söndag, mars 10, 2013

The Fog of War

There is little that can be construed as rational when a nation is in a state of war. But there exist events that often defy the most nefarious and or conspiracy-bound theories. Afghanistan, as with so many nations around the world, a disproportional history or legacy exists. When events defy analysis and hence explanation, said events are said to be diffused or obscured by the legendary or amorphous “fog of War.” A rudimentary- sketch of “The Fog of War” as it relates to Afghanistan follows:

Symbolism over Substance: Yet another celebrity joins the vast public relations team established by the late Ahmad Shah Massoud, a membership that includes CIA and MI6 personnel, Hollywood screen writers, a number of former Members of the US Congress, and broadcast and print media luminaries from the Western world. Since assuming the titular leadership of Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai has wrapped Ahmad Shah Massoud in the flag, based on misrepresentations, deception, and on political expedience masquerading as fact. The historical data on which the festive- pronouncements were and continue to be based, are from an evidentiary standard, threadbare, suspect, transparent and often contradictory.

On 9 September 2004, President Hamid Karzai spoke to a throng of Massoud followers and loyalists during the third anniversary of his assassination. “The best way to commemorate Massoud is to follow in his footsteps,” said the Afghan president. This however is not the first instance of Karzai’s celebration of the Massoud ethos. Under his direction, Massoud, the commander who slept with the enemy, was posthumously awarded “The Hero of the Afghan Nation.”  And on yet another occasion, Karzai embarked upon a pilgrimage to Massoud’s tomb located on Saricha Hill, Panjshir, whereupon he pontificated over a gathering of mourners and journalists stating:  “this man was like a brother to me, we were fighting for the same thing.” In accompaniment at the confessional was Russian Defense Minister Ivanov who eulogized Massoud “as a true friend of the Russian people.” The presence of and oration by the Russian dignitary is, in and of itself, revealing and cannot therefore be viewed as simple coincidence and or of historical insignificance.

What shadowy motive-force belies Karzai’s outward presidential posture, encouraging him to join hands with the Panjsheri’ purveyors of self- promotion and propaganda? Arguably, this palpable neurosis is worthy of consideration and analysis in terms of political expedience, the future of Trans-Afghan-Pipeline negotiations, and for the placating of the current US-led power infrastructure incorporating Fahim, Qanooni, the brothers’Massoud and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, former followers of Ahmad Shah Massoud and presently the odds-on favorites to assume the mantle of power in Afghanistan. Under strict Washington tutelage, Karzai’s lack of independence would not allow for his denouncing of Massoud. Were he to act independent of Washington’s strategic and economic manifest or dominion over Afghanistan’s future, by extension, he would also be criticizing Fahim, Qanooni, Dr. Abdullah, Dostum, and the Massoud brothers suitability to assume the highest portfolios and hence opportunity in the land. Given their predisposition for assassination, this would be viewed as an intolerable and defiant act by the “Panjshiri Mafia” and would likely reduce Karzai’s survivability rate dramatically.

Massoud’s criminal activities include but are not limited to corruption, war crimes, and crimes of treason. Crimes which were underwritten both ideologically and or as accomplices by the aforementioned, acts which thereby render them as co-conspirators under international statute, convention, decorum and law. Though these enumerated crimes are indictable under International Criminal Court (ICC) statute, there is the distinct possibility that Zalmay Khalilzad, also known as “Minister B-52” in Afghan jargon for his unbridled-assistance to the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, had forewarned Karzai against denouncing the remnants of the Northern Alliance, as after all… they are presently America’s staunchest allies.

The Logistics of Pipeline Negotiations…Bribery and the Threat of War:  The Trans-Afghan-Pipeline (TAP) scenario is both multi-faceted and complex. The US has worked diligently to deny Russia, China and Iran’s participation in the development and marketing of “trillions of cubic feet of natural gas” laying beneath the sub-soil in Turkmenistan and or the estimated 100-billion barrel oil reserve in the Caspian Basin, both open for exploitation. Were Karzai therefore to denounce or demobilize the Northern Alliance power apparatus, a power struggle likely would ensue which could engulf the proposed pipeline routes and country in civil war, threatening the viability, hence investment quality of the proposed TAP.

