Punishing Pakistan and Challenging China
Pakistan in Pieces, Part 2
Global Research, June 30, 2011
This is Part 2 of “Pakistan in Pieces.”
The AfPak War Theatre: Establishing the New Strategy
As Senator Obama became the President-elect Obama, his foreign policy strategy on Afghanistan was already being formed. In 2007, Obama took on veteran geostrategist and Jimmy Carter’s former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski as one of his top foreign policy advisers, and he remained his foreign policy adviser throughout 2008. On Obama’s campaign, he announced that as President, he would scale down the war in Iraq, and focus the “War on Terror” on Afghanistan, promising “to send in about 10,000 more troops and to strike next-door Pakistan, if top terrorists are spotted there.”
In October of 2008, before the Presidential elections, “senior Bush administration officials gathered in secret with Afghanistan experts from NATO and the United Nations,” to deliver a message to advisers of McCain and Obama to tell them that, “the situation in Afghanistan is getting worse,” and “that the next president needed to have a plan for Afghanistan before he took office,” or else, “it could be too late.” Both McCain and Obama had agreed to a troop increase for Afghanistan, essentially ensuring the “continuity of empire” from one administration to the next.
A week after winning the election, Obama invited one of Hillary Clinton’s top supporters and advisers to meet with him. Richard Holbrooke, who had worked in every Democratic administration since John F. Kennedy, “which extended from the Vietnam War, in the sixties, to the Balkan conflicts of the nineties,” was Clinton’s Ambassador to the United Nations for the last year and a half of the Clinton administration. Obama had decided “that Holbrooke should take on the hardest foreign-policy problem that the Administration faced: Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Holbrooke wrote in March of 2008, before Obama won the Presidency, that, “The conflict in Afghanistan will be far more costly and much, much longer than Americans realize,” and it “will eventually become the longest in American history.”
The position Holbrooke was to receive in the Obama administration was one created specifically for him. He was to become a “special representative” to the region of Afghanistan and Pakistan:
Holbrooke was thus placed in charge of “Af-Pak”, a term of his own creation, “to make the point that the two countries could not be dealt with separately,” which was then adopted into official parlance.
In November of 2008, the Washington Post reported that while Obama was considering giving the position of Secretary of State (which he then did), he was also discussing giving General James L. Jones the position of National Security Adviser, which he subsequently did. The article stated that, “Obama is considering expanding the scope of the job to give the adviser the kind of authority once wielded by powerful figures such as Henry A. Kissinger.” James Jones was a former NATO commander and Marine Corps commandant.
Jones as NATO commander was pivotal in assembling troops for the war in Afghanistan, and at the time of his nomination as NSA (National Security Adviser), he headed “the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.” The official statement of purpose for the Institute for 21st Century Energy is:
Jones earned $900,000 in salary from the Chamber of Commerce, and got $330,000 from serving on the board of Boeing and $290,000 for serving on the board of Chevron upon his resignations of those positions to become National Security Adviser. In October of 2010, Jones was replaced as National Security Advisor by Tom Donilon.
On February 8, 2009, within weeks of being installed as NSA, Jones gave a speech at the 45th Munich Conference on Security Policy, in which he stated:
He then elaborated on the purpose and restructuring of the National Security Council under the Obama administration. He stated that the NSC “must be strategic” in that, “we won’t effectively advance the priorities if we spend our time reacting to events, instead of shaping them. And that requires strategic thinking.” He further stated that:
Shortly after taking office, Obama set up a two-month White House strategic review of Afghanistan and Pakistan, to be headed by Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official and scholar at the Brookings Institution, and “Riedel will report to Obama and to retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones Jr., the national security advisor,” and was to work very closely with Richard Holbrooke in drafting the policy review.
In February of 2009, Henry Kissinger wrote an article for the Washington Post describing the strategy America should undertake in Afghanistan and Pakistan, emphasizing the role of “security” over the aim of “reform” of the Afghan government, stating that, “Reform will require decades; it should occur as a result of, and even side by side with, the attainment of security — but it cannot be the precondition for it.” Militarily, Kissinger recommended the “control of Kabul and the Pashtun area,” which stretches from Afghanistan to the North-West Frontier Province and Balochistan province in Pakistan. When it came to the issue of Pakistan, Kissinger wrote:
Following the policy review, on March 27, Obama announced the administration’s new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, decidedly to make it a dual strategy: the AfPak strategy. Obama promised “to send lawyers and agricultural experts to Afghanistan to reform its government and economy, and to offer seven and a half billion dollars in new aid for schools, roads, and democracy in Pakistan.”
Holbrooke had a staff of 30 in the State Department, and “nine government agencies, including the C.I.A., the F.B.I., the Defense and Treasury Departments, and two foreign countries, Britain and Canada, [were] represented in the office.” General David Patraeus, then Commander of U.S. CENTCOM (the Pentagon’s Central Command with authority over the Middle East, Egypt and Central Asia), along with then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen, and Richard Holbrooke worked together and “pressured General Ashfaq Kayani, the head of the Pakistani Army, to push back against the Taliban in Swat,” which had the effect of precipitating the internal displacement of more than 2 million people.
Changing Strategy, Changing Command
In January of 2009, shortly after Obama took office, he announced that his administration “picked Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry, a former top military commander in Afghanistan, to be the next United States ambassador to Kabul,” of which the New York Times said:
Further, the General had “repeatedly warned that the United States could not prevail in Afghanistan and defeat global terrorism without addressing the havens that fighters with Al Qaeda had established in neighboring Pakistan,” which is parallel to the new strategy in Afghanistan. His appointment “has the backing of Richard C. Holbrooke, President Obama’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
On May 11, Defense Secretary Robert Gates fired General David D. McKiernan, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which commands all NATO forces in Afghanistan. Gates stated that, “It’s time for new leadership and fresh eyes,” and that it was the Pentagon command which recommended the White House fire McKiernan, including Gates, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mullen and McKiernan’s military boss, General Patraeus, Commander of CENTCOM.
There has been much speculation as to the reasons for his firing, and it is a significant question to ask, as the firing of a General in the field is a rarity in the American experience. The general view pushed by the Pentagon was that it was due to a matter of “consistency,” as in changing strategies and changing ambassadors, it was also necessary to change Generals. While McKiernan was focused on military means and tactics, the strategy required counter-insurgency tactics. It was reported that, “McKiernan was overly cautious in creating U.S.-backed local militias, a tactic that Petraeus had employed when he was the top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq.”
One Washington Post article made the claim that the push to fire McKiernan came initially and most forcefully from the Chairman of the JCS Mullen, and that Gates agreed and lobbied Obama to fire him. The reasoning was that McKiernan was “too deferential to NATO” in that he wasn’t able to properly manage the NATO forces in Afghanistan, and lacked the political fortitude to manage both military and political affairs.
The official reason for the firing was mostly to facilitate alignment with the new strategy requiring a new military commander, which is likely true. However, it requires an understanding of the new strategy as well as a look at who was sent in to replace McKiernan where you realize the true nature of his being fired. [Note: McChrystal himself was later fired in 2010 after publicly speaking out against top administration officials].
McKiernan was replaced with Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, former Commander of the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), the highly secretive command of U.S. Special Forces operations. As the Washington Post pointed out, his appointment “marks the continued ascendancy of officers who have pressed for the use of counterinsurgency tactics, in Iraq and Afghanistan, that are markedly different from the Army’s traditional doctrine.”
The new AfPak strategy, which McChrystal would oversee, “relies on the kind of special forces and counterinsurgency tactics McChrystal knows well, as well as nonmilitary approaches to confronting the Taliban. It would hinge success in the seven-year-old war to political and other conditions across the border in Pakistan.”
In March of 2009, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh revealed that the U.S. military was running an “executive assassination ring” during the Bush years, and that the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) was running it, and that, “It is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently,” and that, “They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office… Congress has no oversight of it.” He elaborated:
Hersh appeared on Amy Goodman’s program, Democracy Now, to further discuss the program, of which he stated:
At the time this news story broke, it was reported that the JSOC commander at the time, “ordered a halt to most commando missions in Afghanistan, reflecting a growing concern that civilian deaths caused by American firepower are jeopardizing broader goals there.” The halt lasted a total of two weeks, and “came after a series of nighttime raids by Special Operations troops in recent months killed women and children.”
All of this is very concerning, considering that the new Commander of NATO operations in Afghanistan, was the former head of the “executive assassination ring.” Having run JSOC between 2003 and 2008, McChrystal “built a sophisticated network of soldiers and intelligence operatives,” which conducted operations and assassinations in Iraq, Afghanistan, as well as Pakistan.”
In June it was reported that McChrystal was “given carte blanche to handpick a dream team of subordinates, including many Special Operations veterans, as he moves to carry out an ambitious new strategy.” He was reported to be assembling a corps of 400 officers and soldiers “who will rotate between the United States and Afghanistan for a minimum of three years.” The New York Times referred to this strategy as “unknown in the military today outside Special Operations.” The Times further reported that McChrystal:
In June of 2006, Newsweek referred to McChrystal’s JSOC as being a “part of what Vice President Dick Cheney was referring to when he said America would have to ‘work the dark side’ after 9/11.” McChrystal also happened to be a Fellow at Harvard and the Council on Foreign Relations.
As it was later revealed, the CIA had been running – from 2002 onwards – a force of roughly 3,000 elite paramilitary Afghans, purportedly to hunt al-Qaeda and the Taliban for the CIA. Used for reconnaissance, surveillance, and actual operations, many in the force have been trained by the CIA in the United States, and their operations and numbers have expanded since the new strategy involving Pakistan was put in place. The paramilitary force – or terrorists, depending upon one’s perspective – are undertaking covert operations inside Pakistan, often working directly with U.S. Special Forces. It must be remembered that during the Afghan-Soviet war in the 1980s when the CIA was funding, arming and training the Afghan Mujahideen to fight the Soviets – late to become known as ‘al-Qaeda’ – they were, at the time, referred to as “freedom fighters,” just as the terrorist death squads were referred to in Nicaragua. Thus, the nomenclature of “paramilitary force” must be viewed with suspicion as to what the group is actually doing: covert operations, surveillance, assassinations, etc., which by many definitions would make them a terrorist outfit.
In May of 2009, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was reported as saying that a US military offensive in southern Afghanistan could have the effect of pushing militants and Taliban into Pakistan, “whose troops are already struggling to combat militants.” Chairman Mike Mullen stated that this means that Pakistan “could face even greater turmoil in the months ahead.” This was based off of a US surge of troops in Afghanistan. Senator Russ Feingold said that, “We may end up further destabilizing Pakistan without providing substantial lasting improvements in Afghanistan,” and that, “Weak civilian governments, an increased number of militants and an expanded U.S. troop presence could be a recipe for disaster for those nations in the region as well as our own nation’s security.” Mullen responded to the Senator’s concerns by stating, “Can I… (be) 100 percent certain that won’t destabilize Pakistan? I don’t know the answer to that.”
But of course, the answer is in fact, certain; and it’s an unequivocal “yes”. These remarks were made following the surge of an additional 21,000 US troops to Afghanistan in March. In the beginning of May, Pakistan launched a military offensive against the Taliban in Swat and other areas of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), after a peace deal broke down between them, “forcing more than two million people from their homes.” It was further reported that:
In May, Holbrooke and the American military establishment had pressured the Pakistani government to undertake the offensive against the Taliban in the Swat Valley, which led to the displacement of more than 2 million people. As the New Yorker put it, Holbrooke “was mapping out a new vision for American interests in a volatile region, as his old friend Henry Kissinger had done in Southeast Asia. And he was positioning himself to be a mediator in an international conflict, as he had done in the Balkans.”
In September of 2009 a classified report written by General McChrystal was leaked, in which he had concluded, “that a successful counterinsurgency strategy will require 500,000 troops over five years.” It was further reported in September that, “the CIA is deploying teams of spies, analysts and paramilitary operatives to Afghanistan, part of a broad intelligence ‘surge’ that will make its station there among the largest in the agency’s history,” rivaling its stations in Iraq and Vietnam at the height of those wars. The initiative began “under pressure from Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal,” and the extra personnel are being employed in a number of ways, including teaming up with Special Forces troops in “pursuing high-value targets.” Further:
In October of 2009, it was reported by the Washington Post that although Obama announced a troop surge in Afghanistan of 21,000 additional troops, “in an unannounced move, the White House has also authorized — and the Pentagon is deploying — at least 13,000 troops beyond that number.” It was reported that these additional forces were primarily made up of “support forces, including engineers, medical personnel, intelligence experts and military police.” Thus, it brings the total 2009 surge in Afghanistan to 34,000 US troops. Thus as of October 2009, there were 68,000 US troops in Afghanistan (more than double the amount of when Bush left office), and 124,000 US troops in Iraq.
In early October, Henry Kissinger wrote an article for Newsweek in which he proposed a strategy for the US in Afghanistan, in which he initially made it clear that he supported General McChrystal’s proposal of sending an additional 40,000 troops to Afghanistan. Kissinger proclaimed that calls for an “exit strategy” were a “metaphor for withdrawal,” which is tantamount to “abandonment.” Clearly, Kissinger favours a long-term presence. He stated that even a victory “may not permit troop withdrawals,” citing the case of South Korea. Kissinger further wrote on the options for Afghan strategy, stating:
Kissinger further claimed that a reduction of forces in Afghanistan would “fundamentally affect domestic stability in Pakistan by freeing the Qaeda forces along the Afghan border for even deeper incursions into Pakistan, threatening domestic chaos,” and that, “the prospects of world order will be greatly affected by whether our strategy comes to be perceived as a retreat from the region, or a more effective way to sustain it.”
He further explained that any attempts to “endow the central government with overriding authority” could produce resistance, which would “be ironic if, by following the received counterinsurgency playbook too literally, we produced another motive for civil war.” Kissinger thus proposed a strategy not aimed at “control from Kabul,” but rather, “emphasis needs to be given to regional efforts and regional militia.” Kissinger explained the regional importance of Afghanistan, and thus, the “challenge” of American strategy:
In November of 2009, Malalai Joya, a former Afghan MP and one of the few female political leaders in Afghanistan, said that:
In late November, Pakistani Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani warned “that the US’s decision to send thousands of extra troops to Afghanistan may destabilize his country,” as it would likely lead to “a spill over of militants inside Pakistan.” In particular, it could force militants and Taliban to migrate into Pakistan’s southern province of Balochistan.
On December 1, President Obama announced that the U.S. would send an additional 30,000 US troops to Afghanistan by summer 2010, and with a “plan” to purportedly withdraw by July 2011. As the Washington Post reported, “adding 30,000 U.S. troops to the roughly 70,000 that are in Afghanistan now amounts to most of what Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces there, requested at the end of August.” Obama stated that the chief objective was to “destroy al-Qaeda,” and a senior administration official said that, “the goal for the Afghan army, for example, is to increase its ranks from 90,000 to 134,000 by the end of 2010.”
President Karzai said in early December that, “Afghanistan’s security forces will need U.S. support for another 15 to 20 years,” and that, “it would take five years for his forces to assume responsibility for security throughout the country.” This statement supports the conclusions set out in McChrystal’s classified report, which stated that the US would need to remain for at least 5 years.
Seth Jones, a civilian adviser to the U.S. military and senior political scientist at RAND Corporation, one of America’s top defense think tanks, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times in December titled, “Take the War to Pakistan.” He stated that the U.S. is repeating the same mistakes of the Soviets when they occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s by not attacking the Taliban “sanctuary” in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. He stated that, “This sanctuary is critical because the Afghan war is organized and run out of Baluchistan.” He then proclaimed that, “the United States and Pakistan must target Taliban leaders in Baluchistan,” which could include conducting raids into Pakistani territory or hit Taliban leaders with drone strikes.
As Jeremy Scahill reported in June 2009, “more than 240,000 contractor employees, about 80 percent of them foreign nationals, are working in Iraq and Afghanistan to support operations and projects of the U.S. military, the Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.” Scahill reported on the findings of a Defense Department report on contracting work in the war zones, stating that, “there has been a 23% increase in the number of ‘Private Security Contractors’ working for the Department of Defense in Iraq in the second quarter of 2009 and a 29% increase in Afghanistan, which ‘correlates to the build up of forces’ in the country.” While contractors outnumbered forces in Afghanistan, in Iraq they were roughly equal to the US forces occupying the country, at 130,000.
It was reported that as Obama ordered more troops to Afghanistan in December of 2009, a new surge of contractors would follow suit. As of June 2009, the number of contractors in Afghanistan outweighed the US military presence itself, with 73,968 contractors and 55,107 troops. According to different estimates, “Between 7% and 16% of the total are Blackwater-style private security contractors.” As of December 2009, the number of contractors in Afghanistan was reported to be 104,100.
In January of 2010, as Obama’s announced 30,000 extra troops began to be deployed to Afghanistan, Pakistani officials became increasingly fearful that “a stepped-up war just over the border could worsen the increasingly bloody struggle with militancy” within Pakistan itself, ultimately further destabilizing Pakistan’s southwestern border and the “already volatile tribal areas in the northwest.” On top of sending militants into Pakistan, there were fears that it would exacerbate the flow of Afghan refugees into Pakistani territory.
Blackwater and the “Secret War” in Pakistan
In November of 2009, investigative journalist and best-selling author Jeremy Scahill wrote an exclusive report on the secret war of the United States in Pakistan. The story sheds light on the American strategy in the region aimed at the destabilization and ultimately the implosion of Pakistan. The chief architects and administrators of this policy in Pakistan are none other than the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), previously run as an “executive assassination ring” by General McChrystal, and the infamous mercenary organization, Blackwater, now known as Xe Services. JSOC and Blackwater work together covertly in undertaking a covert war in yet another nation in the region, adding to the list of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Scahill described the covert operations as “targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives,” as well as “other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan.” Further, “the Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help direct a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes.” The sources for the report are drawn heavily from individuals within the US military intelligence apparatus. One source revealed that the program is so “compartmentalized” that “senior figures within the Obama administration and the US military chain of command may not be aware of its existence.” This program is also separate from the CIA’s own programs, including both drone attacks and assassinations, of which the CIA assassination program was said to be cancelled in June of 2009.
It was in 2006 that JSOC reached an agreement with the Pakistani government to run operations within the country, back when Stanley McChrystal was running it in close cooperation with Vice President Dick Cheney as an “executive assassination ring.” A former Blackwater executive confirmed that Blackwater was operating in Pakistan in cooperation with both the CIA and JSOC, as well as being on a subcontract for the Pakistani government itself, as well as “working for the Pakistani government on a subcontract with an Islamabad-based security firm that puts US Blackwater operatives on the ground with Pakistani forces in counter-terrorism operations, including house raids and border interdictions, in the North-West Frontier Province and elsewhere in Pakistan.”
JSOC’s covert program in liaison with Blackwater in Pakistan dates back to 2007, and the operations are coordinated out of the US Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, and that Blackwater operates at “an ultra-exclusive level above top secret.” The contracts are all kept secret, and therefore “shielded from public oversight.” On top of carrying out operations for JSOC and the CIA inside Pakistan, Blackwater further conducts operations in Uzbekistan.
In regards to the drone strikes within Pakistan, while largely reported as being a part of the CIA drone program, many are, in fact, undertaken under a covert parallel JSOC program. One intelligence source told Jeremy Scahill that, “when you see some of these hits, especially the ones with high civilian casualties, those are almost always JSOC strikes.” Further, Blackwater is involved in the drone strike program with JSOC, “Contractors and especially JSOC personnel working under a classified mandate are not [overseen by Congress], so they just don’t care. If there’s one person they’re going after and there’s thirty-four people in the building, thirty-five people are going to die. That’s the mentality.” Blackwater further provides security for many secret US drone bases, as well as JSOC camps and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) camps within Pakistan.
With General McChrystal’s rise from JSOC Commander to Commander of the Afghan war theatre (which in military-strategic terms now includes Pakistan under the umbrella of “AfPak”), “there is a concomitant rise in JSOC’s power and influence within the military structure.” McChrystal had overseen JSOC during the majority of the Bush years, where he worked very closely and directly with Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. As Seymour Hersh had exposed, JSOC operated as an “executive assassination ring” and had caused many problematic diplomatic situations for the United States, as even the State Department wasn’t informed about their operations. One high-level State Department official was quoted as saying:
Blackwater is also involved in providing “security for a US-backed aid project” in a region of Pakistan, which implies that even some aid projects are connected with military and intelligence operations, often using them as a cover for covert operations. Blackwater still operates in Afghanistan working for the US military, the State Department and the CIA. As one military-intelligence official stated:
Much of Scahill’s information has been supported by other mainstream news sources. In August of 2009, the New York Times reported that in 2004, the CIA “hired outside contractors from the private security contractor Blackwater USA as part of a secret program to locate and assassinate top operatives of Al Qaeda.” The CIA had held high-level meetings with Blackwater founder and former Navy SEAL Erik Prince. The article also revealed that in 2002, Blackwater had been awarded the contract to handle security for the CIA station in Afghanistan, “and the company maintains other classified contracts with the C.I.A.” Blackwater has hired several former CIA officials, “including Cofer Black, who ran the C.I.A. counterterrorism center immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks.”
On December 10, 2009, the New York Times reported that in both Afghanistan and Iraq, Blackwater “participated in some of the C.I.A.’s most sensitive activities — clandestine raids with agency officers against people suspected of being insurgents.” These raids, referred to as “snatch and grab” operations, occurred almost nightly between 2004 and 2006, and that, “involvement in the operations became so routine that the lines supposedly dividing the Central Intelligence Agency, the military and Blackwater became blurred.” One former CIA official was quoted as saying, “There was a feeling that Blackwater eventually became an extension of the agency.” Further, Blackwater was reported to have provided security not only for the CIA station in Afghanistan, but also in Iraq; and in both countries, Blackwater “personnel accompanied the [CIA] officers even on offensive operations sometimes begun in conjunction with Delta Force or Navy Seals teams.”
