Afghan War Draws in China and Russia
By Staff News & Analysis - February 15, 2011

The U.S.-led war against the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan has deteriorated into a growing open conflict with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and threatens to rapidly fall into a full-blown war with Pakistan. Signs of such an upcoming clash between Pakistan and the U.S. can already be seen. In anticipation of such a full-scale clash with America, Pakistan is seeking an enhanced role for China on its side, thereby triggering a possible superpower clash, involving the U.S., China, Russia, NATO powers, and other regional players. – MEMRI

Dominant Social Theme: Please don't look now, for everything is fine. Soon Afghanistan, pacified, will join the West.

Free-Market Analysis: No sooner had we written an article (yesterday) suggesting that the West sought an Orwellian world in which three major powers would be at war – the Anglosphere, Islam and China – comes word of an escalating standoff between the United States and Pakistan over a jailed American embassy worker, one Raymond Allen Davis.

His detention has become a sore point on both sides, as he was arrested for killing two Pakistani nationals – either innocent civilians or Pakistani intelligence.

Bur the standoff merely emphasizes a larger issue, which is the growing presence of Chinese civilian and military in Pakistan (see article excerpt above) – mostly unnoticed in the West, but of the utmost importance to the future of the Afghan war.

According to MEMRI, a high-profile Middle Eastern think-tank, China's involvement as a Pakistan ally is ongoing and becoming a good deal more obvious and pervasive. In the past year, Pakistan has sought the stationing of 11,000 Chinese troops at Gilgit-Baltistan in the sensitive Kashmir region. Pakistan denied the troop presence at first, but then explained the Chinese were there to help Pakistan with its flooding. MEMRI makes other points involving Chinese-Pakistan cooperation.

Pakistani tribal areas have been opened up for Chinese inspection. Chinese Army officials were welcomed into the Khyber Agency in October 2010 by Colonel Asad Qureshi. Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani welcomed a Chinese role in Afghanistan in April 2010. Pakistan has signed a contract with China to build Pakistani warships that will carry missiles and heavy weapons. Pakistan sees itself as aligned against the West in a superpower clash.

The Chinese-built Pakistani port at Gwadar has a Chinese presence and serves as a counter to India's naval dominance in the Indian Ocean. China is building two nuclear reactors in Pakistan and just recently it became apparent that Pakistan was building a fourth nuclear facility to produce plutonium. Pakistan recently test-fired a Hatf-VII cruise missile that can carry a nuclear payload.

Pakistan is becoming steadily more aggressive. MEMRI tells us that in early February, Pakistani planes bombarded Afghan border police posts and civilian homes to warn to Afghan President Hamid Karzai against a visit to India. There have been more suicide bombings in Kabul itself. The Pakistan intelligence agency, ISI has begun leaking the names of CIA agents in the country – both station chief Jonathan Banks and Elizabeth Rudd from Peshawar.

Thus the theatre of the war expands. In "superpower" clash, as MEMRI calls it, Russia has allied itself with the West. Russia wants NATO troops to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely. Russia is providing Afghan police with weapons and ammunitions and is carrying out joint counter-narcotics operations.

MEMRI itself is not necessarily seen as an impartial observer when it comes to Middle East analysis, but in this case the facts "on the ground" seem clear. China and Pakistan seem to be drawing closer while Russia is casting its lot with NATO. Ultimately, this may not promise a larger war – it is hard to conjure up a vision of Chinese forces fighting frankly against Russian and NATO ones – but it does mean that the war remains an intractable morass for NATO.

The key to winning the war in Afghanistan remains Pakistan. Only if Pakistan can be pressured into surrendering the safe-havens where Taliban fighters return when they are not fighting in Afghanistan, can a military solution be pursued to a successful conclusion. But in fact, the safe-havens are not merely Taliban hideaways but ancient Pashtun lands. The Pashtuns are an ancient Afghan tribe – some 40 million strong – from which the Taliban is drawn. As we have written many times before, the real purpose of the war is to pacify the Pashtuns in order to install a Western-controlled regulatory democracy in the area – a replay of a battle between the British and Pashtuns more than a century ago.

