Losing Afghanistan, Losing Central Asia 49


Obama is now asking Congress for a waiver on Uzbekitsan’s human rights record – arguably the worst in the world – in order to restart military supplies to President Karimov of Uzbekistan. Even Bush stopped these, after the 2005 Andijan massacre of at least 800 civilian demonstrators.

This blog has repeatedly pointed to the ever-increasing role of the “Northern Distribution Network” for getting supplies to the NATO troops in Afghanistan, with Uzbekistan as the point of entry. The Wikileaks cables from Tashkent outline a consistent US policy of sacrificing the human rights of Uzbeks in order to promote this military agenda.

Unfortunately, by promoting evil dictatorship in Central Asia, the United States and NATO are not advancing their own long term interests. Like Mubarak, Karimov is passing his sell-by date. But all rational thinking is thrown out of the window as NATO concentrates on the war it is losing in Afghanistan.

I am advised by the British Embassy that to visit the scenes of the November 1841 uprising in central Kabul as research for my book on Burnes is too dangerous. After ten full years of occupation, with 180,000 troops and billions of dollars in military hardware, they do not even control a few square miles in the centre of the capital, let alone the country. The recent attacks on the US Embassy and British Council have proved that. This war is lost.

America’s increasing fawning to Karimov is yet more evidence of that. The reason America is now so desperate for his favour is that, as they leave defeated, taking Karzai with them, they have to get out millions of tonnes of vehicles and military equipment, which has to pass overland. They have lost this war so absolutely that they no longer have possession of the ground they started with. They cannot get out the way they went in, through Pakistan, as they would be attacked in the Bolan and Khyber passes, and along the entire route. So they have to leave through Uzbekistan. The Americans will do anything for Karimov, just as long as they get permission to slink out through his country. I hope as they go they look into the faces of the people whose continued enslavement buys their permission.


49 thoughts on “Losing Afghanistan, Losing Central Asia

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  • mary

    DonnyDarko – ‘I can’t see the Americans leaving Afghanistan !! Just like Iraq, there never was an exit plan.’
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    The US is also building a new prison at Bagram
    Monday, Sep 19, 2011 15:20 ET
    U.S. to build new massive prison in Bagram
    By Glenn Greenwald
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    As the Obama administration announced plans for hundreds of billions of dollars more in domestic budget cuts, it late last week solicited bids for the construction of a massive new prison in Bagram, Afghanistan. Posted on the aptly named FedBizOps.Gov website which it uses to announce new privatized spending projects, the administration unveiled plans for “the construction of Detention Facility in Parwan (DFIP), Bagram, Afghanistan” which includes “detainee housing capability for approximately 2000 detainees.” It will also feature “guard towers, administrative facility and Vehicle/Personnel Access Control Gates, security surveillance and restricted access systems.” The announcement provided: “the estimated cost of the project is between $25,000,000 to $100,000,000.”
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    /….http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/09/19/bagram

  • mary

    Thanks Suhayl for your informed comments. I thought as much about Imran. He is still a heartthrob though. That is a strange word to type. One ‘t’ or two.
    Noun
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    heartthrob (plural heartthrobs)
    1.A heartbeat
    2.The object of one’s desires or infatuation; a sweetheart
    3.A usually handsome movie star who plays romantic roles

  • ingo

    “I am advised by the British Embassy that to visit the scenes of the November 1841 uprising in central Kabul as research for my book on Burnes is too dangerous. After ten full years of occupation, with 180,000 troops and billions of dollars in military hardware, they do not even control a few square miles in the centre of the capital, let alone the country”

    So, how arethey possibly going to stop you writing your book on Burns campaign in the last millenium, if they can’t make ends meet in Afghanistan.

    Obama has been sitting between the chairs since he got elected, now he’s resinged to play along with the military industrial complex, well said Duncan.

    Karzai can’t possibly play any political role in a future Afghanistan, he sold his soul long before he got into power as an executive of UNOCAL. The Taliban seems to believe that they can dislodge the thin blue line in the Tajik police and army, that they once again can form an islamic Government of Afghanistan. Blowing up Rabbani,a Tadjik, was planned from day one of the ‘peace talks’ with the Taliban, alledgedly, will pitch the Northern Alliance of old against the Pashtuns of the south, both are armed to the teeth.

    http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2011/09/20119214047314327.html

    Some warlords in the north, after the killing of Dawoud Dawoud, the police chief, are getting exasperated at the brazen attacks and we are going to see some confrontation and civil strife to come. Whence we leave it will be more like leaving Vietnam, in a hurry.

    Hence Craig is right, schmoozing up to Karimov has more to do with an organised retreat than with strategic planning.

