McFaul Seeks Democratic-Revolutionary War Chest of $50 Million In "Civil Society Fund"

U.S. Seeks to Release $50M for Democracy

The Moscow Times

By Jonathan Earle

A United Russia Duma deputy accused the United States of "fighting our country," after the Obama administration said it would boost funding for civil society and democracy in Russia.

Irina Yarovaya wrote that U.S. plans to create a $50 million "civil society fund" are an attempt to meddle in Russia’s internal politics and exert destabilizing pressure.

"The money … is being spent on fighting our country," she wrote in a statement posted on the ruling party’s website Friday.

The Obama administration has asked Congress to create a "civil society fund" with money from a decades-old program initially designed to promote market economies in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaulsaidlast week in Washington.

"When you talk to real human rights organizations and [find out] what they really need, they need that kind of support," McFaul said in a speech to an audience at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

The announcement drew a mixed response from the human rights leaders and the opposition.

"We are forced to exist on foreign money," veteran human rights leaderLyudmila Alexeyevasaid, The New York Times reported, citing an Interfax report. "Our government does not consider it necessary to spend money on maintaining the nongovernmental human rights community."

Sergei Mitrokhin, leader of the liberal Yabloko party, said the money would hurt the opposition, which has experienced a resurgence in recent months after Duma and presidential elections that were marred by allegations of fraud.

"It’s very easy to present this as a kind of subversive activity. … Unfortunately, yes, this initiative would rather harm civil society and the opposition in Russia more than it would help," he said, The New York Times reported.

Kremlin-linked analysts said the additional funds were a mixed blessing for Russia, adding that $50 million wasn’t enough to tip the political scales one way or the other.

Vyacheslav Nikonov, a Duma deputy from United Russia and head of the Kremlin-linked Politika Foundation, even warned that the proposal could prompt authorities to further restrict the flow of foreign money to domestic NGOs.

Vladimir Putin cracked down on NGOs during his 2000-08 tenure as president. And in the run-up to his return to the Kremlin, several organizations were portrayed as agents of the West.

Whether the funds will be used to discredit the regime or build genuine civil society will depend on who administers the funds, said Sergei Markov, a Kremlin-linked analyst who is vice president of the Plekhanov Institute of Economics.

"Who will distribute the funds, an idealist or a Russophobe?" he asked.

Markov said an idealist, someone who truly supports Russia’s development, would give money to pro-business groups such as Delovaya Rossia and Opora or to Yabloko’s good-governance programs. Political parties are barred from accepting foreign money.

A Russophobe, he said, would give money to opposition leaderAlexei Navalnyor Golos, the elections watchdog that has been the target of a government-sponsored smear campaign.

Iosif Diskin, an analyst and member of the Public Chamber, said the announcement had more to do with internal American politics than democracy in Russia.

"The Obama administration is trying to please critics who say he’s not doing enough to promote democracy and civil society in Russia," Diskin said.

Although he decried "politicized" grants from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the entity that will likely distribute the grants, he said Russia benefits from most of what USAID provides.

"Ninety percent of their funding is positive," he said.

NGOs: Missionaries of Empire

NGOs: Missionaries of Empire




Non-governmental organizations are an increasingly important part of the 21st century international landscape performing a variety of humanitarian tasks pertaining inter alia to issues of poverty, the environment and civil liberties. However, there is a dark side to NGOs. They have been and are currently being used as tools of foreign policy, specifically with the United States. Instead of using purely military force, the US has now moved to using NGOs as tools in its foreign policy implementation, specifically the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, and Amnesty International.

National Endowment for Democracy

According to its website, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is “a private, non-profit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world,” however this is sweet-sounding description is actually quite far from the truth.

The history of the NED begins immediately after the Reagan administration. Due to the massive revelations concerning the CIA in the 1970s, specifically that they were involved in attempted assassinations of heads of state, the destabilization of foreign governments, and were illegally spying on the US citizens, this tarnished the image of the CIA and of the US government as a whole. While there were many committees that were created during this time to investigate the CIA, the Church Committee (led by Frank Church, a Democrat from Idaho) was of critical importance as itsfindings “demonstrated the need for perpetual surveillance of the intelligence community and resulted in the creation of the permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.” The Select Committee on Intelligence’s purpose was to oversee federal intelligence activities and while oversight and stability came in, it seemed to signal that the CIA’s ‘party’ of assassination plots and coups were over. Yet, this was to continue, but in a new way: under the guise of a harmful NGO whose purpose was to promote democracy around the world—the National Endowment for Democracy.

