Archive | South Asia

Afghanistan War Spending, In 2018 Alone, Could End US Homelessness—TWICE


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While the United States government spends $45 billion on the 17th year of the Afghanistan War, it ignores the fact that just half of that money could be used to virtually end homelessness in the U.S. annually.

By Rachel Blevins | Free Thought Project 

Defense Department officials are claiming that the cost of the United States’ longest war in history will be $45 billion in 2018, which is actually double to estimate of what it would cost to end homelessness in the U.S. annually.

Randall Schriver, the assistant secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, said that he expects the Afghanistan war to cost American taxpayers $45 billion this year, which in addition to logistical support, will include about $13 billion for U.S. forces, $5 billion for Afghan forces, and $780 million for economic aid.

Schriver made the announcement during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Tuesday. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan also spoke, and said he believes the United States’ policy “acknowledges that there isn’t a military solution or a complete solution.”

“I understand it’s America’s longest war, but our security interests in Afghanistan, in the region are significant enough … to back the Afghan government in their struggle against the Taliban,” Sullivan said.

Over 31,000 civilian deaths have been documented in Afghanistan following the U.S. invasion. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan began documenting civilian casualties in 2009, and the combined number of civilians who were killed and injured that year was nearly 6,000. The number has steadily increased over the years, and in 2016, it reached a record high with nearly 3,500 killed and nearly 8,000 injured.

report from the UNAMA noted that in 2017, the death rate for children increased by 9 percent over the previous year, and the death rate for women increased by 23 percent. The report also claimed that an increase in airstrikes has led to a 43 percent increase in causalities.

The Hill reported that the Defense Department officials did receive some criticism from senators such as Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, who questioned why the Taliban would want a political settlement now when they already “control more territory than they did since 2001” when the U.S. invaded the country—claiming the purpose was to defeat the Taliban.

Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, also criticized the massive 2018 budget for the Afghanistan War, and argued that after 16 years, Afghans still “don’t seem to be able to defend themselves,” and for U.S. taxpayers, billions of dollars are “just being thrown down a hatch in Afghanistan.”

“I think there’s an argument to be made that our national security is actually made more perilous the more we spend and the longer we stay there. … We’re in an impossible situation,” Paul said. “I just don’t think there is a military solution.”

Paul has a history of criticizing the amount of money the U.S. government spends in foreign countries, especially on wars in the Middle East. After Trump vowed to continue the longest war in U.S. history in August 2017, Paul criticized the move and asked when the U.S. would start focusing on its own country.

“We spent billions of dollars—I think it’s over $100 billion—building roads in Afghanistan, blowing up roads in Afghanistan, building schools, blowing up schools, and then rebuilding all of them,” Paul said. “Sometimes we blow them up, sometimes someone else blows them up, but we always go back and rebuild them. What about rebuilding our country?”

Paul has a point, and the money that is being used to kill innocent civilians in Afghanistan is desperately needed in the United States. According to estimates from Mark Johnston, the acting assistant housing secretary for community planning and development, “homelessness could be effectively eradicated in the United States at an annual cost of about $20 billion.”

If the United States government cut its budget for the Afghanistan War in half, and put half of the money towards ending homeless in America, it could make a difference. If the government gave the entirety of the money it is using for endless proxy wars in the Middle East back to the taxpayers it was originally stolen from so that they could invest it in helping the individuals in need in their own communities, it could work wonders.

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Maldives crisis: US-Indian strategic alliance forming


By M.K. BHADRAKUMAR | Asia Times 

Developments in Maldives have begun unfolding according to script. India, the United States and Britain are spearheading the demand that Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen comply with the order by his country’s Supreme Court to release his political opponents from prison and reinstate 12 former lawmakers as members of Parliament.

The script has a striking resemblance to what happened in Sri Lanka in 2014, with some minor variations on the fundamental theme – regime change. Thus, as in Sri Lanka, sworn enemies who had been at each other’s throats for decades suddenly made strange bedfellows to oust the strongman in the presidential palace, and as dawn broke one fine day, the ground beneath the regime shifted dramatically.

In the earlier case, a defecting faction of the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party aligned with its sworn enemy, the United National Party, undermining thereby the towering incumbent president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s grip on power. Now a similar realignment has happened in Maldives, which now threatens President Yameen’s continuance in power.

This latest unholy alliance is between two former presidents, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (a cousin of the incumbent president) and a man who once overthrew Gayoom, Mohamed Nasheed. Gayoom and Nasheed have been sworn enemies. What adds to the intrigue is the mysterious role by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, Abdullah Saeed – who was, incidentally, appointed to the top court in 2009 by Nasheed when he was in power.

To what extent external powers promoted this opportunistic alliance to dethrone Yameen is a moot point. The US ambassador (based in Colombo) has been working closely with New Delhi to “promote” democracy. Nasheed and Saeed have visited Delhi in recent months at India’s invitation. Nasheed even addressed a panel at Brookings India to present his case for regime change in his country. Nasheed is a cult figure in London and Washington.

In sum, there is close coordination between New Delhi and Washington to get rid of Yameeen, who is branded as “pro-China.” Indeed, geopolitics is at the root of the current crisis in Maldives.

The missing link has been the secret move by the administration of US president Barack Obama in early 2013 to negotiate with Maldives about a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which would have led to increased military cooperation between the two countries, possibly including US bases there. But someone leaked a draft of the agreement to the press, and the US was forced to concede that such talks were indeed going on.

The negotiations got derailed when Yameen was elected president in November 2013 by narrowly defeating Nasheed. If Nasheed returns to power, the negotiations for the conclusion of the SOFA would be back on the table. Despite China’s firm and repeated denials that it has any intention of setting up a military base in Maldives, the China bogey has been whipped up by India.

The real US-Indian game plan is to create a “second island chain” (similar to the one in the Western Pacific) connecting Maldives with Diego Garcia (and Seychelles, where India has a base on one of the islands and has just concluded an agreement to build an airstrip and a sophisticated “monitoring station” at a cost of US$45 million) to curb the presence of Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean and to control the sea lanes through which China conducts the bulk of its foreign trade. By the way, the US and India closely cooperate in monitoring the presence of Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean.

As part of the overall US-Indian strategy, New Delhi signed a Bilateral Agreement for Navy Cooperation with Singapore last November that provides Indian Navy ships temporary deployment facilities and logistics support at Singapore’s Changi naval base, which is near the disputed South China Sea, enabling India to engage in more activity in the Strait of Malacca through which China’s oil and natural-gas imports pass.

India also maintains a big naval base in the Bay of Bengal in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands near the Strait of Malacca. Clearly, institutionalized mechanisms are being put in place to monitor Chinese naval activities in both the Strait of Malacca and the Arabian Sea – and to develop “chokepoints” to strangulate the Chinese economy in the event of a confrontation.

Suffice to say, control of the Maldivian atolls is a crucial template of the overall US-Indian strategy to counter China’s rapidly growing blue-water navy and its capacity to project power in the Indian Ocean.

The big question is whether India will intervene in Maldives and chase the recalcitrant Yameen out of power and put some amiable face like Nasheed in power, who can be trusted to act as “our man in the Arabian Sea.” Of course, any such intervention would constitute a violation of international law and the UN Charter.

Traditionally, India has taken a pragmatic approach toward “democracy deficits” in its neighborhood – in Myanmar and Bangladesh, for instance – or its extended neighborhood of West Asia or Central Asia. But the US has been encouraging India to shed its shyness and become assertive, worthy of a great power in the making.

To be sure, if India intervenes in Maldives, no matter its legality or legitimacy, New Delhi can be 100% certain of Anglo-American backing.

In Washington’s calculus, a unilateral Indian intervention in Maldives would signify a leap of faith on New Delhi’s part in the direction of a strategic alliance with the US. The Donald Trump administration has identified India as a key partner in its Asian strategies, but has found that getting India to shed its “strategic autonomy” and “independent foreign policies” has been an exasperating experience so far. An intervention in Maldives would signify that India is willing to cross the Rubicon, finally, and act shoulder-to-shoulder as America’s ally in Asia. To be sure, Maldives presents a defining moment for Indian foreign policy.

However, this is India’s Haiti moment, too. Simply put, the mulattoes and blacks of the Arabian Sea have locked horns and are seeking foreign intervention. The US Navy sent ships to Haiti 19 times between 1857 and 1913 to “protect American lives and property” and finally occupied Haiti in 1915 – until, ultimately, Haitians united in resistance of the US occupation and American forces had to leave in 1934. A repressive dictatorship took over from that point.

Posted in USA, India, Maldives0 Comments

Afghanistan: The New Surge

By BG Simon Sharaf

Going by US media, the next US surge in Afghanistan is imminent. It is certain that this will not be like Obama Surges that petered into nothingness. It will neither be based on COIN Strategy advocated by General David Petraeus, who is convinced that Pakistan bashing is unreasonable. Will it have advice from General Stanley A. McChrystal, once the commander of JSOC, and a special military force for impossible. Not likely because he too believed in engagements on the political side. Most likely, it means carrying the battle into Pakistan in an ill-conceived calculus of cost-benefit analysis.

