Thursday, March 1

Mystery of the Burned Bagram Korans, Part 2: The riots

Hekmatyar is responsible for deliberately slaughtering roughly 50,000 Kabuli civilians during his bombardments of the city during the extermination campaign westerners still quaintly refer to as the “Afghan civil war,” that hellish ISI-wrought, Khomeinist-contested and Saudi-funded interregnum between the Red Army’s massacres and the Taliban despotism.

Terry Glavin tries to see behind the dust kicked up by the Koran burning riots in Afghanistan, and with help from Amrullah Saleh spies a pattern that first manifested clearly in the deadly Mazar-i-Sharif riots last year:

An Equal Opportunity Butcher Returns to Afghanistan
by Terry Glavin
The National Post [Canada]
February 27, 2012

In a column in the Ottawa Citizen I examined the shadowy and overlooked forces at work behind the latest bloodcurdling eruptions of what we’re all expected to believe are the offended religious sensibilities of those inscrutable Afghans. I relied mainly on some key observations the legendary Afghan spy chief Amrullah Saleh shared with me during a telephone conversation in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The script that’s playing out in the latest riots in Afghanistan is an almost play-by-play reenactment of last April’s berserking, which everyone was also expected to apprehend as eruptions of religious outrage, but which was also no such thing. For an elaboration of what was really going on last April, you can look it up in an essay I wrote for Dissent while the ashes in Mazar were still smouldering.

In my column, there is mention of the psychopathic mass-murderer Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Pakistan’s notorious Inter-Services Intelligence agency also gets honourable mention, and I am not hesitant to reiterate here that no adequate remedy for the ISI may exist except to get rid of everyone above the rank of major.

To appreciate what follows, you’ll want to know straight away that Hekmatyar heads up the original faction of Hezb-e-Islami, an offshoot of which is well represented in Afghanistan’s Wolesi Jirga, and even in Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s cabinet, in the person of Economy Minister Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal.

You will also need to know that the ISI has declared that it is most pleased that the United States is setting up Mullah Omar’s Taliban in a fancy district of Qatar to begin the final forced “reconciliation” of the Afghan people with the genocidal Taliban high command. The ISI is seeing to it that Omar’s Haqqani wing will have Qatari office space of their own so that they won’t feel left out of the bargain.

And here’s Hekmatyar’s mouthpiece, immediately prior to the Koran riots: “If any groups are ignored in the peace talks, it would change to resistance force against the government and could be a major threat to Afghanistan,” Mr Baheer said. “Destabilizing Afghanistan is not a difficult task, it’s too easy.”

In other words, nice filthy little disgrace of a capitulation you’ve got going here, it would be a shame if anything happened to it, we want our piece. And with the right people in the right places, “destabilizing Afghanistan” is a very easy thing to do indeed.

I now introduce Afghan analyst Abdul Ali Faiq, who these days works in London with the European Campaign for Human Rights in Afghanistan. Abdul has closely tracked the trajectory of this past week’s protests and their locales, and he’s also closely monitored the local buzz and the factional polemics in Dari/Farsi and Pashto media. His findings stand in sharp contradiction to the story that most westerners are hearing about what’s going on. But they are perfectly consistent with Amrullah Saleh’s assessment.

The whole thing’s got Hekmatyar’s signatures all over it.

“What happened at Baghram, this is not a concern for the 29 million people of Afghanistan,” Faiq told me. Some soldiers mistakenly burned a Koran, it was a sad and regrettable mistake, even President Barack Obama is falling all over himself issuing groveling apologies. Most Afghans have their minds on other things. “They say, why should we care?”

One of Faiq’s key findings is that even in the Tajik and Hazara areas of the north – Kabul, Parwan, and so on – and in the Persian west – Herat, for instance – the specific locales of the violence and the slogans being shouted are associated with ethnic pockets of Pashtuns, but more importantly, with centres of Hezb-e-Islami.