The NED was meant to be a tool of US foreign policy from its outset. It was the brainchild of Allen Weinstein who, before creating the Endowment, was a professor at Brown and Georgetown Universities, had served on the Washington Post’s editorial staff, and was the Executive Editor of The Washington Quarterly, Georgetown’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, a right-wing neoconservativethink tank which would in the future have ties to imperial strategists such as Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski.[3] He stated in a 1991 interview that “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”[1]

The first director of the Endowment, Carl Gershman, outright admitted that the Endowment was a front for the CIA. In 1986 he stated:

We should not have to do this kind of work covertly. It would be terrible for democratic groups around the world to be seen as subsidized by the CIA. We saw that in the ‘60s, and that’s why it has been discontinued. We have not had the capability of doing this, and that’s why the endowment was created.[2]

It can be further observed that the Endowment is a tool of the US government, as ever since its founding in 1983, it “has received an annual appropriation approved by the United States Congress as part of the United States Information Agency budget.”

No sooner than the Endowment was founded did it begin funding groups that would support US interests. From 1983 to 1984, the Endowment was active in France and “supported a ‘trade union-like organization that for professors and students’ to counter ‘left-wing organizations of professors,’”[3] through the funding of seminars, posters, books, and pamphlets that encouraged opposition to leftist thought. In the mid and late 1990s, the NED continued its fight against organized labor by giving in excess of $2.5 million to the American Institute of Free Labor Development which was a CIA front used to undermine progressive labor unions.

Later on, the Endowment became involved in interfering with elections in Venezuela and Haiti in order to undermine leftwing movements there. The NED is and continues to be a source of instability in nations across the globe that don’t kneel before US imperial might. Yet the Endowment funds another pseudo-NGO: Freedom House.

Freedom House

Freedom House was originally founded in 1941 as a pro-democracy and pro-human rights organization. While this may have been true in the past, in the present day, Freedom House is quite involved in pushing US interests in global politics andits leaders have connections to rather unsavory organizations, such as current Executive Director David Kramer being a Senior Fellow to the Project for the New American Century, many of whose members are responsible for the current warmongering status of the US.

During the Bush administration, the President used Freedom House to support the so-called War on Terror. In a March 29, 2006 speech, President Bush stated that Freedom House “declared the year 2005 was one of the most successful years for freedom since the Freedom House began measuring world freedom more than 30 years ago” and that the US should not rest “until the promise of liberty reaches every people and every nation” because “In this new century, the advance of freedom is a vital element of our strategy to protect the American people, and to secure the peace for generations to come.”

Later, it was revealed that Freedom House became more and more supportive of the Bush administration’s policies because of the funding it was getting from the US government. According to its own internal report in 2007, the US government was providing some 66% of funding for the organization. This funding mainly came from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the US State Department, and the National Endowment for Democracy. Thus, we see not only the political connection of Freedom House to US government, but major financial connections as well.

It should be noted, however, that Freedom House was not alone in supporting the government. Under the Bush administration, the US government forced NGOs to become more compliant to their demands. In 2003, USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios stated in a speech given at a conference of NGOs that in Afghanistan the relationship between NGOs and USAID does affect the survival of the Karzai regime and that Afghans “believe [their life] is improving through mechanisms that have nothing to do with the U.S. government and nothing to do with the central government. That is a very serious problem.”  On the situation in Iraq, Natsios stated that when it comes to NGO work in the country “proving results counts, but showing a connection between those results and U.S. policy counts as well.” NGOs were essentially told that they were tools of the US government and were being made part of the imperial apparatus.

Most recently, Freedom House was active in the Arab Spring, where they aided in the training and financing of civil society groups and individuals “including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen.”

While the Endowment and Freedom House are being used as tools of US foreign policy that does not mean that the US government isn’t looking for new tools, namely Amnesty International.

