Pepe Escobar – Brazil

Linked with The Real News Network.

An extreme traveler, Pepe’s nose for news has taken him toall parts of the  globe. He was in Afghanistan and interviewed the military leader of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, Ahmad Shah Masoud, a couple of weeks before his assassination (Masoud: From warrior to statesman, Sep 11, 2001). Two weeks before September 11, 2001, while Pepe was in the tribal areas of Pakistan, ATol published his prophetic piece, Get Osama! Now! Or else … (Aug 30, 2001). Pepe was one of the first journalists to reach Kabul after the Taliban’s retreat, and more recently he has explored and reported from Iraq, Iran, Central Asia, US and China … Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). (on Asia Times Online).

He says: … The Petraeus-Gates strategy now under Obama is to shower US dollar bills on any Taliban commander that wants to make a deal with NATO. Zardari’s doing the same thing Petraeus-Gates want to do, but much, much faster. “Taliban” is a very elastic term. It applies to all these people: number one, the historic Taliban led by Mullah Omar, now based in Quetta in Balochistan—Pakistan territory; number two, the Hezb-e-Islami Islamic party of former Afghan prime minister and super-warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar; number three, the group of famous jihad commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, based in Waziristan—Pakistan tribal areas. Then there are at least three Pakistani Taliban groups: Mehsud, Gul Bahadur, and TNSM. And, finally, any group of Pashtun peasants who hate foreign occupation—that’s about everybody in the Pashtun tribal areas—who had their family killed by the Americans or by the Pakistani government troops or lost their poppy crops, which means their livelihood. All these on the Afghan side, there are no more than 15,000 people, according to the Afghan minister of interior, but they’re active in 17 Afghan provinces. Now, compared to the more than 60,000 US and NATO troops, not to mention the 17,000 in Obama’s surge, how to solve this riddle? For the key to the riddle, watch Part 2 of this report … (full long interview text, March 5, 2009).

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Pepe Escobar – Brazil

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… In a multi-segment story on the situation in Afghanistan, before the start of the upcoming surge in troops, Pepe Escobar offers his sharp commentary, calling the situation a riddle to be solved. In Part One, Escobar explains that many Afghans are fed up with the violence and would like to see more scholars and engineers, not troops because for many Afghans more foreign troops equate more violence. According to Escobar, the neo-liberal realists in the Obama administration are fed up with Afghan President Karzai–who is sarcastically referred to by many as the mayor of Kabul–and have already begun their search for a new puppet. Escobar brings to the fore the intricacies of the situation within the Taliban and their shifting corrupt alliances as they continue to forge new deals with Pakistan’s widely despised President, Asif Zardari, the widower of the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. While Zardari continues to allow U.S. drones to kill Pakistani pashtuns, he continues to forge new alliances, so far three of them, with different Taliban factions … (full text, March 6, 2009).

Find him and his publications on WordPress.com; on amazon; on Asia Times online; on Google Video-search; on Google Group-search; on inauthor Google-search; on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search; on Google Blog-search.

Surging Towards Disaster in the “Afpak Theatre”, by Tom Burghardt: On February 18, President Barack Obama ordered 17,000 additional U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan. Obama’s announcement will result in a major escalation of America’s bloody occupation of that war-ravaged country … // … As investigative journalist Pepe Escobar points out, “the price” that the United States and NATO will pay to have their supplies arrive from Russia is being made painfully clear to Washington: “no more encirclement, no more NATO extension, no more anti-missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland for protection against non-existent Iranian missiles. All this has to be negotiated in detail”  … (full long text, 22 February 2009).

He writes:

