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NATO Expands Afghan War Into Pakistan

September 30, 2010 1 comment

On October 7 the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization military allies will begin the tenth year of their war in Afghanistan, over 3,000 miles from NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

The following month midterm elections will be held in the U.S. and NATO will hold a two-day summit in Portugal. The American administration is eager to achieve, or appear to have achieved, a foreign policy triumph in an effort to retain Democratic Party control of the Congress and NATO something to show for the longest and largest military mission in its 61 years of existence.

President Barack Obama has tripled the amount of American combat troops in Afghanistan to 100,000 and along with forces from other NATO member states and partner nations there are now over 150,000 foreign troops in the nation, the most ever stationed in the war-wracked country. 120,000 of those soldiers are now under the command of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the most ever serving in a North Atlantic Alliance-led military operation. NATO Kosovo Force at its peak had 50,000 troops, but they entered the Serbian province after an almost three-month air war had ended.

The 120,000 NATO forces currently in theater – from 50 nations already with more pegged to provide troops – are at the center of the world’s longest-lasting and increasingly deadly hot war. NATO’s first ground war, its first combat operations in Asia.

Last year was the most lethal for the U.S and NATO in what is now a nine-year conflict and this year has already proven even more costly in terms of combat deaths. And there are three more months to go.

Washington and Brussels could decide to save face and end the fighting through some combination of an internal political settlement and a true international peacekeeping arrangement – rather than the subversion of the International Security Assistance Force that was established by a United Nations mandate in December of 2001 but which is now the Pentagon’s and NATO’s vehicle for waging war in Afghanistan. And in neighboring Pakistan.

But the military metaphysic prevalent in Washington over the past 65 years will allow for nothing other than what is seen as victory, with a “Who lost Afghanistan?” legacy tarnishing the president who fails to secure it and the party to which he belongs being branded half-hearted and defeatist.

As for NATO, the Strategic Concept to be adopted in November is predicated upon the bloc’s expansion into a 21st century global expeditionary force for which Afghanistan is the test case. A NATO that loses Afghanistan, that loses in Afghanistan, will be viewed more critically by the populations of its European member states that have sacrificed their sons and daughters at the altar of NATO’s international ambitions. In the words of then-Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer six years ago: “What is NATO doing in Afghanistan? Defending values at the Hindu Kush in the present day international climate. We have to fight terrorism wherever it emerges. If we don’t do it at the Hindu Kush, it will end up at our doorstep. In other words, this perception gap [of the North Atlantic military alliance operating in South Asia] in the long run must be closed and must be healed – that is, for NATO’s future, of the utmost importance.” [1]

Not satisfied with the Vietnam that Afghanistan has become, NATO has now launched its Cambodian incursion. One with implications several orders of magnitude greater than with the prototype, though, into a nation of almost 170 million people, a nation wielding nuclear weapons. Pakistan.

As the U.S. delivered its 20th deadly drone missile attack of the month inside Pakistan on the 27th, five times the amount launched in August and the most in any month since they were started in 2004, NATO conducted a series of attacks with helicopter gunships in Northwest Pakistan. Claiming the “right of self-defense” and in “hot pursuit” of insurgents that had reportedly attacked a NATO camp, Combat Outpost Narizah, in Afghanistan’s Khost province near the Pakistani border, this past weekend NATO attack helicopters conducted two forays into the Federally Administered Tribal Areas where U.S. drone strikes have killed a record number of people this month.

Estimates of those killed, dutifully referred to in the Western press as insurgents, militants or terrorists, were 30, then 50, afterward 60, 70 and later “82 or higher.” [2]

The amount, like the identify, of the dead will never be definitively known.