To concentrate more ground troops in a hostile terrain that favors the adversary for a cause already lost is unrealistic. US forces lack the training and commitment to launch ground assaults. Given battle fatigue and casualties of fifteen years, a military surge is unlikely. So what shape will this frenzy of killing and not winning hearts and minds take? Latest news indicates that military commanders have a carte blanch to violate Pakistan’s air and ground space to create international diplomatic crises. Generals and not politicians will set the pace of conflict. Diplomacy will only be a fire fighting unit.

President Trump is a late convert. During the many briefings at State Department, CIA and Pentagon, he learned that statecraft is led by an invisible state, is cold blooded and much beyond riding a crest of human emotions. In August 2017 he recanted and announced a military surge with a proviso that US preoccupation will be ‘killing and not nation building’. He let the cat out of the bag with a nasty tweet.

Strategic and military analysts wondered how a victory would be possible when bulk of NATO and US forces had already withdrawn and many bases that US built were evacuated for Afghan forces comprising ethnic minorities of the country. If the end means relationship is not Peace, the only option left is Broad Spectrum Coercion.

That intelligence based operations could countervail but for what purpose? Covert use of force, non-kinetic offensive (Pakistan) some face savings drones (Pakistan), use of allies (India) and the long air arm will focus on Pakistan. The war rather than policy is led by an invisible arm.

Afghan Conflict is predominantly a Social Dimension of warfare (Michel Howard, Forgotten Dimensions of Strategy) and unless the battle for winning hearts and minds does not begin, all other methods will fail. Though USA may have a small intelligentsia of western educated Afghans who hold offices in the government and talk fiery rhetoric, the majority is weary of US intervention. If the US preoccupation will be killing and not nation building, it leaves a question mark on the winning.

Dire situation in Afghanistan is not a realisation coming late. It is an admission USA never wanted. It is based on a narrative that can destabilise. USA wants to persist with a stalemate. The issue is not Afghanistan but the threatened perforation of the containment ring (Nation: January 20, 2018, End of Geostrategy).

Immediately after President Trump’s change of heart, American media and research organisations began a process of researching the truth. They came up with repetitive maps of who controlled what. It was a view from the refracted end of the prism with a colour blind vision. Though these graphics can be misleading they are also revealing. The opinions and conclusions were alarming and reinforced perceptions that neither USA nor the ANA were in control of affairs. Most, the typology of foes was alarming. Thereafter, maps produced by Long War Journal, Foreign Policy and New York Times started spinning a story that necessitated a surge.

Voids in Afghanistan have existed for the past century and dominated by war lords, criminals and tribal chieftains. Soviet Union placated them with money but they deserted when CIA gave more. Complementary alliance of sorts bonded Afghanistan. USA is lukewarm on its own quadrilateral dialogue that China is keen to pursue. Use of soft power to resolve a crisis is anathema. Trump talks tough and wants to prove tough. It wants China and Russia to do nothing with its latest plans.

Control of any area depends on interior and exterior lines of communications. Afghanistan presents a situation where all expanses and voids are dominated or controlled by hostile forces. The widely interspersed urban centers are small pockets where American and Afghan Forces enjoy some level of control. Intercommunications between these dispersed redoubts are vulnerable and dangerous. The air arm reduces the reaction time but does not enhance control. Certainly this is not conventional military thinking in mountainous areas.

Long War Journal is critical of this policy and writes that “US military has described these rural regions controlled or contested by the Taliban as “less vital areas” that have “less strategic importance.” It sums up with a remark that neither side has the capacity to win. It views the CIA and Pentagon assessment of the situation in Afghanistan to rather optimistic disinformation during the closing stages of Vietnam War. USA did not withdraw but retreated from Vietnam. It is these insignificant areas from where the resistance forces launch their operations in urban centers and ones USA used against Soviets.

When a strategy is mythical, a logical end-means relationship is impossible. President Trump is proving that myths are indeed part of his briefs.

Analysis of various maps produced since 2009 tell a different story.

The only constant is a map produced by Agha H. Amin in 2009. It is remarkably similar to the map produced by General Stanley A. McChrystal in his memoirs of 2013. The major revelation is the mapping of various strains of Afghan resistance bonded together by ideology, power, money and drugs. These are Taliban supported by Pakistan, India, Iran and Russia, Al Qaeda, warlords for whom insurgency is a profitable economy, criminals, drug and gun running mafia and the grey that crisscross as contractors. There is no central command, yet they control about 70% of Afghanistan, what USA calls voids.

In the days when ISIS was still taking shape, New York Times reported on June 14, 2017, that, Tora Bora the mountain redoubt once Osama bin Laden’s fortress fell to the Islamic State, handing the extremists a significant strategic and symbolic victory. Strategically, this force could irk Iran, Russia, China and Pakistan. Symbolically it explains why this happened and a measure of days to come. (Nation, 17 July 2017: Tora Bora, The emerging redoubt). Is this the vanguard of the new surge?

In August 2017, New York Times reinforced this story with a map that appears to be very accurate and revealing. It confirms the doubts the either both USA and Afghanistan are complicit or too weak to control a situation that is more lethal than the much maligned Haqqani Group.

Along Pakistan-Afghan border from Chitral to Chagai, presence of ISIS has been shown in red. According to Russians, this surge was facilitated by USA. Nangarhar is the most concentrated. These are Fazal Ullah led TTP, Jamat ur Ahrar (Mohmand-Bajaur), and Afghans. TTP with Afghan travel documents extends right into Kunar in Nuristan. Some Punjabi, Baloch and Sindhi elements have sanctuaries in Kandahar and Helmand. With the help of Sunni dissidents in Iran, they enjoy external support from the Gulf. They also share ideology with Jundallah of Iran.

The dangers to Pakistan from these redoubts were so grave that in 2017, Pakistan’s ground and Special Forces had to launch infantry operations to plug the valleys and terrain opposite Tora Bora.

It is expected that during this surge a carrot and stick policy will be imposed on Pakistan. Placation will be in form of releasing some aid and promise of more. But as time passes the stick will become bigger and carrot smaller. Pakistan must continue the strategic defiance with peaceful means and let USA raise the ante. The social dimension of conflict is in Pakistan’s favour.

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How Much Has the American Government Paid for Its Invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan?


At least six times — in 2006twice in 2007, in 2008, in 2010, and most recently at the end of 2014 — the Congressional Research Service has reported to Congress the U.S. Government’s costs, thus far, for its invasions of Iraq and of Afghanistan. All times, medical costs for treatments of the surviving U.S. invaders, and disability-payments to them for their war-related disabilities, were excluded, because, according to CRS, that information is “not available from the VA.”

Wikileaks, the organization whose head Julian Assange the U.S. Government wants either to assassinate or else place permanently into a high-security prison and disable from communicating with the world outside, says that “Individual members of Congress will release specific CRS reports if they believe it to assist them politically, but CRS archives as a whole are firewalled from public access”; so, there are probably other, and more-recent, versions of this CRS document, but the most-recent one which has yet been made public is the 8 December 2014 version. In that version, the amount that the U.S. Government had spent — up till then — on these two invasions and military occupations, both of Iraq and Afghanistan, was $1.6 trillion total. No projection of what the total cost of either invasion-occupation will cost the U.S. Government has ever been publicly issued from the U.S. Government.

Furthermore, as regards those medical and disability costs, “not available from the VA,” Joseph Steiglitz and Linda Bilmes in 2008 published their estimate of what those costs would turn out to be, and based their estimates on both the raw VA numbers of veterans from those two wars who were receiving benefits from those two benefit-programs, and on the historical evidence from WW II and other U.S. wars, regarding how those expenses trend during the decades following a war. On 13 June 2011, Bilmes looked again at the VA data, and she headlined the revised results, as of that time, “Current and Projected Future Costs of Caring for Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars” and reported that she found that it was clear that she and Stiglitz had severely underestimated the numbers of troops who would be receiving benefits under those two programs. Far more troops were receiving these benefits than they had projected for 2011. She then revised there the earlier estimates, into line with the actual 2011 numbers. Her revised estimate was shown in “Table 2: Estimated PV of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Disability and Medical Costs” and the “moderate-realistic” projection was $934 billion; the “best-case” projection was $589 billion. In other words: these federal costs will probably be around $934 billion, but will almost certainly be above $589 billion. But, in either instance: the CRS is simply ignoring these costs — whatever they are.

Here, below, are highlights, key excerpts, from the latest publicly available information regarding this matter — the CRS report to Congress, on 8 December 2014:

“The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11”

Amy Belasco, Specialist in U.S. Defense Policy and Budget, December 8, 2014


With enactment of the FY2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act on January 1, 2014 (H.R. 3547/P.L. 113-73), Congress has approved appropriations for the past 13 years of war that total $1.6 trillion for military operations, base support, weapons maintenance, training of Afghan and Iraq security forces, reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs, and veterans’ health care for the war operations initiated since the 9/11 attacks. Of this $1.6 trillion total, CRS estimates that the total is distributed as follows: 

$686 billion (43%) for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) for Afghanistan and other counterterror operations received; 

$815 billion (51%) for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/Operation New Dawn (OND); 

$27 billion (2%) for Operation Noble Eagle (ONE), providing enhanced security at military bases; and 

$81 billion (5%) for war-designated funding not considered directly related to the Afghanistan or Iraq wars.