Amnesty International

The human rights organization Amnesty International is the newest tool in the imperial toolbox of the American Empire. In January 2012, Suzanne Nossel was appointed the new Executive Director of Amnesty International by the group itself. Before coming to Amnesty, Nossel already had deep connections to the US government as she had “served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organizations at the U.S. Department of State.”

Nossel is known for coining the term ‘smart power’ which she defined as knowing that “US interests are furthered by enlisting others on behalf of U.S. goals, through alliances, international institutions, careful diplomacy, and the power of ideals.” While this definition may seem harmless, ‘smart power’ seems to be an enhanced version of Joseph Nye’s ‘soft power,’ which itself is defined as “the ability to obtain the outcomes one wants through attraction rather than using the carrots and sticks of payment or coercion.” A possible example of this ‘smart power’ is the war in Libya, where the US used the UN as a means to get permission to engage in ‘humanitarian intervention.’

Yet, even before Nossel was appointed to Amnesty, the group was unwittingly aiding in the media war against Syria. In a September 1, 2011 Democracy Now interview, Neil Sammonds, the researcher and one of the author’s for Amnesty’s report Deadly Detention: Deaths in Custody Amid Popular Protest in Syria, spoke about the manner in which the research was done for the report. He stated:

I’ve not been into Syria. Amnesty International has not been allowed into the country during these events, although we have requested it. So the research for this report was done mostly from London, but also from some work in neighboring countries and through communications with a large network of contacts and relatives of the families, and, you know, other sources.

How can one write a report with any amount of authority if their only sources are through second-hand sources that may or may not have a bias or an agenda to push? How can you write a report using sources whose information has no way of being verified? It is reminiscent of the media war against Gaddafi, where it was reported in the mainstream media that he was bombing his own people and had given Viagra to his soldiers as so they could rape women, but absolutely none of this was verified.

While NGOs can have a positive influence on society at large, one must be aware of their backgrounds, who is in charge of them, and from whom they are getting funding from because the nature of the NGO is changing, it is being more and more integrated into the imperial apparatus of domination and exploitation. NGOs are fast becoming the missionaries of empire.


[1] William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, 3rd ed. (Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 2005) pg 239

[2] Ibid, pg 239

[3] Ibid, pg 240

Devon Douglas-Bowers is a 20 year old independent writer and researcher. He is currently majoring in political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Afghanistan and the Failure of COIN

Afghanistan and the future of COIN

By Brian M Downing

If we were overthrown, there would be major chaos and confusion in the country and everyone including every single oppressed individual would blame you for it.Mullah Omar to President Bill Clinton, Sept 1999
A government that is losing to an insurgency is not being outfought, it is being outgoverned.Bernard Fall

The United States-led effort in Afghanistan placed a great deal of weight on counterinsurgency (COIN) to defeat or at least stymie the insurgency there. There are few signs of success and the US is seeking negotiations with Mullah Omar’s Taliban in a less than attractive bargaining position. Many feel that defeat or at least

