2004 – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drone_attacks_in_Pakistan) is really a proxy war against China.
Pakistan is China’s strongest ally in protecting the oil supply critical to its booming economy is Pakistan. At present China imports 46% of its oil. In contrast the US imports 60%. (See http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90778/90860/6891500.html). Twenty percent of Chinese oil imports come from Saudi Arabia and somewhat less from Angola (see http://www.presstv.ir/detail/183746.html.) Ten percent of China’s oil imports come from Iran.
Growing Military Tension in Pakistan
Until recently, all oil originating from Saudi Arabia and Iran had to be transported via the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, which is under the control of the US Navy (see http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/62604/dennis-blair-and-kenneth-lieberthal/smooth-sailingthe-worlds-shipping-lanes-are-safe). To counterbalance this de facto US control over their oil transhipments, China built a port in Gwadar (in Balochistan province) Pakistan to facilitate overland oil transport – via an extensive Chinese-built super highway and eventually the IPIC (the Iran- Pakistan- India-China) pipeline.
Since 2002, covert CIA support for the Baloch separatist movement and daily “terrorist” bombings and assassinations have seriously disrupted operations at the Gwadar Port (see “Our CIA Freedom Fighters in Pakistan” at http://stuartbramhall.aegauthorblogs.com/2011/03/07/our-cia-freedom-fighters-in-pakistan/). As this obviously has more effect on the Pakistan economy than on China, the Pakistani government has recently given China permission to build a naval base in Gwadar http://corredorbioceanico.wordpress.com/2011/06/14/great-game-in-the-indian-ocean/.This move is also partly motivated by continued US violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty with CIA drone strikes in Waziristan.
China’s Other Strategic Alliances
As US influence in Saudi Arabia declines (in 2003 they demanded the US withdraw their troops from Saudi military bases – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_withdrawal_from_Saudi_Arabia), the Chinese also strengthen political and economic ties with the Saudis.
Meanwhile as the US prepares to withdraw from Afghanistan, the US State Department is extremely concerned about growing Chinese investment and influence in Afghanistan, especially in view of China’s strong alliance with Pakistan and the latter’s historic links with the Taliban (which seems positioned to take power following US withdrawal). Important context often omitted by the US media is that the CIA collaborated with Pakistan to create the Taliban in CIA-funded Madrassas (fundamentalist Islamic schools) to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979-1988). The subsequent Taliban takeover was fully supported by both Bush senior and Clinton, in the belief that they had the ability to bring peace and stability to a country devastated by decades of civil war. Both were essential to enable US oil companies to employ Afghanistan as a transit route for newly discovered Caspian Sea oil and gas. It was only when the Taliban balked at the Bush administration’s proposed oil-gas pipeline in 2001 that they became the enemy.
It’s no surprise that China is also one of the strongest political and economic supporters of Hamas and the Palestinian peace process (see http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2011-03/26/content_12231765.htm). At present Israeli terrorist victims are suing a Chinese bank that provided major financial support to Hamas (http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=228728).
US Allegiances in the Middle East
India, Pakistan’s long time enemy, is a strong ally of the US (second only to Israel) in this strategic war over resources. Indian intelligence (RAW) is a longstanding supporter of Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance. With US military support, the Northern Alliance install Hamid Karzai as president of Afghanistan following the US invasion, although Karzai only controls a small area around Kabul. RAW provided the Northern Alliance with weapons, training and financial support while the US and Pakistan were still supporting the Taliban. In addition, RAW provides major support for the Baloch separatist movement in Pakistan (see “Our CIA Freedom Fighters in Pakistan” at http://stuartbramhall.aegauthorblogs.com/2011/03/07/our-cia-freedom-fighters-in-pakistan/). According to many Pakistani analysts, it’s also responsible for cross border terrorism on the Kashmir-Pakistan border (see http://www.newscenterpk.com/indian-double-game-with-bangladesh.html).
