The Ultimate Axis
US (Israel-UK) – Saud dynasty/Wahhabi – Pakistan military/ISI
After WWII, Washington which delayed its entry so that British would bleed and get weaker, got itself formally anointed the leader of the Western Christian nations. Even after the end of the WWI the financial power center had started shifting towards the Wall Street from the City of London, but the latter still has great leverage for manipulation and mischief.
From 1950s onwards, USSR made inroads into many Arab states led by secular, and nationalist leaders like Abdul Gamal Nasser of Egypt. West used religion and conservative and hereditary rulers to counter the egalitarian waves of socialism sweeping the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The battle lines for influence and control between the West and USSR ( and China) saw many ups and downs.
A major change occurred when Iran was lost in 1979 and the Shahinshah, US gendarme in the region, was overthrown by Khomeini led Shia revolution, threatening US allies Saudi Arabia and other Sheikhdoms and Kingdoms in the region. Western world and its frightened allies in the region, taken aback, encouraged and helped financially and militarily Saddam Hussein to douse the leaping flames from the volcano of Shia revolution with its faith in martyrdom. Iran and Iraq lost over a million young men. The 1980s Iraq –Iran war only protected the vested interests of the West and its allies in the region. Iraq continues to bleed and suffer.
From the Middle East, Western strategic lever to manipulate and control the region and its resources extended into South Asia through an axis between Washington, Saud dynasty - obscurantist Wahhabi clerics and Pakistan military-ISI. Israel remains Washington’s current gendarme in the Middle East since the ouster of the Shah, making Tel Aviv more demanding and irresponsible in its behavior since 1979. Its importance will remain with US losing out to Russia in Ukraine, an uncertain tenure in Kyrgyzstan and its ally Georgia bashed two years ago by Moscow and even Israel's invincible Tanks and famed commandos by the Hezbollah in south Lebanon in the 2006 war.
The nurseries of terrorism left behind morphed into Al Qaeda and Taliban, the latter was created by Pakistan with support from the Gulf's Arab rulers and US acquiescence, since Washington wanted a 'stable' Afghanistan for its multinational UNOCAL’s pipelines to carry energy from central to south Asia and beyond. That dream remains unfulfilled.
For his cooperation, Pakistan President Gen Zia-ul-Haq was suitably rewarded with money and military aid which emboldened Islamabad to carry out an invasion in Kargil in India. With abundance of arms, Pakistan acquired a Kalashnikov culture of violence while increased opium production in Afghanistan, and as an exit route has left millions of it citizens addicted to the drug. Gen Zia Islamized Pak polity and completed nuclear bomb program with help from China and acquiescence and even support from the West.
But Al Qaeda chief Osama Ben Laden, chosen for the Jihad in Afghanistan by the Saudi rulers nurtured dreams of taking over Muslim states gone astray from true Salafi/Wahhabi path and conquer other peoples too of Islam. The victims are India and newly independent central Asian states like Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and Arab states which had supported and sent volunteers to fight in Afghanistan.
The stunning events of 9/11 showed up the fundamental contradictions in the US-Saudi–Pak axis, with 14 of the 19 hijackers being of Saudi origin, led by an Egyptian with Taliban and Al Qaeda's octopus like tentacles deeply embedded in Pak military, ISI and the establishment and vice versa.
Although the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, the lone hyper power USA, in a triumphal mood after the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990, instead mounted an invasion of Afghanistan in its so called ‘War on Terror‘ but the real objective was to build bases and control the region and extend Washington’s threat and dominance into central Asia with eyes on its oil and other resources.
But the strains and stresses in the Crusader-Jihadi axis became intolerable after the US led illegal invasion of Iraq in March, 2003, angering and pitting Muslim masses all over the world against USA , UK and other western nations in the backdrop of continued illegal occupation and encroachments on Palestinian land by Israel since 1967 and daily killings of Palestinians telecast on channels like Al Jazeera and others.
It soon became clear that the reasons for invading Iraq were just lies. US deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz confessed soon after the invasion that the real motive was Iraq’s oil and the control of the region. In fact Wolfowitz had told the Congress before the invasion that it would pay for itself from Iraq’s oil revenues. This was recently confirmed by former US Fed Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. It soon became clear that even before George Bush was sworn in, after getting himself elected by a regrettable US Supreme Court decision, plans had been drawn to take over Iraq for its oil resources.
US-Saudi relations are still based on western exploitation of Arab oil in return for the security of the Saud Dynasty, which gives the latter, being the leading Sunni Muslim state, protecting the holy Islamic shrines in Mecca and Medina and blessed with vast oil resources vast power without accountability. With increasing public support for Al Qaeda ideology inside the Kingdom, Riyadh could be in jeopardy. Its power and prestige have been eroded as a result of its rival Shia power Iran's strengthened position in Iraq and the region, just the opposite of what Washington had bargained for before the 2003 invasion. President George Bush did not even know the difference between Shia and Sunni Islam and Ahmet Chalebi, a wily Iraqi, exiled after the 1958 overthrow of the Hashemite dynasty, had sold to the willing in the Pentagon the charade that US troops would be welcomed with flowers by the Iraqis. Nobody ever cared to read the history of Iraq or the region.
