The big mistake and the great pain called neoliberalism

The big mistake and the great pain caused by neoliberalism

carta maior

The best way to stimulate the economy is to spin 180 degrees, ending the counter-reforms that were imposed on the population.

Vicenç Navarro * – Pú


If you read the business press or the economic pages of the press in general banking practices must have seen that in many countries are being introduced through which financial institutions rather than pay interest for the money that citizens deposit in the bank, charge the even to save that money. It’s what they call negative interest. You ask, why do? And the answer to that question varies according to the economist says. The so-called “economic science” are not as scientific as most people believe.

A very common response is that in the world today most money. In fact, there is so much money that you do not know what to do with it. And for the rich, it is safer to have the money deposited in the bank under the pillow of your home. The answer has a certain logic. But what do you do if you had a lot of money would be, instead of putting the money under the pillow or in a bank? I try to use it well, investing, buying properties that would generate income now or in the future in the medium or long term, increasing consumption. This is precisely what most economists also say. Since the biggest problem of the developed economies is the limited demand, it seems logical to take steps to increase consumption. Public authorities try to make, instead of saving money, people use these resources buying. It is important, therefore, that the banks, instead of pushing it with the interest on deposits, increasing savings.

This explanation seems logical, but there is a big problem: assume that it is unable to increase consumption in the country – either because there is not enough money in circulation, which is not true, but it’s hard to explain. In fact, central banks, including the ECB (European Central Bank) is printing more and more money (billions of new circulating euro. However, the economy remains stagnant. In fact, banks have reached deliver loans with negative interest rates for a long time. If the interest on the money you deposit in the bank are lower than inflation (which is what happened for a long time), you are losing money in bank deposit.

Why monetary policy is dramatically insufficient?

The big mistake of neoliberal Taliban is there. Believe that the economy can become the basis of the amount of money that is in the market (which depends, among other factors, the amount of money that the central bank prints, which is what is called monetary policy) is to be profoundly mistaken. That does not mean it’s completely wrong. There is an element of truth, but only one element, and is now a very minor component. This is not to say that the banks could not help stimulate the economy. But, today, private banks do not. The Central Bank should give (very low interest) money to states (an amount that can be regulated) so that they can, with these resources directly support families and small and medium enterprises. But they do not, because they prefer to do it through the private banking, which uses most of that money for speculative purposes.

Do not, and not because the bankers are bad people (though many think so, because they are greedy and not always honest with their customers), but because the return on investment is much higher on speculation that the so-called investment production (in the production of goods and services). Also, do not rely on small and medium enterprises, as sees it as unsafe. In other words, the problem is not lack of money but the channels through which they are distributed such money. In fact, big companies never had much money, but also face a big problem: there is no where to deposit it. So banks charge to save it.

What is the problem then?

Believe me, although you do not see it in the press, the biggest problem of the economy today is the lack of demand for goods and services, because the population has no money to buy them. And the fact that no money is because most get their income on the basis of labor, ie wages or other forms of compensation related to the work. Here is the turning point. The derived income from work (as a percentage of all incomes) are falling, while capital incomes are growing. This is a very serious problem, but silenced and hidden by the media. If you think this theory is paranoid, try to show where you read about it in articles or materials on television. There may be one or two exceptions, but they will only confirm the rule.

This absence does not mean that journalists know the truth and hide. This usually happens, but it is not the most frequent. In fact, what predominates is more ignorance, not manipulation, even in the said means specialized in economy – though there really those that run by the other rule.

It is very easy to see what is happening. The cuts in social policies decreased demand in a substantive way. Today, the lack of demand is the biggest problem in the Eurozone (especially in southern Europe), and is responsible for economic stagnation and very low economic growth. This stagnation was caused, in turn, by the fall in productive investments (in the European Union, the low was 8.4% in investments in 2000 to 6.8% in 2014, while in Spain, even worse, 7, 5.7% to 5% during the same period). The decline in support in areas such as research and development is also quite remarkable. In fact, labor reform policies impulsadas by different governments – both the PP (People ‘s Party, right-wing force which is part of the president Mariano Rajoy) and the PSOE) (Socialist Parties Workers of Spain, center-left), and including the new front center-right called Citizen applauded these measures, which resulted in the fall in the real value of wages and increased job insecurity, and austerity policies, made cuts and applauded by such parties, which had an impact very negative first causing the great recession, and then delaying economic recovery.

The conventional wisdom is changing?

The most notable examples of delay occur because of the huge domain of the media by conservative and neo-liberal forces. Both the direction of the IMF and even the President of the ECB indicated that monetary policies are inadequate, and that what appears to be the solution is a package of fiscal measures to stimulate the economy through fiscal measures.

What is meant by tax measures is to reduce taxes, with what is considered to stimulate the economy, which is true, but only up to a point, since the tax reductions, as a rule, the more benefit the higher income that the majority of the population, and the first already have so much money that they receive as exemption or lowering of taxes becomes accumulation, not more consumption, contrary to what the majority of the population that does not have many possessions and spends almost all the extra help you receive.

Therefore, the best way to stimulate the economy is to spin 180 degrees, ending the counterreforms that were imposed on the population. In fact, US President Franklin Roosevelt took his country from the Great Depression thanks to a huge increase in public spending, through public investments much needed in the country, the establishment of Social Security and the encouragement of union membership, so that if they increased wages . Today, this is what Spain needs, for example. Unfortunately, neither the PP nor the PSOE, the front center-right Citizens propose something similar to that. The proposals of the PSOE not distance themselves enough public policies pursued by his predecessors, and that’s part of the problem. Today, the main need is to stimulate the economy through a marked increase in public investment in social, energy and industrial areas, creating quality jobs. An important increase in wages, reversing labor reforms to strengthen the unions, rather than weaken them. If Spain does not do this, follow the same path faced by Greece, which ended up accepting the continuity of neoliberal reforms. And such a change of policy against what is stated in the economic and political circles, where it reproduces the conventional wisdom. Portugal is an example of where the leftist ruling coalition tried such policies. Spain could be another. In fact, the days of austerity are numbered, because today there is a rebellion of the eurozone countries (see what happens in France). Faced with such policies, which greatly affect the working classes. The victory in the next elections and internal can cause, on 26 June, a coalition of anti-austerity progressive parties, would be a very important step to reverse this austericídio. Think, therefore, your vote may determine to continue with these disastrous policies or someone to be able to confront all.

* Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the University Pompeu Fabra, Professor of Public Policy at The Johns Hopkins University, former professor of economics at the University of Barcelona.

Translation: Victor Farinelli

Pakistan, Pissed At US, Threatens To Evict Millions of Afghan Refugees

Kamran Haider, (c) 2016, Bloomberg(c) 2016, Bloomberg

More than three decades after fleeing Afghanistan, refugee Noor Said struggles to feed his family of eight on less than the $3 per day he earns weaving fabric in northwest Pakistan. Now he’s got an even bigger worry: Being forced back amid the worst border tensions in years.

“I can’t take my small children to a place where their lives are tougher and in danger, even if that is our motherland,” he said this week in his three-room home in Utmanzai, a dusty refugee camp with more than 300 mud-brick houses near the border with Afghanistan. He initially fled when the Soviet Union invaded in 1980.

Said is among at least 1.5 million documented refugees who are caught in the middle of a wider spat involving Afghanistan, Pakistan and the U.S. that escalated after an American drone killed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour last month. Pakistan is threatening to deport all of the refugees by the end of June, a move that risks leading to a humanitarian disaster in what would be one of the biggest forced repatriations in decades.

Many analysts see the threat as merely rhetorical, given that Pakistan has failed to enforce previous deportation deadlines. Yet after Mansour’s death on Pakistani soil — as well as a U.S. move to withhold subsidies for F-16 fighter jets — the warning sends a message to American policymakers who see Islamabad’s leaders as a hindrance to peace: Pakistan is essential to any deal.

“Both sides are playing their cards,” said Mansur Khan Mahsud, director of the FATA Research Centre in Islamabad. The mentality in Pakistan, he said, is that “if you are building pressure, I’ll do the same to counter you.”

At face value, Pakistan’s moves reflect concerns over Islamic militants crossing the porous border that has been disputed ever since Sir Mortimer Durand helped draw it up in 1893, when Britain ruled much of South Asia. Many Afghan refugees have been in Pakistan for decades, and international funding for them has fallen as crises erupted in Syria and Iraq.

Besides the 1.5 million documented refugees, Pakistan says another 1.5 million Afghans are in the country with no legal status. Only about a third of all documented Afghans in Pakistan live in 54 United Nations-monitored refugee villages.

“The return of Afghan refugees is part of the border management program,” Asim Bajwa, Pakistan’s military spokesman, told reporters on Wednesday in Rawalpindi, near the capital Islamabad. “They have been here for 36 years and most of them are living outside camps in an unregulated manner. We want them to go back.”

About a week after Mansour’s death, Pakistan tightened security at Torkham, the busiest border crossing with Afghanistan. Tensions have escalated since, with sporadic fighting breaking out as Afghan soldiers look to prevent Pakistan from erecting a gate along the so-called “Durand Line.” One soldier has been killed and another 19 injured.

Stuck in the middle are refugees like Said who are scared to move back to Afghanistan. The fight against the Taliban and other insurgent groups killed or wounded a record 11,000 civilians last year. At the same time, Afghanistan’s economy is strained. Per capita incomes have fallen since 2012, and the International Monetary Fund expects that trend to continue this year.

In Utmanzai, children filled plastic buckets and bottles with water from hand-pumps as elders rested from the scorching heat under shades made of straw. While the village lacks many amenities, the refugees can use Pakistan hospitals, ensure their kids get an education and are more or less safe.

Not so in Afghanistan. “There are no schools, no health facilities and no peace,” Morad, a 53-year-old former soldier who goes by one name, said of his homeland. He has lived as a refugee in Pakistan since the 1980s.

Any attempt to repatriate the Afghan refugees will prompt them to flee beyond South Asia, Indrika Ratwatte, Pakistan representative at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said in an interview in Islamabad. Afghans already comprise the third-highest migrant population in Europe.

Still, it’s becoming harder for the UN to raise cash to help Pakistan support them. The refugee agency in the nation cut its budget by 15 percent last year as donors could only fund 40 percent of the $230 million it needed, Ratwatte said.

“Funding for Syria and Iraq shouldn’t be at the cost of the protracted refugee situations like with the Afghans,” he said.

Afghanistan’s government is already struggling to improve conditions for at least 1.2 million Afghans internally displaced by conflict, more than double the number three years ago, according to Amnesty International.

“Afghanistan isn’t now prepared to embrace a large influx of Afghan immigrants from neighboring nations given the security problems and lack of resources,” Hafiz Ahmad Miakhel, an adviser to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation, said in an interview. The nation is working with Pakistan and Iran to resolve migrant-related issues, he said.

Ultimately any refugee crisis would be a problem for the U.S., which currently pays for about 75 percent of Afghanistan’s military budget. A humanitarian disaster would distract vital resources from fighting the Taliban, whose resurgence has forced President Barack Obama to delay a planned troop withdrawal.

The United States has repeatedly called on Pakistan to do more to root out terrorism, while Islamabad’s leaders say contacts with the Taliban are essential to securing a political solution to the 15-year war. Peace talks so far have gone nowhere.

The current tensions may yet be defused. Pakistan’s government has said it will consider a request to allow Afghan refugees to remain in the country until December 2017. On Thursday, Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria told reporters that the refugees should be returned “in a dignified manner.”

“I would not ask them to send them back,” Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s former president, said of the refugees at a conference in London on Friday. Instead, Pakistan should give them support and jobs so they can “send money back to Afghanistan,” he said, adding that 99.9 percent of people crossing the borders aren’t extremists.

Nevertheless, hostilities between the two neighbors are lingering. Afghans living in Pakistan face regular discrimination and harassment, said Sami-ul-Haq, a 38-year-old Afghan who runs a small grocery shop in Utmanzai.

