September 23, 2009
On September 22, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, told the Los Angeles Times he has evidence that factions of Pakistani and Iranian spy services are supporting insurgent groups that carry out attacks on coalition troops. Taliban fighters in Afghanistan are being aided by “elements of some intelligence agencies,” McChrystal wrote in a detailed and heavily redacted analysis of the military situation delivered to the White House earlier this month.
“McChrystal went on to single out Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency as well as the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as contributing to the external forces working to undermine U.S. interests and destabilize the government in Kabul,” the newspaper reported.
Allegations of Iran attempting to undermine the twin U.S. occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq are nothing new. Bush’s neocons often made the same allegations without much solid evidence.
It is difficult to believe this scenario for one obvious reason — Iran is Shi’a Muslim and Afghanistan predominately Sunni. The two factions have been religious and ideological enemies for centuries.
The allegation about Pakistan aiding the Taliban, however, is backed up by plenty of evidence. The Taliban was a pet project of not only Pakistan’s ISI, but the CIA as well, although the general did not mention this (he may have in the redacted sections of the above linked document).
In 1994, following the CIA’s defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan with the assistance of Pakistan and the Saudis, Pakistan began funding and supporting radical madrassa students known as Taliban, Pashtun for “students.” This effort was funded by the U.S., Britain, and the Saudis. The Saudis in particular backed the Taliban because they espoused the same austere religious beliefs.
“With the aid of the Pakistani army, the Taliban swept across most of the exhausted country promising a restoration of order and finally capturing Kabul in September 1996. The Taliban imposed an ultra-sectarian version of Islam, closely related to Wahhabism, the ruling creed in Saudi Arabia. Women have been denied education, health care, and the right to work. They must cover themselves completely when in public. Minorities have been brutally repressed. Even singing and dancing in public are forbidden,” writes Phil Gasper.
The U.S. government was well aware of the Taliban’s reactionary program, yet it chose to back their rise to power in the mid-1990s. The creation of the Taliban was “actively encouraged by the ISI and the CIA,” according to Selig Harrison, an expert on U.S. relations with Asia. “The United States encouraged Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to support the Taliban, certainly right up to their advance on Kabul,” adds respected journalist Ahmed Rashid. When the Taliban took power, State Department spokesperson Glyn Davies said that he saw “nothing objectionable” in the Taliban’s plans to impose strict Islamic law, and Senator Hank Brown, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Near East and South Asia, welcomed the new regime: “The good part of what has happened is that one of the factions at last seems capable of developing a new government in Afghanistan.” “The Taliban will probably develop like the Saudis. There will be Aramco [the consortium of oil companies that controlled Saudi oil], pipelines, an emir, no parliament and lots of Sharia law. We can live with that,” said another U.S. diplomat in 1997.
[efoods]The award-winning journalist and filmmaker John Pilger wrote in late 2001 as the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan unfolded, “the Taliban itself is a creation of the Americans and the British. In the 1980s, the tribal army that produced them was funded by the CIA and trained by the SAS to fight the Russians…. When the Taliban took Kabul in 1996, Washington said nothing. Why? Because Taliban leaders were soon on their way to Houston, Texas, to be entertained by executives of the oil company, Unocal. With secret U.S. government approval, the company offered them a generous cut of the profits of the oil and gas pumped through a pipeline that the Americans wanted to build from Soviet central Asia through Afghanistan.”
After this deal fell through, the Taliban became an official enemy and remain so to this day. The fact the former CIA asset Osama bin Laden was in-country was an extra added bonus for the propaganda campaign launched by the Pentagon to demonize the former partners.
Pilger also notes that the Clinton administration had secretly backed the Taliban, even giving them high-level briefings at the CIA. Moreover, according to Pilger, there “is compelling evidence that Bush decided to attack the Taliban not as a result of 9-11, but two months earlier, in July of 2001. This is virtually unknown in the United States-publicly.”
In fact, the corporate media reported on the plan to invade Afghanistan, although it was spun as a reaction to al-Qaeda. “President Bush was expected to sign detailed plans for a worldwide war against al-Qaida two days before Sept. 11 but did not have the chance before the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, U.S. and foreign sources told NBC News,” MSNBC reported on May 16, 2002.
According to former Pakistani diplomat Niaz Naik, the U.S. had plans to invade Afghanistan in mid-July, nearly two months before September 11, 2001. “Mr Naik said US officials told him of the plan at a UN-sponsored international contact group on Afghanistan which took place in Berlin,” the BBC reported on September 18, 2001. Killing or capturing Bin Laden was held out as the excuse.
As should be expected, all of this was left out of the Los Angeles Times article. Pakistan is the latest target and any hint that it had cooperated with the CIA in funding and supporting the Taliban must be relegated to the memory hole.
It would be interesting, however, too see the redacted sections of McChrystal’s document.