Russia and Afghanistan 24


My major theme recently has been the “Northern Distribution Network” for NATO supply to Afghanistan, and the fact that dependence on this has entailed a conscious decision to support actively the dictatorships of Central Asia, including President Karimov of Uzbekistan.

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2010/10/the_poison_from.html#comments

It also of course requires close cooperation with Russia. A Jonathan Steele points out in the Guardian, the Russian help for NATO in Afghanistan is not exactly news,.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/oct/27/russia-afghan-agenda. In fact, transit of supplies is more valuable than the more eye-catching helicopters for the Polish contingent or Russian training for Afghan troops. Russian denials of the possibility of more direct Russian involvement do not obscure the fact they are already doing a lot.

http://english.ruvr.ru/2010/10/27/28915215.html

There is another reason this Russian support is not surprising, apart from the Obama/Putin rapprochement (Medvedev is emphatically not the organ grinder).

The truth is that the NATO occupation of Afghanistan has turned into a near exact reply of the Soviet occupation. I was thinking of my good Uzbek friend in Tashkent, who had been the number two in the KGB in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation.

The misnamed “Afghan National Army is over 70% Tajik and Uzbek in composition. These were the allies of the Soviets and continued under Nazbullah to fight the Taliban. The Soviet army itself of course used soldiers from the Uzbek and Tajik Soviet Socialist Republics extensively in Afghanistan. NATO is now using the same regime elites for its logistics, and the same tribes and families who supported the Soviets within Afghanistan as allies.

In the wider diplomacy, all of this relates also the NATO’s exit strategy. In effect, they are accepting that undemocratic Soviet styled regimes as in Uzbekistan – and I would argue Russia – are the best way to deal with the fact that the populations of the Caucasus and Central Asia are Muslim. They are hoping for a hardline secular regime backed by its “Northern neighbours”.

I attended the Lib Dem annual conference in Liverpool where one deep disappointment was the speech by Jeremy Browne MP, junior foreign office minister with a specific brief for human rights. There was a single cursory mention of human rights in Jeremy Browne’s speech. Indeed I am not sure there was a single thought expressed in Jeremy Browne’s entire speech which was identifiably liberal. He could have been New Labour or Conservative as he dully expounded the view that protecting this country from the terrorist threat was our number one foregin policy objective, and then hammered on about the need to “win” the war in Afghanistan. It was a speech John Reid or David Blunkett could happily have made. And he went out of his way – in a speech evidently prepared by FCO officials – to note the need to include Afghanistan’s “northern neighbours” in an Afghan settlement.

So frredom and democracy for Central Asia are completely off the agenda. What is on the agenda is an acceptance of the regime propaganda that there are no alternatives but rapacious dictatorships and Islamic fundamentalism. That kind of false dichotomy is sustenance to the armaments and securityindustry interests that dominate our foreign policy and control our politicians.


24 thoughts on “Russia and Afghanistan

  • numberstation

    Craig – hear hear.

    Did you catch John Sawers speech?

    Would make an interesting post from you.

    “We also have a duty to do what we can to ensure that a partner service will respect human rights. That is not always straightforward.

    “Yet if we hold back, and don’t pass that intelligence, out of concern that a suspect terrorist may be badly treated, innocent lives may be lost that we could have saved.”

    Ah yes, our old friend the ticking time bomb theory.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    US and UK seem lack of understanding the complicity of the Afghan problem. They are doing the same mistakes as the Soviets did in 1980th. Afghan problem is more complicated and lays far beyond Afghan border or even Central Eurasia. The keys of success in Afghanistan is not in Washington, and of course not in Kabul, but in Islamabad. And not in the palace of Pakistani president but in the Ministry of Defence and ISI. The peace in Afghanistan is unacceptable for Pakistani military, and to some extend for Pakistani politicians. The formation of unitary state in Afghanistan will raise sharp question of Pakistani Khyber and Tribal areas that Pashtu population does not accept Pakistani authority over them. Letting these provinces go will question Pakistani existence as the state. Sindh and Balochistan will be the next to leave federation of Pakistani provinces. Therefore is unacceptable for Pakistan to exist as the state and share the border with unitary Afghanistan. Pakistan will always play decisive role in Afghan problem and will not allow peace to be established over the Pashtus.

