In the Graveyard of Empires PDF Book by Seth Jones


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In early 1984, Zia, Akhtar, Yousaf, and other key ISI figures called a meeting with seven of the most powerful Afghan mujahideen leaders to better coordinate the insurgency. One of the great challenges for the Pakistan government, including the ISI, was the haphazard nature of the Afghan resistance, which consisted of a disorganized network of mujahideen constantly roiled by personal rivalries and grievances.

In the Graveyard of Empires PDF Book by Seth Jones

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In 1984, Zia’s patience finally snapped, and he issued a directive that the insurgents were to form a seven-party alliance, what some CIA operatives called the “Peshawar Seven.” He did not say what he would do if they failed to follow his order, but they seemed to understand that support from Pakistan was hanging in the balance.

“Every Commander must belong to one of the seven Parties, otherwise he got nothing from us at ISI,” recalled Yousaf, “no arms, no ammunition and no training.” Just as Americans know it today, Soviet leaders were aware how important a motivation Islamic fundamentalism was for insurgent leaders.

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Indeed, four of the seven parties were composed of Muslim fundamentalists: Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i-Islami; Burhanuddin Rabbani’s Islamic Society of Afghanistan; Abdul Rasul Sayyaf’s Islamic Union for the Freedom of Afghanistan; and Yunus Khalis’s breakaway wing of Hezb-i-Islami.

The moderate parties included Mawlawi Muhammad Nabi Muhammadi’s Movement of the Islamic Revolution; Pir Sayyid Ahmad Gailani’s National Islamic Front of Afghanistan; and Sibghatullah Mujadiddi’s Afghanistan National Liberation Front. Cooperation was not easy, but the ISI tried to minimize infighting. Between 1983 and 1987, the ISI trained roughly 80,000 mujahideen in Pakistan.

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Their distinctive battle cry became “Allah o Akbar. Mordabad Shuravi” (God is Great. Death to the Soviets). One of the most ruthless of these leaders was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The youngest of seven children, he had a thick black beard and penetrating eyes. Hekmatyar, who spoke excellent English.

Was renowned for his staunch Islamic views and a disdain for the United States that was surpassed only by his hatred of the Soviets. In 1985, on a visit to the United States, he had refused to meet with President Ronald Reagan—despite repeated requests from Pakistan’s leaders—out of concern that he would be viewed as a U.S. puppet.

IN LATE 1986, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence Robert Gates placed a twenty-five-dollar bet with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Michael Armacost that the Soviet Union would not pull out of Afghanistan before the end of the Reagan administration. Gates, a rising star in the administration. In the Graveyard of Empires PDF Book

Would go on to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency under President George H. W. Bush and then secretary of defense under his son, President George W. Bush. It was a win-win bet, Gates told his colleagues. “I would get twenty-five dollars or have the pleasure of paying twenty-five dollars on the occasion of an early Soviet withdrawal. A small price to pay for a large victory.”

Gates was fond of quoting an old Chinese proverb: “What the bear has eaten, he never spits out.” But he lost the bet. Mikhail Gorbachev announced in February 1988, before a nationwide audience, that Soviet withdrawals from Afghanistan would begin that May, and they were completed by December 1989. “I paid Mike Armacost the twenty-five dollars—the best money I ever spent,” Gates said.

“I also told myself it would be the last time I’d make an intelligence forecast based on fortune cookie wisdom.” There had been only two recent periods in Afghan history when the Pashtuns, Afghanistan’s largest ethnic group, did not rule. The first was in 1929, when a Tajik, Habibullah Kalakani, seized power for several months. In the Graveyard of Empires PDF Book

Some Pashtuns derisively referred to him as Bacha-ye Saqqow, which means “Son of the Water Carrier,” since his father supposedly had carried water in the Afghan Army. The second began in 1992, when Burhanuddin Rabbani, also a Tajik, became president of Afghanistan. A wiry man with a flowing white beard, turban, and a soft impassive voice, Rabbani was more of a religious figure than a politician.

