A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The U.S. set the stage for the Afghan (and Pakistan) war eight years ago, when it handed out drug dealing franchises to warlords on Washington’s payroll. Now the Americans, acting as Boss of All Bosses, have drawn up hit lists of rival, “Taliban” drug lords. “It is a gangster occupation, in which U.S.-allied drug dealers are put in charge of the police and border patrol.”
American Are Deeply Involved In Afghan Drug Trade
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“U.S.-allied drug dealers are put in charge of the police and border patrol, while their rivals are placed on American hit lists.”
If you’re looking for the chief kingpin in the Afghanistan heroin trade, it’s the United States. The American mission has devolved to a Mafiosi-style arrangement that poisons every military and political alliance entered into by the U.S. and its puppet government in Kabul. It is a gangster occupation, in which U.S.-allied drug dealers are put in charge of the police and border patrol, while their rivals are placed on American hit lists, marked for death or capture. As a result, Afghanistan has been transformed into an opium plantation that supplies 90 percent of the world’s heroin.
An article in the current issue of Harper’s magazine explores the inner workings of the drug-infested U.S. occupation, it’s near-total dependence on alliances forged with players in the heroin trade. The story centers on the town of Spin Boldak, on the southeastern border with Pakistan, gateway to the opium fields of Kandahar and Helmand provinces. The chief Afghan drug lord is also the head of the border patrol and the local militia. The author is an undercover U.S.-based journalist who was befriended by the drug lord’s top operatives and met with the U.S. and Canadian officers that collaborate with the drug dealer on a daily basis.
The alliance was forged by American forces during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, and has endured and grown ever since. The drug lord, and others like him throughout the country, is not only immune to serious American interference, he has been empowered through U.S. money and arms to consolidate his drug business at the expense of drug-dealing rivals in other tribes, forcing some of them into alliance with the Taliban. On the ground in Pashtun-speaking Afghanistan, the war is largely between armies run by heroin merchants, some aligned with the Americans, others with the Taliban. The Taliban appear to be gaining the upper hand in this Mafiosa gang war, the origins of which are directly rooted in U.S. policy.
“It is a war whose order of battle is largely defined by the drug trade.”
Is it any wonder, then, that the United States so often launches air strikes against civilian wedding parties, wiping out the greater part of bride and groom’s extended families? America’s drug-dealing allies have been dropping dimes on rival clans and tribes, using the Americans as high-tech muscle in their deadly feuds. Now the Americans and their European occupation partners have institutionalized the rules of gangster warfare with official hit lists of drug dealers to be killed or captured on sight – lists drawn up by other drug lords affiliated with the occupation forces.
This is the “war of necessity” that President Barack Obama has embraced as his own. It is a war whose order of battle is largely defined by the drug trade. Obama’s generals call for tens of thousands of new U.S. troops in hopes of lessening their dependency on the militias and police forces currently controlled by American-allied drug dealers. But of course, that will only push America’s Afghan partners in the drug trade into the arms of the Taliban, who will cut a better deal. Then the generals were argue that they need even more U.S. troops.
The Americans created this drug-saturated hell, and their occupation is now doomed by it. Unfortunately, they have also doomed millions of Afghans in the process.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go towww.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted atGlen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
[In a sick and unnecessary replay of the original Afghan Civil War created by Pakistani/American efforts through the original Taliban, Afghanistan is about to enter a new phase in its war that no force can stop. The only solution would be to forget the American offensive and either get between the Pashtun and Tajiks, or disarm the army it has created. Will the world allow America to escape blame this time, considering what we have done to the global economy in the process of destroying Afghanistan and Iraq?]
|WASHINGTON, Nov 28 (IPS) - Contrary to the official portrayal of the Afghan National Army (ANA) as ethnically balanced, the latest data from U.S. sources reveal that the Tajik minority now accounts for far more of its troops than the Pashtuns, the country’s largest ethnic group.|
The massive shift in the ethnic composition of ANA troops in recent years is leading to another civil war between the Pashtuns and a Tajik-led anti-Pashtun ethnic coalition similar to the one that followed the fall of the Soviet-supported regime in 1992, according to some observers.
Tajik domination of the ANA feeds Pashtun resentment over the control of the country’s security institutions by their ethnic rivals, while Tajiks increasingly regard the Pashtun population as aligned with the Taliban.