This is of course unacceptable to an energy obsessed, US.  It is a certainty that the Northern Alliance would not surrender their designs and or arms, or for that matter, anticipated largesse resulting from a pipeline deal that did not incorporate them.  Indeed, in 1996 during negotiations between the US, the US-firm UNOCAL and Taliban, Massoud had threatened to sabotage any proposed pipeline deal that did not include a share for the Northern Alliance. While at the same time, Bridas of Argentina, while engaged in the bidding competition for construction of the pipeline, was found to be courting both sides in the competition by offering Massoud a one-million dollar bribe to ensure that rival UNOCAL was unsuccessful in the bidding process.  In the event that UNOCAL emerged as the successful bidder, Massoud was tasked to sabotage any construction as undertaken by UNOCAL.  For the Taliban, Bridas pledged to provide natural gas at no cost to Afghan residents who lived astride the entire length of the proposed pipeline.  An offer they found attractive. The source of this information is contained in a declassified US State Department cable written by A, Raphael and dated 4/22/96 and is available from the National Security Archives. For an abbreviated version see: (Ghost Wars, by Steve Coll, p. 329, 2004) Were the pipeline subjected to sabotage and subsequent Northern Alliance mobilization, the only option available to the energy obsessed US administration would be for the US to engage the Northern Alliance in combat, a solution that would be found politically and perhaps strategically untenable. Should Russia, China or Iran threaten the US economic interests in regards the proposed TAP through promoting discord and or subversion in Afghanistan as they had done all during the Taliban era in hopes of disrupting America’s plans to develop the Turkmenistan gas fields, the proximate US military bases provide a Rapid Reactionary Force or projection poised for such an eventuality. Later, in 2001, when the proposed pipeline negotiation seemed to be favoring the Argentine upstart, Bridas, Taliban emissary Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi while in Washington was threatened with the” carpet bombing of Afghanistan” by Christina Rocca of the US State Department were UNOCAL not to emerge successful with its bid for the awarding of the pipeline construction contract. (See: Afghanistan, a Search for Truth,

By Bruce G. Richardson,2008,p.187, and Forbidden Truth, US-Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy and the Failed Hunt for Osama bin Laden, by  Brisard and Dasquie’, 2002, pp. 44-45)

Post-Jihad Accommodations:  In an eminently poignant and revealing declaration, Russian General Alexandre A. Liakhovskii said:  “From the very beginning, Ahmad Shah was working towards the dismemberment of Afghanistan. He wanted to join the Tajiks from SSR/Tajikistan together with the Afghan Tajiks in a “Greater Tajikistan.” Massoud’s dream for an exclusive Tajik enclave was also articulated by Dr. M. Hassan Sharq who revealed during a Radio Payam interview that just such a plan was discussed between himself and Gorbachev in 1985 when he served as Prime Minister under Najibullah. The details of this agreement may also be found on page 256 of his 1991 book, The Barefooted Coarse Cotton Weavers; or Memoirs of Dr. Muhammad Hassan Sharq, 1931-1991. (Additional sources for this thesis appeared in an article written by Paul Judge Quinn, titled, Soviets to Embrace Afghan Foe, 19 October 1988, Afghanistan, Ending the Reign of Soviet Terror, by Bruce G. Richardson ,pp. 56, 66, 1996-1998), and Plamya Afgana, by A.A. Liakhovskii, 1999, pp. 485-486, Translated by Gary Goldberg, Cold War in History Project, CWIP, Washington, DC) For additional resources and citations, consult Former Soviet Prime Minister and KGB officer Yevgeny Primakov ‘s book where his accounting of these and other accommodations enacted between Ahmad Shah Massoud and the Kremlin are posited in his riveting and revealing 1999 memoir, (The Years of Life in the politics, pp. 178-186, 1999)