by stuartbramhall in Challenging the Corporate Media, The Wars in the Middle East
Owing to Balochistan’s (see prior blog) strategic importance as an energy transit route, its people have long served as pawns for major world powers. The Balochi are an ethnic group belonging to the larger Iranian peoples and speak dialects distantly related to Kurdish. In the 19th century the Persian (precursor to Iran) and British empire divided up Baluchistan (spelled with a “u” prior to becoming a Pakistan province in 1970) into three main parts: Northern or Afghan Baluchistan, which became part of Afghanistan; Western or Iranian Baluchistan, which became part of Iran, and Eastern or Central Baluchistan, which up until 1948 was an autonomous, semi-independent state west of Pakistan.
The British recognized Central Baluchistan as independent during the period they occupied India. Moreover the Tripartite Agreement signed in August 1947, which granted India and Pakistan independence from Britain, formally recognized the sovereign status of Baluchistan. This ended when Pakistan army invaded Central Baluchistan on March 26,1948, ending 300 years of autonomous rule. By annexing Baluchistan, Pakistan nearly doubled the size of their territory, as well as gaining access to valuable oil and gas reserves, gold, copper and other valuable minerals. Very little of the wealth generated from these resources were shared with Balochistan, which remains an extremely poor province. Ironically even Quetta, the capital, had to wait until 1976 to enjoy their own natural gas in the form of bottled LPG (liquefied petroleum gas). The supply of piped natural gas is still extremely limited, and only 25% of Balochi enjoy electrification and only 20% access to safe drinking water (http://archives.dawn.com/2006/02/06/ebr7.htm).
Iran’s Baloch Separatist Movement
The Iranian Balochi, unlike the rest of mainly Shiite Iran, are Sunni Muslims. Their own independence movement received major support between 1950 to 1980 from Arab nationalists in Iraq, Syria and Egypt. The strength of their insurgency against Iran inspired a similar armed uprising among Balochi in Pakistan, which was quashed by the Pakistan army, followed by long periods of martial law in 1973 and 1977.
Iraq massively renewed their support for the separatists in Iran during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. Meanwhile the independence movement in Pakistan was resurrected by the Soviets following their 1979 invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. The 2006 expose published by the London Institute of South Asia (http://www.lisauk.com/baluchistan.asp) features a fascinating interview with the two ex-KGB officers responsible for creating the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) in 1980. According to the ex-KGB officers, the Soviets’ primary motivation was to create internal difficulties for Pakistan, which was funding, arming and training (with CIA oversight and support) the Mujaheddin guerrilla movement that was fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
The Role of Indian and Russian Intelligence
Soviet support for the BLA ended in 1989 when the Soviet Union collapsed. However the London Institute reports, based on their KGB sources and extensive interviews with local Balochi, that the CIA took over logistical support after the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. With the assistance of RAW (Indian intelligence) and RAD (Russian intelligence), in 2002 they set up the first BLA training camp for 30 Balochi youth, under the leadership of Moscow-trained electronics engineer Balach Marri, who used training manuals from the KGB archives. According to Canadian economist Michel Chossudovsky (http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7705), the operation is a replay of the CIA-financed Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which facilitated the break up of Yugoslavia and Serbia to create a US client state (Kosovo) adjacent to the oil-rich Caspian Sea basin.
RAW was a natural ally in recruiting disgruntled Afghan and Baloch youth for the BLA, owing to RAW’s extensive spy network in Pakistan – and Afghanistan – where they sided with the Northern Alliance (and Russia) against the American and Pakistani backed Taliban. The Russians were also key, owing to pre-existing relationship with the BLA and their ability to supply an infinite amount of cheap, untraceable weaponry.
All three countries support Balochistan independence, owing to the province’s strategic importance as an energy transit route. Not only is it a conduit for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India oil pipeline (which is mostly non-functional because the Taliban keep blowing up the Afghanistan section) and the planned Iran-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline, but more importantly it adjoins the Arabian Sea and the Straits of Hormuz, which annually transship 30% of the world’s oil resources pass every year.
