Friends-Enemies-Both? Our Foreign Policy Riddle

The Three-Decade US-Mujahideen Partnership Still Going Strong

Muj1In the last few weeks I’ve been reading and talking about the latest developments in Central Asia and the Caucasus. I am planning to post a few updates on the status of the score board in this region (pipeline rivalries, military base ‘erection’ scores- and what-not). Meanwhile, as I am dealing with all this I keep ending up with riddle-like situations. And instead of trying to solve or get out of these riddles, I’m going to give up and instead share one of them with you, my blogosphere friends.

Our enemies’ enemies are our friends. Many of our nation’s enemies are the enemies of our enemies, so that makes them what? Friends? Enemies? It depends? Both? And what would all this make our ‘real’ foreign policy makers? Enemies? Friends? Both? What?

Seriously! Think about it.

By now we all know, or should know, about our government and mainstream media’s past almost romantic relationship with the Mujahideen, Taliban-al Qaeda, during the 80s. Back then, in the 80s, they were fighting the Soviets, they were the enemies of our enemies, thus, our beloved friends, our trusted, financed and backed allies. Here are a few excerpts from what I wrote and quoted on this topic a while back:

Now let’s go back and search U.S. press coverage of Afghanistan’s ‘Freedom Fighters’ during the 80s and try to find any coverage related to these U.S. backed and supported operations’ intersection with the global narcotics trade. Are there any? I’m afraid we know the answer to this question. Here is further coverage based on the report by FAIR:

The press coverage of this era was overwhelmingly positive, even glowing, with regard to the guerrillas’ conduct in Afghanistan. Their unsavory features were downplayed or omitted altogether…Virtually all papers favored some amount of U.S. military support; and there was near unanimous agreement that the guerrillas were “heroic,” “courageous” and above all “freedom fighters.“”

According to the L.A. Times (6/23/86): “The Afghan guerrillas have earned the admiration of the American people for their courageous struggle…. The rebels deserve unstinting American political support and, within the limits of prudence, military hardware.“”

And here the axis of U.S. Government-U.S. Press- and the information spin or black-out:

Another problem was direct manipulation of reporting by the U.S. government, which was supporting the Mujahiddin guerrillas during both the Carter and Reagan administrations. (Indeed, we now know that U.S. aid to the Mujahiddin was secretly begun in July 1979, six months before the Soviets invaded–International Politics, 6/00.) This press manipulation began early in the conflict. In January 1980, the New York Times (1/26/80) reported that the State Department had “relaxed” its accuracy code for reporting information on Afghanistan. As a result, the Carter administration generated “accounts suggesting Soviet actions for which the administration itself has no solid foundation.“”

During the 80s our ‘real’ foreign policymakers couldn’t care less about adjectives such as extremists, terrorists, fanatics, anti-west…They were the beloved enemies of our enemies, and we’d do anything to support and use them. And this wasn’t necessarily about we the people of the US or our benefits or our best interests. After all, in the end the American people were the ones to pay the price for those unholy alliances where we selected, trained and backed the evildoer Bin Laden, our enemies’ enemy, thus, our beloved friend:

Our enemies’ enemies were our friends. Many of our nation’s enemies were the enemies of our enemies back then, so that made them our beloved friends.

Muj2Now, you may say, ‘that was a long time ago, it had to do with the Cold War, and it is simply not fair to criticize and judge based on this particular example…’And, I’d say, okay. Let’s fast forward. Let’s look at what we did with these same groups, in the 90s, after the wall came down and the Soviet empire collapsed.

The problem is this: without the Cold War excuse our foreign policymakers had a real hard time justifying our joint operations and terrorism schemes in the resource-rich ex Soviet states with these same groups, so they made sure they kept these policies unwritten and unspoken, and considering their grip on the mainstream media, largely unreported. Now what would your response be if I were to say, on the record, and if required, under oath:

Between 1996 and 2002, we, the United States, planned, financed and helped execute every single major terrorist incident by Chechen rebels (and the Mujahideen) against Russia

Between 1996 and 2002, we, the United States, planned, financed and helped execute every single uprising and terrorism related scheme in Xinxiang (aka East Turkistan and Uyghurstan)

Between 1996 and 2002, we, the United States, planned and carried out at least two assassination schemes against pro Russia officials in Azerbaijan

Those of you who are truly familiar with our real history and foreign policy making past would yawn, and say, ‘but of course. That has been our modus operandi for many decades.’ Unfortunately, the great majority would either be shocked if open minded, or shake their head in disbelief and write it off as another ‘conspiracy theory;’ well, thanks to our mainstream media.

