UN nuke watchdog chief presses Israeli ministers

JERUSALEM – The Associated Press

The U.N.’s atomic watchdog chief held talks with Israeli officials Tuesday in what was expected to be an effort to push the country to open its secretive nuclear program to international scrutiny.

Yukiya Amano’s low-profile visit to Israel comes ahead of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s September board meeting and general conference. Israel will likely be a central topic at the meeting, at which Arab countries are expected to continue a recent push for more scrutiny of Israel’s nuclear capabilities.

Israel refuses to confirm it possesses a nuclear arsenal, following a long-standing policy it terms “nuclear ambiguity.” But it is widely considered to be the Mideast’s only nuclear power. During the two-day visit, Amano was set to hold talks with Cabinet ministers in charge of atomic energy and strategic affairs, as well as with President Shimon Peres, Israeli officials said.

He was not slated to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The officials said talks were expected to focus on the desire by the U.N.’s Vienna-based watchdog, the IAEA, to see Israel join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because Amano’s schedule was not officially announced.

Earlier this year, The Associated Press learned that Amano had sent a letter soliciting proposals from the agency’s 151 member states on how to persuade Israel to sign the nonproliferation treaty.

The latest pressure has put the Jewish state in an uncomfortable position. It wants the international community to take stern action to prevent Iran from getting atomic weapons but at the same time brushes off calls to come clean about its own nuclear capabilities.

In Vienna, IAEA spokesman Ayhan Evrensel said Tuesday only that Amano would “exchange views on issues of mutual interest” while in Israel. Amano replaced the IAEA’s former chief, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, in December.


Iran-India-Russia-US plan to hunt Taliban before 9/11

India and Iran will “facilitate” the planned US-Russia hostilities against the Taliban

By Our Correspondent

26 June 2001

India and Iran will “facilitate” US and Russian plans for “limited military action”against the Taliban if the contemplated tough new economic sanctions don’t bend Afghanistan’s fundamentalist regime.

The Taliban controls 90 per cent of Afghanistan and is advancing northward along the Salanghighway and preparing for a rear attack on the opposition Northern Alliance fromTajikistan-Afghanistan border positions.

Indian foreign secretary Chokila Iyer attended a crucial session of the second Indo-Russian joint working group on Afghanistan in Moscow amidst increase of Taliban’s military activity near the Tajikistan border. And, Russia’s Federal Security Bureau (the former KGB) chief Nicolai Patroshev is visiting Teheran this week in connection with Taliban’s military build-up.

Indian officials say that India and Iran will only play the role of “facilitator” while the US and Russia will combat the Taliban from the front with the help of two Central Asian countries, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, to push Taliban lines back to the 1998 position 50 km away from Mazar-e-Sharief, a city in northern Afghanistan.

Military action will be the last option though it now seems scarcely avoidable with the UN banned from Taliban-controlled areas. The UN which adopted various means in the last four years to resolve the Afghan problem is now being suspected by the Taliban and refused entry into Taliban areas of the war-ravaged nation through a decree issued by Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar last month.


Ex-Soviet commander unveil Masoud’s secret pact

Ex-Soviet commander unveil Masoud’s secret pact

The News International, May 17, 2001

PESHAWAR: General Gramov, commander of ex-soviet invading army in Afghanistan, has revealed that present leader of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan Ahmad Shah Masoud had inked an agreement with Moscow that ensured safe passage to the former USSR troops through Salang and Panjsher valleys during the Afghan jihad.

Massoud joints hands with the Russian puppets

Massoud with criminal Parchami Generals
Ahmad Shah Massoud, Qasim Fahim and other commanders of Shura-e-Nezar with Parchami (Russian puppets regime) army generals Nabi Azimi, Noor-ul-Haq Ulomi, Asif Delawar and others.

According to an Afghan journalist Sami Yusafzai, General Gramov has exposed many facts about the 10 years-long Soviet involvement and Afghan resistance movement in his took “Soviet Army in Afghanistan”.

He reveals that when the first Russian troops left Hairatan on Afghan-Uzbek border for Kabul via land route in 1980, the soviets feared that the passage of the army through Salang valley and high peaks of Panjsher valley which were manned by the mujahideen of Ahmad Shah Masoud was not only difficult but also almost impossible. The army of famed Jihadi commander Ahmad Shah Masoud, Gramov said, could convert the area into graveyard for the Russian troops by only throwing rocks.