The Chinese-Built Gwadar Port
The Chinese-built Gwadar Port in Gwadar, Balochistan, as well as the extensive highway infrastructure the Chinese have built connecting the port with the rest of Pakistan, is of even greater concern to all three countries. It guarantees China, America’s primary economic rival, a virtual monopoly on the Iranian oil entering Pakistan via the port.
- Chinese-built Gwadar Port
According to the London Institute, the joint CIA/RAW/Russian operation (which now operates numerous secret training camps) has been a source of new wealth for poverty-stricken Balochistan. According to the Institute’s local informants, BLA militants are paid $200 ($300 for section chiefs). Evidence of this cash influx is seen in the flashy new SUV’s many BLA activists drive and the luxurious homes going up in Baloch cities – as well as in lavish local weddings, where dancing troupes of “eunuchs and cross-dressers” are raking in massive mounts of cash.
Below: Eunuchs performing at wedding
by stuartbramhall in Challenging the Corporate Media, The Wars in the Middle East
If Pakistan is an Ally, Why Are We Trying to Break Up Their Country?
After ten years of fighting unwinnable wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, many Americans recognize that the wars in the Middle East are really about oil and natural gas, rather than terrorism. Bush’s decision to invade Afghanistan (instead of Saudi Arabia – the 911 hijackers were Saudi) stemmed from the Taliban refusal to construct an Afghanistan pipeline transporting Turkmenistan oil to Pakistan and the Arabian sea (where it could be loaded onto US tankers). Likewise the decision to invade 17 months later (which had no connection whatsoever with 911 or Al Qaeda) seems linked to Saddam Hussein’s threat to crash the US dollar by trading Iraqi oil in Euros instead of dollars. Under Obama, the “war on terror” has shifted eastward to Pakistan. Yet there’s no reason to believe the strategic objectives for US military intervention in Pakistan are any different from the ones that led us to invade Afghanistan and Iraq – namely strategic control of energy resources.
Although the subject receives little attention in the US media, various Pentagon analysts have been quite public about the strategic importance of energy and mineral rich Balochistan (a Pakistan province bordering Afghanistan and comprising 44% of the country’s geographic area) as an energy transit route. Several aggressively promote the “balkanization” of Pakistan. “Balkanization” is a term widely attributed to Carter’s national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski in his 1998 book The Grand Chessboard. It was one actively pursued by the Pentagon and CIA under Clinton in breaking up the former Yugoslavia, enabling US access to oil, natural gas and mineral resources in the former Soviet republics of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.
At present the immediate Pentagon/CIA goal is to create a Free Balochistan, which would incorporate the Pakistan province of Balochistan, a sizable swath of Iran that was originally part of independent Balochistan and part of Afghanistan. In fact since 2006, the Pentagon has made no secrete of their desire to Pakistan Balochistan (which has a strong separatist movement) secede from Pakistan to become a US client state (like Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan). It has cropped up in speeches by Condi Rice, in articles published by military journals and Pentagon think tanks and in trainings of senior military officers at the National War Academy and NATO’s Defense College.
Redrawing the Middle East
Condi Rice’s 2006 speech about “redrawing the Middle East” received the most attention in the US: http://www.globalresearch.ca/PrintArticle.php?articleId=3882. The international press has been more interested in a 2006 article by Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters of the Pentagon’s Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence Armed Forces Journal. They are most concerned about a map he has drawn, which he has copyrighted, showing the Baloch areas of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan joined as Free Balochistan (and reducing the size of Pakistan by 50%). http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2006/06/1833899
Robert Wirsing of the US Army think tank Strategic Studies Institute, has published a similar analysis: Baloch Nationalism and the Geopolitics of Energy Resources: Context of Separatism in Pakistan (http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/pub853.pdf). (other references regarding Pentagon strategy in Balochistan can be found in Alexander Achmatowicz’ guest post at http://stuartbramhall.aegauthorblogs.com/2010/09/29/balochistan-the-place-to-watch/ )
Peters, Wirsing and other military strategists argue the primary benefits of establishing Free Balochistan as a US client state would be
- securing Central Asian energy resources for the continental US.
