Wednesday, May 6, 2009

USA in Afghanistan-A Long Term Strategic View

Agha H Amin

While it remains debatable whether 9/11 was a deliberate conspiracy to justify US occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq or an act of Al Qaeda; the United States of America inherited a historical situation in shape of 9/11 and made use of it to justify launching of a major Neo Operation Barbarossa to occupy the fertile the east.
This article is based on my experiences of 13 years service in the army, 34 years of study of military history including three stints as editor of three journals in Afghanistan and Pakistan and three years of continuous and many more years of interrupted stay in Afghanistan. During the course of my last continuous stay in Afghanistan from 2004 till 2008 I worked as sub contractor with many donor agencies and repeatedly came into contact with many NATO and US military officials. My projects were located in the heart of Taliban country i.e. Kandahar,Ghazni,Helmand,Farah,Zabul and Kunar.
With the stated experience my perceptions of Afghanistan may be different in finer aspects from many other views, which may be outwardly neat and logical but lack the solid conviction and finesse stemming out of an exhaustive study of military history and an on ground experience not depending on what you may read or hear from the print or the live media.
There is one similarity in US and USSR invasion of Afghanistan. Both happened because of an apparently third party action which was used by policy makers in both countries to justify an attack. Here the similarity ends. The USSR entered Afghanistan in a bipolar world where major powers decided to oppose the USSR tooth and nail and with equal and subsequently greater might. The USA entered Afghanistan in a unipolar world when no major power supported anti US insurgents. Further the USA entered Afghanistan with long term strategic plans while the USSR entered Afghanistan to support a leftist regime with whom it had a treaty of cooperation. The USSR did not enlarge its offensive after Afghanistan but the USA is continuously enlarging its offensive with the major Phase Two being the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the ongoing 2007-9 mysterious upsurge in Pakistan. Mysterious I maintain because of what I saw in Afghanistan from 2004 till 2008 and till to date.
The USA was lucky to have in Pakistan on the eve of its arrival a military tin pot dictator who was ready to sell his soul to even the devil to preserve his illegitimately usurped seat of power.
In retrospect as I analyse now the US Afghan war followed the following distinct phases:--
• An initial arm twisting manoeuvre of Pakistan’s illegitimate military regime to secure ground, aerial and logistic passage. This happened from October 2001 and continues till to date.
• Pressurising the illegitimate Pakistani military regime into launching operation in Waziristan when there was no insurgency in Waziristan from 2002 till 2006 thus destabilising a most strategically sensitive region of Pakistan and internally dividing Pakistan.
• Strengthening US military presence in Afghanistan in terms of constructing permanent air bases for possible future long term use to dominate the region including Pakistan, Iran, Central Asia, Chinese Singkiang and India.
• Creation of an intelligence operation base from where third party penetration operations could be mounted to infiltrate any extremist or ethnic group in conflict with its parent country’s federal government. The prime immediate target being Pakistan, while Iran, China, Central Asian States may possibly be later phase targets. This phase started from November 2001 and continues till to date.
• Forcing the illegitimate Musharraf military regime to mount another military operation in Mohmand and Bajaur thus destabilising another strategically sensitive region of Pakistan and to discredit the Pakistani armed forces. This started from 2005 and continues till to date.
A dispassionate reader may form his own conclusions from the following observations that I have:--
• At no stage from 2001 till to date did the US or NATO forces mount any major military operation inside Afghanistan against Taliban. Actually the force ratios of US and NATO forces do not allow this in any case.
• All major US Army and USAID and NATO construction contracts were sub contracted at third and fourth tiers to contractors who were Taliban after sunset and contractors after sun rise. All this happened with US military officials in full knowledge.
• While major Taliban infiltration from Pakistan to Afghanistan takes place in the 1400 km tract in between Gomal River and Chaghai Hills the US Government at no stage pressurised the Pakistani illegitimate military regime of Musharraf to interdict this influx!
• All the US pressure on Pakistan was to take military action in Waziristan from where hardly 10 % of influx into Afghanistan was taking place! Later the US pressure also expanded to include Bajaur and Mohmand who have a very short less than 300 km border with Pakistan.
• Thus while major Taliban attacks were taking place on US and NATO forces in Helmand, Kandahar and Zabul who have no border with Waziristan , all along the US Government was pressurizing the Pakistani Government to attack the Taliban in Waziristan which accounts for less than 5 % damage to any US or NATO forces in Afghanistan in terms of length of border contagious with provinces where maximum US and NATO casualties took place !
• Till 2007 I could travel from Kabul on one end to Herat on the far end via Kandahar in a private car without any weapon safely. But not after 2007.Suddenly everything changed and USA and NATO forces took no action from 2007 till to date to secure this area !
• Despite the fact that no major US casualties took place in Khost and Paktika provinces adjacent to Wazisristan and Kunar and Nigrahar Provinces adjacent to Khyber Agency, Bajaur and Mohmand and Dir/Swat the USA spent a fortune on bases and infrastructure building in these provinces. Construction profits were made by the very tribes fighting the Pakistan Army in Waziristan, Khyber, Bajaur and Mohmand.
• 8-No container taking supplies to NATO at the height of Taliban operations in Afghanistan was attacked in any area of Pakistan in between 2001 and 2008 but in 2008 mysterious attacks started!
• The USA did not come to Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban.
• The USA by design destabilised Waziristan, Khyber, Bajaur and Mohmand to create a war like situation to justify international action to denuclearise Pakistan.
• Pakistan needs to drastically revise its foreign policy making a clean break with USA and NATO and making peace with India, alliance with Russia and China and Iran while preserving its nuclear deterrent.
• Lastly its worthwhile to quote a US statesman. To be a friend of USA is one thing but to be its friend is deadly!
• The USA is part of Pakistan’s problems. Friendship with USA is not the solution. But who will bell the cat. Who will make the resolute decision! No peace in sight till Pakistani statesmen and generals stop sleeping with the devil!

Editor’s Note
I consider myself fortunate to have had frequent discourses with Agha Hamayun Amin spanning past many years on the situation in Afghanistan and South Asia. Though we disagreed on many counts, he now seems to allude to my assessments of US designs in the region. It is further reinforced by USA’s preferential treatment to India in affairs of Afghanistan and parity against Pakistan despite the fact that India had no role in the Afghan resistance to USSR; provision of nuclear umbrella to India; tacitly approving Indian blockage of River Chenab; and looking the other way while India carries out covert operations inside Pakistan.

1 comment:

  1. my article published in dation lahore on 28 may 09 describes the US plan in detail:--

    US strategic plan
    Published: May 28, 2009
    A.H. Amin