Gramov says at that critical time the then Khad chief Dr. Najibullah acted very shrewdly and contacted Ahmad Shah Masoud who demanded direct talks with the Russians. The Soviet General says they immediately met Masoud and signed an agreement with him that ensured safe passage of Russian army through the dangerous Salang and Panjsher valleys and thus onward to the southern, central and eastern Afghanistan.

General Gramov says Ahmad Shah Masoud in return continued to get Russian assistance. He says Masoud sometimes used to stage sham skirmishes with the Russian to put off chances of suspicions about his activities among other mujahideen groups. He says the Soviets feared that Masoud would use the agreement for dishonest gains but he acted on the accord and avoided creating problems for the Russian army till its withdrawal in 1998.

Gramov says differences between Ahmad Shah Masoud and Gulbuddin Hikmatyar dated back to their days at engineering faculty of Kabul University when both were members of an Islamic student organization. He says that besides being a high caliber military commander who never stayed for two days at a place, Masoud had a political mind.

The Persian-speaking Afghans, Gramov says, consider Masoud as their leader and hero. Mining and export of the precious stones at Panjsher, he says, is major source of income for Masoud. He says Masoud had especial links with France where the press has helped him earn world fame. Gramov says Masoud leads his life in accordance with Islamic principles but according to Russians’ reports he used to take liquor in the company of his close friends.

Gramov further says that on the one hand Masoud had an agreement with the Russians for safe passage at Salang pass and on the other his military council Shura-i-Nazar, fought with them on many fronts in northern Afghanistan and killed many Russian troops.

General Gramov says that in case of hard times his armies could contact the mujahideen in northern Afghanistan and struck a deal on the based of some give and take. However, he says in the eastern and southern Afghanistan where the Pukhtun were in majority such incidents were rare.

Gramov says the Russian invasion of Afghanistan was a blunder that led to the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

“In 1983 Masoud agreed to a temporary cease-fire with the Soviets”

Los Angeles Times
, April 26, 1999

In 1975, at the age of 22, Masoud led a revolt–later known as the Panjsher Valley Incident–aimed at toppling the regime. Most of his colleagues landed in jail, but Masoud made a narrow escape–his first of many. After receiving military training in Pakistan, Masoud returned to Afghanistan in 1978.


In 1983, Masoud agreed to a temporary cease-fire with the Soviets, who were then free to attack other areas. To this day, some of Masoud’s old rivals express deep bitterness at his dealings–which may have kept him alive but made their lives much worse. “Masoud deceived everyone,” said a former commander of the moujahedeen, or holy warriors.

The American spy who headed the CIA’s efforts against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan credited Masoud with impressive military feats. But he added that, in the later years of the war, Masoud spent most of his time preparing for the coming civil war–not fighting the Communists. “He was not that reliable,” said Milton Bearden, the CIA’s station chief in Pakistan during the war. “Toward the end, he spent most of his energies on consolidating his own position.” Masoud said he agreed to the 1983 cease-fire to buy time to build up his forces. Barnett Rubin, an Afghanistan expert at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York, said Masoud spent the year setting up a vast political organization across northern Afghanistan. “Masoud was a very effective leader and a very effective fighter,” said a former CIA agent, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “One of the criteria of an effective fighter is, you don’t pick fights you can’t win.” Masoud led the final drive into Kabul in 1992 and became defense minister in the new government. Shooting broke out among the moujahedeen almost immediately. The fighting, which lasted four years, destroyed Kabul and killed tens of thousands of Afghans. Thousands more were maimed, raped and robbed.

… in one terrible incident in 1993, documented by the State Department, Masoud’s troops rampaged through a rival neighborhood, raping, looting and killing as many as a thousand people.

“Panjshiri Mafia,” Afghanistan’s Massoud Legacy

“Panjshiri Mafia,” Afghanistan’s Massoud Legacy

Edward Girardet

The real issue at hand is that the Panjshiris fail to see the need to share their power with anyone else. They perceive themselves as the country’s natural born leaders, gained by their ability to resist both the Soviets and the Taliban, with an undisputed right to represent Afghanistan, largely to the detriment of other tribal or ethnic groups

The powerful Panjshiris are seeking to impose their dominance at the Loya Jirga, but they risk losing everything unless they make a greater effort to support a truly broad-based Afghan administration.

The 70-mile-long Panjshir valley remains littered with military wreckage from the Soviet occupation of the1980s when the Red Army repeatedly tried — and failed — to quash the region’s armed resistance led by guerrilla leader Ahmed Shah Massoud.

