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April 14, 2021

Neoconservatives Demand More Meddling In Afghanistan

The wickedness of the imperial U.S. vanguard is well expressed in an Atlantic piece by Eliot A. Cohen, the dean of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

On the U.S. exit from Afghanistan Cohen writes:

This is not the end of the war; it is merely the end of its direct American phase. The war began more than four decades ago, with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and its first American phase, in the 1980s, featured indirect United States intervention on behalf of the anti-Soviet mujahideen. The war will assuredly last well beyond the American exit. There will be no power-sharing, no reconciliation, no peace of the brave.

Those are lies. The war began in the mid of 1979 when the U.S. armed warlords who fought against the Afghan government:

In an interview with French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur in January 1998, former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski recounted that “according to the official version of history, CIA aid to the mujahideen began during 1980, that is, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. But the reality, kept secret until now, is quite different: Indeed, it was on July 3, 1979, that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul.”

Cohen continues:

The war will grind on, with the edge going to the brutal fundamentalist warriors of the Taliban, who will torture and slaughter even as they repeal the advances made in women’s education and secularism in any form. But they will not have it all their own way. Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, India, and the Central Asian republics have their own stakes in this war, and not all of them want to see an outright Taliban victory. So they will fund clients and proxies, as will, in all likelihood, the United States. And the people of Afghanistan will continue to suffer.

Those advances ...

Alan MacLeod @AlanRMacLeod - 8:18 UTC · Apr 14, 2021

Half a century ago, 70% of Afghan teachers and 40% of doctors were women. Today only 1-in-3 girls can read or go to school.
But the myth that the US is helping women is so useful to neocon warmongers that it won't die, no matter what the facts are.
Support the Tropes - How media language encourages the left to support wars, coups and intervention

After more than 40 years of U.S. meddling in Afghanistan with bad results, and after leaving the country defeated, one might think it would be reasonable for the U.S. to abstain from further meddling. But no, after his hypocritical bemoaning of the fate of Afghan women, Cohen is demanding more of it:

The United States will be able to pick sides in the conflict, a luxury it does not now have. For decades it has been subject to implicit and explicit Pakistani threats to choke the supply lines running to American forces in Afghanistan. Once the withdrawal eliminates Pakistan’s hold on its logistics, the United States can and should more freely support India’s efforts to protect its own interests in Afghanistan. The United States can similarly play off the Russians against the Chinese, who do not necessarily want the same things there.

India and Pakistan are nuclear armed neighbors who hate each other. So why not entice a little war between them. Just out of spite.

Plus the dreams of playing off Russia versus China. Luckily that is no longer possible.

But how much hate must one hold to forward such advice?

Posted by b at 18:53 UTC | Comments (5)

RIP Anna Missed

all alone (and in the shadow)
(detail, small)

by anna missed

(detail, bigger - 170 kb)
(full view - 170 kb)

Today I learned that old time Moon of Alabama commentator anna missed, also known as Jack Chevalier, has died two weeks ago on April 1. Jack was an artist who lived on an island near Seattle. Jack contributed a lot to our discussions about war the Bush gang waged on Iraq. He had been in Vietnam and could relate the ground reality. 

In the early years of this blog I often posted art sent to me by some of the commentators. We all knew each other (virtually) from Billmon's Whiskey Bar and were a small but quite tight community.

There were a number of paintings and photos by anna missed and by beq, photos by b real, poems by rememberinggiap and ceramics by annie posted here. Most can be found under the Barfly Art category.

This one (sorry for the bad photo quality) is a gift anna missed sent to me. It's an oil painting on a thick piece of raw wood with small glass pellets sprinkled into it.

by anna missed

I had some difficulties to convince the custom officer that I was practically worthless and that no duties applied. It has since been hanging in my living room. (Beq - the picture you gave me is hanging in my hallway.)

Other works by anna missed can be found at his dormant blog and at the Linda Hodges Gallery where he had many exhibitions.

I for one will miss him.

