Last chance to step back from quagmire

Last chance to step back from quagmire

Karzai re-election gives Obama reason to scale back, rather than escalate, in Afghanistan

November 05, 2009 12:00:00 AM

The electoral outcome has caused almost all concerned to avert their eyes, pretend not to remember the unseemly events that led up to Hamid Karzai securing a second term as president of Afghanistan, and declare that in lieu of a possibly even messier episode on Saturday that this decision confers that elusive quality known as legitimacy on Karzai and the once and future government of Afghanistan. Unfortunately, opinions about legitimacy — all around — generally have more to do with one’s preferred path forward than with reality in Afghanistan.

The suspiciously neat denouement to an Aug. 20 election in which fully a third of the votes “cast” for Karzai were determined to be fraudulent could give President Barack Obama one last chance to rethink radically — i.e., in a way that gets to the root of the situation — what the U.S. posture in Afghanistan should be. If he focuses on the larger question of just why the U.S. is occupying Afghanistan, which is largely irrelevant to anything resembling core U.S. geopolitical interests, he just might decide, as we did long ago, that a military occupation, whether or not it involves overt “nation-building,” is a foolish misuse of American troops and treasure.

If the U.S. has a legitimate interest in that part of the world, it is to make sure that al-Qaida, which orchestrated the 9/11 attacks and still harbors international terrorist ambitions but has been considerably weakened over the past eight years, does not establish secure bases from which to mount future attacks on the U.S. — and perhaps on Western Europe if one sees U.S. interests in a slightly more expansive way. The evidence is that al-Qaida is not active in Afghanistan and is unlikely to be, no matter who prevails in the current insurgency, if the U.S. makes itself clear to all parties. Al-Qaida in Pakistan can best be neutralized by the methods that have worked best so far — intelligence, cutting off financial conduits and the occasional special forces or drone attack when local intelligence is reliable.

That doesn’t require a large-scale military presence in Afghanistan. Indeed, a strong case can be made that continuing U.S. occupation of Afghanistan will weaken or deflect attention and resources from the primary mission.

Unfortunately, comments from people in the Obama administration suggest that it is determined at least to maintain the current military commitment of some 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and may be open to an escalation. President Obama himself expressed hope that Karzai is now “going to move boldly and forcefully forward and take advantage of the international community’s interest in his country to initiate reforms internally.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that “When President Karzai accepted (the runoff) without knowing what the consequences and outcome would be, that bestowed legitimacy from that moment forward.”

Ah, the charms of wishful thinking!

This could be the Obama administration’s last chance to draw down the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan with a modicum of grace. Once the commitment is made, it will be indisputably Obama’s war, and the dynamics of political positioning will make it almost impossible to change course. That way lies quagmire.

Chasing Taliban in Afghanistan a fruitless mission

Chasing Taliban in Afghanistan a fruitless mission

BY JIM SCOFIELD
Why are we fighting in Afghanistan? The Taliban, the force we are opposing, are not international terrorists. While certainly a repressive religious group, they don’t have designs outside the area, contrary to what both the Bush and Obama administrations have suggested.

The Taliban don’t have plans to attack the U.S., and never did. Both administrations have sought to mislead us into thinking the Taliban and al-Qaida are identical.

Neither the Taliban nor Afghanistan attacked the U.S. on 9/11. Al-Qaida did. Just like the lies told to justify the Iraq invasion – that it was involved in 9/11, that it had weapons of mass destruction, that it was a threat to America – the case against the Taliban is fabricated.

Although al-Qaida was based in Afghanistan in 2001, a country only partially controlled by the Taliban, the Taliban had nothing to do with planning or taking part in the 9/11 attacks. Actually, the attacks were planned in Hamburg, Germany, by an al-Qaida cell. Al-Qaida is hardly a coherent, centralized operation.

President Obama also justifies increasing the Afghan war on the assertion that if the Taliban return to power they will allow or even aid al-Qaida’s international terrorist aims.

The Taliban were, in the past, reluctant hosts to al-Qaida in an uneasy relationship (John Mueller, Foreign Affairs magazine, April 15). A Tribune-Democrat article of Oct. 7 quotes U.S. National Security adviser James Jones as saying that al-Qaida has fewer than 100 fighters in Afghanistan and that its presence has diminished.

The Taliban probably wouldn’t welcome a group that plans international terrorism, one that might make it a target of the West. Most terrorist attacks, such as the one against the London underground in 2005, are by groups loosely connected with or inspired by al-Qaida, which consists of “a few hundred people running around in Pakistan” (Mueller).

