Interview with Middle East expert Shahid Qureshi
A political analyst says America’s problems overseas would have automatically been resolved had Washington focused on solving its domestic issues.
In Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, militants have recently attacked the US embassy and NATO headquarters, killing at least a dozen of people and injuring many more.
Press TV has interviewed Middle East expert Shahid Qureshi to get his views on the current situation in war-weary Afghanistan.
Press TV: NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen today said in his words, which the enemies of Afghanistan were trying to disrupt the handing over of security responsibility to the Afghan army and police. Now do you think that that was the goal of the attacks? Or could this be a useful suggestion of NATO that supports the idea of the extended foreign presence?
Dr Qureshi: I think NATO’s commander understood where he is. He is seen as an occupying commander. He is seen as an invader in Afghanistan. The people who are fighting him are the local people who are fighting a war for liberation, who see these foreign troops as occupiers. Now, the US is a great power. There is no doubt about that, but to be great, they need to show themselves what greatness is.
Greatness is not [measured] by you going in bombing and killing millions of people because you have this terrible incident that took place in your country ten years ago, and you had three thousand people killed and you went around and killed millions of people all over the world in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and other places. It is an issue of how the Afghan people see these forces. These forces are not seen as peacekeeping forces. They are not there for reconstruction.
They amended the United Nations bid to the foreign forces at the time, which was to fight with the al-Qaeda. It wasn’t reconstruction or to fight with the Taliban. The cost of the war is overwhelming. Seven billion dollars a month to fight with al-Qaeda suspects across the whole country, plus one hundred thousand troops. The Taliban have proven by these attacks that they are on the ground. They are operating in their country, with their own will, take it or leave it.
I think the US policy should learn and leave Afghanistan as soon as possible. Then maybe they can start a diplomatic process. They were talking to the Taliban already a long time ago. In some places they were paying money to keep peace with them. In some places they were having secret negotiations. Now they are starting open negotiations on the embassy in a foreign country. This is another way of recognizing that the force is an entity in Afghanistan.
Press TV: A lot of people have been discussing the US military occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the wars that are continuing to kill civilians. We’ve been seeing the drone attacks taking place. These are just fuelling sentiments that will keep the threat of terrorism alive and that will give the excuse for these people to continue launching these violent attacks. So, why do you think that this rather killing of civilians, these wars and strategies are continuing? Do you think that the intelligence agencies of NATO and the US do not know that what they are doing is actually increasing these sentiments of hatred?
Dr Qureshi: Well, that’s a good question. Sometimes it’s better to use common sense than the intelligence, and intelligence doesn’t work all the time. There are incidents where the intelligence has failed to provide correct information. My colleague in Washington was talking about the first Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the role of Pakistan and Iran at the time in fighting the occupation. And now the same countrymen are fighting another occupation by another power.
So the mathematics is the same, but the difference between the two is that one power was just next door and the other power is thousands of miles away, coming and trying to occupy this country. The problem of the US is that if they solve their internal problems, lots of external problems will automatically be resolved. And one of the problems the US is facing is their internal debt and deficit. And that is caused by the bankers, as some call them “the banksters”.
They are also scared in the US administration that these people are profiting from these wars and my colleague in Kabul is correct. There are some private mercenaries looking into this who want these wars to continue, so they can profit from it. The best solution for the US is to wrap it up and leave. The sooner they leave the better and they will save money as long as the violence in Afghanistan will be regional conflicts. The problems we are having in Pakistan are not because of the Pakistanis; it’s because of the US invasion of Afghanistan.
Pakistan was very peaceful before the 2001 invasion. There were no suicide bombings and no violence. That is the cause, which people must understand. If the people that are partners in this war start blaming each other, then there will not be any outcome from it, especially with the involvement of the US with neighbours like Iran, Pakistan, China, and Russia to solve this problem as soon as possible, that will be in the interest of NATO and US forces, and will save hundreds and thousands of lives.