Posted by b at 18:07 UTC | Comments (6)

April 13, 2021

U.S., NATO Give Up - Will Leave Afghanistan By September 11

This from the Washington Post is surprisingly good news:

Biden will withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021

President Biden will withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan over the coming months, people familiar with the plans said, completing the military exit by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that first drew the United States into its longest war.

The decision, which Biden is expected to announce on Wednesday, will keep thousands of U.S. forces in the country beyond the May 1 exit deadline that the Trump administration negotiated last year with the Taliban, according to one person familiar with the matter, who like others spoke on condition of anonymity to describe plans that are not yet public.

While the Taliban has vowed to renew attacks on U.S. and NATO personnel if foreign troops are not out by the deadline, it is not clear if the militants will follow through with those threats given Biden’s plan for a phased withdrawal between now and September.

The decision comes after a U.S. initiative to press for a unity government in Afghanistan only created more dead end proposals and was likely to fail.

The initiative was to include Turkey, India and others to create a complicate plan of power sharing in Kabul. The larger strategic thought behind that plan was to keep Afghanistan as a base from where the U.S. could harass China. Turkey's role under the plan was to organize jihadist Uighur fighters which would be trained in Afghanistan and elsewhere to then get inserted into Xinjiang to interrupt the Belt and Road Initiative projects that run through that area:

Pentagon and CIA are reluctant to vacate Afghanistan by May 1. Turkey will be overseeing an open-ended US-NATO presence. The US hopes to retain a strong intelligence presence backed by special operations forces. A report Friday in the CNN disclosed that “CIA, which has had a significant say in US decision-making in Afghanistan, has “staked out some clear positions” during recent deliberations, arguing in favour of continuing US involvement.”

The scale of the CIA activities in Afghanistan are not in public domain — especially, whether its regional mandate extends beyond the borders of Afghanistan. The CNN report cited above lifted the veil on “one of the most heavily guarded bases” of the CIA — Forward Operating Base Chapman, “a classified US military installation in eastern Afghanistan.”

Suffice to say, given the presence of the ISIS fighters (including those transferred from Syria to Afghanistan — allegedly in US aircraft, according to Russia and Iran) — the nexus between the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and above all, the presence of Uighur, Central Asian and Chechen terrorists, Turkey’s induction as the US’ buddy in Afghanistan is indeed worrisome for regional states. Turkey has transferred jihadi fighters from Idlib to Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh to fight hybrid wars.

Significantly, Turkey has abruptly shifted its stance on the Uighur issue after years of passivity and hyped it up as a diplomatic issue between Ankara and Beijing. China’s ambassador to Ankara was summoned to Turkey’s Foreign Ministry last Tuesday.
China and Russia are vigilant about the US intentions in Afghanistan. (See my blog China resents US presence in Afghanistan.) And both have problematic relations with Erdogan. Turkey’s ascendance on the Afghan-Central Asian landscape cannot be to their comfort. During his recent visit to Tehran, China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi voiced support for Iran’s membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is due to visit Tehran on April 14.

This week Turkey was supposed to host a meeting between the Afghan government and the Taliban. But yesterday the Taliban announced that they would not take part in it:

Cont. reading: U.S., NATO Give Up - Will Leave Afghanistan By September 11

Posted by b at 17:11 UTC | Comments (126)

April 12, 2021

CNN - Ukrainian Trains With Heavy Weapons Going East Are 'Russian Aggression'

Today CNN continued its long stint of publishing anti-Russian propaganda. But this video 'report' falls on several levels.

Unprecedented footage shows front line of Ukrainian conflict with Russia

As tensions with Russia continue to rise in eastern Europe, CNN gains unprecedented access to the Ukrainian president on the front line in Donbas, eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian military officials tell CNN they estimate more than 50,000 Russian troops are massing near the border. CNN's Matthew Chance reports.

First - this isn't news. Zelensky visited the troops at the frontline on Thursday. Second - the tensions are not 'on the rise' but have moved down a tack or two since Friday when Zelensky gave up and filed for peace.

In the video Zelensky and the CNN correspondent and camera team enter a helicopter. The voice over says: "CNN has gained this unprecedented access to the Ukrainian president on a carefully planned troop visit flying with him fast and low to avoid ground fire."

