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Fisk: Al-Qa'ida's defeated, eh?

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    Afghan insurgents on brink of defeat Is that right? Missions by special forces and air strikes by unmanned drones have decapitated the Taliban and brought
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 2, 2008
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      Afghan insurgents 'on brink of defeat' Is that right?
      Missions by special forces and air strikes by unmanned drones have
      "decapitated" the Taliban and brought the war in Afghanistan to a
      "tipping point", the commander of British forces has said.


      Robert Fisk: So al-Qa'ida's defeated, eh?
      Go tell it to the marines
      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/fisk/robert-fisk-so-alqaidas-defeated-eh-go-tell-it-to-the-marines-


      Last week the head of the CIA claimed it was winning the battle.
      Nonsense, argues Robert Fisk. The extremists in the Middle East are
      growing stronger

      So al-Qa'ida is "almost defeated", is it? Major gains against
      al-Qa'ida. Essentially defeated. "On balance, we are doing pretty
      well," the CIA's boss, Michael Hayden, tells The Washington Post.

      "Near strategic defeat of al-Qa'ida in Iraq. Near strategic defeat for
      al-Qa'ida in Saudi Arabia. Significant setbacks for al-Qa'ida globally
      and here I'm going to use the word 'ideologically' as a lot of the
      Islamic world pushes back on their form of Islam." Well, you could
      have fooled me.

      Six thousand dead in Afghanistan, tens of thousands dead in Iraq, a
      suicide bombing a day in Mesopotamia, the highest level of suicides
      ever in the US military - the Arab press wisely ran this story head to
      head with Hayden's boasts - and permanent US bases in Iraq after 31
      December. And we've won?

      Less than two years ago, we had an equally insane assessment of the
      war when General Peter Pace, the weird (and now mercifully retired)
      chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, said of the American war in
      Iraq that "we are not winning but we are not losing". At which point,
      George Bush's Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, said he agreed with
      Pace that "we are not winning but we are not losing".

      James Baker, who had just produced his own messy report on Iraq then
      said reader, please do not laugh or cry - "I don't think you can say
      we're losing. By the same token, I'm not sure we're winning." Then
      Bush himself proclaimed, "We're not winning; we're not losing." Pity
      about the Iraqis. But anyway, now we really, really are winning. Or at
      least al-Qa'ida is "almost" - note the "almost", folks - defeated. So
      Mike Hayden tells us.

      Am I alone in finding this stuff infantile to the point of madness? As
      long as there is injustice in the Middle East, al-Qa'ida will win. As
      long as we have 22 times as many Western forces in the Muslim world as
      we did at the time of the Crusades - my calculations are pretty
      accurate - we are going to be at war with Muslims. The hell-disaster
      of the Middle East is now spread across Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq,
      Gaza, even Lebanon. And we are winning?

      Yes, we've bought ourselves some time in Iraq by paying half of the
      insurgents to fight for us and to murder their al-Qa'ida cousins. Yes,
      we are continuing to prop up Saudi Arabia's head-chopping and
      torture-practising regime - no problem there, I suppose, after our
      enthusiasm for "water-boarding" - but this does not mean that
      al-Qa'ida is defeated.

      Because al-Qa'ida is a way of thinking, not an army. It feeds on pain
      and fear and cruelty - our cruelty and oppression - and as long as we
      continue to dominate the Muslim world with our Apache helicopters and
      our tanks and our Humvees and our artillery and bombs and our
      "friendly" dictators, so will al-Qa'ida continue.

      Must we live this madness through to the very end of the Bush regime
      in Washington? Is there no one in that magnificent, imperial city who
      understands what "we" are doing out here in the Middle East? Why on
      earth does The Washington Post even give room to the fantasies of a
      functionary from the CIA, the very organisation that failed to prevent
      9/11 because - if we are to believe what we are told - a phone call in
      Arabic about crashing planes into the twin towers hadn't been
      translated in time? Are we going to bomb Iran? Is this what we are
      waiting for now? Or is it to be another proxy Iranian-American war in
      Lebanon, fought out by Hizbollah and the Israelis? And does Mike
      believe al-Qa'ida is in Iran?

      Israel continues to build settlements for Jews - and Jews only - on
      Arab land. And Washington does nothing. Illegal though these
      settlements are, George Bush goes along with it. They fuel anger and
      frustration and a righteous sense of grievance - and Washington will
      not prevent this outrage from continuing. I open my Arab papers each
      morning to find new reasons why the Bin Ladens of this world will not
      go away.

      Take the story that came out of Gaza this week. Eight Palestinian
      students won grants from the Fulbright scholarship programme to study
      in the United States. You'd think, wouldn't you, that it was in the
      interest of America to bring these young Muslim people to the land of
      the free. But no. Israel won't let them leave Gaza. It's all part of
      the "war on terror" which Israel claims it is fighting alongside
      America. So the US State Department has cancelled the scholarships.
      No, it's not worth turning yourself into an al-Qa'ida suicide bomber
      for such a nonsense. But it would be difficult to find anything
      meaner, pettier, more vicious than this in yesterday's papers.

      Does Mike Hayden read this stuff? Or is he, like most of Washington,
      so frightened of Israel that he wouldn't say boo to a goose? Doesn't
      the CIA realise - or imagine - that as long as we allow the Middle
      East to fester under a cloak of injustice, al-Qa'ida will continue?
      Why are our forces - and this is a question I was asked in Baghdad -
      in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Algeria (yes,
      US special forces have a base near Tamanraset), Bahrain, Kuwait,
      Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Tajikistan? (Yes again, French
      bomber pilots are based at Dushanbe to fly "close air support" for our
      lads in Afghanistan.)

      And as long as we have stretched this iron curtain across the Middle
      East, we will be at war and al-Qa'ida will be at war with us. This new
      iron curtain, by the way, starts up in Greenland and stretches down
      through Britain and Germany, through Bosnia and Greece to Turkey. What
      is it for? What's on the other side? Russia. China. India.

      These are questions we do not ask; certainly they're not the kind of
      questions that The Washington Post would dare to put to Mike and his
      chums at the CIA. Yes, we huff and we puff about democracy and freedom
      and human rights, though we give little enough of them to the Muslim
      world. For the kind of freedom they want - the kind of freedom that
      allows outfits like al-Qa'ida to flourish - is freedom from "us". And
      this, I fear, we do not intend to give them.

      Mike Hayman may think the Muslim world is "pushing back" al-Qa'ida's
      "form of Islam", but I doubt it. Indeed, I rather suspect al-Qa'ida is
      growing stronger. Mike says they're defeated in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
      But are they defeated in London? And Bali? And in New York and Washington?

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