    On the other hand 31 years of lawlessness in Afghanistan is the main problem for any peace to be established. Most of the population were born in lawless society where warlords are the only authority over any particular territory. These warlords are also the main source of income for majority of the population in the society where no other means of income exists. Bringing such society to a peace will be much harder than air strikes over Taliban’s strongholds or destruction of Sadam’s army. Recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan clearly demonstrated that winning a war is much easier than winning a peace.

    Another major problem is the illiteracy in Afghanistan. Majority of those who were born after 1979 and even those who were born before did not attended even a single class at school. How is it possible to ask such people to vote or obey the law if they cannot read, and even more importantly, distinguish between true and false. Would not such people be voting for someone who will be giving out complete false promises, hence the same warlords? Is not education, at least basic, necessary for functioning of democratic state?

    There are uncountable set of priorities that should be given immediate attention before NATO troops can pull out, without risking even more serious complications, then those that took place before the invasion. Ignoring such priorities would once again remind us all that leaving lawlessness and poverty with Kalashnikov guns is very dangerous gamble to play.

  • Ishmael

    How many Soviet intelligence were there in Pakistan during the Afghanistan offensive and 45 minutes before Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq, had his accident.

  • somebody

    Francine Gardner (who gave him that name here?) on the BBC website page about Sawers’ speech to the Society of Editors – We don’t do torture – Oh yeah?

    Frank Gardner

    BBC security correspondent

    By giving this very public speech, the MI6 chief is keen to lift the cloud of suspicion hanging over his service regarding the alleged collusion by British intelligence agents in the abuse of detainees overseas.

    +Newspapers have been full of lurid accounts given by former terror suspects,+ tortured in countries with poor human rights records, where they say British intelligence was indirectly involved, either with officers present at the time or by providing the torturers with questions.

    But Sir John Sawers says his service has nothing to do with torture and says he welcomes the prime minister’s inquiry into detainee abuse.

    Privately, intelligence officers in both MI5 and MI6 have expressed concern that inquiries like this risk taking up so much time they will have less resources to confront ongoing terrorist plots but their chiefs appear adamant that the services’ public reputations must be cleared once and for all.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11642568

  • Paul

    I know you have a very open position to free speech Craig. But something should be done to counter to advertising bots that have started targetting your blog comments.

    Does your blogging software not support some form of human validation mechanism, like Captcha?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAPTCHA

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Craig,

    These comments:-

    “I attended the Lib Dem annual conference in Liverpool where one deep disappointment was the speech by Jeremy Browne MP, junior foreign office minister with a specific brief for human rights. There was a single cursory mention of human rights in Jeremy Browne’s speech. Indeed I am not sure there was a single thought expressed in Jeremy Browne’s entire speech which was identifiably liberal. He could have been New Labour or Conservative as he dully expounded the view that protecting this country from the terrorist threat was our number one foregin policy objective, and then hammered on about the need to “win” the war in Afghanistan. It was a speech John Reid or David Blunkett could happily have made. And he went out of his way – in a speech evidently prepared by FCO officials – to note the need to include Afghanistan’s “northern neighbours” in an Afghan settlement.

    So frredom and democracy for Central Asia are completely off the agenda. What is on the agenda is an acceptance of the regime propaganda that there are no alternatives but rapacious dictatorships and Islamic fundamentalism. That kind of false dichotomy is sustenance to the armaments and securityindustry interests that dominate our foreign policy and control our politicians.”

    mirror what has transpired with the Obama administration in the United States. One vision is articulated to the electorate when out of office and it is the status quo as usual once in office.

