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Of Snakes and Anacondas
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Lt Gen Prakash Katoch | Date:19 Aug , 2021 1 Comment
Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army.

During her visit to Pakistan, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held a press conference on October 21, 2011, with Pakistan’s foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar standing beside her. Hillary slammed Pakistan and demanded greater cooperation for “squeezing” the Haqqani network responsible for terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, saying,  “It’s like that old story – you can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbours. Eventually those snakes are going to turn on whoever has them in the backyard.”

Hillary’s sermon was more a charade for global consumption. Pakistan remained unaffected, as it continues so even now. This is because the US had spawned the anaconda in form of the Mujahidin (Taliban), in conjunction the snake breeder Pakistan to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan. As predicted by Hillary, that anaconda has turned on the US, swallowed Afghanistan and  rubbed America’s face in the mud notwithstanding  US President Joe Biden’s face saving speech despite plenty US nationals and supporters still stuck in Afghanistan and some reports of money offered to Taliban to permit their evacuation.  

The interesting part is that in the spawning the anaconda even China had chipped in with some Mujahidin trained and armed on Chinese soil. Today China and Russia are aligned together but that is what geopolitics and strategy are all about – no permanent friends and enemies beyond national interests. Notably, Chinese links with the anaconda date back to that period and post the US invasion in Afghanistan, China continued to arm and support the Taliban, even providing them shoulder-fired air defence weapons and military advisors to fight US-NATO, all of which is on record in published material.

It is well known that Britain has always done America’s bidding, which is also scripted by US historian William Blum. Not surprising British authors like Anatol Lieven and William Dalrymple kept recommending in 2011 that America should woo Pakistan and that Afghanistan and the Kashmir issue are linked – negotiate with terrorist country Pakistan its proxies (Taliban, Al Qaeda, Haqqanis etc) to facilitate honourable exit from Afghanistan.

The US naturally had little leverage over Pakistan to stop breeding snakes. Lieven quotes a Pakistani diplomat in his book ‘Pakistan – A Hard Country’ remarking about US demands that you cannot lay down such pre-conditions when “you are losing”. William Dalrymple wrote in his article ‘A Deadly Triangle: Afghanistan, Pakistan and India’ that the hostility between India and Pakistan lies at the heart of the current war in Afghanistan – an absurd postulation ignoring the facts who started the war in Afghanistan, why and with what effect? 

All along the Afghans continued to ask a simple question – if this was indeed America’s Global War on Terror (GWOT), why were the terror factories inside Pakistan not addressed beyond occasional perfunctory drone attacks? If Pakistan could be forced to become an ally in GWOT for fear of being bombed into stone age, why could the same threat not be used to make her shut down the terror hatcheries?

The answer to the above is pretty simple; both the US and Pakistan are interlinked because of their reptilian pursuits. No wonder use of Al Qaeda by the US in Libya and subsequently in Syria was reported extensively in US media. Similarly, use of the Pakistan Taliban by the US in Syria too was scripted. In his article ‘Whether America Shares Its Values with Terrorists’, Paul Joseph Watson wrote that just as Al-Qaeda terrorists were used to oust Gaddafi, hundreds of Libyan rebels with Al Qaeda willing members were being airlifted into Syria to aid opposition in carrying out attacks against government forces.

The US invaded Iraq in 2003 but American plans for regime change in Syria went awry because of Russia. In 2011, the Russian FSB reported hacking of ‘Britain Defence’, UK’s private mercenary force, by an unknown entity that later revealed exchanges between its top executives. One e-mail spoke of a proposal from Qatar approved by the Obama administration for  Britain Defence to deliver a chemical weapon  to Homs (Syria); a Soviet origin g-shell from Libya deploying Ukrainian personnel that should speak Russian and make a video record. Subsequently, reports came of Syrian rebel al-Nusra in possession of Sarin Gas and Russia seeking explanation from Turkey who supplied the Sarin. This could be dismissed as propaganda but it is important to acknowledge that all big global powers are indulging in such activity.

After the US invaded Iraq in 2003, two things were done. First, a one hundred percent Shia regime was imposed in the majority Sunn Iraq setting into motion sectarian divide among the population. Second, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was released from prison and allowed to go to Turkey with his group for training and arming as the ISIS by British mercenaries under the watchful eyes of the CIA and MI-6. The ISIL, composed of and supported by a variety of insurgent groups, including its predecessor organizations, the Mujahideen Shura Council, Al Qaeda, Jaysh al-Fatiheen, Jund al-Sahaba, was already active in Iraq-Syria since the early years of America’s Iraq war.

The ISIS was the second anaconda, designed to be deadlier than the first one in combination with the ISIL. At the first International Conference on Combating Terrorism held at Baghdad, Iraq in March 12-13, 2014 attended by 25 countries and representatives of the UN, EU, Arab League, Islamic Cooperation Council and Interpol, the entire emphasis was on Al Qaeda. None mentioned the ISIS breeding in Turkey (NATO member) though 8,868 Iraqis including 7,818 civilians were killed and 18,000 injured in terrorist attacks in year 2013 alone

The second anaconda, ISIS, exploded on the scene in June 2014 capturing Mosul with the Iraqi Division capitulating much like Afghan formations did in the recent Taliban offensive in Afghanistan. City after city quickly fell to the ISIS who openly held massive victory parades where they could have been effectively bombed. But even as they moved towards Baghdad in large convoys along highways, US forces present in Baghdad did not accede to repeated Iraqi requests to interdict these columns.

Rest is history including ISIS cadres regularly pushed into Afghanistan via Pakistan. The Af-Pak region now is the largest congregation of pythons and snakes. The US has ensured that the 75,000-strong  Taliban will now add at least 2,50,000 Afghan forces equipped by the US, humvees, helicopters, guns et al, even if the balance 1,00,000 have melted away. All the armories of Afghan forces and armaments left by the US-NATO are now with the Taliban.

The US says ‘constructive’ engagement with Pakistan will continue – one can guess why!  The US stance for cooperating (recognizing) Taliban is that that it will depend on future Taliban actions is one big laugh not counting Zalmay Khalizad’s recent admission he doesn’t know what to do. But reiterating Hillary’s hypothesis “eventually those snakes are going to turn on whoever has them in the backyard” what happens next?

Britain first sounded the alarm on August 13 slamming the US troops withdrawal and warning Taliban’s resurgence would create a breeding ground for extremists that threatened the world. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told Sky News television: “Of course Al Qaeda will probably come back. That would lead to security threat to us and our interests.” Now General Mark Milley, Chairman US Joint Chiefs of Staff stated on August 15 that the US could now face a rise in terrorist threats from a Taliban-run Afghanistan. Didn’t Milley know that the pythons and snakes have been mating in Af-Pak past several years?

Finally, good luck to the US and its continuing “constructive” engagement with Pakistan. When and where the pythons and snakes will strike is for the US intelligence community to assess. Hopefully they will not ask Islamabad for the draft.  

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

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