unceremonious withdrawal looms.
COIN has a long and intriguing history going back mainly to colonial administration and insurgencies in the post-World War II era. It enjoyed growth after Fidel Castro’s band seized power in Cuba and the US looked for ways to counter Soviet-backed insurgencies elsewhere in the Third World. COIN was romanticized once it became attached to the US Green Berets – a force with considerable cachet in the sixties. The war in Vietnam saw limited but incoherent use of COIN and after Saigon fell (1975), the doctrine was put away lest some future president be tempted to get involved in another insurgency – a prospect that seemed dim if not absurd back then.
With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, however, COIN gained new attention and renewed romanticization. It contributed to easing the Iraqi insurgency, or seemed to, and it was confidently put into practice in Afghanistan. Despite great hopes and the leadership of General Petraeus, COIN has failed to do more than carve out a few enclaves in the south and east where security remains frail and popular support is chiefly formal.
Even if Afghanistan ends badly, COIN doctrine will not be put away as it was after the last Huey hurriedly took off from Saigon in 1975. It is a central part of American strategic thinking and is being taught or put into practice in Yemen, Uganda, Somalia, Mali, Thailand, the Philippines, Colombia, and elsewhere. Learning what went wrong in Afghanistan will be important in shaping future foreign policy and military budgets. Some problems inhere to Afghanistan, others to American institutions and society.
Initial misallocation of resources
The insurgency in Afghanistan developed, largely unnoticed, while the US’s attention and resources were shifted to Iraq. After expelling the Taliban and al-Qaeda from Afghanistan in late 2001, the US took insufficient interest in rebuilding the country and little if any in building a government. That would be "nation-building" – a policy with considerable opprobrium assigned it after the effort to bring stability to Somalia ended in humiliation and withdrawal.
Engineer battalions, intelligence outfits, and special forces units, which would have been useful in bringing order to Afghanistan and preventing an insurgency, were sent to Iraq. The hoped-for transition to a United Nations government did not take place and a vicious insurgency emerged – and paradoxically though predictably, the US found itself involved in nation-building for many years.
Afghanistan suffered from neglect. Warlordism and banditry plagued the country and the Kabul government, corrupt and inept, alienated many if not most Afghans. The Iraq war had another consequence. The Taliban saw the invasion of Iraq as evidence of US designs to conquer the region and control its resources and they were even more determined to fight the invaders in Afghanistan and return to power.
The heavy hand
The US countered the emerging insurgency with conventional warfare, including heavy firepower. This was how the US had fought its wars since General Ulysses S Grant ground down the rebels in the Civil War, and of course this was how the Taliban had been driven out in 2001.
The American way of war has been to use its decided firepower advantage to maximize enemy casualties and minimize its own. Junior officers had been trained to use artillery and air power to protect the young men entrusted to them and avoid the loss of morale and respect that casualties can bring. US infantry units went through village after village chasing an elusive enemy and winning few friends along the way. Insurgents capitalized on civilian casualties.
When COIN was finally put into practice in 2009, after many fits and starts, it had many resources to draw upon. Well intended aid projects left a heavy footprint. In the early sixties when David Galula was developing the principles of COIN in Algerian villages, he could contact a fellow junior officer in an engineering or medical detachment and, in short order, have a well dug or have a few medics come in to inoculate children.
Today, in order to get that same engineering or medical project, a village in Kandahar will endure the presence of dozens of military and civilian personnel – an irksome intrusion that reinforces local notions of foreign occupation. An engineer unit and a handful of medics might be able to accomplish more on their own than if accompanied by a brigade of consultants, aid workers, non-government organizations, public relations officials, and private contractors.
TE Lawrence identified a simple truth of leading an insurgency: "Do not try to do too much with your own hands. Better the Arabs do it tolerably than that you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not to win it for them." This principle has not always been translated into counterinsurgency. Foreign engineers, despite good intentions and seminars on cultural sensitivities, do not always listen to local views on aid projects and all too often dismiss the villagers’ folkways and impose their expertise.
The presence of a large number of foreign troops is seldom welcome by any people. Americans might remember reading of their forbears’ annoyance at the presence of British troops back in the 18th century – and they were not really foreign, yet. Today, a large number of US troops in another country, especially a traditionalist one, presents significant problems.
The rank and file of the US military are drawn from a swaggering, coarse, and often violent youth culture. Trained for war and away from familial restraints, they do not all act responsibly out in the field or just outside the perimeter of an operating base. Entering and searching though family houses is a routine part of COIN; laughing while doing so is not. Even if 95% of soldiers act responsibly and the rest do not, the effect on winning hearts and minds will not be rewarding.
Routine contact with locals all too often breeds contempt. Soldiers see villagers as indifferent to their sacrifices and reluctant to provide information about insurgents. They see meetings with village elders as merely forums for the disbursement of American goods, with no attendant respect or loyalty – and from the prejudiced view of the combat unit, the locals know damn well where the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are. Afghan soldiers sit back and watch the GIs pound the ground and take the bulk of the casualties.
The relationship between soldier and villager is filled with mistrust and often hatred, much as it was in Southeast Asia almost half a century ago. The books and films of that war are well known to young soldiers today and they have formed a dark template for looking upon the villagers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Good things are unlikely to follow from this and the results have occasionally been lethal.
Safe havens
Foremost in COIN doctrine is denying the insurgents the use of sanctuaries, either in foreboding parts of the country at hand or in adjacent countries. Algerian insurgents had the mountains south of the coastal plain and the walled areas of major cities. The Viet Cong had the U Minh Forest inside Vietnam and mountainous jungle areas just to the west in Cambodia and Laos. US incursions and airstrikes had no lasting effect.
In Afghanistan, during the Russian war and today as well, Pakistan offers ready mountain refuges to insurgents. Base camps and supply trails from the old mujahideen days have come back to service and Pashtun hospitality straddles both sides of the rugged and ill-defined frontier.
US pressure on Pakistan, a putative ally that receives ample subsidies, has led to only lethargic incursions into some frontier areas, though never into North Waziristan and other key base camp havens. Pakistani intelligence offers help against renegade groups like the Terikh-e-Taliban, but only rarely against groups fighting in Afghanistan. Pakistan sees them as allies in its long rivalry with India.
It has only belatedly dawned on US intelligence that Pakistan is tied to many insurgent groups. Failure to comprehend Pakistan’s strategic predilection with India is one of the most egregious failures of US intelligence in many decades. Instead, the Taliban have a stalwart ally, US logistics are imperiled, and the war is probably lost.
The Kabul government
The officials centered in Kabul have been getting outgoverned soundly for many years now. The Karzai government’s corruption is well known and efforts to press Kabul into reform have been unsuccessful. Corruption is a painful part of life inside Afghanistan where impoverished people must pay bribes to obtain a driver’s license to even a death certificate. Litigants know well that the scales of justice tilt decisively in favor of those who toss in a few coins.
A government can be corrupt yet competent. The bosses of an American city in the not-so-distant past took bribes routinely and perhaps even openly but nonetheless built the machinery to provide goods and services in an effective manner. Afghans will tolerate copious amounts of corruption. Indeed many practices Westerners would deem corrupt are enshrined with tradition. But too much corruption with too little competence triggers outrage and a search for justice from other sources.


