Tag Archives: Taliban

Afghanistan: Between Pipelines and ISIS-K, the Americans Are Still in Play, by Pepe Escobar

You didn’t really think the U.S. government was actually getting out of Afghanistan, did you? From Pepe Escobar at unz.com:

Something quite extraordinary happened in early November in Kabul.

Taliban interim-Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and Turkmen Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov got together to discuss a range of political and economic issues. Most importantly, they resurrected the legendary soap opera which in the early 2000s I dubbed Pipelineistan: the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline.

Call it yet another remarkable, historical twist in the post-jihad Afghan saga, going back as far as the mid-1990s when the Taliban first took power in Kabul.

In 1997, the Taliban even visited Houston to discuss the pipeline, then known as TAP, as reported in Part 1 of my e-book Forever Wars.

During the second Clinton administration, a consortium led by Unocal – now part of Chevron – was about to embark on what would have been an extremely costly proposition (nearly $8 billion) to undercut Russia in the intersection of Central and South Asia; as well as to smash the competition: the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline.

The Taliban were duly courted – in Houston and in Kabul. A key go-between was the ubiquitous Zalmay Khalilzad, aka ‘Bush’s Afghan,’ in one of his earlier incarnations as Unocal lobbyist-cum-Taliban interlocutor. But then, low oil prices and non-stop haggling over transit fees stalled the project. That was the situation in the run-up to 9/11.

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Why the Taliban still can’t form a government, by Pepe Escobar

The surprise will be if the Taliban do manage to form any kind of functional and sustained government. From Pepe Escobar at The Asia Times via zerohedge.com:

nternal Taliban divisions come to the fore as squabbling hinders the formation of Afghanistan’s new Islamic Emirate…

It looked like everything was set for the Taliban to announce the new government of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan after this Friday’s afternoon prayers. But then internal dissent prevailed.

That was compounded by the adverse optics of a ragtag “resistance” in the Panjshir Valley that is still not subdued. The “resistance” is de facto led by a CIA asset, former vice president Amrullah Saleh.

The Taliban maintain they have captured several districts and at least four checkpoints at the Panjshir, controlling 20% of its territory. Still, there’s no endgame in sight.

Supreme Leader Haibatullah Akhundzada, a Kandahar religious scholar, is expected to be the new power of the Islamic Emirate when it’s finally formed.

Mullah Baradar will likely preside just below him as a presidential figure along with a 12-member governing council known as a “shura.”

If that’s the case, there would be certain similarities between the institutional role of Akhundzada and Ayatollah Khamenei in Iran, even though the theocratic frameworks, Sunni and Shiite, are completely different.

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The U.S. Has A Plan For What’s Next in Afghanistan – It Does Not Include Peace, by Moon of Alabama

The US government will do its best to sustain chaos and violence in Afghanistan. From Moon of Alabama at moonofalabama.org:

Secretary Antony Blinken @SecBlinken – 1:34 UTC · Aug 31, 2021I want to drive home today that America’s work in Afghanistan continues. We have a plan for what’s next, and we’re putting it into action.

The codename for the plan which Secretary Blinken is putting into action has not been officially released. It will likely be called “Eternal Revenge” or something similar.

The U.S. is not a good loser. Nor are President Biden and Blinken. They will take revenge for the public outcry their chaotic evacuation of troops and civilians from Afghanistan has caused. The Taliban will be blamed for it even as they, following U.S. requests, had escorted groups of U.S. citizens to the gates of Kabul’s airport.

One can anticipate what their plan entails by looking at the process that led to yesterdays UN Security Council resolution about Afghanistan. The full resolution has not been published yet but the UN reporting on it gives the gist:

Security Council urges Taliban to provide safe passage out of Afghanistan

Thirteen of the 15 ambassadors voted in favour of the resolution, which further demands that Afghanistan not be used as a shelter for terrorism.Permanent members China and Russia abstained.

As the resolution only ‘urges’ it is obviously minimal and not binding. It is not what the U.S. had set out to achieve. It wanted a much stronger one with possible penalties (see ‘holding … accountable’ below) should the Taliban not follow it.

Prior to the UNSC meeting France and Great Britain had proposed to create a ‘safe zone’ in Kabul. That request has been silently dropped – likely over Chinese and Russian concerns about Afghanistan’s sovereignty.

