Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 01, 2012

Just Another Night Raid In Kabul

Mustafa Kazemi is an Afghan journalist. He has a blog and twitters as @combatjourno.

Starting 10:10pm in Kabul (1:10am EDT) today he twittered this:

BREAKING NEWS -- Afghan & ISAF forces just conducted a raid on this guest house in Shahr-e-Naw in front of MTN HQ arresting a suicide bomber

When I got out of my room suddenly a Special Force operator held a gun on my face & laid me to ground. They then raided the room beside me.

The operators were Afghan Intelligence & ISAF Special Forces operators. They then told me they arrested a suicide bomber.

The suspect was an Etisalat employee and was suspected of being a suicide bomber, An Intelligence official just said.

I've a lot of scratches on my hands and thigh pain as a result of kicking and pushing me down to the ground by NDS & ISAF Special Forces.

An intelligence operator warningly told me to hide myself so they won't "shoot me instead of the terrorists".

The foreign SF operator left off the handcuffs when I told him I'm a journalist and spoke English to him. But kept the gun on my head.

The hotel manager tells me that the arrested person is a trustable customer of him since a long time & he doubts him being a terrorist. I can now see the truth behind the night special operations. Led by foreigners obviously. Afghans cant even run an op independently in Kabul

After they arrested the suspect I saw a military attorney was brought inside to draft the inventory & condition of the room during operation

Downstairs, @AmiriEhsan was about to come upstairs to me, the troops told him to get away from the scene, because it's gonna get 'bloody'.

NB: the foreign special forces didn't speak a word so I couldn't make out their nationality. One of them had an Australian flag insignia.

I must expect getting arrested by Domestic Intelligence for live-tweeting their classified operation for letting people know the truths.

This was a night raid on a hotel with a long time trusted customer of the hotel being hauled off as a terrorists which he is unlikely to be. During the raid Afghans like Mustafa Kazemi were roughly manhandled by foreign special forces. Is it any wonder that many Afghans do not want such forces in their country?

The German spy service BND made some dark predictions about Afghanistan. Certain politicians and the SPIEGEL writers use this as an argument for the continuation of the military occupation of Afghanistan by western military beyond 2014. The questions they never answer is "What for?"

What are they expecting to change by keeping 35,000 troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014? How will that change be achieved? If 11 years of foreign occupation of Afghanistan were not enough to achieve the desired end state how long will take and how much will it costs? Can those changes be achieved at all?

Many of the perceived problems of Afghanistan that are supposed to be changed by further western interference are the consequences of this interference. Epic corruption, rampant warlordism, high drug production and drug addiction rates were not the big problems in the Afghanistan of 2001.

Removing the foreign troops and influences will allow Afghanistan to find back to a balance where those problems can slowly heal away. Keeping troops in Afghanistan will only prolong the ordeal.

Posted by b on October 1, 2012 at 18:20 UTC | Permalink


BND: Afghan President Karzai looks particularly bad in the BND analysis . .it claims that all of Karzai's activities have been focused on "holding on to power" and "maintaining the status quo," . .Karzai's assurances to the West "remain declarations of intent"
--Actually: I would think that BND would be aware of the political situation in Afghanistan.
Any and all efforts to reform Karzai are wasted. Karzai is a lame duck, and must leave office in 2014 according to the constitution. A new election will decide his replacement, and it probably (not definitely) will be someone closer to the US and further from Pakistan, which will worsen the security situation.

BND: The BND report predicts that the number of attacks that members of the Afghan security forces carry out against Western soldiers will continue to increase. . .The BND also believes the Afghan government's efforts to hold talks with insurgents have no chance at success.
--General Allen, answering questions on 60 Minutes yesterday-- : Lara Logan: Should Americans brace themselves for more attacks? Is this going to continue? Allen: "It will. The enemy recognizes this is a vulnerability. You know, in Iraq, the signature weapon system that we hadn't seen before was the IED. We had to adjust to that. Here, I think the signature attack that we're beginning to see the-- is going to be the insider attack. . .Al Qaeda has come back."