    Should the US attack Iran before they’re due to leave, than their presence in western Afghanistan will be more crucial to them than Helmand or Kabul, so I expect some switching of priorities, very soon., another reason why they need the K2 bridgehead in Uzbekistan.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Thank you Mr Murray for a very thoughtful article. It is indeed deeply disappointing that despite failure of the US/Uzbekistan cooperation in 2005 White House seem again falling into the same trap. If anything Karimov is not a reliable ally. His only interest is to cling on to the power as long as possible by any means. This will create even more dangerous and unstable circumstances in Central Asia in a long run. But this all seem to be irrelevant at the moment when US are seeking ‘reliable’ supply routes to their failing mission in Afghanistan.
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    I think that US are not going to leave Afghanistan in any near future. Their mission there was not to bring peace and development to a long time victims of the great powers proxy war strategy but to occupy Afghanistan in order to project power in a very geostrategically important region. It was clear that Russia as long as it has any influence over former colonies will not permit US to settle in Central Asia safely and in this circumstances Afghanistan seems to be an ideal ground for the US to have vast region under potential supervision. With China growing, having strong US military presence just outside of Chinese borders is very important for Pentagon strategists. Unfortunately once again Afghanis are falling victims of their land’s geographical position which is considered to be more important for great powers than the prospects of long term stability and development.

  • mark_golding

    Off-topic but thanks:

    The family of Babar Ahmad are calling for 100,000 people to sign an e-petition calling for him to be tried in the UK. They wish for a full discussion to take place at a parliamentary level in relation to his extradition, and this can only happen if 100,000 people support the petition. The link to the petition can be found here:
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    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/885
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    News from DoctorsforIraq:
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    There appears to be some evidence from a doctor in Iraq who has told me that a group of foreign fighters funded by ‘American aid’ (American dollars) and known to be in Al-Shumali are planning to cause ‘death and destruction’ [translated] in neighbourhoods of Baghdad. They may be targeting Iraqi police and soldiers.

  • wendy

    “The reason America is now so desperate for his favour is that, as they leave defeated, taking Karzai with them, they have to get out millions of tonnes of vehicles and military equipment, which has to pass overland.”
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    alternatively the reason usa needs his favor is because it needs to take into afghanistan its military and fuel if it is to engage iran and or pakistan in the near future. clearly pakistan would not provide a safe route for its (the usa) materials.
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    recently the usa has said it is seeking to take its war into pakistan , in return pakistan has sought to reduce the number of usa ‘advisors’ by half ..and is seeking via the unhrc to prevent drone attacks which take effect from a base within pakistan which is leased out to the uae. though wikileaks suggest pakistan has given its consent to the usa for these strikes.

  • wendy

    “What if… Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Libya, are more than mere blunders, mistakes, the result of incompetence?

    What if the strategy is perfectly sensible and rational, but so outrageous and cynical that one cannot state it publically, and the leadership of the United States would prefer to be called idiots rather than criminals?”
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    PNAC and subsequent documents pretty much detailed current events.
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    “Imran Khan is a corporate right-wing hemi-Islamist apologist.”
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    its interesting how right and left wing get confused in south asian politics.
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    “However, his aligning himself with Islamists/ the ISI/ the Pakistan Army is dangerous and wrong.”
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    its wise. its also patriotic in the national interest.
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    “but I think not corrupt (though who knows, these days?)”
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    he says his books are open for you to scrutinise.
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    “He’s not a friend of the downtrodden masses, shall we say. He’s a social and economic liberal, but one who becomes more Islamist when in the context of Pakistani politics. An opportunist, perhaps.
    There are leftist groups trying to build structures with workers/peasants, etc. in industry and agrarian life. He is not one of those.”
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    i tend to think he is closer to the idea of social -ism and reform and many of his projects would suggest his building of structures as matter of welfare and opportunity.

