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Year 2001 No. 161, September 26, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

Whom Is the Coalition’s Fight With?

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Whom Is the Coalition’s Fight With?

Escaping from Whom?

British Government Steps Up Troop Deployment

US Navy Presses Ahead with Bombing on Vieques

Text of Taleban Leader's Speech

The Taleban Will Never Surrender

US Crisis – Peace Not War!

Liverpool TUC Anti-War March

EU Plans To Combat "Terrorism" Also Cover Political Protests

IRA Statement on Intensifying Talks with Decommissioning Body

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Whom Is the Coalition’s Fight With?

In a statement yesterday, September 25, at Downing Street on Britain’s role in the "coalition against terrorism", Tony Blair said: "Our fight is not with Islam. Our fight is with a terrorist network and a regime that sustains them."

Two things can be immediately said about the statement, "Our fight is not with Islam." One is that it is a smokescreen and the other is that it is a feint.

It is a smokescreen because under the diversion as to whether the fight is with Islam or a regime that sustains a terrorist network, Tony Blair and the "coalition" are pursuing a course towards imposing a US-led stranglehold on an area on the doorstep of South Asia and Russia, as well as being in the centre of the Islamic world. Not only that, but the smokescreen is being utilised as a diversion from the national and international problems caused by US imperialism and other states which are imposing the agenda of unfettered access of international finance capital to the whole globe and its markets.

It is a feint, because in a very concrete way Islamic states have indeed been a thorn in the side of Anglo-American imperialism and its values of globalisation. The "tolerance" being preached by Tony Blair in this context is itself one of the 19th century colonialist values which is being shown to be under threat in this crisis point. This is why Tony Blair is so sensitive on this question. It rests on the premise that the way of life of the "civilised" western world is superior, while the mores of the colonialist subjects are to be "tolerated", so long as they do not threaten the status quo of subjugation. When these superior states organise massacres and target attacks on different sections of the communities, the state and its representatives appear sanctimoniously on the scene pleading "toleration". So it is with Tony Blair’s "tolerance" of Islam. However, now the Islamic states are to play their part in the "coalition" or be branded as part of the terrorist network. Afghanistan must be isolated as the regime that sustains this network.

Tony Blair’s words regarding the Taleban regime are truly despicable.

First of all, as the Labour government has continued to insist in connection with the Iraqi people who have suffered half a million deaths through the Anglo-American sanctions, Tony Blair claims: "our fight is with that regime, not with the people of Afghanistan."

It now appears that flushing out Osama bin Laden is not enough. Tony Blair now claims that he is not the only "organiser and sponsor of terrorism" operating out of Afghanistan. According to Tony Blair’s intelligence, "There are scores of these terrorist camps in Afghanistan, and they have been helped and supported and given succour by the Taleban regime." These camps have to be "verifiably" closed down. This is the wiping out of a whole people that Tony Blair is organising. But according to Tony Blair, the Taleban have "chosen" to be "enemies of ours".

And Tony Blair shows his actual colours when he cannot restrain himself from denigrating the Taleban government in the most intemperate way, saying of the people of Afghanistan: "their rights abused, women’s rights non-existent, poverty and illness ignored, a regime without respect or justice for its own people. A regime founded on fear, and funded largely by drugs and crime." So is Britain the model? Are the Taleban regime to be blamed for refusing the blessings of globalisation? And Tony Blair is giving the Bush administration unconditional support and solidarity?

One can only warn the Prime Minister that he should think again, because one day he will be held accountable for his words and actions at this defining moment in history.

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Escaping from Whom?

In his Downing Street statement, Tony Blair said that thousands of Afghans fleeing their country are trying to escape from the Taleban regime and not just from possible military attacks by the West.

It is to be recalled that when the US and Britain bombed Kosova, Tony Blair claimed then that the Albanians fleeing over the border were trying to escape from the Serbians.

Can it just be coincidence that a mass exodus has occurred just at the time of military intervention and threat?

Article Index

British Government Steps Up Troop Deployment

Britain has more than 20,000 troops in the Middle East ready to take part in military action against Afghanistan. They are at present deployed in a war training exercise in Oman. A further 1,300 British troops are involved in patrolling the northern and southern no-fly zones over Iraq.

The training exercise in Oman – named Operation Saif Sareea – or "swift sword" –involves seven Tornado aircraft, which left RAF Marham in Norfolk last week and will be based at the Oman RAF airfield at Thumrait. There is also a naval task force of 27 ships, led by the carrier HMS Illustrious, in the region.

Illustrious is carrying eight Royal Navy Sea Harriers and seven RAF Harrier GR7s, while the task force also includes two nuclear-powered submarines, one with land-attack cruise missiles, frigates, destroyers, amphibious vessels and two Royal Marine commando units.