- blocking Chinese access to these resources (via the Chinese-built Gwadar Port in Gwadar, Pakistan – China’s chief conduit for Iranian oil).
- destabilizing Iran (which also has a sizable Baloch population seeking independence).
Enter Our CIA Freedom Fighters
Ironically the CIA also seems to endorse this strategy, at least indirectly, in a report predicting that Pakistan will be a failed state by 2015 (http://intellibriefs.blogspot.com/2005/02/pak-will-be-failed-state-by-2015-cia.html). For obvious reasons, the report doesn’t spell out the critical role they intend to play in Pakistan’s demise, via their systematic efforts to destabilize the Pakistan government (e.g. using CIA agents like Raymond Davis to support Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists) and separating off 50% of its territory as Free Balochistan.
Nevertheless, according to an explosive 2006 expose by investigative journalists at the London Institute of South Asia (http://www.lisauk.com/baluchistan.asp), this is exactly what the CIA has been doing since 2002, when it set up the first training camp to revive the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). The London Institute indicates the CIA is collaborating in this effort with RAW (Indian intelligence), who have extensive spy networks throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan, and RAD (Russian intelligence), who started the BLA in 1980 during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and provide most of the weapons.
To be continued, with a discussion of the history of Balochistan and the KGB role in the formation of the BLA.
by stuartbramhall in Challenging the Corporate Media, The Wars in the Middle East, Things That Aren't What They Seem
The CIA’s use of mercenaries to fight covert wars is an essential component of US foreign policy as old as the CIA itself. It effectively evades the Constitutional requirement that only allows Congress to declare war, as well as effectively concealing the vast majority of these “interventions” from public view. In fact the American pubic was largely unaware of these secret CIA wars prior to the Irangate scandal in1987. In this case, Reagan and the CIA defied Congress by continuing an illegal war against Nicaragua, which they funded by the secret illegal sale of weapons to Iran, an enemy nation. And, as was later learned, cocaine trafficking by the CIA-backed Contras.
During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979-89), the CIA funding and training of Mujahideen freedom fighters led by Saudi businessman Tim Osman (his CIA name – most Americans know him as Osama bin Laden) was also well-publicized.
The CIA Covert War in Balochistan
In 2006, a series of exposes were published in the Pakistani and Asian press regarding covert CIA support for the separatist movement in Balochistan, a western Pakistan province bordering Afghanistan. Obviously it’s a subject that receives virtually no attention in the US media. However the recent arrest and trial of CIA/Xe (Blackwater) operative Raymond Davis in Lahore threatens to blow the lid off the extensive role CIA covert operations play in the climate of violence and instability throughout Pakistan.
Davis is charged with shooting two Pakistani intelligence agents and for offering to supply Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders with nuclear fissile and biologic agents (aka weapons of mass destruction). These are the facts, as reported by the international media, and, surprisingly, CNN (see http://www.zerohedge.com/article/cia-agent-caught-red-handed-aiding-pakistani-terrorism). I think the New York Times has finally admitted Davis is a CIA operative (despite their initial insistence that he was a US diplomat and entitled to diplomatic immunity). Amy Davidson has written an interesting article for the online New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/closeread/2011/02/keeping-quiet-about-davis.html) exploring why the New York Times chose not to report that Davis was a CIA agent, even after the Obama administration confirmed he was.
The Texts on Davis’ Cellphones
According to Pakistani prosecutors, Davis’ motives in offering to provide Pakistani terrorists with weapons of mass destruction was to create a “false flag” operation – in other words to commit a horrific terrorist act as a pretext to increase US military presence in Pakistan. I suspect Davis’ exact motivation will be difficult to prove, though the text messages on his two cell phones to known Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders are pretty damning. Nevertheless, the case will have a major impact on the US war in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Rumors about CIA operatives and contractors sponsoring both Al Qaeda and the Taliban to commit terrorist acts (as a justification for the continuing war on terror) have been circulating for years. To my knowledge, this is the first time one of them has been caught red-handed.
