It was 20 years ago today. Asia Times published Get Osama! Now! Or Else… The rest is history.
Retrospectively, this sounds like news from another galaxy. Before Planet 9/11. Before GWOT (Global War on Terror). Before the Forever Wars. Before the social network era. Before the Russia-China strategic partnership. Before the Dronification of State Violence. Before techno-feudalism.
Allow me to get a little personal. I was back in Peshawar â the Islamic Rome, capital of the tribal areas â 20 years ago after a dizzying loop around Pakistan, tribal territory, a botched smuggling op to Kunar, biding time in Tajikistan, arriving by Soviet helicopter in the Panjshir valley, a harrowing road trip to Faizabad, and a UN flight that took ages to arrive.
In the Panjshir, I had finally met âthe Lionâ, commander Masoud, then plotting a counter-offensive against the Taliban. He told me he was fighting a triad: the Taliban, al-Qaeda and the Pakistani ISI. Less than three weeks later he was assassinated â by two al-Qaeda ops disguised as a camera crew, two days before 9/11.
No one, 20 years ago, could possibly imagine the subsequent slings and arrows of outrageous â terror â fortune. Two decades, $2.3 trillion and at least 240,000 Afghan deaths later, the Taliban are back where they were: ruling Afghanistan. Masoud Jr in theory leads a âresistanceâ in the Panjshir â actually a CIA ops channeled through CIA asset Amrullah Saleh, former Afghan Vice-President.
Al-Qaeda is a harmless skeleton, even rehabilitated in Syria as âmoderate rebels; the new bogeyman in town is ISIS-K, a spin-off of the Islamic State in âSyraqâ.
After negotiating a stunning package deal with the Taliban, the Empire of Chaos is concluding a humiliating evacuation from the land it bombed into democracy and submitted for two decades. Once again the US was de facto expelled by a peasant guerrilla army, this time mostly consisting of Pashtuns, descendants of the White Huns â a nomad confederation â as well as the Sakas, nomadic Iranic peoples of the Eurasian steppes.
The CIA shadow army
ISIS-K, the new viperâs nest, opens multiple Pandora boxes that may lead to the new incarnation of the Forever Wars.