THE WISDOM FUND
May 9, 2009
Balochistan Is the Ultimate Prize
by Pepe Escobar
Balochistan . . . An immense desert comprising almost 48% of Pakistan's area, rich in uranium and copper, potentially very rich in oil, and producing more than one-third of Pakistan's natural gas, it accounts for less than 4% of Pakistan's 173 million citizens. Balochs are the majority, followed by Pashtuns. Quetta, the provincial capital, is considered Taliban Central by the Pentagon, which for all its high-tech wizardry mysteriously has not been able to locate Quetta resident "The Shadow", historic Taliban emir Mullah Omar himself.
Strategically, Balochistan is mouth-watering: east of Iran, south of Afghanistan, and boasting three Arabian sea ports, including Gwadar, practically at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz.
Gwadar - a port built by China - is the absolute key. It is the essential node in the crucial, ongoing, and still virtual Pipelineistan war between IPI and TAPI. IPI is the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, also known as the "peace pipeline", which is planned to cross from Iranian to Pakistani Balochistan - an anathema to Washington. TAPI is the perennially troubled, US-backed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline, which is planned to cross western Afghanistan via Herat and branch out to Kandahar and Gwadar.
Washington's dream scenario is Gwadar as the new Dubai - while China would need Gwadar as a port and also as a base for pumping gas via a long pipeline to China. One way or another, it will all depend on local grievances being taken very seriously. Islamabad pays a pittance in royalties for the Balochis, and development aid is negligible; Balochistan is treated as a backwater. Gwadar as the new Dubai would not necessarily mean local Balochis benefiting from the boom; in many cases they could even be stripped of their local land.
To top it all, there's the New Great Game in Eurasia fact that Pakistan is a key pivot to both NATO and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), of which Pakistan is an observer. So whoever "wins" Balochistan incorporates Pakistan as a key transit corridor to either Iranian gas from the monster South Pars field or a great deal of the Caspian wealth of "gas republic" Turkmenistan. . . .
May 8, 2009
Future of Freedom Foundation
U.S. Foreign Policy Caused the Taliban Problem
by Jacob G. Hornberger
U.S. officials are now concerned not only with a Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan but also a Taliban takeover in Pakistan. These problems, however, were caused by the U.S. Empire itself.
While most Americans now view President Bushs Iraq War as a bad war, the common perception is that Bushs invasion of Afghanistan was a good war (despite the fact that he went to war without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war). The notion is that the U.S. government was justified in invading Afghanistan and ousting the Taliban regime from power because the Taliban and al-Qaeda conspired to commit the 9/11 attacks.
Theres just one big problem with that belief: its unfounded.
The reason that Bush ousted the Taliban from office was that the Taliban regime refused to comply with his unconditional demand to deliver Osama bin Laden to U.S. officials after the 9/11 attacks.
The Taliban responded to Bushs demand by asking him to furnish evidence of bin Ladens complicity in the 9/11 attacks. Upon receipt of such evidence, they offered to turn him over to an independent tribunal instead of the United States.
Bush never explained why the Talibans conditions were unreasonable. After all, as federal judges in the Jose Padilla case, the Zacarias Moussaoui case, and many others have confirmed, terrorism is a federal criminal offense. Thus, while its not unusual for one nation to seek the extradition of a foreigner to stand trial for a criminal offense, its just as reasonable for the nation receiving the request to be provided evidence that the person has, in fact, committed the crime.
Venezuela is currently seeking the extradition from the United States of a man named Luis Posada Carriles, who is accused of bombing a Cuban airliner over Venezuelan skies, a terrorist act that succeeded in killing everyone on board. . . .
Once the Taliban regime refused to comply with Bushs unconditional order to turn over bin Laden, the U.S. Empire did what it had done and tried to do in so many other countries Iran, Guatemala, Chile, Cuba, Indonesia, Iraq, and others bring about regime change by ousting a recalcitrant regime that refused to comply with the unconditional orders of the U.S. Empire a regime that the U.S. Empire itself had helped to create and replacing it with a submissive pro-empire regime. In the process, the empire succeeded in embroiling the United State into one more foreign conflict, one that has now spread to nuclear-armed Pakistan.