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Total number of comments: 47 (since 2013-11-29 21:54:56)

RD Sultan

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  • Pictures Don't Lie: Refuting #there_was_no_Palestine
    • If I'm not mistaken, it was the Romans who first called it Palestine or Syria Palestina.

      Regardless, the fact that the region was part of some large empire and not an independent state didn't give European Jews the right to ethnically cleanse it of its native population in order to set up their own nation.

  • Top 7 Surprising pieces of Good news in Afghanistan Presidential Election
    • Karzai has shaped the election at every stage. He narrowed the candidate field, persuaded others to run, brokered an alliance between Dostum and Ahmadzai (to split the northern vote from Abdullah), and he distributed funds to Rassoul and Ahmadzai. Karzai is a shrewd political operator.

      In the end, either Ahmadzai or Rassoul will win. Abdullah would not fare well in a runoff.

      Besides India-Pakistan, the Chinese have recently increased security engagement with Afghanistan. They are now training Afghan security (police and army) personnel. It'll be very interesting to see how the Chinese position themselves in the great game.

  • After Karzai: Do Afghanistan's Presidential Elections Matter?
    • If either Abdullah or Ghani win, it might trigger a political crisis
      (Pashtuns may reject Abdullah, and Tajiks and Durrani Pashtuns may reject Ghani).

      The likely "victor" will be Zalmai Rassoul, a Karzai favorite.
      But as President, Rassoul will rein but Karzai will rule.

  • Donald Rumsfeld: A "Trained Ape" would be better at U.S. diplomacy than Obama
    • Correction: Biden wasn't a VP candidate when he stormed out of the dinner.

    • “Given the terrible, terrible diplomacy that the United States has conducted with Afghanistan over the last several years.”

      Rumsfeld has a point. President Obama never developed a relationship with Karzai, and in some instances, his senior staff clashed with him.

      Let us recall that Biden (as Obama’s VP candidate at the time) stormed out of a dinner with Karzai; Holbrooke shouted at Karzai and conspired to oust him from office; and a former UN official circulated rumors concerning Karzai's mental health and drug use.

      Karzai is a Pashtun for whom honor constitutes a VERY powerful norm. He has been shamed and a Pashtun who doesn’t avenge an offense is frowned upon.

      As to the BSA, Karzai’s stalemate is a matter of politics and not revenge, in my opinion. Once his hand-picked successor, Zalmai Rassoul, is “elected,” Karzai will sign the BSA. Karzai is even moving right next to the Presidential palace once his term “expires.”

  • Tens of Thousands in Turkey Protest Tyranny of the Majority
    • Point taken - yes, some folks out there have legit grievances, and I shouldn't have generalized outright.

      But there's no denying that during the height of the protests, the majority were Kemalists, chanting in favor of the military.

    • I’m no fan of police brutality, but I’m just not convinced the protests have anything to do with democratic aspirations, corruption, or whatever (Erdogan isn’t the first Turkish premier to flirt with authoritarianism) nor do I believe the protests were encouraged by a foreign government.

      In my opinion, it’s an ideological battle between the secular and social conservatives. The Kemalists loathe Erdogan because they see his government as a threat to their lifestyle.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if most protestors wouldn’t mind if the army (considered the guarantor of secularism) rules if it just gives them some peace of mind that their lifestyle won't be disturbed.

  • US Hypocrisy on Crimean secession move: Washington Supported Break-up of Sudan, Yugoslavia, Iraq
    • Good point. Russia might just dragg themselves into years of guerilla war with the Tartars and ethnic Ukrainians.

  • Obama Plans for complete US Withdrawal from Afghanistan in December
    • "The 19th century Durand Line, is a myth for the Pashtuns."

      For the Afghan Pashtuns, yes; but not for the Pakistani Pakhtuns (the Afghans in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and eastern Afghanistan refer to themselves as Pakhtuns, not as Pashtuns, and all Pashtuns/Pakhtuns are Afghan by ethnicity).

      The Pashtuns in FATA see themselves as an independent polity. In 1960, Daoud Khan, Afghanistan’s President, sent Afghan troops into Bajaour tribal agency in order to annex the land back to Afghanistan. The Afghan intrusion was driven back by the local Bajaour Pashtuns who opposed any interference by Afghanistan and Pakistan.