The Northern Alliance commander — who was assassinated last September 9, two days prior to the Al Qaeda attacks in the US, by suspected members of the militant Islamic group and now lies buried on a hill overlooking
the Panjshir River — also represented the main opposition to the Taliban.

As with the Soviets, Massoud succeeded in preventing them from taking the Panjshir — and thus acquiring direct access to the north-east of the country — as part of their strategy to control the entire country.
Over a dozen years after Moscow’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, the symbolism of the shattered Red Army tanks and armored personnel carriers lying by the roadside or half-submerged in the river as it churns its way down from the snow-capped Hindu Kush mountains is more than one of victory over a 20th century Super Power. It is one of resilience, obstinacy, and, increasingly, arrogance. And it is this arrogance that is causing one of the greatest problems for Afghanistan today.

Representing a population of less than 300,000 both inside and outside the valley, the Panjshiris are asserting a disproportionate and often heavy-handed control over Kabul. The Panjshiris currently control three key ministries — defense, interior, and foreign affairs — and are now seeking to impose their dominance at the Loya Jirga.

They are doing this through a combination of bribes and intimidation, including physical threats, of the delegates, who, for the first time, seem to represent the Afghan grassroots over the interests of the warlords.

The real issue at hand is that the Panjshiris fail to see the need to share their power with anyone else. They perceive themselves as the country’s natural born leaders, gained by their ability to resist both the Soviets and the Taleban, with an undisputed right to represent Afghanistan, largely to the detriment of other tribal or ethnic groups.
Defense Minister Mohammad Qasim Fahim, who was appointed head of the Northern Alliance following Massoud’s death, recently maintained that the Panjshiris had assumed control in Kabul because there was no one else proficient enough to run the key ministries.

While claiming to support any government named by the Loya Jirga, he also said that he would not relinquish control until peace and security were “fully restored” and “acceptable”. To do so otherwise, he maintained, would be “irresponsible”.

Another problem is that, since Massoud’s death, there is no single leader amongst the Panjshiris capable of making decisions as a group. As a result, each faction, whether headed by Fahim or Interior Minister Yunus Qanuni, is doing its utmost to retain power.

This is compounded by the lack of any clearly stated policy by the United States. “The message that needs to be communicated is that the Americans will not tolerate any form of government that does not fully represent a broad-based consensus,” said one senior UN official.

The US is regarded as the only power in the position to assert firm influence over the Panjshiris. In addition, he maintained, the international donors need to impose conditional aid based on how the country’s leadership perform over the next 18 months.

During the Soviet-Afghan war, Massoud and his men, primarily Panjshiris but also other northern Tajiks, represented one of Afghanistan’s most effective fighting forces. They were revered by Afghans throughout much of the country, and became the favourites of many journalists and aid workers.

I first came across Massoud in the summer of 1981. I had trekked several hundred miles by foot across north-eastern Afghanistan to report on this “extraordinary” guerrilla commander, an Afghan “Che Guevera” who was not only good at fighting but also cared for the civilian population.
As the Soviet war dragged on, Massoud’s reputation grew. I met with him on various occasions throughout the 1980s and 1990s. There was no doubt that he was an impressive man with strong leadership qualities coupled with a vision for an independent and moderate Afghanistan uniting all ethnic and tribal groups.

Not only did he succeed in leading his valley against the Soviet empire, but he later developed his Shura-e-Nezar (Supervisory Council of the North — soon to be labeled the Northern Alliance) into the only force capable of staving off the Taleban.

And the Panjshiris knew it. With Massoud their hero, they walked tall wherever they went, instantly recognizable by their longish hair, camouflaged uniforms and woolen Chitrali caps. When the Soviets finally left in February 1989 and the communist regime in Kabul fell more than two years later, the Panjshiris were among the first to enter the capital.
They immediately began to dominate the city by packing the government with their own people, competent or not. Corruption abounded and their disdain for other ethnic groups, particularly the Pashtuns, became more pronounced. Massoud’s insistence on holding the capital in 1994 during the bitter factional fighting with other former mujahed fronts, such as Guldbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e-Islami, resulted in the destruction of much of the city and the loss of over 50,000 lives. His forces also brutally put down Hazara opposition to his authority.

As a politician, Massoud failed badly. He had genuinely sought to bring together Afghanistan’s diverse ethnic and tribal groups as part of a new government of unity, but there was too much distrust and the Pashtuns considered him too powerful. By the time the Taleban took control in 1996, Massoud and his Panjshiris — once the heroes of the Jihad — had become overwhelmingly unpopular both in Kabul and many other parts of the country.