    One can draft a sober indictment against the UK political system such as it is. There is to be no revitalisation of the political order, for that the arms industry, the template of skewed economic distribution, a retreat from many of the core post World War 11 social advances – all constitute the political order of the day. Labels in the political arena of “conservative”, “liberal” or “left” all pale when the searing heat of political dictates touch high office and scorch the very substance of liberalism and principles designed to protect people as the true object of a “public good” in political office, become supplanted by allegiances to war-mongering and skewed pecuniary dispensations to business interests. Lest one forgets, there is a certain former British Ambassador, who forgot his true role, his true place, his assigned mission ?” in the greater scheme of political things.

    Hope actually does spring eternal, but somewhere elsewhere than in Westminster. It rises in our hearts, our minds, our aspirations for a better society, a more decent and humane world. Realise collusion with the arms industry, supplicant relations with the United States, regressive and austere social programmes for what these really are ?” but let us not totally abandon hope. For should we do the sleep we take tonight, ought not to anticipate a better tomorrow, and rest eternal we might then simply resolve ourselves to. Regressive politics in a compromised political system, plain and simple, is what is manifest.

    Marx did make a prescient observation, albeit not perfectly accurate in its historical claim, when he wrote:-

    ” … THE HISTORY OF HITHERTO EXISTING SOCIETY IS THE HISTORY OF CLASS STRUGGLES.”

    But we do find the economic strains between the haves and have-not alive and struggling these several years after those words were written. My parting of the ways from the great political theoretician is his ascent/descent (?) into utopia as he conceives it, as some form of ” secular ‘religious’ ( mixed reference intentionally meant) certainty” of the great society evolving and to be actualised at the end of his historical ‘rainbow’ construct accompanied and propelled by his dialectical processes. I do not share Marx’s faith and/or belief.

    Surely ?” with our minds clearly focused on what we discern politically and what we accept we can do ( however limited), might just lead us to call the thieving, dishonest politics and politicians and the inequities by their real names, if that is all we do. At the very least, in identifying the politico-economic processes as these manifest themselves and unfold in public and foreign policies, some education, some better understanding, some prospects for a more enlightened view of the political processes unfold. That at the very least, or for the believers in the ultimate answer, the final solution ?” then wait – come the glorious revolution. We can see that money derives the politics of the country and arms manufacturers influence polities and profit from wars ?” and this we can understand with or without Marx’s assistance. Sadly, most believe the politicians words each time a new lot put themselves up for election and consistently are disappointed when the sell-out to the status quo takes place. Believe that changes can be made, but better yet do not believe those who promise that they ( like Blair) will make fundamental changes ?” they won’t.

    That, thus said, in respect of the penultimate paragraph, is where you with your special background become most useful Craig Murray. You can continue to identify the hypocrisies, the mendacity, the duplicitous manipulations of state power, and fight the good fight for a better tomorrow.

    Aluta continua!

  • writerman

    Craig,

    You’re right of course in relation to Central Asia. For over a hundred years members of my family have been involved in this area, one way or another, mostly in oil.

    Whilst you and I, and others, take the concept of fundamental human rights seriously, unfortunately most of our politicians only pay lip service to them. They prostitute human rights and can turn them on and off when they need to. Abuses of human rights are a kind of label that one applies selectively, not universally, mostly as a form of propaganda weapon aimed at our enemies, or the enemy of the moment. I think the changing attitudes towards the government of Russia illustrates this beautifully.

    Now, I’d like human rights to be applied equally to all situations in all countries, not just aimed at our enemies.

  • somebody

    Looked up Browne.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremy_Browne

    Worked for Beith. Beith is President of Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel. Was Browne recruited?

    Beith’s wife is Baroness Maddock who is a member of the (useless) Committee on Standards in Public Life. They took no action to curtail the activities of the three Friends of Israel lobbies in the HoC, who support a foreign country from within OUR parliament. Many MPs go to Israel on trips organized and paid for by the Israeli government. Easily ascertained if you check the Register of Member’s Interests on TheyWorkForYou

    Many of them speak for Israel in debates and probably act for them behind the scenes.

