Coastal Post Online


March 2002

Oil And The Taliban

By Edward W. Miller

When you're wounded and left, on Afghanistan's plains,

And the women come out, to cut up your remains,

Just roll on your rifle, and blow out your brains,

And go to your Gawd, like a soldier.

-Rudyard Kipling

Afghanistan, a mountainous country which lies across ancient trade routes between the west and both India and China, has been conquered only once in its history, and then by Alexander the Great. The soviets failed, as did the British before them. The British in 1842 lost a regiment of some 16,000 men, ambushed on the road south of Kabul. Only the regimental physician, on a fast horse, survived.

America has had a long and often hidden relationship with this country. British author John Pilger ( notes President Carter's National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, in his recent book "Total War," reveals that on July 3, 1979, unbeknownst to both Congress and the American people, President Jimmy Carter secretly authorized $500 million to create an international terrorist movement that would spread Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and "destabilize" the Soviet Union. The CIA's "Operation Cyclone," over the following years spent $4 billion "setting up Islamic training schools in Pakistan... zealots were sent to the CIA's spy training camp in Virginia where future members of the Al Qaeda were taught "sabotage skills." Others were recruited at an Islamic school in Brooklyn, New York. In Pakistan, recruits were directed by British MI6 officers and trained by the SAS.

Writing in the Sunday Times (UK), September 23, 2001, Tom Carew, an SAS soldier who helped train Afghanistan's fighters, said he was warned, "the Afghans are barbaric, they'll chop you up," but Carew found them to be "very pleasant... I respected their bravery, they respected the way I instructed them." Carew found the Afghans accommodated to the high altitudes in the Hindu Kush, noting: "As fighting terrain, Afghanistan is a nightmare. It's a natural fortress. You can't get far with vehicles... the passes are too steep so the Russians had an awful time... the Afghans have it all organized, moving from one village to the next where they have stocks of food."

Steve Coll (Washington Post, July 19, 1992) reported that: "A specially equipped C-141 Starlifter transport carrying William Casey touched down at a military base south of Islamabad in October 1984 for a secret visit by the CIA director to plan strategy for the war against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan... Casey's visit was a prelude to a secret Reagan Administration decision in March 1985... to sharply escalate US covert action in Afghanistan." Steve Coll notes, "Eight years after Casey's visit to Afghanistan, the Soviet Union is no more... The Afghans themselves did the fighting and dying."

Writer Raza Khan ( January 9, 2001, noted that after the Russians left in 1985, civil strife and anarchy overtook the Afghan people with rampant kidnappings, rape, extortion, and robberies by armed bands of thugs. Forty three brothels thrived in Kabul alone.

After ten years of this, Khan said, "Mullahs, trained in the universities and mosques of Afghanistan and Pakistan... proclaimed 'enough is enough'. Calling themselves Taliban, they routed out virtually every criminal gang." The Taliban implemented strict Islamic law, shut down brothels, theaters, cinemas, banned satellite dishes and TV stations, requiring men to wear beards and women, the burqa. Khan says the West "launched a fierce media campaign to discredit the Taliban, branded Afghanistan a 'Terrorist State' and in 1999 UN sanctions were imposed over harboring alleged "terrorist" Osama Bin Laden."

Sayyid Rahmatullah Hashemi, roving ambassador from Afghanistan, in a lecture at USC in Los Angeles on March 12, 2001, said the problems with Afghanistan started when the Russians, with 140,000 troops, attacked Afghanistan in December 1979, "stayed for a decade, killed one and a half million people, maimed one million more, and six out of the eighteen million migrated because of Russian brutalities... During the Russian occupation, Hashemi reported the American, British, French and Chinese governments supported the counter-revolutionary Mujahadeen. Parties in Pakistan and Iran also fought the occupation. After the Russians left, these parties, with different ideologies and a lot of weapons, fought one another in Afghanistan. "The destruction they brought was worse than the destruction the Russians brought. 63,000 people were killed in the capital Kabul. Another million migrated because of this lawlessness."

"Seeing this destruction and lawlessness," Hashemi added, "a group of students called the Taliban... (Taliban means student) ...started a movement called the Movement of Students in Kandahar after a warlord abducted two minor girls and violated them." Their teacher, with only 53 students and 16 guns, freed the two girls, hanged the warlord and some of his people. BBC quoted the story... which lead to many students joining the Movement and disarming other warlords. At the time the Ambassador gave this lecture, he said the Taliban controlled 95 percent of the country. "Only a bunch of these warlords are remaining in the northern corridor... The Taliban unified the country, established a single administration, disarmed some militant factions, and eradicated opium cultivation."

"In 1998, they (the US) sent cruise missiles into Afghanistan... to kill Osama bin Laden... 75 cruise missiles... missed and killed 19 students and they never apologized." The Ambassador said his country had offered to punish Osama bin Laden if the US gave proof of his embassy bombings. The US refused. They offered to try Osama in their courts. The US refused. Next offered, Hashemi said, was an international monitoring group in Afghanistan to watch bin Laden, also refused. When the US refused bin Laden's trial in another country, the Ambassador decided the US was "looking for a boogey man," quoting Gorbachev who said as he broke up the Soviet Union that "he was going to do the worst thing to the United States... to remove their enemy." Hashemi said Osama bin Laden had been in Afghanistan 17 years before the Taliban existed, fighting the Soviets. "The Mujahadeen were then called "freedom fighters" by Ronald Reagan and Dick Cheney, and when the Soviet Union fragmented and such people were not needed anymore, they were transformed into terrorists."

Both bin Laden and the Taliban attracted young students from Pakistan and Afghan madrassas, many exposed to Wahabism, a strict Muslim cult popular with the Saudis which writer Barbara Ehrenreich (The Progressive, Jan. 2002) compares with the early anti-Catholic Protestants who smashed icons and prohibited carnivals while purging saints, festivities and music. "A stripped-down version of Islam." Osama's older followers were ex-CIA mujahadeen embittered by the US exploitation of their lives and country, and the US killing of fellow Muslims in Iraq, Palestine and Somolia. The younger Al Qaeda who came from across the Muslim world, plus some Christians, a modern "Abraham Lincoln Brigade," were devoted to resisting the military and economic colonialism of the United States. The Al Qaeda were quietly accommodated by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Many Pakistanis supported the Taliban. The mixed bag of prisoners held in Quantanamo Bay today represent at least 26 different countries.

Just weeks before September 11, Washington was still sending money to the Taliban Government. French authors Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie in their book "Bin Laden, The Forbidden Truth," claim the US objective in Afghanistan has been to access Central Asian oil reserves using the Taliban to help construct a pipeline from Central Asia south via Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Arabian Sea. Confronted by the Taliban's refusal to accept US conditions, the French authors noted, "The rationality of energy security changed into a military one... at one moment during the negotiations, the US representative told the Taliban "either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we will bury you under a carpet of bombs." Leila Helms, niece of former CIA Director Richard Helms, was Taliban's PR representative in Washington, where negotiations were taking place in August, just before the September 11 bombing.

The Irish Press reported February 9 ( that Pakistani President Gen. Musharraf and Afghan interim leader Hamid Karzai "agreed yesterday that their two countries should develop... a proposed gas pipeline from Central Asia to Pakistan via Afghanistan.

The Daily Star, an Arab business paper in London ( February 16, says, "A dysfunctional country cannot be put in order by bombing it from the air, writing out some prescriptions for its economic development, and adding its name to a list of applicants for World Bank financial support or loans... We are still a long way from being able to pronounce the Afghan experience a success..."



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