Massoud was fully aware of his shortcomings. He was also informed of the abuses committed by his Panjshiri supporters. Prior to his assassination, Massoud warned his commanders to never again commit the mistakes of the early 1990s. This was reiterated during the Bonn talks in December 2001. The only way for a new government to succeed, he had stressed, was through equitable power sharing among all groups.

The reality today, however, is far different. Since re-taking Kabul last November, the Panjshiris have once again sought to control as much as possible. Known as the “Panjshiri Mafia”, they immediately took the main ministries and are now involved in mafia-style rackets ranging from imposing their own taxi cartels to beating up competitive Pashtun merchants.

For a faction that claims to represent Afghanistan as a whole, the Panjshiris have promoted Massoud’s image to one of almost mythical proportions. His portrait appears in virtually every shop, tea house and mosque in Kabul and the northern areas. It is also featured in every police or army facility. All of this does not go down well with Afghans, particularly Pashtuns, who do not regard Massoud as their leader.
“If the Panjshiris were really interested in projecting a unified image, they should include other heroes such as Abdul Haq,” said Anders Fange, a senior UN official with many years experience in Afghanistan, referring to the renowned Pashtun resistance commander who was killed by the Taleban in eastern Afghanistan in the autumn of 2001.

Perhaps most critical of all, the Panjshiris run the Amniyat, the National Security Directorate, or secret police, which, as with the Soviet-backed KHAD of the 1980s, is much feared and largely run by armed thugs. In a move that may totally torpedo the credibility of the Loya Jirga, UN special representative Lakhdar IBrahimi and the assembly commission made a last minute decision on Sunday to grant the Amniyat full access to the proceedings.

This unexpected move came despite warnings by various advisors, including senior UN, aid agency and peacekeeping representatives, to keep the Amniyat out. According to one UN official, who requested anonymity, the secret police can now be expected to step up its pressure in favor of the Panjshiris, whose current support within the Loya Jirga, UN estimates believe, stands at barely 20 per cent.

Regardless what happens at the Loya Jirga, the Panjshiris are clearly determined to hold on to their influence. But their arrogance may also prove to be their downfall. Unless they make a greater effort to support a truly broad-based Afghan administration, they risk losing everything.
They may end up with another war on their hands, but this time as an unpopular minority faction with no international sympathy or support.

Geneva-based Edward Girardet is director of Media Action International and editor of the Essential Field Guide to Afghanistan. He is currently writing a book on 23 years of reporting the wars in Afghanistan

Revival of Russian/Indian Northern Alliance and the Partition of Afghanistan

Partition of Afghanistan Is a Quixotic Adventure

Ehsan Azari Stanizai

Ehsan Azari Stanizai

Dr Ehsan Azari Stanizai is an Adjunct Fellow with the Writing & Society Research Group, University of Western Sydney (UWS)

As the fog of weariness over the war in Afghanistan is growing thicker, some political analysts have come up with the idea that the partition of Afghanistan might be the only alternative to the present counterinsurgency war. In theory, it may seem a panacea but in practice, it could be a frivolous adventure.

This idea was put forward first in an article by Mr. Robert Blackwell, former US Ambassador to India and a presidential envoy to Iraq during the George Bush Administration, in Politico Online on July 7th and then backed up favorably by The Financial TimesNewsweek, The Washington Times and The Economist.

Mr. Blackwell argues that since the present battle plan is not going to weaken the Taliban, and the Pushtun support for the US in the south is unwinnable, a “partition of Afghanistan is the best policy option available to the United States and its allies”. In the same way, as reported by The Economiston July 22, 2010, a former UN and EU envoy to Kabul, Francesc Vendrell, has also held out that the approaching September parliamentarian elections could play as a mechanism by which “the south is handed over to the Taliban and the north to Uzbek, Hazara and Tajik warlords”.

Moreover, in an essay co-authored by three experts, Foreign Affairs (July/August) advises the division of Afghanistan on ethnic lines is the best option for the US to implement its core security interests. The authors conclude that a “mixed sovereignty,” not the present policy of centralized democracy will place the country on a path towards stability.

Under this approach, the Taliban will take over the south, but if they try to welcome Al-Qaeda back or seek to attack the north, the United States will retaliate using air bombing, drones and surgical operations by its elite forces. Partition could have an adverse impact on Pakistani military in that it will likely break ranks with the Taliban. As a result, Pakistan would reverse its current policy largely for the fear that partition of Afghanistan could turn its own Pashtun Taliban into a Baluch-like separatist movement for forming a greater Pashtunistan.