Patrolling the no-fly zones over Iraq are eight Tornado GR4 ground attack aircraft, six Tornado F3 fighter aircraft in Saudi Arabia and four Jaguar ground attack aircraft and two VC10s in Incirlik, Turkey.

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US Navy Presses Ahead with Bombing on Vieques

Previously planned US Navy bombing training got under way on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques on Monday. The battle group involved could then be deployed as a part of the United States’ response to the September 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

The exercises involved the John F Kennedy battle group, which is expected to be deployed to the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf regions and could then take part in the US military assaults.

A US Navy spokesman told the government in Puerto Rico that the training would last 23 days and would include ship-to-shore shelling and aerial bombing, but no amphibious landings of Marines. The battle group, which comprises 12 vessels, began training in the waters surrounding Vieques last week.

Although Vieques residents and supporters from elsewhere have waged a civil disobedience campaign against Navy training since the April 19, 1999, death of civilian security guard David Sanes Rodriguez, it was reported that most protest groups called for a moratorium on civil disobedience during this round of training to show solidarity with the victims of the attacks in New York and Washington.

"We want to show solidarity with the victims of the terrorist attacks. New York has been a point of solidarity for our cause," said Robert Rabin, of the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques.

Instead of mounting their civil disobedience campaign, protesters planned rallies in front of Camp Garcia during the morning and the evening and have called for a general strike in Vieques on October 4. Protest groups said another reason for the moratorium was tighter security at the Navy base. But some groups planned to enter restricted Navy land anyway.

Robert Rabin said that even as most protest groups began their moratorium, plans were afoot for a big civil disobedience campaign during the next round of Navy training in November.

Article Index

Text of Taleban Leader's Speech

Text of the speech by the Taleban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar from the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press news agency, September 24, as reported by BBC News.

America shouldn't be mistaken. My death or the death of Osama (Bin Laden) will not bring America out of this crisis.

If America wants to root out terrorism and intimidation, then it should withdraw its forces from the Gulf and demonstrate neutrality over the issue of Palestine.

It should release Islam, which it has taken hostage in a spiritual form and should stop further interference.

A good example of Islam as a hostage is the present situation which they (the Americans) have created in Afghanistan. They want the end of the Islamic order; they want to create disorder, and they want a pro-American government.

In this case, where will the taste of Islam be for Muslims, and how angry and in what poor conditions will Muslims be? They (the Americans) have done this in many Islamic countries.

America has no alternative in these affairs to locking itself in a bloody war in which it will burn itself and others, and which will have no result.

The American people and the government should consider this oppressive and ugly policy, which tells each Muslim: Accept my words; if not I will throw an atomic bomb on you and will close off the holes through which sustenance can reach you.

These are all facts. The distance travelled by a lie is short.

Article Index

The Taleban Will Never Surrender

WDIE is posting for the information of our readers an article which appeared in the Lahore, Pakistan, newspaper The Friday Times of September 14-20, 2001. The writer, Hamid Mir, argues that Bush regime is anti-Taleban because the Taleban have refused to do its bidding.

Six years ago, Nusrat Javed of The News and I were invited to dinner in a Chinese restaurant by the then Interior Minister Major-General (R) Naseerullah Khan Babar. "Why are you writing against the Taleban?" he asked us. "Because the Americans are supporting them," I replied.

Babar gave us a long lecture about the Taleban but we were not ready to buy his theory. Finally, he picked up his famous stick in his right hand and said: "OK, you go to Kandahar independently, talk to them, come back and then see me."

A few weeks later, I was in Kandahar and had a meeting with Mullah Muhammad Umar Majahid. I asked him: "Why is Robin Raphael (then the US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia) supporting you?" In response, Umar inquired "who is he?"

The Taleban were clearly not aware of who was supporting them and who was opposed to them outside Afghanistan. They knew only Pakistan. After coming back from Kandahar, I met Babar and told him that the Americans had a three-point agenda for the Taleban. One, they would like to use the Taleban against Iran. Two, they would like to pressurise them to arrange shelter and training camps to the rebels of Sinkiang in Afghanistan. And three, the Americans wanted to construct a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan through Afghanistan. But I told Babar that the Americans will not be able to achieve even a single objective because the Taleban will not take dictation from them. This time, Babar was not ready to believe me.

In October 1995, the California-based Unocal oil company signed a protocol with the Turkmenistan Government to explore the prospects of constructing an oil pipeline to Pakistan through Afghan territory. When the Taleban captured Kabul, the Vice-President of Unocal, Christopher Taggart, confidently stated that "we regard it as very positive." He added that if the US followed Pakistan's example of cementing ties with the Taleban, this would open opportunities for them. Robert Oakley, former US Ambassador in Pakistan, was in due course hired by Unocal for lobbing its cause and was busy shuttling between Washington and Islamabad.

