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June 30, 2007

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I take everything I read about the region with a grain of salt, even when it comes from reputable news organizations. Pronouncements from my own government or governments in the region require at least one cow-sized salt lick.

The whole Pakistan/Musharraf situation is troubling, because no options look good. Back Musharraf and the Taliban grow stronger. Let him fall and then maybe Pakistan becomes the new Talibanland. Or maybe not.

The problem with Pakistan is they have nukes. In some situations we have to support the lesser of two evils. Marcy, your memory for detail is amazing.

Bottom line is we have no choice but to support Musharraf, Pakistan, and their nukes.

There is no other choice beyond Neutron Bombs which we took off the table.


Glad to see the Times finally covering the story.

Musharraf has a clear way out. Take off his Army Uniform and make a coalition with the largest popular party in Pakistan, Bhutto's People's Party, plan fair elections which would probably return her to power as Prime Minister -- and push the army into a response against the Taliban in the tribal border regions, something he has already been well paid to do, and then re-establish Civilian Governance. This week there was a fascinating story about the wellsprings of anti-Musharraf feeling in Pakistan -- turning even the smallest village clinic over to military control as a means of employing the retired military and keeping them loyal. I suspect much of our military aid money has gone to such essentially political projects.

i thought the us wanted a military dictatorship in pakistan? maybe now it can reconsider?

i recall sara having an interesting column about this some +- six weeks back.

too bad we are tied down in iraq (in gulliver terms)

when it would be most definitely in the national interest to be able to mount a lithe foreign policy response.

talk about missiles,

and that was what the talk was regarding iraq (they can hit israel!),

what about them pakistani missiles?

and them indian missiles?

and the way winds blow nuclear detritus about, cf. chernobyl?

so much for ill-timed adventurism.

A new diary up at Dkos is reporting heavy rioting due to the cyclone that hit the coastal areas of Pakistan. The government and aid agencies have been unable to get to all the affected people and the stuff is really starting to hit the fan.

The problem here--as it has been for almost three decades--is the ISI. Musharraf, like his elected predecessors, has been unable (or unwilling) to root out the extremists.

My guess is that the ISI is continuing to get money for the Taliban on the sly from Saudi Arabia's wealthy religious wackos. Unfortunately, US game-playing during the Soviet-Afghanistan proxy war set up the ISI as the gatekeeper and disbursing agent for the mujahideen, and then later, they transferred that support to the Taliban.

Somebody has to be paying for this new Taliban assault, and the prime suspect is Saudi Arabia via the ISI. If Musharraf can't (or won't) purge the ISI of the bad guys and cut off the money flow, then nothing else will have a lasting beneficial effect.

The key question is are the jihadist sympathizer faction of the military and ISI strong enough to mount a coup and succeed?

only a matter of time.

Pakistanis baffled by US support for their military regime

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/world/story/17393.html

Opposition politicians charge that the United States is selling out democratic principles in favor of a military strongman who’ll back its strategic plans in the region. They contend that US support of Musharraf is only creating more terrorists.

“People have begun to say that America has put this man ( Musharraf ) on our heads and there is nothing we can do but kill him and fight those who support him,” said Saad Saleem, who runs one of the country’s biggest broadband Internet companies and has helped organize anti-Musharraf street protests.

Al Qaida regroups in new sanctuary on Pakistan border

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/world/story/17387.html

The remote Pakistani region “is the real heart of the war on terror, and we’re losing,” said a US intelligence official requested anonymity because their pessimism conflicts with the administration's public statements. "We took our eye off the ball when we went into Iraq."

What do folks think about the trouble brewing in Iran with action by the government to ration gasoline? With massive subsidies making gasoline and other energy products artificially low demand is growing rapidly while these subsidies represent larger percentages of Iran's GDP preventing sufficient investment in the oil and gas sector. There are reports that Iran could hit a major fiscal crisis as oil and gas production does not keep pace with subsidies due to lack of investment. Seems like a recipe for another revolution there with the mullahs on the receiving end.

Influx of Al Qaeda, money into Pakistan is seen

US officials say the terrorist network's command base is increasingly being funded by cash coming out of Iraq.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-na-binladen20may20,0,6432117,full.story?coll=la-home-center

Gee, with that cyclone hitting and a million reported homeless, imagine how much good will we could earn by moving in fast and effectively, dropping a billion dollars in seriously well-spent aid, and just generally being the good guys...