Press reports stated the targets were members of the Haqqani network, founded by veteran Afghan Mujahedin leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, who when he led attacks from Pakistani soil against Afghan targets slightly over a generation ago was an American hero, one of Ronald Reagan’s “freedom fighters.” Two years ago the New York Times wrote: “In the 1980s, Jalaluddin Haqqani was cultivated as a ‘unilateral’ asset of the CIA and received tens of thousands of dollars in cash for his work in fighting the Soviet Army in Afghanistan, according to an account in ‘The Bin Ladens,’ a recent book by Steve Coll. At that time, Haqqani helped and protected Osama bin Laden, who was building his own militia to fight the Soviet forces, Coll wrote.” [3]

As to the regret that the otherwise praiseworthy Haqqani has of late allied himself with the Taliban, one voiced by among other people the late Charlie Wilson who once celebrated Haqqani as “goodness personified,” in an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press last year Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari told his American audience that the Taliban “was part of your past and our past, and the ISI and the CIA created them together. And I can find you 10 books and 10 philosophers and 10 write-ups on that….” [4]

On September 27 two NATO helicopters attacked the Kurram agency in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, killing six people and wounding eight. A local Pakistani government official described all the victims as civilians. According to Dawn News, “Nato has also shelled the area before.” [5] Three attacks in three days and as many as 100 deaths.

On the same day a U.S. drone-launched missile strike killed four people in the North Waziristan agency. “The identities of the four people killed in the attack were not known….” [6]

The above events occurred against the backdrop of the revelation in Bob Woodward’s new book Obama’s Wars that “a 3,000-strong secret army of Afghan paramilitary forces run by the Central Intelligence Agency had conducted cross-border raids into Pakistan.” [7]

After mounting in intensity for two years and consisting in part – helicopter gunship attacks and special forces assassination team raids – of covert operations, the U.S. and NATO war in Northwest Pakistan is now fully underway and can no longer be denied.

The Pentagon – the helicopters used in the attacks on September 25 and 26 were American Apaches and Kiowas – defended the strikes over the weekend as falling within its rules of engagement and Defense Department spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said the U.S. had adhered to “appropriate protocol” and “Our forces have the right of self-defense.” [8]

A spokesmen for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force initially denied that Alliance forces had launched any attacks inside Pakistani territory, although Afghan police officials had confirmed that they did. On September 27, however, the International Security Assistance Force verified that NATO forces had conducted the deadly strikes. As the third attack by NATO helicopters occurred on the same day, “Coalition officials said the cross-border attacks fell within its rules of engagement because the insurgents had attacked them from across the border.” [9]

A NATO official informed the press that “ISAF forces must and will retain the authority, within their mandate, to defend themselves in carrying out their mission.” [10]

Mehmood Shah, former top security official of the Pakistani government in the region where the helicopter gunship and drone strikes have killed over 200 people so far this month, said of the recent NATO attacks: “This should be considered a watershed event. They [Nato] must be warned: the next time you do this, it can lead to war. Our units should be deployed to fire upon them. This border has sanctity. Nato must realise they have a mandate to operate in Afghanistan, not in Pakistan.” [11]

On September 27 Interior Minister Rehman Malik denounced the NATO raids as a violation of Pakistani territorial integrity and national sovereignty and told the nation’s Senate that the Afghan ambassador to Islamabad would be summoned to explain the attacks. Malik and the Pakistani government as a whole know that the Hamid Karzai administration in Kabul has no control over what the U.S. and NATO do in its own country, much less in Pakistan. The interior minister’s comment were solely for internal consumption, for placating Pakistani popular outrage, but as Pakistan itself has become a NATO partner and U.S. surrogate [12] its officials, like those of Afghanistan, will not be notified of any future attacks.

Nevertheless domestic exigencies compelled Malik to denounce the strikes inside his country and assert “I take the drone attacks in Pakistani territory as an attack on the sovereignty of Pakistan.” A senator from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz “asked the government to inform the parliament about any accord it had reached with the US under which drone attacks were being carried out.” [13]

At the same time Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit went further and lodged what was described as a strong protest to NATO Headquarters in Brussels over the weekend’s air strikes, issuing a statement that said in part: “These incidents are a clear violation and breach of the UN mandate under which ISAF operates,” as its mandate “terminates/finishes” at the Afghan border.