      With respect to Pakistani Pakhtuns, they are well integrated into Pakistan’s social, civil and military fabric and they have no desire of ever merging with Afghanistan (why leave Pakistan to join Afghanistan?).

      My personal opinion is that a merger between the Afghan Pashtuns and Pakistani Pakhtuns 'may' take place, if not peacefully, then by force, by the Afghan Taliban (Pakistan’s own political agents).

    • I'm not sure why any Pakistani official wouldn't be pleased to see the US withdraw. Once the US leaves, Pakistan would have the opportunity to install its proxy force (the Taliban) in Kabul. Or perhaps Pakistan wants the US to stay behind to justify its large payroll.

      11 candidates are running for the Presidency and Karzai himself is working behind the scenes to have some of the candidates merge into some coalition so Dr. Abdullah (Karzai's rival) doesn't advance to a runoff.

      The Taliban is no match for the Afghan Army in frontal attacks and is reduced to doing hit and run tactics.

      With regard to the 21 soldiers ambushed, the Taliban were aided and abetted by 4 Afghan soldiers on the base. Most of the soldiers were poisoned before the assault and the others fought to the last bullet. US air power was not sought, since (a month or so ago) Karzai ordered his generals not to request any US air power.

      Anyways, so long as the Army can be propped up financially, it will not collapse, even if the US withdraws (Najibullah survived for 27 months against a nationwide insurgency and his government collapsed once the Soviets cut off all aid).

      You nailed it in your last paragraph, Dr. Cole. My personal opinion is that this conflict will be over the day the Taliban and the non-Taliban factions make peace and work together (I'm being an optimist here). It's Afghans themselves who help promote all this outside influence. One group of Afghans support Pakistan's policies. Another group supports America's policies. This damages the opportunity for Afghans to unite.

      The future of Afghanistan lies with the Taliban. If they make peace, great. But if, like in their pre-2001 heyday, they seek to vie for absolute rule over the country, then I suspect a possible outcome will be a de facto non-Pashtun polity encompassing northern and western Afghanistan, uncontrolled by the Taliban.

  • Tens of Thousands on Twitter Drop Turkey's President over Internet Censorship Law
    • How does the Turkish government define insulting?

      Does a website that mocks Turkishness, Ataturk, Erdogan, Islam, or a website that commemorates the victims of the Armenian genocide be deemed insulting?

  • Dovish SOTU: Obama will Veto AIPAC Iran Sanctions, Pledges Afghanistan Wind-Down
    • Just yesterday, Karzai included a new precondition before he signs the BSA - the US has to acknowledge that peace-talks with the Taliban failed.

      According to well-informed Afghans, Karzai might be personally negotiating an end-game with the Taliban and the recent release of Taliban fighters from prison (despite objections from Karzai’s Generals) is seen as a goodwill gesture by Karzai (but I doubt the Taliban will return the favor in kind). Or maybe he's just releasing them because we learned that Karzai thinks most acts of terrorism in the country (even the ones the Taliban took responsibility for) is either the work of the CIA or the Northern Alliance.

      With regard to elections, there’s a debate in parliament over whether the National ID cards should record a citizen’s ethnicity (the ID card is necessary to vote). The Non-Pashtuns in parliament want the ID card to record ethnicity but the Pashtuns rejected the proposal fearing that the data will be converted into a census that may expose that Pashtuns aren’t the majority ethnic group in Afghanistan (back in December, this debate led to a brawl in Parliament). So I’m not even sure the elections will proceed as scheduled and there’s the possibility Karzai might cancel or postpone the elections.

      Even without the BSA, it’s unlikely (but not impossible) that the Taliban will overrun Kabul. In 1995, they sought to take Kabul but were pushed back by rebel forces and they were only successful a year later because government rebels abandoned Kabul without firing a single shot. In fact, the Taliban was able to overrun many provinces (in the South and East) in the 90s without anyone putting up a fight. This time around they have to worry first about Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's fighters and a dozen other Pashtun militias in the south and east standing in their way before they encroach towards the non-Pashtun north and west.

