Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 19, 2014

The Coup Announcement In Afghanistan

This in the New York Times reads like an early announcement of a democratic pro-U.S. coup in Afghanistan:

A coterie of powerful Afghan government ministers and officials with strong ties to the security forces are threatening to seize power if an election impasse that has paralyzed the country is not resolved soon.
After weeks of quietly discussing the prospect of imposing a temporary government, officials within the Karzai government said the best way out of a crisis that had emboldened the Taliban, weakened an already struggling economy and left many here deeply pessimistic about the country’s democratic future, might well be some form of interim government, most likely run by a committee.
It often happens that when power is seized during a political crisis, as in Thailand or Egypt, those taking charge argue that the step is essential to restore order and protect democracy in the long run. That is also the case here, where such a move is being advertised as a last resort to save democracy. It could also effectively discard the results of a presidential runoff election that, until it was derailed by allegations of fraud, had been promoted as a historic event in a country that never had a democratic transfer of power.

Both presidential candidates in Afghanistan, the northern alliance affiliated Abdullah Abdullah and the Pashtu candidate Ashraf Ghani had bribed whoever they could to win the election. But in the end they can not decided who had bribed more and thereby won. The length of the impasse does not matter as long as the country's bureaucracy keeps functioning, but there is one deadline that is threatened by it. This deadline may very well be the reason why this coup is intended. The question is again cui bono?

The officials said they believed they would have the backing of Afghanistan’s army, police and intelligence corps.
A new government is needed soon if there is to be any chance of securing deals to keep American and European troops here after the end of the year, some Afghan officials said.
Three senior Afghan officials said they needed a government in place by mid-September to ensure security agreements needed to keep some United States and NATO forces in Afghanistan beyond the end of the year.

Secretary of State Kerry tried twice to arrange for some badly defined national unity government in Kabul. Such a government is the cure-all solution introduced wherever the U.S. wants to stay in control. But the two candidates and the interests they represent can not agree on the terms. The security forces, depending on U.S. largess, will try their best to secure their future pay by getting the Status of Force Agreement with the U.S. signed.

As President Karzai does not want such an agreement and no new government is in sight the security forces are tempted to install their own new government. As such is the only possibility for the U.S. to keep its foothold in Afghanistan we will likely see any coup and the resulting government, like in Egypt, be recognized as "restoring democracy".

But such an arrangement will only encourage more resistance from the Taliban and other anti-government forces. The new "take no prisoners" policy of the corrupt government security forces will also increase the Taliban's support. As long as the interests of the people represented by the Taliban - and their demand for all foreign forces to leave - are not met, there will be no peace for the country.

Posted by b on August 19, 2014 at 12:45 UTC | Permalink


Cui bono? Let us start where we always do.

"... unclear how the project can progress given the Taliban insurgency, which controls large swaths of southern Afghanistan and parts of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. A separatist rebellion in Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, through which the pipeline must also pass, further complicates the picture Andrew Neff, a Moscow-based senior energy analyst at IHS, a global consultancy, said instability in Afghanistan means the pipeline—estimated four years ago to cost $7.6 billion to construct—is unlikely to attract financing from Western banks.

"The main hurdle is the security concerns in Afghanistan," Mr. Neff said. The focus on the pipeline's geopolitical significance is "threatening to overtake the economic rationale of connecting suppliers with consumers," he said…"

Posted by: really | Aug 19 2014 13:11 utc | 1

Imran Khan , the former Cricketeer, seems to be as serious reformer. His anti-corruption drive seems to be the impetus behind the 'coup', He supported the ouster of Mushareff, but he had allies who wanted Mush out for other reasons. I fear he is too radical for the tremendous cultural foundation for bribery and graft to survive very long, if he should win.

Posted by: Ben Franklin | Aug 19 2014 13:18 utc | 2

Signing a 'status of forces agreement' with an unelected, coup government would be very problematic for the NATO governments, from a PR point of view.

They gambled on the "election" -a farcical exercise that ought not to have fooled anyone over the age of ten- not because such an exercise means anything in terms of legitimacy but because it was guaranteed to yield a puppet on the payroll, because only puppets on the payroll were qualified to run. A coup government is likely to consist on the ICC's most wanted men, war criminals such as Dostum, who have always had the real power but whom Karzai's image masked. It will not look at all good.