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The Afghanistan Rout and American Glasnost’, by Dmitry Orlov

Are we reaching the point where the American establishment is running out of lies? We can only hope. From Dmitry Orlov at cluborlov.wordpress.com:

Recent events have forced me to interrupt regular programming to bring you a report on the developments in Afghanistan and what I believe they portend for both US. The US and NATO have finally left Afghanistan after a 20-year occupation. At this point, they are still retaining a toehold at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, from which they are attempting to repatriate their nationals along with those Afghanis who served the occupation. These collaborators now fear for their lives from the Taliban, who have swiftly taken over almost the entire country in what was probably the most bloodless regime change operation that part of the world has ever experienced.

The US occupation of Afghanistan was rationalized based on an entire edifice of lies. At its foundation lay the lie of Nineleven. Above it towered the lie of fighting terrorism (while training and equipping the terrorists). Somewhere along the way the lie of aiding Afghanistan’s development into a vibrant, modern democracy with gender equality and other bells and whistles was added to this already stupendous structure (while the only actual development was that of the heroin trade). And, of course, overlaying all of the above was a truly staggering amount of corruption and theft.

If you believe the official narrative, Osama bin Laden was a sort of latter-day Jesus who repeated the miracle of loaves and fishes except with skyscrapers, knocking down three of them (WTC 1, 2 and 7) using just two airplanes. Another of his miracles was to make an entire passenger jet, piloted by an amateur, pull some truly stunning aerobatics that no passenger jet has pulled before or since, then ascend unto heaven through a wall of the Pentagon, engines, seats, luggage, bodies and all, leaving behind a small charred opening plus a part of a cruise missile that apparently had been hidden on board and that was subsequently carried away wrapped in a tarp on the shoulders of some very nervous and displeased-looking gentlemen in office attire. Another plane full of passengers left a smallish charred pit in the ground and recordings of rather scripted-sounding cell phone conversations held while the supposed plane was in an area lacking cell phone coverage. Bin Laden orchestrated all this mayhem by satellite phone, or by telepathy, without ever leaving the comfort of his cave in Afghanistan. I encourage you to believe this narrative because believing the alternative may cause you to lose your mind. Many people already have.

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Afghanistan? Follow the Money, by Pepe Escobar

Afghanistan is rife with poverty and corruption. It’s unclear how the new government will fund itself. From Pepe Escobar at The Asia Times via consortiumnews.com:

With the fall of Kabul, Pepe Escobar says it’s becoming clear that financial soft power tactics may be even more deadly than a NATO occupation.

Afghan money changer at the bazaar displays his currency wares. (Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion)

After 20 years and a staggering $2.23 trillion spent in a “forever war” persistently spun as promoting democracy and benefiting the “Afghan people,” it’s legitimate to ask what the Empire of Chaos has to show for it.

The numbers are dire. Afghanistan remains the world’s seventh poorest nation: 47 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the Asian Development Bank. No less than 75 percent of the — dissolved — Kabul government’s budget was coming from international aid. According to the World Bank, that aid was responsible for the turnover of 43 percent of the economy — one that was mired in massive government corruption.

According to the terms of the Washington-Taliban agreement signed in Doha in February 2020, the U.S. should continue to fund Afghanistan during and after its withdrawal.

Now, with the Fall of Kabul and the imminent return of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, it’s becoming clear that applying financial soft power tactics may be even more deadly than a mere NATO occupation.

Washington has frozen $9.5 billion in Afghan Central Bank reserves and the International Monetary Fund has canceled its lending to Afghanistan, including $460 million that’s part of a Covid-19 relief program.

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Swamp Beasts of the Potomac, by Tim Hartnett

Tim Hartnett proves you can’t be too cynical or too savagely honest about our rulers. From Harnett at lewrockwell.com:

“You don’t need to be a brilliant geopolitical strategist to understand that the United States should be the best friend –and the worst enemy – any nation could have” — says the president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in an August 18, 2021 Washington Times op-ed. Truthfully, I haven’t got a clue who would qualify as a “brilliant geopolitical strategist” – but maintain absolute certainty that Clifford May doesn’t rule himself out as one. The evidence of that will be presented in due course.

He goes on: “Following the events of recent days, the U.S. will be perceived differently: “harmless as an enemy but treacherous as a friend.”” Who is cited inside those quote marks isn’t said. But, since May bragged about dining with Afghan president Ghani in a column a week before that, the lamming ex-chief exec sounds like one source. A sap that gets swindled on schedule for years on end is always called a double-crosser for finally wising up. Afghan grifters probably felt they deserved the take just for putting up with the wind blowing from both ends of American bagmen.