  • The 18th Brumaire of Gen. al-Sisi in Egypt
    • It'll be irony of the richiest hue if, one day, the military were to oust Al-Sisi just as Al-Sisi ousted Morsi. Or will the military have his back and toe the line?

      I'm sure Mubarak thought the military had his back (and Al-Sisi seems far more authoritarian than Mubarak).

  • Syria Conference Roiled by Shouting Matches, Insults
  • Gates worries Pakistan Violence blocks Polio Eradication, But is CIA Partly to Blame?
    • Although the CIA supported the ISI with money and weaponary during the Soviet Afghan War, it wasn't the CIA that set it up. It was set up in 1948 by Major-General Robert Cawthome, a British army officer.

      Given Pakistan's malignant influence on it's neigbors, the Pakistan Army's Sandhurst-trained officer corps (who oversee the ISI) learned well from its colonial masters.

  • Turkey Purges Officials in Bid to Quash Corruption Probes
    • Reed - Turkey's pro-democracy liberals, unlike the old Kemalist elite, have spoken up in defense of religious freedom and greater rights for Turkey's Kurdish minority.

    • Actually, Turkey would be the next Pakistan (a militarist banana republic) of the 21St Century if you permit your military to decide the fate of your country.

      Remind me again: how many coups did your military orchestrate against democratically elected governments?

  • How the Arab Spring Left the Palestinians Behind
    • Last week, thousands of assylum seekers staged mass protests in Israel. The Palestinians should do the same. Get the attention of the world back on the crimes of Israel.

  • 3 Years after Democratic Revolution, Egypt Decides it Prefers North Korean Model
    • Speaking of Iran, you have a Shah today but you may get a Khomeini tomorrow.

  • Gatesgate: Why Obama was right to Distrust his Generals on Afghanistan
    • Hi Brian:

      "Did you do what you suggested I do ? What were the results?"

      I did. Most of the cabinet members /Governors are Pashtuns who are either members or supporters of the Afghan Millat Party - a Pashtun fascist party which believes in the supremacy of the Pashtuns in Afghanistan. I wonder why the "ruling" Northern Alliance would let these party members take up powerful positions in the government? They must be really generous.

      "This is malarkey."

      And why is that? For what benefit would the report falsify data?
      Were they paid by the NA to do so?

      By what logic of factual research proves that the "officer rank is near zero and the conscripted rank is just over 5%?" This is malarkey.

      The NYT article I cited even says that the number of Pashtuns are proportional to their population size (type "Afghan army attracts few where fear reigns" in Google and see if you can find the article without paying for it).

      1. It makes no sense to you because you're operating under the assumption that the NA is running the central government, which is not true.

      The 2004 constitution envisages the most centralized power structure - which means the absolute rule of Pashtuns over the rest. This was done deliberately and one of the architects is Dr. Ashraf Ghani (who might become Afghanistan's next President).

      2. KPK & FATA has no strategic, cultural or linguistic affinity to the NA so recognizing this line doesn't amount to giving up territory.

      3. No.

      "Pashtuns have to a force protecting their values and daughters."

      How can you conceive the Taliban as protecting Pashtun women and daughters when the Taliban believe that women have no right to work/education?

      Or how can a political movement responsible for dozens of massacres of Pashtuns represent Pashtuns?

      "My Pashtun acquaintances mostly agree with me."

      The narratives of the Afghan diaspora are often secondary and besides for every Pashtun that supports the Taliban, nine support the Durrani tribe that Karzai belongs to. Oh, and Ghilzai Pashtuns loathe the Taliban.

      Why don't you see if your Pashtun friends can look you in the eye when you ask them if they will be willing to go back and live in Southern Afghanistan (when, as it is inevitable, the Taliban rule that area)?

      I'm willing to wager they won't be able to hold your eyes, Brian.

    • That's an absurd theory, Brian. Why do you equate the Taliban with Pashtun resistance? Are you of the opinion that all Pashtuns are Taliban members?

      Besides the Taliban are killing more Pashtuns than non-Pashtuns (whether in Pakistan or in Afghanistan).

      "Northern Alliance,” crush and subjugate Pashtuns under their boot heels."