The reality is that these scholar-officials have a run-of-the-mill local knowledge. They perceive Afghanistan still in terms of Afghanistanism– the American newsroom argot of the 1960s, which was used as a metaphor for a far-away, obscure and negligible place or situation. In real life, however, Afghanistan is as Richard Nixon put it in The Real War, “has long been a cockpit of great-power intrigue for the same reason that it used to be called the turnstile of Asia’s fate”.

Afghanistan has been an apologia for imperial miseries throughout its history. In his quest for empire, Alexander the Great was the first European emperor who rode across the Afghan mountains. After conquering Persia in six months, he found his army bogged down in an endless war in Afghanistan. “I am involved in the land of a leonine (loin-like) and brave people, where every foot of the ground is like a wall of steel, confronting my soldiers. You have brought one son into the world, but everyone in this land can be called Alexander,” in a famous letter, he wrote to his mother in 330 BC.

However, for all that toughness, Afghanistan has a history of partition. The country suffered the pains of partition when the British Raj drew a border (known as Durand Line) between Afghanistan and the British India in 1893. The aim of the partition was to divide and weaken the unruly Afghan tribes. More than a century later, the Durand Line remains one of the most disputed borders in the world. Pashtun tribes in Pakistan and Afghanistan have never recognized this line. In the Afghan narrative, this border represents the greatest national disgrace. Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India ingeniously predicted this by calling the border “the razor’s edge on which hang suspended the modern issues of war and peace, of life and death to nations”.

Afghanistan’s recent history offers ample evidence of resistance against the old colonial motto: divide and rule. During the past three decades, Afghanistan has had no functioning government, but it remained united against foreign invasions. In a final attempt, before leaving Afghanistan, the former Soviet Union nurtured the idea of Afghanistan’s partition to win the war. In 1987 when I was working with The Kabul Times, the news leaked out that the Russians wanted to shift the Afghan capital from Kabul to Mazari-I-Sharif in the north and cede the south to the US-backed anti-communist guerrilla fighters. However, the Soviet leaders backed out from this strategy and accepted an unconditional withdrawal, even though by then they were in a stronger position for only Amu Darya divided the Soviet territory from Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is indeed an ethnic mosaic. Except for two or three out of 33-provinces of the country, you can hardly find a place identified with one ethnic identity. Separatism has never been an issue of concern in Afghanistan. During Afghanistan’s civil war in the early 1990s, when a fierce internal competition for control of Kabul was raging, no ethnic group and no warlord ever called for partition. The anti-Soviet resistance in the north remained always as strong as in the south. And let’s not forget that there are millions of Pashtun in the north as well.

Afghanistan’s partition would be an invitation to a Russian roulette in the regional nuclear club. It will strengthen the Taliban beyond imagination and hearten Al-Qaeda for exploiting the crisis. Pakistan and India have nuclear weapons, and Iranian unpopular mullahs have their hearts set on. The ripple effects will reach China and Russia, who are already keen on play their parts in the great game.

Dr Ehsan Azari Stanizi is an Adjunct Fellow with the Writing & Society Research Group, University of Western Sydney (UWS)

India to reopen Kabul mission: report

India to reopen Kabul mission: report

(AFP) – 9 hours ago

NEW DELHI — India is to reopen a medical mission in the Afghan capital Kabul that was hit by militant suicide attacks in February, a report in New Delhi said Wednesday.

Nine Indians were killed in one of the deadliest Taliban strikes on foreigners in Kabul. A total of 16 people died and 20 were critically injured when suicide bombers targeted two guesthouses in the Afghan capital.

India blamed Pakistan-based militants for targeting the medical mission in a power struggle between the two rival countries in Afghanistan that many analysts fear will erupt into a “proxy war” when foreign troops withdraw.

“The medical mission in Kabul will resume full-scale operations shortly,” an anonymous source told the Times of India. “The staff who had been injured are being replaced.”

India suspended medical aid and a number of teaching programmes in Afghanistan after the attack and Indian businesses and charities were reported to have slashed staff over fears they would be targeted by militants.

Indian interests in Afghanistan have been repeatedly targeted. Its embassy was bombed in October last year and on July 7, 2008.

The New Delhi government believes the attacks on its medical mission on February 26 were launched by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the same group that it blames for the Mumbai attacks in November 2008.

India, which has repeatedly urged the global community to “stay the course” in Afghanistan, is worried that Pakistan and the Islamist Taliban will assume key roles once international forces pull out.