Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 28, 2008

Missing Answers on the Pashtun Troubles

There is a fight building up in western Pakistan where some local warlords from the Khyber area under the banner of the Taliban seemed to be near to get control over Peshawar. The Pakistani government sent a few troops and is shelling some alleged warlord camps.

Peshawar and the Khyber Pass region are the route of two thirds of the supplies for 'western' troops in Afghanistan.

In all the reporting about these power struggles in west Pakistan and about the resistance in Afghanistan (if one can separate these at all) two issues are missing.

1. According to this UNHCR request for donations (pdf) there are still 2.1 million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan. Most of their refugee camps are around Peshawar. What is their role in this conflict? What is their position? How do they contribute to the fights in Pakistan and in Afghanistan?

2. Over the last decades many workers from Pakistan have been guest working in the Gulf region. In the 80s they were mostly in Saudi Arabia, now more are in Dubai and Oman. Some estimates say that at times 10% of the male workforce of Pakistan was working in the Gulf region. Pakistan has a Sufi tradition. The radical interpretation of Islam the Taliban adhere to is in the Wahhabi tradition of Saudi Arabia. The guest workers and lots of Saudi money were the vehicle to bring Wahhabism to Pakistan. How much control and influence do the Saudis have over the Taliban position? What is their stand on the trouble in Pakistan and the resistance in Afghanistan?

I have yet to find reports and analysis that really dig into these strategic questions. Answers to those questions and strategic concepts following from these are more important than another ten thousand 'western' or Pakistani troops here or there. If there is some radical Islam movement, it is likely Wahhabi. Has anybody ever developed a strategy against that and its source?

Posted by b on June 28, 2008 at 19:17 UTC | Permalink

Comments

The radical interpretation of Islam the Taliban adhere to is in the Wahhabi tradition of Saudi Arabia. The guest workers and lots of Saudi money were the vehicle to bring Wahhabism to Pakistan.

Although I don't know much about the specific religious sentiments on the Pakistan/Afghan border, I would say these remarks are not quite right, though in general true. Wahhabism is specific to Saudi Arabia; I've never heard of others adhering to it. Partly discredited, in being the credence of the Saudi dynasty, but also living, surviving from the Wahhabi warriors of the 1920s who conquered Arabia, in the numbers of Saudis who have carried out suicide attacks in Iraq. However Wahhabism is just a branch of fundamentalist Sunnism, anything the Prophet said has to be taken literally; the Taliban can be described as close but not identical. That is why they were happy to receive Usama. I doubt that the Saudi government would be able to control events directly, though individual Saudis, even members of the regime, may well be ready to finance and encourage what they see as their brethren.

The Sufi remark is a red herring. Sufism, in searching the mystical, tends towards the pacifist. I can't call to mind any example of a militant Sufi movement, but I could be wrong.

Posted by: Alex | Jun 28 2008 21:19 utc | 1

The Sufis are apparently not always pacifists. They have been active in the Iraqi resistance, according to Prof. Juan Cole - and also see this - scroll down. I didn't do a thorough search, just a fast one.
Robert Lindsay's blog

I also recall seeing an interview with one of the Sufi leaders who was in the Iraqi Resistance, who talked about adhering to ethics among other things.

Posted by: Owl | Jun 28 2008 21:51 utc | 2

The spring offensive is almost played out, with only a smattering of suicide bombers, a prison break being mopped up, and a ton of money pledged, once again, to pacify the tenants that their open air internment camp is gonna get cleaned up, one day or later.
By now we should know if Bangis were able to replant or not, or whether the fall will bring mass starvation and total dependence on a foreign aid redirect from Afghanistan.
In a month we should know if Ug99 is going to march through Afghanistan into Pakistan. If either happens then it doesn't matter a golly gosh darn, whether those starving are Sunni or Wahhabi.
The price of food in Afghanistan has doubled. That's all the calculus you need to know.
Congress, for their part, adjourned for summer, for a little schnapps and sponge cake.

Posted by: Gas $4.89 Here | Jun 29 2008 0:49 utc | 3

Alex: I think it's Bernhard's point: If there are extremists and terrorists in Pakistan, it's mostly due to Saudi's influence.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Jun 29 2008 0:59 utc | 4

My take on the post is that there are a couple questions that occur to our kind host, and then it turns into a complaint that they weren't raised, which is kinda neither here nor there. Juss go ahead and raise them. I like to make up questions too, I calls meself << hyper-postulate >> ..

Besides being half related by mythology, do the saudis have a reason to support the taliban? Does it keep the US more reliant on oil, unable to pass a natural gas pipeline thru ghaniland? They fight by writing checks, the great satan, the west, they get a client state and suck up the trillions. Or, perhaps I dunno gas from my a**.