As would be expected, the majority of the FY2015 request is for the war in Afghanistan with 

$58.1 billion for Afghanistan/OEF; 

$5.0 billion for Iraq/OIF/OND; 

$100 million for enhanced security; and 

$10.4 billion for other war-designated costs that are not directly part of war operations or aid to Afghanistan or Iraq. 

By Agency 

Splitting the cumulative total of $1.6 trillion (excluding OIR) appropriated by agency: 

$1.5 trillion was appropriated to DOD; 

$92.7 billion to State/USAID, and 

$17.6 billion to the Veterans Administration (VA) for medical treatment15 (15 This figure does not include the cost of benefits for OEF/OIF/OND veterans, which is not available from the VA.) (Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) largely for the Afghan war; Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation New Dawn (OND) for Iraq.)


Anthony Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, severely criticized, in his 26 June 2017 “U.S. Military Spending: The Cost of Wars”, the U.S. Government’s hiding of its war-costs; or, as he phrased this in the passive tense (so as to hide the blame for it), “the failure to deal with the cost of America’s wars.” And, naturally (further in order to keep his job), he said nothing about how America’s 100 biggest federal contractors, almost all of which are firms that, like Lockheed Martin, make weapons and sell them to governments that employ them to kill people in foreign lands, depend mostly (if not 100%) upon these invasions by the U.S. and its allies, in order to be able to stay in business. But he did point out “Critical Failures by Both the Executive Branch and Congress” (though not by the newsmedia that constantly propagandize for more and more invasions, such as of Iraq and of Syria — propagandize for being ’tough on defense’, as if invasions are for ‘defense’, instead of for aggression, as the world outside America knows to be the case). Cordesman notes that, “Reporting by the Executive Branch seems almost designed to obscure the real costs of conflict,” though he does not say anything about the ways in which the top-100 U.S. Government contractors — the firms that sell the most to the U.S. Government — control U.S. international relations, so as to benefit their stockholders, such as by selling more and more missiles. And he goes on to observe that

“The Congress has done no better. Ironically, members of Congress are fond of criticizing the Administration for lacking a strategy.”

But, he says nothing about the incentive-system that crucially explains this ugly state-of-affairs.

He then points out

“The Need for Far Better Accountability in Planning, Programming, and Budgeting U.S. Wars.”

Cordesman’s report then proceeds to summarize work by independent analysts who find that the U.S. Government is systematically under-reporting the costs of its invasions. Here is that passage:

Summary of Direct Costs of the Afghan War, Iraq War, and Total OCO in Budget Authority vs. Other Illustrative Estimates

The charts and tables in this section summarize the actual and projected cost of U.S. wars as reported for the OCO account — drawing heavily largely on earlier work by the Congressional Research Service.

• The Department of Defense’s OCO costs of the Afghan conflict since FY2001 will rise to $840.7 billion — if the President’s FY2018 budget request is met. They will be $770.5 billion for Iraq.

• The total costs for all OCO spending between FY2001 and FY2018 will be in excess of $1,909 billion. Given the costs omitted from the OCO budget, the real total cost will almost certainly be well over $2 trillion, even using OCO data as the only costs of the wars.

These latter estimates update a series of earlier CRS analyses, one of which noted that, “Other observers and analysts define war costs more broadly than congressional appropriations and include estimates of the life- time costs of caring for OEF/OIF/OND veterans, imputed interest costs on the deficit, or increases in DOD’s base budget deemed to be a consequence of support for the war…Such costs are difficult to compute, subject to extensive caveats, and often based on methodologies that may not be appropriate…”

Three alternative cost estimates are also summarized in this section.

• One by Lina J. Blimes [actually Linda J. Bilmes] puts the total cost at $4 to $6 trillion by end FY2016.

• A related estimate by the Watson Institute puts the cost at $4.8 trillion through FY2016.

• A third estimate, by Neta Crawford, puts costs at more than $4.8 trillion through FY2017, plus more than $7.9 trillion in cumulative interest on past appropriations, or more than $12.7 trillion.

It is important to note that separate work by Todd Harrison of CSIS in assessing the overall OCO account — Enduring Dilemma of Overseas Contingency Operations Funding, Transition45 Series, January 11, 2017 — states that both Congress and the Obama administration moved items from the base budget to the OCO budget as a way of circumventing the BCA budget caps. Roughly half of the OCO budget ($30 billion) is now being used for programs and activities that were previously funded in the base budget.  

In other words: the people that are being voted into public office at the federal level in the United States (including the President and the Congress) are skillfully hiding from the public the costs — to the American people, not to the lands we destroy by our invasions — of our invasions and military occupations of foreign countries that (like both Iraq and Afghanistan) never invaded, nor even threatened to invade, the United States.

Cordesman is touching very close to portraying a criminal U.S. Government, but he avoids discussing, at all, the private persons, billionaires, whose collective trillions of dollars of personal wealth have been derived largely from instituting and refining this system of massive international imposition of death, crippling, and destruction — most but not all of which is experienced abroad, rather than by Americans.

Then, Cordesman makes some rough estimates, to compare today’s American military-industrial complex, with earlier ones:

  • The Afghan and Iraq/Syria wars are more than five times more expensive than World War I.
  • They are more than five times more expensive than the Korean War.
  • They are nearly 2.5 times more expensive than the Vietnam War.
  • They are more than 18 times more expensive than the first Gulf War in 1991.
  • Given the estimates that the real costs are already well over $4 trillion, these multipliers would be more than doubled if any of the alternative war costs cited earlier are correct.

Just excluding the interest-costs from these calculations — the “more than $7.9 trillion in cumulative interest on past appropriations” — makes clear at least one of the reasons why America’s children will be growing up to work hard just to pay the taxes to cover the federal debt that was incurred in order to keep soaring the wealth of today’s billionaires who benefit from this ‘democracy’. The public’s children will pay that public debt, and, by that time, they will perhaps be honoring, from their hovels, the children of the individuals who will have inherited control over the 100 largest U.S. Government contractors.

There are some other governments that choose not to function this way; they refuse to privatize their military industries, because those countries understand — which Americans are prevented from understanding — what “the military-industrial complex” actually consists of, and why its very existence is an unforgivable curse upon the world, which nations less corrupt than the United States is, will simply not allow. Profiting from war should be prohibited — or at least weapons-purchases from private entities should be prohibited. This should be discussed at the United Nations. The fur would then fly there; but, that’s far better than the flesh flying everywhere, as it now does. And now, with nuclear weapons, things could suddenly get extremely worse.

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Trump’s Hypocritical Concern on Heroin Addiction, Sustained by US-led War on Afghanistan


In 2016, we lost 64,000 Americans to drug overdoses:  174 deaths per day.  Seven per hour.  We must get much tougher on drug dealers and pushers if we are going to succeed in stopping this scourge.

My Administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic and helping get treatment for those in need.  The struggle will be long and difficult — but, as Americans always do, we will prevail. (Trump State of the Union, emphasis added)

Trump brings to the forefront the story of the Holets family of New Mexico:

“Ryan Holets is 27 years old, and an officer with the Albuquerque Police Department.  He is here tonight with his wife Rebecca.  Last year, Ryan was on duty when he saw a pregnant, homeless woman preparing to inject heroin.  When Ryan told her she was going to harm her unborn child, she began to weep.  She told him she did not know where to turn, but badly wanted a safe home for her baby.

In that moment, Ryan said he felt God speak to him:  “You will do it — because you can.”  He took out a picture of his wife and their four kids.  Then, he went home to tell his wife Rebecca.  In an instant, she agreed to adopt.  The Holets named their new daughter Hope.

Ryan and Rebecca:  You embody the goodness of our Nation.  Thank you, and congratulations. (Trump State of the Union, emphasis added)

Beautiful narrative. The Nation weeps, Ryan is interviewed on CNN. While he and his family expressed compassion, taking a courageous stance against heroin addiction,  Trump confirmed his resolve by sending more troops to Afghanistan. 

What the media reports fail to mention is that the surge in heroin addiction was spearheaded by the US led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001.

Why? Because Afghanistan under US military occupation happens to produce approximately 90% of the World’s illegal supply of opium which is used to produce heroin.

The Taliban Opium Eradication Program

Barely acknowledged by the mainstream media, in 2000-2001 the Taliban government with the support of the United Nations (UNODC) –  implemented a successful ban on poppy cultivation. Opium production which is used to produce grade 4 heroin and its derivatives declined by more than 90 per cent in 2001. The production of opium in 2001 was of the order of a meagre 185 tons.

It is worth noting that the UNODC congratulated the Taliban Government for a successful opium eradication program.

This year’s production [2001] is around 185 tons. This is down from the 3300 tons last year [2000], a decrease of over 94 per cent. Compared to the record harvest of 4700 tons two years ago, the decrease is well over 97 per cent.