  • wendy

    “Basically, in Pakistan, the main thing would be get the military permanently out of economic and political life.”
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    it has been the military and its infrastructure that has maintained pakistan not its less than democratic leaders.
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    “As in India, the civilian policians are hugely corrupt and unlike in India (where Nehru very sensibly also got rid of its feudal system/feudal lords soon after independence,”
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    a bit rose tinted, india is full of feudal landlords .. not to mention the internal pressures of the naxalites , hinduvtas and a variety of regions seeking greater autonomy.
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    “but in India, the army stays in barracks and does not have placemen in every walk of civil society/life.”
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    again rather rose tinted view.
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    “The Army/ISI creates and supplies the Islamists to justify their ENORMOUS black, grey and white budgets. Only a revolution will get rid of the army. It is a cancer.”
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    again a bit ott. whilst the military has backed certain factions it has been largely for the purposes of creating stability in afghanistan – with a friendly govt. . at present the afghan govt is hostile since the main players today are essentially the same players that were backed by the soviets and india along with their proxy militia (pre taliban) who now are used to attack pakistan via nwfp/balochistan.
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    why does the usa now support the soviet era players .. because they can be bought and are amenable to usa intent.
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    you see both sides including isaf/usa/uk/india are using islamist proxies…the usa/india – predominently tajeks and uzbeks and balochis… including groups such as jundullah.
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    pakistan was born out of nothing, it did not have the political infrastructure nor wealth , it is merely 60 years young, whereas india was born with a silver spoon in comparison. so to ask for reforms that have taken centuries elsewhere to develop and be enacted is unreasonable especially so if one is to consider the direct western interference .
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    one last fact in pakistan pre 9/11 there was 1 recorded suicide attack .. and sunni shia conflict is rising (it took 3 yrs of uk/usa special ops in iraq to create the conditions) along with uk/indian backed balochi nationalists operating from afghansitan along with blackwater-xe / cia operatives etc

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Yes, I know, Wendy, these matters are not simple. But the military, and its union with pre-capitalist feudalism, is Pakistan’s central problem and always has been – since at least the mid-1950s. I know about Partition; pakistan got a bum deal from the British and Gandhi/Nehru, yes I know that. Both the ruling politicians of all parties and the generals in Pakistan are shits. Get rid of both! It needs, as I said a redistributive revolution. But until the military and its proxies are gone, nothing will change. It’ll only get worse. I’m not being rose-tinted. I simply saying that in spite of all its huge problems and fucked-up politicans and Bofers gunners, Hindutva bastards, Islmaistsm secessionsits and so on, India has largely avoided rule by soldiers (except in indira’s 1975 so-called ‘Emergency’ and except of course for Kashmir, which is another aspect of th discussion). Non-Pakistani people in the UK who support the Pakistan Army tend to be right-wing old British imperialists. I’m NOT saying you’re that – you’re obviously not – but that’s been my experience. Don’t buy their arguments. ‘Strategic depth’ is a lie made up by the ISI ex-Chief. I agree with much of your last third, though. All these states use killers. My point was that in Pakistan, the killers are utterly dominant and checks and in civil society balances, barely-operative. Also, it is NOT the case the the USA/India support the ex-Soviets in Afghanistan. There are some – Dostum et al – who switch sides every 5 secs – but in the main, these countries support the Islamist Northern Alliance, which was baisically the 1980s ‘Mujaheddin’. A bunch of killers, drug barons and extermist Islmaists. of course, the Marxists were also brutal and so on. The last relatively semi-reasonable rulers of Afghanistan were King Zahir Shah and Prime Minsister (and then President) Daoud, back in the 1970s. Not ideal, and Daoud esp. had all hell to deal with wrt the Cold War, but 1,000 times better than everything that followed and 1,000 times better than hat’s in place right now.
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    Please don’t allow the Pakistan military any benefit of the doubt. They have screwed-up the country over many decades. They are laregly the reason why only corrupt and venal, feudal civilian leaders come to fore. It is a toxic symbiosis.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    In other words, contrary to what some Pakistanis (eg. the Army) would have you believe, there is no dichotomy b/w the civilian leaders and the military – they are part of one apparatus of hegemony. The military have acquired ever-greatre power in the relationship over the past several decades, but in essence, they are not oppositional vis a vis each other. they are ‘Milbus’ (Military Business).

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Of course India has landowners. However, they got rid of the until then officially sanctioned feudal political class of massive estate feudal landowners – rajas, nawabs, tc. – whereas in pakistan, the state was handed over to the big feudal landowners. If Pakistan had done that at the outset, its history might well have been very different. India (and Bangladesh) have active, mass Leftist and secular movements, some of whom are in positions of power in various places and parts of the politcial structure. Pakistan does not. Many problems, of course, are common to all the countries of South Asia – neoliberalism being the most prominent. hat you call “rose-tinting” was actullay an attempt to simplify; it is a complex subject. But in broad brush, I believe that what I have written is failr accurate.
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    I’d recommend Ayesha Siddiqa’s book, ‘Military Inc.’ (2007).

  • wendy

    after mullens declaration of war, pakistan is readying itself for defence (war) from an US (isaf) attack or false flag.
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    quite extraordinary events in pakistan over this weekend.

  • wendy

    “Suhayl Saadi”
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    thanks for your considered reply and links.
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    “Please don’t allow the Pakistan military any benefit of the doubt. They have screwed-up the country over many decades. They are laregly the reason why only corrupt and venal, feudal civilian leaders come to fore. It is a toxic symbiosis.”
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    you might as well be describing politics of the uk for the last 30 years or so ..

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