    Wait for Hague and Cameron to abolish Universal Jurisdiction to that the likes of Livni and other was criminals (Operation CastLead) can travel freely to the UK without any fear of arrest.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    ‘Somebody’, I take it that you are different from ‘Nobody’ – at least I hope so, otherwise we have an existential crisis of Borgesian proportions on our hands here!

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    Whilst I agree with Craig when he states, ‘they are accepting that undemocratic Soviet styled regimes as in Uzbekistan – and I would argue Russia – are the best way to deal with the fact that the populations of the Caucasus and Central Asia are Muslim,’ to me this statement spawns a deeper more fundamental thread that Russia as usual wants to play both sides, in other words wants to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.

    I can reveal to you know the extreme disappointment I felt after putting a strong case to Putin some months ago that cancelling the S-300 contract with Iran would not only lose them over a billion dollars and potentially much more than that in future weapons sales, it would also NOT guarantee a US green light for Russian membership to the WTO and further that membership if ever agreed would do Russia more harm than good.

    In a complex game of poker with bluffs and double bluffs, I pointed out to Putin that Russia holds a weak hand in an arena where Britain will object to membership behind the scenes, the erratic Georgian president will veto her membership backed by loyal Neo-Cons in Washington (www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/05/AR2009030502825.html), the Jackson-Vanik amendment will grap more concessions from Russia and finally, Russia will end up humiliated and further weakened by more Saudi funded terrorists attacks to push a decision for US-NATO-Russian military operations in Afghanistan and more.

    Get real Putin and put that intelligence mind of yours to work – Britain and the US intend to outmaneuver you in zero-sum political games and your man Medvedev’s credibility will be undermined irreparably.

  • Clark

    Fear. It’s fear that drives this system. Money, to an extent; money is certainly the enabler, and it adds inertia, but the powerful have more money than can be enjoyed. No, they seek money for its power, as security against their fear. They threaten, and feel threatened, and aggression is a response to threat. The media project the fear and aggression, and everyone feels it, but we each assign the source to different things – terrorism, nuclear weapons, Islam, people that differ from ourselves, secretive groups, etc.

    This is why it looks like an impossibly large conspiracy; the fear and aggression pervade the system. Most lobbyists really believe the warnings that they urge upon the politicians. Many in the the media really are scared that the sky could fall in without perpetual wars. Many viewers really do want to believe their government does good in the world. Conspiracy overlaps with cooperation when so many people are primed with fear.

  • angrysoba

    “I can reveal to you know the extreme disappointment I felt after putting a strong case to Putin some months ago that cancelling the S-300 contract with Iran would not only lose them over a billion dollars and potentially much more than that in future weapons sales, it would also NOT guarantee a US green light for Russian membership to the WTO and further that membership if ever agreed would do Russia more harm than good.”

    Oh God! This is pricelessly moronic!

    “In a complex game of poker with bluffs and double bluffs, I pointed out to Putin that Russia holds a weak hand in an arena where Britain will object to membership behind the scenes”

    This is like teaching Granny to suck eggs. Do you think Putin’s a fool?

    Besides, you should realize that Putin’s only the PM. Ever thought that talking to the president, Medvedev, might be a better idea?

    “Get real Putin and put that intelligence mind of yours to work – Britain and the US intend to outmaneuver you in zero-sum political games and your man Medvedev’s credibility will be undermined irreparably.”

    Yeah, Mark! You tell that dumbass, Putin who’s boss! I am sure that Putin really agonizes over the credibility of his handpuppet. Anyone would think that if Medvedev was jettisoned it would free Putin up to run for another term as President.

  • Freeborn

    What the victorious Western allies enjoying the fruits of torture,surely not?

    Never in the history of the Western world have we stooped so low as to extract false information under torture and use it to create huge propaganda and mythologies.

    Well not since Nuremberg anyway!

    http://www.ihr.org/jhr/vO7/v07p389_Faurisson.html

    Read Faurisson and note how the British have always tended to give their actions a guise of high moral purpose,and persuade themselves to believe in it. This tendency was observed long ago by Macaulay who said:

    “We know of no spectacle so ridiculous as the British in one of its periodical fits of morality.”

