World View: Taliban Commander in Afghanistan Calls Al-Qaeda a 'Plague'

World View: Taliban Commander in Afghanistan Calls Al-Qaeda a 'Plague'

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Syria’s ambassador to Iraq defects
  • U.S. 10-year Treasury bonds approach record low yields
  • Taliban commander in Afghanistan calls al-Qaeda a ‘plague’
  • 13,500 troops and six surface-to-air missiles will guard London Olympics

Syria’s ambassador to Iraq defects

Nawaf al-Fares on al-Jazeera on Wednesday
Nawaf al-Fares on al-Jazeera on Wednesday

Nawaf al-Fares, the Syria’s ambassador to Iraq, is the latest highprofile defection from the Bashar al-Assad regime. Like Army GeneralManaf Mustafa Tlass, who defected last week, al-Fares is ahigh-ranking Sunni Muslim who has been in the government’s innercircle since the time of the current president’s father, Hafezal-Assad. Both defectors could no longer tolerate al-Assad’s maiming,torturing, and slaughtering innocent Sunni Arabs. Al-Jazeera

U.S. 10-year Treasury bonds approach record low yields

We’ve been reporting negative yields (interest rates) for bonds forDenmark, Germany and France. And now, U.S. 10-year Treasury bonds areat historically low yields. On Wednesday, demand was at a recordhigh, and the Treasury sold $21 billion of 10-year bonds at a yield of1.459%. On June 1, they touched an all-time record low of 1.44%.BloombergA couple of people have asked me why anyone would invest money atnegative interest rates — meaning that you’d be paying interest onthe money you invest. If all you have are a few thousand dollars, youcan stuff it in your mattress, for 0% interest. But suppose you have$1 million to invest? You can’t put it in your mattress. You couldbuy art or real estate, and some people do that. But many people wantto keep their money liquid, and so have to put it in the bank. Theycan put it into a Spanish bank and get 7% interest, or into a Greekbank and get 25% interest, but if you do that, you may lose a greatdeal of money. (Recall that investors in Greek bonds were forced totake a 74% “haircut,” meaning that they lost 74% of their investment.)With the global economy in a growing deflationary spiral, cash isbecoming more valuable, and many asset prices are falling. So yourbest choice may be the safest choice, and that’s to invest in bonds ofa country that you feel is likely to keep your money safe. And if itcosts you a few pennies interest to keep your money safe, you’re gladto spend it.

Taliban commander in Afghanistan calls al-Qaeda a ‘plague’

An Afghan Taliban commander, and a former Guantánamo inmate, used verystrong language in an interview to distance the Taliban from al-Qaeda:

“At least 70 per cent of the Taliban are angry atal-Qaeda. Our people consider al-Qaeda to be a plague that wassent down to us by the heavens. Some even concluded that al-Qaedaare actually the spies of America. Originally, the Taliban werenaive and ignorant of politics and welcomed al-Qaeda into theirhomes. But al-Qaeda abused our hospitality. It was in Guantanamothat I realised how disloyal the al-Qaeda people were… To tellthe truth, I was relieved at the death of Osama. Through hispolicies, he destroyed Afghanistan. If he really believed in jihadhe should have gone to Saudi Arabia and done jihad there, ratherthan wrecking our country.”

 He discussed his assertion that the Taliban cannot win thewar in Afghanistan, even after Nato leaves in 2013:

“The Taliban capturing Kabul is a very distantprospect. Any Taliban leader expecting to be able to capture Kabulis making a grave mistake. Nevertheless, the leadership also knowsthat it cannot afford to acknowledge this weakness. To do so wouldundermine the morale of Taliban personnel. The leadership knowsthe truth – that they cannot prevail over the power theyconfront.”

To put all this into perspective from the point of view ofGenerational Dynamics, you have to start from the fact thatthere was a devastating civil war in the country from 1991-96,which slaughtered masses of people and destroyed much of thecountry’s infrastructure. Afghanistan is just now enteringa generational Awakening era. There are plenty of people aroundwho survived the civil war, and were traumatized by it for life,and will do anything possible to keep it from happening again.

So the Taliban commander’s words are absolutely true. Nobodyhas the energy to fight another civil war, and so the Talibancannot capture Kabul. All al-Qaeda is doing for the Talibanis bringing war back to Afghanistan, which they don’t want, andthat’s why al-Qaeda is “a plague.” He adds that the onlyother real power in Afghanistan, besides the Americans,is the Northern Alliance, a Tajik-led coalition that foughtagainst the Taliban in the 1990s civil war.

The problem with the commander’s claims is something thatI’ve written about many times — the connection with Pakistan.The Taliban are ethnic Pashtuns, and the Pashtuns occupy a longregion that extends across the border, through Pakistan’s “tribalarea,” into northwestern Pakistan. And the Pakistanis, includingthe Pakistani Pashtun, are in a generational Crisis era, andare quite ready for a war.

Thus you have the Pakistan Taliban, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).Although they’re also Pashtuns, and they also call themselves Taliban,they are in very different place in terms of attitudes and behaviorsfrom the Afghanistan Taliban. News stories have repeatedly said thatTTP is closely linked with al-Qaeda, and that TTP is committed toattacking Americans and Nato in Afghanistan.

There cannot be another crisis civil war in Afghanistan, so soon afterthe last one. But my expectation is that something just as bad (orworse) is going to happen: Afghanistan will be the site of a proxy warbetween Pakistan and India, with Iran and the U.S. aiding India, andwith China aiding Pakistan. Guardian and New Statesman

13,500 troops and six surface-to-air missiles will guard London Olympics

London 2012 Olympics site
London 2012 Olympics site

Britain’s armed forces are adding 3,500 troops to the contingent thatwill be guarding the London 2012 Olympics games, bringing the total to13,500, with another 3,000 to be available if necessary. Last week,it was confirmed that surface-to-air missiles would be located at sixsites around the capital – each capable of downing a rogue aircraftstreaking towards Olympic venues packed with spectators. Residents ofthe area had objected to having surface to air missiles on the roofsof their apartment blocks, claiming that the missiles would make theirhomes a target (ya think?), but last week Britain’s High Courtrejected their bid to stop the missiles. Armed Puma helicopterscarrying teams of crack snipers will also be on standby to thwartsuicide bombers. Daily Mail