      The percentage of Pashtuns in the military is
      proportional
      to their population size (although most Pashtuns in the military are from the east). Here is a NYT’s article looking into why
      southern Pashtuns
      are wary of joining the Afghan military.

      Besides, if the US were propping up the Northern alliance, then:

      (1). Why did the Northern Alliance propose a restructuring of the government from the current centralized power structure (that gave Pashtuns hegemony over Afghan affairs) to a federal system (that gives each ethnic group autonomy over their affairs).

      (2). Why hasn’t the Northern Alliance recognized the Durand line? It’s not in their interest to have millions of Pashtuns merge back with Afghanistan nor are they interested in ticking off Pakistan since the latter’s sponsorship of the Taliban has been influenced by anxiety over the Afghan claim to the Pashtun-dominated regions of Pakistan?

      (3). Why did Karzai force the resignation of Amrullah Saleh, the former head of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency and a high-ranking Northern Alliance member?

      "They are entitled to those same inalienable rights that are found in our Declaration of Independence."

      Try this exercise, Brian: here is a list of Karzai’s Ministers and provincial Governors. Type their names into this database and tally up how many are Pashtuns and how many are non-Pashtuns.

      And may I ask how you know the majority of officials "don't speak Pashto fluently?"

      Did you take a look at the poll I referenced? In the Pashtun South, 50% favored signing the BSA and in the Pashtun East, 43% favored signing the BSA.

    • The counter-insurgency mission was bound to fail since insurgencies don’t end when they’re given sanctuary in a neighboring country. Pakistan, which supports the Taliban for strategic purposes, just want the Taliban weakened enough to bring them to the negotiating table but strong enough to represent Pakistani interests in a future Afghan government. Pakistan is thus said to be in favor of converting the Taliban into a Hezbollah type organization controlling at least southern and perhaps eastern Afghanistan in exchange for a national cease-fire.

      So far, the Taliban is no match for the Afghan National Army in frontal attacks and holding positions and the Taliban are largely dependent on hit and run tactics and using child suicide bombers.

      Quite frankly, the NATO footprint is only preventing the country toward becoming another Lebanon (this may be why 56% of Afghan respondents are in favor of the Bilateral Security Agreement, according to a poll conducted by an Afghan television company).

  • Top Ten Things Bob Gates was Wrong about, Some Criminal
    • A few corrections Mark.

      1. Left-wing intellectuals with the help of communist army officers in the Afghan military seized power in 1978.

      Even before the coup, the Soviets foreign policy aim was to preserve Afghanistan as a neutral state (they knew the country was too tribal to leap to socialism). So while the Kremlin wasn't behind the coup (they had friendly relations with the previous non-communist government), they nonetheless supported it.

      2. Faced with a massive revolt in the country-side and in the cities, Taraki pleaded for Soviet intervention but the Kremlin rejected the request several times.

      The Afghan communists were also fighting amongst themselves along ethnic lines.

      3. Amin seized power in 1979 and had Taraki smothered under a pillow. This ticked off the Kremlin since they feared Amin was a clandestine CIA agent.

      4. Soviets invade in 1979: they murdered Amin and installed Karmal and Najibullah.

      Their aim was not to get access to a naval base in the Indian Ocean but to train the Soviet Afghan Army, broker peace between the rival communist parties, and to prevent the insurgency from crossing the border into Soviet Central Asia.

      5. Najibullah wasn't hanged until 1996. He took refuge at the UN compound in Kabul in 1992 and when the Taliban seized Kabul, they hanged him.

    • "Gates’s CIA helped to create the “terror” that they later dragooned us all into a war against."

      The New York Times wrote in 1994 about the risk of blowback from the Afghan battlefield (see here).

  • Recognizing Israel as a Jewish State is like saying the US is a White State
    • Every Arab Muslim and Christian with roots in the region would be a "Jew" by matrilineal descent.

  • Syria: 73,000 were Killed in 2013 Carnage as Refugees Brace for Winter
  • Egyptian Military Junta Jumps the Shark, Interrogates Islamist Muppet
    • "The Egyptian state has long been peopled by people obsessed with weird conspiracy theories. That kind of thinking is encouraged by dictatorship. It is transparency that cuts down on paranoia."

