Afghanistan : What we didn’t know

Shenali Waduge

Will Presidential Candidate Barak Obama answer how he see’s the relationship of US dependency on the manufacture & sale of arms & ammunition as against the terrorism nightmare the world is presently faced with & the reality of his promise to withdraw US troops from Iraq?

History has been manipulated by world leaders, their Governments, transnational corporations, & intelligence agencies & in this backdrop the people of the world are today faced with problems related to global warming, food crisis, health factors & most importantly the curse of terrorism that enables powerful nations to have a carte-blanche in invading nations, declaring wars on them & disintegrating that nation ultimately disillusioning its own citizens & soldiers. Iraq was one such example, Afghanistan the present discussion & Iran’s time being marked out as well.

Much as we would like to think that world leaders actually put terrorism as a priority the reality is something totally the reverse. Would anyone really believe that the US opted to topple the Soviet empire, end the Cold War & liberate Central Europe instead of dealing with future terrorists or “stirred by Moslems” as Zbigniew Brezinski (national security advisor to President Carter)? This was the choice made by the US in the example of its first links with Afghanistan. The US covert operation in Afghanistan amounted to more than $6billion & was arguably the largest covert operation since World War 2.

The involvement of the US in Afghanistan goes back to the pre-Soviet invasion as confirmed by former director of CIA, Robert Gates who in his memoirs claims that the US trapped the Soviets into invading Afghanistan. This revelation contradicts history books which depict that the Christmas Even invasion by Soviet troops on Afghanistan in 1979 is what influenced the US & Muslim support for Afghanistan. If anyone doubted this claim perhaps a secret directive sent on 3 July 1979 signed by President Jimmy Carter to provide assistance to the Afghan mujahidin would cease all doubts! The Soviets did claim that the US was already involved with Afghanistan but no one really believed them at the time…but the picture is getting clearer & the truth is coming out. Carter's National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brezinski even wrote to Carter “we now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war” – the Soviets ended up spending 10 years in futile conflict that eventually led to the breakup of the Soviet empire. The US trap was to force the Soviets into a long & costly war & drain them of their resources….with an eminent collapse of the Soviet Empire. 58,000 US troops died in Vietnam & the US wanted Russians to also suffer.

Afghanistan was a country not foreign to invasions. The Soviet decade long occupation (1979 to 1989) claimed a million fatalities, millions still reside in refugee camps, over 500,000 orphans are disabled or maimed, and mines are littered throughout the country raising the possibilities of higher fatalities & disabilities (it is believed that at least 90 people die as a result of mines per month). 7.5 million people are threatened with starvation this figure is likely to increase whenever NATO or US airstrikes take place & delivery of food is cut off. Not only the Bush administration is to shoulder the blame – Jimmy Carter, Clinton are all accountable for the attack on one of the poorest countries of the world just because the supposed mastermind of the 9/11 attack is operating from Afghanistan. Little does the US wish to acknowledge that their own policies have created Osama bin Laden.

The reality is that terrorism has no borders. The world’s terror “eliminators’ – US, UK & many of the other powerful nations all have much to explain why “terror” came to exist at all. The CIA has been attempting to defend itself against the argument that it was responsible for the creation of Osama bin Laden & Al Qaeda. There is a slight truth to the claim…while the CIA may not have had direct dealings with Osama the US cannot deny that they used Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) & it was ISI who had decided who it would arm & train……….that man happened to be Osama. Technically Osama may not have been “made in the USA” but he certainly resulted from US support.

Milt Bearden the CIA chief in charge of covert action in Afghanistan & stationed in Pakistan (1986 to 89) in his memoirs writes :

"[President Jimmy] Carter's national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, had in 1980 secured an agreement from the Saudi king to match American contributions to the Afghan effort dollar for dollar, and [Reagan administration CIA director] Bill Casey kept that agreement going over the years." (” The Main Enemy : The Inside Story of the CIA’s final showdown with the KGB”)

The truth of the matter remains the CIA, Pakistan’s ISI & Britain’s M16 are all to blame for creating Osama bin Laden & the Al Qaeda - Zbigniew Brzezinski, told a French newspaper, Nouvel Observateur, that “the Afghan Mujaheddin—and Osama bin Laden’s so-called al-Qaeda—were created by the CIA, Pakistan’s ISI, and Britain’s MI6”. In another interview to CNN in 1997 he accepted that the US collaborated “with the Saudis, the Egyptians, the British, the Chinese, and we started providing weapons to the Mujaheddin,” ostensibly to get rid of the Soviets in Afghanistan.

