US cannot afford to withdraw from global role: Mullen

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by nrj, Aug 6, 2010.

  1. nrj

    nrj Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Washington: The US military's top officer on Sunday said economic trouble at home should not lead the United States to walk away from its global role, warning against a turn toward isolation.
    Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" that withdrawing from the global arena would only be self-defeating.

    "I've worried for a few years about us receding from the global stage, for whatever reason, and certainly economic drivers are a huge part of that," said Mullen, when asked if economic pressures would limit the reach of US power.

    [​IMG]

    Economic difficulties could "cause us to become more isolated," he said. "And in that isolation, in a world that seems to speak to or clamor for connection, global engagement, that in fact, that we'll be able to do it for awhile, but in the long run, that isolation, I think, will hurt us," he said.

    Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he has tried to bolster relations with countries and regions that serve as the world's "economic engines," including India, Brazil and China.
    But he has criticized China for cutting off contacts with the US military, and insisted the US Navy will continue to operate in the Yellow Sea despite Beijing's objections.


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  3. arya

    arya Senior Member Senior Member

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    problem with USA is they are busy with many problem same time

    better they deal one by one
    and he most important USA cant win afghan war without wining Pakistan



    and the last usa has to fight with ISI and Pakistan army
     
  4. nrj

    nrj Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    The withdrawal decision is also coupled with the 'Pride' & 'Ego' factor of US Administration. The days of SUPERPOWER Status & World Domination are over, US will have to accept this reality...
     
  5. arya

    arya Senior Member Senior Member

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    how would you know the reality well dear even china cant take USA seat for next 40 years

    USA is still super power and thats fact
     
  6. nrj

    nrj Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    The world is going Multipolar, even US admits it. US can continue their global adventures with the eventual unfortunate ramifications to the US citizens & US Gov.
     
  7. arya

    arya Senior Member Senior Member

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    well you trust on them

    what i can say more
     
  8. nrj

    nrj Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Why the US cannot leave Afghanistan —Dr Manzur Ejaz

    Pakistan — poised to become an industrial society like South Korea — was subverted to become more like a pauper desert kingdom of the Gulf. Of course, Pakistan’s internal mechanism played a major role but as an external force, the US encouraged the regressive processes to take hold

    The perception of CIA infallibly having the omnipotent powers of the Almighty has been destroyed by WikiLeaks’ disclosure of over 91,000 sensitive US security documents — amounting to the biggest leak in history and showed chinks in the CIA’s armour. However, some conspiracy theorists’ conclusion that it was a US-designed leak to create an environment to withdraw from Afghanistan may be a farfetched inference. The US cannot afford to withdraw from Afghanistan and Pakistan if the countries are perceived to be conducive to grooming terrorism that can hit Europe or the US. There are several other strategic reasons for not quitting if the US has to retain its superpower tag.

    Afghanistan and Pakistan are not the only countries wrecked or threatened by religious warriors. Somalia is in the worst possible situation and a ruthless theocratic gang rules Sudan. Despite the desperate situation in Somalia and Sudan, the Europeans or the US are not bothered because these countries are mired in civil wars or local duels between warlords. They are not producing global jihadis to attack other countries. On the contrary, most of the attackers or suicide bombers are traced back to the Pak-Afghan border region.

    The dilemma for the US is that while it is forced to stay in Afghanistan and keep Pakistan under scrutiny, it does not know what to do. Other than fighting the Taliban and their supporters the task is complex, involving elements of nation-building. As a matter of fact, without putting in place certain nation-building measures the fighting is endless and futile.

    Unfortunately, the US is not in the nation-building mode yet. Most of its policy-making theorists are still frozen in the Cold War period with a mentality of fending off the evil socialist empire’s expansion. Other than the early reconstruction of defeated Germany and Japan and maybe South Korea, the US has not helped any of its allied nations to develop and prosper. On the contrary, the US induced and patronised military dictatorships, murder gangs and right-wing fuzzy ideologues.

    In the process, the retrogressive reactionary forces expanded their reach, subverting the state institutions under the watchful US eye. Therefore, most of the players in US allied nations are also the product of the Cold War era having expertise in subversion but not in nation-building strategies. This is exactly why they failed in nation-building in Somalia and elsewhere.

    For the Pakistani Cold War warriors, India is the evil empire and its obsession is no less than the US animosity with the ex-Soviet Union. Neither does the US have the know-how to tackle the post-Cold War era problems nor can it find competent allies in the allied nations. Therefore, whatever President Obama or Islamabad say, the operational policies are still implemented by the old guard.

    Pakistan and Afghanistan are the prime example of the Cold War era legacy. While in Pakistan Islamisation was groomed from its infancy to its present stage of lethal killing forces, in Afghanistan, out of the US orbit during the Cold War, similar forces were imposed upon a country ruled by a rather enlightened, modernist intelligentsia.