  • … In a secret Obama letter, hand-delivered to Medvedev three weeks ago, as the New York Times revealed and the administration confirmed, the US “non-proposal proposal” essentially broke down to this: if you help us get rid of non-existent Iranian nuclear weapons, we’ll get rid of our missile shield which we don’t know if it’s any good anyway … // … Obama and Medvedev will finally meet in person for the first time on April 2, in London, on the sidelines of what will certainly be a tumultuous Group of 20 meeting discussing the global financial crisis. Russian media have reported that Medvedev has invited Obama to visit Moscow. The date may be announced in London. Obama will have plenty of time to brush up on his Godfather flicks. He’d better leave the gun in Washington and take the cannoli to Moscow. (full text, March 5, 2009).
  • … In the United States, the myth rules that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) delivered the Soviets “their Vietnam”; thus this was basically a US victory, with the “freedom fighters” (copyright president Ronald Reagan) as supporting actors. It was never that simple. The Pakistani military-intelligence establishment believes since the late 1970s, that a puppet Afghanistan was essential for its “strategic depth”. It was never that simple. It’s also useful to remember today that little has changed regarding the Afghan tragedy in these past three decades. And that makes the upcoming US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) surge in Afghanistan a certified road to ruin … // … Everyone’s talking about US fighter jets and CIA Predator drones raising hell out of three secret Pakistani air bases – with Islamabad’s complicit silence. But nobody talks about the “humint”, or human intelligence, component of the US’s covert war in Afghanistan, conducted by what the New York Times defines, with spectacular hypocrisy, as “military units operating outside the normal chain of command”. US special forces are part of this deadly mix. A recent UN report identifies these US commandos as the key culprits as far as the killing of Afghan civilians is concerned. Washington happens to identify similar outfits – if they operate under a different banner, or religion – as “terrorists”. In the case of this new American breed, it’s fair to expect the Pentagon and the Washington establishment to sooner or later start calling them – in a sinister echo of recent Afghan past – “freedom fighters”. (full text, Feb 27, 2009).
  • It’s September 2009. Barack Obama is the United States president. Mohammad “dialogue of civilizations” Khatami is the Iranian president. Khatami flies to New York for the United Nations General Assembly. He bumps into Obama in the corridors of the UN. With fists unclenched, they exchange pleasantries – and retire to a room for some real “face-to-face”. The 30-year – some would say 56-year – wall of mistrust between the US and Iran finally comes tumbling down. If current Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad remains a mirror image of the departed George W Bush, Khatami could not be a more fitting mirror image of Obama. Within the complex parameters of the Iranian system, he is a reformist able to reach out to conservatives and wildly popular among women, the young and progressives of all stripes. He’s running for president in the June elections – and he’s got what it takes to give Ahmadinejad a run for his rials … (full text, Feb 12, 2009).
  • … Former US secretary of state Cordell Hull’s classic comment about Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo – “He’s a son-of-a-bitch, but he’s our son-of-a-bitch” – has been the norm for decades. From the Somozas in Nicaragua to Saddam Hussein in Iraq, from Indonesia’s Suharto to the shah of Iran, US foreign policy over the past decades has enshrined a hefty SOB gallery. This gallery symbolizes the official Washington policy of US neo-colonialism – always indirect and non-ostensive, contrary to historical examples of European colonialism … // … If Obama really wants to make the effort to understand Iran he could do no worse than read the great Iranian philosopher Daryush Shayegan, a former professor at the University of Tehran. When Khomeini died, Shayegan identified him and the shah as the two juxtaposed Irans: imperial Iran and the painful Iran of the blood of the martyr, “a juxtaposition that symbolizes an unreal dream: as the 12th century mystical poet Ruzbehan from Shiraz would say, this ‘dementia of the inaccessible’.”  The good news is that from Obama’s point of view, the “inaccessible” can become more than accessible with just a simple “we’re sorry”. (full text, Feb 11, 2009).
  • … Muqtada is in a difficult position. He has to confront the problem that strategically Tehran subscribes to not attacking US troops as the best way for the Americans to eventually leave. And Muqtada at the moment is studying in Qom, the spiritual capital of Iran – he could hardly afford to antagonize his hosts. To top it all, the Sadrist movement had been adopting a Hezbollah approach and reconverting from militia activities to being firmly embedded in the Iraqi political landscape. Maliki has made his move. Now it’s time for Muqtada’s. (full text, Nov 18, 2008).
  • The ultimate nightmare for White House/Pentagon designs on Middle East energy resources is not Iran after all: it’s a unified Iraqi resistance, comprising not only Sunnis but also Shi’ites. “It’s the resistance, stupid” – along with “it’s the oil, stupid”. The intimate connection means there’s no way for Washington to control Iraq’s oil without protecting it with a string of sprawling military “super-bases” … (full text, Oct 17, 2007).
  • PESHAWAR, Pakistan – American commandos likely to descend on Pakistan’s tribal areas may not be too keen on acquiring the supreme fashion accessory of 2001 in the region, the Osama bin Laden T-shirt, boasting such inscriptions as “World Hero” and “The Great Mujahid of Jihad”. They’re selling briskly in Peshawar’s Saddar bazaar for less than US$2 a pop … PESHAWAR, Pakistan – American commandos likely to descend on Pakistan’s tribal areas may not be too keen on acquiring the supreme fashion accessory of 2001 in the region, the Osama bin Laden T-shirt, boasting such inscriptions as “World Hero” and “The Great Mujahid of Jihad”. They’re selling briskly in Peshawar’s Saddar bazaar for less than US$2 a pop … (full text, August 30, 2001).

links:

Full Version: Kosovo “independence”;

AfPak backstage: Bombing the ephemeral Hindu Kush “Ho Chi Minh trail” nurtures the Khemer Rouge of the Khyber–the Taliban, by Moin Ansari, March 3, 2009;

Afghanistan on wikipedia;

Google News-results for Afghanistan;

Google Blog-results for Afghanistan;

War in Afghanistan on wikipedia;

Afghanistan online;

The CIA world factbook on Afghanistan;

Google Blog-results for Taliban;

Google Blog-results for Peace in Afghanistan.

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