It is hard to see the justification for our wars and attacks in the Middle East, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia, and our open threat to attack Iran. Mostly they are detrimental to U.S. interests, creating hatred and potential enemies.

We have replaced the British and French imperialist forces, which in the early 20th century occupied and tried to control these oil-rich regions. That we are there to help these countries or bring democracy is just propaganda, and no reason to invade them, where our wars have resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths. We are wildly unpopular in Pakistan, and NBC News recently reported that most Afghans “don’t feel threatened by the Taliban and aren’t asking for American protection.”

Obama, despite ambiguous campaign statements, was elected because the public thought he would get our military out of the Middle East.

Is he now going to sink us in deeper?

A state of endless war prevents our country from facing and solving its real problems, and undercuts our liberties.

Contrary to slogans, wars don’t defend freedoms; they always become the excuse to take away the rights to debate and speak freely. Big Brother’s state in the novel “1984” always had wars and enemies to keep the populace in constant fear and suppression.

Republicans have claimed militarism as their patriotic ploy, and Democrats fear to oppose wars for being called weak on defense. This combination makes war virtuous, peace subversive.

We can maintain our safety without occupying Middle Eastern countries. Our armies need to be withdrawn. Our leaders project a U.S. presence in Iraq until at least 2013 and Afghanistan for 10 more years. They can be and should be withdrawn quickly.

Some fraction of the money we are spending on these wars could be wisely used in the reconstruction of these devastated regions. In some way, we need to learn to mistrust our reliance on and belief in the virtue of our military prowess.

Jim Scofield of Richland Township is a professor emeritus of English at Pitt-Johnstown.

IDF Commandos Boarding Another “False Flag”?

[Like “manna from heaven,” the IDF “finds” hundreds of tons of weapons, some of them Iranian, bound for Syria and possibly then on to Lebanon, flying under an ANTIGUAN flag.  It is probably no coincidence that Antigua has been a Mossad base of operations for notorious arms and cocaine smuggling, implicating Israeli arms dealer Yar Klein there in the past, for shipping weapons to the Columbian Medellin cocaine cartel.  Coincidence?  Not Likely.]

IDF commandos uncover hundreds of tons of Iranian weapons on ship

By YAAKOV KATZ AND TOVAH LAZAROFF

Hundreds of tons of weaponry, the largest arms seizure in Israel’s history, were intercepted overnight Tuesday in a daring raid by Israeli naval commandos aboard a cargo ship sailing 100 nautical miles west of Israel.

The arms shipment was 10 times the size of the cache found on the Palestinian arms ship Karine A in 2002.

The cache was hidden inside shipping containers belonging to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) which departed from the Badar Abbas Port in Iran some 10 days ago, were unloaded in the Egyptian port of Damietta and then loaded onto the Francop, a German vessel flying an Antiguan flag.

Shipped from Iran, but arms came from all over the world

By YAAKOV KATZ

An Iranian rocket bound for...

 

An Iranian rocket bound for Syria and Hizbullah discovered aboard the ‘Francop’.
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimksi

The weaponry that was discovered aboard the Francop cargo vessel on its way from Iran to Syria and then to Hizbullah was of a wide variety and mix, including fragmentation grenades, artillery and tank shells, Kalashnikov bullets, and mortars.

The crates with the weapons came with writing in different languages, including Chinese, Russian, Spanish and of course English. An initial review of the cache appeared to indicate, senior IDF officers said, that the weaponry originated possibly in different countries before it was purchased by Iran.

By Wednesday afternoon, representatives from Military Intelligence’s Technological Division had assembled at the Ashdod Port to begin sifting through the weaponry together with soldiers from the Engineering Corps elite unit Yahalom – who are experts in handling explosives – to try and determine the exact origin and make.

The officers also raised the possibility that the weaponry was mostly manufactured in Iran but came in boxes with different languages since Iran also sells armaments to other countries.

The 122 mm. Katyusha rockets appeared to have been manufactured in Russia since they were covered in Russian writing. Some of the Kalashnikov bullets likely came from China. Others were in boxes from the “Ministry of Sepah,” which is the main body in charge of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Destabilizing Baluchistan, Fracturing Pakistan — Part I

Destabilizing Baluchistan, Fracturing Pakistan — Part I
04
Nov, 2009
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

 

The Triangle of Jundallah, the Taliban, and Sipah-e-Sahaba

Map of the Region

“Managed Chaos” is the proper term to describe the tensions in NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan and the border zones of Pakistan. Afghanistan and Pakistan, which are now being described by the Pentagon and NATO as the same front in the very same war, are tied to the Iranian border province of Sistan and Baluchistan or Sistan-Baluchistan. It is with the tenure of George W. Bush Jr. and his administration that Sistan-Baluchistan, with emphases on “Baluchistan” begun getting international attention through the ignition of a series of attacks inside the Iranian border with Pakistan by a group originally calling itself the “Army of God” or Jundallah in Arabic.