      Perhaps a prescription for Haldol is in order.

  • Turkey's Secretive Gulen Movement Challenges its Prime Minister as Religious Right Splits
    • "What is the track record of the Kemalists?"

      (1) Military coups of several democratically elected governments.

      (2). Conservative Muslims were forced to secularize.

      (3) Religion was controlled by (not separated from) the state.

      (4). Mosques were used to spread the Kemalist ideology and Ataturk confiscated Sufi lodges, monasteries and outlawed their rituals.

      (5). Conservative Muslims were denied a basic rights of access to education and employment.

      (6). A soldier would be discharged from the military if her mother wore a headscarf or if he was caught praying and or fasting.

      (7). Kurdish language was suppressed (Kurds couldn’t read, write and speak Kurdish in public).

      (8). Murder of political dissidents.

      (9). Women were barred from wearing headscarves in university and government buildings and Ataturk banned the fez.

      " don’t remember them gassing me on the streets when I tried to save a park is all I’m saying."

      Perhaps you should read a bit about how Ataturk suppressed the Seyh Sait rebellion.

    • It seems that Erdogan's trying to replace one deep state with another if he hasn't done so already.
      But given the track record of the Kemalists, Erdogan comes across as a sympathetic figure (even though he stands for iron-fisted authoritarian governance).

  • 17% of Americans Support Afghanistan War: CNN (Video of the Day)
    • "President Obama took almost three years to get out of Iraq."

      Huh? Didn't the Iraqi Parliament ratify a status of forces agreement with the US (2-3 months before Obama took office) that called for the withdrawal of all US troops by the end of 2011?

      As for Afghanistan, I'm of the opinion (and perhaps so is Karzai) that Obama wants to keep his fingers in Afghanistan in the long run. Heck, Kerry is trying to
      bypass Karzai and instead have one of his ministers sign the pact.

      So why the interest there? By having a secure base, you get to project power in the region and you get to contain Iran, China, Russia and most importantly, Pakistan (an unstable, nuclear armed country whose military has played the role of midwife to terrorist groups).

      Of course, I could be so wrong in my opinion but there's also the possibility that Karzai already signed the pact and this is all bluster for internal consumption.

    • There must be some strategic game going on there again and Afghanistan (which was cobbled together as a buffer state between British India and Czarist Russia) is used as a chessboard to play this game.

      Why else didn't Obama seize the opportunity to leave Afghanistan with dignity when Karzai gave him a chance?

  • Iraqi Troops sent by Shiite PM al-Maliki arrest Sunni Parliamentarian, kill his Brother
    • How much of the resurgence of violence in Iraq is due to Mr. Maliki's crackdown on the Sunni minority? It makes no sense to tick off Sunnis who cooperated with the US to eliminate AQ elements hiding within them (Sunni Awakening).

      Or are Sunnis perpetrating attacks in Iraq to avenge the deaths of their co-religionists in Syria?

  • War Crime: Syrian Regime Killed Hundreds of Civilians, including Children, with Airstrikes on Aleppo
    • I doubt that Syria can ever be stitched back together unless Assad steps down (maybe his wife can persuade him) or the "silent majority" (the critical block of Sunni Syrians on the fence: business elite, bankers, civil servants, young urbanites and soldiers) get fed up with Assad.

      I instead see three Syria's emerging: one loyal to the government. One dominated by Kurds and one with a Sunni majority run by foreign fanatics.

  • The End of the Turkish Model? Erdogan's Paranoia and Authoritarian Streak Threaten his Legacy
    • "Ataturd himself was...not above invoking Islamist identity when it helped his cause."

      Can you site any example(s) of him doing so?

  • American Public: Invasion of Afghanistan a Mistake, Speed up Withdrawal
    • Joe - Iraq had no strategic interest for the US. Our objective there was to aggravate the Sunni-Shia divide and to protect Israel (by making Iraq unstable, weak and too involved with internal strife to pose any future threat to it). Mission accomplished.

      Besides, we've already got bases in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, and Bahrain. I doubt a couple in Iraq would have made a difference anyways.

    • Should read "I don’t believe that the Taliban will be able to come back into full power."