BND: after 2014. . . Up to 35,000 foreign soldiers -- mostly trainers for the Afghan army, combat troops required to protect the trainers and as many elite soldiers as possible to hunt down terrorists -- will be needed to stabilize the country,
--Actually: As stated above, if 100K+ troops couldn't "stabilize the country", and the political/military situation is becoming less stable, what hope is there for 35,000 foreign soldiers? (Germany currently has about 5,000 soldiers in Afghanistan.)

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 1 2012 20:00 utc | 1

all of Karzai's activities have been focused on "holding on to power" and "maintaining the status quo"

scapegoating Karzai ... I mean, I don't know him, probably it's true that he's as corrupt as any politician can be, but ... what else should / could he have done with the Us/Nato constantly on killing sprees and trying to bypass him in talks with Talibans?

Posted by: claudio | Oct 1 2012 20:54 utc | 2

Bad puppet. Go to bed.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 1 2012 21:34 utc | 3

it's as dangerous to be a friend as a foe of the "Empire" these days, Karzai'd better watch his back (bet he hasn't been doing anything else till now), his usefulness is about over; more exactly, the Us tried to bypass him (and Pakistan) in talks with Talibans but they didn't succeed, so maybe they still need Karzai for a while

just my impression, but maybe he outsmarted Us/Nato at the fake elections; the Us seemed to be plotting against him, and had to accept the fait accompli - could it be possible?

Posted by: claudio | Oct 1 2012 23:05 utc | 4


Removing the foreign troops and influences will allow Afghanistan to find back to a balance where those problems can slowly heal away. Keeping troops in Afghanistan will only prolong the ordeal.
yes, but if Nato retires from Afghanistan, Pakistan will stabilize and both will soon realign with Iran and China (and maybe that's a reason Russia has been quite willing to help Nato logistics), and among other things the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline will encounter no obstacles

Posted by: claudio | Oct 1 2012 23:14 utc | 5

As the US slips (mostly) out, the big local players will move in.
Then it will be China/Pakistan/Pashtun/Taliban versus Russia/Iran/India/Northern Alliance (Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara)

Smart money is on the latter because for one thing they control the Afghan military.
Which side would US/NATO be on? It's a Hobson's choice. Gotta swallow pride and go with #2, which will inspire Pakistan to do even more because Pakistan doesn't want to become the filling in an Indian sandwich.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 1 2012 23:55 utc | 6

b said, "Keeping troops in Afghanistan will only prolong the ordeal."

That's the whole point of this exercise - to prolong the ordeal. That's how money is made under this new world order. You don't make things better - you destroy things to make them worse. Much more profitable.

Posted by: arthurdecco | Oct 1 2012 23:56 utc | 7

arthurdecco - I might agree in general, but in the Afghan case just too much money goes to real people - occupation is a "labor intensive" enterprise; Cia drone-drivers might have a field day, but costs are simply too high; put it in another way: there are much more valuable things to destroy elsewhere; I think the Us will stay until they are assured of a SOFA for the "strategical" reasons I said above

Posted by: claudio | Oct 2 2012 0:34 utc | 8

Don Bacon, what makes you think Iran would be on the Russian side? it has very good relations with Afghanistan, Pakistan and China (and also India), and for very good reasons; whereas it has alway had a difficult relationship with Russia (again, for very good reasons9

Posted by: claudio | Oct 2 2012 0:36 utc | 9

"After they arrested the suspect I saw a military attorney was brought inside to draft the inventory..."

Checking to see if there was anything worth looting?

Posted by: JohnH | Oct 2 2012 1:37 utc | 10

Bacon: what happened to your jury service? Dismissed because of disturbingly rationale political positions?

Anyway Glenn Greenwald makes the perfect case for jury nullification: an Iraqi-American research scientist serving a long sentence for sending money to Iraq to support his large, extended family:

"Nobody, including the US government, claims that these amounts were intended for anything other than humanitarian assistance for his family and those of others in his community. Everyone, including the US government, acknowledges that these funds were sent to and received only by the intended recipients - suffering Iraqi family members - and never got anywhere near Saddam's regime, terrorist groups, or anything illicit."

What a travesty of justice!

Posted by: JohnH | Oct 2 2012 1:43 utc | 11

jury: It was a bust. Got there at 8am, one hour drive, must have been 200 people with me. They announced at 10:30 that there were six misdemeanors, and they all copped a plea. "You're dismissed for a year, or more." Ten empty courtrooms and 200 people disturbed -- more crime needed.