You may remember one of these foreign policy makers from my State Secrets Privilege Gallery and my under oath testimony in the Krikorian case. Here is a quote from Graham A. Fuller, former Deputy Director of the CIA’s National Council on Intelligence:

‘The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.’

And this goes to the heart of our ‘real’ foreign policy practices showing our ‘real’ stand on Taliban years after the end of the Cold War and the first World Trade Center bombing:

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on South Asia, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher – former White House Special Assistant to President Reagan and now Senior Member of the House International Relations Committee – declared that ‘this administration has a covert policy that has empowered the Taliban and enabled this brutal movement to hold on to power’. The assumption is that ‘the Taliban would bring stability to Afghanistan and permit the building of oil pipelines from Central Asia through Afghanistan to Pakistan’. US companies involved in the project included UNOCAL and ENRON. As early as May 1996, UNOCAL had officially announced plans to build a pipeline to transport natural gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan through western Afghanistan.

And Chechens are good friends since they are the enemies of our enemy, Russia:

From the mid-1990s, bin Laden funded Chechen guerrilla leaders Shamil Basayev and Omar ibn al-Khattab to the tune of several millions of dollars per month, sidelining the moderate Chechen majority. US intelligence remained deeply involved until the end of the decade. According to Yossef Bodanksy, then-Director of the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Washington was actively involved in ‘yet another anti-Russian jihad, ‘seeking to support and empower the most virulent anti-Western Islamist forces’. US Government officials participated in ‘a formal meeting in Azerbaijan’ in December 1999 ‘in which specific programmes for the training and equipping of mujahidin from the Caucasus, Central/South Asia and the Arab world were discussed and agreed upon’, culminating in ‘Washington’s tacit encouragement of both Muslim allies (mainly Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia) and US “private security companies”… to assist the Chechens and their Islamist allies to surge in the spring of 2000 and sustain the ensuing jihad for a long time.’ The US saw the sponsorship of ‘Islamist jihad in the Caucasus’ as a way to ‘deprive Russia of a viable pipeline route through spiraling violence and terrorism’.

Okay, so the partnership and joint operations between our operatives and the Mujahideen (including the Taliban & al Qaeda) continued after the Cold War, and even after the first World Trade Center bombing, Khobar Towers, and the 1998 Embassy Bombings. On one hand we were declaring these people as our enemies, on the other hand, in Central Asia-Caucaus-Balkans and Xinxiang, they were the enemies of our enemies , thus our good partners and dear old friends. Except, by this time, the majority of us had stopped considering the Russians and Chinese enemies, instead they were viewed as mere competitors. And with that, the riddle slightly changes here:

Our competitors’ enemies were our friends. Many of our nation’s enemies were willing to become the enemies of our competitors, so that made them our dear friends.

You’d think after the September 11 Terrorist Attacks our foreign policy makers would seriously rethink their past M.O. and cease certain friendships and unholy alliances, despite the severe monetary consequences for a handful in the oil and MIC industries. But no. That doesn’t appear to be the case. And, as always, you won’t get the ‘real’ stories on this from the MSM. Here is a recent example:

Persistent accounts of western forces in Afghanistan using their helicopters to ferry Taleban fighters, strongly denied by the military, is feeding mistrust of the forces that are supposed to be bringing order to the country.

One such tale came from a soldier from the 209th Shahin Corps of the Afghan National Army, fighting against the growing insurgency in Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan. Over several months, he had taken part in several pitched battles against the armed opposition.

“Just when the police and army managed to surround the Taleban in a village of Qala-e-Zaal district, we saw helicopters land with support teams,” he said. “They managed to rescue their friends from our encirclement, and even to inflict defeat on the Afghan National Army.”

This story, in one form or another, is being repeated throughout northern Afghanistan. Dozens of people claim to have seen Taleban fighters disembark from foreign helicopters in several provinces. The local talk is of the insurgency being consciously moved north, with international troops ferrying fighters in from the volatile south, to create mayhem in a new location.Helicopters are almost exclusively the domain of foreign forces in Afghanistan – the international military controls the air space, and has a virtual monopoly on aircraft. So when Afghans see choppers, they think foreign military.

“Our fight against the Taleban is nonsense,” said the soldier from Shahin Corps. “Our foreigner ‘friends’ are friendlier to the opposition.”

Muj3Let’s take a look at certain important northern neighbors in Afghanistan where our ‘real’ policymakers have been facing…hmmm… frustration, thus, in need of friends to get back at those who’ve been causing this…hmmmmm… frustration:

Previously close to Washington (which gave Uzbekistan half a billion dollars in aid in 2004, about a quarter of its military budget), the government of Uzbekistan has recently restricted American military use of the airbase at Karshi-Khanabad for air operations in neighboring Afghanistan.