    Pakistan, a state created for and by the feudals, had inherent tendencies to be hoodwinked by the religious obscurantist. But that — its potential for growth of retrogressive forces — was what endeared it to the US. For the US Cold War warriors, such an ideological state provided the best shield against Soviet expansionism. Therefore, Islamisation of the educational system and other institutions was patronised from early on. The Saudi connection was also skillfully used to foster the most conservative version of Wahabi Islam. Pakistan — poised to become an industrial society like South Korea — was subverted to become more like a pauper desert kingdom of the Gulf. Of course, Pakistan’s internal mechanism played a major role but as an external force, the US encouraged the regressive processes to take hold.

    By the time the Soviet Union entered Afghanistan, the Cold War mentality was already entrenched in Pakistan. Everyone knows what happened during the Soviet occupation and afterwards. However, one must realise that the US-Pakistani Cold War warriors ruthlessly annihilated the indigenous enlightened ruling elite in Afghanistan. Other than the mullahs of various kinds, no one was left in Afghanistan to rebuild the system.

    An unforgivable sin of the enlightened Afghan elite was that it had been using the ‘socialist’ tag. In reality, their socialism was not more radical than western liberal secularism. But most educated and enlightened Afghans running the state institutions had to show allegiance to socialist parties and hence shared the tag of being Khalqi or Parchami (Afghan Socialist parties). Nevertheless, the US Cold War warriors were so allergic to the tag that they forbade them to return to Afghanistan after the US occupation. Therefore, there was no indigenous force to rehabilitate the system. The US tried to replace them by Indians but that created other strategic headaches, alienating Pakistan.

    In the backdrop of the aforementioned history, the US can neither leave Afghanistan because of its own security perceptions nor knows what to do about it. Besides security issues, containing Iran and China does not permit the US to quit Afghanistan. Therefore, the confused Cold War warriors of the US and Pakistan will be fighting a long devastating war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel at this point.

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  9. nrj

    nrj Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Audit: US cannot account for $8.7B in Iraqi funds

    BAGHDAD — A U.S. audit has found that the Pentagon cannot account for over 95 percent of $9.1 billion in Iraq reconstruction money, spotlighting Iraqi complaints that there is little to show for the massive funds pumped into their cash-strapped, war-ravaged nation.

    The $8.7 billion in question was Iraqi money managed by the Pentagon, not part of the $53 billion that Congress has allocated for rebuilding. It's cash that Iraq, which relies on volatile oil revenues to fuel its spending, can ill afford to lose.

    "Iraq should take legal action to get back this huge amount of money," said Sabah al-Saedi, chairman of the Parliamentary Integrity Committee. The money "should be spent for rebuilding the country and providing services for this poor nation."

    The report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction accused the Defense Department of lax oversight and weak controls, though not fraud.

    "The breakdown in controls left the funds vulnerable to inappropriate uses and undetected loss," the audit said. The Pentagon has repeatedly come under fire for apparent mismanagement of the reconstruction effort — as have Iraqi officials themselves.

    Seven years after the U.S.-led invasion, electricity service is spotty, with generation capacity falling far short of demand. Fuel shortages are common and unemployment remains high, a testament to the country's inability to create new jobs or attract foreign investors.

    Complaints surfaced from the start of the war in 2003, when soldiers failed to secure banks, armories and other facilities against looters. Since then the allegations have only multiplied, including investigations of fraud, awarding of contracts without the required government bidding process and allowing contractors to charge exorbitant fees with little oversight, or oversight that came too late.
    But the latest report comes at a particularly critical time for Iraq. Four months after inconclusive elections, a new government has yet to be formed, raising fears that insurgents will tap into the political vacuum to stir sectarian unrest.

    In a sign that insurgents are still intent on igniting sectarian violence, at least six people were killed and dozens more wounded when a female suicide bomber blew herself up near a checkpoint in the holy city of Karbala, local police said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

    Thousands of Shiite pilgrims are converging on the city, 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Baghdad, for an important religious holiday marking the birth of a Shiite saint known as the "Hidden Imam" who disappeared in the ninth century. Such mass displays of devotion by Shiites have often been targeted by Sunni extremists.

    Iraqi lawmakers met Tuesday, but for the second time this month failed to convene a parliament session, leaving wide open the question of when the new government will take shape.
    Underscoring its financial challenges, the International Monetary Fund in March approved a $3.6 billion loan to help Iraq meet its obligations. Iraq is projected to run a deficit through 2011, according to analysts, with a possibility of a surplus following that hinging on oil prices.

    Iraq took a financial hit in 2008 as oil prices plummeted on the back of the global financial meltdown. While those prices have since rebounded, Iraq remains at the mercy of international oil markets, with revenues from petroleum sales accounting for over 90 percent of its government budget.