One must first take a closer look at Sistan-Baluchistan and the issues being depicted as the source of antagonism there before discussing Jundallah, the nature of its attacks, its source of support, and if the Pakistani government and the Obama Administration have been involved with Jundallah’s attacks. So, with a purposeful focus on Baluchistan, what is Sistan-Baluchistan and where is it? The Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchistan, which is located in southeastern Iran, is in fact the blending of two different bodies, one is Sistan and the other is Baluchistan. Both were separate historical entities and Iranian provinces until they were amalgamated into one in 1959 under the reign of Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the last shah or monarch of Iran.

Sistan according to some local traditions is the legendary home of the Iranian epic hero Rustam. Sistan is also where Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who is an Iranian, originates from. In ethnic terms the people of Sistan are mostly Persians and Sistani. Sistani is a label that can be used to identify anyone from Sistan, but it also has two other meanings. Sistani in ethnographic terms is used to refer to a sub-population of the Baluch or Baluchi, which are a distinct Iranic ethno-linguistic group. The relationship between the Sistani and the Baluchi almost correlates with the affinities between the Flemish and the Dutch or of those between the Pathans (Pashto of Pakistan) and the Pashto in Afghanistan. What sets the Sistani apart and is a cause for their distinction is geography and, more importantly, the fact that they speak a localized dialect of the Persian language called Sistani.
Moving on, Baluchistan is the other part of the Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchistan. Baluchistan, however, is not limited to Iran and is also a larger region that encompasses southern Afghanistan and a large slice of Pakistani territory. Sistan can also be included or excluded from this broader region of Baluchistan. The coastal region of Makran, which runs through both Iran and Pakistan, is also a sub-region of Baluchistan. Makran is of great geo-strategic importance and is home to the Pakistani port of Gwadar that both the U.S. and China are deeply interested in as an energy terminal and a naval base.
The province of Baluchistan in Pakistan is where the overwhelming majority of the Baluchi live. Pakistani Baluchistan was once mostly populated by Baluch and other relatively indigenous people before British control and later waves of immigration that caused demographic changes. Starting in 1947 the mass immigration of new ethnic groups leaving India for Pakistan because they were Muslims and the conflict in Afghanistan, starting with the 1979 Soviet invasion, also changed Pakistani Baluchistan’s ethnic composition. The Baluchi themselves, however, did not always live in Baluchistan. The Baluchi moved eastward to most of present-day Baluchistan from the Iranian province of Kerman or Kermania (Germania) during the period of Seljuk rule in Iran. The ancestors of the Baluchi also themselves had migrated to Kerman in earlier times.

Is Jundallah fighting for Baluch and Sunni Muslim rights against Persians and Shiite Muslims?

The genesis being presented about the Jundallah attacks in Baluchistan is offered as one that is dual-natured. Firstly the Jundallah attacks are being portrayed as being sparked on the basis of sectarianism and secondly on the basis of ethnicity. In this sense the intermittent attacks and explosions in Baluchistan are presented in the framework of a conflict between a confessional minority versus a confessional majority in Iran and to a lesser extent as an ethnic minority versus an ethnic majority.

One is almost tempted to state that the conflict between Tehran and Jundallah has been portrayed by Jundallah as one between Persians and Baluchi, which to some extent was originally how it was portrayed. In many places the media has framed it as such, along with the sectarian dimension of Sunnis versus Shiites. This is grossly inaccurate. Jundallah’s later attacks were portrayed differently by the group itself, but it should be noted that the statements of Jundallah on its fight have changed too. Jundallah’s attacks became mostly framed as being predominantly against the Iranian central government. The group even changed its name to the “People’s Resistance Movement of Iran” to make it appear as an internal Iranian struggle against the government in Tehran.

As an important side note: albeit Persian is the official language of Iran, Persians are merely a plurality in Iran and it is fundamentally wrong to describe the Iranian attribute as Persian. Iran is not a Persian country as so many authors, journalists, and sadly scholars wrongly state; Iran is an Iranian country and the Persian identity, like Azerbaijani (Azeri/Azari) or Baluchi, is a subsidiary to this Iranian identity as an Iranologist would be able to explain. All Persians are Iranian, but all Iranians are not Persians.

