American allies were American enemies before or would be enemies at some point in future. Japan was a formidable enemy of the United States. They made war with each other, which ended with the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Later, through the Treaty of San Francisco, the United States basically wrote the Japanese pacifist constitution. Ever since Japan has been an American ally in the region, which during Cold War helped the NSA eavesdrop on Soviet communications. Today, Shinzo Abe is dedicated to reverse the pacifist constitution at the urging of the US to counter an aggressive and expansionist China.
Iran wasn’t liked under Mosaddeq but adored when Mohammad Reza Pahlavi ruled. It became an enemy again after the 1979 Revolution. That prompted Washington to bring in Iraq as an ally in the region because it lost Iran. Another friendly regime was needed so strained relations between Iraq and America became sweet. The CIA supported Iraq in its war against Iran during the 80s, arming Iraq with chemical weapons. In 2003, Iraq was invaded. The rest is history.
The Mujahideen-e-Khalq or the MEK is a political-militant organisation in Iran, which in 1973 bombed 10 major buildings, including those of Pan-American airlines and Shell Oil Company. In 1976, the MEK attacked a car carrying three American employees of Rockwell International, killing them. After the 1979 Iranian Revolution, MEK supported the US Embassy takeover in Tehran. The group also targeted Brig Gen Harold Price in a road bomb attack, crippling Price for the rest of his life. Saddam sheltering the MEK was one of the justifications Bush used to invade Iraq. The United States considered it a terrorist organisation until 2012. Today they are American allies and have received intense counterintelligence training in Nevada, some sixty-five miles northwest of Las Vegas.
The Taliban became American enemies when Bin Laden orchestrated the 9/11 attacks while enjoying Taliban’s hospitality. A fierce and violent war ensued marking America’s longest war. Now, peace negotiations with the terrorists are the new sanity. A Taliban office in Doha has been opened up. The Taliban are coming to the negotiating table with their number one demand unchanged; the occupation forces must leave. Furthermore, sanctions on Taliban leaders must be removed. One factor driving the Taliban is the rise of ISIS in Afghanistan. ISIS sees Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India as the Khorasan province of their future Islamic state. We must never forget that the Taliban are religious but their DNA is nationalism just like the Mujahideen before them who were equated by President Reagan with America’s founding fathers. Their aim is not to die in war to achieve martyrdom as Al Qaeda and ISIS want. Instead, the Taliban believe in living another day to fight more for the motherland.
The Taliban see ISIS as a threat to their country. It wouldn’t surprise me if in future, there is an alliance between America and the Taliban towards their joint goal of countering their common enemy, ISIS. It could be a deja vu of the 80s, when the CIA-ISI duo defeated and deeply wounded the bear through “death by a thousand cuts”, a guerrilla forces strategy explained with nail- biting facts by Brig (Retd) M Yousaf in his book The Bear Trap. The Taliban could become the American allied Mujahideen of the past.
The only problem this time is the massive Indian presence inside Afghanistan. India would work relentlessly on anti-Pakistan activities, which would not only create hurdles in the way of achieving the peace goal but also change Pakistan’s calculus. India is already blatantly violating the US law countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) by purchasing the S-400 missile defence system from Russia. America has to ask itself: Is India really an ally?
Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th, 2018.