In this post I began asking questions about Malala Yousafzai. With minimal response there were two distinct positions, on facebook some Middle East contacts liked what I had to say, and I offended a western intellectual who felt he had the right to support her irrespective. I don’t find either reactions surprising. People in the Middle East have lived their lives amidst war, and are under tremendous threat from the Nato alliance – the corporatocracy’s armed wing. Whilst these people would defend the right for women to be educated, they understand that these things are never straightforward. Miseducation in the West promotes rights above all else – even though their governments do not practice these rights, intellectual ideals, so you often find westerners who promote idealism despite the consequences – see tag cloud intellectual.
I am very ignorant of the situation in that area, shamefully so when you consider that there is a British presence in Afghanistan. For me wars are concerned with increasing profits for the MIC, but what is the “democratic” justification for the war in Afghanistan. I have some vague notion that it is connected with the Taliban, but the reasoning is so confused it is hard to discern a NATO position. Equally so what is the justification for the illegal drone strikes in Pakistan? There is never legal justification for drones anywhere, but why partciularly in Pakistan?
In this article from Al Jazeera, a Pakistani Taliban leader has been killed in a drone strike. It was reported by Pakistani sources but at this time I cannot find an official statement from Washington. (Here is further Guardian info.) There is no outcry as apparently it is accepted that he has been responsible for killing CIA people – this apparently is an atrocity, whilst any killing is atrocious it cannot be more atrocious than the murder of Pakistani civilians by drones. It is my understanding that the CIA involvement is to provide the intelligence that is given to the presidential office who then issues the instructions to kill. If you are an organisation defending against drone strikes, cutting off the intelligence has got to be a legitimate target.
Are the Taliban such a legitimate defensive organisation? The answer appears to be no. You will note repeated use of the word “appears” in this blog because nothing is clear.
Here is how I read the situation – for info search wiki using Taliban. In Pakistan the Taliban come from the Pashtun tribe who live in what is known as Pashtunistan. They have a traditional code they follow called Pashtunwali – search wiki using Pashtunwali. This is a code of a traditional rural mountainous people, and western liberalism would not empathise with such codes.
Here is a description from the same wiki of one of the Pashtunwali principles:-
“Nanawatai (asylum) – Derived from the verb meaning to go in, this refers to the protection given to a person against his or her enemies. People are protected at all costs; even those running from the law must be given refuge until the situation can be clarified. This was demonstrated recently when Osama bin Laden was provided special protection by a group of Pashtuns in Abbottabad, Pakistan, but when it became clear that he was involved in terrorist activities, other Pashtuns helped the United States to get to him.”
Whilst the NATO alliance might not consider this a good practice it is moral, and far better than NATO justice with Osama bin Laden’s final scenario in which no body was recovered and no trial was held.
Here is a map of Pashtunistan:-
What can be clearly seen from the map is that an arbitrary boundary between Pakistan and Afghanistan has divided the Pashtun people; there is no difference between Afghan and Pakistani Pashtun. If there is a US attack against Pashtun in Afghanistan that would also be signalled as an attack against the Pashtun in Pakistan.
In this quote from wiki-Taliban:-
“While in power [BZ – in Afghanistan], it [BZ – the Taliban] enforced its strict interpretation of Sharia law, and leading Muslims have been highly critical of the Taliban’s interpretations of Islamic law. The Taliban were condemned internationally for their brutal treatment of women. The majority of the Taliban are made up of Pashtun tribesmen. The Taliban’s leaders were influenced by Deobandi fundamentalism, and many also strictly follow the social and cultural norm called Pashtunwali.”
As well here is a talk on the Real News network in which the pundit says that the Taliban are fighting for their right to establish their version of Sharia law (Sharia law is discussed below):-
In this article the writer sees a deadlock as long as the US remain in Afghanistan. And whilst there are drone strikes against the Taliban how can that deadlock be broken? What is the US strategy for winning? Is there one, do they actually want to win?
It seems to me that Afghanistan is like the Israeli war against Palestine, an ongoing fact of life in which expansion of territories, the war itself and all the family tragedies are the reasons for its continuance. Neither the situation in Palestine nor Afghanistan can be resolved on the ground as there is nothing to resolve there, they are wars created for profit and political reasons. On the ground what are they fighting for?
Let’s examine the issue of Sharia Law, a key question when it comes to the Taliban. It is difficult to put a handle on Sharia Law. There is one positive compared to western law, and that is that it is based on the Quran; so unlike western law it has a moral basis. What base does western law have? The bidding of the corporatocracy?
But beyond this it gets very messy to discern what Sharia Law is. Apart from being based on the Quran it is also based on legal decisions made by previous judges, the same process as western law. Over the centuries this has built a huge amount of legal precedent. I cite a number of references (1, 2, 3 and search wiki – sharia law), and you can decide how much of them you want to read. There have been a number of legal schools over the years as well as all the precedents so sharia law is a huge morass of legislation. Such a precedent-based system is open to abuse, much like Citizens’ United. Custom and practice dictates what laws are actually used in individual countries. Having lived in 2 Islamic countries (with western sympathies at the time) I perceived the sharia law as being what the country accepted, in my case Bahraini sharia law and Omani sharia law; they were the laws of the land. In neither country did I see people with severed limbs (1999-2002). I did see two societies in which people were generally peaceful. I saw no street crime; in Oman I saw people going to the supermarket, and leaving the car open with the engine running so that they could leave the aircon on in the heat. It was understood that both countries were dictatorships. When I arrived in Bahrain I spoke to a number of westerners who were happy to bring up their families because of the education and peacefulness. However Bahrain was rocked that year (2002) because of the renewal of Israeli hostilities against Palestine; Bahrain was a major US airbase. This demonstrated underlying tensions which erupted a few years later in the Arab Spring.
Where does this leave me in understanding the Taliban? It seems to be generally accepted that the sharia law the Taliban are looking for is similar to the legal framework they established when in power in Afghanistan:-
Go to 1.34 in this clip (shown above). What this Taliban law actually is I am unsure but my perception of it is that there are draconian laws especially those governing women. It is not sharia law itself that has to be so draconian, it appears that it is the particular laws the Taliban wish to apply that are the problem, laws that may have been applied many centuries ago and laws they now want to use to create their oppressive regimes.
The Taliban version of sharia makes them an easy western target as few western intellectuals could possibly accept this oppression. So they are a good post-cold war enemy, a target western people would accept – much like the reds under the bed; oh the reds weren’t there. Being so unsympathetic it is easy to say they are not wanted, and it is easy to see westerners making the jump of disliking their priniples to accepting them as terrorist enemies. Here is a Guardian opinion on the Taliban.
In conclusion it appears to me that initially NATO, the corporatocracy stooges, blamed Al Qaeda for 9/11. They created a new enemy, the Muslim terrorist, and when there was less to blame on Al Qaeda they then started to blame the Taliban as the Taliban were fighting in defense of their own beliefs and their own people in Afghanistan. In that same Guardian opinion the writer clearly states that
“The Taliban leader accepted again a key US demand not to use Afghanistan as a base to threaten other countries. He denied the Taliban would seek to monopolise power and said the group favoured an “inclusive government run on Islamic principles”. This is all to the good, although this could also be the Taliban posing as the government in waiting, the same absolutist posture that sank the opening of its political office in Doha earlier this year.”
Such a statement makes it clear that the Taliban are religious intellectuals who have turned to violence to achieve their idealism in their particular areas. Because of some of their unacceptable principles (to me and to many westerners) they have become an easy terrorist target through propaganda.