Recently declassified Soviet documents earmarked “Top Secret”, have revealed that Ahmad Shah Massoud met secretly with Evgeny Primakov, former intelligence chief and Prime Minister of Russia in Kabul. The purpose of the meeting as reiterated in Primakov’s newly published autobiography was to enlist the support and influence of Massoud in maintaining power for the embattled Rahmanov in Tajikistan who was in danger of being overthrown by the resistance fighters aligned with opposition-leader, Sayed Asadullah Nouri. Massoud agreed to deny sanctuary and political asylum to Sayed Asadullah Nouri in Afghanistan and to use his influence and military muscle to insure the continuation of Rahmanov’s presidency. This information is corroborated by published AP news sources in late 1994 reporting that in Northern Afghanistan along the Tajik border, Afghan troops (Massoud’s) assisted the Russian 201st Motorized Rifle Regiment (MRR) in attacking and killing 30 insurgents alleged to be drug traffickers. It is also known that at that time, in late 1994, Tajik opposition leader Sayed Asadullah Nouri, who with his followers sought sanctuary in the northern areas of Afghanistan, came under attack and thereby denied access and political asylum. (See:  Afghanistan, a Search for Truth, by Bruce G. Richardson, p.29, 2008)

To Massoud, Afghanistan was for sale. A fact substantiated by the comments of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev when during a February 16 2004 interview with the BBC Pashto Service, he said: “Massoud worked for us…he kept the Salang open for us… he would not allow anyone to attack us.”

Yet to most observers, the selling of one’s country for political and or monetary gain is not only psychologically unthinkable but morally unacceptable as well.  Yet this treason, while often induced by outside/foreign influences, are often-times obscured by political/ ethno/linguistic, and religious cleavages as well as economic underpinnings … or what any number of historians characterize as the

essence of the “Fog of War”. As Afghanistan struggles for its very existence and identity…it is imperative that history not be lost as a guide to the electorate as to the suitability of those candidates who seek the highest portfolios in the land…and thus the mantles of power.

Cost of corruption in Afghanistan nearly $4 billion – UN survey

7 February 2013 – The total cost of corruption in Afghanistan has significantly increased over the past three years to $3.9 billion, according to a United Nations survey released today, which says that in spite of fewer people paying bribes, the practice is still having detrimental effects due to its frequency.
In 2012, half of Afghan citizens paid a bribe while requesting a public service and nearly 30 per cent of them paid a bribe for a private sector service, states the survey on trends and patterns of corruption produced by the High Office for Oversight and Anticorruption and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
While these figures are high, there is evidence of progress, as 59 per cent of the adult population had to pay at least one bribe to a public official in 2009. However, the frequency of bribery has increased from 4.7 bribes to 5.6 bribes per bribe-payer and the average cost of a bribe has risen from $158 to $214, a 29 per cent increase in real terms.
“The bribes that Afghan citizens paid in 2012 equals double Afghanistan’s domestic revenue or one fourth of the Tokyo pledge,” said the UNODC Regional Representative, Jean Luc Lemahieu, referring to the international donors’ conference held in Japan in July, in which $16 billion was pledged for Afghanistan’s economic development in the next four years on the condition that the Government reduce corruption before receiving all of the money.
“Nobody doubts the seriousness of the issue, the art is to design the correct strategy to remedy the situation,” said Mr. Lemahieu.
While corruption is seen by most Afghans as one of the most urgent challenges facing their country, it seems to be increasingly embedded in social practices, with patronage and bribery being an acceptable part of day-to-day life.
The survey, which was based on a sample of 6,700 Afghan citizens over the age of 18 across the country, stated that 68 per cent of those interviewed considered it acceptable for a civil servant to top up a low salary by accepting small bribes from service users. Similarly, 67 per cent of citizens considered it sometimes acceptable for a civil servant to be recruited on the basis of family ties and friendship networks.
In most cases, bribes are paid to obtain better or faster services, while in others bribes are offered to influence deliberations and actions such as police activities and judicial decisions, thereby eroding the rule of law and trust in institutions.
In particular, the survey points to the education sector as one of the most vulnerable to corruption, with the percentage of those paying a bribe to a teacher jumping from 16 per cent in 2009 to 51 per cent in 2012.
“Afghans know that corruption is eating at the fabric of their society,” said Mr. Lemahieu. “The solution is not only to be found within the Government but also within the wider community.”

This has also been highlighted by ISOCONDOR who wrote that Obaidullah Obaid, minister of higher education has sent 1000 Hazara students to Malaysia and sold scholarships to them.


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