Benazir Bhutto was thrown out of power on November 6, 1996. I remember that a few days after her sacking, she told me that the American Ambassador in Islamabad, Thomas W. Simons, was not happy with her because the Taleban had refused to oblige Unocal. On November 16, 1996, former US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Robin Raphel argued at a UN conference on Afghanistan in New York that the Taleban were a completely indigenous movement. Raphel said that the Taleban's policies may reflect extremism but the best way to moderate them was to engage them. She later went to Kandahar and had a meeting with top Taleban officials, but the policy of engagement failed because the Taleban signed a memorandum of understanding with Bridas, an Argentinean oil company, to develop the proposed gas pipeline.

Much later, when the US$ 8 billion pipeline project had become a non-starter, they flared up and created an issue out of Usama Bin Ladin. They now demanded his extradition but the Taleban refused. This refusal lent credence to the Taleban because common Pakistanis now realised that the Taleban were an independent force.

I have met Mullah Umar many times. He is convinced that the Americans are not interested in Usama Bin Ladin, that their real objective is to install a government of their own choice in Kabul which will take control of all the road links to Central Asia. The Americans clearly want to create problems not only for Pakistan and China but also for Iran. Some time back, Usama bin Laden revealed to me that once, when he decided to leave Afghanistan, he went to see Mullah Umar and informed him about his decision. But the Taleban militia leader refused to discharge him by saying: "Don't give us a bad name."

There are some people who criticise Islamabad's Afghan policy. But is it not a reality that Pakistan is Afghanistan's only regional neighbour that has continued a dialogue with all sides of the Afghan political divide? Irrespective of the Northern Alliance's public stance, its leadership has actively sought Pakistan's intervention to initiate an intra-Afghan dialogue. Nobody can deny the fact that the Islamabad accord was signed by all the Afghan parties in 1993 and remains testimony to Islamabad's commitment to a genuine home-grown peace process in Pakistan. It was under this accord that Sibghatullah Mujadidi became the President of Afghanistan in Kabul for six months. In fact, when he showed some hesitation in vacating the Presidentship for Burhanuddin Rabbani, it was Pakistan that forced him to step down. Yet, when Rabbani's term was up, in violation of the accord, he refused to step down with the encouragement of Washington and Moscow. Therefore when Pakistan's Embassy in Kabul was attacked and Rabbani refused to implement the Islamabad accord, Pakistan was forced to support the Taleban.

There is pressure on Pakistan to withdraw its support for the Taleban. Some people argue that if Pakistan expects the US to support its Kashmir stance, it should not snub the US in terms of its requirements in Afghanistan. But the question is: What can the US do for Pakistan in Kashmir? Nothing. Suppose Pakistan were to withdraw its support for the Taleban, in how many weeks or months would India vacate Kashmir?

The day the Taleban are dislodged from Kabul, American, Indian and Israeli fighter planes will occupy all the bases close to Pakistan's northern and western borders. They will start their covert operations not only against Pakistan but also against China and Iran. The Americans tried their best to convince the Taleban to start a Jihad in Sinkiang through a Saudi NGO called Rabta Alm-e-Islami, but the Taleban refused. Indeed, if today the Taleban were to agree to be used against China, all of their problems would be solved. But they are not opportunists. They have many faults and follies but they have become a defence line for Pakistan and China.

The claim is also wrong that Pakistan is suffering because of the Taleban. Pakistan faced sanctions in 1990 from the US but there were no Taleban at that time. Now the US is forcing Pakistan to implement the UN's one-sided sanctions against Afghanistan, just to create misunderstandings between the Taleban and Pakistan. The UN wants to send monitors to implement its sanctions. And it wants Pakistan to facilitate the monitors and arrange security for them. But the UN should go and see the Pak-Afghan border, which cannot be sealed. The monitors must go to the tribal areas and see that people from both sides don't accept the Durand Line demarcated by the British Government. They must listen to ordinary Pakistanis who support the Taleban because they think that the real crime of the Taleban is that they have refused to become puppets like Ahmed Shah Masood and Burhanuddin Rabbani. Both are responsible for bomb blasts in Afghanistan. Now Masood says that there has been a murder attempt on him in Northern Afghanistan by suicide bombers. This is a message for all the countries supporting the terrorism of the Northern Alliance to come to Masood's rescue.

The Taleban have proved that they are not weak, that they can get anywhere they want. They have brought peace to 95% of Afghanistan after 15 years but so-called civil society is not ready to recognise their contribution. There is women's police in Kabul, girls' schools are opening up in Kandahar, even a nursing school is working in Heart but Western funded NGOs are not ready to speak the truth.

No matter what the pressure, the Afghans, a proud nation, are not ready to compromise. If the Americans want Usama to try and convict him then it is through negotiations with Kabul that a satisfactory solution can be reached. Otherwise, they may try again to browbeat the Taleban. But the Taleban will never surrender.