But the preparation in the jury lounge was well done. There was some expert talk and words from a judge, a pledge of allegiance, and an excellent video that made me want to enlist immediately, about how it isn't one person that determines it takes twelve, etc. The American Way. It made me forget all my anti-cop impulses, at least right then. It was that good.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 2 2012 2:02 utc | 12

@claudio what makes you think Iran would be on the Russian side?

Iran has traditionally been aligned with the western and northern non-Pashtun provinces in Afghanistan. Iran enjoys extensive influence with the non-Pashtun peoples of the north. They are a majority of the country's population and over-represented in the national assembly, owing to low Pashtun voter turnout in the war-torn south and east. Also the Afghan army is mostly northerners. These northerners respect Iran. Their language and culture are Persian-influenced; Iran backed them during the Russian war and against the Taliban. But now Iran and Russia are allies, and India. The Iran-India ties will be paramount. India needs Iran for its energy and for entry into Afghanistan and Central Asia. India has stiffed the US over this.

Now nothing's simple. Iran has provided some support to the Taliban in western Afghanistan, and Iran does hope to provide gas to Pakistan. Nobody knows how all this is going to develop, there are so many variables. So treat my #6 as a vast simplification of a complex situation.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 2 2012 2:15 utc | 13

It seems to me that the main reason now for keeping 35,000 troops there after 2014 is to avoid a Viet Nam like collapse, ie, largely for poliitcal cosmetic reasons.

Posted by: FB Ali | Oct 2 2012 2:35 utc | 14

"Many of the perceived problems of Afghanistan that are supposed to be changed by further western interference are the consequences of this interference."

No-one will ever or has ever said it better, b.
Short, sweet, and right on the money.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 2 2012 2:39 utc | 15

FB Ali @ 14.
I don't agree.
The Taliban/Afghan Resistance smoothed the path for the Surge. They know that the invaders are thoroughly besotted with their own bullshit. Getting out of Afghanistan will prove to be infinitely more difficult than getting in. Imo, the reason the date for withdrawal has been extended beyond 2014 is that no-one has figured out how to SAFELY draw-down the numbers in each and every one of hundreds of bases and bunkers they've set up in the country.

Each base/bunker requires a certain number of personnel, PLUS cover from bases/bunkers nearby, to maintain security. Dismantling and/or evacuating that network in an environment as hostile as Afghanistan is a logistical nightmare and the US Military are the second-dumbest fuckwits on the planet - after the "Israelis".
It'll be a long, drawn-out, unreported, bloodbath.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 2 2012 3:17 utc | 16

It's an echo of Iraq in that regard. A brutal foreign occupation serves to recruit opposition to that occupation. Recruiting fighters. The longer they stay the more opposition is recruited. I put something together on why Iraq kicked the US military out, that I call "tanks for the memories" as seen here, here and here.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 2 2012 3:25 utc | 17

NYT: U.S. Abandoning Hopes for Taliban Peace Deal

With the surge of American troops over and the Taliban still a potent threat, American generals and civilian officials acknowledge that they have all but written off what was once one of the cornerstones of their strategy to end the war here: battering the Taliban into a peace deal.

Guardian: Nato withdrawal from Afghanistan could be speeded up, says Rasmussen
The retreat of western forces from Afghanistan could come sooner than expected, the head of Nato has said as he conceded that the recent Taliban strategy of "green on blue" killings had been successful in sapping morale.

In an interview with the Guardian Nato's secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, responded to pressure for a faster withdrawal from Afghanistan by stating that the options were being studied and should be clear within three months.

"From now until the end of 2014 you may see adaptation of our presence. Our troops can redeploy, take on other tasks, or even withdraw, or we can reduce the number of foreign troops," he said. "From now until the end of 2014 we will see announcements of redeployments, withdrawals or drawdown … If the security situation allows, I would not exclude the possibility that in certain areas you could accelerate the process."

The "insider attacks" against foreign forces are the winning strategy.