    The $9.1 billion in question came from the Development Fund for Iraq, which was set up by the U.N. Security Council in 2003. The DFI includes revenues from Iraq's oil and gas exports, as well as frozen Iraqi assets and surplus funds from the defunct, Saddam Hussein-era U.N. oil-for-food program.
    Iraq had given the U.S. authorization to tap into the fund, which is held in New York, for humanitarian and reconstruction efforts, withdrawing that approval in December 2007.

    With the establishment of the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq shortly after the start of the U.S. invasion in 2003 until mid-2004, about $20 billion was placed into the account. The $9.1 billion audited by the Iraq reconstruction inspector general were funds withdrawn from that account between 2004 and 2007.

    The report found that the Defense Department could not "readily account for its obligations, expenditures and remaining balances associated" with the DFI. At issue was $8.7 billion, or 95 percent of the withdrawn funds.

    Of this amount, the Pentagon could not account at all for $2.6 billion, according to the audit.
    Tracing the rest of the money is difficult because of a combination of lax financial controls and management, the failure to designate an organization to oversee the spending and the failure to set up and deposit the funds in special accounts, as required by the Treasury Department.

    The Defense Department, in responses attached to the audit, said it agreed with the report's recommendations to establish better guidelines for monitoring such funds, including appointing an oversight organization mostly likely by November.

    The failure to properly manage billions in reconstruction funds has also hobbled the troubled U.S.-led effort to rebuild Afghanistan. About $60 billion have poured into Afghanistan since 2001 in hopes of bringing electricity, clean water, jobs, roads and education to the crippled country.

    The U.S. alone has committed $51 billion to the project since 2001, and plans to raise the stakes to $71 billion over the next year — more than it has spent on reconstruction in Iraq since 2003.
    An Associated Press investigation showed that the results so far — or lack of them — threaten to do more harm than good. The number of Afghans with access to electricity has increased from 6 percent in 2001 to only about 10 percent now, far short of the goal of providing power to 65 percent of urban and 25 percent of rural households by the end of this year.

    As an example of the problems, a $100 million diesel-fueled power plant was built with the goal of delivering electricity to more than 500,000 residents of the capital, Kabul. The plant's costs tripled to $305 million as construction lagged a year behind schedule. The plant now often sits idle because the Afghans were able to import cheaper power from neighboring Uzbekistan before the plant came online.

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    Last edited: Aug 6, 2010
  10. nrj

    nrj Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    The Strategic Ramifications Of A US-Led Withdrawal from Afghanistan

    The Strategic Ramifications of a US-Led Withdrawal from Afghanistan

    The United States and the NATO allies are preparing to disengage and soon withdraw from Afghanistan and even the most vocal advocates of the “long-term commitment” do not anticipate more than five years of active US and NATO involvement.? All the local key players — in Kabul, Islamabad, and countless tribal and localized foci of power — are cognizant and are already maneuvering and posturing to deal with the new reality.

    Irrespective of the political solution and/or compromise which will emerge in Kabul, the US is leaving behind a huge powder keg of global and regional significance with a short fuse burning profusely: namely, the impact of Afghanistan’s growing, expanding and thriving heroin economy.

    The issue at hand is not just the significant impact which the easily available and relatively cheap heroin has on the addiction rates in Russia, Europe, Central Asia, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, and the consequent public health, social stability and mortality-rate issues.

    In global terms, the key threat is the impact that the vast sums of drug money has on the long-term regional stability of vast tracks of Eurasia: namely, the funding of a myriad of “causes” ranging from jihadist terrorism and subversion to violent and destabilizing secessionism and separatism.?

    Russia is most concerned with these developments because most of them occur on Russia’s own doorstep and soft underbelly.? Moreover, Russia has always been cognizant of the potential dangers emanating from chaos at the Heart of Asia and the Greater Black Sea Basin. As a result, the Kremlin embarked on a major initiative to secure long-term international commitment to resolving Afghanistan’s endemic narcotics problem, which means consolidating a stable form of governance and thus eliminating the consequences of the region-wide narco-funded terrorism and destabilization.

    On June 9-10, 2010, the Kremlin convened in Moscow an international forum entitled Afghan Drug Production: A Challenge to the International Community as the launch of the international drive to resolve Afghanistan’s long-term challenges where Russian Pres. Dmitry Medvedev delivered the opening speech.

    “We consider drug addiction the most serious threat to the development of our country and the health of our people,” he said. Medvedev urged the international community to curtail the global spread of drug crimes which fuel terrorism. This would be possible, Medvedev argued, if the international community did not politicize the fight against drugs, narco-criminality, and narco-terrorism.

    “The fight against the drug threat should be removed from any kind of politicization,” Medvedev stressed. He warned that any “political games” on such crucial issues are inadmissible for they “undermine our joint international efforts and weaken our anti-drugs coalition.”

