February 3, 2012
Hameed Abdul Karim
The US Empire suffered a major blow to its occupation of Afghanistan when its trouble shooter Richard Holbrooke, nicknamed ‘raging bull’, died a sudden death in Washington. At this point of time, the US depended entirely on him to pull it out of the quagmire it had got embroiled in Afghanistan. This left one to wonder why an empire as militarily and economically powerful as the US should have placed all its bets on just one man. Incidentally it was a Pakistani surgeon who operated on Holbrooke. To him Holbrooke said ‘you’ve got to stop the war in Afghanistan’. Those were his last words according to family members as reported in the Huff Post.
The first public sign of the US Empire’s shift in its policy in Afghanistan showed up a couple of weeks after ‘raging bull’s’ death. In a dramatic announcement in a scroll line Al-Jazeera announced the Taliban had warned armed terror groups in Afghanistan not to target civilians. This could have been a reference to a discussion between US soldiers (Obama prefers to call them warriors) during which one ‘warrior’ had said how easy it would be to ‘toss a grenade’ at Afghan civilians according to a report in the Seattle Times. The warning, though, doesn’t exclude the notorious Northern Alliance or even Taliban fighters when they attack US ‘warriors’ who might use Afghan civilians as human shields.
This unexpected bit of news was the first favourable bit of information about the Taliban since they took up arms to expel the American ‘warriors’ from their country.
More was to follow. Qatar, on US instructions, announced they were allowing the Taliban to open an office in the country much to the horror of Afghan president Hamid Karzai who warned the Qatari’s against such a move. But it didn’t take him too long to tow the line, which only goes to show who really is in charge of his country. Qatar’s move to open a Taliban office is obviously a sign that the empire is now in ‘peace talks’ mode with the Taliban to end its ‘insurgency’. Note the shift in terminology from ‘Islamic terrorists’ to ‘insurgents’.
Perhaps the biggest indication of the empire changing gears in Afghanistan came when US vice president Joe ‘I am a Zionist’ Biden told Newsweek magazine the ‘Taliban is not our enemy per se’. That the jaw dropping statement came from Joe Biden, and that too to a pro establishment magazine that’s known to propagate and promote the empire’s ‘interests’, suggests that the Americans are having a hard time defeating the resistance to their occupation of Afghanistan and are looking for face saving options to call it quits.
To top it all, the Taliban have demanded that Afghan detainees held at the infamous Guantanamo Bay be returned to Qatar as a show of good faith in secret talks they had held with the US. This demand suggests the Taliban have the clout to exert pressure and the fact that the US Empire has agreed to comply illustrates that they are in more than a hurry to leave Afghanistan. It is reported that the families of the detainees have already flown from Kabul to Qatar in anticipation of the release of their loved ones whom they have not seen or heard from for years.
As usual Hamid Karzai struck a sour note when he opposed Qatar as the designation saying, rather seriously but quite comically, that such a move would violate the ‘sovereignty’ and ‘independence’ of Afghanistan! He insisted that the detainees be sent back to Afghanistan, but as his track record shows it won’t take too much of a bother to make him change his mind. Sound bites like ‘sovereignty’ and ‘independent state’ are mere words that he utters to impress nobody in particular except himself and his coterie of fawning henchmen. The whole world knows that Afghanistan is anything but independent or a sovereign state. Presently it’s a colony of the empire and it’s up to the Afghans to change their destiny if they can.
There is a jittery feeling among the likes of Karzai that they might be sidelined in negotiations in a possible peace deal between the Taliban and the empire.
But no peace deal will ever be possible if regional countries like Pakistan and Iran are not directly involved in the process. It’s not only the US Empire that has ‘interests’ to protect in the region. The Central Asian Republics, China and Russia have vital stakes in the future of Afghanistan and they too must have their say in events unfolding in Afghanistan.