The Taliban have a long history of outfighting and outgoverning opponents. During the Russian war, the Taliban forces in the south distinguished themselves from other bands by settling disputes in accordance with Sharia in their courts, gaining the gratitude and respect of southerners. Taliban courts operate today as well and are key to the rising insurgency. Many see them as fairer and more efficient than those of the Kabul government.
Administering justice is part of the Taliban’s method of expanding into a district. The Taliban begin their campaign not with a guerrilla band but with negotiators who meet with local elders and identify grievances, then seek to settle them. The Taliban warns government officials to leave – or kills them. Guerrilla bands then operate in the district, often with local men levied into them. An alternate government spreads from district to district and takes on more of the functions of government. Today, the Taliban operate


shadow governments in many districts and provinces of the south and east.
Karzai might have been expected to enact reforms after the US announced plans to reduce its presence. South Vietnam president Nguyen Van Thieu pressed through land and state reforms once President Richard Nixon announced troops withdrawals. Even the army began to professionalize. US officials have been exasperated to see no comparable effort from Karzai and Afghanistan seems headed for South Vietnam’s fate.
The Afghan army
Related to state failure is the failure to build a competent indigenous army. The Afghan National Army (ANA) was built upon the forces of the old Northern Alliance – the non-Pashtun militias that fought the Taliban for years and drove them into Pakistan in 2001 with US help.
Mohammed Fahim, the Tajik warlord following Ahmed Shah Massoud’s assassination, was Karzai’s defense minister and naturally enough he sought to make the ANA reflect northern interests, not southern Pashtun ones, which he deemed often sympathetic to their kin in Pakistan and to the Pakistani army as well. The ANA officer corps was drawn disproportionately from the Tajik and Uzbek commanders of the Northern Alliance, as was the rank and file. This of course led to conflict with Pashtun leaders, including Karzai, so Fahim was replaced by Abdul Rahim Wardak, a Pashtun who began ousting northerners from key positions and replacing them with Pashtun officers.
The rank and file, however, remain from the north and are resentful of their Pashtun officers whose sense of ethnic superiority is palpable but whose professional qualifications are not. Further, the Pashtun are resented, in and out of the army, for a long history of political artlessness: the communists whose oafish policies began the country’s disintegration in the late seventies, the Taliban who ruled roughly and pointlessly, and the current president whose often bewildering actions defy explanation.
An army rent by ethnic tensions and professional doubts will not be very effective in the field. What soldier will risk his neck for an officer promoted for personal or tribal connections? What battalion will risk an operation without assurance that sister battalions will come to its aid or perform their related responsibilities? How often has a Pashtun soldier turned his weapon on fellow soldiers, Afghan or from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), then gone over the hill to the insurgents?
Add in widespread reluctance to serve outside one’s province and risk-aversion that comes from years of war and we have a spiritless army. Better to await some sort of settlement with the Taliban than die for a dubious army and state, many soldiers reason – all the more so after the recent Koran burnings and the massacre in Kandahar have made the US position less tenable.
Comparisons to the South Vietnamese army (ARVN) might be useful. Though often reduced to a caricature in popular culture, the ARVN of the early seventies had several professional units such as the 1st Infantry Division, the marine and airborne units, and the ranger battalions. Too many other units, however, remained unprofessional and incompetent and collapsed under the weight of the 1975 North Vietnamese offensive.
A further relevant point is that the reports on almost all ARVN units were glowing. In their periodic and end-of-tour assessments, most US advisers spoke of the impressive strides in professionalism, efficacy, and cohesion that had been made. Washington was confident that the ARVN could stand up to the North Vietnamese once the US left. Most who saw ARVN units in the field knew this was untrue.
The reasons for this deception are not long to seek. What officer would report that he did not better the units he worked with on his tour of duty? If he had, what superior would not have redacted the report? Institutions do not judge themselves fairly and often give themselves many points for good effort. Today, most reports on the ANA stress the impressive strides they’ve made in professionalism, efficacy, and cohesion.
