Friday, 21 September 2012

"Afghanistanisation".

Afghanistan is covered in the media in bulletins that report on the progress of this "progressive" war as if role of the US and NATO as peacekeepers and "nation builders" were merely a given fact. No context and no background as to why so much investment of Western resources in "staying the course" is given.

To a certain extent, this is a consequence of journalists focusing on one aspect of a war in aspic. Take for example this recent article in The Guardian,
The ALP was created in 2010 at the request of Gen David Petraeus, the former commander of international forces in Afghanistan and now the director of the CIA. The ALP is a loose network of local defence forces designed to mobilise and arm local civilians to defend their communities from the Taliban in areas where the national police and army have a limited presence.
This means areas such as Helmland through which the strategically vital US backed TAPI pipeline will be constructed. Where the vast majority of British troops involved in protecting what is referred only to merely as an "infrastructure project" have been killed by the Taliban by IED's.

The attacks from the ALP reflect Taliban infiltration. The Taliban are far from unpopular in the Pashtun areas of Afghanistan. Partly due to the futile attempts to win a "war on drugs" by destroying poor farmer opium crops and also due to the fact that other ethnic groups control Kabul and potential transit fees from TAPI.
For the US and Nato, with plans to expand the force to 30,000 by the end of 2014, the ALP is a cornerstone of the handover of Afghanistan's security to Afghan forces. It has become an integral part of the international withdrawal strategy, which is one reason why the US and Nato have mostly dismissed concerns raised by human rights groups about the ALP, claiming that abuses were committed by other armed groups or were aberrations that were dealt with.
The US and NATO "withdrawal" ( referred to as "international ) is a strategy that will leave considerable numbers of Western special forces and military advisers on the ground, if indeed that promise to withdraw all troops is even adhered to ( the French and US military have repeated a potentially longer commitment).

As reported by the Natural Gas Europe Journal ( Who Will Be Tapped By TAPI July 23rd, 2012 ) the
In a speech July 12 in Washington at a conference jointly sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake, Jr. mentioned TAPI last, as merely making “progress”. He focused on the US pledge to continue to support the Afghan National Army after NATO withdraws most of its troops in 2014 , but it is not clear which uniformed Afghan force might actually guard the pipeline or when construction could begin. ( my italics )
Facts must be faced: the Afghanistan War has only marginally been concerned with human rights. The reality of the conflict has been brought to the fore far more now than it was from the outset and that reality is the geopolitical significance of the construction of the TAPI Pipeline under Western auspices.

The TAPI Pipeline is vital to Western interests in Central Asia and diverting the supply of gas from Turkmenistan south away from exclusive Russian control and from Chinese pipelines to the east. It also means that Afghanistan will be tied into a regional economic zone that excludes Iran.

This is precisely why Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has along with Robert Blake referred to the "New Silk Route" and threatening Pakistan with ominous consequences for wobbling on their commitments to the TAPI project and deciding to back the rival IPI Pipeline with Iranian gas four times cheaper.

From the outset of the TAPI project, the Taliban, which was created in Pakistan, has been determined to benefit from the pipeline or to destroy it if they are not involved in benefiting from it. That is why the ALP has been so deeply infiltrated by Taliban elements and what this war is now about.

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