The refugees.. Um, I got nothin'. Maybe make an assertion here, or something, reparse? Thank you :)

Posted by: bellgong | Jun 29 2008 2:49 utc | 5

My take on the post is that there are a couple questions that occur to our kind host, and then it turns into a complaint that they weren't raised, which is kinda neither here nor there. Juss go ahead and raise them. I like to make up questions too, I calls meself << hyper-postulate >> ..

Besides being half related by mythology, do the saudis have a reason to support the taliban? Does it keep the US more reliant on oil, unable to pass a natural gas pipeline thru ghaniland? They fight by writing checks, the great satan, the west, they get a client state and suck up the trillions. Or, maybe I dunno gas from my a**.

The refugees.. Um, I got nothin'. Maybe make an assertion here, or something, reparse? Thank you :)

Posted by: bellgong | Jun 29 2008 2:51 utc | 6

There was another post recently that was similar - questioning an article that wasn't asking where electricity comes from with all those dreamy electric ecocars we are hoping to see. Good question, would make a great post with a little elaboration. :)

Posted by: bellgong | Jun 29 2008 3:14 utc | 7

@Alex - I would say these remarks are not quite right, though in general true

I provide two sources above - one about Sufism in Pakistan and one about Wahhabi migrating into Pakistan.

@bellgong - My take on the post is that there are a couple questions that occur to our kind host, and then it turns into a complaint that they weren't raised, which is kinda neither here nor there.

The way to knowledge starts with asking questions. So what are you complaining about? It is in itself significant and valuable to point out that after 7 years of war in Afghanistan little is discussed and known about some important background. No?

Asking questions doesn't mean that I have answers. How about you giving us a 'little elaboration' on the issue?

Posted by: b | Jun 29 2008 4:50 utc | 8

Those eco-cars are 220V, which means every house in the US will have to be rewired, especially older East Coast houses on knob and tube %). Those with heavy electrical appliances already have 220V, but your panel isn't rated for an eco-car. Adding a new 220V service isn't cheap, especially if 150,000,000 houses just gotta have it before oil hits $200. Then imagine the evening power surge, sagging transmission lines. Surging demand for super-conductor silver-clad aluminum will shoot the moon!

Oops, we did it again!

Hence National Emergency Re-Electrification Program as Obama's opening act. First he'll have to pry that $43B a year DHS budget out of Michael Cherthoff's cold dead fingers. Yeah, that'll happen.

So there will have to be another TVA BPA Neo Deal, another $200B a year in deficit spending, so that by the end of Obama's first term, with only 10% of the (NY to DC corridor) US re-electrified, and a cool $T down the rathole of Fed bureaucracy, the rest of US will be riding overloaded double-decker soy diesel buses to work, sweltering on the potholed freeways, while NY:DC enjoys a George Jetson future, at least those who work government mandates assigned eco-cars, paid for by all of US.

Obama's Inauguration Address: "I promise every American, black or white, hispanic or chinese, hmong or vietnamese, indo-pakistani, native pacific islander or newly patriated iraqi-afghan, increased work hours and decreased earning capacity, higher taxes and silent discontent, chicken nuggets on every plate and an eco-car parked over that oily spot in every backyard. Of course the charge will be long, and there will be many dead-battery carjackings beside the freeway. But my fellow citizens, fellow conservatives, our time has come again. This is our moment! Let us unite, shoulder to shoulder, behind one mighty banner for universal electric power! And let us go forward from here not with some faint hope that our cause is not yet lost (double negative infinitive!); let us go forward confident that the American people share our values, and that together we will be victorious in our power-ful pursuit.

In those moments when batteries grow tired, when our struggle seems hard, remember what Eric Liddell, Scotland’s Olympic champion runner, said in “Chariots of Fire.” He said, “So where does the electric power come from to see the commute to its end? From within. God made US for a purpose. We'll run our eco-cars for His pleasure!”

If we trust in Him, keep His word, and live our lives for His pleasure, He’ll give us the universal electric power we need — power to fight the good fight, to finish the daily commute, and to keep the beer cold in the refrigerator while we watch the silver (code word) spaceships flying in the yellow haze of the sun, flying mother nature's silver (code word) seed to a new home in the sun ... and somewhere a lot closer to the EV grid, because, damn! it's blacked out as hell down 'ere!!!!

Thank you very much. God bless you, and God bless the National Electric Power Administration!"

[Psst, sir, the NEPA already has that acronym!]

"Err, I meant to say, my fellow Americans, God bless the Department of Overload Defense!"