US invasion and occupation has divided Iraq into at least three parts, Shia, Sunni and Kurdish. It now appears difficult if not impossible to hold them together.
Washington now wants Pakistan to destroy Al Qaeda, Pashtun Taliban and Muslim Jihadis in Pakistan and Afghanistan, with whom Saudi Arabia, Pak Army , ISI and the establishment have umbilical connections since the Jihad against USSR (Israel now wants PLO to destroy Tehran aligned Hamas-originally created by Mossad to counter Al Fattah.)
US has lost the war on the ground in Iraq and NATO is in disarray in Afghanistan. At the end of 'Operation Iraqi freedom', really the mother of all battles for oil, raw materials and strategic space in west, south and central Asia, the frontiers in the Middle East and Pakistan are likely to be redrawn, but not by the West but by the movements, militias and peoples of the region. Say by Shias in south Iraq and Pashtuns in Pak-Afghanistan border who might obliterate the Durand Line officially, to begin with. But West has invested too much in the region and its prosperity depends on it. It is unlikely to give in or give up without a bloody fight.
Stakeholders in Afghanistan
The Kingdom of Afghanistan was accepted as a de facto buffer state by the British and Russian empires at the end of 'the Great Game' in Central Asia in 19th century. Various British efforts to conquer Afghanistan ended in disasters . By the end of the 20th century, the British and Russian empires in Asia had unraveled and many new states have emerged out of them. Thus the very raison d'etre of a buffer state no longer exists. Since the US provoked entry of Soviet troops in 1979, their withdrawal in 1989, fighting between residual Nazibullah regime and Pakistan supported warlords and finally takeover of most of the Afghanistan territory by Taliban with Pak military and ISI participation and funds from the Gulf states established a rudimentary and medieval regime under Mullah Omar. However the Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks and other mainly non Sunni groups have been governed by their ethnic warlords and resistance fighters against Russian occupation troops like the legendry Masood, who was treacherously assassinated just before 11/9. Masood had headed the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks and others who resisted the Taliban regime. The Alliance was supported by Iran, Turkey, India, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and others.
The 2001 December bombings and invasion of Afghanistan did not have UN sanction and was based on the premise of US and hence NATO’s right to defend US territory after 11/attacks. In spite of US wish to enter Kabul as liberators, the Northern Alliance troops of Masood entered as liberators. Since then except by air attacks including by drones, which have killed large number of Afghan civilians, including women and children, ISAF and NATO troops have not fared too well on the ground. The increase in foreign troop’s deaths, reluctance of most NATO member states to go on, has put intolerable burden on the cohesion of Western occupation forces. The number of western troops killed has been highest in June, but West as per its racial attitude, in Gen Colin Powell’s words do not do body count of enemy troops and civilians (both in Afghanistan and Iraq.) The Afghan territory is under control of different armed groups, foreign and local, with Washington installed President Hamid Karzai, with US mercenaries as his bodyguards, barely controlling the city of Kabul. Except for Karzai, a Pashtun, most of the ruling elite consists of Northern Alliance ethnic leaders, with Karzai family making hay (money) while the sun shines. Recently US media reports gave details of how billions of dollars meant for military and development projects have been flown out of Afghanistan (Similar loot of funds in Iraq has also been reported from time to time. Western governments and media mount propaganda campaigns for donor meets whether for Serbia or Iraq or Afghanistan and amounts are pledged (but much less is given) with large share being spent on foreign (mostly Western) experts or just plain stolen and brazenly shipped out by air.
The number of stakeholders in Afghanistan is large, the Afghan people, 40% Pashtuns, the rest Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks and others with their ethnic kins in Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, who provide support and even manpower, neighboring countries like China via Xinjiang and the former ruler of central Asia, Moscow. India also has historic interests and invested billions of dollars in development projects to have influence and friendly relations with Afghans, which it had when Pakistan was part of united Hindustan.
Pakistan’s interests have already been brought out since the Soviet occupation in 1979 and involvement in Afghan affairs. As the major financial contributor of the 1980s Jihad against USSR , and even otherwise the Saud dynasty, with its coffers bulging with petrodollars, its purchase of US and British arms would be of dubious value which many feel Saudis are unlikely of using, like the Kuwaitis in 1990. But Riyadh has its Wahhabi ideology and cheque books for funding not only Madrasas, mosques but also for arms to Pakistan, and Pashtun Afghan groups. After the destruction of Iraq power, USA’s Sunni allies from Egypt to Jordan, in western Sunni Iraq , even Yemen are worried about the rising power and clout of Iran in spite of all obstacles and sanctions against Tehran by US led West. It has its advance guards in Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Hamas in Gaza. Hezbollah, Iranian and Syrian leaders who stand up to US and Israel are extremely popular with Muslim masses not only in the Arab world but elsewhere too.
So what if after Afghanistan if Pakistan unravels too! Little effort has been made by its leaders since 1947 to even develop a territory based nationalism. China would not also escape further problems in Xinjiang and Tibet.