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Northern crosses atop windswept hills, the call of the soil… feel the blood begin to billow beneath the oak bark… the longships are coming! And on the land, in the huddled darkness of cloister and wattle, the horrific silence tells all.

    Cynewulf

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Ah! Silence again. Miraculous! Must be that whiff of Norseman, from over the far horizon. Raise a toast, then, to the blood eagle and all who travel in her wake!

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ All,

    Given the inherently duplicitous nature of politics – is it better to be realistically cynical; or, does one remain an idealistic liberal? The better compromise might be being a cynical liberal.

    @ Craig,

    “I attended the Liberal Democratic annual conference in Liverpool where one deep disappointment was the speech by Jeremy Browne, MP, junior Foreign Office Minister with a specific brief for Human Rights. There was a single cursory mention of Human Rights in Jeremy Browne’s speech. Indeed I am not sure there was a single thought expressed in Jeremy Browne’s entire speech which was identifiably liberal. He could have been New Labour or Conservative as he dully expounded the view that protecting this country from the terrorist threat was our number one foreign policy objective, and then hammered on about the need to “win” the war in Afghanistan. It was a speech John Reid or David Blunkett could happily have made. And he went out of his way – in a speech evidently prepared by FCO officials – to note the need to include Afghanistan’s “northern neighbours” in an Afghan settlement.

    So freedom and democracy for Central Asia are completely off the agenda. What is on the agenda is an acceptance of the regime propaganda that there are no alternatives but rapacious dictatorships and Islamic fundamentalism. That kind of false dichotomy is sustenance to the armaments and security industry interests that dominate our foreign policy and control our politicians.”

    Mirror what has transpired with the Obama administration in the United States. One vision is articulated to the electorate when out of office, but it is the status quo as usual once in office. One can draft a sober indictment against the UK political system such as it is. There is to be no revitalisation of the political order, for the arms industry, the template of skewed economic distribution, a retreat from many of the core post World War 11 social advances – all constitute the political order of the day. Labels in the political arena of “conservative”, “liberal” or “left” all pale when the searing heat of political dictates touch high office and scorch the very substance of liberalism and principles designed to protect people as the true object of a “public good” in political office, become supplanted by allegiances to war-mongering and skewed pecuniary dispensations to business interests.

    Lest one forgets, there is a certain former British Ambassador, who forgot his true role, his true place, his assigned mission in the greater scheme of political things. Hope actually does spring eternal, but somewhere elsewhere than in Westminster. It rises in our hearts, our minds, our aspirations for a better society, a more decent and humane world. Realise collusion with the arms industry, supplicant relations with the United States, regressive and austere social programmes for what these really are ?” but let us not totally abandon hope. Should we merely go to sleep and forget the issues; ought we resolve not to embrace the status quo and seek better. Regressive politics in a compromised political system, plain and simple, is what is manifest.

    Marx did make a prescient observation, albeit not perfectly accurate in its historical claim, when he wrote, “… THE HISTORY OF HITHERTO EXISTING SOCIETY IS THE HISTORY OF CLASS STRUGGLES.” But we do find the economic strains between the haves and have-not alive and struggling these several years after those words were written. My parting of the ways from the great political theoretician is his ascent/descent (?) into utopia as he conceives it, as some form of ” secular ‘religious’ ( mixed reference intentionally meant) certainty” of the great society evolving and to be actualised at the end of his historical ‘rainbow’ construct accompanied and propelled by his dialectical processes. I do not share Marx’s faith and/or belief.