Then there is the question of asking Russia "Please Mr Putin, old friend, could we just withdraw using your transport network, roads, rail and airspace? Would you do us another favour, pal?"

Posted by: bevin | Aug 19 2014 13:27 utc | 3

I have no doubt, come what may, the West, and their minions, will retain their foothold in Afghanistan.
Democracy indeed, more like hegemony, by any means necessary.

Posted by: ben | Aug 19 2014 13:35 utc | 4

Hmm. Some sort of anagram with the political players.

Dr Abdullah, Ghani and Imran Khan who is a descendent of this peace-loving Sufi.

Could there be some hope?

Posted by: Ben Franklin | Aug 19 2014 13:42 utc | 5

OK; software upchucked yet another comment. whatevs.

Posted by: Ben Franklin | Aug 19 2014 13:48 utc | 6

Interesting. Perhaps Iraq is an object lesson for Afghanistan, and might add another bit of sprinkles to the conspiracy sundae. Our support of ISIS is a great wedge between Assad/Hezbollah and Iran/E Iraq; a good way to sever the Iraqi state, fracturing off the Kurdish areas, perhaps also destabilizing Syria even more, perhaps allowing a Kurdish state without affecting Turkish borders. But, here's another, the object lesson for Afghanistan.

I believe our policymakers believe we have more at stake in Afghanistan than in Iraq. We want to control Iraq, but we don't want to patrol Iraq. We might want to control Afghanistan, but we want to patrol it's Northern and Eastern borders. I think we also want our fingers on some buttons in Kashmir, the Federal areas and with the Chinese Wigurs.

Thanks again B for your great work

Posted by: scottindallas | Aug 19 2014 13:58 utc | 7

Re: the first comment -- For anyone who didn't click through, the WSJ article if from May 22, 2012.

And could have been written a decade or more earlier, of course.

Posted by: jawbone | Aug 19 2014 14:06 utc | 8

Re: Putin -- Have there been anything coming out of the Russian government pertaining to the US using Russian access routes to leave Afghanistan?

Any commentaries? Blog reports? etc.

Posted by: jawbone | Aug 19 2014 14:09 utc | 9

Hmmm. Just who gave access to Abdullah? I suspect USdotgov has a favorite.

Posted by: Ben Franklin | Aug 19 2014 14:10 utc | 10

The ballot recount engineered by Kerry is about half over. Hundreds of auditors are now looking at close to 1,000 ballot boxes per day, with about ten thousand boxes to do.

But what does it matter. Afghanistan is a mountainous tribal country where most of the people are illiterate. They basically want to be left alone, and who sits in Kabul is of little interest to them.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 19 2014 14:45 utc | 11

@ scottindallas, #6
Afghanistan is important to the US as the keystone to Central Asia.

The US absolutely must have a continuation of the war in Afghanistan in order to justify a continued military presence. Afghanistan is the keystone to the long-running New Silk Road strategy.

The US "New Silk Road concept has a history that goes back at least to the "Silk Road Strategy Act of 1999." This idea was probably one of the prime strategic motivators for the US involvement in Afghanistan, which is the keystone to Central Asia from the south.

There has been a significant infusion of soft power by the US in Central Asia, particularly involving Kazakhstan, including USAID and US chambers of commerce, but geographical access is a problem.

Alas, any new silk road from the Arabian Sea, which would have to be the US entry point, must go through either Pakistan or Iran, most conveniently the latter. But the US has botched relations with both, as well as thoroughly destabilizing Afghanistan.

So no new silk road for the US, it's a victim of US incompetence. But the US will go in that direction anyhow.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 19 2014 14:48 utc | 12

I guess the Ketchup Boy fancies himself as some Alexander the Great.

Crappy copy, but the only one I could find: Bremner, Bird and Fortune on the long history of Afghanistan

In case you need cheering up.