The leadership of the army has been primarily Tajik since the ANA was organised in 2002, and Tajiks have been overrepresented in the officer corps from the beginning. But the original troop composition of the ANA was relatively well-balanced ethnically.
Gen. Karl Eikenberry, then chief of the Office of Military Cooperation-Afghanistan, issued guidelines in 2003 to ensure ethnic balance in the ANA, according to Chris Mason, who was a member of the Afghanistan Inter-agency Operations Group from 2003 to 2005. Eikenberry acted after then Defence Minister Marshall Mohammed Qasim Fahim had packed the first group of ANA recruits to be trained with Tajiks.
The Eikenberry guidelines called for 38 percent of the troops to be Pashtun, 25 percent Tajiks, 19 percent Hazaras and eight percent Uzbek.
Since then U.S. officials have continued to put out figures indicating that the ethnic balance in the ANA was in line with the Eikenberry guidelines. As recently as 2008, the RAND Corporation was given data showing that 40 percent of the enlisted men in the ANA were Pashtun and that Tajiks accounted for less than 30 percent.
The latest report of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, issued Oct. 30, shows that Tajiks, which represent 25 percent of the population, now account for 41 percent of all ANA troops who have been trained, and that only 30 percent of the ANA trainees are now Pashtuns.
A key reason for the predominance of Tajik troops is that the ANA began to have serious problems recruiting troops in the rural areas of Kandahar and Helmand provinces by mid-2007.
At least in the Pashtun province of Zabul, the percentage of Pashtuns in the ANA has now been reduced to a minimum. In Zabul province, U.S. officers embedded in one of the kandaks (battalions) reported earlier this year that they believed only about five percent of the troops in the entire brigade are Pashtuns, according to a report by Army Times correspondent Sean D. Naylor published in the Armed Forces Journal last July.
The brigade commander in Zabul is a Tajik.
Meanwhile, Tajiks have maintained a firm grip on the command structure of the ANA. . Marshall Fahim put commanders from the Tajik-controlled Northern Alliance in key positions within the Ministry of Defence as well as the ANA command.
Mason recalled that the United States thought it had an agreement with President Hamid Karzai under which the command structure of the ANA would be reorganised on the basis of ethnic balance, starting with the top 25 positions.
But Karzai never acted on the agreement, Mason said.
Even after Fahim was stripped of his government and military positions by Karzai in 2004, his appointee as ANA chief of staff, Gen. Bismullah Khan, remained as head of the army. Tajiks have continued to occupy the bulk of the positions in the Ministry of Defence.
A United Nations official in Kabul estimated that, as of spring 2008, no less than 70 percent of all kandaks were commanded by Tajiks, as reported by Italian scholar Antonio Giustozzi.
Even in overwhelmingly Pashtun Zabul province, there are only two Pashtun kandak commanders out of a total of six, Matthew Hoh, the senior U.S. civilian in Zabul until he submitted his resignation in September in protest against the war, told IPS in an interview.
Mason views the process by which the ANA is coming to be seen as an increasingly Tajik institution as making a civil war between the Pashtuns and the Tajiks and other ethnic minorities virtually inevitable.
”I believe the elements of a civil war are in play,” Mason told IPS.
Mason said the refusal of Pashtuns in the south and east to join the ANA is part of a ”self-reinforcing spiral”. The more Dari, the language spoken by Tajiks, becomes the de facto language of the ANA, said Mason, the more Pashtuns will see it as an alien institution.
”The warlords have already started rearming,” said Mason.
Although the United States ”has done as good a job as it could have” in trying to make the ANA mirror the broader society, Mason said, it can only ”attenuate” rather than prevent such a war in the future, even with a larger troop presence.
Hoh believes a civil war between the Pashtuns and a Tajik-led alliance of ethnic groups has already begun but could get much worse. ”It is already bad now,” he said, but unless U.S. policy changes, ”we could see a return of the civil war of the 1990s.”
To avoid that outcome would require putting priority on political reconciliation in order to ”integrate all elements of society into the Afghan government and security forces”, said Hoh. That, in turn, would require an international framework, probably involving the United Nations, he said.
Hoh recalled a scene he witnessed in Zabul suggesting that Tajik commanders view the ANA as belonging to the Tajik-led Northern Alliance. At an Afghan independence day event at a military base Aug. 19, attended by hundreds of ANA and national police, the large photograph adorning the wall was not of President Karzai but of the Tajik commander of the entire Northern Alliance, Ahmed Shah Massoud, who was assassinated by al Qaeda two days before the 9/11 attacks.
