War in Afghanistan
Operation Enduring Freedom?
The United States refused to negotiate and launched Operation Enduring Freedom on 7 October 2001 with the United Kingdom. The two were later joined by other forces, including the Northern Alliance. The U.S. and its allies drove the Taliban from power and built military bases near major cities across the country. Most al-Qaeda and Taliban were not captured, escaping to neighboring Pakistan or retreating to rural or remote mountainous regions.
President Ronald Reagan meeting with Afghan Mujahideen leaders in 1983
From 1996 to 2001, the Taliban held power in Afghanistan and enforced a strict interpretation of Sharia, or Islamic law, of which the international community and leading Muslims have been highly critical.
The roots of this project lie in the involvement of international oil companies in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan beginning of 1990s. As Russia, who controlled all export pipelines of these countries, consistently refusing to allow the use of its pipeline network, these companies needed an independent export route avoiding both Iran and Russia. ... The U.S. company Unocal, in conjunction with the Saudi oil company Delta, promoted an alternative project without Bridas' involvement. ... Since the pipeline was to pass through Afghanistan, it was necessary to work with the Taliban. ... On 7 August 1998, American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam were bombed. The United States alleged that Osama bin Laden was behind those attacks, and all pipeline negotiations halted, as the Taliban's then leader, Mullah Omar, announced that bin Laden had the Taliban's support. Unocal withdrew from the consortium on 8 December 1998... After September 11 attacks some people came to believe that a possible motivation for the attacks included justifying the invasions of Afghanistan as well as geostrategic interests such as the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline project.
Western support for Taliban
Members of the Taliban at former Unocal Vice President Marty Miller's house in Sugar Land, Texas
It is clear that in the same six months of 1996 the US weighed in heavily on behalf of both Unocal and the Taliban. In March 1996 the US Ambassador to Pakistan gravely offended Benazir Bhutto by asking her "to switch support from Bridas to Unocal" (Rashid, 165). US Assistant Secretary of State Robin Raphel spoke in favor of the Unocal project in two visits to the Pakistan capital, in April and August 1996 (Rashid, 166). ... It is not in the interests of Afghanistan or any of us here that the Taliban be isolated.
For the first year of Taliban rule, US policy towards the regime appears to have been determined principally by Unocal's interests. In 1997 a US diplomat told Rashid "the Taliban will probably develop like the Saudis did. There will be Aramco [the former US oil consortium in Saudi Arabia] pipelines, an emir, no parliament and lots of Sharia law. We can live with that."
... the Pakistanis began a Berlin-like airlift to resupply and re-equip the Taliban, obviously financed with Saudi money. If I knew of this massive resupply effort, Certainly the Clinton administration officials who had set up this scenario knew about it.
George W. Bush with Pervez Musharraf
Pakistan's former dictator Pervez Musharraf is getting ready to face charges for treason over the emergency rule he imposed in 2007 which saw the suspension of the country's constitution, sacking of senior judges, arrest of thousands of people and private news channels being forcibly taken off air.
The resentment of many Pakistanis for the US support of Zia-ul-Huq and for Pakistan's US-directed intervention in the Afghan civil war is typified by the following comment from a Pakistani journalist: "What handsome revenge for America's debacle in Vietnam was the savaging of the Soviet bear in Afghanistan. A handful of Pakistani generals enriched themselves during that momentous struggle. But what did the country get? Guns, violence, drugs and a sea of refugees. All the glory America's, all the recurring costs Pakistan's. Anyone could be forgiven for thinking that history is being repeated." ... The truth is, in US government circles it is viewed as a plus that basic democratic rights have already been suppressed prior to Pakistan being used as a staging ground for an unpopular attack on Afghanistan. Following meetings with government and security officials over the weekend, Pakistani authorities let it be known that they will deal harshly with future anti-US protests.
Ahmad Shah Massoud
Ahmad Shah Massoud was a Kabul University engineering student turned military leader (of the United Front) who played a leading role both in driving the Soviet army out of Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989, and leading resistance against the Taliban regime between 1996 and 2001. He fought against oppression of the people of Afghanistan.
In April of 1997 the Taliban launched a major offensive ... General Malick, tricked the Taliban and managed to capture almost all of their frontline troops, along with most of their heavy weaponry. It was an utter disaster for the Taliban. The road to the capital, Kabul, was wide open. The Taliban were totally vulnerable and could have easily been wiped out. ... but before the anti-Taliban forces could strike, Assistant Secretary of State Rick Inderfurth and American U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson flew to northern Afghanistan and convinced the anti-Taliban leadership that this was not the time for an offensive. Instead, they insisted this was the time for a cease-fire and an arms embargo. This clearly was a statement of U.S. policy.
In early 2001 Massoud addressed the European Parliament in Brussels asking the international community to provide humanitarian help to the people of Afghanistan. He stated that the Taliban and al-Qaeda had introduced "a very wrong perception of Islam" and that without the support of Pakistan and Bin Laden the Taliban would not be able to sustain their military campaign for up to a year.