Pakistan’s Crackdown on Blackwater and the CIA
As a result of large militant protests over Davis’ arrest – and the large numbers of Pakistani civilians killed by CIA drones – the Pakistan government is demanding the expulsion of all Xe (Blackwater) contractors and CIA operatives from their country. In addition, Pakistan has also launched an investigation into the 414 Americans with diplomatic passports who serve no diplomatic function. (See http://realisticbird.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/blowback-from-the-arrest-of-the-cias-raymond-davis/)
I assume, based on a March 1 speech to the Assembly by Pakistan prime minister Gilani, that this includes CIA operatives involved in training, financing and overseeing “freedom fighters” in the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. In the speech, Gilani accuses “hostile external elements” of supporting the insurgency in the province of Balochistan is probably even more significant. (See http://tribune.com.pk/story/125602/baloch-insurgency-funded-from-abroad-pm/)
Owing to their heavy dependence on the US for political and economic aid, the Pakistan government has always tiptoed around CIA support for the BLA. In the past they have publicly accused Britain’s MI6 and RAW of supporting Baloch separatists. However discussions of CIA involvement always take place in closed door hearings:
Funding Both Sides of the War on Terror
The bizarre reality that the US is financing both sides in Pakistan’s war on terror (the US provides the F-16 jets the Pakistani military uses to bomb Baloch villages in Balochistan) also puts Islamabad in an extremely embarrassing position. (See http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7705)
Moreover there’s absolutely no way to ascertain whether random acts of terror in the tribal areas on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan are caused by the Taliban, Al Qaeda or the BLA. However the Pakistan government has good reason to be concerned about the CIA’s role in training and financing Baloch separatists (according to locals, they get paid $200 a month, $300 for section chiefs) in the region’s epidemic of violence. (See http://www.lisauk.com/baluchistan.asp)
To be continued, with a discussion of the real (strategic) reasons for the war on Pakistan.
by stuartbramhall in Challenging the Corporate Media, End of Capitalism, The Global Economic Crisis, The Wars in the Middle East, Things That Aren't What They Seem
Noam Chomsky was one of the first to raise the possibility the US was becoming a failed state. He published Failed States: the Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy. Chomsky’s book in early 2006, before it became anyone realized the federal government was incapable of rehabilitating post-Katrina New Orleans. And left it to a network of non-profits and grassroots groups to take it on. This was also prior to the 2008 economic collapse, which the US government also badly mismanaged, in contrast to other developed countries who have clearly tackled unemployment and home foreclosures far more efficiently than either the Bush or Obama administration. And prior to Obama’s mismanagement of the BP oil spill, the worst environmental disaster in history.
I refer people to a Dec 1 BP Oil Spill status report, concerning the continuing seepage of oil and methane through cracks in the ocean floor, increased seismic activity (due to crust damage), and the stalled Gulf Stream current : http://phoenixrisingfromthegulf.wordpress.com/
Moreover Chomsky’s book is more theoretical in nature. It focuses less on specific breakdowns in governance than on the US role as a “rogue” state that systematically violates international law and Constitutional civil liberties guarantees.
What’s a Failed State and Who Decides?
It used to be up to the CIA and World Bank to declare when countries were failed states. Over the last five years Foreign Policy magazine, in conjunction with Fund for Peace, has taken over this responsibility. In 2008 Foreign Policy was bought by the Washington Post, which some of my friends claim has longstanding CIA links. The Fund for Peace is a non-profit organization devoted to “sustainable security.”
Foreign Policy/Fund for Peace rate potential failed states on twelve criteria: demographics (low life expectancy), refugees, illegitimate government, brain drain, public service, inequality, group grievances, human rights, economic decline, security, factionalized elites (vying for control with legitimate government) and external (military and economic) intervention. Here’s their 2010 failed states index: http://www.fundforpeace.org/web/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=452&Itemid=900.