The previous civil war between Pashtun and Tajik-led armies was triggered by the disappearance in 1992 of the national army of the Soviet-supported Najibullah regime, which had maintained a tenuous balance between the two major ethnic groups.
The collapse of the Najibullah regime and its army was followed immediately by fierce fighting between the Northern Alliance, which had gotten to Kabul first, and the forces of the Pashtun warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who had previously been allied with the non-Pashtun mujahedeen against the Soviet-backed regime.
In a sign that Tajik commanders don’t trust Pashtuns in the south and east, the Tajik senior ANA officer in Zabul, Maj. Gen. Jamaluddin Sayed, dismissed the locally recruited national police in the province as being under Taliban influence and called for recruitment of police from outside the province.
”If we recruit ANP [Afghan National Police] people from Zabul province, probably they have some relationship with the Taliban,” Jamaluddin told Army Times reporter Naylor.
*Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, ”Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam”, was published in 2006.
Thomas Segel is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.
Thomas D. Segel
November 25, 2009 | 19 comments
Harlingen, Texas, November 25, 2009: There is a daily blare of trumpet alerts from our ruling elite. We hear the sounds everywhere calling out to us about loss, danger, gloom, catastrophe, suffering, pain, and fear. There is not a ray of sunshine in anything coming out of Washington. Yet, we keep electing the same old mental misfits, fakes, frauds and fools to positions of trust and leadership.
Obama campaigned on a theme of “Hope and Change”. He didn’t tell us we would all start to hope this negative commentary out of Washington would end, or that the change we were to experience would be massive misery.
Without a doubt, the American people rank high on the list of the world’s politically ignorant people. The left has had decades to make sure of this by waging an unending war against the quality education of our people. They know that they can only rule by fear and misdirection. It seems to be impossible for them to join in the community of meaningful debate.
The liberal left has knowing spent decades making sure that the United States citizenry was "dumbed down" into an easily controlled population. Today we have a body of young people who can tell you the lyrics of any pop culture song, but can’t recite the Preamble to the Constitution. They know every Hollywood celebrity, but can’t name more than one or two members of the Supreme Court. They vote religiously on American Idol, but have never cast a ballot in a local or national election.
With this unknowledgeable electorate making up half of the population, is it any wonder that they readily embrace the politics of fear and defeat? Look at how many rushed to climb aboard the global warming fear train.
Even when Al Gore was proven to have produced a climate change film loaded with wrong-headed assumptions and misinformation, he was applauded, given prizes for his work and increased his wealth by millions of dollars, all at the expense of a duped public.
Even after eleven months, when Barack Obama blames all of his political miss-steps and failed policy on the Bush Administration, the public praises his efforts and refuses to understand he is attempting to gain even further control of the country by practicing the politics of fear.
More than one political writer has warned us about accepting the overkill on cries about such things as the Swine flu, bad vaccine, melting ice burgs, floundering economy, global conflict, dangerous Christmas toys and bad foreign governments. Politicians know these are hot button issues that cause great anxiety among various segments of the population. With that anxiety comes an opportunity for them to make devastatingly bad policy. With more 2,000-page laws on the books, they can control more and more of the population.
People will also note that many of the federal laws are just plain stupid. To make matters worse, at the federal level they are increasingly making laws that should be left to the individual states. These same elected miscreants know they do not have the authority to impose such laws, so they always add a provision, which punishes states for not enforcing those new directives by using a threat of withholding federal funds.
We sadly remember that not too far into our past we used to hear words of praise, hope and encouragement from Washington D. C.
Perhaps you remember hearing “There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder.”
Maybe you recall, “America has begun a spiritual reawakening. Faith and hope are being restored. Americans are turning back to God. Church attendance is up. Audiences for religious books and broadcasts are growing. And I do believe that he has begun to heal our blessed land.”
Those of us with enough years on our frames to remember, still hold fast to pronouncements such as “I know in my heart that man is good. That what is right will always eventually triumph. And there’s purpose and worth to each and every life.”
These were all words of encouragement, of positive belief, that were passed on to an American public who embraced and advanced those meaningful themes. In case you have forgotten, President Ronald Reagan spoke them. Is there an enlightened voice such as his, anywhere in our future or will we continue to hear nothing but a darker shade of doom?