Al Qaeda in Yugoslavia

The Al Qaeda terrorist network has also been active in the Balkans & has even assisted the Kosovo rebels helped by military & financial backing of the US & NATO troops (Isabel Vincent, National Post).

Prior to NATO bombings in 1999 on Yugoslavia the Al Qaeda moved into Kosovo to help ethnic Albanian extremists of the KLA mount attacks against Serbs… Al Qaeda were supported by US first in 1998 with the embassy bombings in Kenya & Tanzania in August 1998 & thereafter in Bosnia & then in Kosovo. What should we assume about the US (Clinton Administration), Osama & KLA relationship? KLA members were trained secretly in Afghanistan (with Clinton administration’s blessings) in a bid to bring down Yugoslav President Milosevic. Why would the country that is so transfixed in eliminating terrorism be supportive of it? What the world seems to be faced is a group of “professionalized terrorists” on the move as & when they are called to duty (supported by the great powers of the world) & it is no wonder that terrorism is likely to last for generations.

What do Osama bin Laden & Saddam Hussein have in common? – would anyone be at all surprised if both worked at various times for the CIA? – obviously not.

Intertwined in this global terror machination is the likes of death merchants in the form of Lockheed Martin, Crew & scores of others that make up the US’s arms manufacturers & “problems” will be created by US & its allies to ensure that the manufacturing business does not wane this side of the century….ordinary Americans are completely oblivious to what their leaders are really upto – the world stage choreographed into Islamic “radical extremism” …”biological warfare”….the famous “weapons of mass destruction”…we should realize which nations the US must be eyeing & why or may be even another “terrorist attack” on US soil to win back the support of the American people?

Was there a need to “invade” Afghanistan?

If Iraq was invaded because of its oil…was Afghanistan invaded because of its opium trade & its strategic location?

The drug industry also serves as a key link to gangsters & terrorists….South America is also a good example & we know of US involvement there too. The most widely used drug being marijuana claims 170million users worldwide (30million cocaine/heroin users). Cocaine made from coca & heroin from poppies. Marijuana translates to a profit making industry for gangsters, mafia & even terrorist groups. Most of the world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan. Bribing of government officials, tribal wars & the possibility of transporting the crops into another nation for production are some of the reasons why the Afghan government has done little to close down the heroin trade. The Afghan’s President’s brother is supposedly the world’s supplier of heroin & given the portfolio of a government minister to crack down on drug trade…we can imagine who effective his ministry must be! Needless to say we can note how drugs are linked to the Al Qaeda, the Kosovo Liberation Army & even Sri Lanka’s LTTE.

America is a nation founded by business people – America’s cash crop was tobacco. America is also addictive to painkillers & opium meets that very demand. Opium is a multi-billion dollar a year industry & with Osama bin Laden’s services not “required” it made sense to upstage him & take over the opium trade in Afghanistan (& slowly start attacking China’s opium industry).

The other reason is the gas & oil factor - It is no secret that the landlocked Central Asia is rich in gas & oil & leaving aside Iran the only other way that the west could make use of both resources is by way of a pipeline that would end up in Pakistan crossing Afghanistan – it is this need that has created the $8billion deal for a 1680 pipeline joining Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) & expected to export gas & oil from the Caspian Basin to Pakistan’s coast where tankers are to take it to the west (UNOCAL). Incidentally, the present caretaker President Hamid Karzai himself was one of the Afghan officials who flew to Texas to discuss the pipeline deal with UNOCAL in 1998.

Why do the major oil companies like Exxon, Mobil, Shell, BP & Total end up signing US-brokered no-bid contracts? Those who argue that the US’s “invasion” is nothing but to exploit Iraq’s oil is good enough argument for debate since these very firms were kicked out by Saddam Hussein when he nationalized Iraq’s foreign-owned oil industries during the British colonial rule (“Iraq war is all about oil” – Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman, US)

Thus, the US’s focus on Afghanistan is nothing new – the Russian factor & then following the 1978 April coup where Afghan communists took over the modern dictatorship soon saw the CIA coming to assist the Muslim fundamentalists & tribal groups in their efforts against the Afghan communists. President Carter approved the proposal of Zbigniew Brzezinski & units were soon deployed in Afghanistan by 1979.

General David Patraeus is the head of the US Central Command & thus responsible for both Iraq & Afghanistan wars – to effectively create population-centric counterinsurgency another modern term for colonialism, where the goal of the soldiers are to rebuild the government & society from the ground up according to “western model” which does basically equate to mean paving the way for Afghan & Iraqi youth to slowly forget their country’s rich cultures & adapt to western lifestyles. It is unlikely to be that easy & in poverty stricken remote areas of both nations “MONEY” obviously matters & the Commanders Emergency Response Program provides lavish sums to spend on “society building programs” but not the types the Iraqis & Afghans may look forward to like perhaps a mosque or anything related to their culture– does this not strike a similarity with the NGOs working in developing nations?