Bureaucracy at war
COIN requires coordination of various military and civilian agencies, most of whom have exhibited little willingness to cooperate in Washington – an unpromising augur for the tasks ahead in a distant heterogeneous country ravaged by three decades of war.
The State Department, Agency for International Development, Central Intelligence Agency, Health and Human Services, Treasury Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Agriculture, and other bureaus have all taken part in the effort in Afghanistan and do so without leaving their institutional parochialisms at Dulles airport.
Further, the program is an international effort. Many NATO powers have troops there, as do Norway and the United Arab Emirates. Russia trains the police while India and Iran play important parts in reconstruction. All bring different national histories and often conflicting national interests as well. The breadth of experiences and approaches provided the opportunity for an intricate plan, but aggregating various ideas into a coherent strategy and specific programs was elusive.
Placing each agency and bureau onto a large, integrated organizational chart with clearly drawn lines of authority and cooperation, atop which stands an ambassador or general, did little to blend disparate views and conflicting personalities. It might be likened to assembling a number of musicians, each of whom may be highly talented but in different genres. Even a gifted maestro will be hard-pressed to produce a mellifluous arrangement.
Douglas Blaufarb’s account of COIN’s incoherence in Southeast Asia might offer valuable insight into what is going wrong in Central Asia. Advocates of counterinsurgency "were dismayed, as time went on, to find that it had degenerated into a vague slogan behind which various policy interests contended for their own goals, not all of which were in fact consistent with the intentions of the originators of the ideas and policies involved." (Blaufarb, The Counterinsurgency Era, page 1.)
Tribal society
COIN doctrine invokes the "ink spot" imagery. Operations begin in a small area then spread out to adjacent villages and districts, winning people over and detaching them from the insurgents. It has had some success in Malaya, parts of Vietnam, and Central America, though in these cases COIN programs spread out across reasonably homogeneous and non-fragmented populations.
Afghanistan, however, is a patchwork of tribes and ethnic groups, many of whom have forged stable relationships over the years, but many of whom are deeply antagonistic and use immediate national issues to revisit longstanding local ones. The south and east, where the insurgency is based, are highly fragmented and antagonistic.
Though chiefly Pashtun, the constituent clans and tribes and confederations have little in common but language and distant lineages to tax-collection entities and warrior formations cobbled together by or against Persian and Mogul emperors. Whatever common outlook there might have been, it has largely fragmented over generations of competitive dealings with Kabul and the fissures and discontinuities brought on by relentless war. Many tribes are now ruthless competitors for scarce resources. "Amoral tribalism" is the rule.
COIN projects, even well planned and executed ones, face extraordinary problems in Pashtun regions. Tribes mistrust if not despise their neighbors and oppose anything that strengthens them. Building a well for one Pashtun tribe fosters resentments in adjacent ones. Claims of preferential treatment flare in elder councils; personal animosities masquerade as matters of tribal honor; rivals are unfairly branded Taliban commanders; and the poor reconstruction team’s resources and patience are not unlimited.
Such rivalries have been noted since British officers wrote their dispatches on the Pathans back in the 19th century. Decades of war have only worsened matters. Mujahideen commanders fell into murderous warfare and villagers settled personal scores once the unifying force of the Russian army withdrew from their province.
The Taliban of course have been able to win support from many of these Pashtun tribes, though many others remain implacable foes from their time in power, from the Russian war, and even from further back. The Taliban’s success is based on widespread hostility to foreign troops and the Karzai state, not on anything likely to last after the Western forces withdraw and the last officials flee.
Brian M Downing served with indigenous forces in the Vietnam War and is the author of The Military Revolution and Political Change and The Paths of Glory: War and Social Change in America from the Great War to Vietnam. He can be reached at
(Copyright 2012 Asia Times Online

