The Continuum Of Tribal Politics and the ever expanding plans to divide and conquer, from Tibet to south Asia and from the near-east to Darfur.
As Israel unleashed its military fury against Lebanon for several weeks in July-August 2006, it had one major objective: to permanently ‘extract’ Hezbollah from the South as a fighting force, and to undermine it as a rising political movement, capable of disrupting, if not overshadowing the ‘puppet’ and ‘moderate’ political regime in Beirut.... forgetting all too quickly the lessons of Iran/Contra of the mid-80s and the "moderates" versus "conservatives" policies on Iran, and the cacophonies which ensued....
As Israeli bombs fell, and with them hundreds of Lebanese civilians, and much of the country’s infrastructure, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sprung into action. She too had one major objective: to delay a ceasefire, which the rest of the international community, save the US and Britain, desperately demanded. Rice, who is merely, but faithfully reiterating the Bush administration’s policy, hoped that the Israeli bombs would succeed in achieving what her government’s grand policies failed to achieve, namely a New Middle East.
In a friendly meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem, on July 25, 2006, Rice eagerly, although rashly wished to interpret to equally eager journalists the political promise that lies within the Israeli onslaught. “As we deal with the current circumstances, we need always to be cognizant of and looking to what kind of Middle East we are trying to build. It is time for a new Middle East,” she said. Olmert nodded.
Neither Rice, nor Bush, nor Olmert were indeed interested in shifting the status quo in the Middle East in anyway that might jeopardize Israel’s regional standing, as a powerful ally with astounding military outreach. Indeed, there was hardly anything new in the New Middle East. Like the old one, the New Middle East was also meant to be achieved from behind the barrel of a gun. But why the element of ‘newness’?
It was very clear to both Israel and the United States that their Middle East policies were failing, and miserably so; but both governments were still insistent that the problem is not in the use of force, but rather, not using enough of it. It’s, perhaps, the kind of arrogance that accompanies power. But arrogance can also be the powerful downfall.
As world patience began running out, especially following the second Qana Massacre of July 2006, Rice still insisted on beautifying the horror in Lebanon. The Israeli war against Lebanon, despite the tremendous hurt it caused was, according to Rice, the “birth pangs of a new Middle East”.
And a New Middle East it was, although not the one that Rice and Olmert reflectively envisioned in Jerusalem; a different one, which changed the political landscape in Lebanon in favor of Hezbollah, and denied Israel any sense of victory.
In fact, the new ‘New Middle East’ did more than that. It once more renewed a long abandoned idea in the minds of many Arabs, especially Palestinians, that resistance was not futile after all.
Hezbollah’s triumph, and its ability to thwart various attempts at igniting a civil war in Lebanon, accompanied by the group’s leader, Hasan Nasrallah’s fiery speeches began penetrating the Arab psyche, defeated and accustomed to defeat. Nasrallah became the new Jamal Abdul Nasser, and like Abdul Nasser of Egypt, he too polarized Arabs: peoples vs. regimes.
New terminology also sprung. Words that were not uttered, at least not in any realistic context, in decades, began encroaching into Arab vocabulary: ‘victory’, ‘resistance’, ‘Arab-nation’ with ‘one fate’, ‘one future’, and so on. The language and the culture it espoused proved immensely threatening to the US camp, which too enjoyed its own language and designations: ‘friendly’, ‘moderate’, etc. Rice’s New Middle East has failed. It has failed because the representatives of the old Middle East prevailed: Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, but most importantly the people through the region, which began once again, constructing a sense of collective identity.
The new ‘axis of evil’, somehow managed to withstand immense pressures, and in the case of Hezbollah and Hamas in Gaza, numerous bombs. Israel’s pressure on the US to go after Iran failed for various reasons. Israel’s own Middle East project remains on hold, jeopardized by Iran’s rising influence in the region, Hezbollah’s proven formidability in the north, and Hamas’ irritating ability to hold onto power, and its insistence to govern by its democratic mandate, even if in besieged Gaza.
As both Olmert and Bush were readying to hand over the torch to their successors, and as folders of the New Middle East project were about to be tossed into the recycle bin, Israel opted for one last chance at proving the viability of its military prowess, for force is the only language that Israel is capable of thoroughly communicating, and is under the odd impression that it’s also the only language that its enemies understand.
Olmert, once again unleashed his country’s military fury, this time against Gaza. The Strip was supposedly an easy target, for the tiny stretch of land, blocked from all directions, lacks everything. It is home to a largely young population, the majority of whom are malnourished as a result of the Israeli siege.
Israel hoped that Gaza would grant it a victory, any victory, even if a small token of triumph. Starting December 27 and for many days, Israel pulverized entire neighborhoods, killed and wounded thousands, mostly civilians, mostly children and women. Another New Middle East was in the making with its own “birth pangs.” Entire families perished; children died in droves, in their homes, in schools; a panicking population ran in circles, hopelessly trying to flee the death machines that hovered everywhere, but there was no escape. Borders remained sealed as the region’s ‘moderates’ watched the demise of the ‘extremists.’ Rice, again, grinned, brazenly justifying Israel’s new war. The world watched in horror as the drama unfolded. But Gaza fought back, withstood, resisted, and the language once again was altered. Arabs are now speaking of ‘victory’, hailing the ‘resistance’, singing the praise of the Palestinians in Gaza.