The relationship between Uzbekistan and the United States began to deteriorate after the so-called “colour revolutions” in Georgia and Ukraine (and to a lesser extent Kyrgyzstan). When the U.S. joined in a call for an independent international investigation of the bloody events at Andijon, the relationship took an additional nosedive, and President Islam Karimov changed the political alignment of the country to bring it closer to Russia and China, countries which chose not to criticise Uzbekistan’s leaders for their alleged human rights violations.

In late July 2005, the government of Uzbekistan ordered the United States to vacate an air base in Karshi-Kanabad (near Uzbekistan’s border with Afghanistan) within 180 days. Karimov had offered use of the base to the U.S. shortly after 9/11. It is also believed by some Uzbeks that the protests in Andijan were brought about by the U.K. and U.S. influences in the area of Andijan. This is another reason for the hostility between Uzbekistan and the West.

And this to sweeten the deal, or is it turning it into a rather strong vinegar, at least for the ones who count in making and implementing our unwritten and unspoken foreign policy practices:

The leaders of Uzbekistan and China on Wednesday said they had signed deals aimed at increasing cooperation on energy and regional security. Speaking ahead of an annual meeting of the Chinese-led Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting in Tashkent, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Uzbek President Islam Karimov pledged closer ties, particularly on nuclear fuel.

“One of the question we discussed was that of long-term and stable cooperation in the field of … uranium. It’s necessary to work in such a way to develop natural uranium and uranium fields,” Hu told reporters.

Although the leaders said they had signed a number of agreements regarding the purchase of energy from Uzbekistan, including uranium and natural gas, they declined to provide specifics details on the deals.

Okay, so you get the general picture on Uzbekistan. Right?

Next, let’s take a quick look at Turkmenistan:

Turkmenistan ranks fourth in the world to Russia, Iran and the United States in natural gas reserves. The Turkmenistan Natural Gas Company (Türkmengaz), under the auspices of the Ministry of Oil and Gas, controls gas extraction in the country. Gas production is the most dynamic and promising sector of the national economy. Turkmenistan’s gas reserves are estimated at 3.5-6.7 mcubic meters and its prospecting potential at up to 21 trillion cubic meters. In 2010 Ashgabat started a policy of diversifying export routes for its raw materials.

China is set to become the largest buyer of gas from Turkmenistan over the coming years as a pipeline linking the two countries, through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, reaches full capacity. In addition to supplying Russia, China and Iran, Ashgabat took concrete measures to accelerate progress in the construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan and India pipeline (TAPI). Turkmenistan has previously estimated the cost of the project at $3.3 billion. On May 21st, president Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov unexpectedly signed a decree stating that companies from Turkmenistan will build an internal East-West gas pipeline allowing the transfer of gas from the biggest deposits in Turkmenistan (Dowlatabad and Yolotan) to the Caspian coast. The East-West pipeline is planned to be around 1000 km long and have a carrying capacity of 30 bn m³ annually, at a cost of between one and one and a half billion US dollars.

And, this is the latest to truly pi.. off our ‘real’ foreign policy beneficiaries:

China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has announced the discovery of yet another gas field on the right bank of the Amu Darya River in Turkmenistan, holding in excess of 100 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas.

Separately, Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow inaugurated a new compressor station at the Bagtiyarlyk fields, estimated by Chinese engineers to hold 1.6 trillion cubic meters of natural gas.

These fields feed the Turkmenistan-China pipeline, which traverses Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and was opened in December 2009 with a projected capacity of 40 billion cubic meters per year (bcm/y) by 2015, with some of that volume being consumed in southern Kazakhstan. (See Gas pipeline gigantism, Asia Times Online, July 17, 2008.)

In June this year, Ashgabad and Beijing agreed to increase Turkmen exports to China above the agreed level; the new compressor station will eventually raise the existing capacity to 22 bcm/y from the 6 bcm/y estimate of Chinese consumption of Turkmenistan-sourced gas for 2010.

And here, a brief snapshot of where Tajikistan stands:

Tajikistan is ready to further improve its cooperation in various fields with China, and make joint efforts to ensure the continued success of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), President Emomali Rakhmonov said in a recent interview with Chinese media.

The establishment of a friendly relationship with China was one of the great achievements that Tajikistan had made since its independence nearly 15 years ago, he said in his interview shortly ahead of the summit of the SCO heads of state to be held in Shanghai.

He mentioned in particular the opening of the Karasu pass on the Tajik-Chinese border.