Where please is that 'ground fire' supposed to come from when Zelensky is flying over Ukrainian held grounds towards some Ukrainian command post near the frontline? This is followed by scenes in which Zelensky,  a trained actor, does telegenic hops over ditches.

Two minutes into the video CNN shows some military transports. The voice over says: "With growing tensions a dramatic buildup of Russian forces near the Ukrainian border and in Crimea. Cellphone footage has emerged of armored columns like this one. And military hardware being transported by rail towards the border."

It is a quite interesting what footage CNN is using at that point.


Cont. reading: CNN - Ukrainian Trains With Heavy Weapons Going East Are 'Russian Aggression'

Posted by b at 16:59 UTC | Comments (125)

April 11, 2021

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-027

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-027

Posted by b at 12:23 UTC | Comments (196)

April 10, 2021

After The Bear Showed Its Teeth The Ukraine Filed For Peace?

First the Ukraine said it would use force to recover the renegade Donbass region as well as Crimea. It then moved heavy troops towards the contact lines. The ceasefire at the contact line was broken multiple times per day. Several Ukrainian soldiers died while attempting to remove a minefield in preparation of an attack.

It became clear that a war in Ukraine's east was likely to soon braek out. A successful war would help Ukraine's president Zelensky with the ever increasing domestic crises. A war would also give the U.S. more influence in Europe. The U.S. and NATO promised "unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty”.

Russia gave several verbal warnings that any Ukrainian attack on the renegade provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk or Crimea would cause a serious Russian intervention. There was never a chance that the U.S. or NATO would intervene in such a war. But it was only after Russia started to move some of its troops around that sanity set in. It dawned on the Ukrainian leadership that the idea of waging war against a nuclear armed superpower was not a good one.

Late yesterday it suddenly decided to file for peace (machine translation):

The Armed Forces ruled out the use of force to "liberate" Donbass

KIEV, April 9 - RIA Novosti. "Liberation" of Donbass by force will lead to mass deaths of civilians and servicemen, and this is unacceptable for Kiev, said Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Ruslan Khomchak.

"Being devoted to universal human values ​​and norms of international humanitarian law, our state puts the lives of its citizens in the first place," the General Staff's press center quoted him as saying.

According to Khomchak, the Ukrainian authorities consider the political and diplomatic way to resolve the situation in Donbass a priority. At the same time, he added that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are ready for an adequate response both to the escalation of the conflict and to "the complication of the military-political and military-strategic situation around the country."

Zelensky himself chipped in (machine translated):

Zelensky spoke for a truce in Donbass

MOSCOW, April 9 - RIA Novosti. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the need for a new truce in Donbass after visiting the contact line.

The head of state wrote on Facebook that shooting at the front lines had become "a dangerous routine." "After several months of observing a complete and general ceasefire, we returned to the need to establish a truce," Zelensky said.

As the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Ruslan Khomchak emphasized earlier, the use of force to "liberate" Donbass is unacceptable for Kiev, as it is fraught with casualties among the civilian population and military personnel. At the same time, last week he said that the Armed Forces of Ukraine will strengthen the grouping of troops in the Donbass and in the Crimean direction - in response to the "build-up" of Russian forces on the border with Ukraine.

It seems that order has come from Washington to stand down - at least for now. U.S. reconnaissance flights near Russia's border continue. One should therefore consider that the sudden call for a renewed ceasefire might be a ruse.

But if it is not why was all of this allowed to happen in the first place?

Posted by b at 14:44 UTC | Comments (165)

April 09, 2021

Why The U.S. Might Want War In Ukraine

Yesterday CNN said that the US is considering sending warships to the Black Sea amid Russia-Ukraine tensions. That the U.S. is 'considering' this is however disinformation:

The United States has notified Turkey that it intends to deploy two warships to the Black Sea amid rising tensions with Russia, Turkish Foreign Ministry sources said on Friday.

Washington made the notification just over two weeks ago, as required under the Montreux Convention on passage through the Straits.