“There are no agreed ‘hot pursuit’ rules. Any impression to the contrary is not factually correct. Such violations are unacceptable.” [14]

By the evening of September 27, after the Pakistani complaints were registered, NATO’s ISAF attempted to conduct damage control and reverted to the military bloc’s original position: That it has not launched attacks inside Pakistan at all. On that very day it had dispatched two more helicopter gunships for the third raid in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

NATO will continue to launch lethal attacks inside Pakistan against whichever targets it sees fit and will proffer neither warnings nor apologies. The U.S. will continue to escalate attacks with Hellfire missiles against whomever it chooses, however inaccurate, anecdotal and self-interested the reports upon which they are based prove to be.

The death toll in Pakistan this month is well over 200 and for this year to date over 2,000. The justification for this carnage offered by the U.S. and NATO is that it is intended to extend the policy of Barack Obama to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat” insurgent networks in Afghanistan into Pakistan, supposedly the sooner to end the war.

Forty years ago Obama’s predecessor Richard Nixon began his speech announcing the expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia with these words: “Good evening, my fellow Americans. Ten days ago, in my report to the nation on Vietnam, I announced the decision to withdraw an additional 150,000 Americans from Vietnam over the next year. I said then that I was making that decision despite our concern over increased enemy activity in Laos, in Cambodia, and in South Vietnam. And at that time I warned that if I concluded that increased enemy activity in any of these areas endangered the lives of Americans remaining in Vietnam, I would not hesitate to take strong and effective measures to deal with that situation.” [15]

He claimed that “enemy sanctuaries” in Cambodia “endanger the lives of Americans who are in Vietnam,” and “if this enemy effort succeeds, Cambodia would become a vast enemy staging area and a springboard for attacks on South Vietnam along 600 miles of frontier: a refuge where enemy troops could return from combat without fear of retaliation.”

The course he ordered was to “go to the heart of the trouble. And that means cleaning out major North Vietnamese and Vietcong occupied territories, these sanctuaries which serve as bases for attacks on both Cambodia and American and South Vietnamese forces in South Vietnam.”

The practical application of the policy was that “attacks are being launched this week to clean out major enemy sanctuaries on the Cambodian-Vietnam border.”

In language that has been heard again lately in Washington and Brussels – with nothing but the place names changed – Nixon claimed: “We take this action not for the purpose of expanding the war into Cambodia, but for the purpose of ending the war in Vietnam….”

Washington indeed expanded the Vietnam War into Cambodia, with what disastrous effects the world is fully aware, and soon thereafter departed Southeast Asia in defeat, leaving vast stretches of Vietnam and Cambodia in ruins.

Afghanistan and Pakistan will not fare any better.

SCO to decide on Pakistani membership in June

SCO to decide on Pakistani membership in June

Pakistan in a significant move has signed the pipeline deal with Iran, defying US pressure. It is working with Iran and Turkey on a Pan-Afghan solution in Kabul, and working towards full membership of the SCO. This is a huge event in Pakistani history, where Pakistan would be formally tied with the ECO members, China and Russia. It is like joining NATO or the Warsaw pack of the future. The SCO has turned down Iran’s application on the pretexts that the SCO cannot admit a country under international sanctions. The SCO has not turned down the Pakistani application and the SCO is expected to vote on it in the second week of June in Tashkent.

  • Pakistan keen to become full member of SCO: Masood Khan
  • On May 22 the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers approved the draft procedure for admitting new members into the SCO.
  • The process would be submitted for approval in the SCO Heads of States meeting scheduled to take place on June 10 – 11, 2010 in Tashkent.

Membership in the SCO places Pakistan firmly in the Central Asia club led by China and Russia. The SCO membership would set up additional ties with the former Soviet republics and open up new avenues of military and economic cooperation.