Who is Hamid Karzai – the provisional leader of Afghanistan

Hamid Karzai a one time member of the mujahidin that fought the Soviets in 1980s became a top CIA agent & maintained links with Pakistans’ ISI. The Karzai brothers thereafter relocated to the US helped by the CIA thus ending up a consultant to UNOCAL was very much part of the Bush Administration’s Grand Oil Plan thus making him the interim leader should surprise no one. The Bush Administration also named Zalmay Khalilzad as Bush’s Special National Security Assistant & Presidential Special Envoy for Afghanistan –also worked with Karzai in the UNOCAL project. Khalilzad was also a consultant to the RAND Corporation & special liaison between UNOCAL & the Taliban.

In 1998 however, Osama had persuaded the Taliban to reject the deal & offer it to Argentine consortium of Bridas – an obviously furious US administration had even threatened war & should it surprise us why suddenly the Taliban would be pictured as the most evil terror group by 1999 & subsequent to the 9/11 though a single Afghan was not involved in the hijacking US had declared war upon Afghanistan. It was another pretext invasion of a state & its people. This was the alternate way to ensure the pipeline was built….was it also a coincidence that the US bases were next to UNOCAL locations & the provisional Afghan leader (Hamid Karzai) was a UNOCAL consultant (Centgas Consortium)? Halliburton was to have benefited by the CentGas deal & would it further surprise anyone that Halliburton was headed by Vice President Dick Cheney?

So the US invaded Iraq because of supposed weapons of mass destruction, Saddam’s links to 9/11 & promote democracy…it was not about oil (apparently) The US invasion of Afghanistan was to fight “Islamic terrorism”, liberate women, build schools & promote democracy…it was not about a massive pipeline. The urgency of clearing the route for the pipeline connecting Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan & India will reveal the reasons for continuous bombardment by US, Canadian & NATO forces. The Taliban was just a smokescreen. The US troops in Afghanistan are deployed mainly to protect the pipeline construction personnel.

There are many others that have been operating for western interests – Laili Helms (related to CIA Director Richard Helms, King Zahir Shah) Laili facilitated trips of Taliban to US including its leader Mohammed Omar now on the US Most Wanted List. Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Christina Rocca also a former CIA officer.

For those who wonder what split the honeymoon between the US & Osama bin Laden – we can but speculate & honeymoons cannot go on forever. Obviously ties were severed in 1991 following the Operation Desert Storm & US troops arrived in Saudi Arabia. Thus emerged the attacks on US interests.

It is extremely complicated for us less intelligent morsels to fathom the links between CIA, ISI, Taliban, Enron, UNOCAL, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan & Osama ….but there are definitely links far above what is being said & these links have operated in cohesion at some periods in time…but whenever conflicts of interests arise then officials end up getting the sack as ISI General Mahmud Ahmed discovered because the CIA felt he was leaning too much towards the Taliban….& even to the 9/11 giving money to the lead hijacker Mohammed Atta.

The Taliban have been continuously visiting Washington – R Hashami, special envoy of Mullah Omar even gifted a carpet to President Bush & had even offered to hold on to Bin Laden as long as the US wished – the offer however was refused.

The US administrations & UNOCAL repeatedly deny involvement or ties with Taliban, so much so that just prior to the 9/11 attack UNOCAL issued the following statement “The company is not supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan in any way whatsoever. Nor do we have any project or involvement in Afghanistan. Beginning in late 1997, Unocal was a member of a multinational consortium that was evaluating construction of a Central Asia Gas pipeline between Turkmenistan and Pakistan [via western Afghanistan]. Our company has had no further role in developing or funding that project or any other project that might involve the Taliban." Can we really believe that the Afghan invasion was more about eliminating Taliban when there is sufficient evidence that tells otherwise – the “terrorism” is just an excuse & the Bush Administration, UNOCAL, Big Oil companies & even the Taliban are all party to making the public fools enough to think that the real reason is terrorism.

We ought not to just blame the US or rather the US administrations but if what the Daily Telegraph says is true then Gordon Brown is equally guilty of secret talks with Taliban which Brown has denied since the US was not too keen for its citizens to know that discussions were taking place with the enemy.