A bizarre scene unfolded amid the festive holiday atmosphere at Westlake Center on Saturday, as men in U.S. military uniforms stormed through the crowd, tossing civilians to the sidewalk and handcuffing them.
It was all part of a "street theater" style anti-war protest staged by opponents of the proposed troop surge in Afghanistan.
The uniformed men and civilians were all acting out their parts, and no bystanders were actually hurt in the holiday crowd.
But many people were caught off-guard by the unorthodox scene only a few steps from Westlake Center, where lines of young kids waited their turn to ride the carousel and shoppers hurried by with their bags.
As the "soldiers" screamed profanities at the "civilians" on the ground, many frightened young children were asking their parents what was going on. Meanwhile, some adult shoppers walked by – seemingly oblivious to the freaky scene.
The protest’s organizers, a group called "The World Can’t Wait," say they’re trying to show what a military occupation is like by re-enacting scenes of soldiers mistreating civilians.
"A troop surge means nothing but suffering, killing … and it’s not in the interest of people living in Afghanistan or the people living in this country," says Emma Kaplan, one of the organizers.
She claimed that President Obama is planning to announce a troop surge on Tuesday that will send 34,000 more soldiers to Afghanistan, and that it is up to the American public to stop it.
"People living in this country have a responsibility to stop the crimes of their government no matter who the president is," she said.
BY KHURRAM SAEED • KSAEED@LOHUD.COM
WEST POINT — Peace activists plan to hold a candlelight vigil outside the U.S. Military Academy on Tuesday shortly before President Barack Obama is expected to announce that he will send more troops to Afghanistan.
Obama, scheduled to speak at 8 p.m., will detail plans to send up to 35,000 more troops to Afghanistan, which the United States invaded a month after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Activists are planning to begin gathering at 6 p.m. at Veterans Park on Main Street in Highland Falls. The park is just outside the campus.
Following speeches and a rally at 6:30 p.m., participants carrying candles and flashlights will march a quarter mile to West Point’s Thayer Gate to show their opposition to what they consider the occupation of Afghanistan before they return to the park.
”We’re there to demonstrate to President Obama and the world that there’s a huge sense of disappointment at increasing these troop levels in Afghanistan,“ said Nick Mottern, a member of the WESPAC Foundation, a social justice group in White Plains.
”We believe people in that region need to be left alone to resolve their own problems, and come to their own political balance without the United States“ interfering, Mottern said Friday.
A Hastings-on-Hudson resident who served in the Navy in Vietnam, Mottern said all of the troops should be removed because the government had misled the public about the military’s purpose for being there. A majority of Americans, according to recent polls, are growing weary of the war, which may cost taxpayers up to $75 billion a year.
The following organizations are sponsoring Tuesday’s vigil: WESPAC, Rockland Coalition for Peace and Justice, the Orange County Democratic Alliance, Peace Action of New York State, World Can’t Wait, Peace and Social Progress Now, the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Troops Out Now, ANSWER and Military Families Speak Out.
Obama has said the United States must ”finish the job“ against al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan, and he also is expected to announce an exit strategy from the war-torn nation.
On Tuesday, Obama predicted the American people will support his strategy once they understand the stakes.
”I feel very confident that when the American people hear a clear rationale for what we’re doing there and how we intend to achieve our goals, that they will be supportive,“ he said at a news conference.
”We know the whole world is going to be watching President Obama giving the speech and is also going to pay attention to our response, the American people’s response,“ said Nancy Tsou, an organizer with the Rockland Coalition for Peace and Justice.
”It looks like the quagmire of the Vietnam War is looming large for us,“ said Tsou, of New City.
Like the war in Iraq, Tsou said greater American presence on the battlefields of Afghanistan will worsen homeland security.
As for dismantling terror networks along the Afghan-Pakistan border, Tsou cited Paul Pillar, a retired CIA analyst, who has noted the 9/11 attacks, which killed 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, were conceived and planned in Western cities.
”If they want to attack us, they can plan it anywhere,“ she said.
The vigil is scheduled to go on rain or shine. Speakers will include Cheryl Wertz, executive director of Peace Action of New York State; Jose Vasquez, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War; Michael Sussman, an Orange County civil rights lawyer; regional activist Jack Smith; and Elaine Brower, of Military Families Speak Out.
Anyone interested in carpooling to the vigil from Westchester County is asked to call WESPAC at 914-449-6514.