He was born in 1940 in Badakhshan Province in northern Afghanistan, home to the mammoth Marco Polo sheep that Ronald Neumann tracked in 1967. After finishing school, he went to Darul-uloome-Sharia, a religious school in Kabul, then to Kabul University to study Islamic law and theology.

In 1966, he moved to Cairo to attend Al-Azhar University, where Abdullah Azzam, the jihadi leader and onetime mentor of Osama bin Laden, had attended. In 1968, when Rabbani returned to Afghanistan, the high council of Jamiat-e-Islami (Islamic Society) asked him to organize university students. In the Graveyard of Empires PDF Book

Considering his training, then, it was no surprise that Rabbani’s government imposed severe restrictions on women and sought to exclude them from public life. When Rabbani took over, pandemonium ensued. Disputes erupted over the division of government posts, and fighting flared. Pashtun leaders resented the handover of power to other ethnic groups, especially Tajiks and Uzbeks.

At first, the Taliban represented a rise to power of the mullahs at the expense of tribal leaders and mujahideen commanders, even though a number of mujahideen commanders later joined them. War-weary Afghans initially welcomed the Taliban. The group promoted itself as a new force for honesty and unity and many Afghans, particularly Pashtuns, Taliban as the desperately needed balm of peace and stability.

The Taliban immediately targeted warlords who were deemed responsible for much of the destruction, instability, and chaos that had plagued the country since the outbreak of the civil war. The Taliban, however, took Deobandism to extremes that the school’s founders would not have recognized. In the Graveyard of Empires PDF Book Download

They instituted a brutal religious police force, the Ministry of the Promotion of Virtue and the Suppression of Vice (Amr Bil Maroof Wa Nahi An alMunkar), to uphold its extreme and often unorthodox interpretations of Islam. “Throw reason to the dogs,” read a sign posted on the wall of the office of the police. “It stinks of corruption.

Pakistan’s Frontier Corps, the paramilitary force in the border regions, picked up some of the fighters streaming across the border. Al Qa’ida and foreign fighters were turned over to the ISI, and many were handed over to the U.S. government, which housed them temporarily in secret prisons in Kandahar, Bagram, and other locations.

Al Qa’ida operatives relied on links with Pakistani militant groups, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Pure), in cities such as Lahore and Faisalabad, to hide from Pakistan and U.S. intelligence services. They didn’t want to remain in Pakistan, however, because the government was cooperating with the United States. In the Graveyard of Empires PDF Book Download

According to CIA assessments, most of the al Qa’ida and foreign fighters were trying to get to Iran, where they could temporarily settle or transit to other areas, such as the Persian Gulf. By 2002 and 2003, though, the CIA began to gather intelligence indicating that al Qa’ida operatives were increasingly infiltrating back into Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Many went to remote locations, such as the Shakai Valley in South Waziristan, hoping the Pakistani government would leave them alone to resettle among some of the local tribes. Sporadic Pakistani military operations in South Waziristan triggered an exodus of militants to North Waziristan. “It was harder for Pakistan government forces to get to them there,” said Grenier.

“The social structure was more hospitable, and there was a heavier influence of mullahs and religious clerics. Finally, the Taliban resettled in Pakistan and began to reestablish political, military, and religious committees in the vicinity of Quetta. This city was critical because it allowed easy access to Afghanistan’s southern provinces, including Kandahar, a key front in the insurgency. In the Graveyard of Empires PDF Book Download

The State Department realized the Taliban were attacking on two fronts, and one report said, “Quetta is the hinge, enabling communication between fronts and providing safe haven for Taliban leadership, logistics and information operations (IO). Dislocating this hinge would severely disrupt Taliban strategy, but would a much greater degree of commitment and activity from Pakistan than we have seen to date.