Unsurprisingly, Somalia is at number one. Its failed state status has been well publicized. The proliferation of Somali pirates, which are blamed on the breakdown on the rule of law, have caused massive disruption to global shipping in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere. Chad is at number 2, followed by Sudan, Zimbabwe, Republic of Congo, Afghanistan and Iraq. Pakistan is number 10, Haiti number 11. Since 2007, the CIA has been predicting that Pakistan would become a failed state by 2015. I find this ironic, given that many Pakistani analysts blame their country’s failure to establish a stable democratic government on fifty years of CIA interference in their internal affairs (see http://www.fascistarmy.org/financed.html).
The close collaboration between the CIA and Pakistani intelligence (ISI), to finance and train Mujahideen guerrillas to fight the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan, became public in 1979. However the CIA has been trying to distance themselves from the ISI since late 2001. After it came out that the head of the ISI had wired $100,000 to one of the 9-11 hijackers.
The Concept of Partially or Semi-Failed State
I myself would tend to put both Pakistan and India much higher on the list. As D. Suba Chandran of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies points out (see http://www.ipcs.org/pdf_file/issue/IB150-Suba-FailingRegions1.pdf), both countries have large geographic areas that are essentially ungovernable. In India these include Jammu and Kashmir in Northeast India and the so-called Red Corridor (plagued by high levels of militant communist activity) in Central/East India.
Likewise the tribal areas in Pakistan refuse to recognize the Pakistani government in Islamabad. In particular Balochistan has a strong Baloach separatist movement, which considers the current Pakistani occupation illegal. The Pentagon openly supports the secession of energy and mineral rich Balochistan from Pakistan – to become a US client state, like Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and the other energy and mineral rich former Soviet republics (see http://stuartbramhall.aegauthorblogs.com/2010/11/28/afghanistan-and-the-road-runner/). In fact many Pakistani analysts believe that Pakistan, rather than, Afghanistan is the real target of current US military intervention. Especially in view of China’s intention to use the Chinese-built port in Gwadar, Balochistan to transport Iranian oil and natural gas – via Pakistan and India – to China.
- Free Balochistan (note entire Middle East is redrawn)
In “Postcards from Hell” (http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/06/21/postcards_from_hell), Elizabeth Dickinson points out that Victorian Britain meets many of the formal criteria of failed statehood. Curiously she doesn’t mention this is also true of the US. It leads me to wonder – given the non-existent recovery, the steady decline of the US dollar, and the loss of America’s manufacturing base – how ordinary Americans will know when their country had well and truly failed as a state. I seriously doubt either Foreign Policy or the Washington Post will tell us.
To be continued with a an eastern European view that the US is a semi-failed state.
by stuartbramhall in Challenging the Corporate Media, China Watch, The Wars in the Middle East
I spent yesterday trying to get my head around what’s really happening in Afghanistan. I would strongly discourage other people from trying this. Mainstream coverage of the NATO occupation is full of the type of paradoxical and contradictory messages that are known to cause insanity. In fact the whole thing reminds me of a Road Runner cartoon. I strongly recommend readers watch the following before proceeding (click on Making Progress link to watch).
The most recent scandal relates to President Hamid Karzai paying tens of thousands of dollars to negotiate with an imposter who claimed to represent the Taliban – who turned out to be a Pakistani shopkeeper. (see http://www.pakistankakhudahafiz.com/2010/11/27/karzai-aide-blames-british-for-taliban-impostor/)
The Taliban Seem to Be Winning
It’s no longer a secret that Karzai is very keen on negotiating a peace settlement with the Taliban – and that they refuse to meet with him. They have no reason to. They’re winning. The Taliban control most of Afghanistan outside the central area immediately surrounding Kabul. The US media no longer publishes maps of the areas under Taliban. The most recent one I could find is from 2008:
None of this is surprising, given that the Taliban enjoys strong support of the civilian population in the areas they control (who regard Karzai as a US puppet and a crook and only in the Afghan presidency thanks to massive electoral fraud). See http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2010/1117/Taliban-placed-IEDs-threaten-lives-and-stability-in-Kandahar-Afghanistan).