The warships will stay in the Black Sea until 5 May.

"One US warship will arrive on 14 April, and another on 15 April to the Black Sea. And they will leave on 4 May and 5 May, respectively," a source in the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

The tensions in the Ukraine have built up after the Ukraine transferred heavy forces to the borders of Donetsk and Luhansk, raised Nazi flags and made a lot of noise about reconquering the renegade provinces as well as Crimea.


Russia has also started some movement of troops and equipment towards its western border. For now these units are just training and not in a position to attack:

Although the US does not see the amassing of Russian forces as posturing for an offensive action, the official told CNN that "if something changes we will be ready to respond." Their current assessment is that the Russians are conducting training and exercises and intelligence has not indicated military orders for further action, the official said, but noted that they are well-aware that could change at any time.

A few weeks ago we explained why the Ukrainian president Zelinsky is under pressure to start a war. The country is bankrupt and in a constitutional crisis. On top of that:

Polling numbers for Zelensky have sharply declined. Right wing city councils call on Zelensky to outlaw the largest opposition party. Meanwhile the pandemic puts a record number of people into hospitals while a meager vaccination campaign is failing.

A war against the eastern separatist could be a Hail Mary attempt by Zelensky to regain some national and international support.

But nothing will happen on the frontline without the consent or even encouragement from Washington DC. The Biden administration is filled with the same delusional people who managed the 2014 coup in Kiev. They may believe that the NATO training the Ukrainian army received and the weapons the U.S. delivered are sufficient to defeat the separatist. But the state of the Ukrainian military is worse than one might think and the separatist will have Russia's full backing. There is no question who would win in such a fight.

Russia has since made its position clear:

Cont. reading: Why The U.S. Might Want War In Ukraine

Posted by b at 16:41 UTC | Comments (112)

April 08, 2021

U.S. Iran Conflict In Iraq Put On Pause

During their recent strategic dialogue the U.S. and Iraq agreed to relabel U.S. combat troops in the country into train and assist forces. A common statement said:

Based on the increasing capacity of the ISF, the parties confirmed that the mission of U.S. and Coalition forces has now transitioned to one focused on training and advisory tasks, thereby allowing for the redeployment of any remaining combat forces from Iraq, with the timing to be established in upcoming technical talks. The transition of U.S. and other international forces away from combat operations to training, equipping, and assisting the ISF reflects the success of their strategic partnership and ensures support to the ISF’s continued efforts to ensure ISIS can never again threaten Iraq’s stability.

The timing of the actual relabeling is still open. Technical meetings, to be held sometime in the future, are supposed to decide on that.

This however will not satisfy the Iraqi parliament which had decided that all foreign troops have to leave Iraq. Nor will this satisfy the 'resistance axis' of Iran, Syria and the aligned Shia militia groups in Iraq and Lebanon. As long as U.S. troops are still in Iraq, they will also continue their war on Syria. Those troops must leave:

Prior to the US-Iraq strategic talks, the Coordinating Committee of the Iraqi Resistance Factions, which includes all Iran-backed militias, issued a statement demanding a clear timetable for departure of all US forces from Iraq. The committee said it supports the strategic talks only if they lead to setting a clear timetable for a US departure, and that otherwise militias will return to attacking US bases and forces in Iraq.

Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, who became Prime Minister in May 2020, had promised to fulfill the parliament demand. He is however known to be leaning to the U.S. side. He has also worked deftly to diminish the influence of militia groups which lean towards the Iranian side:

In recent years, the Iranian-backed political and armed factions and their allies have occupied high-ranking offices in various sensitive security services, giving them wide-ranging power.

The National Intelligence Service, the National Security Agency, the national security adviser, the Internal Intelligence Agency, the elite Falcons Cell, and the Supreme Technical Committee for Information and Communication Security are among the most important official security agencies that the Tehran-allied armed factions and political forces controlled until last year.

But Kadhimi has managed to prize them all from the factions’ hands under one pretext or another, security officials told MEE.