There were also supporters in the United Kingdom, such as Robert Cooper, the British representative at the Bonn negotiations who was assigned to Prime Minister Tony Blair’s staff in the Cabinet Office. Cooper argued that a NATO peacekeeping presence outside of Kabul was critical for establishing security. One possibility he suggested was a British-led force.

Other than the United States, Great Britain was the only country able to deploy the needed force quickly enough. British troops were already operating in Afghanistan in small numbers, and the United Kingdom had begun to establish the logistics network necessary to sustain them. How many international troops were necessary? In the Graveyard of Empires PDF Book Free

U.S., British, and Afghan officials had discussed the possibility of perhaps 25,000 peacekeeping forces deployed to Kabul and key Afghan cities. In December 2001, for example, Dobbins met with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Rumsfeld asked what to expect in his upcoming meetings with Afghan officials.

“They will ask that ISAF be deployed beyond Kabul to cover the country’s other major population centers,” Dobbins noted. “How many men would that take?” Rumsfeld asked. The prospect of invading Iraq surfaced immediately after the September 11 attacks. In a National Security Council meeting on September 13.

President Bush asked CIA Director George Tenet whether he was looking into the possiblity of Iraqi involvement. “It’s a worldwide effort, yes,” Tenet responded. Rumsfeld went even further, contending that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the region and to the United States. “Iraq,” he noted, “was a state that supported terrorism. In the Graveyard of Empires PDF Book Free

And that might someday offer terrorists weapons of mass destruction to use against us.” He added that, in Iraq, “we could inflict the kind of costly damage that could cause terrorist-supporting regimes around the world to rethink their policies. This brazen act—putting Ismail Khan on the spot by offering him a position in Karzai’s cabinet, which he reluctantly accepted—was vintage Khalilzad.

He was the only senior White House official in the Bush administration who had lived in Afghanistan, and he had a visceral feel for the country’s social, cultural, and political intricacies. As an Afghan, he understood the people of Afghanistan and their warrior spirit, and his familiarity with Pashtun culture, including his fluency in both national Afghan languages, Dari and Pashto, made him a tremendous asset.

His influence among Afghan officials was unparalleled among U.S. diplomats in the country. Behind his thick, six-foot frame was a charming, almost unassuming, personality. But Khalilzad could also be an imposing figure. He exuded an extraordinary sense of confidence and authority when he walked into a room, but his true métier was the face-to-face meeting. In the Graveyard of Empires PDF Book Free

Herat, in the fertile Hari River Valley, lies seventy miles from the Iranian border, along the ancient trade routes that linked Europe with the Middle East, India, and China. The city was later used by the British, Soviet, and Taliban armies, each of whom conquered the city and constructed key military installations.

Like Yaqub, Rassoul and Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani, many of Afghanistan’s key policymakers were Western educated and had extensive experience living abroad. Ali Jalali, the minister of interior in charge of Afghanistan’s vast police apparatus, was an American citizen who had served as the director of the Afghanistan National Radio Network Initiative.

And chief of the Pashto Service at the Voice of America in Washington, DC. Muhammad Hanif Atmar, the minister of rural rehabilitation and development who later became minister of education, received his bachelor’s degree in international relations and postwar development from York University in England. In the Graveyard of Empires PDF Book Free

The fact that so many prominent senior Afghan government officials had lived abroad, however, naturally caused resentment among Afghan officials who had never left. But Afghanistan’s underdevelopment was not the reason an insurgency began. Rather, the prevailing condition was the inability of that government to improve life in rural areas of the country.

An internal memo from the UN and the European Union was deeply pessimistic: “Afghanistan’s current trajectory was negative: there was burgeoning disillusionment with government. Even officials were fed up, with governors voicing scathing criticism at the lack of tangible support for their work.” It went on to say that the “government was losing prestige; its image and influence were waning.

Without a change in approach, Afghanistan and its international partners would lose ground: their fortunes were now linked. Civilians would be more likely to fight their ‘disgusting government’ both because they detested it and because they feared the consequences of not fighting. In the Graveyard of Empires PDF Book Free

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