It does not take long for great powers to develop more than one point of interest once they have entered an area of strategic significance. It would therefore be fanciful to imagine an America-free Afghanistan in the foreseeable future. “All this blood and treasure was spent for what?” some Americans will ask. Also the chant in Kabul once was “We must remain in the vicinity to keep a watch on the world’s only Muslim nuclear state.”
Yellow vests in Paris, Brexit in Britain, Trump in the US, George Soros and Steve Bannon vying for the soul of Europe, Turkey embroiled in the Kurdish enclaves in Syria, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in post Khashoggi free fall, corruption allegations enveloping Netanyahu: In the midst of these global wind storms, cyclones, tornadoes is the calm centre which I visited last week. It is four hours flight away from New Delhi – indeed most major Indian cities – Qatar or, to be more precise, Doha, the capital, where 80 percent of the population lives.
The ghoulish murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi has set into motion a new dynamic in the Syrian, Yemeni, Palestinian and other incipient conflicts in West Asia. Popular perception globally has traced the macabre plot to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, even though the Saudi propaganda machine is deflecting guilt.
Just when the 33-year-old Crown Prince was beginning to wallow in all the manufactured publicity, Friedman began to worry about his credibility. The information base for revised versions was presumably provided by the likes of Khashoggi.
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi burst upon the global news casts only after his murder in the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Turkey. Saeed Naqvi interviewed him in Jeddah in December 2001 in the aftermath of 9/11. Khashoggi was also a Washington Post Global Opinions contributing columnist and and former editor-in-chief of Al-Arab News Channel.
With Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister looming large on the horizon the media, which has placed him consistently in a negative searchlight, has a huge challenge on its hands: how to begin to adjust to the reality of Corbyn.
Are the Americans likely to walk away simply because they are exasperated? After having spent a trillion dollars, losing thousands of lives, losing face – so soon after their reversal in Syria – are they really contemplating withdrawal? Will the bosses of UNOCAL suck their thumbs now? Will the priceless poppy fields of Helmand, the oil in the North, the unexplored mineral wealth now become a Russian asset?
The new Prime Minister will be pragmatic. He will not seek to impose a moral code on his armed forces. But he will draw some very firm red lines and these red lines will stretch from Pakhtunkhwa right through Afghanistan, the arena of his political baptism and purgatory. That is where he cannot be seen to be striking deals. His political turf will turn to ash if he does.
If war begins in Syria, it will be on absolutely trumped up charges about the use of poison gas by Bashar al Assad. Why would he gas his own people if he is, by all western assessments, winning the war? And how do White Helmets take perfect close-up pictures of injured children? How do they not get poisoned? Mine is a small voice but, having travelled to each one of the countries involved in the Syrian tragedy, I can say with all the conviction at my command: this war is being dragged on the basis of lies and for ulterior reasons.