    Viktor Ivanov, the Director of Russia’s Federal Service for the Control of Narcotics, articulated the Kremlin’s case why the Afghan drug production is an international rather than a local or regional threat. “The time has come to qualify the status of Afghan drug production as a threat to world peace and security,” Ivanov said.

    “This is a key postulate of the action plan that was proposed by Russia to the international community and voiced at NATO headquarters, the European Parliament and Beijing.” The Kremlin considers global drug trafficking to be far more destructive than terrorism alone because drug money is the primary facilitator of numerous threats including terrorism.

    The long-term resolution of the crisis in Afghanistan is a precondition, Ivanov explained, because “it was drug production that had given rise to rife political and economic instability in Afghanistan…It is Afghan drug traffic that fuels terrorists in the North Caucasus; we need to work together to fight it.” Ivanov stressed the Kremlin’s conviction that Afghan drug trafficking “is a global problem” because it “feeds transnational crime and terrorism all over the world” and thus merits international solution.

    Heroin production in Afghanistan has vastly expanded since the US-led forces entered in the Autumn of 2001.? Initially, poppy cultivation centered in the southern and, to a lesser extent, north-eastern provinces – all focus of US and NATO military activities.? Presently, poppy cultivation and drug-related activities have spread throughout most of Afghanistan. For example, a large number of heroin-processing labs — presently estimated at about 200 — were built as well.

    However, ISAF [the International Security Assistance Force, in Afghanistan] prefers to largely ignore the growing narcotics problems for fear of alienating the farmer population that might resent losing its livelihood.? However, the US main concern has always been alienating the Kabul-centric political ?lite, the very same ?lite which is, at the very core of, and key to, the US-led effort to establish a centralized government in Kabul and a functioning state in Afghanistan. With drug money fueling the political machine which is crucial to the US nation-building efforts, the US has no interest in undermining Afghanistan’s narco-economy.

    In the Moscow forum, US senior officials acknowledged the US reluctance to commit to the eradication of Afghanistan’s poppy cultivation and narco-economy.? Patrick Ward, the Acting Deputy Director for Supply Reduction at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, warned that intense anti-narcotics operations “will further undermine the rule of law and reinforce the nexus between drugs and terrorism”. He stated that US and ISAF forces must not find themselves in a position where they were perceived as the instrument of eradicating “the only source of income of people who live in the second poorest country of the world”.

    The US Ambassador to Russia, John Beyrle, reiterated that the US would not take Russia’s advice about eradicating Afghanistan’s opium harvests anytime soon for fear of engendering popular alienation. UNODC Director Antonio Maria Costa agreed that “there is no r?le for NATO forces in eradication at the farm level” because this will push the population into the arms of the Taliban. However, he urged the US and NATO to embark on a comprehensive program to solve Afghanistan’s drugs menace at the national-political level; alluding to the centrality of narco-funds in Afghanistan’s politics and power ?lite.?

    But the problem of Afghanistan’s drugs cannot be ignored by the West because the primary strategic long-term impact of Afghanistan’s drugs is the use of the drug money along the distribution routes from Afghanistan-Pakistan through the energy-rich Central Asia to the western Balkans, mainly Kosovo.

    The intimate relationships and close cooperation between the drug trade, international terrorism and separatism are not new phenomena.

    In the early-1990s, the Sunni jihadist leadership assumed leadership over a thriving joint action. Specific fatwas from Islamist luminaries authorize these highly irregular, seemingly un-Islamic activities because they also contribute to the destruction of Western society and civilization. The Sunni Islamist fatwas are based on and derived from earlier rulings of the higher Shiite courts issued in connection with operations of HizbAllah and Iranian intelligence. The logic of these activities was elucidated in the mid-1980s in the HizbAllah’s original fatwa on the distribution of drugs: “We are making these drugs for Satan: America and the Jews. If we cannot kill them with guns so we will kill them with drugs.”?

    The main reason, however, for the Sunni jihadist embracing of the drug-trade was practicality. In the early-1990s, the fledgling jihadist leadership concluded that an intricate system of funding activities in the West was needed. By then, Gulbaddin Hekmatyar was getting ready to ship drugs from Afghanistan to the West and was willing to divert profits from this drug trade to support the fledgling terrorist networks in return for the arrangement of a viable system of money laundering.

    An up-and-coming young activist — Osama bin Laden — used his knowledge of the Western financial system and his family’s connections with the European banking system in order to organize the new financial system for jihad. At that time, the net worth of the Islamist network was estimated at $600-million in the West alone.

    Another founding father of the narco-jihadist alliance was Shamil Basayev. Between April and June 1994, Basayev led a high-level Chechen delegation on a visit to an ISI-sponsored terrorist training infrastructure in both Pakistan and Afghanistan in order to arrange for advanced training and expert help, funding for the Chechen Jihad, and acquisition of weapons.