In late August it was reported that Blackwater had a CIA contract to operate the remotely piloted drones, carried out at “hidden bases” in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as provide security at the bases. In December, the New York Times ran a story reporting that the CIA had terminated its contract with Blackwater “that allowed the company to load bombs on C.I.A. drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan.” However, while the CIA claimed that all Blackwater contracts were under review, a CIA spokesperson said that, “At this time, Blackwater is not involved in any C.I.A. operations other than in a security or support role,” which is still a very wide role, considering how the roles have been blurred between providing “security” and actively taking part in missions.
As the Guardian reported in December of 2009, Blackwater had a contract in Pakistan “to manage the construction of a training facility for the paramilitary Frontier Corps, just outside Peshawar,” which is the Pakistani Army’s paramilitary force. Despite a continual official denial of Blackwater involvement in Pakistan, in December, the CIA admitted Blackwater operates in Pakistan under CIA contracts, and in January of 2010, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates confirmed that both Blackwater (now known as Xe Services) and DynCorp have been operating in Pakistan.
However, some reports indicate that Blackwater may be involved in even more nefarious activities inside Pakistan. A former head of Pakistani’s intelligence services, the ISI, stated in an interview that apart from simply taking part in drone attacks, Blackwater “may be involved in actions that destabilize the country.” Elaborating, he said, “My assessment is that they [Blackwater agents] — either themselves or most probably through others, through the locals — do carry out some of the explosions,” and that, “the idea is to carry out such actions, like carrying attacks in the civilian areas to make the others look bad in the eyes of the public.” In other words, according to the former head of the ISI, Blackwater may be involved in committing false flag terrorist attacks inside Pakistan.
In November of 2009, Al-Jazeera reported that while many attacks occurring across Pakistan are blamed on the Tehreek e-Taliban, Pakistan’s Taliban, “the group has issued its first video statement denying involvement in targeting civilians and has blamed external forces for at least two recent blasts.” The denial stated that the attacks are being used as an excuse to prepare for military operations in various tribal regions of Pakistan, including South Waziristan. The denial also stated that the Pakistani Taliban “had no role in the bomb blast in a Peshawar market that killed at least 100 people as well as an attack in Charsada, a town located in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province.” The spokesperson claimed that the Pakistani Taliban does not target civilians, and that the bombings were “linked to Blackwater activities in the country.” Even when the bombings initially occurred the Taliban denied involvement, and the local media was blaming “Blackwater and other American agencies.”
The head of the Pakistani Taliban had previously stated that, “if Taliban can carry out attacks in Islamabad and target Pakistan army’s headquarters, then why should they target general public,” and proceeded to blame the bomb blast in Peshawar that killed 108 people on “Blackwater and Pakistani agencies [that] are involved in attacks in public places to blame the militants.” He was further quoted as saying, “Our war is against the government and the security forces and not against the people. We are not involved in blasts.”
In January of 2010, it was reported that Blackwater “is in the running for a Pentagon contract potentially worth $1 billion to train Afghanistan’s troubled national police force,” as Blackwater already “trains the Afghan border police — an arm of the national police — and drug interdiction units in volatile southern Afghanistan.”
As Jeremy Scahill reported in August of 2009 on a legal case against Blackwater, where a former Blackwater mercenary and an ex-US Marine “have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia.” Among the claims:
Further, both men stated that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq, often on Erik Prince’s private planes. These allegations surfaced in a trial against Blackwater for committing human rights violations and war crimes in Iraq against civilians. One of those who testified further stated that, “On several occasions after my departure from Mr. Prince’s employ, Mr. Prince’s management has personally threatened me with death and violence.” The testimony continued in explaining that:
In January of 2010, Erik Prince, the controversial founder and CEO of Blackwater gave an interview with Vanity Fair magazine which was intended to not simply discuss the company, but also the man behind the company. It begins by quoting Prince as saying, “I put myself and my company at the C.I.A.’s disposal for some very risky missions,” and continued, “But when it became politically expedient to do so, someone threw me under the bus.” It is worth quoting the article at some length:
Prince’s Afghan security team is the “special-projects” team of Blackwater, and “except for their language its men appear indistinguishable from Afghans. They have full beards, headscarves, and traditional knee-length shirts over baggy trousers.” In regards to Prince’s worth with the CIA, he:
In Afghanistan, Blackwater “provides security for the US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and his staff, and trains narcotics and Afghan special police units.” There was also a revolving door of sorts between Blackwater and the CIA. Not only was Prince a CIA asset, but many higher-ups in the CIA would also move into Blackwater. A Blackwater-CIA team even hunted down an alleged Al-Qaeda financier in Hamburg, Germany, without even the German government’s awareness of it. Publicly, the Blackwater program with the CIA was canned. Although there was no mention of its covert program with JSOC in Pakistan, so one must assume its relationship is maintained in some capacity. Prince ultimately left his position at Blackwater in the face of bad press, but still controls the majority of the stock.
In September of 2009, General Mirza Aslam Beg, Pakistan’s former Army Chief, said that, “Blackwater was directly involved in the assassinations of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto and former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.” He told a Saudi Arabian daily that, “former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf had given Blackwater the green light to carry out terrorist operations in the cities of Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, and Quetta.” It was in an interview with a Pakistani TV network when he stated that Blackwater and “the United States killed Benazir Bhutto.” Beg was chief of Army staff during Benazir Bhutto’s first administration. He claimed that she was killed “in an international conspiracy because she had decided to back out of the deal through which she had returned to the country after nine years in exile.”
Is the West Punishing Pakistan to Challenge China?
China and Pakistan established diplomatic ties in 1951, and have enjoyed a close relationship since then, with Pakistan being one of the first countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China in 1950. One of the primary reasons behind the close and ever-closer relationship between China and Pakistan is the role of India, as both an adversary and competitor to Pakistan and China. A Pakistani ambassador to the United States said that for Pakistan, “China is a high-value guarantor of security against India.” Further, within India, increased Chinese military support to Pakistan is perceived as “a key aspect of Beijing’s perceived policy of ‘encirclement’ or constraint of India as a means of preventing or delaying New Delhi’s ability to challenge Beijing’s region-wide influence.” These ties have increased since the 1990s, and especially as the United States became increasingly close to India. As a Council on Foreign Relations background report on China-Pakistan relations explained:
As the Pakistani ambassador to the U.S. further explained, “Pakistan thinks that both China and the United States are crucial for it,” however, he went on, “If push comes to shove, it would probably choose China–but for this moment, it doesn’t look like there has to be a choice.” The recent U.S.-India civilian nuclear agreement has further entrenched a distrust of America within Pakistan and pushed the country closer to China. In 2010, China announced it would be building two nuclear power reactors in Pakistan.
In 2007, China and Pakistan inaugurated Gwadar Port in Pakistan’s Balochistan Province along the Arabian Sea, creating the first major point in an “energy corridor” which would eventually bring oil from the Gulf overland through Pakistan into China. China financed the building of the port city for $200 million, with plans to fund billions more worth of railroads, roads, and pipelines which would link Gwadar Port to China. Pakistan is strategically placed in the centre of the new ‘Great Game’, a nomenclature for the great imperial battles over Central Asia in the 19th century. Pakistan is neighbour to Iran, India, China, and Afghanistan, with a coastline on the Arabian Sea. Thus, Pakistan is situated between the oil-rich Middle East and the natural gas-rich Central Asian countries, with two of the fastest growing economies in the world – India and China – as energy-hungry neighbours; with the imperial presence of America in neighbouring Afghanistan, with its eye focused intensely on neighbouring Iran. A ‘Great Game’ ensues, drawing in Russia, China, India and America, and the main focus of the game is pipelines.
China has a major pipeline project in the works to bring in natural gas from Central Asia, transporting the gas from Turkmenistan through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and into China, which is set to be completed by 2013. Iran, OPEC’s second largest oil exporter (after Saudi Arabia), is among the top ten oil exporters to China, and in 2010 it was reported that the Chinese have invested roughly $40 billion in Iran’s oil and gas sectors, including financing for the construction of seven new oil refineries, as well as various oil and gas pipeline projects. In June of 2011, it was reported that China’s oil imports from Iran have increased by 32%, signaling a growing importance in the relationship between the two countries. The largest three oil exporters to China are Saudi Arabia, Angola, and Iran, respectively.
The Gwadar Port city built by Chinese investments is destined to be a central hub in the pipeline politics of the ‘Great Game,’ in particular between the competing pipeline projects of the Trans-Afghan Pipeline (TAP or TAPI), involving a pipeline bringing natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan, Pakistan, and into India; and the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline (IPI). The major issue here is that the TAPI pipeline cannot be built so long as Afghanistan is plunged into war, thus the project has been incessantly stalled. On the other hand, India has been wavering and moving out of the picture in the IPI pipeline, in no small measure due to its increasingly close relations with the United States, which has sought to dissuade Pakistan from building a pipeline with Iran. However, in 2010, Pakistan and Iran signed the agreement, and are willing to either allow India or China to be the beneficiary of the pipeline. Whether going to India or China, Gwadar Port will be a central hub in this project. Pakistan has now been seeking direct help from China on the Iran-Pakistan pipeline project. The U.S., for its part, warned Pakistan against signing onto a pipeline project with Iran, yet Pakistan proceeded with the project regardless.
The southern Pakistani province of Balochistan is home to oil, gas, copper, gold, and coal reserves, not to mention, it is the strategic corridor through which the pipeline projects would run, and is home to the strategically significant port city of Gwadar. For the past fifty years, however, Balochistan has been a major hub of Chinese investment and opportunity, with Chinese companies having poured $15 billion into projects in the province, including the construction of an oil refinery, copper and zinc mines, and of course, Gwadar Port. India is increasingly concerned about China’s presence in the Gulf and Indian Ocean. China is building ports not only in Pakistan, but in Bangladesh and Burma, as well as railroad lines in Nepal.
Following the supposed assassination of Osama bin Laden by the U.S. in Pakistani territory, tensions between Pakistan and America increased, and ties between China and Pakistan deepened. The Chinese were subsequently approached by the Pakistanis to take control of the port of Gwadar, and perhaps to even build a Pakistani naval base there, though the Chinese have denied Pakistani claims that any such deal had been reached. China, further, in response to the apparent U.S. assassination of Bin Laden, said that the ‘international community’ (referring to the United States) “must respect” Pakistani sovereignty. Indian news quoted diplomatic sources as saying that China “warned in unequivocal terms that any attack on Pakistan would be construed as an attack on China.”
Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani visited China on a state visit shortly after the American raid into Pakistan. Following the meetings, China agreed to immediately provide 50 fighter jets to Pakistan, a clear signal that Pakistan is looking for alternatives to its American dependence, and China is all too happy to provide such an alternative. As the Financial Times reported, “Pakistan has asked China to build a naval base at its south-western port of Gwadar and expects the Chinese navy to maintain a regular presence there.” China has also signaled that it would be interested in setting up foreign military bases, just as the United States has, and specifically is interested in such a base inside Pakistan. The aim “would be to exert pressure on India as well as counter US influence in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
It would seem, then, that the true cause of chaos, destabilization, and war in Pakistan is not the Orientalist perspective of Pakistanis being the ‘Other’: barbaric, backwards, violent and self-destructive, in need to ‘intervention’ to right their own wrongs. Following along the same lines as the dismantling of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the destabilization of Pakistan is aimed at wider strategic objectives for the Western imperial powers: namely, the isolation of China. While Pakistan has long been a staunch U.S. puppet regime, in the wider geopolitical context of a global rivalry between the United States and China for control of the world’s resources and strategic positions, Pakistan may be sacrificed upon the altar of empire. The potential result of this strategy, in a country exceeding 180 million people, armed with nuclear weapons, and in the centre of one of the most tumultuous regions in the world, may be cataclysmic, perhaps even resulting in a war between the ‘great powers.’ The only way to help prevent such a potential scenario would be to analyze the strategy further, and expose it to a much wider audience, thus initiating a wider public discussion on the issue. As long as the public discourse on Pakistan is framed as an issue of “terrorism” and the “War on Terror” alone, this strategic nightmare will continue forward.
As the saying goes, “In war, truth is the first casualty.”
But so too then, can war be the casualty of Truth.
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Imperial Eye on Pakistan
Pakistan in Pieces, Part 1
Global Research, May 28, 2011
As the purported assassination of Osama bin Laden has placed the focus on Pakistan, it is vital to assess the changing role of Pakistan in broad geostrategic terms, and in particular, of the changing American strategy toward Pakistan. The recently reported assassination was a propaganda ploy aimed at targeting Pakistan. To understand this, it is necessary to examine how America has, in recent years, altered its strategy in Pakistan in the direction of destabilization. In short, Pakistan is an American target. The reason: Pakistan’s growing military and strategic ties to China, America’s primary global strategic rival. In the ‘Great Game’ for global hegemony, any country that impedes America’s world primacy – even one as historically significant to America as Pakistan – may be sacrificed upon the altar of war.
Part 1 of ‘Pakistan in Pieces’ examines the changing views of the American strategic community – particularly the military and intelligence circles – towards Pakistan. In particular, there is a general acknowledgement that Pakistan will very likely continue to be destabilized and ultimately collapse. What is not mentioned in these assessments, however, is the role of the military and intelligence communities in making this a reality; a veritable self-fulfilling prophecy. This part also examines the active on the ground changes in American strategy in Pakistan, with increasing military incursions into the country.
Imperial Eye on Pakistan
In December of 2000, the CIA released a report of global trends to the year 2015, which stated that by 2015, “Pakistan will be more fractious, isolated, and dependent on international financial assistance.” Further, it was predicted, Pakistan:
The report further analyzed the trends developing in relation to the Pakistan-India standoff in the region:
In 2005, the Times of India reported on a US National Intelligence Council report, written in conjunction with the CIA, which predicted a “Yugoslavia-like fate” for Pakistan, saying that, “by year 2015 Pakistan would be a failed state, ripe with civil war, bloodshed, inter-provincial rivalries and a struggle for control of its nuclear weapons and complete Talibanisation.”
In November of 2008, the US National Intelligence Council released a report, “Global Trends 2025,” in which they outlined major trends in the world by the year 2025. When it came to Pakistan, the report stated that, “Ongoing low-intensity clashes between India and Pakistan continue to raise the specter that such events could escalate to a broader conflict between those nuclear powers.” It stated that Pakistan “will be at risk of state failure.” In examining potential failed states, the report stated that:
The report referred to Pakistan as a “wildcard” and stated that if it is “unable to hold together until 2025, a broader coalescence of Pashtun tribes is likely to emerge and act together to erase the Durand Line [separating Pakistan from Afghanistan], maximizing Pashtun space at the expense of Punjabis in Pakistan and Tajiks and others in Afghanistan.”
In January of 2009, a Pentagon report analyzing geopolitical trends of significance to the US military over the next 25 years, reported that Pakistan could face a “rapid and sudden” collapse. It stated that, “Some forms of collapse in Pakistan would carry with it the likelihood of a sustained violent and bloody civil and sectarian war, an even bigger haven for violent extremists, and the question of what would happen to its nuclear weapons,” and as such, “that ‘perfect storm’ of uncertainty alone might require the engagement of U.S. and coalition forces into a situation of immense complexity and danger.”
A top adviser to former President George Bush and current President Obama warned in April of 2009, that Pakistan could collapse within months, and that, “We have to face the fact that if Pakistan collapses it will dwarf anything we have seen so far in whatever we’re calling the war on terror now.” The adviser and consultant, David Kilcullen, explained that this would be unlike the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, which each had a population of over 30 million, whereas “Pakistan has  million people and 100 nuclear weapons, an army which is bigger than the American army, and the headquarters of al-Qaeda sitting in two-thirds of the country which the Government does not control.”
Going back to the later years of the Bush administration, it is apparent that the US strategy in Pakistan was already changing in seeing it increasingly as a target for military operations as opposed to simply a conduit. In August of 2007, newly uncovered documents revealed that the US military “gave elite units broad authority” in 2004, “to pursue suspected terrorists into Pakistan, with no mention of telling the Pakistanis in advance.”
In November of 2007, an op-ed in the New York Times stated categorically that, “the United States simply could not stand by as a nuclear-armed Pakistan descended into the abyss,” and that, “we need to think — now — about our feasible military options in Pakistan, should it really come to that.” The authors, Frederick Kagan and Michael O’Hanlon are both well-known strategists and scholars at the American Enterprise Institute and Brookings Institution, two of the most prominent and influential think tanks in the United States. While stating that Pakistan’s leaders are still primarily moderate and friendly to the US, “Americans felt similarly about the shah’s regime in Iran until it was too late,” referring to the outbreak of the Iranian Revolution in 1979. They warn:
They state that the military solutions are “daunting” as Pakistan is a nation of 187 million people, roughly five times the size of Iraq. They wrote that, “estimates suggest that a force of more than a million troops would be required for a country of this size,” which led them to conclude, “Thus, if we have any hope of success, we would have to act before a complete government collapse, and we would need the cooperation of moderate Pakistani forces.” They suggested one plan would be to deploy Special Forces “with the limited goal of preventing Pakistan’s nuclear materials and warheads from getting into the wrong hand.” However, they admit that, “even pro-American Pakistanis would be unlikely to cooperate.” Another option, they contend:
The authors concluded, saying that any state decline in Pakistan would likely be gradual, therefore allowing the US to have time to respond, and placed an emphasis on securing Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and combating militants. They finished the article with the warning: “Pakistan may be the next big test.”
In December of 2007, the Asia Times Online ran a story about the US plan to rid Pakistan of President Musharraf, and that the US and the West, more broadly, had begun a strategy aimed at toppling Pakistan’s military. As part of this, the US launched a media campaign aimed at demonizing Pakistan’s military establishment. At this time, Benazir Bhutto was criticizing the ISI, suggesting they needed a dramatic restructuring, and at the same time, reports were appearing in the US media blaming the ISI for funding and providing assistance to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. While much of this is documented, the fact that it suddenly emerged as talking points with several western officials and in the media does suggest a turn-around against a long-time ally.
Both Democratic and Republican politicians were making statements that Pakistan represented a greater threat than Iran, and then-Senator (now Vice President) Joseph Biden suggested that the United States needed to put soldiers on the ground in Pakistan in cooperation with the “international community.” Biden said that, “We should be in there,” and “we should be supplying tens of millions of dollars to build new schools to compete with the madrassas. We should be in there building democratic institutions. We should be in there, and get the rest of the world in there, giving some structure to the emergence of, hopefully, the reemergence of a democratic process.”
In American policy-strategy circles, officials openly began discussing the possibility of Pakistan breaking up into smaller states, and increasing discussion that Musharraf was going to be “removed,” which obviously happened. As the Asia Times stated:
Of course, this subsequently happened in Pakistan. As the author of the article pointed out with startlingly accurate foresight, “Getting Bhutto killed can generate the kind of pressure that could result in permanently putting the Pakistani military on a back foot, giving Washington enough room to push for installing a new pliant leadership in Islamabad.” He observed that, “the US is very serious this time. They cannot let Pakistan get out of their hands.”
Thus, it would appear that the new US strategic aim in Pakistan was focused on removing the Pakistani military from power, implying the need to replace Musharraf, and replace him with a new, compliant civilian leadership. This would have the effect of fracturing the Pakistani elite, threatening the Army’s influence within Pakistani politics, and undertaking more direct control of Pakistan’s government.
As if on cue, in late December it was reported that, “US special forces snatch squads are on standby to seize or disable Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in the event of a collapse of government authority or the outbreak of civil war following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.”
The New York Times ran an article in early January 2008, which reported that, “President Bush’s senior national security advisers are debating whether to expand the authority of the Central Intelligence Agency and the military to conduct far more aggressive covert operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan.” The article stated that the new strategy was purportedly in response to increased reports of Al-Qaeda and Taliban activity within Pakistan, which “are intensifying efforts there to destabilize the Pakistani government.” Bush’s National Security team supposedly organized this effort in response to Bhutto’s assassination 10 days previously.
Officials involved in the strategy discussions said that some “options would probably involve the C.I.A. working with the military’s Special Operations forces,” and one official said, “After years of focusing on Afghanistan, we think the extremists now see a chance for the big prize — creating chaos in Pakistan itself.” Of pivotal importance to the strategy, as the Times reported: “Critics said more direct American military action would be ineffective, anger the Pakistani Army and increase support for the militants.” Perhaps this is not simply a “side-effect” of the proposed strategy, but in fact, part of the strategy.
As one prominent Pakistani political and military analyst pointed out, raids into Pakistan would expand anger and “prompt a powerful popular backlash” against the Pakistani government, losing popular support. However, as I previously stated, this might be the intention, as this would ultimately make the government more dependent upon the United States, and thus, more subservient.
On September 3, 2008, it was reported that a commando raid by US Special Forces was launched in Pakistan, which killed between 15 and 20 people, including women and children. The Special Forces were accompanied by five U.S. helicopters for the duration of the operation.
In February of 2009, it was reported that, “More than 70 United States military advisers and technical specialists are secretly working in Pakistan to help its armed forces battle Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the country’s lawless tribal areas.” So not only are U.S. Special Forces invading Pakistani territory; but now US military advisers are secretly advising the Pakistani Army on its own operations, and the advisers are themselves primary made up of Special Forces soldiers. They provide the Pakistani Army “with intelligence and advising on combat tactics,” and make up a secret command run by US Central Command and Special Operations Command (presumably JSOC – Joint Special Operations Command).