The Interior Intelligence Agency and the Falcons Cell, the most prominent domestic intelligence units in terms of technical and human capabilities, which had not previously used their resources to pursue the Iranian-backed factions, have been in the prime minister’s hands since January.

Despite these losses of influence the various forces aligned with Iran are still powerful. Iraq also depends on electricity and gas which Iran provides to it. Kadhimi must therefore take Iranian interests into account:

Al-Kadhimi has walked a tightrope as he negotiates with the Americans while coming under growing pressure from local militias loyal to Tehran.

Last week, a convoy of heavily armed Shiite militiamen drove openly through Baghdad, denouncing the U.S. presence and threatening to cut off al-Kadhimi's ear, a display that clearly sought to undermine the premier.

Angered, al-Kadhimi asked Iran's leaders to rein in Iran-backed militias in Iraq and suggested he would confront the factions, two Iraqi officials said Wednesday. In the note, al-Kadhimi threatened to "announce clearly who backs these groups," the officials said.

It was not immediately clear who the message was given to. The timing suggested al-Kadhimi, who has appeared powerless in confronting the militias, was looking to appease the Americans ahead of Wednesday's talks.

The message led to a two-day visit this week by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force chief Ismail Qaani to Baghdad, where he met with militia and Shiite political leaders and called for calm, according to a senior Iraqi Shiite politician.

While Iran still wants the U.S. to leave the Middle East it is currently not interested in an immediate conflict. That is why Ismail Qaani told the Iran aligned militia groups to stand down. A priority for now is the return of the U.S. to the nuclear deal and the lifting of U.S. sanctions. Should that process fail it will again be open season. Kadhimi will then have to leave and the U.S. 'trainers' in Iraq will again come under direct attacks.

All this is political movement on the tactical level. On the strategic level Iran's aim is still to remove the U.S. from the Middle East. That will however take much more time.

Posted by b at 16:20 UTC | Comments (47)

April 07, 2021

Open Thread 2021-026

News & views ...

Posted by b at 16:27 UTC | Comments (202)

April 06, 2021

Will There Be A Global Resistance Economy?

Alastair Crooke's latest is, as usual, very interesting:

China and Russia Launch a ‘Global Resistance Economy’

What is ‘it’? It is not just a trade and investment pact with Tehran; neither is it simply allies helping each other. The ‘resistance’ lies precisely with the way they’re trying to help each other. It is a mode of economic development. It represents the notion that any rent-yielding resource – banking, land, natural resources and natural infrastructure monopolies – should be in the public domain to provide basic needs to everybody – freely.

The alternative way simply is to privatise these ‘public goods’ (as in the West), where they are provided at a financialized maximum cost – including interest rates, dividends, management fees, and corporate manipulations for financial gain.
The point is that – at the economic plane – the U.S., hyper-financialised sphere is fast shrinking, as China, Russia and much of the ‘World Island’ turn to trading in their own currencies (and do not buy U.S. Treasuries). In a ‘war’ of economic systems, America therefore starts on the back foot.
China has spectacularly made its entrance in the Middle East, and is challenging the U.S. with a resistance agenda. FM Wang, when he met with Ali Larijani, special adviser to the Supreme Leader Khamenei, framed it all in a single sentence: “Iran decides independently on its relations with other countries, and is not like some countries that change their position with one phone call”. This single comment encapsulates the new ‘wolf warrior’ ethos: states should stick with their autonomy and sovereignty. China is advocating a sovereigntist multilateralism to shake off “the western yoke”.

Wang did not confine this political message to Iran. He had just said the same in Saudi Arabia, before arriving in Tehran. It was well received in Riyadh. In economic development terms, China earlier had linked Turkey and Pakistan into the ‘corridor’ plan – and now Iran.

How will the U.S. react? It will ignore the message from Anchorage. It will likely press on. It is already testing China over Taiwan, and is preparing an escalation in Ukraine, to test Russia.

While I do not agree with every point - Iran and Russia are less socialist than the above assumes - the core push is IMHO correct as far as it is relevant to China, Russia and Iran. But can it go beyond them?

Anyway, there is more food for thought in it.

Posted by b at 17:52 UTC | Comments (114)