Is the US Funding the Taliban?
The Taliban are also extremely well funded. As was pointed out in a 2009 Reuter’s report, less of this funding comes from narcotics trafficking than previously believed. Most of it actually comes (indirectly) from outside development assistance. The Taliban go around to various tribal leaders and demand payment not to blow up bridges and other reconstruction projects. (see http://blogs.reuters.com/global/2009/08/13/who-is-funding-the-afghan-taliban-you-dont-want-to-know/)
In Farah province, for example local officials report that the Taliban are winding up with 40 percent of the money coming in for the National Solidarity Program, one of the country’s most successful community reconstruction projects.
What’s Really Happening in Kandahar
Reporting over the last few months has focused on the US/NATO surge to retake Afghanistan’s second largest city, Kandahar. The Taliban “control” Kandahar (exerting some political control, as well as having a strong military presence). The headlines a few months ago proclaimed that thanks to the 2010 “surge” in US troops, the Taliban had been “defeated militarily”” and driven out of Kandahar.
The US press was vague as to where they were “driven” to. The conventional wisdom is that the Taliban cease to engage US troops because 1) they go underground and fade into the very sympathetic local population (http://opinionasia.com/article/print/837 and http://www.cbsnews.com/2994-501704_162-0.html or 2) they retreat to the tribal areas of Pakistan, where they enjoy strong support from Baloch separatists.
The Pakistani tribal areas are very mountainous and remote and don’t lend well to a conventional military campaign. Our forces there are mainly CIA personnel, and the best we can do is drop bombs on a few Taliban leaders (and hundreds of civilians) from unmanned drones and train Baloch separatists in bomb making and other terrorist activities. It’s an open secret that the Pentagon would like to see energy and resource-rich Balochistan secede from Pakistan as a US-friendly state (which would also include parts of southern Iran. (see http://metaexistence.org/usagenda.htm)
More recent reports on Kandahar are less optimistic. According to Reuter, NATO commander Nick Carter reports they won’t know till June whether the Kandahar campaign has been successful (see http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20101028/wl_nm/us_afghanistan_kandahar – the San Francisco Examiner also carried this report but seem to have taken this page down)
Are Americans Being Lied To?
Besides US designs on Balochistan, there are three other crucial elements left out of mainstream coverage.
- First, the CIA created the Taliban in the first place (presumably to defeat the Soviet occupation – but more importantly because the US wants strategic control of the region).
- Second, both Afghanistan and Pakistan have immense importance as energy transit routes for our economic rivals India and China. With dwindling global oil and natural gas resources, competition over Middle East oil and gas has become extremely intense. The Chinese have invested massively in Balochistan, particularly in the water port in Gwadar and its supporting infrastructure. Which Pakistani commentators agree will give China a virtual monopoly on Iranian gas and oil. In fact many Pakistani commentators believe that Pakistan is the true target – that the US would prefer to fight the Taliban in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Especially if this could facilitate the establishment of Balochistan (which would include the Baloch regions of Iran – fracturing a major US enemy) as a separate state.
- Third, 60% of Americans oppose the war in Afghanistan. This is starting to be reflected in mainstream commentary. Moreover an increasing number of mainstream commentators believe we could compete with China much more effectively by putting Americans back to work – by rebuilding America’s severely compromised manufacturing base instead of wasting trillions of dollars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Iraq (that war ain’t over – Obama’s 2011 budget includes $549 billion for Iraq).