In May of 2009, it was reported that, “the U.S. is sending Special Forces teams into one of Pakistan’s most violent regions as part of a push to accelerate the training of the Pakistani military and make it a more effective ally in the fight against insurgents there.” The Special Forces were deploying to two training camps in the province of Baluchistan, and “will focus on training Pakistan’s Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force responsible for battling the Taliban and al Qaeda fighters.” Further, the project “is a joint effort with the U.K.,” which helps “fund the training, although it is unclear if British military personnel would take part in the initiative. British officials have been pushing for such an effort for several years.”
In December of 2009 it was revealed that, “American special forces have conducted multiple clandestine raids into Pakistan’s tribal areas as part of a secret war in the border region where Washington is pressing to expand its drone assassination programme,” which was revealed by a former NATO officer. He said these incursions had occurred between 2003 and 2008, indicating they go even further back than US military documents stipulate. The source further revealed that, “the Pakistanis were kept entirely in the dark about it. It was one of those things we wouldn’t confirm officially with them.” Further, as the source noted, British “SAS soldiers have been active in the province” of Bolochistan in 2002 and 2003 and “possibly beyond.”
The “Balkanization” of Pakistan: Blaming the Pakistanis
Selig S. Harrison is a director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Policy, senior scholar of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, former senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and former journalist and correspondent. “His reputation for giving ‘early warning’ of foreign policy crises was well established during his career as a foreign correspondent. In his study of foreign reporting, Between Two Worlds, John Hohenberg, former secretary of the Pulitzer Prize Board, cited Harrison’s prediction of the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war eighteen months before it happened.” Further, “More than a year before the Russians invaded Afghanistan, Harrison warned of this possibility in one of his frequent contributions to the influential journal Foreign Policy.”
On February 1, 2008, Selig Harrison threw his renowned “predictive” abilities on Pakistan in an op-ed for the New York Times in the run-up to the Pakistani elections. He started by stating that, “Whatever the outcome of the Pakistani elections, now scheduled for Feb. 18, the existing multiethnic Pakistani state is not likely to survive for long unless it is radically restructured.” Harrison then went on to explain that Pakistan would likely break up along ethnic lines; with the Pashtuns, concentrated in the northwestern tribal areas, the Sindhis in the southeast uniting with the Baluch tribesmen in the southwest, with the Punjab “rump state” of Pakistan.
The Pashtuns in the north, “would join with their ethnic brethren across the Afghan border (some 40 million of them combined) to form an independent ‘Pashtunistan’,” and the Sindhis “numbering 23 million, would unite with the six million Baluch tribesmen in the southwest to establish a federation along the Arabian Sea from India to Iran,” presumably named Baluchistan; while the rump state of Pakistan would remain Punjabi dominated and in control of the nuclear weapons. Selig Harrison explained that prior to partition from India, which led to the creation of the Pakistani state in 1947, Pashtun, Sindhi and Baluch ethnicities had “resist[ed] Punjabi domination for centuries,” and suddenly:
This passage is very revealing of the processes and perceptions surrounding “Balkanization” and “destabilization.” What I mean by this, is that historically and presently, imperial powers would often use ethnic groups against each other in a strategy of divide and conquer, in order “to keep the barbarians from coming together” and dominate the region.
Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote in his 1997 book, “The Grand Chessboard,” that, “Geopolitics has moved from the regional to the global dimension, with preponderance over the entire Eurasian continent serving as the central basis for global primacy.” Brzezinski then gave a masterful explanation of the American global strategy, which placed it into a firm imperialistic context:
While imperial powers manipulate, and historically, even create the ethnic groups within regions and nations, the West portrays conflict in such regions as being the product of these “ethnic” or “tribal” rivalries. This perception of the East (Asia and the Middle East) as well as Africa is referred to as Orientalism or Eurocentrism: meaning it generally portrays the East (and/or Africa) as “the Other”: inherently different and often barbaric. This prejudiced perspective is prevalent in Western academic, media, and policy circles. This perspective serves a major purpose: dehumanizing a people in a region that an imperial power seeks to dominate, which allows the hegemon to manipulate the people and divide them against each other, while framing them as “backwards” and “barbaric,” which in turn, justifies the Western imperial power exerting hegemony and control over the region; to “protect” the people from themselves.
Historically and presently, Western empires have divided people against each other, blamed the resulting conflict on the people themselves, and thus justified their control over both the people, and the region they occupy. This was the strategy employed in major recent geopolitical conflicts such as the breakup of Yugoslavia and the Rwandan genocide. In both cases, Western imperial ambitions were met through exacerbating ethnic rivalries, providing financial, technical, and military aid and training to various factions; thus, spreading violent conflict, war, and genocide. In both cases, Western, and primarily American strategic interests were met through an increased presence militarily, pushing out other major imperial and powerful rivals, as well as increasing Western access to key economics resources.
This is the lens through which we must view the unfolding situation in Pakistan. However, the situation in Pakistan presents a far greater potential for conflict and devastation than either Yugoslavia or Rwanda. In short, the potential strategy of “Balkanization” and destabilization of Pakistan could dwarf any major global conflict in the past few decades. It’s sheer population of 187 million people, proximity to two major regional wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, its strategic location as neighbor to India, China, and Iran with access to the Indian Ocean, and its nuclear arsenal, combine to make Pakistan the potential trigger for a much wider regional and possibly global war. The destabilization of Pakistan has the potential to be the greatest geopolitical catastrophe since World War II.
Thus, Selig Harrison’s op-ed in the New York Times in which he describes the “likely” breakup of Pakistan along ethnic lines as a result of “ethnic differences” must be viewed in the wider context of geopolitical ambitions. His article lays the foundation both for the explanation of a potential breakup, and thus the “justification” for Western intervention in the conflict. His “predictive” capacities as a seasoned journalist can be alternatively viewed as pre-emptive imperial propaganda.
The war in Afghanistan is inherently related to the situation in Pakistan. From the days of the Afghan-Soviet war in the 1980s, arms and money were flowing through Pakistan to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. During the civil war that followed, Pakistan armed and financed the Taliban, which eventually took power. When the U.S. and NATO initially attacked Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, this was primarily achieved through cooperation with Pakistan. When the war theatre was re-named “AfPak,” the role of Pakistan, however, was formally altered. While the previous few years had seen the implementation of a strategy of destabilizing Pakistan, once the “AfPak” war theatre was established, Pakistan ceased to be as much of a conduit or proxy state and became a target.
In September of 2008, the editor of Indian Defence Review wrote an article explaining that a stable Pakistan is not in India’s interests: “With Pakistan on the brink of collapse due to massive internal as well as international contradictions, it is matter of time before it ceases to exist.” He explained that Pakistan’s collapse would bring “multiple benefits” to India, including preventing China from gaining a major port in the Indian Ocean, which is in the mutual interest of the United States. The author explained that this would be a “severe jolt” to China’s expansionist aims, and further, “India’s access to Central Asian energy routes will open up.”
In August of 2009, Foreign Policy Journal published a report of an exclusive interview they held with former Pakistani ISI chief Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, who was Director General of the powerful intelligence services (ISI) between 1987 and 1989, at a time in which it was working closely with the CIA to fund and arm the Mujahideen. Once a close ally of the US, he is now considered extremely controversial and the US even recommended the UN to put him on the international terrorist list. Gul explained that he felt that the American people have not been told the truth about 9/11, and that the 9/11 Commission was a “cover up,” pointing out that, “They [the American government] haven’t even proved the case that 9/11 was done by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.” He said that the real reasons for the war on Afghanistan were that:
He also stated that part of the reason for going into Afghanistan was “to go for Pakistan’s nuclear capability,” as the U.S. “signed this strategic deal with India, and this was brokered by Israel. So there is a nexus now between Washington, Tel Aviv, and New Delhi.” When he was asked about the Pakistani Taliban, which the Pakistani government was being pressured to fight, and where the financing for that group came from; Gul stated:
He explained that the Chief of Staff of the Afghan Army had told him that he had gone to India to offer the Indians five bases in Afghanistan, three of which are along the Pakistani border. Gul was asked a question as to why, if the West was supporting the TTP (Pakistani Taliban), would a CIA drone have killed the leader of the TTP. Gul explained that while Pakistan was fighting directly against the TTP leader, Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistani government would provide the Americans where Mehsud was, “three times the Pakistan intelligence tipped off America, but they did not attack him.” So why all of a sudden did they attack?
An article in one of Canada’s national magazines, Macleans, reported on an interview with a Pakistani ISI spy, who claimed that India’s intelligence services, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), have “tens of thousands of RAW agents in Pakistan.” Many officials inside Pakistan were convinced that, “India’s endgame is nothing less than the breakup of Pakistan. And the RAW is no novice in that area. In the 1960s, it was actively involved in supporting separatists in Bangladesh, at the time East Pakistan. The eventual victory of Bangladeshi nationalism in 1971 was in large part credited to the support the RAW gave the secessionists.”
Further, there were Indian consulates set up in Kandahar, the area of Afghanistan where Canadian troops are located, and which is strategically located next to the Pakistani province of Baluchistan, which is home to a virulent separatist movement, of which Pakistan claims is being supported by India. Macleans reported on the conclusions by Michel Chossudovsky, economics professor at University of Ottawa, that, “the region’s massive gas and oil reserves are of strategic interest to the U.S. and India. A gas pipeline slated to be built from Iran to India, two countries that already enjoy close ties, would run through Baluchistan. The Baluch separatist movement, which is also active in Iran, offers an ideal proxy for both the U.S. and India to ensure their interests are met.”
Even an Afghan government adviser told the media that India was using Afghan territory to destabilize Pakistan. In September of 2009, the Pakistan Daily reported that captured members and leaders of the Pakistani Taliban have admitted to being trained and armed by India through RAW or RAMA in Afghanistan in order to fight the Pakistani Army.
Foreign Policy magazine in February of 2009 quoted a former intelligence official as saying, “The Indians are up to their necks in supporting the Taliban against the Pakistani government in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” and that, “the same anti-Pakistani forces in Afghanistan also shooting at American soldiers are getting support from India. India should close its diplomatic establishments in Afghanistan and get the Christ out of there.”
The Council on Foreign Relations published a backgrounder report on RAW, India’s intelligence agency, founded in 1968 “primarily to counter China’s influence, [however] over time it has shifted its focus to India’s other traditional rival, Pakistan.” For over three decades both Indian and Pakistani intelligence agencies have been involved in covert operations against one another. One of RAW’s main successes was its covert operations in East Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh, which “aimed at fomenting independence sentiment” and ultimately led to the separation of Bangladesh by directly funding, arming and training the Pakistani separatists. Further, as the Council on Foreign Relations noted, “From the early days, RAW had a secret liaison relationship with the Mossad, Israel’s external intelligence agency.”
Since RAW was founded in 1968, it had developed close ties with the Afghan intelligence agency, KHAD, primarily to do with intelligence sharing on Pakistan. In the 1980s, while Pakistan was funding, arming and training the Afghan Mujahideen with the support of Saudi Arabia and the CIA, India was funding two covert groups which orchestrated terrorist attacks inside Pakistan, which included a “low-grade but steady campaign of bombings in major Pakistani cities, notably Karachi and Lahore.” RAW has also had a close relationship with the CIA, as even six years before RAW was created, in 1962, the CIA created a covert organization made up of Tibetan refugees, which aimed to “execute deep-penetration terror operations in China.” The CIA subsequently played a part in the creation of RAW. In the 1980s, while the CIA was working closely with the ISI in Pakistan, RAW, while wary of their relationship, continued to get counterterrorism training from the CIA.
In October of 2009, the New York Times reported that the US strategy “to vastly expand its aid to Pakistan, as well as the footprint of its embassy and private security contractors here, are aggravating an already volatile anti-American mood as Washington pushes for greater action by the government against the Taliban.” The U.S. gave Pakistan an aid deal of $1.5 billion per year for the next five years, under the stipulation of “Pakistan to cease supporting terrorist groups on its soil and to ensure that the military does not interfere with civilian politics.” President Zaradari accepted the proposal, making him even more unpopular in Pakistan, and further angering Pakistan’s powerful military, which sees the deal as interfering in the internal affairs of the country.
America is thus expanding its embassy and security presence within the country, as the Embassy “has publicized plans for a vast new building in Islamabad for about 1,000 people, with security for some diplomats provided through a Washington-based private contracting company, DynCorp.” The NYT article referred to how relations were becoming increasingly strained between Pakistan and the US, and tensions were growing within the country exponentially, as “the American presence was fueling a sense of occupation among Pakistani politicians and security officials,” and several Pakistani officials stated that, “the United States was now seen as behaving in Pakistan much as it did in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Futher:
As revealed in the Wikileaks diplomatic cables, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson wrote in September of 2009 that the U.S. strategy of unilateral strikes inside Pakistan “risk destabilizing the Pakistani state, alienating both the civilian government and military leadership, and provoking a broader governance crisis in Pakistan without finally achieving the goal.”
In an interview with Press TV, Hamid Gul, former Inter-Services Intelligence chief revealed more of what he sees as the US strategy in Pakistan. He explained that with the massive expansion of the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan, and alongside that, the increased security staff, the Chinese are becoming increasingly concerned with the sovereignty and security of Pakistan. He claimed that the money that the US government offered (with heavy conditions) to Pakistan, $1.5 billion every year for five years, will be spent under the direction of the Americans, and that “they are going to set up a large intelligence network inside Pakistan,” and ultimately “they really want to go for Pakistan’s nuclear assets.” He further claimed that the Indians are trying to destabilize Pakistan; however, he explained, this does not necessarily mean disintegrate, but rather:
When he was asked what America’s long-term goal was in regards to Pakistan, Gul responded that the goal:
In Part 2 of ‘Pakistan in Pieces’, I will examine the specific ways in which the American strategy of destabilization is being undertaken in Pakistan, including the waging of a secret war and the expansion of the Afghan war into Pakistani territory. In short, the military and intelligence projections for Pakistan over the next several years (discussed in the beginning of Part 1 above) are a self-fulfilling prophecy, as those very same military and intelligence agencies that predict a destabilized Pakistan and potential collapse are now undertaking strategies aimed at achieving those outcomes.
 NIC, Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue About the Future With Nongovernment Experts. The Central Intelligence Agency: December 2000: page 64
 Ibid, page 66.
 PTI, Pak will be failed state by 2015: CIA. The Times of India: February 13, 2005: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Pak-will-be-failed-state-by-2015-CIA/articleshow/1019516.cms
 NIC, Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World. The National Intelligence Council: November 2008: page x
 Ibid, page 45.
 Ibid, page 65.
 Ibid, page 72.
 Peter Goodspeed, Mexico, Pakistan face ‘rapid and sudden’ collapse: Pentagon. The National Post: January 15, 2009: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/world/story.html?id=1181621
 PAUL MCGEOUGH, Warning that Pakistan is in danger of collapse within months. The Sydney Morning Herald: April 13, 2009: http://www.smh.com.au/world/warning-that-pakistan-is-in-danger-of-collapse-within-months-20090412-a40u.html
 Scott Lindlaw, AP: U.S. gave troops OK to enter Pakistan. USA Today: August 23, 2007: http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-08-23-pakistan-engagement_N.htm
 Frederick Kagan and Michael O’Hanlon, Pakistan’s Collapse, Our Problem. November 18, 2007: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/18/opinion/18kagan.html
 Ahmed Quraishi, The plan to topple Pakistan’s military. Asia Times Online: December 6, 2007: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/IL06Df03.html
 Ian Bruce, Special forces on standby over nuclear threat. The Sunday Herald: December 31, 2007: http://www.heraldscotland.com/special-forces-on-standby-over-nuclear-threat-1.871766
 Steven Lee Myers, David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt, U.S. Considers New Covert Push Within Pakistan. The New York Times: January 6, 2008: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/06/washington/06terror.html
 Farhan Bokhari, Sami Yousafzai, and Tucker Reals, U.S. Special Forces Strike In Pakistan. CBS News: September 3, 2008: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/09/03/terror/main4409288.shtml
 Eric Schmitt and Jane Perlez, U.S. Unit Secretly in Pakistan Lends Ally Support. The New York Times: February 22, 2009: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/23/world/asia/23terror.html
 YOCHI J. DREAZEN and SIOBHAN GORMAN, U.S. Special Forces Sent to Train Pakistanis. The Wall Street Journal: May 16, 2009: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124241541672724767.html
 Declan Walsh, US forces mounted secret Pakistan raids in hunt for al-Qaida. The Guardian: December 21, 2009: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/dec/21/us-forces-secret-pakistan-raids
 CIP, SELIG S. HARRISON. Center for International Policy: http://www.ciponline.org/asia/Seligbio.html
 Selig S. Harriosn, Drawn and Quartered. The New York Times: February 1, 2008: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/01/opinion/01harrison.html
 Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives. (New York: Perseus, 1997), page 39
 Ibid, page 40.
 Bharat Verma, Stable Pakistan not in India’s interest. Indian Defence Review: September 11, 2008: http://www.indiandefencereview.com/2008/09/stable-pakistan-not-in-indias-interest.html
 Jeremy R. Hammond, Ex-ISI Chief Says Purpose of New Afghan Intelligence Agency RAMA Is ‘to destabilize Pakistan’. Foreign Policy Journal: August 12, 2009: http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2009/08/12/ex-isi-chief-says-purpose-of-new-afghan-intelligence-agency-rama-is-%E2%80%98to-destabilize-pakistan%E2%80%99/
 Adnan R. Khan, New Delhi’s endgame? Macleans: August 23, 2009: http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/04/23/new-delhi%E2%80%99s-endgame/
 Ibid. See also Michel Chossudovsky, The Destabilization of Pakistan, Global Research, December 30, 2007
 Imtiaz Indher, Afgan MPs call for early withdrawal of foreign troop. Associated Press of Pakistan: April 1, 2009: http://www.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=72423&Itemid=2
 Moin Ansari, Proof: Captured TTP terrorists admit to being Indian RAW agents. Pakistan Daily: September 20, 2009: http://www.daily.pk/proof-captured-ttp-terrorists-admit-to-being-indian-raw-agents-11015/
 Laura Rozen, Can the intel community defuse India-Pakistan tensions? Foreign Policy: February 16, 2009:
 Jayshree Bajoria, RAW: India’s External Intelligence Agency. The Council on Foreign Relations: November 7, 2008: http://www.cfr.org/publication/17707/
 Jane Perlez, U.S. Push to Expand in Pakistan Meets Resistance. The New York Times: October 5, 2009: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/06/world/asia/06islamabad.html
 US embassy cables, Reviewing our Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy, The Guardian, 30 November 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/226531
 US military bases ‘will destabilize Pakistan’. Press TV: September 13, 2009: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=106106§ionid=3510302
Empire, Energy and Al-Qaeda: The Anglo-American Terror Network
The Imperial Anatomy of al-Qaeda, Part II
Global Research, September 8, 2010
This is Part 2 of the series, “The Imperial Anatomy of Al-Qaeda.“
The End of the Cold War and Strategy for the New World Order
With the end of the Cold War a new strategy had to be determined to manage the global system. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, declarations of a “New World Order” sprang forward, focusing on the United States as the single world superpower. This presented a great many challenges as well as opportunities for the worlds most powerful hegemon.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, a number of new Central Asian and Eastern European nations were formed and became independent, and with that, their immense deposits of natural gas and energy became available for exploitation. Afghanistan itself was considered “a major strategic pivot,” as it was “the primary gateway to Central Asia and the immense energy deposits therein.” Western oil companies such as ExxonMobil, Texaco, Unocal, BP Amoco, Shell, and Enron begin pouring billions of dollars into the countries of Central Asia in the early 1990s.
In 1992, a Pentagon document titled “Defense Planning Guidance” was leaked to the press, in which it described a strategy for the United States in the “new world order,” and it was drafted by George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. It stated that, “America’s political and military mission in the post-cold-war era will be to ensure that no rival superpower is allowed to emerge in Western Europe, Asia or the territories of the former Soviet Union,” and that, “The classified document makes the case for a world dominated by one superpower whose position can be perpetuated by constructive behavior and sufficient military might to deter any nation or group of nations from challenging American primacy.”
Further, “the new draft sketches a world in which there is one dominant military power whose leaders ‘must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role’.” Among the necessary challenges to American supremacy, the document “postulated regional wars against Iraq and North Korea,” and identified China and Russia as its major threats. It further “suggests that the United States could also consider extending to Eastern and Central European nations security commitments similar to those extended to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Arab states along the Persian Gulf.”
Similarly, in 1992, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, one of the most influential think tanks in the United States, had established a commission to determine a new foreign policy for the United States in the wake of the Cold War. Participants included Madeleine Albright, Henry Cisneros, John Deutch, Richard Holbrooke, Alice Rivlin, David Gergen and Admiral William Crowe. In the summer of 1992, the final report, “Changing Our Ways: America and the New World,” was published. The report urged “a new principle of international relations: the destruction or displacement of groups of people within states can justify international intervention.” It suggested that the US “realign NATO and OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] to deal with new security problems in Europe,” and “urged military intervention under humanitarian guises.” This report subsequently “planted the policy seedlings for the Kosovo war” as it “provided both the rationale for U.S. interventionism and a policy recommendation about the best means–NATO–for waging that war.”