    Surely, with our minds clearly focused on what we discern politically and what we accept we can do ( however limited), we might just take the lead in calling the thieving, dishonest politics and politicians and the inequities by their real names, if that is all we do. At the very least, in identifying the politico-economic processes as these manifest themselves and unfold in public and foreign policies, some education, some better understanding, some prospects for a more enlightened view of the political processes unfold. That at the very least, or for the believers in the ultimate answer, the final solution ?” then wait – come the glorious revolution. We can see that money derives the politics of the country and arms manufacturers influence polities and profit from wars ?” and this we can understand with or without Marx’s assistance. Sadly, most believe the politicians words each time a new lot put themselves up for election and consistently are disappointed when the sell-out to the status quo takes place. Believe that changes can be made, but better yet do not believe those who promise that they (like Blair) will make fundamental changes ?” they won’t.

    That, thus said, in respect of the penultimate paragraph, is where you with your special background become most useful Craig Murray. You can continue to identify the hypocrisies, the mendacity, the duplicitous manipulations of state power, and fight the good fight for a better tomorrow. Aluta continua!

  • anette

    Russian war in Afganistan was not at all the same. First they are neighbours, second after and if they won, women and girls in Afganistan would all be in school. I can undestand why Russians wanted to support local socialists and what these could bring. While Russian were fighted in Afgaistans, hundreds of Agfans were studing for free in Rusian universities. Americans (and Brits, althrough that may be ot what you are yet prepared to accept) are driven by obsession that they are better than other and have a right to teach the world. When and if they win Afganistan will get back to splashing acid to girls faces when they walk back fom school.

    You made a big move, but to go all the way, you need to take on that the same oficial and media approach was and is used to cover “Russian” story as it was for yours.

  • anette

    yes, there is a need to add the drugs to the above matter a well.

    ______

    One need to be Russian settled in the UK to appreciated how deeply the cold war brain wash is inbeded in anglo-saxon mentality.

    Muslims are HUMAN. Russians ar HUMAN. they can talk and understand each other. They do not come to teach each other democracy. They want to build housed, teach kids and have peace, a bit of wealth and trust these who get thier tax will build them a school.

    Paying tax in the UK all I know my money will kill more and more Afgans. And it getting more and more difficult to continue beng part of it. Do I have a democratic way to change anything as UK citizen? NOOOO. I do not. Russians apparently do. If Medvedev or Putin would start a war, that would be a last day of their power. As Russian, even leaving abroad I feel I have a power to change the way the country is run.

    As I had advanage to be made reading Lenin as a kid, I would like to make a reference – “Extenal politics od imperialist state is always continuation of is intenal politics”.

    As suppressed and mismanaged Afgans are, just as much suppressed and mismanaged British public is. Russians know that, so do Germans. A a nation you need to be deep in the brain wash firts, then get out of the bubble, then learn new vision of the world as it is. American and Brits are still in the bubble, still long way to go out, if you even can. And how many these mental kids wit guns are going to kill till their bubble blow hard to say yet.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Anette, thanks for those excellent posts. You’ve allowed people to hear a perspective on Afghanistan – and on the UK – which, frankly, is not often heard here in Britain (but which one does hear elsewhere).

    Personally, I think it would’ve been better if the Afghan Marxists had not toppled President Daoud in the Saur Revolution but had continued to exert their influence politically on the Republic, in an evolutionary process. I think they may have been power-hungry and also understandably impatient to achieve progress in a very ‘backward’ country. I also think it would’ve been better if the USSR had not invaded to prop-up/ install a more stable regime among the Marxist groupings there. I think they fell into a terrible trap. This is not with hindsight, but it’s what I thought at the time as well.

    Thank you again.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Anne,

    Not in defence of current ‘warriors’, but Soviets-Russians killed over 3 million Afghans. I of course blame the West for their death as well, but Soviets are the one who started the War there in 1979. I think defending Soviets that while they were killing millions of Afghans they at the same time allowed few hundred of Afghan communists to study in Moscow is just hypocrisy.

    As for Putin and Medvedev losing their power I think that in Russia those who hold a power are as independent from the public as here, and in Russia this independence from the public is even greater than here.

    I see now way any Russian could change the way that current Russia is run. I see now way to change the way that current Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, ….stans are run.

    I am writing this no to defend those who hold power in the UK or US, but just to point out that your comments do not really have much ground.

Comments are closed.