    In Afghanistan, the Chechens visited the ISI’s training facilities in the Khowst area, then run under the banner of Gulbaddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-i-Islami. In Pakistan, the Chechens had a series of high level meetings with the Pakistani leaders who for a period became the patrons of the Chechen Jihad, arranging for the establishment of a comprehensive training and arming program for the Chechens in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    As a primary source of funds for their jihad, the Chechens were offered a major r?le in the expanding push of heroin from Afghanistan-Pakistan into Europe. The Chechen jihad would be handsomely rewarded for facilitating forward distribution facilities at the gates of Europe. Toward this end, Basayev met with individuals identified as “former ISI senior officials”, who provided contacts for the drugs and weapons smuggling operations.

    Moreover, in early 1994, senior Pakistani officials were reported to have intervened with the Taliban leadership to ensure the uninterrupted flow of heroin from the Helmand valley via Qandahar and Jalalabad. Under the new arrangements, the heroin would now be shipped northwards to an airfield near Chitral, Pakistan, from where the drugs, as well as a growing number of Chechens and Arab-Afghan volunteers, were flown to Chechnya. As the volume of heroin increased, truck convoys were dispatched across Central Asia.

    By the late-1990s, as the sums of money available from the drug trade increased, bin Laden and the “Russian Mafiya” (in both Russia and several former-Soviet states) established a complex sophisticated money-laundering operation described by an insider as “an extended and octopus-like network that uses political names in Asia and Africa in return for commissions.” The funds were used to finance the Taliban movement and a host of jihadist terrorist operations worldwide. Bin Laden made a commission on these transactions and used this resource to fund his favorite jihadist networks and spectacular terrorism.

    By now, the annual income of the Taliban from the drug trade was estimated at $8-billion.? Bin Laden was administering and managing these funds — laundering them through his Mafiya connection — in return for a commission of between 10 and 15 percent, which provided an annual income of about a billion dollars for the jihad.

    All of this was rattled around the turn of the century. First, the Taliban leadership offered to stop the poppy growing as part of its desperate effort to gain legitimacy and support from the West. Although the Taliban eradicated virtually all poppy cultivation in southern Afghanistan, they permitted the jihadists to continue selling heroin from cached stockpiles.

    By the time US forces entered Afghanistan in the Autumn of 2001, there was virtually no poppy cultivation. However, the US and NATO demonstrated benign neglect of the country-wide poverty and chaos. Meanwhile, Islamist leaders realized that the best way to ensure grassroots presence and even support would be through the provision of easy cash to the impoverished population.

    The jihadist leadership used its supporter networks in the Persian Gulf States in order to clandestinely purchase virtually all the arable land in southern Afghanistan. Islamist emissaries now offered the population economic security in the form of loans and seeds for poppy cultivation on behalf of the mysterious landlords, and secure payment from buyers who would pick-up the harvest directly from the farmers, thus alleviating the dangers of traveling to the market. As well, tribal and local leaders were handsomely rewarded for their cooperation and endorsement of these arrangements.

    By the time Washington committed to the establishment of a centralized government in Kabul, the entire power-political system was dependent on narco-funding for its existence and system of patronage. The US realized that it would be impossible to sustain the semblance of pro-Western system of governance in Kabul and the countryside without looking the other way on the rapidly growing and increasingly addictive narco-funding of Afghanistan’s upper-most leadership.

    Indeed, the poppy cultivation area in Afghanistan rose from 8,000 hectares in 2001 to 74,000 in 2002, peaking at 193,000 in 2007 but going down to 123,000 hectares in 2009. Although the loss is mainly the result of blight attacking the crops rather than eradication by police, the Taliban are effectively capitalizing on the plight of the affected farmers by claiming the farmers were victims of ISAF poisonous spraying and offering financial help in return for the farmers’ support of the Taliban.?

    Presently, some 80 percent of the total amount of Afghanistan’s opium is grown in Kandahar, Helmand, and Uruzgan provinces, where the presence and activities of US and ISAF forces is most intense. There are strong indications that farmers throughout Afghanistan are already preparing for a record-breaking opium poppy planting season beginning in mid-September 2010 in hopes of a bumper crop next year.

    Slightly more than half the Afghan heroin is smuggled via the northern route: Central Asia, Russia and the GBSB (Greater Black Sea Basin). Secondary is the southern route which carries slightly over a third of the heroin via Iran, Turkey and the Middle East to the GBSB.

    Presently, the overall annual income from the Afghan heroin traveling along the northern route alone is more than $17-billion, out of which, the jihadist movement and its localized (separatist/secessionist) allies are making about $15-billion. There is no reliable estimate of the total income of the southern route, but the best guesstimates put it at more than $10-billion, most of which also goes to funding jihadist and secessionist causes (including the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban).