“All Afghans aren’t militants or terrorists,” he said. “I’m confident they could find a suspect in a huge crowd if they want, so there’s no point in harassing us.”

Eltaf Najafizada and Chris Kay contributed.

Ban Ki Moon Praises Russian Efforts To End Ukrainian Conflict—Ukr. Amb. Grumbles

“Volodymyr Yelchenko said Ban’s prepared comments for the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia show he has lost ‘any moral right’ to say anything about the conflict in Ukraine.

He said he doesn’t understand how the U.N. chief ‘can say such things which sort of praise the role of Russia in settling the conflict in Ukraine when the Russian Federation is the main player in aggressing Ukraine and in keeping this conflict boiling.'” Ukraine ‘Outraged’ by UN Chief’s Remarks on Russia

Ukraine takes offense at UN chief’s view of Russian role peace talks


Ukraine has reacted strongly to remarks by the UN secretary-general that appeared to praise Russia in settling the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The Kyiv envoy said Ban Ki-moon could not be a “provider of good offices.”

Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Nations Volodymyr Yelchenko has said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “cannot be a provider of good offices” in the Ukraine conflict. His comments follow remarks Ban made at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Thursday which appeared to praise Russia.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

Ban said Moscow had “a very important role to play and I really count heavily on the leadership of the Russian Federation.”

The UN chief’s spoken comments were slightly different from the text in his prepared speech which said Russia “has a critical role to play … in addressing other pressing global issues, from ending the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, to safeguarding human rights and controlling the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

The government in Kyiv has accused Russia of supporting separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. “I’m completely outraged by such a statement,” Yelchenko said. “I don’t understand how the head of the United Nations can say such things.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin Russian President Vladimir Putin

The ambassador added that Ban’s remarks appeared “to praise the role of the Russian Federation in settling the conflict in Ukraine, when the Russian Federation is the main player [being aggressive towards] Ukraine.”

Yelchenko said he would be writing an official protest letter to the UN chief and added: “I don’t think that he has any moral right anymore to say anything about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.”

European guests at the summit

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also attended the forum in St. Petersburg. He said the European Union needed to engage with Russia, despite the sanctions of the last two years.

“I take the view that we must talk with Russia, the leadership, its people: for some it must be a radical idea; for me it’s common sense,” he said.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

Juncker became the highest-ranked European Union official to visit Russia since Moscow forces annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in March 2014. The move triggered sanctions from the United States and the European Union. Russia retaliated by banning imports of meat, vegetables and dairy products from the EU.

Juncker said the relationship between Russia and the EU was “not broken beyond repair. We need to mend it, and I believe we can.” He also conceded that “some in Europe weren’t pleased” with him meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin. But he said it was an opportunity to “exchange opinions.”

Juncker called for the terms of the Minsk peace accord for eastern Ukraine to be implemented: “The next step is clear: the full implementation of the agreement, no more, not less. This is the only way to lift the economic sanctions.”

Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi, was due to attend the forum on Friday. The three-day conference in Russia’s second city is being held just weeks before EU sanctions are due to expire.

Business links

Delegates from international companies with projects in Russia including BP, Total and ExxonMobil have attended the St. Petersburg forum. A panel discussion brought praise for the Russian energy sector and their business partners.

US authorities had advised businesses against attending the forum.

“We’ve been very clear on our engagements with US companies that we believe there are clear risks, both economic and reputational, associated with top-level engagement with a government that is flouting the most fundamental principles of international rule of law by intervening military in a neighboring country,” US State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Wednesday.

Rosneft gas station in Moscow Rosneft gas station in Moscow

On Thursday, Russia’s state-owned Rosneft and London-based BP announced they would invest $300 million (266 million euros) in prospecting and geological data analysis.

Putin met Royal Dutch Shell chief Ben van Beurden before the energy giant signed a memorandum of understanding with Russian gas giant Gazprom on the potential construction of a major liquefied gas plant in the country.

The CEOs of France’s Total, Societe Generale and JCDecaux and European multi-national Schneider Electric are participating in the forum.

In May, Putin sealed a number of economic deals during a visit to Greece aimed at reinforcing Russia’s relationship with Athens.

jm/sms (Reuters, AFP)

Russia Excoriated For Bombing Cannabalistic Al Nusra Front In al-Tanf, US Calls Them “New Syrian Army”?

New Syrian Army

New U.S.-backed offensive in northern Syria advances on ISIS outposts

November 17, 2015

“A sheikh from the conservative Salafist strain of Islam, Khaled al Hammad, who resides in Saudi Arabia, leads the front.”

[ Syrian fighter filmed eating organ of dead man is shot dead by militants  6 April 2016 ]

Russia bombs U.S.-backed Syrian rebels near Jordan border


Washington (CNN)Russian warplanes bombed U.S. backed Syrian rebels near the Jordanian border, Pentagon officials say, causing the U.S. to divert armed aircraft to the scene of the strike.

The strikes, which the U.S. says killed some New Syrian Army troops, occurred about six miles from the Jordanian border, according to a U.S. defense official. The U.S. diverted armed FA-18s to the area after the first round of two strikes, and the pilots then tried to call the Russians on a previously agreed-upon pilot-to-pilot communications channel but did not receive an answer.
As soon as the U.S. jets left the area to refuel, the Russians came back for another round of bombing, the defense official said.
“Russian aircraft conducted a series of airstrikes near al-Tanf against Syrian counter-ISIL forces that included individuals who have received U.S. support. Russian aircraft have not been active in this area of Southern Syria for some time, and there were no Syrian regime or Russian ground forces in the vicinity,” a senior defense official said. “Russia’s latest actions raise serious concern about Russian intentions. We will seek an explanation from Russia on why it took this action and assurances this will not happen again.”
The first two bombing runs by the Russians were carried out by two SU-24 Russian jets coming out of their base near Latakia. The jets dropped what is believed to be the equivalent of U.S. 500-pound bombs and possibly cluster munitions, according to the U.S. defense official.
Asked about the strikes Friday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said it raised questions about whether the Russians were actually in Syria to fight Islamic extremists.
“Here’s a case where they actually attacked forces that were fighting ISIL. And if that was their intention, that’s the opposite of what they said they were going to do,” Carter said. “If not, then it says something about the quality of the information upon which they make airstrikes.”
U.S. and Russian forces in Syria have had tense relations since the country devolved into civil war. The U.S. has backed rebel groups while the Russians have supported Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

The Orlando “Rabbit Hole” Comes Out Somewhere In Afghanistan


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(Seddique Mateen far left)

Unity and Freedom Movement of Afghanistan

This website refers the readers to a defunct website for THE PERSONAL SITE OF PROF.DR.ABDUL SATTAR SIRAT.