Another Carnegie publication in the same year, “Self-Determination in the New World Order,” furthered imperialist goals for America, as it “set criteria for officials to use in deciding when to support separatist ethnic groups seeking independence, and advocated military force for that purpose.” It recommended that “international military coalitions, preferably U.N.-led, could send armed force not as peacekeepers but peacemakers–to prevent conflict from breaking out and stay in place indefinitely.” It further stated that, “the use of military force to create a new state would require conduct by the parent government so egregious that it has forfeited any right to govern the minority claiming self-determination.”
The United States and its NATO allies soon undertook a new strategy, seeking to maintain dominance over the world, expand their hegemony over regions previously under the influence of the Soviet Union (such as in Eastern Europe and Central Asia), and prevent the rise of a resurgent Russia or China. One of the key facets of this strategy was the notion of “humanitarian intervention.”
Yugoslavia Dismantled by Design
In the 1990s, the United States and its NATO allies, in particular Germany and the UK, undertook a strategy of destabilization in Yugoslavia, seeking to dismantle and ultimately fracture the country. To do this, the imperial strategy of divide and conquer was employed, manipulating various ethnic tensions and arming and training various militias and terrorist organizations. Throughout this strategy, the “database”, or Al-Qaeda was used to promote the agenda of the destabilization and dismantling of Yugoslavia.
In 1989, Yugoslavia had to seek financial aid from the World Bank and IMF, which implemented a Structural Adjustment Program (SAP), which resulted in the dismantling of the public state, exacerbating social issues and fueling secessionist tendencies, leading to Croatia and Slovenia seceding from the republic in 1991. In 1990, the US intelligence community had released a report predicting that Yugoslavia would break apart and erupt in civil war, and it blamed Milosevic for the impending disaster.
As far back as 1988, the leader of Croatia met with the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to create “a joint policy to break up Yugoslavia,” and bring Slovenia and Croatia into the “German economic zone.” So, US Army officers were dispatched to Croatia, Bosnia, Albania, and Macedonia as “advisers” and brought in US Special Forces to help.
Fighting broke out between Yugoslavia and Croatia when the latter declared independence in 1991. The fighting subsequently lasted until 1995, and merged in part with the Bosnian war. The US supported the operation and the CIA actively provided intelligence to Croat forces, leading to the displacement of between 150,000 and 200,000 Serbs, largely through means of murder, plundering, burning villages and ethnic cleansing. The Croatian Army was trained by U.S. advisers and a general later put on trial at the Hague for war crimes was personally supported by the CIA. So we see the double standard of ethnic cleansing and genocide: when the US does it or supports it, it’s “humanitarian intervention,” politically justified, or it is simply unacknowledged; when an enemy state does it, (or is accused of doing it), the “international community” demands action and any means is deemed necessary to “prevent genocide”, including committing genocide.
The Clinton administration gave the “green light” to Iran to arm the Bosnian Muslims and “from 1992 to January 1996, there was an influx of Iranian weapons and advisers into Bosnia.” Further, “Iran, and other Muslim states, helped to bring Mujahideen fighters into Bosnia to fight with the Muslims against the Serbs, ‘holy warriors’ from Afghanistan, Chechnya, Yemen and Algeria, some of whom had suspected links with Osama bin Laden’s training camps in Afghanistan.”
During the war in Bosnia, there “was a vast secret conduit of weapons smuggling though Croatia. This was arranged by the clandestine agencies of the US, Turkey and Iran, together with a range of radical Islamist groups, including Afghan mojahedin and the pro-Iranian Hizbullah.” Further, “the secret services of Ukraine, Greece and Israel were busy arming the Bosnian Serbs.” Germany’s intelligence agency, the BND, also ran arms shipments to the Bosnian Muslims and Croatia to fight against the Serbs. Thus, every side was being funded and armed by outside powers seeking to foment conflict and ultimately break up Yugoslavia to serve their own imperial objectives in the region.
In 1992, the al-Kifah Center in Brooklyn, the recruiting center for al-Qaeda, made Bosnia its chief target. By 1993, it opened a branch in Croatia. The recruitment operation for Bosnian Muslims “was a covert action project sponsored not only by Saudi Arabia but also in part by the US government.”
In 1996, the Albanian Mafia, in collaboration with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a militant guerilla organization, took control over the enormous Balkan heroin trafficking routes. The KLA was linked to former Afghan Mujaheddin fighters in Afghanistan, including Osama bin Laden.
In 1997, the KLA began fighting against Serbian forces, and in 1998, the US State Department removed the KLA from its list of terrorist organizations. Before and after 1998, the KLA was receiving arms, training and support from the US and NATO, and Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, was close with KLA leader Hashim Thaci.
Both the CIA and German intelligence, the BND, supported the KLA terrorists in Yugoslavia prior to and after the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. The BND had KLA contacts since the early 1990s, the same period that the KLA was establishing its Al-Qaeda contacts. KLA members were trained by Osama bin Laden at training camps in Afghanistan. Even the UN stated that much of the violence at the time came from KLA members, “especially those allied with Hashim Thaci.”
The March 1999 NATO bombing of Kosovo was justified on the pretense of putting an end to Serbian oppression of Kosovo Albanians, which was termed genocide. The Clinton Administration made claims that at least 100,000 Kosovo Albanians were missing and “may have been killed” by the Serbs. Bill Clinton personally compared events in Kosovo to the Holocaust. The US State Department had stated that up to 500,000 Albanians were feared dead. Eventually, the official estimate was reduced to 10,000, however, after exhaustive investigations, it was revealed that the death of less than 2,500 Albanians could be attributed to the Serbs. During the NATO bombing campaign, between 400 and 1,500 Serb civilians were killed, and NATO committed war crimes, including the bombing of a Serb TV station and a hospital.
Ultimately the strategy of the destabilization of Yugoslavia served various imperial objectives. The war in Yugoslavia was waged in order to enlarge NATO, Serbia was to be excluded permanently from European development to justify a US military presence in the region, and expansion was ultimately designed to contain Russia.
An op-ed in the New York Times in 1996 stated that, “instead of seeing Bosnia as the eastern frontier of NATO, we should view the Balkans as the western frontier of America’s rapidly expanding sphere of influence in the Middle East.” Further:
Further, with the dismantling of the former Yugoslavia, a passageway for the transport of oil and natural gas from the Caspian region was to be facilitated through the construction of the Trans-Balkan pipeline, which will “run from the Black sea port of Burgas to the Adriatic at Vlore, passing through Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania. It is likely to become the main route to the west for the oil and gas now being extracted in central Asia. It will carry 750,000 barrels a day: a throughput, at current prices, of some $600m a month.” As the Guardian reported:
The pipeline project, supported since 1994, “featured prominently in Balkan war politics. On December 9 1998, the Albanian president attended a meeting about the scheme in Sofia, and linked it inextricably to Kosovo.” The message given at the meeting was that, “if you [the United States] want Albanian consent for the Trans-Balkan pipeline, you had better wrest Kosovo out of the hands of the Serbs.”
And so, with the help of an international network of CIA-trained Islamic militants, American political and economic hegemony expanded into Central Asia and the Caspian region.
The Spread of Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda did not just spread to Bosnia and Albania/Kosovo, but rather a great many places around the world saw the spread of this vast “database” of Islamist fighters, and always aided by Western intelligence agencies or their regional conduits (such as the ISI and Saudi intelligence agencies). Following on the heels of the established American and NATO strategy following the Cold War, Islamic fundamentalism also came to play a part in this strategy.
Bernard Lewis was a former British intelligence officer and historian who is infamous for explaining Arab discontent towards the West as not being rooted in a reaction toward imperialism, but rather that it is rooted in Islam; in that Islam is incompatible with the West, and that they are destined to clash, using the term, “Clash of Civilizations.” For decades, “Lewis played a critical role as professor, mentor, and guru to two generations of Orientalists, academics, U.S. and British intelligence specialists, think tank denizens, and assorted neoconservatives.” In the 1980s, Lewis “was hobnobbing with top Department of Defense officials.” He was also one of the originators, along with Brzezinski, of the “Arc of Crisis” strategy employed in the late 1970s.
Lewis wrote a 1992 article in Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, titled, “Rethinking the Middle East.” In this article, Lewis raised the prospect of another policy towards the Middle East in the wake of the end of the Cold War and beginnings of the New World Order, “which could even be precipitated by fundamentalism, is what has of late become fashionable to call ‘Lebanonization.’ Most of the states of the Middle East – Egypt is an obvious exception – are of recent and artificial construction and are vulnerable to such a process. If the central power is sufficiently weakened, there is no real civil society to hold the polity together, no real sense of common national identity or overriding allegiance to the nation-state. The state then disintegrates – as happened in Lebanon – into a chaos of squabbling, feuding, fighting sects, tribes, regions and parties.”
Thus, the “database” of Al-Qaeda could be spread internationally so as to destabilize various regions, and thus provide the justification for intervention or even war. All that was needed was well-placed intelligence operatives to control key leadership positions within the terrorist organization. The great majority of both its higher-ups and nearly all al-Qaeda operatives would not have to be made aware of the organizations covert use as an arm of US geo-policy.
In the 1990s, Osama bin Laden “built a shadow air force to support his terrorist activities, using Afghanistan’s national airline, a surplus U.S. Air Force jet and clandestine charters.” Further, as the Los Angeles Times revealed:
Bin Laden’s secret purchase of a US Air Force jet in 1992 “was used to ferry Al Qaeda commanders to East Africa, where they trained Somali tribesmen for attacks on U.S. peacekeeping forces,” and Americans had “unwittingly” helped bin Laden “disguise the plane as a civilian jet.” US security officials were well aware of Ariana airlines being used by al-Qaeda,
Among the high-ranking Persian Gulf officials who flew to Afghanistan for “hunting trips” were Prince Turki al Faisal who ran Saudi intelligence until August 2001, “maintaining close ties with Bin Laden and the Taliban,” as well as “Sheik Mohammed ibn Rashid al Maktum, the Dubai crown prince and Emirates defense minister.” On occasions both Osama bin Laden and Omar, the head of the Taliban, mingled with the hunters. Upon their departure, “the wealthy visitors often left behind late-model jeeps, trucks and supplies,” which was “one way the Taliban got their equipment.”
What the article does not mention, however, was that the ISI was the prime sponsor of the Taliban, with the complete backing and facilitation of the CIA. The connection to the Saudi intelligence chief further strengthens the thesis that the Safari Club, created in 1976 by the French intelligence chief, may have survived as a covert intelligence network encompassing western intelligence agencies working through regional agencies such as those of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
The German intelligence agency, the BND, revealed in 2004 that two Saudi companies that were linked with financing al-Qaeda throughout the 1990s were in fact front organizations for Saudi intelligence, with close connections to its chief, Prince Turki bin Faisal.
Between 1989 and 2001, Billy Waugh, a CIA contractor, trained several al-Qaeda operatives around the world. In 2002, it was revealed that, “British intelligence paid large sums of money to an al-Qaeda cell in Libya in a doomed attempt to assassinate Colonel Gadaffi in 1996 and thwarted early attempts to bring Osama bin Laden to justice.” In 1998, Libya had issued an arrest warrant for Osama bin Laden, yet:
However, “the resistance of Western intelligence agencies to the Libyan concerns can be explained by MI6′s involvement with the al-Qaeda coup plot.” Anas al-Liby, a Libyan al-Qaeda leader, “was given political asylum in Britain and lived in Manchester until May of 2000 when he eluded a police raid on his house and fled abroad.”
Following the end of the Cold War, many mujahideen fighters were relocated to Russia’s unstable region of Chechnya, where the two main rebel leaders who came to power had previously been trained and funded by the CIA in Afghanistan. The war in Chechnya was planned in a secret meeting in 1996 attended by Osama bin Laden and high-ranking officials of the Pakistani ISI, whose involvement in Chechnya went “far beyond supplying the Chechens with weapons and expertise: the ISI and its radical Islamic proxies are actually calling the shots in this war.” In other words, the CIA was directing the war through the ISI.
The US and U.K. have supported Chechen separatism as it, “weakens Russia, advances U.S. power in the vital Caspian Sea region, and cripples a potential future rival.” Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of Russia, claimed that the British had been arming the Chechen rebels. Oil also features prominently in the Chechen conflict, as Chechnya is home to large reserves of oil, as well as pipeline corridor routes being competed over by Russian and Anglo-American oil conglomerates. Thus, the Anglo-Americans support the Chechen separatists, while the Russians send in the military. US intelligence helped fund and transport al-Qaeda into Chechnya in the early 1990s, American intelligence remained involved until the end of the decade, seeing the “sponsorship of ‘Islamist jihad in the Caucasus’ as a way to ‘deprive Russia of a viable pipeline route through spiraling violence and terrorism’.”
The Global Domination Strategy for a New Century
Following upon the strategic objectives set out in the early 1990s for the United States and NATO to expand their hegemony across the world, in preventing the rise of rivals (China and Russia), and expanding the access of western economic interests to the Caspian region, new designs were being drawn in the powerful think-tank community in the United States as well as being outlined by highly influential strategic thinkers. The renewed strategy, hardly a break from the previously determined aim of encirclement and containment of China and Russia, simply expanded the scope of this strategy. From one faction, the neo-conservatives, came the initial aim at expanding militarily into the Middle East, starting with Iraq, while the more established hard-line realist hawks such as Zbigniew Brzezinski outlined a far more comprehensive and long-term strategy of world domination by controlling the entirety of Eurasia (Europe and Asia), and subsequently, Africa.
The neo-Conservative hawks in the US foreign policy establishment formed the think tank, the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) in the 1990s. In 2000, they published their report, Rebuilding America’s Defenses, in which they outlined a strategy for the United States in the “new century.” Following where the Defense Planning Guidance document left off (during the first Bush administration), the report stated that, “the United States must retain sufficient forces able to rapidly deploy and win multiple simultaneous large-scale wars,” and that there is a “need to retain sufficient combat forces to fight and win, multiple, nearly simultaneous major theatre wars,” as “the Pentagon needs to begin to calculate the force necessary to protect, independently, US interests in Europe, East Asia and the Gulf at all times.”
It recommended the “regime change” of Saddam Hussein in Iraq as the “immediate justification” for a US military presence in the Gulf; however, “the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.” In advocating for a massive increase in defense spending, and outlining military operations against Iraq, North Korea, and possibly Iran, the report stated that, “further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.”
Zbigniew Brzezinski outlined a long-term American imperial strategy to control Eurasia in his book, The Grand Chessboard. He stated bluntly that, “it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger emerges, capable of dominating Eurasia and thus of also challenging America,” and then made clear the imperial nature of his strategy:
He further explained that the Central Asian nations (or “Eurasian Balkans” as he refers to them):
Brzezinski emphasizes “that America’s primary interest is to help ensure that no single power comes to control this geopolitical space and that the global community has unhindered financial and economic access to it.”
Preparing for War Against Afghanistan
In 1997, Taliban officials traveled to Texas to meet with Unocal Oil Company to discuss the possibility of a pipeline being built from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan and to Pakistan. Unocal had agreements with Turkmenistan to sell its gas and with Pakistan to buy it. The missing link was getting the gas to Pakistan through Afghanistan, which is where the Taliban came into the picture. Unocal’s main competitor in the pipeline bid was with Bridas, an Argentine firm. However, at this time, Afghanistan was still embroiled in civil war, making the prospect of a pipeline being built an unstable venture.
A month before the Taliban visited Texas, Bridas, Unocal’s main competitor, merged its oil and gas assets with Amoco-Argentina Oil, a subsidiary of British Petroleum (BP), one of the world’s top three oil companies. Shortly before this merger was finalized, Bridas had announced that it was close to signing a 2 billion dollar deal with the Taliban, saying “the talks were in their final stages.”
After meeting with Unocal officials in Texas, the Taliban announced in January of 1998 that, “they’re close to reaching a final agreement on the building of a gas pipeline across Afghanistan,” however, they “didn’t indicate which of two competing companies the Taliban favoured.”
It is significant to note some of the important figures that were involved with the oil companies in relation to Central Asian gas reserves and pipeline projects. In 1997, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the (self-proclaimed) mastermind for the Afghan-Soviet War, Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser, and cofounder with David Rockefeller of the Trilateral Commission, was an adviser to BP-Amoco, specifically dealing with the Caspian region. Unocal, in an effort to try to secure their pipeline contract with the Taliban, hired former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad, former Reagan State Department Advisor on Afghanistan during the Afghan-Soviet War, was also brought on as a consultant for a group hired by Unocal. He would later become US envoy to Afghanistan after the US invasion in 2001.
The pipeline project then ran into significant problems when, in
The Imperial Anatomy of Al-Qaeda: The CIA’s Drug-Running Terrorists and the “Arc of Crisis”
Global Research, September 5, 2010
As the 9th anniversary of 9/11 nears, and the war on terror continues to be waged and grows in ferocity and geography, it seems all the more imperative to return to the events of that fateful September morning and re-examine the reasons for war and the nature of the stated culprit, Al-Qaeda.
The events of 9/11 pervade the American and indeed the world imagination as an historical myth. The events of that day and those leading up to it remain largely unknown and little understood by the general public, apart from the disturbing images repeated ad nauseam in the media. The facts and troubled truths of that day are lost in the folklore of the 9/11 myth: that the largest attack carried out on American ground was orchestrated by 19 Muslims armed with box cutters and urged on by religious fundamentalism, all under the direction of Osama bin Laden, the leader of a global terrorist network called al-Qaeda, based out of a cave in Afghanistan.
The myth sweeps aside the facts and complex nature of terror, al-Qaeda, the American empire and literally defies the laws of physics. As John F. Kennedy once said, “The greatest enemy of the truth is not the lie – deliberate, contrived, and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, pervasive, and unrealistic.”
This three-part series on “The Imperial Anatomy of Al-Qaeda” examines the geopolitical historical origins and nature of what we today know as al-Qaeda, which is in fact an Anglo-American intelligence network of terrorist assets used to advance American and NATO imperial objectives in various regions around the world.
Part 1 examines the origins of the intelligence network known as the Safari Club, which financed and organized an international conglomerate of terrorists, the CIA’s role in the global drug trade, the emergence of the Taliban and the origins of al-Qaeda.
The Safari Club
Following Nixon’s resignation as President, Gerald Ford became the new US President in 1974. Henry Kissinger remained as Secretary of State and Ford brought into his administration two names that would come to play important roles in the future of the American Empire: Donald Rumsfeld as Ford’s Chief of Staff, and Dick Cheney, as Deputy Assistant to the President. The Vice President was Nelson Rockefeller, David Rockefeller’s brother. When Donald Rumsfeld was promoted to Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney was promoted to Chief of Staff. Ford had also appointed a man named George H.W. Bush as CIA Director.
In 1976, a coalition of intelligence agencies was formed, which was called the Safari Club. This marked the discreet and highly covert coordination among various intelligence agencies, which would last for decades. It formed at a time when the CIA was embroiled in domestic scrutiny over the Watergate scandal and a Congressional investigation into covert CIA activities, forcing the CIA to become more covert in its activities.
In 2002, the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Turki bin Faisal gave a speech in which he stated that in response to the CIA’s need for more discretion, “a group of countries got together in the hope of fighting Communism and established what was called the Safari Club. The Safari Club included France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Iran [under the Shah].” However, “The Safari Club needed a network of banks to finance its intelligence operations. With the official blessing of George H.W. Bush as the head of the CIA,” Saudi intelligence chief, Kamal Adham, “transformed a small Pakistani merchant bank, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), into a world-wide money-laundering machine, buying banks around the world to create the biggest clandestine money network in history.”
As CIA director, George H.W. Bush “cemented strong relations with the intelligence services of both Saudi Arabia and the shah of Iran. He worked closely with Kamal Adham, the head of Saudi intelligence, brother-in-law of King Faisal and an early BCCI insider.” Adham had previously acted as a “channel between [Henry] Kissinger and [Egyptian President] Anwar Sadat” in 1972. In 1976, Iran, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia formed the Safari Club “to conduct through their own intelligence agencies operations that were now difficult for the CIA,” which was largely organized by the head of French intelligence, Alexandre de Marenches.
The “Arc of Crisis” and the Iranian Revolution
When Jimmy Carter became President in 1977, he appointed over two-dozen members of the Trilateral Commission to his administration, which was an international think tank formed by Zbigniew Brzezinski and David Rockefeller in 1973. Brzezinski had invited Carter to join the Trilateral Commission, and when Carter became President, Brzezinski became National Security Adviser; Cyrus Vance, also a member of the Commission, became Secretary of State; and Samuel Huntington, another Commission member, became Coordinator of National Security and Deputy to Brzezinski. Author and researcher Peter Dale Scott deserves much credit for his comprehensive analysis of the events leading up to and during the Iranian Revolution in his book, “The Road to 9/11”,* which provides much of the information below.
Samuel Huntington and Zbigniew Brzezinski were to determine the US policy position in the Cold War, and the US-Soviet policy they created was termed, “Cooperation and Competition,” in which Brzezinski would press for “Cooperation” when talking to the press, yet, privately push for “competition.” So, while Secretary of State Cyrus Vance was pursuing détente with the Soviet Union, Brzezinski was pushing for American supremacy over the Soviet Union. Brzezinski and Vance would come to disagree on almost every issue.
In 1978, Zbigniew Brzezinski gave a speech in which he stated, “An arc of crisis stretches along the shores of the Indian Ocean, with fragile social and political structures in a region of vital importance to us threatened with fragmentation. The resulting political chaos could well be filled by elements hostile to our values and sympathetic to our adversaries.” The Arc of Crisis stretched from Indochina to southern Africa, although, more specifically, the particular area of focus was “the nations that stretch across the southern flank of the Soviet Union from the Indian subcontinent to Turkey, and southward through the Arabian Peninsula to the Horn of Africa.” Further, the “center of gravity of this arc is Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil producer and for more than two decades a citadel of U.S. military and economic strength in the Middle East. Now it appears that the 37-year reign of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi is almost over, ended by months of rising civil unrest and revolution.”