Any decrease in illicit cultivation is welcomed, especially in cases like this when no displacement, locally or in other countries, took place to weaken the achievement”

(Remarks on behalf of UNODC Executive Director at the UN General Assembly, Oct 2001, )

Immediately following the invasion (October 7, 2001) and occupation of Afghanistan by US-NATO troops, the production of opium regained its historical levels. (a more than nine fold increase in 2002). Since 2001, according to UNODC, the production of opium has increased 49 fold, reaching 9000 metric tons in 2017. (See Figure 1 below)

Heroin Addiction in the US

There were 189,000 heroin users in the US in 2001, before the US-NATO invasion of Afghanistan. By 2012-13, there are 3.8 million heroin users in the US according to a study by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. By 2016, there were an estimated 4.5 million heroin users (including addicts and casual users).

In 20o1, 1,779 Americans were killed as a result of heroin overdose. By 2016, the number of Americans killed as a result of heroin addiction shot up to 15,446. (see graph below)

“My Administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic” says Donald Trump.

My message to Donald Trump: Those lives would have been saved had the US and its NATO allies NOT invaded and occupied Afghanistan.  

Since 2001, the use of heroin in the US has increased 23 times. 

Is there a correlation between heroin addiction in America and the dramatic increase in opium production which occurred in the immediate wake of the US-NATO October 2001 invasion?

Who is protecting opium exports out of Afghanistan?

Amply documented, the opium economy in Afghanistan was set up by the CIA in 1979.

As revealed in the Iran-Contra and Bank of Commerce and Credit  International (BCCI) scandals, CIA covert operations in support of the Afghan Mujahideen had been funded through the laundering of drug money.  “Dirty money” was recycled –through a number of banking institutions (in the Middle East) as well as through anonymous CIA shell companies–, into  “covert money,” used to finance various insurgent groups during the Soviet-Afghan war, and its aftermath. According to a 1991 Time Magazine report:

“Because the US wanted to supply the Mujahideen rebels in Afghanistan with stinger missiles and other military hardware it needed the full cooperation of Pakistan. By the mid-1980s, the CIA operation in Islamabad was one of the largest US intelligence stations in the World. `If BCCI is such an embarrassment to the US that forthright investigations are not being pursued it has a lot to do with the blind eye the US turned to the heroin trafficking in Pakistan’, said a US intelligence officer. (“The Dirtiest Bank of All,” Time, July 29, 1991, p. 22. emphasis added)

Alfred McCoy’s study confirms that within two years of the onslaught of the CIA’s covert operation in Afghanistan in 1979,

“the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands became the world’s top heroin producer, supplying 60 per cent of U.S. demand. In Pakistan, the heroin-addict population went from near zero in 1979  to 1.2 million by 1985, a much steeper rise than in any other nation.”

“CIA assets again controlled this heroin trade. As the Mujahideen guerrillas seized territory inside Afghanistan, they ordered peasants to plant opium as a revolutionary tax. Across the border in Pakistan, Afghan leaders and local syndicates under the protection of Pakistan Intelligence operated hundreds of heroin laboratories. During this decade of wide-open drug-dealing, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in Islamabad failed to instigate major seizures or arrests. (Alfred McCoy, Drug Fallout: the CIA’s Forty Year Complicity in the Narcotics Trade. The Progressive, 1 August 1997).

Heroin: “Supply Creates its Own Demand”?

In 2001, resulting from the Taliban’s drug eradication program supported by the United Nations, production of opium had fallen to 183 metric tons.

While the number of heroin users has increased about 20 times (2001-2016), the cultivation and production of opium which is used to produce heroin increased approximately 25 fold: 8000 hectares in 2001 rising to 201,000 in 2016).

In 2017, ironically coinciding with the influx of more US troops into Afghanistan, the areas under opium poppy cultivation according to UNODC increased by 63 percent in a single year, reaching 328,000 hectares in 2017, i.e. a 41 fold increase in poppy cultivation in relation to 2001.  (see Figure 1 above)

While the supply-demand relationship is complex: the dramatic increase in the consumption of heroin would not have been possible without a concurrent increase in the production of opium from 183 metric tons in 2001 to an estimated 9000 metric tons in 2017 (a 49 fold  increase in relation to 2001).

It stands to reason that the dramatic increase in heroin usage could not have occurred without a corresponding surge in opium production.

Needless to say, the drug trade is a multibillion dollar operation which has been supported by successive US administrations. The unspoken truth is that US foreign policy is supporting this lucrative trade:

The heroin business is not  “filling the coffers of the Taliban” as claimed by US government and the international community: quite the opposite! The proceeds of this illegal trade are the source of wealth formation, largely reaped by powerful business/criminal interests within the Western countries. …

Decision-making in the US State Department, the CIA and the Pentagon is instrumental in supporting this highly profitable multibillion dollar trade, third in commodity value after oil and the arms trade.( Michel Chossudovsky,The Spoils of War, Afghanistan’s Multibillion Dollar Heroin Trade, Global Research, May 2005)

The UNODC confirms in its 2017 Report that: “Only a small share of the revenues generated by the cultivation and trafficking of Afghan opiates reaches Afghan drug trafficking groups. Many more billions of dollars are made from trafficking opiates into major consumer markets, mainly in Europe and Asia.” The earnings generated by 9000 metric tons of opium are colossal, in the hundreds of billions. 9000 tons produces 900 tons of pure heroin.

These global proceeds accrue to business syndicates, intelligence agencies, organized crime, financial institutions, wholesalers, retailers, etc. involved directly or indirectly in the drug trade.  Moreover, a large share of global money laundering as estimated by the IMF is linked to the trade in narcotics.

Drug trafficking constitutes “the third biggest global commodity in cash terms after oil and the arms trade.”

Are US military planes being used to export opioids out of Afghanistan? According to Abby Martin:

“…there is no conclusive proof that the CIA is physically running opium out of Afghanistan. However, it’s hard to believe that a region under full US military occupation – with guard posts and surveillance drones monitoring the mountains of Tora Bora – aren’t able to track supply routes of opium exported from the country’s various poppy farms (you know, the ones the US military are guarding).”

In the words of researcher Timothy Alexander Guzman: “who owns the planes and the ships that transport 90% percent of the world’s heroin from Afghanistan to the rest of the world in the first place? It sure isn’t the Taliban”.

Posted in USA, Afghanistan0 Comments

Malaysia Politics and the Obsession with Power


Power is integral to politics but the obsession with the perpetuation and pursuit of power in Malaysia in the last couple of years has gone beyond reasonable boundaries.

On one side you have a person who is hell-bent on remaining in power in spite of the massive ethical questions surrounding his direct and indirect involvement in a state-owned strategic investment company that was mired in money-laundering, fraudulence and manipulation on a gigantic scale through individuals and entities associated with it. Some of these individuals and entities are being investigated in other countries. A few of them have been convicted in court and imprisoned. And yet in Malaysia there has been no concrete action against the alleged culprits though the Public Accounts Committee of the Malaysian Parliament had proposed in April 2016 that one of the former senior officials of the investment company in question be investigated thoroughly and held answerable. The unwillingness to act against blatant wrongdoing has tarnished the reputation of the person at the apex of the nation. He is obviously not prepared to acknowledge that there is an albatross around his neck.

At the other end of the ring we have a person who is determined to oust the person at the apex of the nation. He is willing to forge marriages of convenience with his former foes in order to achieve this objective — even if it means repudiating his own words and deeds from yesteryear. In the process, he has revealed that it is the attainment of power regardless of the means employed that matters most to him.

The Machiavellian politics of the two principal protagonists has had an adverse impact upon Malaysian public life as a whole. The supporters of each protagonist present their adversary in the vilest terms conceivable. For those opposed to the person at the apex, he has done nothing good though in reality the thrust he has given to the coordinated delivery of public services through Urban Transformation Centres (UTCs), public housing, public transportation and the digital economy has benefitted segments of society. Likewise, opponents of the man trying to oust the person at the apex have deliberately ignored his considerable achievements when he was at the pinnacle for 22 years that would include transforming a commodity based economy to a middle-level manufacturing nation and have instead chosen to focus only on his shortcomings and failures. This skewed approach has also begun to influence perspectives on the economy and ethnic relations.

Some of the opponents of the person at the apex keep repeating that Malaysia is on the verge of bankruptcy — a wild allegation that runs contrary to current evidence such as our strong foreign reserves position. Similarly, opponents of his adversary never tire of highlighting alleged abuses of power in Penang and Selangor, states under PakatanHarapan,  when the  truth is ordinary people have benefitted from some of their welfare-oriented programmes. For PakatanHarapan, UMNO dominates the ruling BarisanNasional and its other component parties have no say at all in decision-making  but this is not quite accurate as demonstrated by the role that a Sarawak BN party played in shaping the coalition’s stand on RUU 355. By the same token, it is wrong of UMNO to argue that the DAP is the dominant force in the Pakatan which given historic, demographic and electoral realities make no sense at all.

If misrepresentations and distortions have become more pervasive in Malaysian politics as a result of the tussle for power of the two antagonists it is partly because the media have performed a negative role. Segments of the established media have been unrelenting in their often vicious attacks upon the opponent of the person at the apex. The decorum and courtesy due to an elder who all said and done had served the nation have been thrown to the winds. Sections of the new media blindly opposed to the person at the apex are equally guilty of coarse, crude criticisms of the man and his family which only reflect their own lack of etiquette.