“Dr Abdul Satar Sirat: Royalist Promotes Unity

Dr Abdul Satar Sirat, a former adviser to King Zahir Shar and an Islamic scholar, is campaigning as a symbol of national unity.

Sirat, an ethnic Uzbek, who had served as an advisor to the king for three decades, had the support of both the royalist faction and the Northern Alliance commanders who had fought with the United States-led Coalition against the Taleban….

Despite having spent 26 years in Saudi Arabia, he maintained his strong relationship with the king of Afghanistan. From 1975 to 1999, he was a lecturer in Islamic studies in Um-al-Qura University in Riyadh and was special advisor to the king.”

How America’s Afghan crusade came home to Orlando

insurge intel

Orlando ISIS gunman was embedded in expatriate US-backed Afghan jihad network

by Nafeez Ahmed

This exclusive is published by INSURGE INTELLIGENCE, a crowd-funded investigative journalism project for the global commons

The US-Afghan military industrial complex surrounding Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen’s father stretches from Blackwater to Donald Trump.

There are many threads to this tragic, horrifying story of a gay American son of an Afghan mujahid.

There’s the question of blowback: the deep politics of short-sighted military interventions and the self-defeating profiteering of the military industrial complex. There’s the escalating clash of cultures and the crisis of multiple identities that is becoming evermore fractious as Western wars have brought unresolved chaos to foreign shores, and invited foreign refugees from theatres of war to the homeland. And ultimately, there’s the destructive force of repressed sexuality.

This investigation throws light on the complex political, cultural, religious and personal forces that likely nurtured the Orlando terrorist into a man capable of tremendous violence.

The story opens up from an exclusive analysis of the network of companies surrounding Omar Mateen’s father.

Company records obtained by INSURGE intelligence reveal that Mateen’s father has longstanding ties to a network of powerful Afghan expatriates connected to the US government, private American defense contractors, and pro-Taliban warlords.

Mateen massacred 49 people and injured 53 at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in what has been widely recognized as an unprecedented homophobic attack — and the worst mass shooting in modern American history since the wanton massacre of Native Americans.

Omar Mateen had also worked as an armed security officer for G4S — the world’s largest government security contractor by revenues — for the last 9 years.

G4S in Florida has been contracted by the US State Department and British Foreign Office for security operations in Afghanistan.

In 2010, a US Senate investigation heavily criticized the State Department for hiring G4S subsidiary ArmorGroup, which had been sub-contracting Afghan warlords tied to the Taliban and al-Qaeda to outsource certain security functions.

But G4S is not by any means the main connection between the ISIS-inspired Orlando homophobe, and the murky politics of Afghanistan.

A soldier’s son

Omar Mateen’s father, Mir Seddique Mateen, is part of a network of influential Afghan expatriates working closely with a vast range of US government departments and agencies. The expatriates also have direct connections to the US-backed government in Afghanistan, as well as with warlords opposed to the Afghan regime and sympathetic to the Taliban.

Some of these expatriates were close to the late Mohammed Zahir Shah, the last King of Afghanistan, who was deposed in a 1973 coup covertly backed by the Soviet Union. As such, they were at first particularly close to the Hamid Karzai regime in Kabul, which had appointed many of Shah’s relatives to government posts.

According to Ahmad Saeedi, a political analyst in Kabul, Omar Mateen’s father, Mir Seddique Mateen, fought in the Afghan jihad to expel the Soviet invasion, before emigrating to the US thirty-one years ago:

“A fierce anti-communist, Mateen was a captain in the ranks of the mujahedeen who fought the Soviet occupation, Saeedi said. Once in the US, he promoted himself to the rank of general.”

Successive US administrations at the time poured billions of dollars into the Afghan war against the Soviets. Among the mujahideen who benefited from the US policy were Osama bin Laden, who used the networks built-up during the Cold War to create his al-Qaeda terrorist network.

Omar Mateen was, in other words, the son of an ex-mujahid who fought to repel the Soviet Army from Afghanistan.

Mir Seddique Mateen is now a founding director of a number of seemingly innocuous US nonprofit companies relating to Afghanistan. Yet these companies provide a surprising window into Mir Seddique’s connections to a powerful network of Afghan expatriates.

Those Afghan figures, in turn, have links to both the US-backed Afghan jihad during the Cold War, as well as to senior figures involved in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.

Some of these details have been reported sporadically by journalists, but none have grasped their alarming significance.

Hail to the King

Among Mir Seddique’s companies, the most relevant is The Durand Jirga Inc., which was incorporated on 30th November 2010. The company’s Articles of Incorporation say that The Durand Jirga Inc. is “organized for exclusively religious, charitable, educational and scientific purposes… Specifically, the organization will mediate and attempt to resolve social and territorial disputes.”

The company name is a reference to the historic ‘Durand Line’, the disputed boundary between Afghanistan and Pakistan established by the British in 1893 that stretches between ethnic Pashtuns, Baloch, Uzbek, and other ethnic groups residing on both sides.

The late King Shah, who died in 2007, had at various times questioned and even renounced the Durand Line as an invalid colonial boundary that had permitted Pakistan to occupy Afghan territory. During his reign until 1973, he frequently delivered pro-Pashtunistan speeches extolling a nationalist Afghan vision rejecting the Durand Line.

This is precisely the position adopted by Omar Mateen’s father, Mir Seddique, in his occasional TV show broadcast via ‘Payam-e-Afghan’, a satellite television network based in Los Angeles, California, aimed at Afghan expatriates.