Who are the Baluch?
Simply asked, what are the Baluch? Are they Iranian or not? Do the Baluchi as a whole have aspirations to create “Free Baluchistan” or their own state? Do the Baluchi want independence from Iran as is being reported in the U.S., France, Britain, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and several other countries? Once this is answered then Jundallah can be addressed.
Nomenclature is important in regards to understanding not only Baluchistan, but all Eurasia from Lagos to Vladivostok. In categorizing the ethno-linguistic cluster of peoples in the Iranian Plateau, which extends from Iran to Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan, one must grasp the understanding that the term Iranian is charged with multiple meanings. Iranian is a national, a linguistic, and an ethnic tag. These matrices can become very confusing when looking at questions concerning this area from an outside view, but yet are essential to understanding the nature of the subject.
Already as it is, ethnicity is a highly confusing topic with both subjective and objective elements. Imagine the confusion that would arise if the term “German” was being used, as it once frequently was, not only to identify German nationality and to designate German ethnicity (which is used to describe a whole people ranging from Germany to Austria and Switzerland), but to identify members of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. Germanic includes English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and Dutch, amongst other languages. Great confusion would arise from calling these other peoples German on top of their other labels. In regards to Iranian, this is the case. This is also compounded by the careless substitution of Iranian as a designation for Persian or vice-versa, which is similar to the misuse of the terms English and British.

To prevent confusion the term Iranic will be used in preference to the term Iranian in regards to ethno-linguistic designation(s) to help identify the additional attributes of either ethnicity, language, or both. Without turning this discourse into a treatise on language, one may also ask are ethnicity and language linked? Yes and no. Speaking English does not necessarily make one an Anglo-Saxon, just as speaking Spanish or Russian does not make one a member of those ethnic groups either. Ethnicity, however, historically does have a direct correlation with the origins of languages.

Moving forward, the Baluch originate from the area around the Caspian Sea in the Caucasus. Speaking strictly in ethnic terms, the Baluch are an Iranian or Iranic people. They are Iranian or Iranic, regardless of if they live in Iranian Baluchistan or Pakistani Baluchistan or in Afghanistan. Despite their more commonly darker phenotype (appearance) the Baluchi are of the same stock(s) as the Persians and Kurds. They also speak their own language, Baluchi. Baluchi is a Northwestern Iranic language, which is a sub-division of a broader linguistic grouping called Western Iranic. Northwestern Iranic includes Kurdish, the language of the Kurds, and Talysh, a language mostly spoken in the Iranian province of Gilan and in the Republic of Azerbaijan. In turn Western Iranic is part of the larger Iranic branch (or sub-branch, if you consider it one with Indo-Aryan or Indic) of the Indo-European language family, which includes the Slavic, Germanic, Romance, Celtic, Albanian, and Greek languages.

Persian, the official language of Iran, and Tajik are examples of Southwestern Iranic languages, which also belong to the larger Western Iranic group like both Baluchi and Kurdish. In regards to the Western Iranic languages they evolved from the three main Iranian groups of antiquity that moved into the Iranian Plateau from Europe and/or Central Asia. The Northwestern Iranic group developed from the dialects of the Parthians (who lived in Parthia, which excluding Hyrcania was roughly corresponding to the province of Khorasan) and the Medes (who lived in Media, which roughly covered northwestern Iran and parts of Iraqi Kurdistan), while the Southwestern Iranic group developed from the dialect of the ancient Persians (who lived in Persia/Persis or roughly the modern-day province of Pars/Fars in southwestern Iran). Pashto and Ossetian are respective modern examples of the Eastern Iranic group that also included Scythian, which was once spoken from the Ukraine and Russia to what is now Chinese Turkistan.