With rising discontent in the region, “There was this idea that the Islamic forces could be used against the Soviet Union. The theory was, there was an arc of crisis, and so an arc of Islam could be mobilized to contain the Soviets. It was a Brzezinski concept.” A month prior to Brzezinski’s speech, in November of 1978, “President Carter named the Bilderberg group’s George Ball, another member of the Trilateral Commission, to head a special White House Iran task force under the National Security Council’s Brzezinski.” Further, “Ball recommended that Washington drop support for the Shah of Iran and support the fundamentalist Islamic opposition of Ayatollah Khomeini.” George Ball’s visit to Iran was a secret mission.
Throughout 1978, the Shah was under the impression that “the Carter administration was plotting to topple his regime.” In 1978, the Queen and Shah’s wife, told Manouchehr Ganji, a minister in the Shah’s government, that, “I wanted to tell you that the Americans are maneuvering to bring down the Shah,” and she continued saying that she believed “they even want to topple the regime.” The US Ambassador to Iran, William Sullivan, thought that the revolution would succeed, and told this to Ramsey Clark, former US Attorney General under the Johnson administration, as well as professor Richard Falk, when they were visiting Sullivan in Iran in 1978. Clark and Falk then went from Iran to Paris, to visit Khomeini, who was there in exile. James Bill, a Carter adviser, felt that, “a religious movement brought about with the United States’ assistance would be a natural friend of the United States.”
Also interesting is the fact that the British BBC broadcast pro-Khomeini Persian-language programs daily in Iran, as a subtle form of propaganda, which “gave credibility to the perception of United States and British support of Khomeini.” The BBC refused to give the Shah a platform to respond, and “[r]epeated personal appeals from the Shah to the BBC yielded no result.”
In the May 1979 meeting of the Bilderberg Group, Bernard Lewis, a British historian of great influence (hence, the Bilderberg membership), presented a British-American strategy which, “endorsed the radical Muslim Brotherhood movement behind Khomeini, in order to promote balkanization of the entire Muslim Near East along tribal and religious lines. Lewis argued that the West should encourage autonomous groups such as the Kurds, Armenians, Lebanese Maronites, Ethiopian Copts, Azerbaijani Turks, and so forth. The chaos would spread in what he termed an ‘Arc of Crisis,’ which would spill over into the Muslim regions of the Soviet Union.” Further, it would prevent Soviet influence from entering the Middle East, as the Soviet Union was viewed as an empire of atheism and godlessness: essentially a secular and immoral empire, which would seek to impose secularism across Muslim countries. So supporting radical Islamic groups would mean that the Soviet Union would be less likely to have any influence or relations with Middle Eastern countries, making the US a more acceptable candidate for developing relations.
A 1979 article in Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, described the Arc of Crisis, saying that, “The Middle East constitutes its central core. Its strategic position is unequalled: it is the last major region of the Free World directly adjacent to the Soviet Union, it holds in its subsoil about three-fourths of the proven and estimated world oil reserves, and it is the locus of one of the most intractable conflicts of the twentieth century: that of Zionism versus Arab nationalism.” It went on to explain that post-war US policy in the region was focused on “containment” of the Soviet Union, as well as access to the regions oil. The article continued, explaining that the most “obvious division” within the Middle East is, “that which separates the Northern Tier (Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan) from the Arab core,” and that, “After World War II, Turkey and Iran were the two countries most immediately threatened by Soviet territorial expansionism and political subversion.” Ultimately, “the Northern Tier was assured of a serious and sustained American commitment to save it from sharing the fate of Eastern Europe.”
While Khomeini was in Paris prior to the Revolution, a representative of the French President organized a meeting between Khomeini and “current world powers,” in which Khomeini made certain demands, such as, “the shah’s removal from Iran and help in avoiding a coup d’état by the Iranian Army.” The Western powers, however, “were worried about the Soviet Union’s empowerment and penetration and a disruption in Iran’s oil supply to the west. Khomeini gave the necessary guarantees. These meetings and contacts were taking place in January of 1979, just a few days before the Islamic Revolution in February 1979.” In February of 1979, Khomeini was flown out of Paris on an Air France flight, to return to Iran, “with the blessing of Jimmy Carter.” Ayatollah Khomeini named Mehdi Bazargan as prime minister of the Provisional Revolutionary Government on February 4, 1979. As Khomeini had demanded during his Paris meeting in January 1979, that western powers must help in avoiding a coup by the Iranian Army; in that same month, the Carter administration, under the direction of Brzezinski, had begun planning a military coup.
Could this have been planned in the event that Khomeini was overthrown, the US would quickly reinstate order, perhaps even place Khomeini back in power? Interestingly, in January of 1979, “as the Shah was about to leave the country, the American Deputy Commander in NATO, General Huyser, arrived and over a period of a month conferred constantly with Iranian military leaders. His influence may have been substantial on the military’s decision not to attempt a coup and eventually to yield to the Khomeini forces, especially if press reports are accurate that he or others threatened to withhold military supplies if a coup were attempted.” No coup was subsequently undertaken, and Khomeini came to power as the Ayatollah of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
As tensions increased among the population within Iran, the US sent “security advisers” to Iran to pressure the Shah’s SAVAK (secret police) to implement “a policy of ever more brutal repression, in a manner calculated to maximize popular antipathy to the Shah.” The Carter administration also began publicly criticizing the Shah’s human rights abuses. On September 6, 1978, the Shah banned demonstrations, and the following day, between 700 and 2000 demonstrators were gunned down, following “advice from Brzezinski to be firm.”
The US Ambassador to the UN, Andrew Young, a Trilateral Commission member, said that, “Khomeini will eventually be hailed as a saint,” and the US Ambassador to Iran, William Sullivan, said, “Khomeini is a Gandhi-like figure,” while Carter’s adviser, James Bill, said that Khomeini was a man of “impeccable integrity and honesty.”
The Shah was also very sick in late 1978 and early 1979. So the Shah fled Iran in January of 1979 to the Bahamas, allowing for the revolution to take place. It is especially interesting to understand the relationship between David Rockefeller and the Shah of Iran. David Rockefeller’s personal assistant, Joseph V. Reed, had been “assigned to handle the shah’s finances and his personal needs;” Robert Armao, who worked for Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, was sent to “act as the shah’s public relations agent and lobbyist;” and Benjamin H. Kean, “a longtime associate of Chase Manhattan Bank chairman David Rockefeller,” and David Rockefeller’s “personal physician,” who was sent to Mexico when the shah was there, and advised that he “be treated at an American hospital.”
It is important to note that Rockefeller interests “had directed U.S. policy in Iran since the CIA coup of 1953.” Following the Shah’s flight from Iran, there were increased pressures within the United States by a handful of powerful people to have the Shah admitted to the United States. These individuals were Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, John J. McCloy, former statesman and senior member of the Bilderberg Group, Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations, who was also a lawyer for Chase Manhattan, and of course, David Rockefeller.
Chase Manhattan Bank had more interests in Iran than any other US bank. In fact, the Shah had “ordered that all his government’s major operating accounts be held at Chase and that letters of credit for the purchase of oil be handled exclusively through Chase. The bank also became the agent and lead manager for many of the loans to Iran. In short, Iran became the crown jewel of Chase’s international banking portfolio.”
The Iranian interim government, headed by Prime Minister Bazargan, collapsed in November of 1979, when Iranian hostages seized the US Embassy in Teheran. However, there is much more to this event than meets the eye. During the time of the interim government (February, 1979 to November, 1979), several actions were undertaken which threatened some very powerful interests who had helped the Ayatollah into power.
Chase Manhattan Bank faced a liquidity crisis as there had been billions in questionable loans to Iran funneled through Chase. Several of Chase’s loans were “possibly illegal under the Iranian constitution.” Further, in February of 1979, once the interim government was put in power, it began to take “steps to market its oil independently of the Western oil majors.” Also, the interim government “wanted Chase Manhattan to return Iranian assets, which Rockefeller put at more than $1 billion in 1978, although some estimates ran much higher,” which could have “created a liquidity crisis for the bank which already was coping with financial troubles.”
With the seizure of the American Embassy in Iran, President Carter took moves to freeze Iranian financial assets. As David Rockefeller wrote in his book, “Carter’s ‘freeze’ of official Iranian assets protected our [Chase Manhattan’s] position, but no one at Chase played a role in convincing the administration to institute it.”
In February of 1979, Iran had been taking “steps to market its oil independently of the Western oil majors. In 1979, as in 1953, a freeze of Iranian assets made this action more difficult.” This was significant for Chase Manhattan not simply because of the close interlocking of the board with those of oil companies, not to mention Rockefeller himself, who is patriarch of the family whose name is synonymous with oil, but also because Chase exclusively handled all the letters of credit for the purchase of Iranian oil.
The Shah being accepted into the United States, under public pressure from Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski and David Rockefeller, precipitated the hostage crisis, which occurred on November 4. Ten days later, Carter froze all Iranian assets in US banks, on the advice of his Treasury Secretary, William Miller. Miller just happened to have ties to Chase Manhattan Bank.
Although Chase Manhattan directly benefited from the seizure of Iranian assets, the reasoning behind the seizure as well as the events leading up to it, such as a hidden role for the Anglo-Americans behind the Iranian Revolution, bringing the Shah to America, which precipitated the hostage crisis, cannot simply be relegated to personal benefit for Chase. There were larger designs behind this crisis. So the 1979 crises in Iran cannot simply be pawned off as a spur of the moment undertaking, but rather should be seen as quick actions taken upon a perceived opportunity. The opportunity was the rising discontent within Iran at the Shah; the quick actions were in covertly pushing the country into Revolution.
In 1979, “effectively restricting the access of Iran to the global oil market, the Iranian assets freeze became a major factor in the huge oil price increases of 1979 and 1981.” Added to this, in 1979, British Petroleum cancelled major oil contracts for oil supply, which along with cancellations taken by Royal Dutch Shell, drove the price of oil up higher. With the first major oil price rises in 1973 (urged on by US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger), the Third World was forced to borrow heavily from US and European banks to finance development. With the second oil price shocks of 1979, the US Federal Reserve, with Paul Volcker as its new Chairman, (himself having served a career under David Rockefeller at Chase Manhattan), dramatically raised interest rates from 2% in the late 70s to 18% in the early 80s. Developing nations could not afford to pay such interest on their loans, and thus the 1980s debt crisis spread throughout the Third World, with the IMF and World Bank coming to the “rescue” with their Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs), which ensured western control over the developing world’s economies.
Covertly, the United States helped a radical Islamist government come to power in Iran, “the center of the Arc of Crisis,” and then immediately stirred up conflict and war in the region. Five months before Iraq invaded Iran, in April of 1980, Zbigniew Brzezinski openly declared the willingness of the US to work closely with Iraq. Two months before the war, Brzezinski met with Saddam Hussein in Jordan, where he gave support for the destabilization of Iran. While Saddam was in Jordan, he also met with three senior CIA agents, which was arranged by King Hussein of Jordan. He then went to meet with King Fahd in Saudi Arabia, informing him of his plans to invade Iran, and then met with the King of Kuwait to inform him of the same thing. He gained support from America, and financial and arms support from the Arab oil producing countries. Arms to Iraq were funneled through Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The war lasted until 1988 and resulted in over a million deaths.
This was the emergence of the “strategy of tension” in the “Arc of Crisis,” in particular, the covert support (whether in arming, training, or financing) of radical Islamic elements to foment violence and conflict in a region. It was the old imperial tactic of ‘divide and conquer’: pit the people against each other so that they cannot join forces against the imperial power. This violence and radical Islamism would further provide the pretext for which the US and its imperial allies could then engage in war and occupation within the region, all the while securing its vast economic and strategic interests.
The “Arc of Crisis” in Afghanistan: The Safari Club in Action
In 1978, the progressive Taraki government in Afghanistan managed to incur the anger of the United States due to “its egalitarian and collectivist economic policies.” The Afghan government was widely portrayed in the West as “Communist” and thus, a threat to US national security. The government, did, however, undertake friendly policies and engagement with the Soviet Union, but was not a Communist government.
In 1978, as the new government came to power, almost immediately the US began covertly funding rebel groups through the CIA. In 1979, Zbigniew Brzezinski worked closely with his aid from the CIA, Robert Gates (who is currently Secretary of Defense), in shifting President Carter’s Islamic policy. As Brzezinski said in a 1998 interview with a French publication:
Brzezinski elaborated, saying he “Knowingly increased the probability that [the Soviets] would invade,” and he recalled writing to Carter on the day of the Soviet invasion that, “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.” When asked about the repercussions for such support in fostering the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, Brzezinski responded, “What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?”
As author Peter Dale Scott pointed out in, The Road to 9/11:*
Hafizullah Amin, a top official in Taraki’s government, who many believed to be a CIA asset, orchestrated a coup in September of 1979, and “executed Taraki, halted the reforms, and murdered, jailed, or exiled thousands of Taraki supporters as he moved toward establishing a fundamentalist Islamic state. But within two months, he was overthrown by PDP remnants including elements within the military.” The Soviets also intervened in order to replace Amin, who was seen as “unpredictable and extremist” with “the more moderate Barbak Karmal.”
The Soviet invasion thus prompted the US national security establishment to undertake the largest covert operation in history. When Ronald Reagan replaced Jimmy Carter in 1981, the covert assistance to the Afghan Mujahideen not only continued on the path set by Brzezinski but it rapidly accelerated, as did the overall strategy in the “Arc of Crisis.” When Reagan became President, his Vice President became George H.W. Bush, who, as CIA director during the Ford administration, had helped establish the Safari Club intelligence network and the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) in Pakistan. In the “campaign to aid the Afghan rebels … BCCI clearly emerged as a U.S. intelligence asset,” and CIA Director “Casey began to use the outside – the Saudis, the Pakistanis, BCCI – to run what they couldn’t get through Congress. [BCCI president] Abedi had the money to help,” and the CIA director had “met repeatedly” with the president of BCCI.
Thus, in 1981, Director Casey of the CIA worked with Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal who ran the Saudi intelligence agency GID, and the Pakistani ISI “to create a foreign legion of jihadi Muslims or so-called Arab Afghans.” This idea had “originated in the elite Safari Club that had been created by French intelligence chief Alexandre de Marenches.”
In 1986, the CIA backed a plan by the Pakistani ISI “to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad.” Subsequently:
CIA funding for the operations “was funneled through General Zia and the ISI in Pakistan.” Interestingly, Robert Gates, who previously served as assistant to Brzezinski in the National Security Council, stayed on in the Reagan-Bush administration as executive assistant to CIA director Casey, and who is currently Secretary of Defense.
The Global Drug Trade and the CIA
As a central facet of the covert financing and training of the Afghan Mujahideen, the role of the drug trade became invaluable. The global drug trade has long been used by empires for fuelling and financing conflict with the aim of facilitating imperial domination.
In 1773, the British colonial governor in Bengal “established a colonial monopoly on the sale of opium.” As Alfred W. McCoy explained in his masterful book, The Politics of Heroin:
In Indochina in the 1940s and 50s, the French intelligence services “enabled the opium trade to survive government suppression efforts,” and subsequently, “CIA activities in Burma helped transform the Shan states from a relatively minor poppy-cultivating area into the largest opium-growing region in the world.” The CIA did this by supporting the Kuomintang (KMT) army in Burma for an invasion of China, and facilitated its monopolization and expansion of the opium trade, allowing the KMT to remain in Burma until a coup in 1961, when they were driven into Laos and Thailand. The CIA subsequently played a very large role in the facilitation of the drugs trade in Laos and Vietnam throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s.
It was during the 1980s that “the CIA’s covert war in Afghanistan transformed Central Asia from a self-contained opium zone into a major supplier of heroin for the world market,” as:
In 1977, General Zia Ul Haq in Pakistan launched a military coup, “imposed a harsh martial-law regime,” and executed former President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (father to Benazir Bhutto). When Zia came to power, the Pakistani ISI was a “minor military intelligence unit,” but, under the “advice and assistance of the CIA,” General Zia transformed the ISI “into a powerful covert unit and made it the strong arm of his martial-law regime.”
The CIA and Saudi money flowed not only to weapons and training for the Mujahideen, but also into the drug trade. Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq appointed General Fazle Haq as the military governor of Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), who would “consult with Brzezinski on developing an Afghan resistance program,” and who became a CIA asset. When CIA Director Casey or Vice President George H.W. Bush reviewed the CIA Afghan operation, they went to see Haq; who by 1982, was considered by Interpol to be an international narcotics trafficker. Haq moved much of the narcotics money through the BCCI.
In May of 1979, prior to the December invasion of the Soviet Union into Afghanistan, a CIA envoy met with Afghan resistance leaders in a meeting organized by the ISI. The ISI “offered the CIA envoy an alliance with its own Afghan client, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar,” who led a small guerilla group. The CIA accepted, and over the following decade, half of the CIA’s aid went to Hekmatyar’s guerillas. Hekmatyar became Afghanistan’s leading mujahideen drug lord, and developed a “complex of six heroin labs in an ISI-controlled area of Baluchistan (Pakistan).”
The US subsequently, through the 1980s, in conjunction with Saudi Arabia, gave Hekmatyar more than $1 billion in armaments. Immediately, heroin began flowing from Afghanistan to America. By 1980, drug-related deaths in New York City rose 77% since 1979. By 1981, the drug lords in Pakistan and Afghanistan supplied 60% of America’s heroin. Trucks going into Afghanistan with CIA arms from Pakistan would return with heroin “protected by ISI papers from police search.”
Haq, the CIA asset in Pakistan, “was also running the drug trade,” of which the bank BCCI “was completely involved.” In the 1980s, the CIA insisted that the ISI create “a special cell for the use of heroin for covert actions.” Elaborating:
In the 1980s, one program undertaken by the United States was to finance Mujahideen propaganda in textbooks for Afghan schools. The US gave the Mujahideen $43 million in “non-lethal” aid for the textbook project alone, which was given by USAID: “The U.S. Agency for International Development, [USAID] coordinated its work with the CIA, which ran the weapons program,” and “The U.S. government told the AID to let the Afghan war chiefs decide the school curriculum and the content of the textbooks.”
The textbooks were “filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings,” and “were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines.” Even since the covert war of the 1980s, the textbooks “have served since then as the Afghan school system’s core curriculum. Even the Taliban used the American-produced books.” The books were developed through a USAID grant to the “University of Nebraska-Omaha and its Center for Afghanistan Studies,” and when the books were smuggled into Afghanistan through regional military leaders, “Children were taught to count with illustrations showing tanks, missiles and land mines.” USAID stopped this funding in 1994.
The Rise of the Taliban
When the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, the fighting continued between the Afghan government backed by the USSR and the Mujahideen backed by the US, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, so too did its aid to the Afghan government, which itself was overthrown in 1992. However, fighting almost immediately broke out between rival factions vying for power, including Hekmatyar.
In the early 1990s, an obscure group of “Pashtun country folk” had become a powerful military and political force in Afghanistan, known as the Taliban. The Taliban “surfaced as a small militia force operating near Kandahar city during the spring and summer of 1994, carrying out vigilante attacks against minor warlords.” As growing discontent with the warlords grew, so too did the reputation of the Taliban.
The Taliban acquired an alliance with the ISI in 1994, and throughout 1995, the relationship between the Taliban and the ISI accelerated and “became more and more of a direct military alliance.” The Taliban ultimately became “an asset of the ISI” and “a client of the Pakistan army.” Further, “Between 1994 and 1996, the USA supported the Taliban politically through its allies Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, essentially because Washington viewed the Taliban as anti-Iranian, anti-Shia, and pro-Western.”
Selig Harrison, a scholar with the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars and “a leading US expert on South Asia,” said at a conference in India that the CIA worked with Pakistan to create the Taliban. Harrison has “extensive contact” with the CIA, as “he had meetings with CIA leaders at the time when Islamic forces were being strengthened in Afghanistan,” while he was a senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. As he further revealed in 2001, “The CIA still has close links with the ISI.” By 1996, the Taliban had control of Kandahar, but still fighting and instability continued in the country.
Osama and Al-Qaeda
Between 1980 and 1989, roughly $600 million was passed through Osama bin Laden’s charity front organizations, specifically the Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK), also known as Al-Kifah. The money mostly originated with wealthy donors in Saudi Arabia and other areas in the Persian Gulf, and was funneled through his charity fronts to arm and fund the mujahideen in Afghanistan.
In the 1980s, the British Special Forces (SAS) were training mujahideen in Afghanistan, as well as in secret camps in Scotland, and the SAS is largely taking orders from the CIA. The CIA also indirectly begins to arm Osama bin Laden. Osama bin Laden’s front charity, the MAK, “was nurtured” by the Pakistani ISI.
Osama bin Laden was reported to have been personally recruited by the CIA in 1979 in Istanbul. He had the close support of Prince Turki bin Faisal, his friend and head of Saudi intelligence, and also developed ties with Hekmatyar in Afghanistan, both of whom were pivotal figures in the CIA-Safari Club network. General Akhtar Abdul Rahman, the head of the Pakistani ISI from 1980 to 1987, would meet regularly with Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, and they formed a partnership in demanding a tax on the opium trade from warlords so that by 1985, bin Laden and the ISI were splitting the profits of over $100 million per year. In 1985, Osama bin Laden’s brother, Salem, stated that Osama was “the liaison between the US, the Saudi government, and the Afghan rebels.”