The US has poured money, ordnance and American lives into a country of 40 million — that is up against an army of 80,000 – for 20 years. Leaving aside any credentials the FDD prez proffers in the strategery department – his nose for treachery is sniffing at the hind quarters of the wrong dogs — that pungent Pashtun cuisine must have overwhelmed his fragile senses. Continued funding of tribal chieftains pretending to defend the peasants in their fiefdoms, who use the loot instead on bacha bazi boys and feathering their own nests, is what’s treacherous — to American taxpayers. That’s a kind of betrayal people who feed at the same troughs May does call “patriotism.”

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The Sheer Joy of Afghanistan, by Israel Shamir

The Taliban remind us that we are not powerless against the people who presume to rule us. From Israel Shamir at unz.com:

My congratulations, friends and readers! The Taliban’s victory is our victory, yours and mine. We, non-Muslim and non-Pashtun folk, in the US and Europe, may rejoice, for in Afghanistan, virile (not “toxic”) masculinity defeated gender-diversity, believers defeated those weak of faith, the morals of our fathers overcome the morals of our sons. This is the sheer joy of the Afghan victory; this victory of bearded men with arms over a gender-diversified butch-run hosts and their feminist NGOs is our victory, too. Do not be ashamed of being a manly man; stand tall! It is a breath of fresh air, this manly victory in the far-away mountains trod by Alexander the Great’s phalanxes; and it is much nicer to write about than usual stuff, especially after this time of being drip-fed by hypochondriac news of another elder succumbing to the dreadful virus, of green passports, of medical advice on how to live longer, of atoning for the misdeeds of our forefathers, of being of the wrong race and how to avoid microaggressions lest somebody will feel hurt. If we, men, would like to hurt somebody, we won’t stop at a joke, we’ll reach for an RPG.

The RPG rocket launcher, of the kind preferred by the Talibs, really hurts. It is not an imaginary feeling of discomfort, but a real hole in the armour. Or a torn-off head. There is nothing micro in its delivery. You do not need a mask on the battlefield for the mask won’t stop the launched rocket. You won’t worry about the virus when you encounter real bullets. On the battlefield, the problem of gender-neutral toilets does not arise. Twitter can’t ban a machinegun, but a machinegun can banish Twitter and the whole Twitter gang. The Taliban defeated Wokery; they aren’t afraid of being politically incorrect as we are. The Taliban aren’t afraid to worship God and to call upon Him, as we are. They aren’t afraid to stand for family values – they don’t even understand how it could be different.

The Taliban is a harbinger of real muscular democracy and freedom from Bill Gates, Greta Thunberg, Anthony Fauci, Nancy Pelosi who all enslave us. They wouldn’t submit to this bunch; they would mete out revolutionary justice to those who want to deprive us of heating, who would blot out the Sun and suffocate us with their masks. A Trumper watches with envy as these rebels actually take the president palace instead of being accused of doing it on January 6.

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How Russia-China Are Stage-Managing the Taliban, by Pepe Escobar

It looks like the Taliban leadership is going to do its best to fit Afghanistan into the Russia-China axis. From Pepe Escobar at unz.com:

The Taliban delegation with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Tianjin on July 28th

The first Taliban press conference after this weekend’s Saigon moment geopolitical earthquake, conducted by spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, was in itself a game-changer.

The contrast could not be starker with those rambling pressers at the Taliban embassy in Islamabad after 9/11 and before the start of the American bombing – proving this is an entirely new political animal.

Yet some things never change. English translations remain atrocious.

Here is a good summary of the key Taliban statements, and here (in Russian) is a very detailed roundup.

These are the key takeaways.

  • No problem for women to get education all the way to college, and to continue to work. They just need to wear the hijab (like in Qatar or Iran). No need to wear a burqa. The Taliban insist, “all women’s rights will be guaranteed within the limits of Islamic law.”
  • The Islamic Emirate “does not threaten anyone” and will not treat anyone as enemies. Crucially, revenge – an essential plank of the Pashtunwali code – will be abandoned, and that’s unprecedented. There will be a general amnesty – including people who worked for the former NATO-aligned system. Translators, for instance, won’t be harassed, and don’t need to leave the country.
  • Security of foreign embassies and international organizations “is a priority.” Taliban special security forces will protect both those leaving Afghanistan and those who remain.
  • A strong inclusive Islamic government will be formed. “Inclusive” is code for the participation of women and Shi’ites.
  • Foreign media will continue to work undisturbed. The Taliban government will allow public criticism and debate. But “freedom of speech in Afghanistan must be in line with Islamic values.”
  • The Islamic Emirate of Taliban wants recognition from the “international community” – code for NATO. The overwhelming majority of Eurasia and the Global South will recognize it anyway. It’s essential to note, for example, the closer integration of the expanding SCO – Iran is about to become a full member, Afghanistan is an observer – with ASEAN: the absolute majority of Asia will not shun the Taliban.