Those interested in carpooling from Rockland County are asked to meet no later than 5 p.m. Tuesday in front of Panera Bread in Nanuet.
For more information, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The role of Iran may be the most overlooked in the Dubai debt crisis.
Of all the states of the United Arab Emirates federation, Dubai has maintained the closest ties to Iran. Indeed, as international pressure has built on Iran over the past decade, Dubai has prospered from those ties. It provides critical banking and trade links for Iran, often serving as the go-between for European or Asian companies and financial firms that want to do business with Iran without violating international sanctions.
Abu Dhabi, the wealthiest member of the UAE and a close ally of the US, may be pressuring Dubai to limit its links to Iran. Indeed, this pressure may be behind statements coming from Abu Dhabi about offering “selective” support for Dubai. Companies or creditors thought to be too linked to Iran could find themselves shut out of any bailout.
The United States government, which has remained somewhat taciturn throughout this crisis, is no doubt encouraging Abu Dhabi to apply this pressure. In part because of Dubai’s connections to Iran, US financial institutions are not among the biggest creditors to Dubai World.
It’s not all Iran, of course. The problems in Dubai, the member of the United Arab Emirates that has found itself in a dire financial crisis, closely mirror those behind the global financial crisis.
Over the past decade, the country attempted to diversify its economy away from dependence on its declining oil reserves—and largely succeeded. But, like a Wall Street investment bank attempting to overcome the decline of its traditional businesses by becoming heavily invested in leveraged real estate products, Dubai accumulated huge debt obligations—estimated to amount to some $80 billion. Much of Dubai’s assets were dependent on tourism, shipping, construction and real estate—which have been in trouble during the global economic downturn.
Like its fellow members of the UAE, Dubai is ruled by an expansive royal family. In this case, they are called Al Maktoum family. Exactly what counts as the personal property of ruling family and what is government owned in Dubai is more than a bit fuzzy. The Dubai government owns three companies: Dubai Holding, which is run by Mohammed Al Gergawi; Dubai World, which is run by Sultan bin Sulayem; and the Investment Corporation of Dubai.
Abu Dhabi has been trying to put pressure on Dubai to cut ties to Iran. The split between Abu Dhabi and Iran is in part rooted in an older territorial dispute, fear of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, religious differences between Shiites and Sunnis, and—importantly—Abu Dhabi’s close ties to Washington, DC.
The UAE is close to reaching a nuclear power cooperation deal with Washington, a move that many regional experts say would challenge the traditional Saudi hegemony in the Gulf. One sticking point in the negotiations with Washington has been concerns that Dubai could share US nuclear technology with Iran.
This power struggle between Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia is also playing a role. In May, the UAE May pulled out of a proposed Gulf monetary union over Saudi insistence that it would host the regional central bank.
Dubai, which is a very open and tolerant place compared to Iran, is viewed by many Iranians as a place to let their hair down. It has a thriving Iranian ex-pat community. Iran is Dubai airport’s top destination, with more than 300 flights per week.
More importantly, Dubai is a major exporter to Iran and a major re-exporter of Iranian goods. The trade between Iran and Dubai is one of the principal sources of Tehran’s confidence that it can survive US-led sanctions. Iranian investment in Dubai amounts to about US $14 billion each year. US intelligence officials have long suspected that the Iranian government uses Dubai based front companies to get around sanctions.
Some of the banks said to have the largest exposure to Dubai debt have in the past been linked to Iran. Notably, HSBC, BNP Paribas and Standard Chartered came under investigation and pressure from US authorities in recent years to cut ties to Iran. Some US officials have quietly protested that these banks just shifted to doing business with Iran through Dubai. The US may want to see these creditors take losses from their Dubai exposure.
Make no mistake: the US government does not want to see the financial ruin of Dubai. Apart from its ties from Iran, Dubai is widely viewed as a model Islamic country. It has a relatively clean government, and there is a remarkable level of religious tolerance and progressive attitudes toward women for the region. American diplomats have held up Dubai as their model for a new Baghdad—progressive, tolerant, and capitalist.
What is most likely happening is more nuanced. The US and Abu Dhabi are hoping to use Dubai’s financial troubles as a way of finally severing the close ties to Iran. For years, Dubai has enjoyed the benefits of walking the line between its military and economic alliance with the US and economic benefits from banking and trade ties to Iran. The price of a bailout from Abu Dhabi may be having to finally choose to give up the Iran connection.