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US Crisis – Peace Not War!

An anti-war meeting under the banner of US Crisis – Peace Not War! will take place in Hampstead, north London, on October 4.

The former Labour Party leader Michael Foot will speak on the predicted US retaliatory strikes against Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden. Other speakers at the meeting include Ron Todd, former general secretary of the Transport & General Workers Union, and peace campaigner Bruce Kent.

Maddy Cooper, Socialist Alliance parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Highgate, who will chair the meeting, said: "We urgently need to make it clear to the Blair government that we want justice, not revenge. The meeting will give us an opportunity to start to organise locally against the drift to war."

The meeting is being organised by the Labour Party, CND, the Green Party and the Socialist Alliance.

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Liverpool TUC Anti-War March


SATURDAY 29 SEPTEMBER, Assemble Myrtle Parade 11am, March to St Georges Plateau for rally

Speakers from trade unions, local MPs (invited), multi-faith, etc.

LIVERPOOL TUC, c/o Unison, Produce Exchange, 8 Victoria St., Liverpool, 0151 236 1944

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EU Plans To Combat "Terrorism" Also Cover Political Protests

In the wake of the tragic events in the US, the European Commission has put forward a proposal for a "Framework Decision on combating terrorism" which was discussed on September 20 at the special meeting of EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in Brussels.

An analysis of the proposal shows that the intention appears to be to extend the definition of "terrorism" to cover public order situations.

Commenting on this, Tony Bunyan, editor of Statewatch said: "The response of the EU to the tragic events in the US needs to be examined with great care. The definition of terrorism is very similar in its scope to the UK Terrorism Act which is drawn so wide as to endanger legitimate dissent.

"The European Commission proposal on combating terrorism is either very badly drafted, or there is a deliberate attempt to broaden the concept of terrorism to cover protests (such as those in Gothenburg and Genoa) and what it calls ‘urban violence’ (often seen by local communities as self-defence). If it is intended to slip in by the back door draconian measures to control political dissent it will only serve to undermine the very freedoms and democracies legislators say they are protecting."

For further details see:http://www.statewatch.org/news/2001/sep/14eulaws.htm

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IRA Statement on Intensifying Talks with Decommissioning Body

The IRA issued a statement on September 19. It was made in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon and shortly before the British government suspended all the workings of devolution for one day (Saturday, September 22), opening a second six-week period, intended as a breathing space for new talks.

The IRA statement condemns the tragic events in the US. The statement underlines that the IRA will intensify its engagement with the international decommissioning body (the IICD) at this juncture. It also makes it clear that the IRA has not been involved in any military operations in Colombia.

The full text of the IRA’s statement of September 19 is as follows:

First of all we wish to extend our sympathy to the people of the United States and especially to the families and friends of the victims of the deplorable attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

On 8 August we confirmed that the IRA leadership had agreed a scheme with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) to put IRA arms completely and verifiably beyond use.

This unprecedented IRA initiative was the result of lengthy discussions with the IICD over a long period.

It was another expression of our willingness to enhance the peace process and it involved considerable problems for us and for our organisation.

The IRA leadership’s ability to speedily and substantially progress the decision was completely undermined by the setting of further preconditions and the outright rejection of the IICD statement by the Ulster Unionist Party leadership.

Subsequent actions by the British government including a continued failure to fulfil its commitments, remove the conditions necessary for progress.

On 14 August we withdrew our proposal.

However, as an earnest [sign] of our willingness to resolve the issue of arms, the IRA leadership wish to confirm that our representative will intensify the engagement with the IICD.

This dialogue is within the context of our commitment to deal satisfactorily with the question of arms.

It is with a view to accelerating progress towards the comprehensive resolution of this issue.

Progress will be directly influenced by the attitude of other parties to the peace process, including and especially, the British government.

The IRA’s commitment is without question. However, as we have said before, peace making and peace keeping is a collective effort.

It is our considered view that the Irish peace process can succeed.

The continued failure or refusal to sustain the political process and to deliver real and meaningful change has a direct bearing on how this will be accomplished.

The IRA has contributed consistently and in a meaningful way to the creation of a climate which would facilitate the search for a durable settlement.

We will continue to do so, including through our engagement with the IICD, particularly at this difficult time, and in the period immediately ahead.

We also wish to state our attitude to the arrests of three Irishmen in Colombia.

There has been a lot of ill-founded and mischievous speculation about these arrests and some ill-considered and aggressive comment directed at our organisation.

We wish to make it clear that the Army Council sent no one to Colombia to train or to engage in any military co-operation with any group.

The IRA has not interfered in the internal affairs of Colombia and will not so do.

The IRA is not a threat to the peace process in Ireland or in Colombia. The three men have asserted their support for the process and we accept that.

P O’Neill

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