[Marxism] Failing to follow the script

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Wed Aug 8 00:52:54 MDT 2007

Afghan president Hamit Karzai isn't following Washington's script
to manufacture consent for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic.
And this isn't the first time, either. His regime voted against
the blockade of Cuba at the UN General Assembly meeting last fall.

Not following the script is getting to be a more frequent habit in
recent times. This weekend the Lebanese electorate also failed to
follow the script when it elected a Maronite Christian, but one
who'd broken with the anti-Syrian "Cedar Revolution" coalition to
sign up with Hezbollah, and was then elected, replacing a much
more rightist predecessor. This was the theme of Robert Fisk's
discussion of Lebanon in his report posted to the net today.

Hezbollah is supposed to be one of those evil groups who've been
denuncified so harshly under the rubric of "Radical Islam", but
they, too, don't seem to be following the script or else why
would they have backed a Maronite? It hardly looks like the way
impose impose Sharia law on a country, does it?

And in Japan, too, not following the script brought an opposition
member of the upper house of parliament to its presidency for the
first time IN HISTORY. the AP report says that this will make it
harder to maintain Japanese support for the U.S. occupation of

Each in its own way, people who've been pushed around are now
pushing back.

Walter Lippmann
Disneylandia, California

Japan's Upper House President Is Opposition Lawmaker for First Time
Associated Press 
August 7, 2007 3:38 a.m. [excerpt}

TOKYO -- The upper house of Japan's Parliament elected a Democratic
Party of Japan lawmaker as its president Tuesday, the first time an
opposition member has held the post.

The upper house chose Satsuki Eda in a unanimous vote at the start of
a special session following the crushing defeat of Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe's ruling party in July 29 elections. Mr. Eda, a former
Science and Technology Agency chief, has served three terms in the
upper house and four terms in the lower house.

"The makeup of the upper house has drastically changed after the
upper house elections," Mr. Eda told the parliamentary session. "I
think voters' expectations for the upper house are now extremely
high." [Shinzo Abe]

Mr. Abe's Liberal Democratic Party suffered one of its worst setbacks
in 50 years of political domination in last month's elections. The
Democratic Party advanced to dominate the 242-seat upper house for
the first time with 113 seats, according to the latest figures
provided by the upper house. Mr. Abe's ruling coalition still
controls the more powerful lower house, which chooses the prime
minister, but the Democrats' advance in the upper house is expected
to make it hard for the ruling bloc to pass legislation, including a
bill to extend Japan's support of U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan.

The Democrats have said they would oppose extending past November
Japan's military operations in the Indian Ocean to supply fuel for
U.S.-led coalition warships. The ruling party wants an extension
because terminating the operations could threaten Japan's ties with
the U.S.


from the August 08, 2007 edition -

Is Iran meddling in Afghanistan?

President Hamid Karzai, in meetings in Washington this week, said
Iran is a valuable ally. But Afghan officials have grown increasingly
wary of their Western neighbor.

By Mark Sappenfield | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Islam Qala, Afghanistan

Iran's broadening influence beyond its border with Iraq, together
with its pursuit of nuclear technology, has Europe and the US on

Now, its role along its opposite border here in Afghanistan is facing
scrutiny, as well. It was a source of disagreement between President
Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai during the past two days of
talks at Camp David.

Mr. Karzai told CNN just before his meeting with Bush that Iran "has
been a helper and a solution."

But key members of the Bush administration disagree, with Mr. Bush
saying Aug. 6 that the burden was on Iran to prove that it is not a
"destabilizing force."

Both views could be correct, say experts and Afghan officials, and
they reflect the subtlety of Iran's efforts to play both sides – to
support the fledgling Karzai government, yet also to secure its own
strategic aims in the region and beyond.

The interception of Iranian-made weapons in Afghanistan, as well as
reports of increased insurgent activity along the Iranian border, are
seen as a message to the West, in particular.

"They're saying, 'We're cooperating on the ground,' " says Amin
Tarzi, director of Middle East Studies at Marine Corps University in
Quantico, Va. " 'But we can make a mess for you much bigger than
Iraq' " if Europe and the US keep threatening action against Iran's
nuclear program.

Iran plays two games in Afghanistan

Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Iran has been a useful
neighbor to Afghanistan, maintaining peace along its border and
undertaking a variety of development projects, particularly here in
the border province of Herat.