Posted by: El Sid | Aug 19 2014 15:52 utc | 13

This is a sign of how bad things are in Afghanistan, that a whispering campaign has already started for an "interim government" before the Abdullah-Ghani recount is even finished. That is because there is no indication, once the recount is concluded, that Abdullah and Ghani will come together to form a unity government. The U.S. needs a bilateral security agreement in place by the middle of next month, or, so the U.S. says, all forces will be gone by the end of the year.

Regardless of the palace intrigue in Kabul, the Taliban is on its way back. There was a story at the end of last month which spoke to just how extensive Taliban military gains have been recently. For instance, they control large swaths of Kapisa province, which is just north of Kabul and abuts Bagram Airfield, the nerve center of American power in Afghanistan.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Aug 19 2014 15:56 utc | 14

The US plan, courtesy of loser John Kerry: Once a winner is declared, the losing candidate will be appointed to the role of ‘chief executive‘ and share power with the president.

And that sort of power-sharing arrangement has ever worked -- where?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 19 2014 16:29 utc | 15

Don @14
You have to bear in mind that the "power" to be shared is microscopic, which is perhaps why it won't work.
90% of the power will be retained by the US and the rest will be split up between warlords, the Pakistani SIS, the IMF and others.

There will be little left for the two amigos to squabble over.

The best solution for the US would be to hold a Dutch auction, privately, of course and see who wants the consolation prize- a few million bucks- most.

Anyone offering odds?

Posted by: bevin | Aug 19 2014 16:41 utc | 16

Power(profit) sharing in Afghanistan: You take the drug commissions, I get the construction kick-backs, you ...

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 19 2014 16:58 utc | 17

In the second round of voting Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai nudged out Abdullah Abdullah with 56% of the vote, but that strangely doubled his tally in the April first round. Now the recount.

I go with Abdullah Abdullah, Hope and Change alliance. It has a nice ring.

Ganhi has given up his US citizenship, which A-A never had, but Abdullah has cultivated friendships in Congress. Two years ago he visited Washington and met with Senators Diane Feinstein, Carl Levin, John McCain, Joseph Lieberman, Lindsey Graham, Jack Reed, Richard Burr, also Congressman David Drier, Mike Rogers, Howard Berman, Gary Ackerman, Dana Rohrabacher and Democratic Minority Leader Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.

A-A lost to Karzai five years ago in a rigged election, and I suspect he's being set up to win this one.Both guys have promised to sign Obama's BSA (these things never get considered by the Senate) to ensure future US military presence.

Bernard-Henri Lévy, who was instrumental in bringing us Libya, was once a huge A-A supporter but has been silent. Lévy in March 2012: "Abdullah Abdullah...Remember this name. Recall it, if you have forgotten it. For Afghanistan and its friends, it is perhaps the very last card left to play." Lévy has been occupied with Ukraine, including making a rah-rah democracy speech in Maidan square, perhaps he's been too busy for time in Kabul.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 19 2014 17:12 utc | 18

I'm reading Ann Jones' Kabul in Winter, which looks at Afghanistan after the U.S./NATO campaign ousted the Taliban. Jones moves to Kabul in 2002 to work for a women's aid NGO. So the book is heavy on women's issues. And while this sounds very frou-frou and Samantha Powersesque it is the exact opposite. Jones is a great writer (who you might have read on TomDispatch) who looks at U.S. empire-building with all the acidic skepticism it deserves.

But what is amazing about the book is its compendium of brutality. It reads like a James Ellroy pulp, but one that leaves the reader an avowed feminist. Anyhow, Afghanistan is a fucked up place thanks in large part to its location as the Great Game crossroads.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Aug 19 2014 18:29 utc | 19

@MM, #19
Ann Jones is a prolific writer on Afghanistan. A series of her articles for TomDispatch can be seen here, including from Jan 2013:
Counting Down to 2014 in Afghanistan
"...Only one thing is certain in 2014: it will be a year of American military defeat...."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 19 2014 18:59 utc | 20

@jawbone #9:

Russia/Putin has consistently publicly supported the US remaining mired waist-deep in the big Wadi of Afghanistan.

Posted by: de Tocqueville | Aug 19 2014 19:06 utc | 21

Nothing will put the locals faith back into democracy like a foreign government establishing an unelected junta.