[Psst, sir, the DOD already has that acronym!]

"Oh [mike still on] f--k it! Can't you fools even get my talking points right!?"

--

Eco-cars, schmeeko-cars. We are so fooketed! So here's my question. If CBOT futures speculation really has absolutely nothing to do with the spiking price of oils and grains, even as demand is falling and supply is idling waiting for real orders, then wouldn't the prudent GWOT thing to do, since speculation has nothing to do with it, be to re-institute the Maker-Taker restrictions in place up until 1984, when Reaganauts deregulated everything to ladder up their S&L payout profits?

Because they know oil prices would plummet to $60 overnight, probably overshooting.
Because they know that gasoline sales taxes would plummet overnight, bankrupting State and local government. Because they know that the Big Oil corporate profits solely responsible for propping up the US markets and US$ would collapse overnight.
Because as loyal, patriotic Americans who watch our borders and guard our skies will tell you, you can't handle cheap oil!!

Instead we get social engineering in WA DC, letting everyone own handguns now, in the murder capitol of the USA. Remember, speculators don't spike oil, oil does! %P

Posted by: Eco Carrus | Jun 29 2008 5:43 utc | 9

@9
So here's my question. If CBOT futures speculation really has absolutely nothing to do with the spiking price of oils and grains, even as demand is falling and supply is idling waiting for real orders, then wouldn't the prudent GWOT thing to do, since speculation has nothing to do with it, be to re-institute the Maker-Taker restrictions in place up until 1984, when Reaganauts deregulated everything to ladder up their S&L payout profits?

Because they know oil prices would plummet to $60 overnight, probably overshooting.
Because they know that gasoline sales taxes would plummet overnight, bankrupting State and local government. Because they know that the Big Oil corporate profits solely responsible for propping up the US markets and US$ would collapse overnight.
Because as loyal, patriotic Americans who watch our borders and guard our skies will tell you, you can't handle cheap oil!!

not to forget Wall St.
also in addition to speculation, the other operative word is manipulation.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Jun 29 2008 9:16 utc | 10

The Saudi Royals support their co-religionist with impressive financing, contacts, perks, etc. In what measure that is motivated by other considerations or constitutes political meddling, either in its intentions, or its desired or unexpected effects, is really impossible to say. My guess is less than one, or western conspiracist, think, because while any group can be called ‘wily’; rich, ruling, royal elites, supported by super powers (US) tend to not have clear policies or aims (smallish in-group argues, all of them in comfortable positions), be closed off (their own local readings and interests always prevail), to be not very informed, etc.

Saudi has been imprisoning jihadists and rebels etc. at a great rate. Both to please the US (see oil also) and to protect themselves from dissidents. The extra prisons - 5 or 6 I forget - are to be built by the Bin Laden Group. Very modern, heh!

That was really off-the-cuff 2 cents on one of the strands raised in the top post.

Posted by: Tangerine | Jun 29 2008 12:57 utc | 11

Oh btw The Frontier Post (Peshawar) used to be a truly excellent paper. I haven’t read it for 3 years now so who knows.

In this picture the sacks contain food - its their front page today:

http://www.thefrontierpost.com/images/dailypics/front-pic.JPG>pic

Posted by: Tangerine | Jun 29 2008 13:08 utc | 12

http://www.thefrontierpost.com/> The Frontier Post.

(internet very slow.)

Electric cars: The CIA factbook (for what it’s worth) outlines that US electricity production comes for 71% from fossil fuels. Plus 20% nuclear, 5% hydro... Hmmm... is it smarter to burn the fuel directly or to turn it into electricity if one want to use it to propel a vehicle?

Posted by: Tangerine | Jun 29 2008 13:40 utc | 13

Afghan civilian deaths up 60 per cent

The number of civilians killed in fighting between insurgents and security forces in Afghanistan has soared by two-thirds in the first half of this year, to almost 700 people, a senior UN official said Sunday.
...
Mr. Holmes said UN figures show that 698 civilians have died as a result of the fighting in the first half of this year. That compares to 430 in the first six months of 2007, a rise of 62 per cent.

Militants caused 422 of the recorded civilian casualties, while government or foreign troops killed 255 people, according to the U.N. numbers. The cause of 21 other deaths was unclear.

The real numbers are likely much higher.

Posted by: b | Jun 29 2008 17:46 utc | 14

according to my point of view tribal areas's militants,taliban from afghanistan and some extremist madrasa are behind this issue.ho doubt about this that wahhabisim has a link with taliban and other radicals,who don't have enough knowledge about true sprit of islam.

Posted by: jameel abbasi | Jul 13 2008 6:20 utc | 15

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