A more responsible and balanced approach on the part of both the established and new media regardless of who they support or oppose would contribute towards a change in the atmosphere. A changed atmosphere is a prerequisite for the interrogation of power itself which must happen if the nation as a whole is to become less obsessed with power for its own sake. The two coalitions, BN and PK, and any other party that is entering the electoral fray, are even more crucial in bringing about a change in the attitude towards power. The electoral actors themselves, more than anyone else, should realise that an obsession with power could lead to their own destruction because it will only intensify internal friction and factionalism. To put it differently, politics should never be separated from principles, however difficult it may be in certain circumstances. This is where civil society has a vital role to play. If more and more civil society groups demand that politicians adhere to certain principles in politics and refuse to endorse them in an unquestioning  manner especially when they violate the most fundamental norms of decency in public conduct, it is not inconceivable that they will be forced to change.

Posted in South Asia0 Comments

Geopolitical Rivalries and Afghanistan’s Open-Ended War


Geopolitical Rivalries and Afghanistan’s Open-Ended War. China Extends its Influence to the Detriment of America

Shifting Geopolitical Reality in Afghanistan: Threat to US Hegemony? Part II

Violent geopolitical rivalries between imperialist and hegemonist powers over Afghanistan’s natural resources, trade and transit routes, and geostrategic location have dramatically intensified. Despite sixteen years of heavy-handed US presence to establish its hegemony in Afghanistan and beyond, influence of regional powers like Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, and India is growing.      

The Perpetual War

Sixteen years into the longest war in its history, the US is aggressively flexing its muscles to assert and maintain its hegemony in Afghanistan and the region. This new development, however, does not stem from Donald Trump’s so-called Afghan strategy. The aggressive posture on the part of the US is partially a reaction to its humiliating defeat in Syria – and one should add Iraq – at the hands of Russia and Iran (with China in the background). Trump’s strategy generated some hysteria among the chattering class as being qualitatively distinct from its predecessors in that it commits the US to an open-ended war.

The fact of the matter is that ever since its official launch on October 7, 2001, the US war in Afghanistan has been an open-ended war. Its endgame depends on US’s hegemonist goals in the region. In other words, the US is pursuing a strategy of perpetual war in Afghanistan irrespective of which president holds office.

Under the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), the US maintains nine military bases at strategic locations across Afghanistan including those bordering Iran, Pakistan and Central Asian Republics. The Afghan airspace is controlled by the US for all practical and strategic purposes. The latter, thus, enjoys a unique geopolitical lead to project power beyond Afghanistan. The infrastructure allows the US to deploy up to 100,000 troops in two to four weeks.

In the grand geopolitical chessboard of Afghanistan, the US is left with the military option only which it pursues, at this stage, through a combination of terrorist proxies, drone attacks and Special Forces operations. It has locked itself in at a geopolitical space surrounded by hostile regional powers like Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan.

More recently, by elevating IS presence in Afghanistan and its level of threat to US enemies such as Russia, China, and Iran, the US is elevating the justification for its own military options intended to go beyond Afghan strategic geography. The US is essentially playing a destabilizing role in the region as it aims at establishing world-tyranny. Its strategy revolves around the so-called Wolfowitz Doctrine which aims at preventing the emergence of a regional or global power that could challenge US’s sole hegemonic status.

However, US’s attempt at establishing its hegemony in Afghanistan and beyond is being challenged by a de facto strategic alliance involving Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan. In other words, the US-NATO coalition is facing a formidable enemy – three of which are nuclear powers – determined to contain US’s hegemonist ambitions in the region. China and Russia are at the forefront of shaping this new geopolitical reality.

The Harmonious Hegemony

China’s ambitious One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative that aims to connect Asia, Africa and Europe surpasses trade and economic interests and shifts the geopolitical dynamics on a global scale. Its immediate implications are already felt in South and Central Asia – where its ultimate success depends – with Afghanistan as the geopolitical heartland.

As part of OBOR, the over $50-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) subproject became operational on November 13, 2016 when the first batch of Chinese cargo was transported to Gwadar port in insurgency-ridden southern Baluchistan province for onward maritime shipment to markets in Africa and West Asia. China has built a naval base in Gwadar overseeing the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean with a second one reportedly in the making exclusively for military purposes. Gwadar runs deep in China’s strategic nerves both in peacetime but especially in wartime which could see blockade of Chinese naval access to the Pacific. Given Pakistan’s overdependence on China, CPEC is believed to cement China’s clout to influence political and military decisions in that country.

China has further consolidated its strategic footprint in the Indian Ocean by taking over the strategic Hambantota port in Sri Lanka on a 99-year lease contract with 70% stake in exchange for reducing $1.1 billion of the country’s overall 8$ billion debt to China. China’s $38 billion worth of investments in Bangladesh may likely result in breaking up the geopolitical stalemate over the construction of a deep seaport in Sonadia island following pressures exerted by the US, India and Japan on Bangladesh forcing it to abandon the project. China was outmaneuvered over Sonadia by Japan’s counterproposal to construct the Matarbari deep seaport 25km from Sonadia. That may now be changing as Sino-Bangladeshi relationship has been elevated to the strategic level.

All this is happening to the dismay of the US and India – and Japan – who see China’s growing influence as a direct threat to their hegemony over shipping corridors in the Indian Ocean. In anti-Chinese jargon, increasing Chinese presence in and around the Indian Ocean is called The String of Pearls which the trio sees as a Chinese containment strategy. China maintains that its naval presence is to protect its sea lines of communication (SLOCs) – critical among them the South China Sea – that connect Chinese mainland to foreign sources of energy in the Middle East and Africa and build a “harmonious ocean”. China, in other words, is all about harmonious hegemony.

It is in Afghanistan that the tectonic geopolitical shift is played out in all its ugly forms and manifestations. China seems to be the main winner in post-US occupation Afghanistan having secured lucrative deals to exploit natural resources.

Mes Aynak overview (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

After allegedly paying a $30 million bribe to the Afghan Minister of Mines, the state-run China Metallurgical Group Corporation (CMGC) secured the contract for Mes Aynak copper mine in Logar province, one of the largest copper reserves in the world and a 5000-year-old archaeological site, in November 2007. The company managed to acquire the 30-year lease contract against competitors from Russia, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. China will invest $3 billion in Mes Aynak which is valued at more than $90 billion.

The contract contains two important clauses: (1) construction of a coal-fired power plant for mining purposes (with environmental consequences) and (2) construction of a freight carrying train line connecting West China to Mes Aynak through Tajikistan to be further extended to Quetta in Pakistan.

Image result for Lapis Lazuli Corridor


At the first trilateral dialogue between China, Afghanistan and Pakistan in Beijing on December 26, 2017, Afghanistan agreed to join CPEC despite prior hesitation at the behest of India which opposes CPEC, among other reasons, as it passes through the strategically located Pakistan-occupied Kashmir region of Gilgit-Baltistan which borders the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan to the north, the Xinjiang region of China to the east and northeast, and the Indian-occupied state of Jammu and Kashmir to the southeast. As part of China’s New Silk Road project, Afghanistan also favors construction of a network of roads and railway lines linking it to the Caspian Sea, Mediterranean Sea and eventually to Europe through Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. The Lapis Lazuli Corridor involving Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey was signed in November 2017 to this effect.

In December 2011, Afghanistan signed its first international oil exploration contract with China National Petroleum Corporation. China, with an investment of $3 billion, won the 25-year contract for the exploration and exploitation of oil in Amu Darya region of northern Afghanistan (Sar-i-Pul and Faryab provinces). It is estimated that the Amu Darya Basin between Tajikistan and Afghanistan contains more than 1.6 billion barrels of crude oil. China’s local partner in the project is “Watan Group” of companies related to Hamid Karzai whose decision to refrain from signing the “Bilateral Security Agreement” with the United States may well be connected to these Chinese investments. It is also estimated that other reserves in Balkh and Jawzjan Northern provinces contain 3.5 billion barrels of crude oil. The contract for the latter reserve was awarded in 2013 to an international consortium including Dragon Oil from the UAE, the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) and their local Ghazanfar Group from Afghanistan.

The Sino-Afghan Special Railway Transportation that connects China, through Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, with northern Afghanistan (Hairatan port), a vital segment of the One Belt, One Road initiative, was inaugurated as the first-ever freight train line between the two countries in September 2016. The railway link was a joint project of China’s Qin Geng Industrial Co. Ltd and the local Watan Group. However, the link is yet to become fully operational due to India-leaning Uzbekistan’s refusal to allow direct export of Afghan goods through its territory to China.

In January 2017, China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) signed a $205 million contract to build the 178-kilometer Dare-e-Sof–Yakawlang road project connecting the northern Samangan with central Bamyan province. This is the second phase of the National North-South Corridor. The now completed first phase was Mazar-i-Sharif – Yakawlang road and the third, yet to commence, being the 550km central Bamyan– southern Kandahar road project.

At first glance, it seems that China has made these lucrative deals at the expense of the security cover provided by NATO-US troops. Nothing could be further from the truth. The start of extraction work of the Chinese workers at Mes Aynak copper mine under the security coverage by 2,000 government troops coincided with the popping up of armed groups which specifically targeted Chinese workers forcing a halt to extraction and their return home.