Lone gunman, or the beginning of a real French anti-Zionist revolution?

[SEE: French Soldiers Attacked By Motorcycle Gunmen In Two Separate Incidents–3-4 Killed)]

At least 3 killed in shooting at French Jewish school

Police officers gather at the site of a shooting in Toulouse, southwestern France. A father and his two sons were among four people who died Monday when a gunman opened fire in front of a Jewish school. Photo: AP

AP  Police officers gather at the site of a shooting in Toulouse, southwestern France. A father and his two sons were among four people who died Monday when a gunman opened fire in front of a Jewish school. Photo: AP

TOULOUSE, France: Police said a shooting Monday outside a Jewish secondary school in southwestern France had left victims, with eyewitnesses speaking of three killed, two of them children.
A man fled on a motorbike from the scene in Toulouse, where in the same region last week three paratroopers were shot dead by a man on a motorbike.
Patrick Rouimi, the father of a child at the school, told AFP that a man opened fire on a group of people standing at a spot where children were picked up from the school.
Police in southwestern France launched a major manhunt last week after the killing of three paratroopers and the wounding of another in two separate, but connected incidents.
The perpetrator of both attacks fled on a motorbike.
Between 50 and 60 police officers, including anti-terrorist specialists, have been drafted in to the investigation.
Senior military officials have ordered troops based in the region not to wear their uniforms outside barracks.

Lashkar e Islam: The de facto government in rural Peshawar

Lashkar e Islam: The de facto government in rural Peshawar

Pamir Sahill

Map of FATA in Pakistan showing Khyber Agency

As spring season began in Pashtunkhwa of Pakistan, attacks and acts of terror also started and the claims of government that militants are not powerful enough to cause big scale damage to civilian lives seem  untrue.

The hide and seek between army and militants is also gaining momentum as operation in Bara tribal area of Khyber Agency in North-West Pakistan is again causing massive flow of remaining residents from the region to Peshawar.

It can be said that both militants and Pakistani military were in hibernation (or shameless winter-sleep like frogs) and now are demonstrating their muscle power ‘against’ each other in the mating season.

While observing the situation through media reports and my own research and investigation I have reached to a depressing conclusion (though not novel or surprising for many) that this year (2012) will also bring a huge death toll to the civilians inhabiting the Pashtun land. 

Two days ago, a story published in the Express Tribune said militants of Lashkar e Islam are demanding money in exchange of what they call safety of the people in Achine Bala village in Peshawar district. To further investigate and develop this story, I contacted residents of Achine Bala and some other villages bordering restive Khyber Agency.

Achine Bala is a village where some families of Ahmadis also live, while there are some families of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of infamous, illusory Bara operation as well. I contacted some residents of Achine Bala through some journalists in the region. One of  them, an Ahmadi, was extremely frightened and told me that not only militants of Lashkar e Islam are demanding them to pay Jizia (Islamic tax imposed on non-Muslims in order to ensure their safety) but also ‘‘our phone calls are recorded by intelligence agencies’ spies and they usually come here and ask us why we are complaining or talking to media.’’ That was the reason that man didn’t reveal his name.