    The annual cost of doing business in Afghanistan is below $100-million. The organized-crime networks running the labs and patronage system have a gross income of a couple of billion dollars, a small portion of which is spent on the Kabul power structure. This disparity raises the question of the cost-effectiveness of tolerating the narco-funded leadership in Kabul.

    The narco-profits are thus the financial engine of key elements of the current government in Kabul and its regional cronies, as aptly demonstrated in the most recent Aftghan presidential elections. They will not permit their financial life-line to simply go away in the name of democracy or good governance.? And having committed to Pres. Hamid Karzai and his patronage system as the key to the future of a modern state in Afghanistan, the US Barack Obama Administration cannot afford to see the administration in Kabul collapsing, no matter who they are or what they do.

    Furthermore, the Afghan narcotics system is the key to the funding and sustenance of numerous regional and global dynamics which will not give up easily. The drug smuggling networks across Central Asia and into Russia and Europe are an integral part of a comprehensive narco-terrorist dynamics/system.? Drug-trade funds jihadist terrorism and subversion from Tajikistan to Chechnya to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

    Moreover, the various separatist and secessionist movements — that is, minorities feeling pressure of regional dynamics while having sense of alienation and victimization/victimhood — are easy prey to the lure of easily available large sums of money from the drugs and smuggling trade.?

    Most dangerous are the minuscule states and state-like entities. Since these states and entities are too small and under-developed to be able to sustain themselves economically and socially in a proper and legal way, their local leaderships tend to look the other way as narco-funded organized crime establishes footholds in their midst. The drug-trade and/or money laundering bring money in and thus financially sustain the mini-enclaves and the chimera of self-determination attained.

    Consequently, the various separatist and secessionist “causes” from Central Asia to the Caucasus (not just Chechnya and the rest of the North Caucasus) and to the Balkans have become safe-havens for the drug-trade.? These include, for example, the financial and money-laundering centers in Stepanakert and Tiraspol, as well as Kosovo being the primary forward distribution point of Afghan-origin drugs into Western Europe.

    And once they gained control over lucrative choke-points, these localized leaders, their cronies and their “causes”, will not give up without fierce fight irrespective of their declared ideologies. The on-going fierce struggle for the control over the Fergana Valley by an alliance of jihadists and drug smugglers is indicative of this trend.

    The latest round of fighting which started in early June 2010 already resulted in the death of more than 2,000 civilians and the dislocation of a few hundreds of thousands, mainly Uzbeks. The struggle for the Fergana Valley started in March 2005 when Kurmanbek Bakiyev, at the head of a coalition sponsored by organized crime, exploited the US-sponsored “Tulip Revolution” in order to seize power in Bishkek so that the southern coalition could ensure state patronage to their undertaking.

    The combination of subversion of Kyrgyzstan’s internal power dynamics and horrendous corruption could not be sustained for long. Indeed, it took five years for a coalition of traditional and radical power holders to overthrow Bakiyev. However, soon after Bakiyev was forced out of Bishkek in mid-April 2010, he and his allies started exacerbating the south in order to ensure their control over the Fergana Valley and the lucrative local drug-trade routes.

    Hence, the ensuing riots and Kyrgyz-Uzbek fighting were neither spontaneous nor unanticipated.

    The toppling of the Bakiyev administration — which was based on the support of the southern clans and their allies and partners among the organized crime and jihadist circles — heralded a struggle for power and control over the lucrative drug-smuggling routes via the Fergana Valley.

    Indeed, local jihadists rallied to the cause starting late April as a coalition of jihadists and pro-Bakiyev groups began distributing pamphlets and CDs throughout southern Kyrgyzstan urging the establishment of a separate South Kyrgyzstan Democratic Republic under the ousted Bakiyev.

    The incitement stressed the discrimination and disenfranchisement of the Kyrgyz southern clans by an alleged coalition of the Kyrgyz northern clans and the local Uzbek population.? It did not take long for hatred and violence to erupt, destroying Bishkek’s control over the area. The jihadists and drug runners already benefit from the de facto dismemberment of Kyrgyzstan for the separate entity in the south encompassing the Fergana Valley already significantly expedite their operations.?

    A similar trend is emerging in the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan.? For as long as the economic situation was tenuous and there was near complete dependence on the largess of the West delivered via Yerevan (the capital of Armenia), Stepanakert (the capital of the Nagorno-Karabakh region) was ready for a political compromise which was going even beyond the hard-line position of Yerevan in the Minsk Group’s negotiations with Baku.

    However, as the economic situation in Nagorno-Karabakh began improving mainly due to the trickle-down effect of transmitted and laundered narco-funds, the position of the Stepanakert authorities regarding the future of the enclave has hardened.?

    In mid-June 2010, Stepanakert objected to a renewed mediation effort by the Kremlin. Stepanakert is apprehensive that a negotiated solution could be reached as Pres. Medvedev convinced Azerbaijan Pres. Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Pres. Serzh Sarkisian to meet in Saint Petersburg for the first time in more than four months and without the pressure of the Minsk Group’s mediators. Consequently, the Kremlin reported that the two presidents narrowed their differences on some of the lingering thorny issues.