In the meantime, two governors of Logar province namely Abdullah Wardak and Arsala Jamal, both tasked with facilitating extraction at Mes Aynak, were assassinated in September 2008 and October 2013 respectively. Taliban claimed responsibility for the assassination of Wardak but no group claimed responsibility for assassinating Jamal. Ten years on and the project remains in a limbo.

Similarly, the start of extraction of crude oil by the Chinese in Sar-i-Pul and Faryab provinces was met with attacks by armed groups targeting the Chinese and efforts to destabilize these provinces. Six ICRC staff members were killed in Jawzjan province in February 2017 with no claims of responsibility by any group.

In recent months, IS fighters many of them foreigners were moved to the north of Afghanistan where they have established a foothold in Sar-i-Pul, Faryab and Jawzjan provinces.

There are also intensified efforts to destabilize Xinjiang and encourage separatism there through the Afghan northeastern province of Badakhshan, a main route in the ancient Silk Road, which shares borders with Tajikistan to the north and east and China’s Xinjiang and Pakistan to the east through the historical Wakhan Corridor. The separatist East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) is believed to be mainly operating in Badakhshan.

Xinjiang is an important region of China as it borders eight countries: Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

In response, China is taking precautionary measures as it expands its economic, security and political role in Afghanistan through bilateral, trilateral and quadrilateral arrangements.

Image on the right: Former president of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai and former General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Hu Jintao.

Image result for jintao and karzai

On June 16, 2006, China signed the Treaty of Good-Neighborly Friendship and Cooperation with the Karzai government. Article Four of the Treaty is an indicator of China’s strategic forethought when it comes to the US presence in Afghanistan:

“The parties have undertaken not to join coalitions or blocs that violate the sovereignty, security or territorial integrity of the other party, or to resort to such measures, including the conclusion of treaties of this kind with a third country. The parties shall not allow a third country to use their territory to threaten the national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the other party.

The two sides shall prevent the establishment of organizations and institutions that violate the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the other party in their territory.”

In August 2016, the Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism in Counter Terrorism, comprising the militaries of Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, and Tajikistan, was launched, symbolically, in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang. In one of the most dramatic turn of events, Chinese military was spotted in early 2017 conducting “anti-terrorism” patrols deep inside eastern Afghan territory marking the presence of Chinese military involvement in Afghanistan and signaling China’s readiness for potential military engagement should developments necessitate. As China expands its security stakes in Afghanistan, it has also started supplying military aid to the Afghan army.

At the December 2017 trilateral dialogue in Beijing, China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan agreed to joint cooperation against terrorism tied to Xinjiang specifically against ETIM.

China is also proactively increasing its political influence in Afghanistan in concert with its economic and trade interests. Recently, China stepped up its efforts as a mediator and broker of peace in Afghanistan. In fact, the first round of the trilateral dialogue at the level of foreign ministers of China, Afghanistan and Pakistan in December 2017 is an indication of the shifting geopolitical landscape in the region. These Chinese efforts are in line with that country’s economic projects in Afghanistan, Pakistan and beyond.

China is also a party to the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) involving the US, Afghanistan, and Pakistan which mediates talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Russia-China-Pakistan triumvirate

Russia, like Iran, was one of the first countries that supported the occupation of Afghanistan following 9/11. NATO-led forces in Afghanistan used Russian territory for their supplies until the Ukrainian war put an end to this cozy relationship.

Russia is, however, opposed to the long-term presence of the US in Afghanistan. Gone are the days when Russia wanted the US to stay in Afghanistan. Russia has expressed its position on several occasions against long-term military presence of the US in Afghanistan including through the Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolaiy Patrushev:

“Despite Washington’s claims that there is no program for the creation of permanent bases in Afghanistan, we know that US forces will remain in this country after 2014 … Continued long-term foreign military presence in Afghanistan as a boardwagon against other countries in the region, it is unacceptable for Russia.”

On 7 December 2016, the Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan Alexander Mantytskiy announced that Russia is in contact with the Taliban to protect the safety of its citizens. Some interpreted this move by Moscow as conferring political legitimacy on the group. On December 18, 2017 Mantytskiy testifiedbefore the Afghan Senate saying both Russia and Taliban have a common interest in fighting IS and highlighted failure of the US-NATO coalition in fighting terrorism in their sixteen years of presence in Afghanistan. IS, he said, aims to expand to Central Asia, Russia, and China.

The fact is that Moscow sees Taliban as a counter-weight to IS as the latter’s presence in Afghanistan is dramatically growing. In the span of two years, IS increased its ranks from a mere hundreds in 2015 to over 10,000 fighters in 2017. US-NATO military bases and “unmarked foreign helicopters” support IS in Afghanistan including bringing foreign fighters from Iraq and Syria. Given that Afghan airspace is controlled by US-NATO for all strategic purposes, the Russian government has repeatedly askedNATO for explanation but to no avail so far.

In April 2017, Russia organized a conference on Afghanistan attended by China, India, Pakistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan including Afghanistan. The US refused to participate calling it a “unilateral Russian attempt to assert influence in the region”. In a bold move, Russia offered to mediate peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

As India has been consolidating its growing reach and influence in post-9/11 Afghanistan, Pakistan, a dominant player in Afghanistan, has been increasingly politically isolated. China was its only political and economic lifeline. It needed to reach out to Russia.

The pace of Russian-Pakistani rapprochement is particularly interesting given the cold war enmity between the two and Pakistan’s strategic engagement with the US.

In June 2014, Russia made a strategic foreign policy decision by lifting a longstanding ban on arms sales to Pakistan also opening a new market for its weapons after India’s gradual but firm resort to western weaponry. In October 2015, the two countries signed a 25-year contract to construct the 1,100 kilometer North-South gas pipeline with an annual capacity of 12.4 billion cubic meters connecting Lahore in the northeast with Karachi in the south. This came in the wake of successful US and Saudi pressures on Pakistan to abandon the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. Given Pakistan’s acute energy needs, the pipeline is a strategic investment by Russia giving it access to energy markets in the wider region.

It was a year later when they elevated their relationship to the level of military-to-military engagement. In September 2016, Russia and Pakistan held their first ever joint military exercise dubbed “Friendship 2016” in the eastern Pakistani province of Punjab. This was followed in September 2017 in the southern Russian region of Nizhny Arkhiz. These paved the way for a major concession on the part of Pakistan acceding to Russia’s request to use Gwadar port for its exports in line with Russian interest to join CPEC. It could possibly open the way for a future Russian naval presence in the Indian Ocean.

Ever since these new developments, Russia, China and Pakistan are holding trilateral consultations on Afghanistan. The first official round of the trilateral consultations was held in Moscow on 27 December 2016. A day earlier, the Afghan government (echoing US sentiments) protested for having not been invited to the consultations and questioned its “objectives”; some members of the Afghan Senate questioned its “legitimacy”.

By pressuring Pakistan and asking India to play a colossal role in Afghanistan and Central Asia, the US is effectively pushing the former into an alliance with Russia that includes China and Iran giving momentum and dynamism to this multifaceted alliance. But the US moves against Pakistan are part of a grand strategy to contain China.

As Russia and China’s influence expand in the region aligned with their security and economic interests that of the US is dwindling making it increasingly dependent on India.       

The Indian Factor  

As China and Russia gradually increased their influence in Afghanistan and the region, the US sought to envelop India in its regional strategy – mainly to counter China. In the new US regional strategy, India is meant to become part of the US war machinery to sustain America’s hegemony in the region.

India’s new role, as envisaged by the US, was outlined in a speech entitled “Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century” by Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, in October 2017. Envisioning a strategic partnership for the 21st century, Tillerson, quoting US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, said: “the world’s two greatest democracies should have the two greatest militaries”.

And to signal the importance of India’s new place in the US geopolitical psyche, he employed the phrase “Indo-Pacific”, the new official US jargon for Asia-Pacific, which converges with India’s own Look East Policy. In other words, India has become the new and perhaps the only pillar of US’s South Asia strategy. The “Arabian Gulf” construction by Donald Trump was loaded with geopolitical connotations and was not just an ignorant utterance; a containment strategy that began with the hegemonist power of constructions. The new US approach to India is in line with US’s attempts at building an “Indo-pacific” coalition against China. The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) involving US, Japan, Australia, and India and the Malabar naval exercises are such platforms aimed at Beijing.

India in turn needs to stand on US shoulders if it is to act as a meaningful counterbalance to China’s weight in the region and in the world at large. The Look East Policy is India’s own version of String of Pearls which courts China-wary East Asian countries into an alliance with India backed by the US. Following US-led occupation in 2001, India considerably increased its influence in Afghanistan commensurate with its strategic political, security, economic and trade interests and regional ambitions. India is Afghanistan’s largest regional donor with over $2 billion investment in various projects. As an indication of India’s long-term presence, India built the new building of the Afghan parliament at the cost of $90 million.

India has been engaged in a proxy war with Pakistan in Afghanistan for over three decades. India is also one of China’s main rivals competing for control and exploitation of Afghan natural resources, trade and transit routes. It is important to realize that much of India’s engagement in Afghanistan goes beyond its rivalry with Pakistan, driven as it is by its growing resource-hungry economy, and mostly directed at China as the main target.