It would also counterbalance US pressure on Pakistan on various subjects. Drone bombings is a serious issue for most Pakistanis and constantly creates new waves of resentment among the populace.

BEIJING, May 28 : Ambassador of Pakistan to China, Masood Khan met Muratbek Imanaliev, Secretary General of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on Friday to underline Pakistan’s strong aspiration to become a full member of the SCO.SCO Secretary General Muratbek Imanaliev said as an observer of the SCO, Pakistan had been making consistent and substantial contribution to the work of the Organization.Talking to him Masood Khan observed that “because of geographical contiguity with SCO member states as well as strong desire to work for regional stability, security and economic prosperity, Pakistan fully qualifies to become a full member.”

“Pakistan is a natural ally and partner of SCO”, he added.

Ambassador Masood Khan said Pakistan fully supports SCO’s objective of strengthening security and stability in Central Asia and looks forward to deepening its cooperation with SCO member states in the areas of trade, investment, energy, transport, communications as well as science and technology.

On May 22 the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers approved the draft procedure for admitting new members into the SCO, which would be submitted for approval in the SCO Heads of States meeting scheduled to take place on June 10 – 11, 2010 in Tashkent.

It may be mentioned that right now Pakistan is an Observer of the SCO.

President Asif Ali Zardari attended the SCO summit held in Yekaterinburg in June last year and Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani attended the SCO Heads of Government meeting held in Beijing in October 2009.
In addition to Pakistan, India and Iran also have observer status, whereas Afghanistan and Turkmenistan attend the SCO Conferences as guests. (APP)

Kyrgyzstan turmoil: Only the ECO can save Central Asia

Kyrgyzstan turmoil: Only the ECO can save Central Asia

News reports from Kabar the Kyrgyz news agency are announcing that the opposition has declared an alternate government announced on the seized TV stations. An emergency has been declared. Opposition leaders are reporting a 100 dead and 400 injured.

The war in Afghanistan is spreading to the Central Asian Republics–namely Kyrgyzstan and also Uzbekistan. The news from the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek is not good.

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  • “Large-scale protests appear to have overthrown the government of Kyrgyzstan, an important American ally in Central Asia,” The New York Times is reporting.
  • Russia’s RT news agency writes that Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev “has fled” the capital, Bishkek.
  • Reuters reports that “the Kyrgyz government agreed on Wednesday to resign and President Kurmanbek Bakiyev flew to the southern city of Osh,” according to a senior opposition party official.
  • 100 dead and as many as 400 injured. This is not a riot–its a revolution in the making.

CNN is reporting that:

The fighting erupted amid political unrest between opposition forces and the government in the cities of Bishkek, Talas and Naryn. Russian state media reported that the Bishkek unrest was triggered by clashes that took place in Talas where some opposition leaders were arrested.

Protesters want detained opposition leaders to be released, and Interfax is reporting that opposition supporters have seized control of Naryn, Talas and others towns, such as Tokmok, Karakol and Cholpanata.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev sent a decree to parliament for the imposition of a curfew as demonstrators clashed with police in Bishkek.

The rioters stormed the parliament building under the leadership of the opposition leader Omar Tekab (Russianized into Omurbek Tekebayev). Russian News (rian.ru) agencies are reporting that Kyrgyz “authorities have imposed a state of emergency in Bishkek and Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has signed a decree imposing a curfew as clashes continue between rioters and police in the capital. At least 21 died with over 140 injured in riots.” The Christian Science Monitor is reporting that “The Kyrgyzstan protests also took place in other cities”. Reuters reports that “Taimur Sariy [Russianized name Temir Sariyev]Temir Sariyev, an opposition party leader, told The Associated Press that a coalition of politicians had agreed on a new prime minister as well as a new interior minister and new security chief. Officials say 40 people have been killed and more than 400 wounded Wednesday in clashes with police trying to quell the anti-government uprising.”