    In response, the Stepanakert Armenian leadership announced that the meeting between Aliyev and Sarkisian “will not help find a resolution” for the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict.? Moreover, Stepanakert renewed its demand for a full state status in a new tripartite format — of Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Azerbaijan — along with the Minsk Group mediators (Russia, France and the United States).?

    Concurrently, Stepanakert’s renewed political push is given a sense of urgency by exacerbating the security situation along the ceasefire line of contact.? Starting mid-June 2010, there has been a growing tension and escalation of fighting along the line of contact.? Karabakhi-Armenian troops intensified provocations and exchanges of fire with the Azerbaijani military facing them.

    The first major incident took place on June 16, 2010 when Karabakhi-Armenian troops ambushed an Azerbaijani patrol and an Azerbaijani soldier was killed in the fighting.? This and a few smaller incidents led to growing tension and intensified military activities along the entire cease-fire line.

    The number of clashes, ambushes, cross-border raids and brief exchanges of fire grew. On the night of June 18/19, 2010, Azerbaijani military noted preparations by Karabakhi-Armenian forces in north-eastern Nagorno-Karabakh where an Azerbaijani raiding party attacked the Karabakhi-Armenian positions, killing four soldiers and wounding four others before returning into Azerbaijani-controlled territory.? Baku confirmed that one Azerbaijani soldier was killed and his body remained in the Karabakhi-Armenian position. Sporadic clashes and exchanges of fire continued.

    Southern Kyrgyzstan and Nagorno-Karabakh are but the two most recent examples of the security manifestations of fringe and extremist policies made possible by narco-funding.

    There are countless cases of unwarranted separatist and secessionist causes where the legitimate quest of minorities for self-determination could have long been resolved in a form of distinct region or autonomy within the borders of recognized states.? However, the mere existence of virtually unlimited narco-funds — a byproduct of the Afghanistan-origin drug trade — enables the separatist and secessionist leaderships to sustain their respective struggles and extreme and unrealistic demands no matter how impractical they might be.

    And when the international community refuses to go along with these quests, there emerges the penchant for armed struggle and terrorism if only because weapons and narco-funds are aplenty.?

    Thus, just starving the poppy cultivation and heroin processing labs in Afghanistan will create a security backlash throughout the Heart of Asia and the Greater Black Sea Basin.? Hence, it is imperative to have a systemic approach to resolving not only the Afghan narco-challenges but also the entire regional security challenges aggravated and exacerbated by the mere availability of narco-funds and narco-terrorist groups.

    Lastly, there is the issue of state-sponsorship of both terrorism and narco-criminality. These cannot be ignored if tangible long-term eradication of drug problem is sought.? At the same time, there is no substitute to the eradication of poppy cultivation and heroin processing labs in Afghanistan. However, the mere physical destruction of crops or labs is only the beginning of a comprehensive process.

    Presently the Afghan narco-system has enough built-in redundancy and has enough money to replace interim losses without a tangible systemic loss. One-time or even periodic destruction of assets is therefore an exercise in futility.? Therefore, for any attempt to destroy Afghanistan’s narco-system to have prospects of success, the foreign forces involved must stay for a protracted period in order to ensure the long-term impact on the affected society.

    Moreover, a long-term military presence is first and foremost a question of ensuring the legitimacy of the central and local authorities, so that the people cooperate with them.? As well, there is no point in attempting long-term presence by force if the quality and legitimacy of the civilian governance cannot be ascertained.

    Simply put: reversing the criminalization of segments of society is an integral part of resolving the core-problems of that society.? In the case of Afghanistan this means the legitimacy of the Kabul Government, establishing viable regionally-based governance, and resolving the endemic tribes-vs-local authorities’ disputes.?

    Furthermore, the mere eradication of crops and destruction of labs will only create vacuum and domino effect which breed instability, additional terrorism, etc. Therefore, it is imperative to approach the Afghan drugs challenge in the context of a comprehensive political and security solution on a regional level. The Afghan narco-system is an integral part of a larger problem; and so is the solution. Similarly, no political and security solution is possible throughout the Heart of Asia and the Greater Black Sea Basin for as long as the narco-economy keeps funding the opposition and encouraging violence.

    The entire narco-terrorist system constitutes a viable threat to the vital interests of Russia. It is a huge time-bomb at Russia’s soft underbelly, therefore, the Kremlin considers the flow of drugs from Afghanistan to be an issue of vital importance – from the undermining of Russian society to destabilizing regional security.

    Although Afghanistan is the primary source of illegal drugs in Europe, the Europeans are reluctant to confront the issue of recreational drug use effectively and this attitude diminishes Europe’s willingness to address the real challenges.