“It’s a manipulation of the masses,” Faiq says. “It is Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e-Islami. This is a milking cow for them. They have made this drama. They made this scenario.”

Many Afghans are legitimately aggrieved by the sacrilegious aspect of the Bagram incident. But what most Afghans are more likely to notice is that it’s almost poetically emblematic of what a growing number of people across the country’s political, ethnic and religious divides now cannot help but conclude: the Obama administration holds them and their sorry little country in utter contempt, and he never did mean it when he said he was going to be the president who would take Afghanistan seriously for once.

The American surrender crept up so subtly, and was couched in such syrupy lies — of course all wars end in negotiations, of course all negotiations must be Afghan-led — that it was accomplished before most Afghans had even an inkling that they were being sold out.

You think it’s hard to figure out who’s who around the presidential palace in Kabul? Most North Americans and Europeans couldn’t tell you the first thing about who’s who around the Obama White House these days. Cut the Afghans some slack here. It’s taken them a while, but they’ve finally figured out that as far as the whole “Af-Pak” thing goes, it’s all Joe Biden, all the time, and he’s the dumbest American vice-president to come along since Dan Quayle.

My friend Sanjar Sohail, editor of the liberal Kabul daily Hasht-e Sohb, put it this way: “This is good for the Khomeinists, the ISI, and for Hezb-e Islami. If there was no Koran burning at the Bagram base, it would have been something else, and of course Hezb-e-Islami is benefiting from it.”

No serious person in Afghanistan has any doubt that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, if not living in a mansion in Rawalpindi within a short limousine ride from ISI HQ, is living in swank digs known to the ISI, somewhere, instead of spending his days at the International Criminal Court at the Hague on charges of crimes against humanity, which is where he belongs.

It should tell you something that the reason the ISI generals invented the Taliban in the first place was that they thought Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and his Hezb-e-Islami were a bit too harsh. Hekmatyar had been the ISI’s most lavishly-funded war-criminal proxy all through the 1980s. The ISI wanted something a little less bloodthirsty, so in around 1994 they replaced him and Hezb with Mullah Omar and his Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Hekmatyar’s been ostensibly freelance ever since.

Hekmatyar is responsible for deliberately slaughtering roughly 50,000 Kabuli civilians during his bombardments of the city during the extermination campaign westerners still quaintly refer to as the “Afghan civil war,” that hellish ISI-wrought, Khomeinist-contested and Saudi-funded interregnum between the Red Army’s massacres and the Taliban despotism.

A Pashtun supremacist turned Stalinist, then drug-trafficker and drooling Islamist fanatic, Hekmatyar ran his Hezb faction in Leninist style, a habit he picked up from his days as a student at Kabul University, where he’d been jailed for two years for his part the murder of a Maoist rival. Hekmatyar is an equal-opportunity butcher. He was the gangster the ISI spent most of its American money on during the anti-Soviet jihad (although they say he never won a battle against the Soviets and that all his victims were Afghans) and was also the Saudis’ anointed proxy for a while, and has also been a frequent guest of Khomeinist Iran.

Hekmatyar rushed to Osama bin Laden’s aid after September 11. He brags about having helped Al Qaida forces escape through the Tora Bora mountains into Pakistan, and he brought Al Qaida fugitives back with him to Iran, where he wore out his welcome after a year or so. Dozens of the more deadly attacks carelessly attributed to the Taliban in recent years were Hekmatyar jobs. His Hezb gangsters have even carried off some spectacular whacks of Talib columns, just to prove they can do it. It was a Hekmatyar rocket that came close to killing Karzai at a military parade in Kabul in 2008.

We are supposed to believe the ISI doesn’t know his whereabouts, and we are supposed to believe the Americans will scruple about cutting Hekmatyar in on Obama’s new reconciliation and power-sharing action in Qatar. Believe what you like, but believe this: the vampire’s back in town.

Terry Glavin is a journalist and cofounder of the Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee.

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