Who is the enemy in Afghanistan.

  • By Ramtanu Maitra
  • October 9 2009
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Look Who Created the Taliban: Saudi Arabia and the Brits
A common refrain in Washington in some quarters is that if the United States begins withdrawing troops now, Afghanistan will be taken over by the Taliban. The Taliban will, once again, bring in al-Qaeda, posing a threat to Americans residing thousands of miles away. Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, in an interview with Fortune magazine on Sept. 22, “If you want another terrorist attack in the US, abandon Afghanistan… The last time we left Afghanistan, and we abandoned Pakistan, that territory became the very territory on which al-Qaeda trained and attacked us on September 11th.”

Rice, of course, held office when the US invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban regime from Kabul in 2001; her statement was issued at a time when President Obama and his administration has, under review, options which could lead to a wholesale reconsideration of its strategy.

It is important to investigate whether her statement is a valid assessment, or was made to rally those in Washington who want the present administration to adopt the British imperial policy and lead America into another Vietnam War, weakening the United States, and endangering the entire world. Is Rice doing exactly what was done by the 1960s’ policymakers who lied to the American people that the purpose of the Vietnam War was to prevent Communists from taking over Asia? Remember the “domino theory”? Now, find out how similar that theory is to the one that Rice is propagating.

The Taliban: A Laboratory Product
After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979, the “free world” got together to push the Red Army back and smack the Russian bear. Money flowed into Afghanistan from the West and the Persian Gulf, with the intent of protecting the sovereignty of Afghanistan, preserving Islam, and crippling the Communists.

This went on for ten years, during which many Afghan-bred mujahideen (religious fighters) were armed and trained by the Western powers. Ten years later, in 1989, the Soviets, humiliated and badly mangled, left Afghanistan. Then, the groups of mujahideen the West had created fell upon each other and began a civil war, trying to grab control of Kabul.

During the 1980s, Saudi-funded radical Pakistani madrassas (seminaries) had pumped out thousands of Afghan foot soldiers for the US- and Saudi-funded jihad against the Soviets. They also helped bind the independent-minded Pashtun tribesmen closely to the Pakistani government for the first time in history, easing the acute insecurity Pakistan had felt towards Afghanistan and the disputed border.

However, only in 1994—almost 15 years after the Soviet invasion began—did the world come to know about the rising force called the Taliban. Afghanistan had never had a politico-religious group of that name, nor had Afghans even heard about the group before. The Taliban was created as a handmaiden of outside forces, including:Saudi Arabia, which indoctrinated a group of Afghans by funding the establishment of thousands of madrassas inside Pakistan;

•    The Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which acted at the behest of Islamabad to gain control of Kabul through a proxy and dependent rag-tag group; and
•    British intelligence, which saw the Taliban as a potent ally that would further British interests in Afghanistan and Central Asia by undermining all sovereign nation-states.
•     All this, while Washington watched the development from a distance, essentially encouraging it.

To be precise, the Taliban is a laboratory product, created to unleash instability throughout the area. The instability is essential for the empire builders, and those who know how the British Empire was built in the 18th and 19th centuries, would recognize the phenomenon in a flash.

The Pakistani ISI and military trained this group of Islamic zealots indoctrinated by Saudi-funded Wahabism, an ultra-conservative version of Sunni Islam. Beginning in 1994, the Pakistani military, aided by these zealots, went against the somewhat war-weary Afghan mujahideen. With the Islamic flag in their hands and Pakistani soldiers providing the fighting-muscle, the Taliban soon overran most of Afghanistan, but not all. Between 1995 and 2001, when the United States landed its Special Forces from Uzbekistan, the Taliban rule had lost its momentum. Once a binding force in the midst of greedy, power-hungry mujahideen leaders, the Taliban, after it came to power, lost credibility fast. Reports indicate that not more than 5% of Afghans in 2001 still supported these zealots.

It also became evident in 2001, when the US Special Forces, with the help of the Tajik-Uzbek-Hazara dominated Northern Alliance breezed through Afghanistan and took control of the whole country in six weeks that the Taliban could not fight. Although the Bush Administration did not divulge it at the beginning, it soon became public knowledge that Washington had allowed the Pakistani government to rescue thousands of Afghan Taliban, Pakistani adjuncts of the Taliban, Pakistani ISI and Army officers, al-Qaeda volunteers, and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) members from the northern Afghan city of Kunduz. It is almost a replay of how the bin Laden family members were spirited out of the United States, just hours after the 9/11 attacks, when the entire airspace of the United States was under lockdown.

The defeated Taliban and al-Qaeda had fled to Kunduz after losing battles across the north of the country, and many were surrendering. But then, something inexplicable happened. Over a three-day period, Pakistani military planes made non-stop flights in and out of the Kunduz airport, which was controlled by the Taliban.

All the important Taliban commanders and Pakistanis escaped along a safe-flight corridor, supposedly guaranteed by the Americans. That airlift, which American soldiers called “Operation Airlift of Evil,” made the Northern Alliance soldiers livid. The Indian government sent diplomatic protest notes to the American and British governments. The Kunduz airlift story became available to the world much later, when a high-level CIA officer, Gary Berntsen, who was reportedly the second-in-command during the operation, described it in his book [1].