In 1988, Bin Laden discussed “the establishment of a new military group,” which would come to be known as Al-Qaeda. Osama bin Laden’s charity front, the MAK, (eventually to form Al-Qaeda) founded the al-Kifah Center in Brooklyn, New York, to recruit Muslims for the jihad against the Soviets. The al-Kifah Center was founded in the late 1980s with the support of the U.S. government, which provided visas for known terrorists associated with the organization, including Ali Mohamed, the “blind sheik” Omar Abdel Rahman and possibly the lead 9/11 hijacker, Mohamed Atta.
This coincided with the creation of Al-Qaeda, of which the al-Kifah Center was a recruiting front. Foot soldiers for Al-Qaeda were “admitted to the United States for training under a special visa program.” The FBI had been surveilling the training of terrorists, however, “it terminated this surveillance in the fall of 1989.” In 1990, the CIA granted Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman a visa to come run the al-Kifah Center, who was considered an “untouchable” as he was “being protected by no fewer than three agencies,” including the State Department, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the CIA.
Robin Cook, a former British MP and Minister of Foreign Affairs wrote that Al-Qaeda, “literally ‘the database’, was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians.” Thus, “Al-Qaeda” was born as an instrument of western intelligence agencies. This account of al-Qaeda was further corroborated by a former French military intelligence agent, who stated that, “In the mid-1980s, Al Qaida was a database,” and that it remained as such into the 1990s. He contended that, “Al Qaida was neither a terrorist group nor Osama bin Laden’s personal property,” and further:
The creation of Al-Qaeda was thus facilitated by the CIA and allied intelligence networks, the purpose of which was to maintain this “database” of Mujahideen to be used as intelligence assets to achieve US foreign policy objectives, throughout both the Cold War, and into the post-Cold War era of the ‘new world order’.
Part 2 of “The Imperial Anatomy of al-Qaeda” takes the reader through an examination of the new imperial strategy laid out by American geopolitical strategists at the end of the Cold War, designed for America to maintain control over the world’s resources and prevent the rise of competitive powers. Covertly, the “database” (al-Qaeda) became central to this process, being used to advance imperial aims in various regions, such as in the dismantling of Yugoslavia. Part 2 further examines the exact nature of ‘al-Qaeda’, its origins, terms, training, arming, financing, and expansion. In particular, the roles of western intelligence agencies in the evolution and expansion of al-Qaeda is a central focus. Finally, an analysis of the preparations for the war in Afghanistan is undertaken to shed light on the geopolitical ambitions behind the conflict that has now been waging for nearly nine years.
* [Note on the research: For a comprehensive analysis of the history, origins and nature of al-Qaeda, see: Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire and the Future of America, which provided much of the research in the above article.]
 Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press: 2007: page 62
 Ibid, page 63.
 Ibid, page 62.
 Ibid, pages 66-67.
 HP-Time, The Crescent of Crisis. Time Magazine: January 15, 1979:
 Peter Dale Scott, op. cit., page 67.
 F. William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order. London: Pluto Press, 2004: page 171
 Manouchehr Ganji, Defying the Iranian Revolution: From a Minister to the Shah to a Leader of Resistance. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002: page 41
 Ibid, page 39.
 Ibid, page 41.
 F. William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order. London: Pluto Press, 2004: page 172
 Ibid, page 171.
 George Lenczowski, The Arc of Crisis: It’s Central Sector. Foreign Affairs: Summer, 1979: page 796
 Ibid, page 797.
 Ibid, page 798.
 IPS, Q&A: Iran’s Islamic Revolution Had Western Blessing. Inter-Press Service: July 26, 2008:
 Michael D. Evans, Father of the Iranian revolution. The Jerusalem Post: June 20, 2007:
 Peter Dale Scott, op cit., page 89.
 George Lenczowski, The Arc of Crisis: It’s Central Sector. Foreign Affairs: Summer, 1979: page 810
 F. William Engdahl, op cit., page 172.
 Peter Dale Scott, op cit., page 81.
 Michael D. Evans, Father of the Iranian revolution. The Jerusalem Post: June 20, 2007:
 Peter Dale Scott, op cit., page 83.
 Ibid, page 84.
 Ibid, page 81.
 Ibid, pages 85-86.
 Ibid, page 87.
 Ibid, pages 88-89.
 Ibid, pages 87-88.
 Ibid, page 85.
 Ibid, page 86.
 Ibid, page 88.
 F. William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order. London: Pluto Press, 2004: page 173
 Andrew Gavin Marshall, Controlling the Global Economy: Bilderberg, the Trilateral Commission and the Federal Reserve. Global Research: August 3, 2009:
 Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press: 2007: page 89
 PBS, Secrets of His Life and Leadership: An Interview with Said K. Aburish. PBS Frontline:
 Michael Parenti, Afghanistan, Another Untold Story. Global Research: December 4, 2008:
 Oleg Kalugin, How We Invaded Afghanistan. Foreign Policy: December 11, 2009:
 ‘’Le Nouvel Observateur’ (France), Jan 15-21, 1998, p. 76:
 Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press: 2007: page 73
 Michael Parenti, Afghanistan, Another Untold Story. Global Research: December 4, 2008:
 Peter Dale Scott, op cit., page 78.
 Ibid, page 116.
 Ibid, page 122.
 Ibid, page 123.
 Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade. (Lawrence Hill Books: Chicago, 2003), page 80
 Ibid, page 162.
 Ibid, pages 283-386.
 Ibid, page 466.
 Ibid, page 474.
 Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press: 2007: page 73
 Alfred W. McCoy, op cit., page 475.
 Peter Dale Scott, op cit., page 74.
 Ibid, pages 75-76.
 Ibid, page 124.
 Ibid, pages 75-76.
 Ibid, page 124.
 Carol Off, Back to school in Afghanistan. CBC: May 6, 2002:
 Joe Stephens and David B. Ottaway, From U.S., the ABC’s of Jihad. The Washington Post: March 23, 2002:
 Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. Penguin Books, New York, 2004: Page 328
 Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 11, 2001. (London: Penguin, 2005), page 285
 Steve Coll, “Steve Coll” Interview with PBS Frontline. PBS Frontline: October 3, 2006:
 Robert Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2005), page 326
 ToI, “CIA worked in tandem with Pak to create Taliban”. The Times of India: March 7, 2001:
 Robert Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2005), pages 279-280
 Simon Reeve, The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden, and the Future of Terrorism. (London: André Deutsch Ltd, 1999), page 168
 Michael Moran, Bin Laden comes home to roost. MSNBC: August 24, 1998:
 Veronique Maurus and Marc Rock, The Most Dreaded Man of the United States, Controlled a Long Time by the CIA. Le Monde Diplomatique: September 14, 2001: http://www.wanttoknow.info/010914lemonde
 Gerald Posner, Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11. (New York: Random House, 2003), page 29
 Steve Coll, The Bin Ladens. (New York: Penguin, 2008), pages 7-9
 AP, Al Qaeda Financing Documents Turn Up in Bosnia Raid. Fox News: February 19, 2003:
 Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press: 2007: pages 140-141
 Ibid, page 141.
 Robin Cook, The struggle against terrorism cannot be won by military means. The Guardian: July 8, 2005:
 Pierre-Henri Bunel, Al Qaeda — the Database. Global Research: November 20, 2005:
A New World War for a New World Order
The Origins of World War III: Part 3
Global Research, December 17, 2009
This article is Part 3 in the Series, “The Origins of World War III.”
In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, I have analyzed US and NATO geopolitical strategy since the fall of the Soviet Union, in expanding the American empire and preventing the rise of new powers, containing Russia and China. This Part examines the implications of this strategy in recent years; following the emergence of a New Cold War, as well as analyzing the war in Georgia, the attempts and methods of regime change in Iran, the coup in Honduras, the expansion of the Afghan-Pakistan war theatre, and spread of conflict in Central Africa. These processes of a New Cold War and major regional wars and conflicts take the world closer to a New World War. Peace is only be possible if the tools and engines of empires are dismantled.
Eastern Europe: Forefront of the New Cold War
In 2002, the Guardian reported that, “The US military build-up in the former Soviet republics of central Asia is raising fears in Moscow that Washington is exploiting the Afghan war to establish a permanent, armed foothold in the region.” Further, “The swift construction of US military bases is also likely to ring alarm bells in Beijing.”
In 2004, it was reported that US strategy “is to position U.S. forces along an “arc of instability” that runs through the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia and southern Asia. It is in these parts of the world –generally poor, insular and unstable –that military planners see the major future threats to U.S. interests.”
In 2005, it was reported that talks had been going on between the US and Poland since 2002, along with various other countries, “over the possibility of setting up a European base to intercept long-range missiles.” It was further reported that, “such a base would not have been conceivable before Poland joined Nato in 1999.”
In November of 2007 it was reported that, “Russia threatened to site short-range nuclear missiles in a second location on the European Union’s border yesterday if the United States refuses to abandon plans to erect a missile defence shield.” A senior Russian “army general said that Iskander missiles could be deployed in Belarus if US proposals to place 10 interceptor missiles and a radar in Poland and the Czech Republic go ahead.” Putin “also threatened to retrain Russia’s nuclear arsenal on targets within Europe.” However, “Washington claims that the shield is aimed not at Russia but at states such as Iran which it accuses of seeking to develop nuclear weapons that could one day strike the West.”
This is a patently absurd claim, as in May 2009, Russian and American scientists released a report saying “that it would take Iran at least another six to eight years to produce a missile with enough range to reach Southern Europe and that only illicit foreign assistance or a concerted and highly visible, decade-long effort might produce the breakthroughs needed for a nuclear-tipped missile to threaten the United States.” Even in December of 2007, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released by all 16 US intelligence agencies reported that, “Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains frozen.”
Russia has concerns not only about missile interceptors in Poland, which it claims are aimed at Russia, but is also concerned about “an advanced missile-tracking radar that the Pentagon wants to place in the Czech Republic.” Further, in 2007, the Guardian reported that, “Russia is preparing its own military response to the US’s controversial plans to build a new missile defence system in eastern Europe, according to Kremlin officials, in a move likely to increase fears of a cold war-style arms race.” A Kremlin spokesman said of the Polish missile defenses and the Czech radar system, that, “We were extremely concerned and disappointed. We were never informed in advance about these plans. It brings tremendous change to the strategic balance in Europe, and to the world’s strategic stability.”
In May of 2008, it was reported that, “President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia and President Hu Jintao of China met … to conclude a deal on nuclear cooperation and together condemn American proposals for a missile shield in Europe. Both countries called the plan a setback to international trust that was likely to upset the balance of power.”
In July of 2008, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that it “will be forced to make a military response if the U.S.-Czech missile defense agreement is ratified,” and that, “we will be forced to react not with diplomatic, but with military-technical methods.” In August of 2008, the US and Poland reached a deal “to place an American missile defense base on Polish territory.” Russia responded by “saying that the move would worsen relations with the United States.” Russia further said “the US had shown that Russia was the true target of the defensive shield, as tension between the two powers continued to rise over the conflict in Georgia.” The Deputy Head of Russia’s general staff “warned that Poland was making itself a target for Russia’s military.”
It was further reported that, “General Anatoly Nogovitsyn said that any new US assets in Europe could come under Russian nuclear attack with his forces targeting ‘the allies of countries having nuclear weapons’,” and that, “Such targets are destroyed as a first priority.”
In April of 2009, Obama said, “that the U.S. missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland will go forward.” In May of 2009, Russia said that it “could deploy its latest Iskander missiles close to Poland if plans to install U.S. Patriots on Polish soil go ahead.” In July of 2009, Russian President Medvedev said that, “Russia will still deploy missiles near Poland if the US pushes ahead with a missile shield in Eastern Europe.”
Iran and the China-Russia Alliance
The Bush regime used hostile rhetoric against Iran, threatening possible war against the country. However, Iran will not be in any way similar to the military adventurism seen in Iraq. A war against Iran will bring China and Russia to war with the west. Chinese and Russian investments with Iran, both in terms of military cooperation as well as nuclear proliferation and energy ties, have driven the interests of Iran together with those of China and Russia.
In 2007, both Russia and China warned against any attack on Iran by the west. From 2004 onwards, China became Iran’s top oil export market, and Iran is China’s third largest supplier of oil, following Angola and Saudi Arabia. China and Iran signed a gas deal in 2008 worth 100 billion dollars. Further, “Beijing is helping Tehran to build dams, shipyards and many other projects. More than 100 Chinese state companies are operating in Iran to develop ports and airports in the major Iranian cities, mine-development projects and oil and gas infrastructures.” Also, “China, Iran and Russia maintain identical foreign policy positions regarding Taiwan and Chechnya,” which only further strengthens their alliance.
In August of 2008, a senior Iranian defense official warned that any attack against Iran would trigger a world war. In February of 2009, Iran and Russia announced that, “Iran and Russia are to boost military cooperation.” Russia has also been selling arms and advanced weapons systems to both Iran and Venezuela. In 2008, OPEC warned against an attack on Iran, saying that, “oil prices would see an ‘unlimited’ increase in the case of a military conflict involving Iran, because the group’s members would be unable to make up the lost production.”
In 2001, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was founded as a mutual security organization between the nations of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Its main focus is on Central Asian security matters, such as “terrorism, separatism and extremism.” Nations with Observer status in the SCO are India, Mongolia, Pakistan and Iran. The SCO also emphasizes economic ties between the nations, and serves as a counter to American hegemony in Central Asia.
In October of 2007, the SCO, headed by China, signed an agreement with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), headed by Russia, in an effort to bolster and strengthen links in defense and security between the two major nations. The CSTO was formed in 2002 between Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. In 2007, it was suggested that Iran could join the CSTO. In April of 2009, it was reported that the CSTO is building up its cooperation with Iran, acting as a counterweight to NATO. In February of 2009, following a summit, the CSTO had “produced an agreement to set up a joint rapid-reaction force intended to respond to the ‘broadest range of threats and challenges’.” The rapid-reaction force “will comprise large military units from five countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan,” and is seen as a force to rival NATO.
In April of 2009, Russia and China “announced plans for an intensified programme of military cooperation yesterday as part of a burgeoning ‘strategic partnership’,” and that, “As many as 25 joint manoeuvres will be staged this year in a demonstration of strengthening ties between Moscow and Beijing.” Further, “Russia and China staged their first joint war games in 2005 after resolving outstanding border disputes between them. However, Moscow views Beijing as a lucrative market for defence exports and has sold billions of dollars of weaponry to China since the collapse of the Soviet Union ended their Communist rivalry.” Important to note is that, “Both states have a keen interest in keeping the United States and Europe out of Central Asia as competition intensifies for access to the region’s enormous oil and gas reserves.”
In June of 2009, “China and Russia signed a series of new agreements to broaden their collaborations in trade, investment and mining, including the framework on $700 million loan between Export-Import Bank of China and Russian Bank of Foreign Trade.” Of great importance, “Memorandums on bilateral gas and coal cooperation are likely to lead the two countries’ energy links to cover all the main sectors, from coal, oil, electricity, gas to nuclear power.” The leaders of both nations said that they “hoped the two countries will also increase their joint projects in science and technology, agriculture, telecommunications and border trade.”
In April of 2009, China and Russia signed a major oil pipeline deal to supply China with Russian oil. In July of 2009, China and Russia underwent a week-long war game exercise of land and air forces, “designed to counter a hypothetical threat from Islamist extremists or ethnic separatists that both countries insist look increasingly realistic.” In particular, “both are driven by a growing sense of urgency stemming from what they see as a deteriorating security picture in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan.”
The Georgian War: Spreading Conflict in the Caucasus
After the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, Georgia’s northern province of South Ossetia declared independence but failed to be internationally recognized. South Ossetia as well as Georgia’s other largely autonomous province, Abkhazia, had traditionally been allied with Russia. There had been long-standing tensions between South Ossetia and Georgia and a shaky ceasefire.
On August 1, 2008, six people were killed in South Ossetia when fighting broke out between Georgian and South Ossetian forces. Both sides blamed each other for opening fire first, with Russian peacekeepers blaming Georgia and the Georgians blaming Russian peacekeepers.
On August 5, Russia announced that it would “defend its citizens living in the conflict zone” if a conflict were to erupt in Georgia, and the South Ossetian President said Georgia was “attempting to spark a full-scale war.” Further, South Ossetian children were being evacuated out of the conflict zone, an act that was “condemned” by Georgia, saying that the separatists were “using their youngsters as political propaganda.”
On August 7, a ceasefire was announced between Georgia and South Ossetia, with Russia acting as a mediator between the two. On the night of August 7, five hours after the declared ceasefire, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili began a military operation against the capital city of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali. The Georgian attack targeted hospitals, the university and left the city without food, water, electricity and gas.
Georgian forces surrounded the city and their troops and tanks continued to assault the civilian targets. On the 8th of August, Russia called for an end to the military offensive. Reportedly, 2,000 civilians were killed by this point in South Ossetia, so Russia sent troops into the area. Russian Prime Minister Putin referred to Georgian actions as “genocide” and Russia also reportedly bombed a Georgian town. Immediately, the US called for “an end to the Russian bombings.” The Georgian President called it an “unprovoked brutal Russian invasion.” Much of Tskhinvali was left in ruins after the Georgian offensive, with 34,000 South Ossetian refugees in Russia.
Georgia, which had 2,000 troops deployed in Iraq, announced on August 9th that they would be pulling 1,000 troops out of Iraq to be deployed into South Ossetia, with the US providing the transportation for Georgian troops to get back to Georgia. However, the Russian advance pushed the Georgian troops back, recapturing the city and damaging much of Georgia’s military infrastructure. The Russian troops also entered the other breakaway province of Abkhazia and even occupied the Georgian city of Gori.
On August 12, the Russians announced an end to their military operations in Georgia and on August 13th, the last remaining Georgian troops pulled out of South Ossetia.
However, there is much more to this story than simply a conflict between a small Central Asian nation and Russia. It is important to remember the role played by American NGOs in putting the Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili into power through the Rose Revolution in 2003 [See: Colour-Coded Revolutions and the Origins of World War III]. The US then developed closer ties with Georgia. Even before the Rose Revolution, in 2002, US military advisers were in Georgia in an effort to open up a “new front” in the war on terror, with Americans there to “train the Georgian army in how to counter militant activity.” Also in 2002, hundreds of US Green Berets and 200 Special Forces arrived in Georgia to train Georgian forces “for anti-terrorism and counterinsurgency operations.” Russia warned against US involvement in Georgia, saying that it could “complicate” the situation.
US and Georgian troops even conducted war games and military exercises together. In July of 2008, it was reported that 1,000 US troops in Georgia began a military training exercise with Georgian troops called “Immediate Response 2008.” The same report stated that “Georgia and the Pentagon [cooperated] closely.” The training exercise came amidst growing tensions between Russia and Georgia, while the US was simultaneously supporting Georgia’s bid to become a NATO member.
Further, 1,200 US servicemen and 800 Georgians were to train for three weeks at a military base near the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. The exercise was being run in cooperation with NATO and was preceded by a visit to Georgia by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, where she met with the President and stated that, “the future of Georgia is in NATO.”
However, these exercises and increased military cooperation between the US and Georgia did not go unnoticed by Russia, which simultaneously began military exercises on the other side of the Caucasus mountains, involving up to 8,000 Russian servicemen. Clearly, Russia itself was aware of the potential for a military conflict in the region.
When the conflict with Russia began, there were US military instructors in Georgia, and Russia’s envoy to NATO also accused NATO of encouraging Georgia to take the offensive against South Ossetia.
The US was not the only western nation to aid Georgia, as the unofficial NATO member, Israel, also played a part in arming Georgia. The Georgian tanks and artillery that captured the South Ossetian capital were aided by Israeli military advisers. Further, for up to a year leading up to the conflict, the Georgian President had commissioned upwards of 1,000 military advisers from private Israeli security firms to train the Georgian armed forces, as well as offer instruction on military intelligence and security. Georgia also purchased military equipment from Israel.
The War in Georgia was designed to escalate tensions between NATO and Russia, using the region as a means to create a wider conflict. However, Russia’s decision to end the combat operations quickly worked to its benefit and had the effect of diminishing the international tensions. The issue of NATO membership for Georgia is very important, because had it been a NATO member, the Russian attack on Georgia would have been viewed as an attack on all NATO members. The war in Afghanistan was launched by NATO on the premises of ‘an attack against one is an attack against all.’
It also was significant that there was a large pipeline deal in the works, with Georgia sitting in a key strategic position. Georgia lies between Russia and Turkey, between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea, and above Iran and Iraq. The significance of Georgia as a strategic outpost cannot be underestimated. This is true, particularly when it comes to pipelines.
The Baku Tblisi Ceyhan (BTC) Pipeline, the second largest pipeline in the world, travels from Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, through Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, to Ceyhan, a Mediterranean port city in Turkey. This pipeline creates a route that bypasses both Iran and Russia, to bring Caspian Basin oil resources “to the United States, Israel and Western European markets.” The US company Bechtel, was the main contractor for construction, procurement and engineering, while British Petroleum (BP), is the leading shareholder in the project. Israel gets much of its oil via Turkey through the BTC pipeline route, which likely played a large part in Israel’s support for Georgia in the conflict, as a continual standoff between the West and the East (Russia/China) takes place for control of the world’s resources.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, co-founder, with David Rockefeller, of the Trilateral Commission, and Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser who played a key role in the creation of the Afghan Mujahideen, which became known as Al-Qaeda, wrote an op-ed for Time Magazine at the outbreak of the Russia-Georgia conflict. Brzezinski, being a Cold War kingpin of geopolitical strategy, naturally blamed Russia for the conflict. However, he also revealed the true nature of the conflict.
