Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Asia Times -- Iraq first, then Southwest Asia

Washington is actively sponsoring post-Saddam Iraq. During the recent, highly-publicized Iraqi opposition meeting in London, says the respected Al Hayat newspaper, the American delegate Zalmay Khalilzad - the man who according to Afghans stole the Loya Jirga from King Zahir Shah - actually threatened the 300 participants. He said "Washington could name a military governor after the fall of Saddam Hussein if the conference finished without an agreement".

American foreign policy is now dominated by three vectors: the post-Cold War policy to prevent the resurgence of any rival power comparable to the USSR; the global war against terrorism, encompassing states that support terrorism, and states that have decided to acquire weapons of mass destruction; and the echoes and reverberations of the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

As if any confirmation were needed, General Tommy Franks - who managed the war against the Taliban and will manage the war against Iraq - has stressed time and time again that American forces will stay in Afghanistan for a long time. There are roughly 8,000 American troops in Afghanistan at the moment. They remain practically all the time in cantonment mode, because they have no access to valuable information to guide them on the trail of Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives.

To make matters worse, in the Pashtun belt, the Americans are faced with a jihad against foreign invaders launched last August, a jihad with a strong rear-guard base in Pakistani territory. As Asia Times Online has reported from the spot, Pashtuns on both sides of the volatile and porous Pakistan-Afghanistan border are unanimously enraged by the US. Afghanistan remains totally insecure. Warlords rule the provinces. Hamid Karzai's government is dominated by Uzbeks, Tajiks and, on a smaller scale, Hazaras. It is so fragile that Karzai, according to local jokes, cannot rule even over his own chair.

The view from Asia - Afghanistan is prelude, than Iraq, than more of Southwest Asia.

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