So what we have is on the surface world leaders through media campaigns wishing to spotlight the atrocities being committed by the Taliban, the Al Qaeda etc but beneath engage in wholesome ties with these very “terrorists” attempting to strike deals that would suit both parties ……….in a worse case scenario Brown or Bush would say the discussions were about implementing “democracy”…. politicians are just as bad as terrorists!

Afghanistan is not an easy country to conquer though it was under colonial rule. 85% of Afghans are Sunni Muslims while the remaining are Shia Muslims. Pashtuns are the traditional rules who constitute 52% of the population. The Soviets arrived in Afghanistan to overthrow Prime Minister Hafizulla Amin & replace him with Karmal – the Soviet operation involved 80,000 troops. The US’s immediate reaction was that the invasion jeopardized US interests vis a vis the Persian Gulf & the US began to supply weapons to Afghan troops via China who benefited by the deal (though the CIA already started links with the Mujahideen before the Soviet invasion) Similarly Egyptian President Anwar Sadat too collaborated with the US to provide weapons to Afghan fighters (Washington Post reported the US’s supply of weapons to the Afghans in February 1980).

The mujahideens themselves were not united & had different factions – the US made sure most of its weapons reached the most extreme of these factions & its leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was the beneficiary. Thus the US Government that pressurizes smaller nations regarding human rights violations should to arm a man whose pastime was his hate for women even going so far as to throw acid at them!

In reality whether a democrat or a republican ascends the White House it matters little for America’s policy will remain America First. While Democrats may find fault with the Bush administration for the colossal expenditure for the Iraq invasion the 2 houses – are predominantly Democratic & it is they who pass the money & both houses have done nothing to curtail the expenses despite their rhetoric.

The connection to Osama Bin Laden

While Pakistan was rented as the base to train mujahideen rebels, ISI were also given the green light to recruit Muslim extremists from around the world by 1992 35,000 from 43 Islamic countries became part of the mujahideen operation – many other radicals ended up at madrassas (religious schools) – this jihad of over 100,000 muslims were to operate against the Soviets. Osama bin Laden was one such civil engineer & businessman from a wealthy construction family in Saudi Arabia. Osama raised Saudi money, kept close links to ISI & CIA & by 1984 was running the Maktab al-Khidamar, four years later he created the Al Qaeda (translated to mean The Base) the CIA was aware of this – it did not think that the movement would impinge on US interests….so long as it didn’t the US was ok with any radical movement.

Yet, this network have been linked to scores of terrorist attacks in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, France, Philippines, China, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco & many other nations. The consequences of creating a jihad movement, trained & armed had sprung & CIA had no control over it.

The Soviets were forced to withdraw by early 1989 with a Soviet installed President in Najibulla – the country was bordering anarchy & in total ruins. It was no surprise when the factions of the mujahideens would fight for supremacy. Thousands of Afghans became targets of Afghan mujahideens. Such was the irony of terrorism. Taliban capture Kabul in 1996 – complete dictatorship prevailed. US State Dept spokesperson Glyn Davies is quoted as having said “nothing objectionable” in Taliban’s plan to impose strict Islamic laws.

The Soviet Union collapsed by the end of 1991 – it was a matter of time when US oil companies & their friends would accede on the former Soviet republics to gain access to the oil & natural gas reserves bordering the Caspian Sea & in Central Asia…their worth is estimated at $4trillion….the $8billion on the US covert operation in Afghanistan was a worthy investment. Afghanistan has no oil or gas reserves but it provides a route for pipelines through Pakistan, India & the Arabian Sea. The UNOCAL pipeline a project worth $4.5billion needed a stable Afghan government.

Back in the US, the media started projecting human rights & abuses on women making the Clinton administration reluctant to directly acknowledge the Taliban. Realizing that the Taliban cannot ensure a pro-US Afghanistan, the US is now attacking it.

It is obvious that whatever rhetoric used by the US administrations the concerns they raise using human rights & democracy are really to hide issues related to their own economic concerns & to divest the US’s own political interests.

The US cannot shirk its role in bringing to business terrorist movements, allowing them to thrive so long as they did not affect US interests…no sooner they did then they the US was quick enough to identify their locations as strategically beneficial to the US in terms of oil, natural gases, geographic reach & shrewdly covered their “desires” behind the “drive to eliminate terrorism” that everyone had to accept since it was a “worthy” cause that the US was doing for the “world” & its posterity.

Who is the greater terrorist? The person who pulls the trigger? Or the superpower that recruits him, pays him, trains him, arms him and builds him the finest state-of-the-art training camp with room for "terrorists from all over the world?" – the same scenario applies to all other terrorists that exists because of those who have nursed them through the years.

Shenali Waduge

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