Hahahahahahah.

Like that would ever happen.

NATO Strikes Taliban Militants in Pakistani Territory

http://www.jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?articleid=2373495

The positions of Musharraf and of NATO are divergent. If Pakistan and NATO cannot coordinate basic official statements, what can be expected of them in terms of joint military operations and cooperation vis-à-vis intelligence sharing and sensitivity to each other's core concerns? Taliban ascendance and their expansionist designs are too serious of a matter to be left to military commanders in the field. A political dialogue involving all major stakeholders in the area might open new avenues to fight this growing problem and help develop levels of trust between Pakistani and NATO forces.

If Jodi represents the thinking of the administration more or less, how sad that the only option offered is genocide.

911 probably a Mossad action, false flag event to frighten US people, feint an operation into Afganistan to go after Osama and Al-Qaeda to secure pipeline route, pull up short at Tora Bora, turn attention to Iraq with false pretenses (WMDs) to secure oil supply. Bush family and bin-Laden family making plenty money. Carlyle Group, Halliburton etc. making plenty money. Osama probably in CIA safe house somewhere. Plausible yes or no? (-:

Beel

we will continue to go with those who are less dangerous to us. Consider it anti-genocide (less people die) though your use of that word is incorrect.

The Pakistan connection


There is evidence of foreign intelligence backing for the 9/11 hijackers. Why is the US government so keen to cover it up?

Michael Meacher
Thursday July 22, 2004
The Guardian

Omar Sheikh, a British-born Islamist militant, is waiting to be hanged in Pakistan for a murder he almost certainly didn't commit - of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. Both the US government and Pearl's wife have since acknowledged that Sheikh was not responsible. Yet the Pakistani government is refusing to try other suspects newly implicated in Pearl's kidnap and murder for fear the evidence they produce in court might acquit Sheikh and reveal too much.

Significantly, Sheikh is also the man who, on the instructions of General Mahmoud Ahmed, the then head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), wired $100,000 before the 9/11 attacks to Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker. It is extraordinary that neither Ahmed nor Sheikh have been charged and brought to trial on this count. Why not?

Ahmed, the paymaster for the hijackers, was actually in Washington on 9/11, and had a series of pre-9/11 top-level meetings in the White House, the Pentagon, the national security council, and with George Tenet, then head of the CIA, and Marc Grossman, the under-secretary of state for political affairs. When Ahmed was exposed by the Wall Street Journal as having sent the money to the hijackers, he was forced to "retire" by President Pervez Musharraf. Why hasn't the US demanded that he be questioned and tried in court?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1266520,00.html

Glen

An angle that has not got a lot of attention is the Saudi connection. As Laura Rozen has pointed out maybe there is a Saudi angle in the Cunningham, Kontogianis, Wilkes, Foggo scheme with Saudi American real estate developer and Saudi support for housing some the 9/11 perpetrators in San Diego. Then there is the Bandar $billion slush fund - note Blair shut down that investigation in the UK. I have never seen any convincing explanation for the pancake fall of WTC Bldg 7 that no aircraft hit. Then there's the Saudi money linked with Hariri and Abrams to fund AQ types in Lebanon that has just backfired and blown up an entire Palestinian refugee camp.

I think an intrepid reporter should get into the Saudi involvement pronto. There's probably more than meets the eye there. It could be the missing link to the grand unified theory.

...

Omar Sheikh has a history. He was involved in terrorism in India - probably as part of an ISI supported jihadist operation - and captured by security forces in India. He was then exchanged with other jihadist leaders imprisoned in India as part of the exchange when an Indian commercial passenger jet was hijacked to Afghanistan and "protected" by the Taliban. These jihadists where next spotted in Pakistan where they had a safe haven. The ISI have their hands deep in the jihadist phenomenon. The question that would be nice to know the answer to is who has their hands deep in ISI?

agreed ab initio..

here is another article outlining much the same, with the inclusion of the indian secret service emphasis on some of these points.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/FD08Aa01.html

What is often missing in these discussions about the Taliban is any historical perspective. The widespread notion seems to be that the Taliban are some outside force of non-afghan origin. To the contrary, the Taliban value system and culture is rooted in Afghan village culture going back generations. I was reminded of this while re-reading a graduate student text from the 1970s on Afghan rural culture.