In 2010, one of Mir Seddique’s directors at Durand Jirga Inc. was Qasim Tarin. In the aftermath of the Orlando killings, Tarin was sought out by some journalists, and insisted that the gunman’s father was “obviously against Taliban and ISIS and all that.”

“I’ve known him for a long time,” said Tarin, who also appeared on Mir Seddique’s TV show. “To his Facebook and all, he is absolutely against ISIS and Pakistanis and, of course, ISI intelligence.”

Mir Seddique has frequently criticized the Taliban, but has also occasionally praised the group when he saw it as potentially undermining Pakistan.

“Our brothers in Waziristan, our warrior brothers in [the] Taliban movement and national Afghan Taliban are rising up,” he said in one broadcast. “Inshallah, the Durand Line issue will be solved soon.”

Mir Seddique’s ‘old friend’ and the US-Afghan military industrial complex

But Qasim Tarin is far more than just an old friend of the Orlando terrorist’s father. During his stint on the board of Mir Siddique’s Durand Jirga Inc., he was simultaneously on the Board of Directors at the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce. In 2011, he became Interim President of the AACC’s Northern California Chapter, then became permanent president in 2012.

Tarin resigned from his directorship at The Durand Jirga that year to focus on the new role, but remained close friends with Mir Siddique.

The Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce was founded in 2002, months after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan. It is basically a key forum for the US-Afghan military industrial complex.

Sponsored by the US State Department, Commerce Department, and USAID, the AACC’s board includes Col. James L. Bullion, former Director of the Pentagon’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations; Marine Corps Major General (ret.) Arnold Fields, the former US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR); Jeffrey Grieco, former Chief of Communications and Government Affairs (2009–14) for International Relief & Development (IRD), an NGO “implementer” for the Department of State and US Agency for International Development (USAID); Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad who served as President Karzai’s Press Secretary, Chief of Staff and Director of the Office of International Relations; former Congressman Don Ritter, who as the Chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Afghanistan was one of the main architects of the US strategy to support the Afghan mujahideen during the Soviet invasion and occupation.

The AACC’s LinkedIn profile says that the Chamber:

“… advocates for a market economy in Afghanistan… and serves as a link between business and government to encourage economic policies that will result in increased business and investment between the US and Afghanistan.”

The AACC organizes regular ‘business matchmaking’ conferences to facilitate US private sector investment in Afghanistan. These conferences have been sponsored by major US defense contractors like DynCorp International, SOS International LLC (where former Bush administration deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz sits on the Board of Advisors), as well as other private sector firms.

While Mir Seddique is not a member of the AACC, the Chamber is co-directed by his friend Qasim Tarin. Both Tarin and Mir Seddique have also worked together as part of the Unity and Freedom Movement of Afghanistan (UFMOA), an expatriate Afghan lobbying group which has drawn extensively on Tarin’s connections to the US-Afghan military industrial complex to organize meetings with Washington insiders.

From Donald Trump to Zalmay Khalilzad

It is perhaps ironic that both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, who have issued predictably inflammatory remarks blaming American Muslims for the Orlando attack, find themselves plugged into the same US-Afghan military industrial complex surrounding Omar Mateen’s father.

In 2009, at the AACC’s fifth annual business matchmaking conference in Washington DC, one panel on ‘Cooperating with DoD [Department of Defense] on Economic Development’ was chaired by Joseph Schmitz, a former Pentagon Chief Inspector General who was now working with SIGAR in Afghanistan.

Joseph Schmitz went on to become a Senior Fellow at the neoconservative Center for Security Policy (CSP) run by former Reagan Pentagon official Frank Gaffney. Gaffney was most recently the National Security Advisor to Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz. As for Schmitz, he is now Foreign Policy Advisor to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Schmitz, along with AACC executive Arnold Fields, previously succeeded in dramatically failing to exert meaningful oversight over the US government’s dubious contracts with private defense firms.

It was not until the US Senate investigated, for instance, that it emerged that Omar Mateen’s employer G4S had sub-contracted security services to Afghan warlords linked “to murder, kidnapping, bribery, and anti-Coalition activities.”

Unlike the US government’s own inspector generals, the Senate report found that G4S was well-aware of their connections with the Taliban, but hired them anyway.

At the CSP, Schmitz made-up for his lack of concern about the US government sub-contracting to pro-Taliban extremists by co-authoring a bizarre report claiming that Shari’ah law was literally on the brink of taking over the United States.

Equally bizarre, Schmitz’s co-author was former CIA director R. James Woolsey, who was previously Senior Vice President at NSA-contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

This May, the AACC’s 14th general annual meeting in Virginia hosted former Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad as a keynote speaker. Khalilzad is a longtime senior Pentagon official who played a key role in US assistance to Islamist mujahideen networks in Afghanistan during the Cold War (and in the Balkans after the Cold War). He was also a major force in the Bush administration’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Khalilzad’s wife, Cheryl Benard, was until recently a direct colleague of Qasim Tarin as a board member of the AACC, where she led one of the Chamber’s working groups. She resigned from the AACC board after it emerged that both Khalilzad and Benard were being investigated that year by US and Austrian authorities as part of a multi-million dollar money-laundering probe.

From Blackwater to DynCorp

Qasim Tarin’s other connections could throw some light on the fraught political context in which Omar Mateen transitioned from a student into adulthood.

Tarin was also the director of a number of other nonprofit companies with interests in Afghan politics. Company records identify Qasim Tarin as the registered agent for the International Association for Afghans and Balochs, Inc., which is now defunct.

The company was registered to the same address as several other companies controlled by Tarin at one time or other: the Afghan Business Network, which Tarin founded and ran for nearly a year in 2010; the Unity and Freedom Movement of Afghanistan; the Afghan International Development Corp; and the Wahidullah Ahmed Zai (WAZ) Group.

