Sectarian carnage for Karzai to survive

By Ameen Izzadeen
Afghanistan has bled enough but it is likely to bleed more as the attacks on Tuesday’s Shiite religious ceremonies portend. Yes, the sectarianism which ruined Iraq has raised its ugly head in Afghanistan.
The Taliban were prompt in distancing themselves from the carnage at the religious ceremonies where the Shiites mourned the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Muhammad, 14 centuries ago. Incidentally, Imam Hussein is revered by both the Shiites and the Sunnis and his martyrdom at the hands of a despot started the Shiite stream in Islam.
If the Taliban were not responsible for Tuesday’s Kabul bomb blast, who is? Just because the Taliban say they did not do it, one cannot remove them from the list of suspects. But there can be other suspects – the foreign intelligence groups, for instance. Of course, the puppet regime in Kabul blamed Pakistan’s intelligence service. If only the regime had turned the searchlight inwards, it could have seen others, especially the imperialists – the Americans and the Brits.
The imperialists should be suspect number one, for their track record shows that they are masters at creating discord and enmity among communities. Britain’s divide-and-rule policy favoured one community over another during the colonial period. The fact that this policy helped the imperialists to continue their plunder is well documented, though the subject is less talked about in Western discourses today.
Why go to the colonial period, even recent events show the imperialists have adopted the same-old policy for the same-old goal. In Iraq where the Sunnis and Shiites had lived peacefully for centuries, the arrival of the US and British occupying forces plunged the country into a bloody sectarian war. Before the 2003 invasion, the Sunnis and the Shiites lived in harmony and inter-marriage was common. Even during the early days of resistance to the US occupation, the Shiites and the Sunnis worked in tandem to free their country from foreign occupation.
But the unity which was a major threat to the US occupation force was shattered when a highly revered Shiite shrine in the Iraqi city of Samarra was bombed in February 2006. The occupation force blamed al-Qaeda backed Sunni extremists for the attack. The Samarra bomb was followed by a series of bomb blasts in Sunni areas. The occupation force put the blame for those on the Shiite extremists.
Within months, these terror attacks and counter attacks turned Iraq into a hell hole of sectarianism. Many Iraqis, however, believed that foreign intelligence units – the CIA, Mossad and MI 6 – were responsible for fanning sectarianism. They point to an incident that took place in September 2005 in Basra.
In this incident, two British mercenaries clad in Arab dishdasha were arrested by the local police who found bomb-making material in the boot of their car. The two mercenaries were taken to a safe location by a Shiite militia group for interrogation, for they were certain that the Brits were behind a number of bomb attacks in Basra and elsewhere. Within hours, British forces backed by six tanks attacked the secret prison, and freed the two mercenaries.
Besides this incident, reports in the web-based Iraqi media gave details about how the foreign intelligence units set up remote-controlled bombs in vehicles taken into custody. In one incident, a pick-up truck was detained by foreign troops at a checkpoint and the owner was asked to come the following day with the necessary documents to their camp to prove his ownership. His licence was also taken. The next day when he went to the camp, the authorities gave him the vehicle but told him to collect his licence from a nearby Iraqi police station. Little did he know that the vehicle had been set up with a remote-controlled bomb to be blasted when he reached the police station.
Such incidents had been ruining Iraq until US President Barack Obama decided to end all military operations there in preparation for a final withdrawal at the end of this month. Today once again the Sunni-Shiite inter-marriages are happening with the Iraqi government encouraging them with cash incentives.
But the sectarian monster that has Iraq emerged in Afghanistan on Tuesday, giving an added dimension to the war.
Until Tuesday, the Afghan war had only two dimensions. For the occupying US-led NATO forces, it was a war on terror. For the majority Pashtun people, who support the Taliban, their war was against foreign occupation.
As far as the war on terror is concerned, the United States has got its pound of flesh and more. In other words, besides, eliminating al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the main suspect in the 9/11 terror attacks, Washington has bombed Afghanistan to its heart’s content, killing tens of thousands of Afghans — several times more than the number killed in the 9/11 attacks. But the US cannot leave Afghanistan without a proper plan. It does not want the Taliban to capture Kabul and kill President Hamid Karzai the way the Taliban killed President Najibullah in 1996.
Yet, President Obama has taken a decision to leave. The drawdown is said to begin in 2014. It is in this context that the sectarian violence makes strategic sense. If it spreads, the Americans and the Karzai regime may blame Iran for helping the Shiites to carry out terror attacks on Sunni targets, though the Afghan Shiites may not be involved in such attacks. The Sunnis will be made to believe that the Shiites are responsible for the attacks and forced to side with the US-led NATO force.
The support of Afghan Sunnis, a majority of whom sympathise with the Taliban, will shore up Karzai, who was seen bowing his head over and over before US Secretary State Hillary Clinton and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at this week’s Bonn conference. Needless to say, the bowing symbolized not only his gratitude but also his servitude to the West. Sectarian violence, it appears, may help Kabul to win the hearts and minds of pro-Taliban Sunnis.
(This article first appeared in Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka on December 9, 2011)

About ameenizzadeen

journalist and global justice activist
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2 Responses to Sectarian carnage for Karzai to survive

  1. fayaz says:

    The Taliban of Afghanistan dont lie; they are a very simple people and Yvonne Ridley’s conversion to Islam is testament to their behaviour in that it took about 7 days of captivity for her to think about islam

    • If the Taliban were not responsible for Tuesday’s Kabul bomb blast, who is? Just because the Taliban say they did not do it, one cannot remove them from the list of suspects. I did not mean they lied. But I tried to be fair. I also know that among them are people who don’t want to kill an ant. I met such a Taliban during Haj last year.

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