Like all other people, the Baluchi are also a mixture of new waves and different stocks of people, including the original Dravidian people who thousands of years ago lived in the Iranian Plateau before they were pushed southward or assimilated by the ancient Iranians as they migrated into Anatolia and the Iranian Plateau during a major period of Indo-European migration. The Brahui in Pakistan, which are closely tied to the Baluchi and very often mistaken for Baluchi, are a surviving remnant of this older Dravidian stock. Arabs and other Semitic peoples, as well as various groups from the littoral of the Indian Ocean, have also mixed with the Baluchi gene pool over time, especially in Makran.
Most the Baluch are also Muslims of the Sunni confession. The confessional difference between the Baluchi and the majority of Iranians has not always existed. It began under the Safavid Dynasty of Iran. During the Safavid period, when most other Iranians became Shiite Muslims, the Baluchi like many of the Kurds maintained their Sunnism. Some of the reasons for this had to do with clan autonomy from the central government and with the fact that these groups were on the frontiers of the Safavid Empire where defensive cooperation with their chieftains was important for the Safavid monarchs and thus they were relatively left undisturbed in regards to their confessions.
Difference of confession between the majority of the Baluch and the Iranian state have not been a major problem for the Baluchi. Nor have the Baluchi been barred from practicing their interpretation of Islam in Iran. In general Baluchi complaints resemble the complaints of Shiites or other ethnic groups, including Persians, against the Iranian government. Moreover, regardless of their ethnicity or their views on Islam, the main localized complaint of the residents of Sistan-Baluchistan has been underdevelopment in their province’s rural areas. In contrast to the pictures being linked to Jundallah, Sistan-Baluchistan has enjoyed peace and stability, except for the narcotic smuggling that has involved transient elements from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Baluchi Independence: Iran’s Problem or Pakistan’s Problem?

Aside from the opium wars between Iranian security forces and a multi-national narcotic smuggling network assisted by vast sections of the security and state apparatus of Pakistan, the greatest source of antagonism in the region of Baluchistan has been specific to the Pakistani side. Although the Baluchi are not a confessional minority in the mostly Sunni Muslim country of Pakistan, the Baluchi have been marginalization in Pakistan. This, however, should not be overstated either, but has resulted in a real and widely supported nationalist and secessionist movement in Pakistani Baluchistan. The Baluchistan Nationalist Party was formed on this basis and has made demands ranging from full independence from Pakistan to more local autonomy.

Baluchi separatism is not a factor in Iran, but it is a real force in Pakistan. The Baluchistan People’s Front, which from Britain claims to represent the Baluchi in Iran also has no real popular base and is propped up by British and American support, whereas the Baluchistan Nationalist Party has a popular base of support in Pakistan. The Baluch feel they were forced to join Pakistan under pressure, especially in the case of the of the Khanate of  Kalat (Qalat). Starting in 1948, Pakistan has seen five rounds of ethnic-based fighting in Baluchistan. Since the creation of Pakistan, the independence movement in Pakistani Baluchistan has gone so far as to openly wage war against the Pakistani government and military. This war between Baluchi fighters and the Pakistani military has been neglected by the same journalists and mainstream media outlets that report on Jundallah synonymously with the allegations of the systematic mistreatment of the Baluch in Iran. In this context, Jundallah’s fighters are mostly imported from Pakistan and the problems of the Baluchi with the Pakistani government have deliberately been imported to Iran.

Misleading the World on Baluchistan

Returning to the question; do the Baluchi as a whole have aspirations to create “Free Baluchistan” or their own state? The answer has been given as no in regards to Iran, but a mixed yes when it comes to Baluchi feelings in Pakistan. Nevertheless, these differences amongst the Baluchi in Iran and Pakistan are generalized as one. This generalization is given so as to vindicate Jundallah as a home-grown Iranian movement that germinated out of the conditions on the ground in Iranian Baluchistan without the involvement of any external powers.

World view is categorically being misled on the Jundallah attacks in Baluchistan. The application of Cartesian Doubt is really needed when a discourse on Baluchistan is presented. Ethnic, religious, and sectarian differences do exist in Iranian Baluchistan as they do everywhere else without exception, but they are not major cleavages or forces of tension in multi-ethnic Iran. Any Iranologist or individual that knows Iran first hand will give this assessment. Tension does exist in Sistan-Baluchistan, but to an equal or far lesser extent than the tensions between the French and the Flemish in Belgium or the Québécois and English-Canadians in Canada.