He started by blaming Russia’s “invasion of Georgia” on its “imperial aims.” Brzezinski blamed much of this on the “intense nationalistic mood that now permeates Russia’s political elite.” Brzezinski went on to explain Georgia’s strategic significance; stating that, “an independent Georgia is critical to the international flow of oil,” since the BTC pipeline “provides the West access to the energy resources of central Asia.” Brzezinski warned Russia of being “ostracized internationally,” in particular its business elite, calling them “vulnerable” because “Russia’s powerful oligarchs have hundreds of billions of dollars in Western bank accounts,” which would be subject to a possible “freezing” by the West in the event of a “Cold War-style standoff.” Brzezinski’s op-ed essentially amounted to geopolitical extortion.
Regime Change in Iran
There was, for many years, a split in the administration of George W. Bush in regards to US policy towards Iran. On the one hand, there was the hardliner neoconservative element, led by Dick Cheney, with Rumsfeld in the Pentagon; who were long pushing for a military confrontation with Iran. On the other hand, there was Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State, who was pushing for a more diplomatic, or “soft” approach to Iran.
In February of 2006, Condoleezza Rice introduced a new Iran strategy to the Senate, “emphasizing the tools of so-called soft diplomacy. She called for ramping up funding to assist pro-democracy groups, public diplomacy initiatives, and cultural and education fellowships, in addition to expanding U.S.-funded radio, television, and Internet and satellite-based broadcasting, which are increasingly popular among younger Iranians.” She added that, “we are going to work to support the aspirations of the Iranian people for freedom in their country.” There were three main facets to the program: “Expanding independent radio and television”; “Funding pro-democracy groups,” which “would lift bans on U.S. financing of Iran-based nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), trade unions, human rights groups, and opposition candidates”; and “Boosting cultural and education fellowships and exchanges,” which “would help pay Iranian students and scholars to enroll in U.S. universities.”
This marked a significant change in U.S. foreign policy with Iran, which would have the effect of making Iran’s domestic situation “more intense,” or as one expert put it, “this is the thing that can undo this regime.” Another expert stated that if the strategy failed, “we will have wasted the money, but worse than that, helped discredit legitimate opposition groups as traitors who receive money from the enemy to undermine Iran ‘s national interest.”
In March of 2006, the Iraq Study Group was assembled as a group of high level diplomats and strategic elites to reexamine US policy toward Iraq, and more broadly, to Iran as well. It proposed a softer stance towards Iran, and one of its members, Robert Gates, former CIA director, left the Group in November of 2006 to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. Cheney had fought to keep his ally in the Pentagon, but had failed in not only that, but also in preventing Robert Gates from being his replacement.
In February of 2006, the Guardian reported that the Bush administration received “a seven-fold increase in funding to mount the biggest ever propaganda campaign against the Tehran government,” and quoted Secretary Rice as saying, “we will work to support the aspirations of the Iranian people for freedom and democracy in their country.” The “US is to increase funds to Iranian non-governmental bodies that promote democracy, human rights and trade unionism,” which started in 2005 for the first time since 1980, and that, “the US would seek to help build new dissident networks.”
In April of 2006, the Financial Times reported that, “The US and UK are working on a strategy to promote democratic change in Iran,” as “Democracy promotion is a rubric to get the Europeans behind a more robust policy without calling it regime change.” Christian Science Monitor reported that the goal of the strategy was “regime change from within,” in the form of “a pro-democracy revolution.”
In July of 2007, it was reported that the White House had “shifted back in favour of military action,” at the insistence of Cheney. Josh Bolton, former US Ambassador to the United Nations, said in May of 2007, that US strategy consisted of three options: the first was economic sanctions, the second was regime change, and the third was military action. Bolton elaborated that, “we’ve got to go with regime change by bolstering opposition groups and the like, because that’s the circumstance most likely for an Iranian government to decide that it’s safer not to pursue nuclear weapons than to continue to do so. And if all else fails, if the choice is between a nuclear-capable Iran and the use of force, then I think we need to look at the use of force.” Ultimately, the aim would be “to foment a popular revolution.”
In September of 2007, it was reported that the Bush administration was pushing the US on the warpath with Iran, as “Pentagon planners have developed a list of up to 2,000 bombing targets in Iran.” It was even reported that Secretary Rice was “prepared to settle her differences with Vice-President Dick Cheney and sanction military action.” It was reported that Rice and Cheney were working together to present a more unified front, finding a middle ground between Rice’s soft diplomacy, and Cheney’s preference to use “bunker-busting tactical nuclear weapons” against Iran.
That same year, in 2007, the United States launched covert operations against Iran. ABC broke the story, reporting that, “The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert “black” operation to destabilize the Iranian government.” The President signed an order “that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran’s currency and international financial transactions.” The approval of these covert operations marked a temporary move away from pursuing overt military action.
As the Telegraph reported in May of 2007, “Bush has signed an official document endorsing CIA plans for a propaganda and disinformation campaign intended to destabilise, and eventually topple, the theocratic rule of the mullahs.” As part of the plan, “the CIA [has] the right to collect intelligence on home soil, an area that is usually the preserve of the FBI, from the many Iranian exiles and emigrés within the US,” as “Iranians in America have links with their families at home, and they are a good two-way source of information.” Further, “The CIA will also be allowed to supply communications equipment which would enable opposition groups in Iran to work together and bypass internet censorship by the clerical regime.”
“Soft” power became the favoured policy for promoting regime change in Iran. David Denehy, a senior adviser to the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, was “charged with overseeing the distribution of millions of dollars to advance the cause of a more democratic Iran.” He was responsible for disbursing the $75 million that Ms. Rice asked the Senate for in February of 2006. The appropriations included “$36.1 million into existing television and radio programs beaming into Iran,” and “$10 million would pay for public diplomacy and exchange programs, including helping Iranians who hope to study in America,” and “$20 million would support the efforts of civil-society groups — media, legal and human rights nongovernmental organizations — both outside and inside Iran.” The administration was requesting an additional $75 million for 2008.
In 2008, award-winning journalist Seymour Hersh revealed in the New Yorker that in late 2007, Congress approved “a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources.” While the Cheney hard-liners in the Bush administration were long pushing for a direct military confrontation with Iran, the military had to be reigned in from being controlled by the neo-conservatives. Robert Gates, a former CIA director, had replaced Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary, and while still saber rattling Iran, had to take a more strategic position, as many military leaders in the Pentagon felt “that bombing Iran is not a viable response to the nuclear-proliferation issue.”
The covert operations that were approved ran at a cost of approximately $400 million dollars, and “are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership. The covert activities involve support of the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations. They also include gathering intelligence about Iran’s suspected nuclear-weapons program.” The operations were to be expanded under both the CIA and JSOC (the Joint Special Operations Command). The focus was “on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” of which a major facet was “working with opposition groups and passing money.” Hersh elaborated:
Included in the strategy was to use ethnic tensions to undermine the government; however, this strategy is flawed. Unlike Pakistan, Lebanon, and Iraq, Iran is a much older country, “like France and Germany—and its citizens are just as nationalistic. The U.S. is overestimating ethnic tension in Iran.” This turned out to be an important point in regards to the elections in the summer of 2009.
Flashback to 1953
To understand the nature of American and British “democracy promotion” in Iran, it is important to examine their historical practices regarding “democracy” in Iran. Specifically, the events of 1953 present a very important picture, in which the United States orchestrated its first foreign coup, with guidance and direction from the British, who had extensive oil interests in Iran. The first democratically elected government of Mohommad Mossadeq in 1951 announced the nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (later to be re-named British Petroleum), which had an exclusive monopoly on Iranian oil. This naturally angered the British, who, in 1952, convinced the CIA to help in a plot to overthrow Iran’s government.
The idea to topple the Iranian government was born in Britain, but it didn’t take much to convince the CIA to launch a joint operation with the SIS. Government documents were made public which revealed that CIA “officers orchestrating the Iran coup worked directly with royalist Iranian military officers, handpicked the prime minister’s replacement, sent a stream of envoys to bolster the shah’s courage, directed a campaign of bombings by Iranians posing as members of the Communist Party, and planted articles and editorial cartoons in newspapers.” The strategy was aimed at supporting an Iranian General and the Shah through CIA assets and financing, which would overthrow Mossadeq, “particularly if this combination should be able to get the largest mobs in the streets.”
The Shah was to play a pivotal role, as he was “to stand fast as the C.I.A. stirred up popular unrest and then, as the country lurched toward chaos, to issue royal decrees dismissing Dr. Mossadegh and appointing General Zahedi prime minister.” CIA operatives stoked pressure by pretending to be Iranian Communists, threatening Muslim leaders with “savage punishment if they opposed Mossadegh,” in an effort to stir anti-Communist and anti-Mossadeq sentiments in the religious community. The CIA even bombed the house of a prominent Muslim. Further, the CIA was advancing a major propaganda campaign, as a major newspaper owner was paid $45,000 to support the efforts. The CIA, once the coup was underway, used American media as propaganda, in an attempt to legitimize the coup plotters, as the CIA sent The Associated Press a news release saying that, “unofficial reports are current to the effect that leaders of the plot are armed with two decrees of the shah, one dismissing Mossadegh and the other appointing General Zahedi to replace him.” The CIA also disseminated this propaganda through Iranian media.
Following the beginning of the coup, which began on August 15, Mossadeq suspended the Parliament, which ultimately played “into the C.I.A.’s hands.” After having several plotters arrested, he let his guard down. Then the American Embassy planned a counterattack for August 19, specifically using religious forces. At this time, the Communist Party blamed “Anglo-American intrigue” for the coup. However, just as the CIA thought it was a failure, Iranian papers began publishing en masse the Shah’s decrees, and suddenly large pro-Shah crowds were building in the streets. An Iranian journalist who was an important CIA agent, “led a crowd toward Parliament, inciting people to set fire to the offices of a newspaper owned by Dr. Mossadegh’s foreign minister. Another Iranian C.I.A. agent led a crowd to sack the offices of pro-Tudeh papers.”
Then coup supporters in the military began to enter the streets, and soon “the crowds began to receive direct leadership from a few officers involved in the plot and some who had switched sides. Within an hour the central telegraph office fell, and telegrams were sent to the provinces urging a pro-shah uprising. After a brief shootout, police headquarters and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs fell as well.” Interestingly, according to the declassified documents, the CIA “hoped to plant articles in American newspapers saying Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi’s return resulted from a homegrown revolt against a Communist-leaning government,” but that ultimately, “its operatives had only limited success in manipulating American reporters.” The CIA planted stories in US media, such as one instance where the State Department planted a CIA study in Newsweek.
One of the key lessons the CIA learned in this operation, was that it “exposed the agency’s shortcomings in manipulating the American press.” The CIA even manipulated a reporter with the New York Times to disseminate propaganda. While Soviet media was proclaiming the US responsible for the coup, American mentions of this in the media dismissed these accusations outright, and never “examined such charges seriously.”
By the end of Operation Ajax, as the CIA coup was codenamed, “some 300 people had died in firefights in the streets of Tehran,” largely due to the CIA “provoking street violence.” The coup resulted in “more than two decades of dictatorship under the Shah, who relied heavily on US aid and arms.”
The West Sponsors Terrorists in Iran
In 2005, Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector, reported that, “the Mujahadeen el-Khalq, or MEK, an Iranian opposition group, once run by Saddam Hussein’s dreaded intelligence services,” was now working for the CIA in terror bombings inside Iran. In February of 2007, the Telegraph reported that, “America is secretly funding militant ethnic separatist groups in Iran in an attempt to pile pressure on the Islamic regime to give up its nuclear programme.”
The CIA operations “involve dealing with movements that resort to terrorist methods,” and the article noted that, “there has been a wave of unrest in ethnic minority border areas of Iran, with bombing and assassination campaigns against soldiers and government officials,” and interestingly, the CIA operations are focused on “helping opposition militias among the numerous ethnic minority groups clustered in Iran’s border regions.” A former State Department counter-terrorism agent was quoted as saying, “The latest attacks inside Iran fall in line with US efforts to supply and train Iran’s ethnic minorities to destabilise the Iranian regime.”
ABC News reported in April of 2007 that, “A Pakistani tribal militant group responsible for a series of deadly guerrilla raids inside Iran has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials since 2005.” The group, named Jundullah, operates out of the Baluchistan province in Pakistan, on the boarder of Iran, and “has taken responsibility for the deaths and kidnappings of more than a dozen Iranian soldiers and officials.”
In 2008, Pakistan’s former Army Chief said that, “the US is supporting the outlawed Jundullah group to destabilize Iran,” and that, “the US is providing training facilities to Jundullah fighters–located in eastern areas of Iran–to create unrest in the area and affect the cordial ties between Iran and its neighbor Pakistan.”
The 2009 Election Protests
The events of 1953 presented a blueprint for the 2009 Iranian election protests, an attempted “soft revolution” in Iran, also drawing from the “colour revolutions” in the post-Soviet states of Eastern Europe [See: Colour-Coded Revolutions and the Origins of World War III]. It is the thesis of this author that the 2009 election riots in Iran were a covert US (and British) plot designed to orchestrate regime change in Iran. The aim was to put in place a US-friendly leader, and thus, exert political, economic and strategic hegemony over Iran. Following the stratagem of US-funded “colour revolutions” in the former Soviet bloc, but with heavy CIA influence, drawing parallels with the 1953 coup; the plot was ultimately unsuccessful.
While the 1953 coup revealed the failure of the CIA to greatly influence and manipulate US media, the 2009 riots revealed a great success in American media manipulation; however, ironically, it was the focus on this triumphant success that may have impeded the ultimate success of the plot. American popular perception of an illegitimate election and political oppression was enough to support regime change, but not to enact regime change. So, in a bitter irony for the US, the failure of the 1953 coup, became the success of the 2009 plot; while the success of the 1953 coup, became the failure of the 2009 plot. It just so happens that the success of the 1953 coup . . . was that it worked.
In November of 2008, Iranian media reported that, “the White House is making strenuous efforts to orchestrate a “Velvet Revolution” in Iran.” The former Iranian ambassador to the United Nations said that, “that Washington is conspiring to foment discord among Iranians in order to topple the Tehran government.”
Iranian media reported in April of 2009, two months prior to the Presidential elections, that Iran’s Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) had “uncovered a plot for a ‘soft overthrow’ of the country’s government,” and “accused the Netherlands of conspiring to foment a velvet revolution in the country by supporting the opposition through the media and different Internet sites.” In 2005, the Dutch parliament funded a 15 million euro “media polarization campaign” inside Iran, which was “Coupled with British assistance and secret US funding.”
In the lead-up to the elections, there were increasing attacks within Iran. Two weeks before the election, on May 28, 2009, in southeastern Iran, a Shi’a mosque bombing resulted in the deaths of 20 people. An Iranian official accused the United States of involvement in arming the terrorists, who committed the act in a Sunni area of Iran, a religious minority within the country. Jundullah, the terrorist organization armed and funded by the US through the CIA, claimed responsibility for the bombing. The following day, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election campaign office was attacked by gunmen in the same city as the bombing, resulting in several injuries. These attacks, aimed at stirring up religious tensions, are reminiscent of the attacks carried out by the CIA in Iran in the 1953 coup.
The day before the election, on June 11, 2009, it was reported that the National Endowment for Democracy, the main institution behind the “colour revolutions” in Eastern Europe (covered in Part 2 of this series), had spent a lot of money that made it into the hands of pro-Mousavi groups inside Iran, as Mousavi was the Western favoured candidate in the Iranian elections. It was even reported that there was talk of a “green revolution” in Iran, as the Mousavi campaign was full of green scarves and banners at the rallies.
On June 10, 2009, two days before the election, a New York Times blog reported that there was concern among many Ahmadinejad supporters in Iran that they fear “that what they are witnessing is a local version of the Orange Revolution, which swept an opposition government into power in Ukraine.”
On June 12, 2009, the Iranian election took place. Immediately, the propaganda machine went into effect and the plan for a colour revolution in Iran was underway. Iran’s state run news agency reported that Ahmadinejad had won in a landslide victory of 69%. Immediately, his main rival and the American-favoured candidate, Moussavi, claimed that he had won and that there were voting “irregularities,” and was quoted as saying, “I am the absolute winner of the election by a very large margin.”
Immediately, Western governments denounced the election as a fraud, and protests began in the streets of Tehran, where young people clad in the green of the Mousavi campaign declared “Death to the Dictator” referring to Ahmadinejad. Mousavi encouraged the protests to continue, and in the second day of protests, young people “broke the windows of city buses on several streets in central Tehran. They burned banks, rubbish bins and piles of tyres used as flaming barricades. Riot police hit some of the protesters with batons while dozens of others holding shields and motorcycles stood guard nearby.” Western governments then openly declared their solidarity with the protests and denounced the Iranian government for repressing them.
Despite all the claims of vote fraud and irregularities, those taking this position offered no actual evidence to support it. As Politico reported on June 15, the people proclaiming fraud “ignore the fact that Ahmadinejad’s 62.6 percent of the vote in this year’s election is essentially the same as the 61.69 percent he received in the final count of the 2005 presidential election.” These people also conveniently ignore many popular perceptions within Iran, such as the fact that most Iranians saw Ahmadinejad as having won the televised debates and that he can also be viewed as a populist campaigner. Ahmadinejad has the support of a large amount of Iranians, “including the religiously pious, lower-income groups, civil servants and pensioners.”
Some “evidence” for fraud was highly circumstantial, in that it claimed that because Mousavi comes from an Azeri background, “he was guaranteed to win Iran’s Azeri-majority provinces,” and so, when Ahmadinejad won in these provinces, “fraud is the only possible explanation.” However, Ahmadinejad also speaks Azeri quite fluently, had formerly served as an official in two Azeri areas, and the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khameini, is also Azeri.
This also ignores the class based voting of Iranians. While the West tends to portray the Middle East and Africa through an Orientalist lens, viewing them as “the Other,” and often portraying the people of these regions as backwards or barbaric, reality is a far cry from Western perception. People in the Middle East, including in Iran, vote with concerns about the economy and social conditions in mind just as much as voters in the west do. Voting in the Middle East is not simply based upon religious or ethnic differences, there is more to consider, and any analysis that forgets this is flawed. Even the Financial Times was quoted as saying, “Change for the poor means food and jobs, not a relaxed dress code or mixed recreation,” and that, “Politics in Iran is a lot more about class war than religion.”
As James Petras wrote, “The only group, which consistently favored Mousavi, was the university students and graduates, business owners and the upper middle class.” These also happened to be the highly Westernized Iranians. The Iranians protesting in the “green revolution” were holding signs written in English, and were giving interviews to western media all in English. Many were western educated and raised. The Iranian diaspora in the west was also largely supportive of the “green revolution,” as they are the sons and daughters of those who had emigrated out of Iran following the 1979 Iranian Revolution. They are the children of the exiled Iranian capitalist class, and do not represent a fair assessment of the internal Iranian population. After all, the poor and the masses do not have the means to emigrate to the west. Naturally, many westernized youth in Iran have legitimate concerns and social issues with the present way of governance within Iran; however, the majority of Iranians are more concerned with their daily meals than Islamic dress codes.
As Petras further pointed out, “The ‘youth vote’, which the Western media praised as ‘pro-reformist’, was a clear minority of less than 30% but came from a highly privileged, vocal and largely English speaking group with a monopoly on the Western media.” Even the Washington Post reported on June 15, about a major Western poll conducted in Iran three weeks prior to the election, in which it “showed Ahmadinejad leading by a more than 2 to 1 margin — greater than his actual apparent margin of victory,” and the “scientific sampling from across all 30 of Iran’s provinces showed Ahmadinejad well ahead.”
The Washington Post article further pointed out that, “Much commentary has portrayed Iranian youth and the Internet as harbingers of change in this election. But our poll found that only a third of Iranians even have access to the Internet, while 18-to-24-year-olds comprised the strongest voting bloc for Ahmadinejad of all age groups.” Further, the only demographic where Mousavi was “leading or competitive with Ahmadinejad were university students and graduates, and the highest-income Iranians.” The article ended by saying that, “The fact may simply be that the reelection of President Ahmadinejad is what the Iranian people wanted.”
The Internet played a very large role in the international perception of the Iranian elections, as social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook were used to advance the aims of the “green revolution,” often giving it the name the “Twitter Revolution.” Remember that in 2007, “a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation,” was put into effect, which were “intended to destabilise, and eventually topple, the theocratic rule of the mullahs.” As part of this, “The CIA will also be allowed to supply communications equipment which would enable opposition groups in Iran to work together and bypass internet censorship by the clerical regime.”
In the midst of the protests, the Iranian government cracked down on dissent, banning foreign reporters and blocking websites. As the Washington Times reported, “Well-developed Twitter lists showed a constant stream of situation updates and links to photos and videos, all of which painted a portrait of the developing turmoil. Digital photos and videos proliferated and were picked up and reported in countless external sources safe from the regime’s Net crackdown.” Naturally, all of this information came from the upper class Western students, who had access to this technology, which they were using in English.
On June 15, “a 27-year-old State Department official, Jared Cohen, e-mailed the social-networking site Twitter with an unusual request: delay scheduled maintenance of its global network, which would have cut off service while Iranians were using Twitter to swap information and inform the outside world about the mushrooming protests around Tehran.” Further, the New York Times reported that, “Mr. Cohen, a Stanford University graduate who is the youngest member of the State Department’s policy planning staff, has been working with Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and other services to harness their reach for diplomatic initiatives.”