The WAZ Group is an especially useful indicator of the nature of Tarin’s network of companies. A fuel supply and logistics company registered with Afghanistan’s trade ministry, the firm’s clients include the present government of Afghanistan, the US Department of Defense, several private US military contractors including the notorious Blackwater (now Academi) and DynCorp, as well as the US Army’s Special Forces.

As such, the WAZ Group is directly complicit in the Obama administration’s continuing stealth occupation of Afghanistan. In 2012, the firm formerly known as Blackwater won a no-bid $22 million 3-year contract to provide logistical support for the US Special Operations Joint Task Force compound in Kabul, Camp Integrity.

The uncle of jihad

Tarin is still a registered agent for all these companies, and his company Electro Imaging Systems Inc., is the registered address for all of them.

The Afghan Business Network is run by Tarin’s colleague, Homayoun Rahnoma, who is the Interim Vice President of the Afghan American Chamber of Commerce.

The Unity and Freedom Movement of Afghanistan (UFMOA) is another active nonprofit company incorporated in 2012, whose President is Dr. Abdul Sattar Sirat — the former Minister of Justice in Afghanistan under the late King Shah until the 1973 coup.

The UFMOA’s Facebook page describes itself as “the first Afghan Political Advocacy and Lobbyist group”, and confirms that the group has been politically active in Afghanistan, regularly sending delegations to Kabul led by Dr. Sirat.

In the wake of the US occupation of Afghanistan and the efforts to transition to a new government, Dr. Sirat was among several political candidates, including Hamid Karzai, who were considered to be potential viable national leaders.

The UFMOA’s fundamental agenda is consistent with the ‘Durand Line’ issue adopted by the late King Shah himself — namely to rollback perceived Pakistani influence in Afghanistan through the Taliban.

But while this might at first glance appear to be relatively harmless, Sirat’s various affiliations over time demonstrate that the movement’s overall concern is not the Taliban as such — but the role of Pakistan in using groups like the Taliban as forces for proxy influence.

Thus, when Sirat was the initial presidential candidate in the late king’s US-UN backed delegation to lead an interim Afghan administration, although he ran as an ‘independent,’ he did so in a joint alliance with Mohammad Amin Waqad — a former deputy of the terrorist faction Hezb-e-Islami Gulbeddin — who stood for the post of first vice-president under a prospective Sirat presidency.

Hezb-e-Islami Gulbeddin is an extremist Islamist mujahideen faction formed in Afghanistan in 1975 to fight the Soviet occupation. Its founder and leader, is Gulbeddin Hekmatyar, a US designated global terrorist. During the Cold War, Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e-Islami received extensive support from the CIA, Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), and Saudi intelligence, while he worked closely with Osama bin Laden.

Sirat’s willingness to work with Hezb-e-Islami — which was credited with slaughtering far more rival Afghan mujahideen than Soviet soldiers — comes from his personal history of having worked at a high level in Saudi Arabia to facilitate funding for the Afghan resistance.

From 1975 to 1999, Sirat was Professor of Islamic Studies at Um-al-Qura University in Riyadh. He was also a Special Advisor to the Saudi King. According to Alhaj Nasrullah Barekzai, the director of Wahdat-e-Milli-ye-Aqwam-e-Afghanistan (the National Union of Tribes of Afghanistan):

“Sirat was called the uncle of jihad because all [mujahideen] leaders were looking to his funds and the money he collected for them. This title was given [to him] by Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi.”

Maulana Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi was the leader of the Harakat-i-Inqilab-i-Islami (Islamic Revolution Movement), a major traditionalist Islamist movement backed by the US through the Saudis to expel the USSR from Afghanistan. He played a pivotal leadership role in the wider mujahideen movement, having served as Vice President of Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996 in the Mujahideen government.

Though Mohammadi was himself a relative “moderate” according to foreign affairs scholar Banafsheh Keynoush, author of Saudi Arabia and Iran: Friends or Foes?, he “helped train many would-be Taliban leaders.” (p. 111)

When the Taliban conquered the bulk of Afghanistan in 1996, Mohammadi maintained good relations with the movement. Most of the movement’s leaders, including Mullah Omar, had been Mohammadi’s students.

Sirat is also related by marriage to Yunus Qanuni, the spokesman for the Northern Alliance, the Afghan warlord network opposed to the Taliban. The initial US-UN vision was to bring in Sirat as leader of a transitional government that would unite the Northern Alliance and other tribal factions in opposition to the Taliban.

But according to the Revolutionary Association of Women in Afghanistan (RAWA), the oldest women’s humanitarian and political organization in the country, the sheen of legitimacy the US and UN had tried to grant to the new proposed Abdul Sattar Sirat regime was disingeous. The Northern Alliance, said Tahmeena Faryal of RAWA:

“… have the blood of our beloved people on their hands, as of course do the Taliban… From 1992 to 1996 in particular, these forces waged a brutal war against women, using rape, torture, abduction and forced marriage as their weapons.”

In the end, Sirat was pressured by the US to withdraw his candidacy during the 2001 US-brokered transition process — purportedly over concerns about the ethnic balance of the incoming government, and the unlikelihood of his victory. The move allowed the more charismatic (and corrupt) Hamid Karzai, the US preferred option, to step in.

Disillusioned uncle of jihad

While Sirat and his fellow royalists — including Omar Mateen’s father and his friend Qasim Tarin — had at first embraced Karzai’s interim government with enthusiasm, his rampant corruption amidst credible allegations of flawed or fraudulent elections fueled growing criticisms of the US-backed regime, and of US policy in Afghanistan generally.

In 2004, widespread evidence of fraud plagued Afghanistan’s first national elections. Sirat was among the 15 other presidential candidates who, in the middle of the voting, withdrew from the elections in outrage. “Today’s election is not a legitimate election. It should be stopped and we don’t recognise the results,” Sirat said at the time. “This vote is a fraud and any government formed from it is illegitimate.”

Karzai’s eventual replacement by the presidency of Ashraf Ghani was, therefore, at first cautiously welcomed as a potential positive step, but ongoing corruption allegations led to a resurgence of disillusionment in the expatriate Afghan community around Sirat.