In the onslaught of the media coverage of the series of attacks in Sistan-Baluchistan against Iranian security targets many journalists have presented the conflict as being one between Shiite Muslims and Sunni Muslims and one for Baluchi rights. For example, in the process Le Figaro, an influential French newspaper, has described the situation as one where a Sunni minority is fighting for their rights in the most generic and non-context specific terms. Not only are these reports being made in Lebanon by individuals with little expertise or knowledge about Iran, but misleadingly the small force that is Jundallah and the Baluchi peoples are systematically being equated as one entity. The heavy influence of the same rhetorical tactics used in favour of the March 14 Alliance in Lebanon and used to describe the so-called Shiite-Sunni tensions (which are really political tensions between the Future Movement and Hezbollah) in Lebanon are evident in the reports that are presented by Le Figaro without any real understanding for Baluchistan.
In Saudi Arabia, where sectarian hate has been heavily enforced by the Saudi media, the attacks in Baluchistan are being presented as Sunni Muslims fighting Shiite repression. Another example of misinformation comes from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The BBC has steadily moved to a position where it has described the attacks in Baluchistan as attacks that have been perpetrated by an ethnic militia fighting for minority rights. Furthermore, while the BBC has generally designated other groups using the same tactics as terrorist organizations it has not done so for Jundallah.
Are the narratives behind the attacks in Baluchistan factual, even in the most subjective of terms? No, nothing can be further from the reality of the situation. It is somewhat of a giveaway that none of these reports even dare to venture into the theme of popular support for the Jundallah attacks by the people of Baluchistan. No exhaustive presentation of the Baluch has even been made. None of these reports even mention that many of the people and targets attacked have included Sunni Muslims. Nor is anything mentioned about the evidence Iran has provided to the United Nations, starting in 2007, validating Tehran’s claims of American and British involvement.

For Part II, click HERE. Courtesy Global Research.

Spawn of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI): the Taliban, Sipah-e-Sahaba, and Jundallah

Destabilizing Baluchistan, Fracturing Pakistan –Part II

04
Nov, 2009
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

 

Spawn of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI): the Taliban, Sipah-e-Sahaba, and Jundallah

So what is Jundallah? ABC News (“The Secret War Against Iran,” April 3, 2007), based on reports from Pakistani intelligence sources in 2007, identified Jundallah as clearly being Pakistani in origin and American-supported. Iranian officials have also said the group is alien to Iran. In 2007, at the same time information began to emerge that the White House was supporting terrorist organizations and activities against Iran. The Telegraph (“Bush sanctions ‘black ops’ against Iran,” May 7, 2007), amongst numerous other sources, also reported that the U.S. government was funding Jundallah as part of a regime change agenda against Iran, because a war with Iran was not possible at the time. These operations are part of what can be called a “soft war.”

To hide and whitewash Jundallah’s Pakistani origin and its creation as an organization clearly for the purpose of destabilizing the Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchistan, the objectives of Jundallah were finessed to fit an Iranian format. The U.S. and Britain, with Pakistan as their surrogate, also began to realize that the separatist causes and organizations they had been assembling and supporting to destabilize and balkanize Iran were garnishing little support inside Iran or internationally. In an attempt to connect its operations with the broader demands for reform in Iran, Jundallah’s aims started being presented as part of a battle for Baluchi civil rights instead of its previous pretext of fighting Shiite Muslims in a hardcore sectarian war. The organization also changed its name to the People’s Resistance Movement of Iran to distance itself from a separatist identity that the Baluchi in Iran did not support.

There is something fundamentally contradictory between Jundallah’s claims of fighting for Baluchi civil rights and its systematic attacks on civilian targets, which included ethnic Baluch, and public places. A look at Jundallah’s leader also presents contradictions. Abdul-Malak Rigi is a former Taliban fighter and a smuggler involved in the international narcotics drug ring that is active on the borders of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. Rigi a narcotics trafficker with a criminal record has been presented as a political activist in places like the U.S., Britain, and Saudi Arabia. This is highly improbable. Little analysis is made on these linkages.

Jundallah not only has Taliban fighters in its ranks, but also members of Anjuman-e-Sipah-e-Sahaba. Anjuman-e-Sipah-e-Sahaba or Sipah-e-Sahaba is a former and small political party in Pakistan that was involved in attacks against Pakistani Shiite Muslims and Christians, but with the main objective of eliminating Shiites. The group shares a lot of ground with the Taliban of pre-2001 Afghanistan in regards to its use of violence, its world-view, and its intolerance against Shiite Muslims, Christians, and Jews. The transfer of Sipah-e-Sahaba fighters into the ranks of Jundallah to attack Iran is not implausible. In fact, the Pakistani government has also admitted that Lashkar-e-Jhangavi, a so-called splinter group that broke from Sipah-e-Sahaba, is part of Jundallah and Jundallah’s attacks on Iran.

Jundallah is a modified face of Sipah-e-Sahaba and the Taliban. The group would not be able to attack the Iranian police, the Iranian border guard, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard without help from the state apparatus of Pakistan or the collusion of the occupying powers in Afghanistan. This is one of the reasons that Jundallah fighters have escaped so easily into Pakistan from the Iranian border without problems with Pakistani security forces and border guards. It must also be mentioned that there are several American bases in Pakistani Baluchistan in close proximity to Iran that Jundallah could be using for support in its cross-border raids of Iran.