Posted by: guest77 | Aug 19 2014 23:31 utc | 22

Seems the NYT writer is in trouble...

Posted by: dh | Aug 20 2014 1:31 utc | 23

from the yahoo link--
The crisis has tested Afghanistan's fragile democracy
That's a good one, and so typical.
Purple fingers come to mind.
The great myth is that America is establishing democracies on these woeful places.

In Afghanistan, the president appoints the province chiefs, the district governors and the mayors of major municipalities. Some democracy. Under article 64, the president has the power to appoint all “high-ranking officials,” which has been interpreted by Karzai to include not only cabinet ministers but also members of the Supreme Court, judges, provincial governors and district
governors, local security chiefs, and members of supposedly independent commissions.

So actually the US is using bogus democracy-establishment as a cover for increased power & profit.
But you knew that.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Aug 20 2014 2:27 utc | 24

The Empire (wouldn't we all be so much better if it was a hempire ?) won't be going anywhere soon. We may have the illusion of a pull-out (not that that will be easy seeing as how they have pissed the Russians off BIG time in Ukraine & payback may well be extracted) but the Sepo's are going no where. The US$ trillions plus worth of minerals discovered in Afghanistan will see to that, as well as pipelines and the strategic positioning of the country. And don't forget the opium - another thing Moscow is mightily pissed off about

Posted by: kiwicris | Aug 20 2014 6:21 utc | 25


I used to read Marc Herold's 'Afghanistan as a (Empty) Resource Space', and Peter Torbay's 'Diminiution and Development' cover to cover, hoping to get some business in Afghanistan, then was lucky enough to meet important Afghan businessmen, even the Karzai brothers, and get some insight into Hamid as first a Royalist, a Northern Alliance CIA conduit, then a Taliban hanger on, an Enron consultant and finally Mr. Roses and Chocolates of OEF-A.

Just stop for a second and imagine that thrill for Hamid, surviving 30 years of industrial meat-grinder war and four government overlords to become Chief Executive of the nation.
Wow. Imagine standing in front of your people with a brand new Afghan flag, a brand new Afghan national anthem, a brand new Afghan currency, all created by Madison Avenue and CIA/Mossad, together with the Afghan Minerals and Hydrocarbon Laws, which Cheney's Energy Policy Committee folks wrote in November, 2001, IN ENGLISH, then made into Afghan 'law'.

I came to understand that Afghanistan is no more corrupted than any US state enterprise, certainly can't hold a candle to the massive looting and fraud in US government. They're just doing business the Old Country way, like my father and especially grandfather used to do business, you buy a guy a nice watch or a bottle of hootch and he gives you a contract. Or you get his kid into your alma mater, and he gives you a contract and a kickback. My dad gave the local alderman $1000, and he got me a city job when I graduated from college. It's a very simple straight-forward give and take, not at all like the buggerers of WADC-NOVA.

And with that, I came to admire Hamid, exiled to India as a student, approaching every new junta in its turn, losing his father, suddenly vaulting into the Executive, and even though he took the bribes that Hillary threw at him, $Bs and $Bs of diverted US humanitarian aid funds, he still never went along with their program, and granted the fabulous Aynak copper reserves to China and the Hajigak iron and coking coal reserves to India. Very shrewd loyal Afghan servant, and he had the balls to tell Kerry and Obama to get out of the country.

For Kerry and Obama's part, we're in Afghanistan from Cheney, Bush, Enron and Pipelinestan. The 'Surge' was Cheney's last hurrah, (that Obama only pushed the 'Go' button on after many months of troop and equipment supply positioning.) It went downhill pretty much after that, a series of US quasi politician-generals, some more grift tours by Clinton and McCain to get their 1% cut of the action, and then the SOFA demand, and the troop pullout deadline.

The SOFA demand, by the way, if you've read it, is just horrific. It basically says the US MERC MAFIOSA can come or leave the country without inspection or tariffs, with kilos of heroin, pallets of shrinkwrapped $100s, or heads in a bag, no matter. They are above the law, can kill anyone they want, kidnap and rendition anyone they want, and still have full diplomatic immunity to come and go, like The Chosen. Literally it's a SOFA of the Vampire.