Such context of growing disillusionment with US policy, perceived as a form of ceaseless, disastrous, counter-democratic interference, led Sirat to participate in Paris talks in 2012 hosted by French think-tank, the Foundation for Strategic Research. Sirat himself was present at the talks with delegates representing both the Taliban and Hekmatyar.

The view of Omar Mateen’s father Mir Seddique and other expatriates around Abdul Sattar Sirat is that due to the dysfunctional nature of the incumbent US-backed Ashraf Ghani regime in Afghanistan, a Loya Jirga — a traditional Afghan grand assembly of tribal leaders — should be convened to kick-start a new transitional process to a more ‘legitimate’ government.

‘Legitimate’ implies a government more focused on anti-Pakistan Afghan nationalism, and ready therefore to take a hardline on the Durand Line issue.

This appears to be the context of Mir Seddique’s stated political aspirations to stand as a presidential candidate.

Omar Mateen’s father met with senior US and British government officials

This investigation lends some clarity to the task of understanding the cultural context of Omar Mateen’s upbringing. His father, whom he had much respect for, was not just a former mujahid in Afghanistan, but an active member of Abdul ‘uncle of jihad’ Sirat’s UFMOA.

Photographs obtained from Mir Seddique’s Facebook profile, as well as from the UFMOA Facebook page, show that his connection with Qasim Tarin and Abdul Sirat provided him extensive access to senior political figures in the US. Several photos picture Mir Seddique as a member of UFMOA lobbying delegations to Washington.

The photographs show that in the last few years, Mir Seddique had been able to meet senior US government officials at events and lobbying meetings in Congress, the US State Department, and the British embassy in Washington DC — as late as April 2016.

Mir Seddique did not respond to request for clarification on which government officials he met in these meetings, and why.

The Daily Mail has posted some of these photos showing Mir Seddique with senior Congressional figures such as Dana Rohrabacher, the Republican stalwart who played a major role in the US government’s Cold War support for the Afghan mujahideen. Below are different photos from a UFMOA Congressional lobbying event made available here exclusively by INSURGE intelligence:

Abdul Sattar ‘uncle of jihad’ Sirat (left) speaks at UFMOA event in Congress with Republican representatives Dana Rohrabacher (middle) and Ed Royce (right)

In one photo that was posted with an earlier version of the Daily Mail article  — but which is no longer available — Mir Seddique can be seen posing next to Abdul Sattar Sirat as part of a UFMOA gathering.

Abdul Sattar Sirat, the ‘uncle of jihad’, is second from the left, alongside Omar Mateen’s father, Mir Seddique Mateen, who is on his right

Many other key photographs released here exclusively raise further questions about the extent of Mir Seddique’s access to Washington officialdom due to his work with Sirat and Tarin.

In the below photos (dated 15th January 2015), Mir Seddique can be seen attending a meeting at the British embassy in Washington DC. In the first, he is accompanied by two British military officers, one of whom is described as the UK Ministry of Defence’s ‘military attache’, along with his wife.

Mir Seddique Mateen (second from the right) at an event hosted by the British embassy in Washington DC, with two members of what he describes as the British Defense Staff

The current British Defence Attache is Major General Richard Cripwell who works with Minister (Defense Material) Steve McCarthy — neither of whom are the individuals in the photo alongside Seddique Mateen.

If Mir Seddique’s description is remotely accurate, the two unidentified individuals will be members of the British Defence Staff at the UK embassy, although this has not yet been independently verified. The British embassy in Washington DC has offered no comment on the photograph.

Another photo shows Mir Seddique next to another unnamed man described only as the Deputy Director of Central European Affairs at the US State Department.

Omar Mateen’s father (left) standing beside an unidentified US State Department official (right). INSURGE intelligence has obtained information indicating that the State Department official’s name is Henry Martin McDowell, though this has not yet been independently confirmed.

This appears to be a sensitive US government position as no official information is publicly available about the role.

INSURGE intelligence has, however, been able to confirm that the Deputy Director of the Office of Central European Affairs — an agency in the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs headed up by Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland — is Henry Martin McDowell.

McDowell was previously (2013–14) Special Assistant to the Under-Secretary for Political Affairs at the State Department.

There is, however, no public information about McDowell’s role at the State Department.

The British embassy in Washington DC was asked to comment on Mir Seddique’s attendance at the 2015 event, where he met top UK defense and US State Department staff. Details about the event and its guest-list were requested, but the embassy has failed to respond.

In another photo on the UMFOA’s Facebook page dated 2013, Qasim Tarin and other UMFOA members are said to be at a gathering where they will meet Vice President Joe Biden.

Mir Seddique’s ‘old friend’ and colleague in the UFMOA, Qasim Tarin (middle) at an unidentified gathering. The original caption claims the UFMOA delegates will later meet Vice President Joe Biden. This has not been independently corroborated.

In short, Omar Mateen’s father was part of an extraordinarily well-connected network of Afghan expatriates, who were not just leftovers from the US-backed Afghan jihad during the Cold War, but were also key players in a post-9/11 US-Afghan military-industrial complex.

How, though — if at all — does this relate to the fact that Mir Seddique’s son became an extremist, homophobic terrorist?

Omar Mateen: gay son of a homophobic mujahid?

While Mir Seddique did condemn his son’s actions as “an act of terror”, in a widely reported video post after the attack he stated that homosexuality is a sin “only punishable by God.”

Omar Mateen had attended and drunk at the Pulse nightclub dozens of times for around 3 years while regularly using gay phone apps according to eyewitnesses and acquaintances.

Numerous sources and former friends described him as regularly attending LGBTQ bars and earnestly wanting to have a gay relationship as early as 2006. Mir Seddique’s son was, it seems, deeply conflicted about his own sexuality, especially in the context of his conservative upbringing.

In an interview with The Mirror, Mir Seddique vehemently denied that his son could be gay precisely due to that upbringing, describing him as a “normal” family man:

“There is no way he was homosexual, he was not brought up that way. I will not have it. He was not gay.”

Omar Mateen visited his parents regularly, including the day before his killing spree, and treated them with respect and deference. He was clearly aware of his father’s background and political activism, which was no secret in the expatriate community.