Given that Iran and the Taliban were enemies who nearly went to war
in 1998, "Iran benefited from the fall of the Taliban, too," says
Sultan Ahmad Baheen, spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Foreign

Yet even as Afghanistan maintains a diplomatic gloss toward its
powerful neighbor, Afghan government officials are worried that Iran
is meddling to gain leverage on a variety of issues, both within the
country and with the Western nations whose troops are deployed here.

"Iran is playing two games," says Mohammed Rafiq Shahir, president of
the Council of Professionals, a group of analysts and businesspeople
in Herat.

"The first policy is to support the government because it prefers
this to the Sunni extremists of the Taliban," he says. "The second
game is an anti-American policy: Whatever they can do to defeat
Americans here, they will do it."

Iranian officials have repeatedly denied such allegations. Indeed, it
is a matter of tradition in Afghanistan to blame the nation's woes on
the interference of outsiders. But normally, such allegations are
levied primarily at Pakistan, whose intelligence services are seen as
funding and harboring Taliban leadership. By contrast, Afghanistan's
relations with Iran during the past six years have been cordial, even

"For most of the past few years, Iran has always been singled out as
an exemplary neighbor by all sides," says Professor Tarzi.

It is one reason that Karzai would be loath to enter a war of words
with Iran, experts say. He cannot afford to alienate what has been a
close and peaceful ally. But some government officials are voicing
concerns about what they call Iran's cautious yet deliberate efforts
to gain influence in Afghanistan recently.

After years of goodwill, the criticism suggests a gradual shift in
the relations of the two countries. There is no irrefutable evidence
of wrongdoing, officials say, but rather a mounting of clues.

In recent weeks, the commander of the Afghan Border Police for the
region bordering Iran, Col. Rahmatullah Safi, has been outspoken
about Iran. In addition to the seizure of Iranian-made weapons in his
territory, he alleges that Iran is harboring a hit squad led by
former mujahideen commander Yahya Khortarak, which targets local
leaders. Other security officials suggest that there is an Iranian
terrorist training camp near the Afghan border.

It is doubtful that Iran would want to topple the Karzai regime,
analysts say. Under the inclusive Western-backed government, Shiites
have unprecedented power, despite the fact that they make up only 12
percent of the population. As a center of Shiite power, Iran would
not wish to threaten such a delicate sectarian balance.

But with Europe and the United States talking tough about Iran's
nuclear program, Afghanistan represents an opportunity for Iran to
shift circumstances in its favor. "They're always trying to gain more
leverage in these talks," says Tarzi.

Afghanistan struggles with refugees

The same is true with regard to Afghanistan itself. Earlier this
year, Iran began deporting thousands of Afghan refugees. Though Iran
was perfectly at liberty to do so, the abruptness of the decision,
combined with the sheer number of deportees and the fact that many of
them had legal documents to remain in Iran, pointed to a motive
beyond expedience or impatience.

Water-rights issues of crucial importance to Iran are now in the
balance, as well as Afghanistan's willingness to support the US and
Europe in their anti-Iran campaign. The sudden arrival of thousands
of jobless Afghans into a country ill-prepared to absorb them was
designed to remind Kabul of Iran's ability to make life difficult for
Afghanistan, critics say.

Here, along Afghanistan's border with Iran, beneath a massive
admonitory portrait of Ayatollah Khomeini, the buses still often come
more than once an hour.

They bring Afghans like Mir Mohammed Safari, a teenager who says he
lived in Iran legally for seven years before being rounded up from
his workplace without notice, taken here, and then shunted
unceremoniously across the border.

He is one of thousands of Afghan workers who fled to Iran, either for
safety or employment, who are now being thrown out.

For his new life in Afghanistan, he has only what he could fit into a
plastic bag. "From everything, I brought this," he says with a wry

Fellow refugee Javed Sharifi squints in the sunlight, as the wind
whips violently over this arid border checkpoint.

Mr. Sharifi has only 500 Afghanis – $10 – to try to get to his home
on the opposite side of Afghanistan, some 400 miles away. Says
Sharifi: "I have no idea how I am going to get to Takhar."

• Mr. Sappenfield is the New Delhi correspondent for the Monitor and
USA Today.

Editor-in-Chief, CubaNews
writer - photographer - activist

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