    • The Taliban are going to start negotiating to gain, not to compromise. They're already negotiating cease fires at the provincial level.

      In the long term, the Taliban will be allowed to dominate politics in the Pashtun provinces of the south and perhaps east (eastern Pashtuns loathe the Taliban) in exchange for a national cease fire. The Taliban will most likely resemble Hizbollah's role in Lebanon. The only downside is that Pashtun and non-Pashtun refugees will stream to the north and west of Afghanistan and into Pakistan.

      I don't believe that the Taliban won't be able to come back until full power. It took them years to overrun Northern and Western Afghanistan in the 90s (and had their military not been bolstered by Arabs, Chechens and Pakistanis, the Taliban would have withered). It should be noted that in their pre-2001 heyday, the Taliban only ontrolled 95% of Afghanistan.

    • With military bases worldwide, why would anyone imagine that the US wouldn't retain a base in Afghanistan?

      The deadline for Karzai to sign the BSA was extended three times by Washington. Perhaps this is because the BSA matters much more to the US than it does to Afghanistan.

      By having a secure base in Afghanistan, you keep control of Iran, Pakistan, China and you get access to the overland gateway to Central Asia.

      It's the continuation of our empire's hegemony under the helm of military power.

  • India Flap derives from America's Gulag Practices and Far-Right Supreme Court
    • It’s the kind of soft tyranny de Tocqueville warned us about.
      His foresight was astute.

  • Sec. Hagel threatens to cut $1.6 bn Pakistan aid b/c Drone Protests Blocking NATO Convoys
    • " to colonize Afghanistan and subjugate Pashtuns under Northern Alliance control."

      I'll ask this of you once more: how are we "subjugating" Pashtuns under the Northern Alliance? I'd love to hear why. Surely, if this was a NA lead Afghanistan, then why hasn't Karzai (whom you referred to as a NA pimp)recognized the "Durand line?" It's not in the NA's interest to have millions of Pashtuns merge back with Afghanistan. Or why did the NA Presidential candidate in 2009 (Dr. Abdullah) willingly step down from contesting a second round in the last presidential election? Doesn't make any sense.

      Whilst it's true that the NATO intervention tipped the Civil War in favor of the non-Pashtuns (by granting them more autonomy from Pashtun rule), I don't see how this in turn results in subjugation (or do you want Pashtuns to rule over non-Pashtuns?). I mean if anything, all of Afghanistan is essentially a colony of America.

      As for Pakistan, well it wouldn't have this problem if they were able to (1) control their sponsored terrorists , (2) abandon their pursuit of strategic depth in Afghanistan and (3) get over their paranoia of India.

  • Has a European Boycott of Israeli Colonies in the Palestinian West Bank Begun?
    • Well, if Israel's young (secular) population emigrate, then there's a risk Israel's demography will inevitably lead Israel to be a theocracy. It'll become an impoverished wreck of a country, hated by the international community, and reliant on MAD to keep its neighbors from overrunning it.

    • Boycotts are good but the Palestinian state died on the day Israel built settlements in the West Bank. Either Israel absorbs the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories as citizens or it forcibly removes them. I see no other alternative.

  • Karzai, Pakistan Protests against US Drone Strikes may force US out
    • Karzai no doubt has Dr. Najibullah, the last Communist President of Afghanistan, on his mind. When Najibullah sought the flee Afghanistan (27 months after the soviets withdrew), he was detained by militias loyal to (his former ally and Karzai’s current ally) Abdul Rashid Dostum. Najibullah had then gone into hiding in Kabul’s United Nations compound, where he was eventually executed by the Taliban when they captured Kabul.

  • Egypt's Counter-Revolution: 21 Women and Girls Harshly Sentenced, Liberal Bloggers to be Arrested
    • Thanks for the clarification but nonetheless a minority of Egyptians brought the army and the dictatorship upon themselves (including the “liberals").

      It was only a matter of time before the army would turn their minds on cracking down all dissent. Did Egyptian's actually believe that the military(which the entire country rose against in 2011) would somehow just go back to their barracks this time.

      I just hope all coup supporters start realising the huge mistake they made.