He therefore would have been somewhat familiar with Mir Seddique’s constant efforts to ingratiate himself with the US government, while selectively condemning Pakistan-backed terrorism and occasionally lauding the Taliban.

But overall, his relationship with his father was conflicted. Reported conversations with his gay friends suggest that Omar Mateen harboured a deep-seated resentment toward the beliefs and practices of his ex-mujahid father.

“Some of those people did a little more than (kiss) outside the bar,” said one Pulse regular Ty Smith. “He [Omar Mateen] was partying with the people who supposedly drove him to do this?”

Smith’s partner, Chris Callen, said of Mateen the son:

“(He’d get) really, really drunk. He couldn’t drink when he was at home — around his wife, or family. His father was really strict. He used to bitch about it.”

But Mateen still remained violently oversensitive about his religious faith. According to Callen, when one of their friends made a joke about religion:

“He ended up pulling a knife. He said if he ever messed with him again, you know how it’ll turn out.”

If Omar Mateen was indeed the gay son of a member of the Afghan mujahideen, it would make sense that he could not reconcile his father’s ultra-conservative religious views with his own sexual identity.

Was Mateen the son also conflicted over his father’s political views and activities?

In the words of his ex-wife, Sitora Yusifiy, who admitted that Omar Mateen used to drink regularly and visit nightclubs:

“He did have a different side to him that he could not open up to his father about.”

From 2007 onwards during his employment as an armed security officer at the institutionally homophobic G4S, Omar Mateen’s identity struggle repeatedly manifested in a double-life by which he repressed his conflicted sexual identity. In doing so, he increasingly used discriminatory violence as an outlet — violence against his ex-wife, casual homophobia, threats of violence against black people and Jews, and an exaggerated display of interest in women.

Such aggressively homophobic behaviour by a hidden homosexual would be consistent with the wealth of scientific evidence showing that hostility towards gays is usually a marker of holding same-sex desires — and can be exacerbated by having authoritarian parents who are homophobic.

What happens, though, if the parent is not just authoritarian, but an uncompromising, homophobic Cold Warrior veteran of the US-backed Afghan jihad, with arguably hypocritical aspirations of political ascendancy under US tutelage?

A common thread running through studies of the radicalization process amongst Western citizens who become Islamist extremists, is that they see the promise of martyrdom through jihad as a last resort to be saved from a life believed to be full of hopelessness, sin and depravity.

Extreme violent jihad is posited as a mechanism to resolve an acute internal identity crisis. Perhaps the most critical feature of that crisis is the hemorraghing of self-esteem against the belief that one is damned within Islam (interpreted in a narrow, reductionist fashion), but equally outcast from wider society.

The only light at the end of the tunnel, then, according to the simplistic fundamentalist theology of groups like ISIS, is to become a mujahid.

Did Omar Mateen see his last act in Orlando, in which he finally pledged allegiance to ISIS, as his brutal ticket to salvation? Was Omar Mateen following the footsteps of his father in the ultimate act of repressing his own homosexuality by becoming a mujahid who attained martydom in the act of massacring those he kept failing to resist? Was Omar Mateen’s last act, equally, an act of defiance against his father, a psychological one-up in which he became a better mujahid than his father could ever be?

While there may never be a clear answer to this question, what is clear is that the internal ideological conflict that partly drove Omar Mateen to his despicable actions was incubated in a very unique context.

Brought up by an ultra-conservative former Afghan mujahid, Omar Mateen was the product of a fatal collision between two forces: first, an expatriate Cold War Afghan jihad network growing increasingly disillusioned with US policy in Afghanistan, but paradoxically benefiting parastically from that very policy through a post-9/11 US-Afghan military-industrial complex; and second, the American liberal culture in which Omar Mateen grew up.

Into this collision, there can be little doubt that Mateen’s heritage as the son of an ex-mujahid, combined with what appears to be an increasingly fraught struggle with his own sexuality, made him uniquely susceptible to the reductionist ideological machinations of a group like ISIS.

Of one thing there can be no doubt: the Orlando massacre is yet another echo of both the Cold War and the post-9/11 ‘war on terror’, a horror reverberating from 37 years of US military intervention in Afghanistan.

Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed is an award-winning 15-year investigative journalist, international security scholar, bestselling author, and film-maker.

He is International Editor at The Canary, ‘System Shift’ columnist at VICE, a weekly columnist at Middle East Eye, and the creator of INSURGEintelligence, a crowdfunded public interest investigative journalism project. Previously, Nafeez wrote The Guardian’s ‘Earth insight’ blog.

His work has been published in The Guardian, VICE, Independent on Sunday, The Independent, The Scotsman, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, The New Statesman, Prospect, Le Monde diplomatique, Raw Story, New Internationalist, Huffington Post UK, Al-Arabiya English, AlterNet, The Ecologist, and Asia Times, among other places.

Exclusive stories broken by Nafeez via INSURGEintelligence have been covered by USA Today, Global Post, The Guardian, The Independent, Washington Post, The Metro, The Week, News Corp’s, Discovery News, Channel 4 News, Forbes, Columbia Journalism Review, Gigaom, FutureZone, etc. etc.

In 2015, Nafeez won the Project Censored Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for his Guardian story on the energy politics of the Ukraine crisis. The previous year he won another Project Censored Award, known popularly as the ‘Alternative Pulitzer’, for his Guardian article on climate-induced food crises and civil unrest.

In 2010, Nafeez won the Routledge-GCPS Essay Prize for his academic paper on the ‘Crisis of Civilisation’ published in the journal Global Change, Peace and Security. He also won the Premio Napoli (Naples Prize) in 2003, Italy’s most prestigious literary award created by decree of the President of the Republic.

Nafeez has twice been featured in the Evening Standard’s ‘Top 1,000’ list of most influential people in London, in 2014 and 2015.

Nafeez is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It (2010), and the scifi thriller novel ZERO POINT, among other books. His work on the root causes and covert operations linked to international terrorism officially contributed to the 9/11 Commission and the 7/7 Coroner’s Inquest.

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