Recently, according to MEMRI, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – the Taliban shadow government – released a statement regarding the Egyptian uprising, and its hopes for a similar uprising in Kabul. It reads as follows:

The developments in Egypt have a clear message for the invading Americans and their surrogates in Afghanistan, showing that:

1. Your use of advanced weapons, destruction of orchards and houses, and filling prisons with free people does not contribute to your continuation of authority. The atrocities that you commit against the Afghan people today will soon usher in a revolution, and the vessel of your arrogance will surely drown following the inception of a popular uprising, God willing.

2. You are intending to establish a colonialist system in this 21st century. This is an adventure against both the aspirations of the people and the time. You will never succeed in your wicked (ambitious) plan in this juncture of history. The time and people both are against you.

3. The two-faced America urges a peaceful transition of regime in Egypt, but in reaction to the same popular demands in Afghanistan they bombard villages, turn wedding ceremonies and other festivities into scenes of mourning, and martyr innocent Afghans in the stillness of night, while being fast asleep. All these are being committed (against them) because the Afghans demand their legitimate rights. What face and conscience remain to Americans to make a show of their democracy and liberty while they have themselves unleashed a river of blood in Afghanistan under the empty and fatuous slogan of democracy!?

4. The stooge Kabul Administration has now taken the shape of a mafia state. Government vehicles are used for drug trafficking and wealth has been accumulated in hands of a few pro-American sycophants. This inequity will pave the way for the inception of a popular revolution, and will eradicate this tenure of tyranny and atrocity through a comprehensive revolutionary movement.

5. For almost the last decade, you have fought against the Afghan mujahid people with all your power, but you gained nothing except humiliation, financial crisis, and a spine-breaking load of debts. Do you think you will be able to bring Afghanistan under your belly so smoothly? Or otherwise, you will be buried in this graveyard of the empires as a result of the inundating tides of a popular uprising.

6. We tell the rulers of the White House and Pentagon: How long will you be able to create obstacles in the way of the aspirations of the masses through launching fraudulent elections, meaningless conferences, hatching conspiracies, and rearing qualm-less surrogates, and continue your colonialist policy? How long would you be able to hide your losses of life and equipment from the eyes of your people? Have you forgotten the financial meltdown in America during last year? Is the nearly $1.5 trillion budget deficit not a sign of your imminent downfall?

7. Almost 24 hours had not passed after the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, when some American rulers and the Time publication started pointing to him with insulting remarks. We remind the present rulers of the incumbent Kabul administration that the American colonialism you use against your people today and that give you tapping on your back – these same invaders will tomorrow call you murderers of humanity and traitors. They will clean their blood-stained and soiled hands with your clothes. Now it is high time to come to yourselves, abandon the slavery of foreigners, and choose the way of your people.

8. All people of Afghanistan must be cautious in these crucial moments at the current juncture of time and be on guard against all subversive plans and conspiracies of the enemies of Islam and the country. Give hands of brotherhood to each other against the Western colonialism, injustice, atrocities, brutality, corruption, and the Western culture of nakedness; move forward like a solid-cemented wall in the direction of popular Islamic revolution!

''The mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate are at your service and side. We believe that the (final) victory is ours. The enemy will happen to become debased and humiliated, God willing."

The above is a fairly breathtaking narrative in our view (in terms of its sophistication and breadth of argument) and one that does not read like the perspective of a vanquished foe. Western generals in Afghanistan – both NATO and American – have recently been indicating, once again, that good progress is being made. But the potential expansion of the Afghan theatre to include both China and Russia seems to us to mean that Pakistan is not going to be easily pressured into attacking the Taliban on its side of the border. Pakistan, in fact, has tacitly supported the Taliban as a counter to any moves that its archenemy India might make with Afghanistan.

After Thoughts

Both NATO and the US have been at war in Afghanistan for close to a decade now. With the advent of an expanded military struggle and a move by China to support Pakistan – if that is indeed what is happening – the war remains one where the Taliban will for the foreseeable future retain an effective safe-haven. It is difficult to see the West winning decisively in such a contest. Even training a large army and civil police force will not pacify Afghanistan if the Taliban can gain resupply in Pakistan. The end result increasingly looks like one of stalemate and a de-facto partition of Afghanistan. What the West may end up bequeathing Afghanistan is not only a "long war" but a civil war as well.