Here's what the Wikipedia says about their origin:

". . .the Taliban were based in the Helmand, Kandahar and Uruzgan region, and were overwhelmingly ethnic Pashtuns and predominantly Durrani Pashtuns. They received training and arms from Pakistan although they retained some independence, often refusing the advice of the Pakistan government."

And on their ideology:
"The Taliban's extremely strict and anti-modern ideology has been described as an "innovative form of sharia combining Pashtun tribal codes",[15] or Pashtunwali, with radical Deobandi interpretations of Islam favored by members of the Pakistani fundamentalist Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) organization and its splinter groups."

In short, the Taliban are home-grown, and are very close in values and culture to Afghan rural culture.

Bob in HI

Agreed, Bob in HI.

I have been arguing with all and sundry that the Taliban are not invaders from outer space but a home grown local product, nurtured by Pakistan's ISI and Saudi money to this day with initial CIA start up investment in this venture after the then USSR walked into Afghanistan. So for people, particularly on the Left, to talk about Afghanistan falling to the Taliban is really missing the point. They are part and parcel of Afghanistan-NW Frontier (Pakistan) Pashtun landscape.

I also have a feeling that the ISI regards the Taliban as their insurance to stave off return of civilian control of government in Pakistan and attempts by the country's regular military to defang it.

ISI itself was an indirect CIA creation when the latter was involved in encouraging black ops against the Soviet army in Afghanistan through their proxies, tin-pot dictators as par for the course, who would never establish any power base without US foreign policy imperatives.

Bob in HI & Sona

No doubt the Taliban are Pashtun and very much a product of Pashtun tribal culture. They came into power on the heels of the civil war between the war lords that ravaged post-Soviet Afghanistan.

Note that the ISI was used as the conduit by Zia ul Haq the military dictator of Pakistan to funnel US arms and money as well as Saudi and other Islamic funds to the mujahideen. The CIA was intimately involved in orchestrating with the Saudis Islamic fighters from Arab countries and North Africa. Then using Pakistan as the base for training, arms and then infiltration into Afghanistan. Zia himself declared Pakistan an Islamic state and then later died in a mysterious air crash with the US ambassador. The US basically abandoned Afghanistan and the money flow and CIA management stopped after the Soviet defeat.

As soon as the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan and the Najibullah puppet government collapsed chaos ensued with all the different Afghan mujahideen factions led by different warlords fighting each other for supremacy. The Tajik dominated Northern Alliance led by Masood controlled the nothern parts of Afghanistan. The Taliban came into this breach I believe mostly from the Afghan-Pashtun refugees in the madrassas of Pakistan - trained and armed by the ISI. They swept through the south and into Kabul but never dominated the Tajik areas. Osama and Al Qaeda turned against the US as they needed the next cause and they felt the US with bases in Saudi Arabia were protecting a corrupt monarchy and defiling sacred Islamic territory. Pakistan became an epicenter for the jihadists. The ISI and the Pakistani military then used these jihadists to foment trouble and destabilize Kashmir in India. As the jihadist groups expanded their scope increased - Bosnia, Chechnya, the Central Asian stans, etc. Their funding networks and people networks grew and got more sophisticated. They could not be controlled.

There is no doubt the US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan nexus played a very important role in initially fomenting jihadism as a weapon in the cold war. Its now become a multi-headed hydra and ideology that has become, IMO, a serious pain but not an existentialist threat to us like the Cheney regime would like us to believe. The most dangerous situation in my mind is the destabilization of Pakistan that these jihadist elements with their sympathizers in the military take power. I have seen interviews of Gen. Hamid Gul, former ISI chief - who was responsible for the development of the Taliban - and he is clearly a very pro-jihadist type of person with an interesting rationale for 9/11. That's not the guy we want to see take power in Pakistan.

ab initio, du you agree with some or any of guls comments in the rationale for 9-11?

let me add that i find a lot to agree with in the article.

Taliban-type fundamentalism has indigenous roots in Afghanistan and just about everywhere else. Most places also have a constituency for modernism, development, and equality.