    • "First they came for the Muslim Brotherhood …"

      Maybe Egypt's "liberals" shouldn't have been so hasty to join with al-Sissy in the military coup.

  • Does Syria Stalemate Benefit Baath Regime?
    • The only way I see Assad reach the point of political and military collapse is if Russia and Iran cut off aid to Damascus (a prospect that is highly unlikely but not impossible).

      Assad controls areas in the south and center and rebels control territory in the North and East, so I think the best possible outcome is to either (a) let the rebels and government protect areas under their control rather than attacking each other or (b) Assad resigns and hands power to a transitional government (very unlikely).

  • US seeks Broad Powers, Immunity for post-2014 Troops in Afghanistan (Lazare)
    • “I was first struck by your assertion that the Pashtuns are a minority in Afghanistan. The name “Afghan” initially referred specifically to the Pashtuns, I believe…."

      The last government census, in 1979, gave the following numbers:

      39.4% Pashtun
      33.7% Tajik, Farsiwan, and Qezelbash
      8.0% Hazara
      8.0% Uzbek
      4.1% Aimak
      3.3% Turkmen
      1.6% Baloch
      1.9% other

      According to another survey by ABC and BBC, named "Afghanistan: Where Things Stand", the ethnic composition of the country (as of 2009) is:

      35% Pashtun
      38% Tajik
      12% Hazara
      7% Uzbek
      2% Turkmen
      1% Arabs
      1% Nuristani
      1% Baloch
      1% Aimsk

      So Pashtuns aren't the majority in Afghanistan but are more or less equal to Tajiks. The government census being undertaken doesn't record ethnicity (perhaps because of the risk that it will prove that Pashtuns aren't a majority in Afghanistan).

      Yes, Afghan is a farsi word for Pashtun. Afghanistan therefore translates to “land of the Pashtuns.” The name Afghanistan is obviously not a fair representation of the other ethnic groups.

      “By that calculus, Pashtuns are indeed a plurality.”

      It is true that most Pashtuns live not in Afghanistan but in Pakistan. But, a Pakistani Pashtun and an Afghan Pashtun belong to two different nations so why include Pakistani Pashtuns in a census if we want to arrive at a approximate conclusion of how many Pashtuns are in Afghanistan?

      The Pashtuns from the Khatak, Niazi, Yusufzai, and Tarin tribes are well integrated into Pakistan’s social, civil and military fabric and they have no desire of ever merging with Afghanistan.

      “Then you march on to conclusions as if the US-appointed vichy government represents the interests of the Afghan people.”

      Where exactly did I do such a thing? All I did was proffer an opinion of how the Afghan conflict might evolve in 2015. But wasn't Karzai "democratically" elected, anyways?

      “As for the US, a brutal foreign occupation power to the Pashtuns, and a crucial sponsor to the vichy Northern Alliance (don’t let the Popalzai pimp at the top fool you,).”

      And what is your evidence that the US is a crucial sponsor to the “Northern Alliance?” Sure, we aligned ourselves with them in 2001 to get rid of the Taliban, but since then we've been supporting Karzai (or perhaps you have evidence proving otherwise?).

      "Note that, if the Pashtuns’ choice is subjugation under US forces, on the one hand,
      or subjugation under the Tadjiks of the Northern Alliance, on the other,
      forgive those Pashtun bumpkins if they can’t see the difference."

      How exactly are the Pashtuns subjugated under the Tajiks? Are you saying that non-Pashtuns hold most of the key levers of power in Southern and Eastern Afghanistan? Karzai has in fact appointed Pashtun governors in the traditional Pashtun heartland.

      The non-Pashtuns have resented the Pashtun hold on power since the formation of Afghanistan in 1747 when the Pashtun tribes gradually incorporated the neighboring non-Pashtun areas in the North and West (with British aid).

      Because the Pashtuns and non-Pashtuns have no shared language, identity, culture and history, I think a decentralized Afghan society, where each ethnic community takes care of its own, is a fine remedy to the Afghan quarrel.

      But such a prospect will not bear fruit since the Pashtuns see all of Afghanistan as their homeland and the other ethnic groups as second class citizens. Quite ironic, given that the Pashtuns themselves aren't native to the land.

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