To expand its influence, India established its consulates in four of Afghanistan’s strategic provinces (Kandahar, Herat, Nangarhar, and Balkh), to the dismay of Pakistan which sees them as a threat to its security and interests. Repeated attacks on India’s diplomatic representations and on Indian citizens engaged in Indian-funded projects are parts of Pakistan’s proxy war against India.

India’s mega-projects in Afghanistan are part of its “Connect Central Asia Policy” (CCAP) which aims to connect India with Central Asia, bypass Pakistan, and balance China’s growing influence in the region.

In November 2011, a consortium of Indian companies led by the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) was awarded a $10.8 billion contract to extract three out of the five blocks at Hajigak iron ore deposits, one of the biggest untapped resources in Asia, located in central Bamyan province. Another block was awarded to Canada’s Kilo Goldmines Ltd which also mines Gold and Iron ore in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It is estimated that the region has 1.8 billion tons of iron ore. India was awarded the deal only one month after signing the “Strategic Partnership Agreement” (SPA) with the Karzai government on October 4, 2011 which is seen as one of the most significant achievements of India’s Afghan and regional policy over the past decades.

The development of Chahbahar port in Iran is a giant geopolitical leap for India in its efforts to balance China’s growing influence in the region. Chahbahar is located only 76km from Gwadar port and is seen as part of India’s strategic moves to counter China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean. The project fits well into the 7,200km long International North–South Transport Corridor – India’s gateway to Eurasia – which is a network of ship, rail, and road routes connecting the Indian Ocean with the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea via Iran all the way to Russia and Europe. A joint Iranian-Indian railway line is planned to connect Hajigak with Chahbahar after a trilateral MoU was signed in May 2016 between India, Iran and Afghanistan to build an international trade-and-transit corridor through Afghanistan. The investment at Chahbahar has deepened Indo-Iranian strategic ties as their interests converge on building connectivity between Central and South Asia.

The 215km strategic Zaranj-Delaram highway in the southern Afghan province of Nimroz constructed by India in 2009 connects southern Afghanistan to Chahbahar port in Iran. This is a strategic investment by India as the highway connects trade-routes between Central Asia and South Asia with the Middle East – bypassing Pakistan. The project was built at a great human cost as “…one human sacrifice was made for every kilometer and a half constructed”. In October 2017, India’s first wheat shipment reached Afghanistan via Chahbahar. As part of its efforts to bypass Pakistan, India also opened two air corridors in 2017 to transport cargoes between Afghanistan and India.

Linked to Zaranj-Delaram project is the $290 million India-funded Salma Dam in Herat province with the capacity to irrigate 75,000 hectares of land and generate 42MW of electricity. Construction of Salma Dam particularly irritated Iran which expressed its opposition to such projects supporting Afghan claims of Iranian plots to destroy the Dam.

While India may have to team up with the US and Japan to counter growing Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean, it has to maintain cordial relations with Russia to sustain its footprint in Central Asia. On the other hand, US plans to destabilize Iran or to directly militarily confront it in future threaten India’s interests in Iran.   

Reflection of the shifting geopolitical reality on Afghan politics

The changing geopolitical reality in Afghanistan has directly reflected on the domestic political landscape, unsettling the status quo and affecting the political power relations (believed to have been dominated by pro-Russia and pro-Iran groups since 2001). The domestic power shift favors US interests and is aimed at increasing US leverage in Afghan affairs. A significant chain of events – seemingly unrelated – unfolds:

  • January 2014: veteran warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum visits Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to solicit support in anticipation of a post-US Afghanistan;
  • September 2014: National Unity Government (NUG) is formed after presidential election results are disputed (the resulting NUG composition reflects how US shares power with regional powers);
  • January 2015: IS announces formation of its “Khorasan Province” officially marking its presence in Afghanistan;
  • October 2015: Dostum, now Vice-President in the NUG, visits Moscow and travels to the North Caucuses Chechen Republic to meet Ramzan Kadyrov in Grozny. Dostum seeks Russia’s help in the fight against IS “as in Syria”;
  • May 2016: Dostum is forced into exile to Turkey after allegations of sexual assault and torture by a former rival. The move is backed by the US, EU and Turkey. He has since been refused to return.
  • September 2016: a so-called peace agreement is signed with veteran jihadist warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar backed by the US and Saudi Arabia;
  • May 2017: Hekmatyar returns to Kabul and has since made Iranian influence in Afghanistan the focus of his political rhetoric, thus, promoting US’s anti-Iranian agenda.
  • December 2017: Ghani fires the Governor of strategic Balkh province in the north deemed to be a Russian and Iranian protégé, thus, disturbing the domestic balance of power. The Governor has since refused to vacate his post stating he intends to remain “to defeat the Taliban and IS projects” prompting the US to intervene on the side of the Afghan president.
  • In an unprecedented move, Afghan council of religious scholars asks the government to allow Taliban to open a political office in Kabul for intra-Afghan peace talks.


Afghanistan has been the focus of big power geopolitical rivalries ever since the beginning of the nineteenth century. The so-called Great Game, the geopolitical competition between Britain and Tsarist Russia, culminated in three Anglo-Afghan wars (1839-42, 1878-1880, and 1919). Following the October Revolution, the Great Game continued between revolutionary Russia and Britain. It was, however, after the end of WWII that Afghanistan became a hotspot of geopolitical contest between the Soviet Union and the United States.

The Saur Revolution of 1978 – and the Soviet intervention in December 1979 – was a defining historical moment that disturbed the status quo – not only in Afghanistan but potentially in the wider region. Its immediate effect was that it expedited the overthrow of the Shah in Iran. The United States and their allies supported the counter-revolutionary Mujahedeen against revolutionary Afghanistan to prevent a domino effect in the region. Carter Administration’s secret deal with Khomeini was part of this containment strategy.

Afghanistan’s geostrategic location – including its potential as a major trade and transit hub linking South and Central Asia with the Middle East – as well as its vast natural resources has become a “geopolitical curse” and “resource curse” to its people who remain hostage to this predicament.  An indication of Afghanistan’s geopolitical and geoeconomic weight for regional and international players is the number of so-called strategic agreements signed in anticipation of post-2014 Afghanistan. This is not necessarily good news as it is a sign of the entanglement of competing and at times diametrically opposed interests in the rapidly changing Afghan geopolitical scene.  Russian presidential special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, even spoke of the “disappearance” of Afghanistan in two decades should the current nature and pace of geopolitical games continue. This is a subtle indication of the looming prospect for Afghanistan.

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Afghanistan: Kabul Deadly Terrorist Attacks. US Embassy Had Foreknowledge


Masud Wadan Reporting from Kabul


Featured image: Militants stormed Kabul’s intercontinental hotel and kept it under siege for several hours before killing dozens of Afghan and foreign nationals

The Intercontinental hotel in the heart of Afghanistan’s capital city Kabul was stormed by militants last Friday, with the intent to kill and shed blood, to portray an Afghanistan which is still at war. In the grisly attack, many private sector and government officials were burned to ashes and declared “missing” inside the building after the hired terrorists did their utmost to vandalize and maximize the death toll. Who are the sponsors of these atrocities? 

The grieving people of Afghanistan were still reeling from the hotel attack when an explosive-packed ambulance, reportedly an Afghan National Army’s facility used by militants, went off in the midst of teeming street and added more than 100 dead to an already high record of civilian casualities. Many of them have burned beyond recognition. The attack marked the latest in a flurry of armed raids on public institutions from hospitals and hotels to charity organizations and holy sites.

The attack’s enormity could also be measured by international condemnation. The US embassy, the UK embassy, Indian embassy, NATO’s Secretary General, the United Nations Secretary General and even the UK’s foreign minister Boris Johnson issued statements condemning the attack. In a bitter irony, these terrorist atrocities will be used by the US or NATO to justify “more troops” or a “longer stay” in Afghanistan.

The Islamic State or Taliban or any other belligerent group that shamelessly claim the responsibility for these massacres of civilians are, indeed, not a free rebellious movement as described by the media or Afghan Government officials or NATO, it is merely a name given to de facto insurgent factions made up of unrelenting mercenaries who are brainwashed and trained to keep imperialism’s war machine  running.

You might wonder how militants penetrate into the center of Kabul to generate a tragedy. Militants are nothing but pawns used in suicidal attacks; the true masterminds are living lavish lives in Kabul and elsewhere and appear in ties and suits.

In July 2017, following Kabul’s horrific blast in the diplomatic area near German embassy that sparked worldwide reactions, Doha-based Al-Raya daily accused the US of being behind the incident. The source said that the US had organized it to terrify its allies, especially the European countries. It elaborated that such sophisticated bombing can only be designed and carried out by powerful countries and insurgent groups can’t even think of it.

Each and every terror attack in the capital has a specific motive behind it. It is a war backed by extraordinary powers. Afghan security officials do not have authority or ability to contain these attacks. . Blaming Ashraf Ghani’s Government for falling short in securing Kabul is of no avail. The Government is only a speaker to explain the aftereffects and fatalities of the explosions. We [the people of Afghanistan] are mired in a vortex that no internal force is  able to contain.