The real reason why America will always be in Afghanistan is not 'the Taliban', it's not to 'support nascent democracy' or 'secure strategic natural resources'. It's SOFA, because, of all the wars of occupation, Afghanistan stands out from them all by the EGREGIOUS looting and fraud, unlike no other theatre of combat on earth. For several years I tried to wiggle my way in as a 3rd-tier contractor, and even got a few nice 'tastes', of the just MASSIVE HUGE GULPING looting and fraud by defense contractors and NGOs, that has to be pouring into Mil.Gov's coffers in WADC-NOVA, and from there into private offshore tax havens. $100Bs!

Look around the world today, now where can an elite SOFA gain access to $100Bs without any oversight, no taxes, no regulations, SOFA is a FREE FOR ALL LOOT-FEST OF AMERICA'S TAXES!
It would be like turning off 1,000 Las Vegas' lights and going home with your diamond dice.
Fahged abahd et. Ain't gonna happen. You watch. This is just intermission on the Third Act.

Someone in Ukraine said it best. You could SMELL the pungency of Vampire, like the scent of fresh blood. It's all around the world now, Great Shaytan, searching for it's next Feast.

Posted by: ChipNikh | Aug 20 2014 10:28 utc | 26

@ 17

Speaking of drug-money, why hasn't the main-stream opinion-formers realized that the opium-production of Afghanistan could be phased out of the illegal heroin-trade, and over to the pharmaceutical industry - in the legal morphine market?
It's not very long since (this spring if my memory serves me correctly) drugstores in europe were out of morphine, that is - there were nothing in storeage, and doctors had to perscribe alternatives to morphine for ther patients.

Since Turkey can't saturate the market with their opium-production, both the pharmaceutical businesses and the consumers would benifit from turning Afghani opium legal. Not least the poppy-farmers in Afghanistan who would be able to operate legally, the Afghani state getting tax revenue, and the anti-drug campaigners, as less of the opium would be turned into illegal heroin, would benefit.
Most areas of the Afghan desert and mountain areas aren't suited for growing other crops than opium-poppies anyway.

If Afghani farmers were allowed to sell ther opium legally to the pharmaceutical companies, their main lucrative crop would then be perfectly legitimate. It would be a lot more rational than using resources destroying opium-fields, or forcing farmers to grow other - failing types of crop.

Everybody would win, except Turkish poppy-farmers and the illicit drug-cartells (CIA?).

Posted by: Alexander | Aug 20 2014 11:13 utc | 27

316;Yeah,the abuse by US towards Karzai must mean he was looking out for Afghanistan more than we wished.Everything the USA touches turns to sh*t.

Posted by: dahoit | Aug 20 2014 12:45 utc | 28

#26 that was.It's early,and the java aint kicked in.

Posted by: dahoit | Aug 20 2014 12:46 utc | 29

Good article on this at emptywheel:

Posted by: bevin | Aug 20 2014 16:21 utc | 30

I wonder how Afghanistan would have turned out had the united states supported the northern alliance all the way through. The partnering with Pakistan plan has been as much a failure as anyone expected. Maybe China will be smart enough to choose the right partners when they take over.

Posted by: Crest | Aug 21 2014 1:13 utc | 31

If the MSM didn't bury every POS article of BS they spew daily by announcing more POS BS the American people might wake up from their slumber.Ha.
A litany of failure,abuse,insanity and depravity,we must all be on prozac through the water system,with our(and it is our,re my futile words)complete masochistic silence to these policies that diminish US.
The journalists at risk;Don't people realize that our scientific,educational,historical researchers,journalistic and propagandists(good,bad)are now at mortal risk worldwide,and our spy systems also,with our policies?Hence the need for local whores who are also taken out by the angered patriots.
The beheading's global publicity sure obscured Israels bloody massacres,they only draw and quarter you..
The whole shebang is dumb,and counterproductive,for US,Israel and the whole freaking world.WTF?

Posted by: dahoit | Aug 21 2014 17:59 utc | 32

The comments to this entry are closed.