For the record, they also stated that the Taliban took all of Afghanistan in only 11 days: that’s pretty accurate. They stressed “very good relations with Pakistan, Russia and China.” Yet the Taliban don’t have formal allies and are not part of any military-political bloc. They definitely “won’t allow Afghanistan to become a safe haven for international terrorists”. That’s code for ISIS/Daesh.

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Hurrah! Washington’s Pointless Sojourn in the Graveyard of Empires Is Finally Over, by David Stockman

There was never a good reason for the US to occupy Afghanistan, and there was never a bad time to depart. From David Stockman at antiwar.com:

This weekend’s momentous events cry-out for a reformulation of Earnest Hemingway’s famous five word quip in “The Sun Also Rises”.

Per his description of the route to bankruptcy: How did the dismal Afghan outpost of Washington’s Potemkin Empire collapse?

“Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

Less than three months ago, Afghanistan’s puppet President, Ashraf Ghani, inadvertently crystalized 20-years worth of lies, delusions, misdirection and malfeasance by Imperial Washington’s policy-makers and proconsuls in response to a question from the press:

Q: How long can your government last without US support?

A: Forever.

Yet by midday Sunday Ghani had fled the presidential palace with four cars and so many pallets of greenbacks that they could not all be stuffed into his helicopter. And, of a sudden, there was nothing left of the Empire’s $2 trillion folly to bring peace, democracy, Coca-Cola, long pants and coed schools to this godforsaken expanse of the Hindu Kush.

Then again, it wasn’t just Ghani. Just a few weeks ago, Sleepy Joe was no less sanguine about the future than the Afghan president:

REPORTER: Is a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan now inevitable?

THE PRESIDENT: No, it is not.


THE PRESIDENT: Because you – the Afghan troops have 300,000 well-equipped – as well-equipped as any army in the world – and an air force against something like 75,000 Taliban. It is not inevitable.

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Like It or Not, Taliban Is Afghanistan’s True Independence Movement, by Eric S. Margolis

One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. From Eric S. Margolis at lewrockwell.com:

“Oh! wherefore come ye forth, in triumph from the North,
With your hands, and your feet, and your raiment all red?
And wherefore doth your rout send forth a joyous shout?”

‘The Battle of Naseby’ by Thomas Macaulay

After 20 years of B-52 carpet bombing of Afghanistan, murderous drone strikes, 350,000 puppet soldiers, 20,000 mercenaries, nearly two trillion dollars in US spending, destruction of countless Afghan villages, the killing up to one million Afghans, spreading the opium trade around southeast Asia and Europe, abetting wide scale torture…. after all this the US-run Afghan’s puppet `president’ and his drug-dealing cronies have fled embattled Kabul like thieves in the night.

Taliban – more accurately the Islamic Movement of Afghanistan – has been slandered by almost every western news outlet and wrongly called a terrorist movement linked to the late Osama bin Laden.  Heavily-propagandized Americans, Canadians and British have been inundated by this torrent of government lies against Afghanistan’s Pashtun (Pathan) people.

I was in Afghanistan with the newly created Taliban in the early 1990’s.  I walked from Pashtun village to village and had tea with the local chiefs, known as ‘maliks.’  The Pashtun treated me as an honored guest and welcome visitor.  These rough mountain warriors were the descendants of the fighters who had defeated four British invasions the previous century.  My book ‘War at the Top of the World’ examines the beginning of our Afghan War.

The fathers of these Pashtun fighters were the men who formed the anti-Soviet ‘mujahidin’ (holy warriors) that defeated the mighty Soviet Red Army with the secret help of US, British and most of all Pakistani intelligence.  Everyone in south Asia knew better than to mess with the Pashtun Afghans, including their blood enemies, Afghanistan’s ethnic Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazara.

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