“It is an important event in the history of the Tajik-Chinese relations, since it was the first time that the two countries were linked by motor traffic,” Rakhmonov said.

Trade between the two countries was developing rapidly and China’s influence on the Tajik economy was also growing, he said.

The president expressed satisfaction with the Tajik-Chinese trade volume which was increasing every year. In 2005, bilateral trade between the two countries had doubled from the previous year, he said.

And finally, if you’ve been following the recent turmoil and elections in Kyrgyzstan, you’d know that things haven’t been looking up for US business and bases over there:

In a surprise result which underscores what remains an extremely divided electorate in Kyrgyzstan, the parliamentary vote has led to the victory of the nationalist Fatherland Party (Ata-Jurt) and a very unclear road to a coalition government.

A Fatherland dominated government might bode ill for the Obama Administration’s designs on keeping a military base in Kyrgyzstan, as the party has spoken out against extending the US lease on the base past 2011.

Things certainly haven’t been looking up for our MIC, Oil, and related mega companies in that part of the world. And this kind of situation puts our ‘real’ foreign policy makers in their ‘enemies-of-our-enemies’ are needed mode. And when that happens the rest will follow: contracts for our good ole  Mujahideen friends, convenient terrorism related incidents and pipeline sabotages right and left, a more aggressive control of the opium trade to finance unwritten-unspoken foreign policy practices …

In the coming days I’ll be posting more updates and brief (not like this one!) commentaries and analysis on this topic, meanwhile, let’s round up our confusing but pretty much on target foreign policy riddle for the post 9/11 decade:

Our competitors’ enemies are our friends. Our nation’s government designated terrorist enemies are willing to become our competitors’ enemies, and that makes them our foreign policymakers’ convenient good friends while they remain our nation’s enemies. And that, my friend, makes our real foreign policy makers our (?)…

I’ll leave the solving and perfection of the above riddle to you. Please keep them coming.

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Comments

  1. “Our enemies’ enemies are our friends. Many of our nation’s enemies are the enemies of our enemies, so that makes them what? Friends? Enemies? It depends? Both? And what would all this make our ‘real’ foreign policy makers? Enemies? Friends? Both? What?”

    Follow the money. It’s the best I can do.

  2. The geopolitics of oil. Sometimes specious reasons are given to delay implementation of solutions. With hydrogen, reformers and strategic metals are often cited. Also solar technology is listed as needing improvement. Meanwhile carbon emissions of any sort such as biofuels contribute to a state beyond a critical threshold. The data is in. The fix is in.

  3. avatar Kingfisher says:

    @Sibel,

    “Things certainly haven’t been looking up for our MIC, Oil, and related mega companies in that part of the world.”

    As I have said before the US probably has lost this round of the “Great Game”. Steve Levine recently said as much too: http://www.tnr.com/article/world/78168/obama-central-asia-great-game
    And the US is unfortunately losing Turkey as an ally too.

    “And this kind of situation puts our ‘real’ foreign policy makers in their ‘enemies-of-our-enemies’ are needed mode. And when that happens the rest will follow: contracts for our good ole Mujahideen friends, convenient terrorism related incidents…”

    Yeah probably something along those lines; but I’m sorry, haven’t you just spent a year blogging about how we should end military operations in Afghanistan? Unfortunately it may be one or the other.

    I also believe you are also confusing “friends” with interests; countries do not have friends, they have interests.

    KF

  4. avatar Kingfisher says:

    “Now what would your response be if I were to say, on the record, and if required, under oath: Between 1996 and 2002, we, the United States, planned, financed and helped execute every single major terrorist incident
    [in Chechnya and Xinjiang, and two assassination schemes in Azerbaijan]“

    @Sibel,

    I would have to ask you how and why you can support that statement. What was the process that led to this conclusion? Is it supported by more than just raw intelligence? Is it supported by info/intel/analysis from beyond the FBI?

    Saying that “the United States [presumably Government?], planned, financed and helped execute every single major terrorist incident” in Chechnya and Xinjiang between 1996 and 2002 is a HUGE claim, Sibel.

    Some of the terrorist incidents? It’s possible.
    Aided these insurgencies in some capacity? It’s likely.
    Turned a blind eye? I know we did.

    But “planned, financed and helped execute every single major terrorist incident”?
    Sibel, I know enough about these subjects where I can’t accept this statement just at face value – even from you, I’m sorry.

    KF

  5. @KF: “But “planned, financed and helped execute every single major terrorist incident”?” That’s right. Documented. It never had to be analyzed. Why don’t people understand the difference between ‘Government’ as the entire federal government vs. ‘government’ as the shadow behind the visible government? The FBI in this particular case: good guys who could do nothing. They had to sit and watch the ‘real’ government bring in the target leaders, give them home/here, and run the operations from right here, home base…

  6. avatar Kingfisher says:

    “That’s right. Documented. It never had to be analyzed.”

