Saturday 29 February 2020

After Kurds, now Afghans get betrayed (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat

Trump is seeking to insert a Trojan horse into Kabul in the shape of Taliban elements backed by Ankara, Doha and Islamabad.

During most of the first two years of his first term as President of the United States, Donald J. Trump embraced the imperative of ensuring that global Wahhabism be prised loose of its leadership role in the Muslim world. While Qatar has remained chained to past doctrines, Saudi Arabia has sought to move away from Wahhabism, despite the tenets of that creed having been intertwined from the very beginnings of perhaps the only state named after a family, the Al Sauds. Given the youthful population of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, it is essential that the education imparted to its people reflect the needs and knowledge of the 21st century rather than the 16th, and it is to the credit of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman that this is finally being attempted, if in some matters through baby steps, to widespread domestic appreciation. President Trump has stood by the Crown Prince, which is what makes the 45th US President’s abrupt transformation into a cheerleader for a prominent leader of the Wahhabi International, President R.T. Erdogan of Turkey, so much of a mystery. In a foreign policy and security disaster, Trump abandoned the Kurdish fighters who had fought together with US forces to ensure the defeat of ISIS, and is now seeking to insert a Trojan horse into Kabul in the shape of Taliban elements backed by Ankara, Doha and Islamabad. What was once a unified group is now, in effect, divided into three groups, of which the segment which is being portrayed by Islamabad as representing the entire Taliban is the weakest on the ground, despite being financially the strongest. Meanwhile, the Afghan National Army (ANA) is growing in manpower and capabilities, and the “peace agreement” designed by Zalmay Khalilzad, with the assistance of GHQ Rawalpindi, is in actuality a “Pieces Agreement” that will shred the Afghan government in Kabul into factions whose rivalry will destroy any chance of peace in Afghanistan. President Ghani is being nudged to go the Najibullah way, by agreeing to the one-sided conditions of the Pieces Deal, including the release of nearly 6,000 hardcore Taliban fighters captured at great human cost by the ANA. Their release will shatter the morale of the only legitimate army in the country, and one that the international community should be backing rather than sabotaging. Decades of experience ought to have taught Washington and the NATO command in Brussels of the folly of expecting the Taliban to adhere to the terms of any agreement, yet once again a leap of credulity has taken place. All that President Trump wishes to achieve is to reduce to zero the number of US casualties in Afghanistan during an election year. If such a process leads to heightened bloodshed and chaos in Afghanistan, the calculation is that such mayhem would not have the same negative impact on US voters as even a few returning body bags of US soldiers would.
The scurrying away from the Kurds and now the Afghans reveals an unmistakable—and broad—peacenik streak within the White House. Once again, it has been demonstrated that Trump’s tough talk over Afghanistan is merely camouflage for a policy little different from that of Mikhail Gorbachev during his years in power, which was to avoid supporting the use of the military, even when such forbearance caused immense damage to the overall national interests of the Soviet Union. Vladimir Putin is a contrast to both Gorbachev and Trump, in that he has not hesitated to place boots on the ground wherever these have been found by him to be necessary to defend Russia’s interests. Whether it be in Georgia, Ukraine or Syria, President Putin has not hesitated to resort to force to get results suiting his geopolitical designs. Had Putin been in charge of the Soviet Union during the 1980s, he would have taken the war to Pakistan in a manner that Gorbachev lacked the courage to do. By doing so, he would have defeated the “freedom fighters” who captured Kabul in the manner that his intervention in Syria has checkmated the Wahhabi “freedom fighters” who are being backed by the US, the EU and Turkey, despite their killing Christians, Druze, Shia and other contra-Wahhabi elements in the Pol areas that they have temporary control of. Clearly, Erdogan believed that Putin was as credulous and as neglectful of allies as Trump has proved to be in both Syria as well as Afghanistan. Instead, Putin has stood by Bashar Assad and his Iranian allies rather than with Erdogan despite the latter’s purchase of S-400 missile systems. Erdogan has therefore been denied the easy victory that he secured over the Kurds through the surrender of their interests by Donald Trump. Just as history books relate as a cautionary tale the abandonment of the Czechs to Hitlerite Germany in 1938 by Neville Chamberlain, books will in future detail the betrayal of the Kurds and the Afghans by President Trump during the past year and a half, at substantial cost to the credibility of the US as a reliable partner. Small wonder that voices within the inner councils of the Gulf Cooperation Council are considering whether to substitute the Sino-Russian alliance for the US and its NATO partners to protect the existing ruling structures in the Middle East. The first significant sign of a possible shift in superpower alliances (replacing the US and its allies with China and Russia) is the reality that the White House faces today. None of the GCC states appear willing any more to permit the US to use the military bases in their territory to launch an armed attack on Iran. Now that “good behaviour” (i.e., fealty to US-EU dictates) has been met with the scrapping of the Iran nuclear deal, the odds are substantial that Teheran will follow the path of Pyongyang and work at speed on developing a nuclear deterrent. Given the probable chaos that would follow an armed attack by the US on Iran, it is probable that the window for a rollback of the Iranian nuclear program by force has already closed, given that country’s ample stocks of both missile systems as well as WMD. Not to mention the assistance it will receive from Moscow and Beijing to ensure a military stalemate in any such confrontation.
The betrayal of the Afghan people is by those who are aware that their surrender is to extremists who seek to deny any education or gainful occupation at all to women. Their surrender is to a congeries of militias that severally seek to enforce a Wahhabi version of the Spanish Inquisition. A force that the ANA could defeat in a year, were it given the means to do so. It is fortunate for the world that today’s leaders were not in mindset the wartime Heads of Government in the US or the UK during 1940, or these countries would have sought to surrender most of Europe to the Germans the way they are doing with the Afghans, a people who made the error of trusting in US-EU promises.

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