by stuartbramhall in China Watch, The Wars in the Middle East
The Gwadar Port in Balochistan (one of Pakistan’s tribal regions) has been headline news in Pakistan, India and China this month. Interesting that I can’t find one mention of it in the western media – not even in on-line publications. Since many Pakistani commentators trace the US shift in military focus from Iraq to Afghanistan to the completion of the Chinese-built deep water port in 2005. I myself never heard of the Gwadar Port until I came across an obscure Pakistani blog by Khalid Baig. I was so concerned about its content that I assisted his translator in polishing the English and republished it on OpEdNews. See http://www.opednews.com/populum/print_friendly.php?p=Talibanization-The-Whole-by-Khalid-Baig-100901-169.html
In fact the only US article I can find about the Gwadar Port is a May, 10 2010 Forbes article (see http://www.forbes.com/global/2010/0510/companies-pakistan-oil-gas-balochistan-china-pak-corridor.html). It explains how the province of Balochistan is well endowed with oil, gas, copper, zinc, gold, coal and a deepwater port at Gwadar the Chinese built for Pakistan in 2005. And how Balochistan also happens to be China’s link to its sizeable investments in Iranian gas and oil.
China’s stated goal in building the deep water port was to capture the transit trade (via the old ‘silk road’) of fossil fuels and minerals of landlocked countries like Afghanistan, as well as encouraging the transhipment of resources bound for other countries reliant on central Asian resources. China has invested well over $15 billion in Balochistan projects, including an oil refinery and zinc and copper mines, in addition to the Gwadar Port and its connecting highways.
Iran and China: Our Two Favorite Countries
The Forbes article doesn’t mention that Balochistan will also be a connecting hub for the Iran-Pakistan-India oil pipeline, which is looked to take the place of the planned Turmanistan-Afghanisan-Pakistan-India pipeline (the one the US supported). India recently pulled out of that one because the Afghan Taliblan kept blowing up the bridges and other critical infrastructure of the Afghan section. See http://www.defenceforum.in/forum/pakistan-defence-affairs/14468.htm
Forbes also doesn’t mention that Iran definitely favors shipping oil and gas via Gwadar rather than the current route through the Strait of Malacaa, where oil tankers are subject to Somali pirates and US naval exercises. Nor that many Asian commentators expect Gwadar to outstrip Dubai as a trade and commercial center, given the immense demand for resources generated by China’s burgeoning middle class.
The US War on Pakistan: the Real Reasons
Nor, of course, the increasing belief by many Pakistani commentators that Gwardar is the real reason for American’s current “proxy war” in Balochistan and the other Pakistani tribal areas. Quetta, north of Gwadar, happens to be a major target of the CIA and Pentagon military operations because of the Taliban leaders who are allegedly hiding out there. Of course it isn’t really clear whether these are “good” Taliban (the ones Hamid Karzai has invited to participate in government – see Sept 12 blog http://stuartbramhall.aegauthorblogs.com/2010/09/12/afghanistan-is-it-all-smoke-and-mirrors/) or the other kind.
Interesting, though, the sightings of US marines and Blackwater (Xe) mercenaries (read paid assassins) in Gwadar, which is more than 500 miles south of Quetta. See http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2010/02/07/grave-concerns-over-presence-blackwater-pakistan. Khalid Baig and others express concern that Blackwater and RAW (Indian intelligence) agents are stirring up the Balochistan separatist movement by recruiting jobless Balochistan youth and paying them to commit random terrorist acts – such as the rocket that landed in the Gwadar Port a week ago.
Déjà Vu All Over Again
It is still unclear whether the US military seeks to take over and occupy Pakistan’s tribal areas; whether they want to support Balochistan in separating from Pakistan to form an independent US friendly independent oil, gas and mineral rich independent state (like Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan in Eastern Europe); or if they will be content with their continuing campaign of terrorist activity and economic sabotage. There is no question that the military activity is disrupting the development and operation of the port.
It seems incredibly cynical and hypocritical for the US to carry on this ruthless economic sabotage against Pakistan – especially with the recent floods that have virtually destroyed the country’s economy – and then to demand, via the World Bank, that Pakistan repay $50 billion in foreign debt.