Ahmadis are non-Muslims according to Pakistani constitution of 1973. And this is also a reason of their bad fate.

‘’Militants of Lashkar e Islam patrol in Achine Bala union council, and all other villages,’’ a resident of Hayatabad in Peshawar said on condition of anonymity. ‘’Police have abandoned us,’’ he said, ‘’they have abandoned this entire area.’’

The ‘hide and seek’ show in Bara.

I then contacted Lashkar e Islam’s Mohammad Hussain Commander in Shalobar of Bara on phone. As I rang him, I listened to a very famous song of Bollywood movie Dil Wale Dulhania Le Jaainge, this was set as what is called ‘mobi-tune’.
‘’We collected Jizia from Hindus [in fact Sikhs] in Bara years ago,’’ Hussain said.  ‘’We are not collecting money now from anyone,’’ he told me that in fact some ‘’other criminals are defaming us.’’

Hussain said that according to Quran 250 Rupees (about 3 USD) is the real amount of Jizia per family, per annum and ”in exchange of Jizia we ensured safety of [Sikhs]”. He claimed that they’ve had clashes with militants of Tehrik e Taliban over the issue. When asked, whether they fought for just 250 Rupees per family, per annum? He replied, ‘’no, they [Taliban] used to kidnap [Sikhs] for ransom and their safety was our duty therefore we had clashes with them,’’ which resulted in killing of hundreds. 
Now, it explains very well, how this militant group shows itself as de facto government and is trying to suppress the threat of criminals like Taliban. It explains that Bara and rural areas of Peshawar are a State in itself and are trying to maintain peace and security. Or in other words, we can use the term ‘State-within-the-State”.

Hussain, commander of Lashkar e Islam, further said that the day government has started military campaign against them, they are no more able to ask for Jizia as ‘’it is time for Jihad.’’

Damaged vehicle of SP Kalam Khan after attack.

He, however, acknowledged that they receive charities from local people. But in villages adjacent to Bara, residents said Lashkar e Islam militants come and demand payments or ‘’ask us to join them in the fight against army instead.’’ 
These residents were terrified when they were giving information and said only wealthy people can give them money.

Now, to ask law enforcement agencies about what exactly is going on and who is who, administration authorities and officials about sufferings of the people, no one was ready to comment. 
The Public Relations’ Officer of Deputy Inspector General Peshawar said his boss is unavailable. Chief Capital City Police Officer of Peshawar Imtiaz Altaf didn’t bother to attend calls after knowing about the issue. Senior Superintendent of Police Tahir Ayub, was not picking his phone. Deputy Superintendent  of Police Rahim Shah of Hayatabad Police Station said he is not authorised to talk to media about such issues. 
All these phone calls were made during official duty hours (though police officials don’t have official duty hours there) on Friday, March 16, 2012. The only police official who would always be available to talk to media was Kalam Khan, Superintendent Police, was killed in an attack on March 15. He was in charge of security in the rural areas of Peshawar, Achine Bala is one of those areas.

Here are the questions again: who is maintaining the de facto government, the first responsibility of which is to ensure security of the people, in Bara and Peshawar? Is it the de jure law enforcing agencies and administration who work under the constitution of Pakistan or Lashkar e Islam who is not only patrolling in villages but are ruling with an iron fist?

It is today’s (March 18) news that  at least 13 dead bodies were found in Bara lying near road. Political Administration officials said all dead bodies bore signs of violence as well.

In a separate incident in the same Bara another pro-government militant group Tawheed e Islam killed three anti-government militants. Just as Lashkar e Islam was once pro-government, the same Tawheed e Islam and other so called Peace Armies (Lashkars) will be turning their guns towards the same government and the same army as Pakistani military’s own sons (Taliban) in Afghanistan did in recent past.

One more depressing aspect of the current game reminds me of Afghanistan where so called Mujahidin were active in peripheries of the country for a long time and then they took over Kabul. 
But even if such huge incident happens in Pakistan, there will be no change in real terms, as army and all those ‘pro and anti’ militants along with religiously sinful political parties are united as one and not only dream but are actively working for establishing a Caliphate System in the entire region at cost of human lives and civilisation.