Gaza’s resistance is nothing short of a ‘miracle’, said Aljazeera’s military expert. Millions of Arabs around the world agree. The New Middle East defined in Lebanon in July-August 2006, was confirmed in Palestine in December-January 2008-2009. A new language with new terminology and a new culture is springing up from the ashes and the rubble of Gaza. Arabs are eager to define themselves and shed years of defeat and defeatism. A New Middle East, indeed......Meanwhile:
The 1989 defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan was a tactical victory but a strategic defeat for the Western alliance. The induced success of the jihadis gave them a boost of vainglory, leading to the expansion of their jihad to the West.
Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and their al-Qaida organization are the unintended consequences of the 1979-87 strategy by U.S. national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and U.S. Director of Central Intelligence William Casey of funding, training and equipping jihadists to fight a conventional force.
Those lessons are now coming in handy for terrorists operating in the Afghan countryside, where the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is floundering in a manner similar to the 1983-84 travails of the Soviet battalions.
If it can be said that the economic and other costs of the Afghan War helped push the Soviet Union to collapse, it also can be argued by those determined to undermine the West that the immense financial costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- along with the concomitant speculative rise in commodity prices sparked by the conflicts -- are responsible for the apparent meltdown in Western economies witnessed in the latter half of 2008.
Iraq and Afghanistan are theaters separated by conditions on the ground. In Iraq, the policy of occupation has led to an essentially nationalist rebellion against the United States and the United Kingdom -- giving the religious Shiite parties an opportunity to secure the political space left empty by the secular nationalists' recourse to insurgency.
In Afghanistan the resistance has come from the jihadists who since 1996 have been known as the Taliban. And, as in the 1980s and 1990s, the principal support base for this militia has been the Pakistani army. Whether it is training given by soldiers "on leave" or access to funds, safe houses and munitions, the Taliban could not have put up a viable front against NATO for more than a few months without such support.
Astonishingly, as yet the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and numerous other U.S. intelligence agencies appear clueless about the extent to which the Pakistani army is providing sustenance to the Taliban. U.S. officials are still in denial and hoping for a miracle -- aware that numerous military, diplomatic and academic careers would go up in smoke were they to accept that their policy of relying on Pakistan's army to fight their own auxiliary in battle is flawed.
By looking toward heaven rather than at ground realities, NATO planners are preparing for a Soviet-style retreat from Afghanistan. But this will give the jihadists the oxygen they lost after the setbacks caused by the U.S. military and other actions since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The head of the snake that is the Taliban is the Pakistani army. This is where attention needs to be focused, now that Pakistani Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has failed in his gambit of using the Mumbai terror attacks to divert international attention away from his reluctance to engage the Taliban in Waziristan and in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Because cash and other forms of assistance are funneled through religious "trusts" and other cutouts, and because of an undeclared policy that all soldiers fraternizing with the Taliban are to be dressed in the same garb as the militia, somnolent U.S. intelligence agencies have failed to detect the multiple contacts between the Pakistani army and the jihadists, including clearance from the higher brass to missions directed against India and NATO.
Kayani's bluff must be called. This is what Soviet leaders failed to do when Gen. Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, the former president of Pakistan and founder of jihadism in a once professional army, was soaking up billions of U.S. dollars to send irregulars into Afghanistan.
The de facto president-cum-prime minister, also known as army chief, of Pakistan needs to be given the message that unless his forces take out the Taliban within Waziristan and FATA, NATO will provide assistance in the form of air sorties, missile strikes and reconnoitering troops on the ground. The elimination of the Taliban within their nests in Pakistan has become a national security priority for the United States and the European Union. It is intolerable that success is denied because the Pakistani army is clearly unable or unwilling to accomplish the job.
As matters evolve, despite the infatuation of many U.S. and EU officials with Pakistan's military, planners in Western capitals may finally accept that the rapid metastasis of jihad from safe areas in Pakistan is a hazard requiring immediate action and that the present policy of relying on Pakistan has not worked.
The 2009 general elections in India may produce a government willing to commit at least two divisions of Indian troops to Afghanistan to assist in the battle against a jihadist force that has carried out six mass terror attacks in India in 2008 alone. While a fresh terror attack on India may not lead to a military attack on Pakistan, it may strengthen the argument that India needs to place military boots on the ground to assist NATO in Afghanistan.
Unless the Pakistani army is liberated from the jihadist influence steadily injected since the days of Zia, it will remain an accessory to terror rather than a defender against it. Kayani had calculated that the Mumbai attacks would lead India to mobilize troops on its western frontier, thereby giving him a reason to refuse NATO's request to go after the Taliban. That has not happened. The Indians have not mobilized.
The situation does not need more of the same failed medicine of depending on Kayani. It requires a clear ultimatum, followed by NATO action to take out the Taliban nests.
The people of FATA, Waziristan and the North-West Frontier province will themselves hand in the Taliban, once they see that having them in their areas does not bring goodies from the Pakistani army, but death from NATO attacks.
The road to success in the war against jihadis runs through Pakistan, and this route is too vital for the security of the world to remain in the control of the current leadership of the Pakistani army, unless that army can throw away the poisoned legacy of Brzezinski, Casey and Zia.