    So there was a Presidential Finding authorizing such covert action programs? That’s about the only documentation that would not require any analysis to support that statement. Intercepts, fund transfers, HUMINT reports, etc, that would all need to be analyzed and investigated.

    Your saying the US “planned, financed and helped execute” the September 1999 bombings of four apartment buildings in Russia, which killed 290 people? And that this is documented somewhere?

    “Why don’t people understand the difference between ‘Government’ as the entire federal government vs. ‘government’ as the shadow behind the visible government?”

    Because shadow government and deep politics are at best the forces, dynamics and processes of multiple interests at work; and at worst they are the concepts, theories, or opinions of or about how those interests work.

    They are figurative terms but you are treating them in a literal sense by saying the United States [its deep government] “planned, financed and helped execute every single major terrorist incident..”.

  7. avatar ZicaTanka says:

    Sibel Said: “Why don’t people understand the difference between ‘Government’ as the entire federal government vs. ‘government’ as the shadow behind the visible government?”

    KF Said: ‘They are figurative terms but you are treating them in a literal sense by saying the United States [its deep government] “planned, financed and helped execute every single major terrorist incident..”.’

    Me: Isn’t the actual government where the responsibility lies, regardless of what power sways the actual government?

    Sibel Said: “They [FBI] had to sit and watch the ‘real’ government bring in the target leaders, give them home/here, and run the operations from right here, home base…”

    Me: If they sat and watched, then they’re complicit, right?

  8. @KF: Yes and yes. Also, a certain division within NATO. And, no different than what we were doing during the Cold War-Central America, Middle East…I know it makes that Fourth of July Hot Dog much harder to swallow,hmmmm, at least for some people. Easier to take it as ‘impossible’ or a ‘fantasy.’

  9. avatar adoniscik says:

    The quote attributed to Fuller is suspect. It sources back to a book by Radio France internationale journalist Richard Labévière called “Dollars for Terror: The United States and Islam” (© 2000 by Algora Publishing. Originally published as Les Dollars de la Terreur, Les Etats-Unis et les Islamistes © Éditions Bernard Grasset, 1999). The quote appears on page six of the prologue as follows:

    “The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them
    against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against
    the Red Army,” explains a former CIA analyst. “The same doctrines can
    still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially
    to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.” In a certain
    sense, the Cold War is still going on. For years Graham Fuller, former
    Deputy Director of the National Council on Intelligence at the CIA, has
    been talking up the “modernizing virtues” of the Islamists, insisting on
    their anti-Statist concept of the economy. Listening to him, you would
    almost take the Taleban and their Wahhabi allies for liberals. “Islam, in
    theory at least, is firmly anchored in the traditions of free trade and private enterprise,” wrote Fuller. “The prophet was a trader, as was his
    first wife. Islam does not glorify the State’s role in the economy.”

    The source of this quote itself is Le Monde diplomatique, “Islam, a force for change“, September 1999. The quote “The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army…The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.” does not appear in the LMD article, thus raising the possibility that it is either spurious, or that Labévière was referring to another, unnamed CIA analyst. Either way, I would not base an argument on it.

  10. @adoniscik: That’s not the first or only time for Graham Fuller. You may want to check out his sponsorship of Fethullah Gulen and his Madrasas in Central Asia-Caucasus, and his argument on his behalf before the federal court…Same with East Turkistan & Turani…

  11. avatar adoniscik says:

    I know about his sponsorship of Gulen, but I could not source this particular quote, and rigor matters (to me).

  12. A good storie.

    I know a lot in the time i spend on the internet,what the MSM dont mentions for the people in the world.Its a rotten system,full of propaganda.If its happens more then 100 year under the same people,what we can do about it.Nothing,because all politicus are puppets.And the media controls what the say.And the politici off today take care off the own future and dont say things,what can harm itself.The problem is the economy what only are build on greed.And when you make poor people happy with fiction money and stuff,the shall be your slave.Everybody are a slave off money what is created out off nothing.Only the oil today make the dollar strong and stabiel.The oil is running out,en only that oil can run the economy.If america dont get it,russia gets it,ore china.We all animalls what fight for survival.Democration is only a word,what are printed between the ears.Everything are controled by the big powers,and when the oil stops,live gets hard for a lot off people in the world.There wil be never a solution for all off us,to share things and make a better world for all of us.When the time comes,we all thinking like animals to survival.
    Have a nice day.

    Greatings from Holland.

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