The aftermath of some of the bloody events tells all about the causes of the incident. As a minded Afghan citizen, you can notice and develop a sense of reality by watching the subsequent blame-game and developments that take place in connection with an attack. It makes you figure out the deeply buried sides of realities behind the frequent deadly blasts.

Within hours of the Intercontinental Hotel attack, Pakistan condemned it. Islamabad has been under fire for supporting militants within its territory who allegedly organize terrorist bombings in Afghanistan. This country’s hasty move of condemnation was aimed to demonstrate that it was not behind [this] armed attack. As usual, Afghanistan’s security officials and the Trump administration threw the blame on the Pakistan-based terrorist Haqqani network and rid themselves of accountability to the mourning people of Afghanistan.

The dependent media of Afghanistan is also toeing the line by concluding the news reports with hurling all the blames across the border on Pakistan’s terrorist hub. The media and Afghan Government’s promotion of Pakistan as a country that directs suicide bombers into Afghanistan has made the people hell-bent that Pakistan is behind all the havoc in Afghanistan. These misguided minds send their curse against Pakistan for each attack.

It is worth noting that two days before the hotel disaster, the US embassy issued a warning to its citizens in Afghanistan about a likely armed raid on one of hotels in Kabul. Did it have Foreknowledge of the attack? 

Why didn’t it share the intelligence information with Afghanistan’s security agencies with a view to thwarting the terror attack.   

Or, assuming the Afghani authorities had been informed, why did they not act in the face of a predicted armed terror attack?

Have the people of Afghanistan been doomed to suffer?

Following the hotel attack, the US-led airstrike on Haqqani network’s strongholds in Pakistanpacified the resentment of those Afghans who pin every Afghan mess on Pakistan. I don’t view Pakistan “innocent or without guilt” in Afghanistan’s dirty war.

Moreover, the US should be held responsible for its very presence in Afghanistan.

The “Taliban and other militants groups” have waged Jihad and kills dozens of Afghan citizens every day, if not for its direct involvement in the war crimes. The NATO and the US has walked back and left Afghanistan and Pakistan to exchange blaming words in the context of deadly blasts in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s conflict must burn under a constant fire with a view to justifying continued US military occupation. Afghanistan is depicted as a country “still at war”, otherwise a brief tranquility would question the legitimacy of the presence of the US and international forces in this country.

Drug business and rare earth elements aside, an ongoing war in Afghanistan provides a pretext to US to confront and challenge Pakistan for its warm relations with China.

While there is no firm evidence of Islamabad’s involvement, the hotel attack was picked up by the White House’s spokeswoman to warn Pakistan as well as justify the US led strikes against the Haqqani in Pakistan. And now after Saturday’s blast, President Trump warned the so-called Taliban militant group.

A scene of Saturday’s suicide blast near a hospital that killed more than 100 and injured about 171

The horrified residents of Kabul were shocked to watch a barrage of gruesome images of the explosion site uploaded on social media.

This war sees no public institution or place including hospitals as exception or exemption. On last Wednesday, Save the Children international organization’s office was assaulted by armed suicide bombers in eastern Nangarhar province where they killed and injured many innocent civilians. This Saturday’s cowardly blast is the third in a week.

As a sign of terror among citizens, some employees of the multi-storey government establishments have tied a rope to their room to slide down through windows in the event of a raid by armed militants.

The bitter reality is that the people of Afghanistan have not recognized their true enemy and desperately shout against this and another. Thanks to social media, people are slowly learning the shadows of the dirty Afghan war.

It is pertinent to note that the war in Afghanistan has cost more than 100,000 lives (2001-2014), according to the US-based Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. This is while reports inform that casualties have soared since 2015. In 2016 alone, nearly 12,000 Afghans have succumbed to the war.

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O Palestine! Modi is coming

Image result for Modi CARTOON
By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline 

Frankly, it was hard to believe when some newspapers mentioned a few months ago that PM Modi was planning to travel to Palestine in a near future. No Indian prime minister ever visited Israel or Palestine. A de-hyphenation of India’s Israel relationship and its ties with Palestine has been the stated Indian policy all along, ever since 1991 when India established relations with Israel, hardly three years after recognizing Palestine – one of the first countries to do so – in 1988. But it is mere sophistry.

The fact remains that India carefully calibrated the dynamics of the two tracks. Paradoxically, Modi will be flagging openly for the first time that hyphenation firmly continues to be the Indian policy. Every time Delhi adds a new dimension to relations with Israel, it feels a compulsion to burnish the ties with Palestine. After Modi’s visit to Israel, he is left with no option but to travel to Palestine.

Modi can be very excessive in the diplomatic arena – such as introducing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Gandhi recently in Ahmedabad (“Ghandi”, as Netanyahu spells the famous name.) Perhaps, Modi’s intention was good, because Netanyahu is the very antithesis of Gandhi’s doctrine of non-violence and he hoped that something of the principles of ‘ahimsa’ might rub on the militant Israeli leader. (Gandhi would never have condoned the assassination of foreign adversaries as state policy, no matter the pretext.)

There was no rational explanation to hype up the relationship with Israel, a country with which India has a trade volume of $4 billion (including arms purchases). But Modi went overboard, and a Palestine visit became unavoidable. Would Netanyahu get upset with Modi for visiting Palestine? Why should he? The world leaders routinely visit Palestine – Angela Merkel, Barack Obama, Shinzo Abe, Vladimir Putin and so on. Even Donald Trump dropped by Bethlehem while visiting Israel.

But the real significance of Modi’s visit to Palestine on February 9, which was announced by South Block on Saturday, lies elsewhere. The visit is being scheduled within a few weeks of the Trump administration’s announcement to withhold $65 million out of the $125 million in annual support it gives to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, and to freeze an additional $45 million it had authorized in December for food relief to refugees in Gaza and the West Bank. The stony heart of Netanyahu applauded Trump’s decision. Netanyahu seeks “a new model” for aid disbursement that would entail greater Israeli control over Palestinian funds as a means to arm-twist the Palestine Authority, and he and Trump would seem to be working in tandem.

To the extent that Modi’s visit is a gesture of solidarity at a juncture when Trump brutally threatens to pass a death sentence on Palestine by cutting all aid, Delhi’s move is invested with a lot of political symbolism. Certainly, it will be interesting to see what Modi says while on Palestinian soil. His joint statement with Netanyahu was almost ditto a narrative of the Israeli position on Palestine. It even omitted any reference to a two-state solution. Will Modi make amends?

More importantly, it remains to be seen what Modi has to offer to the Palestinian people to alleviate their suffering. When he could offer $1 billion to the beleaguered Mongolians who are sandwiched between Russia and China, a similar gesture to the Palestinian people will be noted regionally and internationally as a noble gesture.

Of course it will be a far more fitting tribute to Gandhi’s legacy on Modi’s part than escorting Netanyahu to Sabarmati Ashram.

Read a dispatch in the weekend Guardian newspaper on what awaits Modi in Palestine.

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Afghanistan: Declassified Documents


We should be questioning government more but we should also be challenging the mainstream sources of ‘news’ and ‘information,’ which are actually keeping people in the dark or, even worse, pulling the wool over our eyes.

Social and alternative media is very encouraging – this is where people should be getting more and more of their information, bypassing mainstream sources.


‘Memorandum of Conversation, “Summary of the President’s Telephone Conversation – Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, 28 December 1979’ (National Security Archive)

‘US embassy cables: Nato commander criticises British anti-drug strategy’ (US Embassy, Afghanistan, 6 April 2007)

‘US embassy cables: Karzai questions UK effectiveness’ (US Embassy, Afghanistan, 21 December 2008)

‘US embassy cables: UK “not up to task” of securing Helmand, says US’ (US Embassy, Afghanistan, 9 December 2008)

‘US embassy cables: Helmand governor criticises UK military strategy’ (US Embassy, Afghanistan, 20 January 2009)

‘US embassy cables: “UK military want to leave Sangin because of lack of popular support”’ (US Embassy, Afghanistan, 14 January 2009)


1980s – mujahideen

Mark Curtis, ‘Training in terrorism: The Afghan jihad’ (Extract from Secret Affairs, 2010)

‘Secret UK Papers on Afghanistan Reveal Parallels With Syria War Tactics’ (Sputnik News, 24 August 2016)

Afghan militants trained in a barn in rural Sussex’ (Telegraph, 4 September 2011)

‘UK discussed plans to help mujahideen weeks after Soviet invasion of Afghanistan’, (Guardian, 30 December 2010)

‘Britain agreed secret deal to back Mujahideen’ (Telegraph, 30 December 2010)

Since 2000

‘A Dubious History of Targeted Killings in Afghanistan’ (Der Spiegel, 28 December 2014)

‘A triumph over secret justice’ (Daily Mail, 19 October 2013)

‘WikiLeaks cables expose Afghan contempt for British military’ (Guardian, 2 December 2010)

‘Afghanistan war logs: 90,000 classified documents revealed by Wikileaks’ (Telegraph, 26 July 2010)

‘Afghanistan war logs: Civilians caught in firing line of British troops’ (Guardian, 25 July 2010)

‘Detainee-torture allegations spread to Britain’ (Globe & Mail, 19 April 2010)

‘Blair, Musharraf Pledge to Fight Terror’ (Associated Press, 28 September 2006)

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