This has serious implications for China, Russia and the region. The SCO was created to assist the Central Asian Republics to maintain their status quo–however the ISAF presence and the NATO supply routes through Kyrgyzstan have brought the war to Kyrgyzstan.

The US base brought the war to Kyrgyzstan.

America relies on Manas Air Base (renamed the “Transit Center at Manas” as 2009) an alternate NATO supply route to Afghanistan. Therefore the US will be all over Bishkek. The Kyrgyz people and the Bakiyev’s parliament voted to throw out the base in 2009–and it remains a demand of the Kyrgyz people–and a bone of contention. Kyrgyztanis see growing Anti-Americanism because of the base.

The alignment of land locked countries to the warm waters of the Arabian Sea will help the Central Asian Republics open up to the world. Dedicated freeways from Dushame and Fergana are being built to Gwader and Port Qasim with the help of the Russians and the Chinese. This economic integration and the SCO block is the future of Central Asia.

We predicted that the Afghan war would move Westward and Northwards. This has not just happened now–it has been happening for years.

Graveyard of Empires: AfPak-TurkTaj-UzbKaz-AzKyr -istan

For years we have shed light on the pull and push theory. Can the $80 Billion Think Tank industry not comprehend the simple truths described by Peter Senge in his seminal book “The 5th Discipline“. They theory goes as follows. When the Police cracks down on drug dealers on 42nd street, the drug dealing does not disappear, it simply moved to 52nd street or gets dispersed over a bigger area out of reach of the police raids. Similarly when the US bombs the insurgents in East Afghanistan, it is but obvious that they will find shelter and hideouts on the Duran Line and beyond. As the US drones bomb FATA, areas in Pakistan are affected destabilizing parts of the NWFP.

The conflict was broadly fought between government forces and the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) – a coalition of Islamists and secular reformists. Al Jazeera

We strongly believe in the Push Theory is in action. In this case, the fear is that because of the actions of the Pakistan Army in Swat, some of the Uzbek militants belonging to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) may have moved back to the Tajikistan and Uzbekistan where they have been active for more than a decade.

The Taliban won the war against the USSR by cutting off their supplies from the same routes that the US will use. The Taliban attacked the supplies coming via Pakistan. According to Russian estimates only about half the supplies made it to Afghanistan. Now the raids on the supplies may be moving to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The Christian Science Monitor reports:

Mr. Bakiyev took power in the so-called “Tulip Revolution” of 2005, raising hope for democratic reform. But, as the International Crisis Group put in in 2008, “instead of opening up politics Bakiyev… is creating a system whose hallmarks are overweening control by the ruling family, widespread corruption and, most significantly, a monopoly over economic and political patronage.”

The 2009 US State Department Human Rights report, released this March, listed a litany of abuses by Bakiyev’s government:

Mr. Bakiyev faces a real problem–which could become a horrendous issue for the US. The failed policies of the Bush Administration are fast making Kyrgyzstan another Afghanistan. Unless the US learns from its mistakes from Afghanistan, many Americans will have to learn names of cities that they don’t even want to know about–Bishkek, Namamgan, Tashkent, Andijon. Unless sagacious and sane policies are implemented in the region these names will become household names like Falujah, Helmand, and Mazar e Sharif.

The world does not want to learn new names with atrocities and violence tied to them.

As it is the governments in the Central Asian republics face an onslaught of attacks from the disenfranchised and poor populations. The IMU is a major factor in trying to overthrow dictatorial regimes in the capitals of the Central Asian Republics.

There is another way–economic development and regional groupings to facilitate progress and prosperity in Central Asia.

(Reuters) – Kyrgyz riot police fired tear gas and flash grenades to disperse protesters in the capital Bishkek on Wednesday, witnesses said, the second day of unrest linked to mounting public anger over a weaker economy and corruption.

The Economic Cooperation Organization