Unfortunately, the powers-that-be in the US find that supporting fundamentalism is necessary to maintaining their hegemony.

The Najibullah government did not collapse promptly upon the Soviet/Russian withdrawal. It held on for more than two years, indicating that it had significant indigenous support. One factor was undoubtedly the status of women.

The key question is, who controls the ISI? According to the Wikipedia,

The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (also Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI) is the among the top well organised, resourceful, largest and most powerful intelligence service in the world.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inter-Services_Intelligence)

Did you see that? "...in the world" !!! Early in his presidency, Pervez Musharraf tried to "tame" it, and almost(?) succeeded, but ultimately failed.

I think they probably play the great powers off each other. They probably learned The Great Game from British agents more than 100 years ago, and are playing the Great Game better than the British ever did. One of their 7 major responsibilities is the Security of Pakistan's nuclear program, and the security of top Pakistani army generals. They were also involved at least in the early 1990s with trafficking in nuclear materiel, according to the Wiki article cited above. Ten years later, A.Q Khan confessed to having been involved in a clandestine international network of nuclear weapons technology proliferation from Pakistan to Libya, Iran and North Korea, and I would be willing to bet the ISI had a hand in that, too. Khan is frequently credited with having created a nuclear trafficking "network," but the ISI is seldom mentioned. Given that nuclear security is an ISI responsibility, it is hard to avoid the assumption that the ISI was involved, and that Khan was probably their front man and scapegoat.

Bob in HI

...

I am really ambivalent about the rationale for 9/11 - I have yet to read a plausible rationale that I can get my head wrapped around. The only thing we know for a fact is that 2 WTC buildings were hit by passenger jets. I don't understand how WTC building 7 collapsed? Nor how the other 2 buildings collapsed they way they did. Visually it seems too similar to controlled demolitions. But I am no expert. Of course OBL has claimed it as his work on broadcast video. But do we really know??

Gen. Gul is a smart man who was in the upper echelons of the Pakistani military and as head of the ISI is very familiar with intelligence matters and geo-politics. Although there are several points he makes in that interview that seem plausible I always read such peoples statements with a healthy dose of salt since I have no ability to discern fact from dis-information. What I have a hard time coming to grips with is that Mossad wanted Gore to win and then what? Would Gore have responded similarly as George W. to the 9/11 tragedy? While many of the neo-cons where rather close to the Likudniks. Finally Gen. Gul is clearly an apologist for OBL in that interview.

Another thing is that I have a healthy skepticism of the ability of bureaucracy's to execute anything flawlessly and in total confidence.

ab initio

the part about mossad wanting gore to win is a mute point. usually when some plane is flying around in the sky changing flight course and etc something is done about it.. not so with 9-11.. that in itself ought to raise ones suspicions over just what was going on their... as for osama on tv saying he did it, i find it amazing we can get videos of him with these interestingly timed speeches, but have yet to find him... whether it was even him on the videos played on tv - i have my doubts. i agree the controlled demolition of some of the wtc buildings is another reason for suspicion, but only 1 in a list of many... that all of this has been the justification for being in iraq at present and indefinitely ought to tell some folks something as well... i don't buy any of it. i think gul is more on then off.

One correction! That Taleban have nothing to do with Pashtun indegenous tribal code i.e. Pashtunwali, which is in existence since millinia but never manifested as orthodoxy before...The Wikipedia artcile has been compiled by Tajiks who are politically anatgonists to Pashtuns...

Taleban rose to power when ISI had destroyed the tradional fudal Pashtun political elite and leaders of Afghanistan to pave way for the take-over of pro-Pakistan Islamic groups...The Punjabi dominated Pakistan is very wary of Pashtun nationalism and by supporting Islamic groups it wants to neutralize the secular and liberal Pashtun nationalist groups as well as maintain influence in Afghanistan...

There is another perception growing among secular/liberal Pashtuns that West/USA is not interested in peace in Pashtun region and it is using the presence of Taleban and Al-Qaueda as an excuse to keep its forces stationed in that strategic region-called the cockpet of Asia.

Pashtuns are in the midset of another war after clash of USSR-and the West-this time a proxy war being fought between US/NATO and Punjabi-Arab nexus represented by Taleban and Al-Qaueda...They are only victims...

Read the following.

http://www.khyberwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1452

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