It turned out only a small number of people in Iran actually used Twitter for organizational purposes; however, “Twitter did prove to be a crucial tool in the cat-and-mouse game between the opposition and the government over enlisting world opinion.” Twitter also took part in spreading disinformation during the protests, as the New York Times pointed out that, “some of the biggest errors on Twitter that were quickly repeated and amplified by bloggers: that three million protested in Tehran last weekend (more like a few hundred thousand); that the opposition candidate Mir Hussein Moussavi was under house arrest (he was being watched); that the president of the election monitoring committee declared the election invalid last Saturday (not so).”
On the 28th of June, the Iranian Intelligence Minister blamed western powers, specifically the United States and Britain, for the post-election protests and violence. Iran even arrested British embassy staff in Tehran. On July 3, the head of Iran’s Guardians Council said that, “British embassy staff would be put on trial for inciting violent protests.” Iran had arrested nine “British embassy employees it accused of playing a role in organising pro-democracy demonstrations,” but had released seven of them by July. However, one Embassy staff member had been accused of “a significant role” in the election riots.
Amidst all the British denials of any involvement, the Telegraph revealed in late July that two exiles, “Azadeh Assadi and Vahid Saderigh have been providing crucial support to opposition leaders in Tehran from their homes in London,” who “take their cue from Iran’s Green Movement which has been the rallying point for an unprecedented challenge to the leadership of the Islamic Republic.” They further organized the protests at the Iranian Embassy in London, which lasted for 31 days, longer than anywhere else.
Hossein Rassam, head of the security and political division of the British Embassy in Tehran, was arrested under suspicions that he played a key role in the protests “in providing guidance to diplomats and reporters of the British media.” Further, an Iranian-American scholar was arrested. In 2007, Iran arrested “Haleh Esfandiari, head of the Wilson Center’s Middle East program, and Kian Tajbakhsh, with links to the Soros institute, on suspicions of endangering the country’s national security.” They were released after three months detention.
Of great interest were the statements made my former high-level American strategic kingpins of the foreign policy establishment in the wake of the riots: among them, Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Brent Scowcroft. Former US National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, in an interview with Al-Jazeera shortly after the start of the protests, when asked if the US had intelligence agents on the ground in Iran, replied, without hesitation, “Of course we do.” The interviewer asked if they would help the protesters, to which Scowcroft replied, “They might be, who knows. But that’s a far cry from helping protesters against the combined might of the Revolutionary Guard, the militias, and so on, and the police, who are so far, completely unified.” He explained that he feels the “movement” for change is there in Iran, and that, “It’s going to change Iran, I think that is almost inevitable.”
Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Adviser in the Jimmy Carter administration, co-founder with David Rockefeller of the Trilateral Commission, and arch-hawk geopolitical strategist, was interviewed on CNN shortly after the protests began. When asked how the situation could be worked out to resemble Eastern Europe, as in, successful colour revolutions putting western puppets in power, Brzezinski responded, “Well, I think it will not work out the way Eastern Europe worked out, and hopefully it will not end the way Tiananmen Square ended. Eastern Europe became intensely pro-Western, pro-American, and so forth.” Further, he explained, “If there is a change of regime in Iran, there is a greater chance of accommodation, and I think that is to be fervently wished for. But that requires patience, intelligent manipulation, moral support, but no political interference.”
Henry Kissinger, former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State; was interviewed by BBC at the outbreak of the riots. He stated that, “Now if it turns out that it is not possible for a government to emerge in Iran that can deal with itself as a nation rather than as a cause, then we have a different situation. Then we may conclude that we must work for regime change in Iran from the outside.”
Clearly, there were extensive Western interests and involvement behind the Iranian “democracy” movement that resulted in the protests following the election. However, the ultimate goal of the attempted “colour revolution” failed, as it did not succeed in achieving regime change. Brzezinski’s strategy of “intelligent manipulation” ultimately failed, and so, as Henry Kissinger stated, “we may conclude that we must work for regime change in Iran from the outside.”
Latin America Is Not to Be Left Out: The Coup in Honduras
It is important to take a look at recent events in Latin America in an imperial context to understand how wide and vast American and NATO imperial strategy is. While the world’s eyes and media were fixated on events in Iran, another event was taking place in Latin America, which was conveniently ignored by international media.
On June 28, 2009, the Honduran military kidnapped the President of Honduras and flew him into exile. The official line was that the coup was prompted when Manuel Zelaya, the President of Honduras, was attempting to schedule a poll on holding a referendum about rewriting the constitution. The Supreme Court secretly issued an arrest warrant for Zelaya on June 26, “charging him with treason and abuse of power.” The military entered his house two days later, and put him on a military plane to Costa Rica, and the same day, the Honduran Congress voted to remove Zelaya and replace him with the Speaker of Congress Roberto Micheletti.
Zelaya happened to be a close ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, as well as Bolivian President Evo Morales; who represent the populist leaders of the new move to the left in Latin America, and pose a strong opposition force to the hegemony of US and Western interests in the region. Hugo Chavez alleged that the coup had the hands of the United States in it, and that the upper class in Honduras helped and “have turned Honduras into a ‘banana republic’, into a political, military and terror base for the North American empire.”
The New York Times reported that the Obama administration was “surprised” by the coup, “But they also said that they had been working for several weeks to try to head off a political crisis in Honduras as the confrontation between Mr. Zelaya and the military over his efforts to lift presidential term limits escalated.” Further, “The United States has long had strong ties to the Honduras military and helps train Honduran military forces.” It was further reported that Secretary of State Hilary Clinton visited Zelaya on June 2, and that the United States thought Zelaya’s plans for reforming the Constitution was a “bad idea.” The US Ambassador to Honduras had held discussions with military officials where “There was talk of how they might remove the president from office, how he could be arrested, on whose authority they could do that.”
As it turned out, the General in the Honduran Army who overthrew Zelaya “is a two-time graduate of the U.S. Army School of the Americas, an institution that has trained hundreds of coup leaders and human rights abusers in Latin America.” Past graduates have included Argentine Gen. Leopoldo Galtieri, Guatemalan dictator Gen. Efrain Rios Montt, “Panamanian dictators Gen. Omar Torrijos, who overthrew a civilian government in a 1968 coup, and Gen. Manuel Noriega, a five-time SOA graduate, who ruled the country and dealt in drugs while on the CIA payroll,” Ecuadoran dictator Gen. Guillermo Rodriguez, Bolivian dictators Gen. Hugo Banzer Suarez and Gen. Guido Vildoso Calderon, and Peruvian strongman Gen. Juan Velasco Alvarado.
As was reported the following day of the coup, over the previous ten years, “the United States has delivered $18.41 million in weapons and defense articles to Honduras through the foreign military sales program,” with Foreign Military Financing totaling $7.3 million between 2003 and today, and “International Military Education and Training funds in that same period came to $14.82 million.”
The Washington Post reported, two days following the coup, that when Clinton was asked if it was a US priority to see Zelaya reinstated, she responded, “We haven’t laid out any demands that we’re insisting on, because we’re working with others on behalf of our ultimate objectives.” Zelaya had fired Gen. Romeo Vasquez prior to the coup, and Air Force commander, Gen. Luis Javier Prince Suazo, along with many other military leaders resigned. Both Vasquez and Suazo were trained at the School of the Americas.
An article in the Guardian published a few days after the coup stated that, as countries around the world condemned the coup and called for the reinstatement of Zelaya, “Washington’s ambivalence has begun to raise suspicions about what the US government is really trying to accomplish in this situation.” One possibility for this is that “the Obama administration may want to extract concessions from Zelaya as part of a deal for his return to office.” Following the coup, oppression in Honduras was rampant: “political repression, the closing of TV and radio stations, the detention of journalists, detention and physical abuse of diplomats and what the Committee to Protect Journalists has called a “media blackout” have yet to draw a serious rebuke from Washington.” As the author astutely stated:
This harks back to 2002, when the United States had its hands involved in the attempted coup in Venezuela to oust President Hugo Chavez, which ultimately failed. In the months leading up to the attempted coup in April 2002, US officials held a series of meetings with “Venezuelan military officers and opposition activists.” Further, “a few weeks before the coup attempt, administration officials met Pedro Carmona, the business leader who took over the interim government after President Hugo Chavez was arrested.”
The Pentagon even “confirmed that the Venezuelan army’s chief of staff, General Lucas Romero Rincon, visited the Pentagon in December and met the assistant secretary of defence for western hemispheric affairs.” Further, when “Mr Carmona and other opposition leaders came to the US they met Otto Reich, the assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs.” Otto Reich was a veteran of the Reagan-era “dirty tricks” in Latin America, such as the contra operations, which involved the US funding drug-running terrorists and death squads, and Reich “was the head of the office of public diplomacy in the state department, which was later found to have been involved in covert pro-contra propaganda.”
The Observer reported that the coup attempt in 2002 “was closely tied to senior officials in the US government.” Among the officials involved, “Elliot Abrams, who gave a nod to the attempted Venezuelan coup, has a conviction for misleading Congress over the infamous Iran-Contra affair.” There was of course Otto Reich, who met with all the coup leaders in the months preceding the coup. Finally, there was John Negroponte, who was in 2002 “ambassador to the United Nations. He was Reagan’s ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985 when a US-trained death squad, Battalion 3-16, tortured and murdered scores of activists. A diplomatic source said Negroponte had been ‘informed that there might be some movement in Venezuela on Chavez’ at the beginning of the year.”
Two weeks following the coup in Honduras, Roberto Micheletti, the man who replaced Zelaya following the coup, showed up at the house of President Óscar Arias of Costa Rica, who was to mediate between the “interim government” and Zelaya. Micheletti however, was accompanied with an interesting cast of characters. He arrived with six advisers, among them, “an American public relations specialist who has done work for former President Bill Clinton and the American’s interpreter, and an official close to the talks said the team rarely made a move without consulting him.” International pressure for US sanctions on Honduras was building, however:
Clearly, whatever the end result, which has yet to be determined, the hand of the United States can be seen in the Honduran coup. The bias and ultimately the failure of the international media became quite evident as a result of the coup. While the global media, particularly the western corporate media, were devoting non-stop coverage to the Iranian elections, proclaiming fraud, while offering no evidence; a military coup ousting a democratically elected president and installing an oppressive dictatorship which immediately began its heavy handed repression received scant attention. The western media attacked an actual democratic process in action, while ignoring a military assault against democracy. Which story receives more coverage is determined by the interests involved: in Iran, the West wanted a new government, so the media pushed for one; in Honduras, the US wanted a new government, so the media turned a blind eye while they got one through non-democratic means.
The Afghanistan-Pakistan War Theatre
Within days of getting into office, President Obama authorized a missile strike in Pakistan, which killed several civilians. Obama continued with this strategy, after Bush, in July of 2008, “authorized the C.I.A. and the Joint Special Operations Command to make ground incursions into Pakistan.” This was to set the pace for US strategy in the region, particularly in relation to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In late March, Obama announced his plan for a new Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy, which are to be a combined strategy. As part of the strategy, known as the AfPak strategy, “More U.S. troops, civilian officials and money will be needed,” and “Obama pledged to tighten U.S. focus on Pakistan.” Further, Obama announced in late March that, “he would send 4,000 U.S. troops — beyond the additional 17,000 he authorized” in February, “to work as trainers and advisers to the Afghan army, and hundreds more civilian officials and diplomats to help improve governance and the country’s economy,” bringing the total number of US troops up to 60,000.
In May, a major event took place in military circles, as one of the few times in over 50 years an American wartime general was fired in the field. In May of 2009, Defense Secretary Robert Gates fired the top general in Afghanistan saying that what was needed was “fresh thinking” and “fresh eyes” on Afghanistan. Gates “recommended that President Obama replace McKiernan with a veteran Special Operations commander, Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal.” As the Washington Post reported, McKiernan, the general whom Gates fired, “was viewed as somewhat cautious and conventionally minded.” Could it be that McKiernan did not see the AfPak strategy as a viable option; that it went against “caution”?
His replacement, General McChrystal, was “the director of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff. From 2006 to August 2008, he was the forward commander of the U.S. military’s secretive Joint Special Operations Command, responsible for capturing or killing high-level leaders of the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq.” One expert summed up the new General as such: “McChrystal kills people.” One senior military official at the Pentagon asked; “what message are we sending when our high-value-target hunter is sent to lead in Afghanistan?”
However, there is another twist to this story. As Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Seymour Hersh revealed, Cheney created a special unit called the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which was to carry out high-level assassinations. This unit was kept a secret for many years, and Hersh referred to it as an “Executive assassination ring.” Hersh reported that they carried out many assassinations, “not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s in a lot of other countries, in the Middle East and in South Asia and North Africa and even central America.” The new General of the AfPak war theatre, Stanley McChrystal, used to run Cheney’s assassination squad.
At the end of November 2009, Obama announced a surge of an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, “bringing the total American force to about 100,000.” Further, in early December, it was reported that Obama “authorized an expansion of the C.I.A.’s drone program in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas, officials said this week, to parallel the president’s decision, announced Tuesday, to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.”
Clearly, the Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy will only further inflame the region in conflict and turmoil. Expanding the Afghan war into Pakistan is akin to playing with matches around a stick of dynamite. Perhaps this was the clarity of the previous general, McKiernan, in seeing this strategic insanity, and thus, the reason for his removal. The destabilization of this region threatens all of the neighboring countries, including India, China, Russia, Turkey and Iran. The possibility of creating a much wider war in the region, and even between the great powers, is ever increasing.
Africa and AFRICOM
During the Cold War, Africa was an imperial battleground between the USSR and the US-NATO powers, with the ultimate goal being the control over strategic resource-rich areas. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia’s influence in Africa largely dissipated, and with that, came the neo-imperial struggle among the western powers for control over key strategic points. Now, the great battle in Africa is between the NATO powers, primarily the United States, and China, which has had exponential growth and influence on the continent.
The 1990s saw the Rwandan genocide as a key event in Africa, which was, in actuality, a struggle between France and the United States over the key strategic location of Rwanda. The World Bank and IMF laid the groundwork for conflict, creating the economic conditions that exacerbated colonial-era ethnic tensions. Meanwhile, the United States, through its proxy state of Uganda, funded military operations and trained the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which conducted military operations from Uganda into Rwanda. The Civil War waged from 1990-1993, with the US funding all sides of the conflict. In 1994, the RPF shot down the plane carrying the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, which sparked the genocide. Following the genocide, the US-trained puppet, Paul Kagame, became President of Rwanda.
Following these events, the US had two protectorates in Central Africa, Uganda and Rwanda, both of which bordered the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This was the ultimate prize in the area. From both Rwanda and Uganda, military operations were funded and paramilitary forces were trained by the United States to venture into the DRC, which erupted in coups and Civil War. However, western, primarily American and Canadian corporations were plundering the resource-rich Congo, while millions of Congolese civilians died.
In April of 2001, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney held a hearing on Western involvement in the plunder of Africa, in which she stated, “at the heart of Africa’s suffering is the West’s, and most notably the United States’, desire to access Africa’s diamonds, oil, natural gas, and other precious resources . . . the West, and most notably the United States, has set in motion a policy of oppression, destabilization and tempered, not by moral principle, but by a ruthless desire to enrich itself on Africa’s fabulous wealth.”
In the New World Order, Africa has not lost its significance as a geopolitical prize for the great powers. While the Middle East, save Iran, is largely under the influence of the United States and its NATO allies, Africa is the main battleground between the US and China. Imperialism in Africa goes under many names: the “War on Terror”, military assistance, economic aid, and “humanitarian intervention” to name a few.
U.S. Strategy in Africa
In 2005, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the main policy-planning group of the US elite, published a Task Force Report on US strategy in Africa called, More Than Humanitarianism: A Strategic U.S. Approach Toward Africa. In the report, it was stated that:
The report stated that, “The United States is facing intense competition for energy and other natural resources in Africa,” identifying India and primarily China as its main competitors “in the search for these resources and for both economic and political influence on the continent.” In particular, “China presents a particularly important challenge to U.S. interests.”
Further, “To compete more effectively with China, the United States must provide more encouragement and support to well-performing African states, develop innovative means for U.S. companies to compete, give high-level attention to Africa, and engage China on those practices that conflict with U.S. interests.”
In analyzing the threat China poses to the US in Africa, the report hypocritically and misleadingly states that one of its main concerns is that China uses “its seat on the UN Security Council to protect some of Africa’s most egregious regimes from international sanction, in particular Sudan and Zimbabwe.” This conveniently ignores the United States doing the same thing in regards to Israel, as well as its tacit, overt and covert support for brutal regimes across the world, not simply in Africa.
The report explained that much of China’s growing influence is due to its “soft loans,” meaning that Chinese loans to African countries do not come attached with “conditions” as in World Bank and IMF loans, which make them much more attractive to African countries. China is also heavily invested in the oil of Sudan, specifically in Darfur, which the West does not have access to.
In analyzing how the War on Terror had been brought to Africa, the report stated:
As the Guardian reported in June of 2005, “A new ‘scramble for Africa’ is taking place among the world’s big powers, who are tapping into the continent for its oil and diamonds.” A key facet of this is that “corporations from the US, France, Britain and China are competing to profit from the rulers of often chaotic and corrupt regimes.”
In May of 2006, the Washington Post reported that the US has been “secretly supporting secular warlords who have been waging fierce battles against Islamic groups for control of the capital, Mogadishu.”
In December of 2006, Ethiopia, heavily backed and supported by the US, invaded and occupied Somalia, ousting the Islamist government. The US support for the operations was based upon the claims of Somalia being a breeding ground for terrorists and Al-Qaeda. However, this was has now turned into an insurgency. Wired Magazine reported in December of 2008 that, “For several years the U.S. military has fought a covert war in Somalia, using gunships, drones and Special Forces to break up suspected terror networks – and enlisting Ethiopia’s aid in propping up a pro-U.S. “transitional” government.”
However, there is naturally more to this than fighting “terrorists.” Civil war has raged in Somalia since 1991, creating destabilization and political instability. The UN intervened between 1992 and 1995, and the US sent in Special Forces in 1993. As the Los Angeles Times revealed in 1993, “four major U.S. oil companies are quietly sitting on a prospective fortune in exclusive concessions to explore and exploit tens of millions of acres of the Somali countryside.” According to the article, “nearly two-thirds of Somalia was allocated to the American oil giants Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips in the final years before Somalia’s pro-U.S. President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown and the nation plunged into chaos in January, 1991.”
The Ethiopian troops occupied Somalia for a couple years, and in January of 2009, the last Ethiopian troops left the capital city of Mogadishu. In 2007, the UN authorized an African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission in Somalia. In March of 2007, Ugandan military officials landed in Somalia. Essentially, what this has done is that the more overt Ethiopian occupation of Somalia has been replaced with a UN-mandated African Union occupation of the country, in which Ugandan troops make up the majority. Since Uganda is a proxy military state for the US in the region, the more overt US supported Ethiopian troops have been replaced by a more covert US-supported Ugandan contingent.
In 2007, Newsweek reported that, “America is quietly expanding its fight against terror on the African front. Two years ago the United States set up the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership with nine countries in central and western Africa. There is no permanent presence, but the hope is to generate support and suppress radicalism by both sharing U.S. weapons and tactics with friendly regimes and winning friends through a vast humanitarian program assembled by USAID, including well building and vocational training.” The Pentagon announced the formation of a new military strategic command called “Africom” (Africa Command), which “will integrate existing diplomatic, economic and humanitarian programs into a single strategic vision for Africa, bring more attention to long-ignored American intelligence-gathering and energy concerns on the continent, and elevate African interests to the same level of importance as those of Asia and the Middle East.”
The article gave brief mention to critics, saying that, “Not surprisingly, the establishment of a major American base in Africa is inspiring new criticism from European and African critics of U.S. imperial overreach.” Some claim it represents a “militarization of U.S. Africa policy,” which is not a stretch of imaginations, as the article pointed out, “the United States has identified the Sahel, a region stretching west from Eritrea across the broadest part of Africa, as the next critical zone in the War on Terror and started working with repressive governments in Chad and Algeria, among others, to further American interests there.”
As Newsweek further reported:
Africom is the new American military command designed to control Africa, which currently sits as an important neo-colonial battleground between the US and China. Africa still remains a major front in the imperialist adventures of the dominant powers of the New World Order. Its rich wealth in resources makes it an important strategic location for the world powers to seek hegemony over.
The continuation of the Cold War stances of the West versus the East remain and are exacerbated, in what can be referred to as a “New Cold War.” At the same time, global regional conflicts continue to be waged and expanded, be it in the Middle East, Central Africa or Central Asia, with coups and regime change being furthered in Eastern Europe, South America and across the globe. However, these two major global issues: regional wars and conflict and the New Cold War, are not separate, but inherently linked. An exacerbation of conflict, in any and all regions, will only serve to strengthen the political-strategic conflict between the US-NATO alliance and the Russia-China alliance.
All that is required for a new major world war is just one spark: whether it comes in the form of a war between Pakistan and India, or a military strike on Iran, in which case China and Russia would not sit idly by as they did with Iraq. A strike on Iran, particularly with nuclear missiles, as is proposed, would result in World War III. So why does strategy on the part of the US and NATO continue to push in this direction?
As George Orwell once wrote:
A New World War would be a global war waged by a global ruling class against the citizens of the world, with the aim of maintaining and reshaping hierarchical society to serve their own interests. It would indeed symbolize a New World War for a New World Order. In a globalized world, all conflict has global implications; the task at hand is whether the people can realize that war is not waged against a “distant” or “foreign” enemy, but against all people of the world.
Herman Goering, Hitler’s second in command, explained the concept of war when he was standing trial at the Nuremberg Trials for war crimes, when he stated, “Why, of course, the people don’t want war,” and that, “Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.” When Goering was corrected that in a democracy, “the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives,” Goering responded:
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