The truth behind so-called Islamic fundamentalism in Afghanistan is mostly linked to a nexus of destabilization, war, and the narcotics trade. The original Taliban (which does not include many of the different groups fighting NATO in Afghanistan), Jundallah, and Sipah-e-Sahaba are all the spawn of the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) in one way or another. All three originate in Pakistan and all of them have the hallmarks of entities created by the ISI. All three are also tied in one form or another to the international narcotics trade of opiates, such as opium and heroin. Narcotics have been involved through drug money with the funding of these organizations, as well as the Pakistani military and the personal wealth of many Pakistani leaders.

The Talibanization of Pakistan, however, is exceptional in regards to being a direct spawn of Pakistani intelligence operations. The new Taliban in Afghanistan and the Tehrik-e-Taliban in Pakistan or the Pakistani Taliban are not like the old pre-2001 Taliban. The motivations and origins for the latter two groups are different. Most the new Taliban in Afghanistan do not share the same ideology as the old Taliban and are fighting against what they see as a foreign invasion of Afghanistan. In regards to the Taliban in Pakistan, in a sense they are the blowback of Pakistani meddling in Afghanistan and a result of the American-led NATO war in Afghanistan. Demands for a united Pashto state are also at play in the formation of the Pakistani Taliban.

Tehran has accused Islamabad several times of supporting Jundallah and operations against Iran. The Iranian government has also demanded that the Pakistani government hand over Rigi for the murder of Iranian citizens and officials, including high ranking Iranian Revolutionary Guard commanders. Islamabad denies working with Jundallah. Pakistan has supported Jundallah, but the extent to which it has is not clear.  In fairness it must be said that the widespread corruption in the ranks of Pakistan’s security, intelligence, and military forces is another factor at play. Pakistan itself is a victim of the collaboration of its leaders and officials with America and its allies. It can be said that Pakistan is not a state with a military, but a military with a state. A vast mosaic of the Pakistani military and officialdom act on their own and are involved in the international drug industry. These individuals and groups can easily act by themselves and even against Pakistani national interests. It is the U.S. and Britain, however, which have used the corrupt officialdom and state apparatus of Pakistan as an incubator for their geo-political objectives in Eurasia.

The original Taliban and organizations like Jundallah ultimately serve the interests of America and its allies in Eurasia. Pakistan has merely acted as an agent for the interests of America and its allies. This is one of the reasons that the U.S. State Department has never put Islamabad on its list of states sponsoring terrorism even though India and other states have provided strong cases.

Eurasian Geo-Strategy: Why Destabilize Eastern Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan?

A strong, stable, and powerful Pakistan, especially one that would be independent, is not looked at in good terms by the Pentagon and NATO for many reasons. Within an Orwellian framework, Pakistan and NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan are deliberately being destabilized while there is talk about stabilizing them. Many Pakistani elites are party to this agenda.

Both Afghanistan and Pakistan act as a land bridge between Iran on one side and China and India on another. If Pakistan and Afghanistan were to fall under the orbit of Russia, China, and Iran as the Pentagon and NATO (the Periphery) fear then Central Asia would virtually be encircled and closed off to America and its allies. In addition to Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Republic of Azerbaijan would complete the encirclement of Central Asia and its energy resources. This last point involving Baku, however, depends on the status of the Caspian Sea, which is why Russia and Iran want the Caspian Sea to be closed off and have liberum vetoes over any development in its waters. It is, therefore, through Afghanistan and Pakistan that the U.S. and its allies have a land bridge into Central Asia and the centre of the Eurasian landmass.

The destabilization project in Afghanistan and Pakistan is aimed at specific areas in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, such as political and national unity. Ethnic divisions are being magnified in both. The answers to this come down to the struggle over Eurasia and the encirclement of Russia, China, and Iran. In this context, not only is the securing of energy resources in Central Asia tied to the industrial and economic needs of America and its partners, but also as a means to keep these resources out of the hands of China, Russia, and Iran for use, distribution, or transit. This is why an energy corridor from Turkmenistan to the shores of the Indian Ocean, going through Afghanistan and Pakistan has been an objective of the Pentagon and NATO linked to the issue of energy security.

In regards to strategic energy routes, the Pentagon and NATO see the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) Friendship Pipeline as a threat or rival energy corridor. There is a strong possibility that China could be included in the pipeline or that the pipeline could be just an Iran-Pakistan-China pipeline that would bypass India. This is a threat to American ambitions to contain China y way of controlling its energy supplies. It is also seen as a threat by the Pentagon and NATO because the ex-Soviet republics in Central Asia could supply gas to China via Iran and this pipeline. Turkmenistan already has gas pipelines going into Iran. In summary, putting a halt on the IPI Friendship Pipeline is not as important as controlling the energy route and keeping China out of the picture.

