Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Endless Two-Faced War in Afghanistan Nose Dives

While myopic NewsyDupes like TorStar's Rosie DiManno and that guy whatshisname at NatPo fell over each other gushing that Canada's "mission" to Afghanistan settled the Taliban's hash in Kandahar, events on the ground, particularly the assassination of Hamid Karzai's half brother, Ahmed, have revealed a starkly different picture.

The Talibs, it turns out, are biding their time, concentrating on strategic targets, and - worst of all - showing they still hold the initiative.   If they can get at a guy as powerful and influential (and corrupt) Ahmed Karzai, get an armed assassin a job in the guy's household, who is safe in Afghanistan?  The question answers itself.

And now the Americans and Pakistanis are feuding.   On the surface it seems that Islamabad is furious over the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden but there may be far more too it.  Asia Times' journo, Pepe Escobar, claims that Pakistan is worried about losing its own Pashtun province to a unified, breakaway Pashtunistan, independent of both Islamabad and Kabul.

"...the Pakistani army is - reluctantly - playing Washington's counter-terrorism/counter-insurgency game in the tribal areas. As much as Islamabad may fear Pashtun nationalism, the army knows it must proceed with extreme caution, otherwise it will face a mass tribal Pashtun rebellion that would put on the table the supreme taboo; the consolidation of Pashtunistan, breaking up Pakistan as we know it. 

And a breakaway Pashtunistan would form the perfect buffer to facilitate the departure of Pakistan's resource-rich Baloch territory.   Like the Pashtun, the Baloch territory was divided between Afghanistan and Pakistan.   The loss of the Baloch territory would deprive Pakistan of control of the vital port city of Gwadar and isolate Pakistan from Iran.   That could actually scuttle the Iran-Pakistan oil and gas pipelines that energy-poor Pakistan craves.

"Considering the Taliban may actually control as much as 70% of the country, the assassination is a sterling coup, with responsibility duly claimed by the Taliban via spokesman Usuf Ahmadi: "This is one of our biggest achievements since the spring operation began. We assigned Sardar Mohammad to kill him recently and Sardar Mohammad is also martyred."

"...The Taliban anyway are already winning the public relations war. Since the spring of 2010, the Taliban have managed to kill the provincial chief of police of Kandahar, the deputy governor, the district chief for Arghandab, and the deputy mayor of Kandahar City.

Now they got rid of the major pro-Washington actor not only in Kandahar but in the whole south of Afghanistan - where NATO has been involved en masse to crush the Taliban in their spiritual home and favored grounds. The assassination smashes to bits the hegemonic "NATO is winning" narrative.

And so, as ever, the war in Afghanistan has two faces; the public face our leaders like to present about suppressing the Taliban and the private face that is so complex and compounded by so many conflicting interests and circumstances and contradictions as to render the public war all but impossible to win, even confounding of understanding and measure.   It's shameful that our leaders, civilian and military, chose not to be honest with us.

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