Posted by: b | Oct 2 2012 5:58 utc | 18

On of the best experts on Afghanistan:

Gilles Dorronsoro: Waiting for the Taliban in Afghanistan

The withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan will leave the country worse than it was before 2001 in some respects. There is no clear plan for the future. Washington will progressively lose its influence over Kabul, and drone operations in Pakistan are not a credible way to fight jihadist groups on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The situation will only worsen after 2014, when most U.S. troops are out of the country and aid going to the Afghan government steeply declines.

Key Themes:

The Afghan political system’s center of gravity—the east and the Kabul region—is gravely threatened by a Taliban advance that will take place in the spring of 2013 following the winter lull in fighting.

The Afghan regime will most probably collapse in a few years.

Political fragmentation, whether in the form of militias or the establishment of sanctuaries in the north, is laying the groundwork for a long civil war—a dangerous scenario for Western interests.

Though negotiations with the Taliban are unlikely before the troop withdrawal, the United States will not be able to pursue its longer-term interests in and around Afghanistan if it is not willing to deal with the Taliban.

Poised to take power after the Afghan regime’s likely collapse, only the Taliban can potentially control the Afghan border and expel transnational jihadists from Afghanistan.

He has some valid recommendations. No one will follow them.

Posted by: b | Oct 2 2012 6:03 utc | 19

I'm surprised with the end of this post by b. Is the purpose of western occupation, solving the problems of Afghanistan? That is the sort of nonsense that the world has been hearing for centuries about western intervention, occupation, and hegemony. Western governments and their military forces have been problem makers throughout the world for centuries.

Posted by: Nasser | Oct 2 2012 7:52 utc | 20

I am betting on the intelligence before a journalist.

Posted by: havye | Oct 2 2012 10:30 utc | 21

"Keeping troops in Afghanistan will only prolong the ordeal."

Truer words were never spoken, however, I don't believe the West cares about any ordeal they saddle the Afgans with. The goal is Western hegemony, at ANY price.

arthurdecco @ 7 & nasser @ 20; YEP!

Posted by: ben | Oct 2 2012 14:12 utc | 22

Completely disagree with Don Bacon on this:

Then it will be China/Pakistan/Pashtun/Taliban versus Russia/Iran/India/Northern Alliance (Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara)

The factions that align will be those interested in stability, whether for economics reasons, led by China, or for security reasons, led mostly by Russia, with Iran a solid contender in both ;
against those who believe they have the most to gain by further instability where they can improve their position, & those that know that they can't compete in a stable, relatively 'normalised' environment.

What will be of critical importance is the showdown between different factions in Pakistan & Afghanistan, where Gulf cash, the drug mafia/corrupted state apparatus throughout FATA & much of Afghanistan, the various forms of state-linked & non-state extremist groups & the vast amounts of US 'off-the-books' vehicles have the largest stake in in keeping the chaos ongoing.
The Pakistani & Afghani business establishment, the middle & working classes, the 'ordinary' Afghani citizen, plus most of the local elites have the most to gain in stability if their concerns are taken into account in the post-'withdrawal'.

Putin is the sharpest statesman around in my opinion, & he is already laying the groundwork for giving as many major factions as possible a stake in stability, negotiating gas pipelines & trade-routes, and the massive Chinese investments are the major keystone. These happen if there is stability - all the major factions know it, & there is enough in natural resources & trade runoffs for all the major factions to get a big piece of the pie, & it's long-term, reliable stuff. The trick is getting enough involved, & maintaining stability for long enough to get the big projects off the ground. Once they reach a certain point in development, they take care of themselves.
Most of the major local factions now realise that the alternative is disaster, where no-one wins but the drug-lords & corruption. And while the drug-lords & corruption are well-entrenched & very profitable, most of the elites & larger factions know that this is not a growth strategy.

The central Taliban itself seems confident enough that it can compete in a relatively stable environment, as long as they have a relatively even playing field. If they position themselves as they did originally as an anti-corruption, pro-islamic force that has the backing of the central Pakistani authorities, & the Pakistani pro-stability factions are in ascendance, they will likely do very well, & know it - the US invasion has been very good for their popular appeal.
The 'Pakistani taliban' & various foreign focused extremist factions are the loser, as the majority of locals just want stability & a future.