Pakistan, as noted, is filled with corrupt leaders. These leaders can easily be bought or switch sides. The fears of the Pentagon and NATO that Islamabad could become a full Chinese client state are driving the project to balkanize Pakistan. The same is true in regards to Afghanistan where NATO and the Pentagon fear that Iran and China could control Afghanistan through spheres of influence that would see a western zone controlled by Tehran and an eastern zone controlled by Beijing. Maps of Pakistan and Afghanistan falling within the geo-political orbit of China have even been produced. Balkanizing these areas makes it much harder for the area to fall under Chinese and Iranian control. Why is this important? The answer goes back to the issue of Pakistan and Afghanistan as land bridges between China and Iran. In a balkanized scenario, where Pakistan and Afghanistan have been divided, there would be less of a likelihood that a geo-strategically significant land bridge would manifest between Iran and China. This would further obstruct Eurasian solidarity and cohesion, which is a major aim of the Pentagon and NATO. Out of its own geo-strategic fears India has also made common cause with the U.S. and NATO in this project to prevent the tightening of the embrace and alliance between Beijing and Tehran.

The balkanization of this area would also make it more probable that the energy routes would be controlled by America and its allies via the new and smaller states that may ask for the protection of America and NATO like some of the states of the former Yugoslavia. The balkanization of Pakistan and Afghanistan also would help destabilize the easternmost Iranian provinces, including Sistan-Baluchistan. An independent Pakistani Baluchistan could also be at odds with Tehran over territorial claims to the Iranian province of  Sistan-Baluchistan. In addition, an important question is would an independent Baluchistan serve or work against Chinese naval interests in Gwadar. The military infrastructure of the area is already under the control of the American military.

Baluchistan is not only geo-strategically important in regards to Eurasian energy linkages, but is also rich in mineral deposits and energy reserves. In most cases these minerals and energy reserves are all untouched. It would be far easier to procure the mineral and energy resourses of this area from a relatively more lightly populated Baluchistan republic.

Oil pipe lines
Note: The above map shows the the different pipeline routes going through Afghanistan and Pakistan, which could easily include China. The above map was produced by the U.S. government and the following map is a cross-section of an after and before cut-out of the map of the New Middle East presented by Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters.
The Return of the Realists in U.S. Foreign Policy: Obama White House involved in Baluchistan?

Maps of before and afterWith the replacement of George W. Bush Jr. with Barack H. Obama Jr. it can heuristically be said that the realists of U.S. foreign policy came back into power, whereas the neo-conservatives or neo-cons were in power in the Bush Jr. Administration. In reality both were involved to different degrees. Conceptually, realists do not believe that there are morals in international relations, just interests. Amongst the realist camp are Henry A. Kissinger and Zbigniew K. Brzezinski.

American foreign policy realists are not different in their foreign policy objectives, just different in their methodologies. The use of military force for them is just as important as the neo-cons. The realists are known for negotiating with their geo-political rivals, but covertly work to destabilize rivals. The history of Afghanistan and Brzezinski’s involvement there against the Soviet Union during the Cold War is just one example.

So is the Obama Administration involved in the attacks on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard conference in Sistan-Baluchistan? One of the main forces behind the foreign policy of President Obama is Brzezinski, a realist and someone who has talked about Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan all becoming destabilized, including in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in 2007. The concept of a geo-political “black hole” is also his. Also, the Iranian government has categorically stated that the U.S. and Britain where the forces behind the October 18, 2009 attacks on a dialogue amongst Sistan-Baluchistan’s Shiite Muslim and Sunni Muslim leaders sponsored by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Most likely the answer is yes. While the U.S. government is also negotiating with Tehran, America has not ended its covert meddling and destabilization operations against Iran. Barack Obama is continuing the last American administration’s proxy war on Iran from the Iranian border with Iraq to Sistan-Baluchistan.

Final Map

Note: The above map was prepared by Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters. It was published in the Armed Forces Journal in June 2006, Peters is a retired colonel of the U.S. National War Academy. (Map Copyright Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters 2006).

Although the map does not officially reflect Pentagon doctrine, it has been used in a training program at NATO’s Defense College for senior military officers. This map, as well as other similar maps, have most probably been used at the National War Academy as well as in military planning circles.


Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a writer specializing in Middle Eastern and Central Asian affairs, based in Ottawa. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

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