    The narco-terrorism of Eurasia has a minuscule impact on the US and is thus not a priority for Washington, particularly at a time the Obama Administration is yearning to disengage from Afghanistan virtually at all cost.? Hence, it is up to Russia — whose vital interests are at stake — to lead the struggle against the rising tide of narco-terrorism at the Heart of Asia and the Greater Black Sea Basin.?

    Virtually all experts in the Moscow forum agreed that the current situation in Afghanistan-Pakistan-Central Asia was not only untenable, but was rapidly deteriorating.? The US/ISAF efforts are considered better than nothing, but the near-unanimous expert opinion is that the security effort barely scratches the surface while the most endemic problems are deep-rooted.

    The Kremlin wants NATO to stay in Afghanistan but the US is leading NATO into abandoning Afghanistan.? Therefore, the Kremlin plans on convincing the Europeans — specific capitals and the EU — that the collapse of Afghanistan and the rise of drugs and narco-terrorism are detrimental to Europe’s vital interests. The Kremlin hopes to get the EU/Europe to pressure the US to sustain NATO’s efforts in Afghanistan because Russia is eager for ISAF to remain as a viable force for the duration.

    Overall, the highest authorities in the Kremlin — led by Medvedev who delivered a very strong opening statement at the international Afghan Drug Production: a Challenge to the International Community forum — are committed to the Afghan drug-eradication policy in its comprehensive scope/connotation. The Kremlin is petrified by the spread of drugs and narco-funded terrorism, insurgency, violence and instability from Afghanistan via Central Asia into the heart of Russia.

    The Kremlin is embarking on an international campaign — first focusing on the EU and NATO — to formulate a joint long-term program to eradicate the Afghan narco-system and byproducts. This is a comprehensive plan which recognizes the imperative to first resolve Afghanistan’s security and governance problems, but also address the issue of drug-funded separatism, secessionism, and narco-terrorism at the Heart of Asia and the Greater Black Sea Basin as a major policy issue.

    What remains to be seen, though, is the extent of cooperation Russia was likely to get from Europe and particularly the United States.

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  11. nrj

    nrj Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Tariq Aziz: Obama is 'leaving Iraq to the wolves'

    LONDON – The man who once served as Saddam Hussein's leading lieutenant has appealed to the United States to extend its presence in Iraq, saying that President Barack Obama is abandoning the country, according to a British newspaper interview published Friday.

    Tariq Aziz, whose long tenure as Saddam's foreign minister made him the international face of the Iraqi dictator's regime, was quoted by The Guardian newspaper as saying his hopes about Obama had been dashed.

    "I thought he was going to correct some of the mistakes of Bush," the paper quoted Aziz as saying from his jail cell in north Baghdad. "But Obama is a hypocrite. He cannot leave us like this. He is leaving Iraq to the wolves."

    However, Aziz's Jordan-based Iraqi lawyer, Badee Aref, challenged the accuracy of The Guardian's report. He confirmed that Aziz gave the interview, but insisted that the 74-year-old was misquoted.
    "I know how Mr. Aziz speaks and I know that he's not very aware or informed of what goes on in the world outside the jailhouse where he is," Aref told The Associated Press. "So, how could he say what he said about the U.S. troop withdrawal and about President Obama? He was definitely misquoted."
    The Guardian said that its reporter, Martin Chulov, was traveling and wouldn't be available for comment. But the paper did release a statement saying it stood behind the story.

    "We wholeheartedly reject any suggestion that Mr. Aziz has been misquoted," the statement said.
    In its story, The Guardian said that Aziz had been keeping up with events in Iraq via television. It wasn't immediately clear if the paper had made a recording of the interview.

    According to the Guardian, Aziz refused to condemn his former boss, who was executed in December 2006. "If I speak now about regrets, people will view me as an opportunist," he said, according to the paper.

    Aziz has already been sentenced to 15 years in prison for crimes against humanity, and is accused of being part of a campaign targeting members of Iraq's Dawa Party, of which Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is a member. Aziz, who has suffered several strokes, appeared frail at a court appearance last month. The Guardian's piece offered no assessment of Aziz's condition, but said that his prison was "clean and well-managed."

    The paper said Aziz offered a robust defense of his time as Saddam's deputy — and insight into the origins of the 2003 Iraq War.

    Saddam preferred to keep the world guessing about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, Aziz was quoted as saying. But he explained that it was more about maintaining Iraq's regional standing than pushing the country into conflict with the U.S. and Britain.

    "Partially it was about Iran," Aziz was quoted as saying. "They had waged war on us for eight years, so we Iraqis had a right to deter them. Saddam was a proud man. He had to defend the dignity of Iraq. He had to show that he was neither wrong nor weak.

    "Now Iran is building a weapons program. Everybody knows it and nobody is doing anything. Why?"

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