If Pakistan can broker the Taliban led south & Russia/Iran the Northern Alliance led north into a deal with China investment the key bridge, things have a pretty decent chance of stabilising.
And while it is likely to get messy immediately after as the initial factions set their positions & the losers - the foreign focused extremists, drug gangs, etc. try to play spoiler, the likely spoilers just don't have enough to offer locally if things are kept relatively local.
Uzbekistan is the only real wildcard, but are likely to play for stability & increased involvement, because it is just too risky otherwise.

In the end, too many local players are not only big losers if Afghanistan goes completely into chaos, but are big winners if stability is achieved.
It would take a full-scale alliance between the US & the Gulf states, ala Syria, with them pouring money & arms to turn the country into the spiralling chaos that various Western pundits keep 'warning' will come after NATO withdrawal.

Posted by: KenM | Oct 2 2012 14:46 utc | 23

The current news is that General Allen and SecDef Panetta have minimized the green-on-blue deaths as simply a new enemy tactic. They liken it to IEDs. The long-standing Pentagon policy on IED deaths has been one of general acceptance. It only happens to the lower ranks. VIPs fly everywhere. No dangerous roads for them. The big cheeses fought the introduction of MRAPs, which save lives and limbs, until Gates got on it. They now hope that everyone will accept G-O-B deaths in a similar fashion. But of course it is more than a new tactic -- it goes to the heart of entire misplaced endeavor and it requires a major decision to get out, which would require courage.

General Allen is looking to slip away soon to his fine new billet in Brussels, of course Leon Panetta is a joke, and Obama is a born compromiser, so courage is lacking.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 2 2012 18:45 utc | 24

addendum: IED's also work on trails as well as roads. G-O-B works everywhere, except maybe with the higher ranks who are completely surrounded with trusted security at all times.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 2 2012 18:49 utc | 25

Why the West is in Afghanistan?

Posted by: ben | Oct 2 2012 23:47 utc | 26

Aloha, ya'll...! I found little to quibble about in this excellent clip... ‘The Shit is About to Hit the Fan’

Ain't Kharma a b*tch...? 8-(

Posted by: CTuttle | Oct 3 2012 0:24 utc | 27

This look at the Afghanistan army is worth reading. -- Training the Afghan Military

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 3 2012 1:06 utc | 28

If you read the Link at #28, think of what General Allen testified to congress last March:

The expansion and the professionalization of the Afghan security forces allows us to recover the remaining 23,000 U.S. surge forces this fall, enables us to continue to pressure the Taliban to reconcile, and makes possible security transition to the Afghans in accordance with our Lisbon commitments and on time.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 3 2012 1:33 utc | 29

b@18: "The "insider attacks" against foreign forces are the winning strategy." Coming soon to an occupation near you.

Heck, even right wing militias in the US have joined the military for training and who knows what other mischief.

I would bet anything that the Benghazi assassins of Chris Stevens were insiders, too. Any regime that tries to integrate multiple tribes or sects into its armed forces offers fair game.

The US may one day look with nostalgia at ruthless tyrants like Qaddhafi and Assad, who managed to hold such societies together.

Hugo Chavez came from the military and, as a junior officer, attempted a coup years before being elected. He'll soon be re-elected with about 60% of the vote, in what Jimmy Carter calls the world's best election system.

The military is a great training ground for nationalist insurgents, and there's little an outside occupier can do to determine friend and foe. The US has overplayed its hand.

Posted by: JohnH | Oct 3 2012 4:25 utc | 30

CTuttle@ 27: Thanks for the video, well worth a listen folks. Makes way too much sense.

Posted by: ben | Oct 3 2012 13:52 utc | 31

@31, agreed. The sketchier becomes the clearer. But why all this palaver from Islamists lamenting insults to their religion? They could be Amish for all anyone cares.

Posted by: ruralito | Oct 3 2012 17:22 utc | 32

Geopolitical instability drives a flight-to-safety in financial markets. I.e., one way to drum up buyers is to make all other nations debt (and stock markets) look shaky.

Given new records in US/EU debt issuance and monetization by their central banks (e.g., the Fed owning 27% of issuance, per, "now" is as good a time as any to drum up "troubles" around the world.

At least, that's possible motivation...

Posted by: figaro | Oct 5 2012 17:04 utc | 33

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