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Game of Thrones: Saudis Funding Taliban as Trump Gives Nod to Increased Military Support for Afghans

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COMMENT: Deja vu all over again. In the wake of Trump announc­ing that he will increase the U.S. troop con­tin­gent in Afghanistan, it is worth not­ing the main­stream cov­er­age of Trump’s (and Amer­i­ca’s) good bud­dies the Saud­is. 

This after the Saud­is are essen­tial­ly on record as hav­ing fund­ed Al-Qae­da for years, work­ing with pro­found ele­ments in the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty and the Bush admin­is­tra­tion. Pub­lic atten­tion has been on the fact that 15 of 19 9/11 hijack­ers were Saud­is. The financ­ing of Al-Qae­da, which nev­er stopped, is of far greater sig­nif­i­cance.

We note, in pass­ing, that Hizb Ut-Tahrir (spelling varies with trans-lit­er­a­tion) is one of the orga­ni­za­tions gain­ing trac­tion in Cen­tral Asia, thanks to Sau­di finan­cial benev­o­lence. Note that the group’s fun­ders include peo­ple from Europe, accord­ing to the arti­cle. It has his­tor­i­cal links with Nazi ele­ments in Ger­many, as well as the Al-Taqwa milieu. (Fol­low­ing the pro­grams indi­cat­ed by the tab will flesh out lis­ten­ers’ under­stand­ing. ” . . . . Anoth­er youth move­ment gain­ing trac­tion is Hisb ut-Tahrir, a secre­tive, anti-estab­lish­ment group that has a wide under­ground fol­low­ing in Cen­tral Asia, accord­ing to sev­er­al gov­ern­ment offi­cials. Offi­cials and for­mer insid­ers of the group said they believed it was fund­ed by for­eign­ers includ­ing Saud­is and oth­er gulf Arabs, as well as donors in Egypt and Europe. . . .”

Watch your back(side)!

“Saud­is Bankroll Tal­iban, Even as King Offi­cial­ly Sup­ports Afghan Gov­ern­ment” by CARLOTTA GALL; The New York Times; 12/06/2016

Fif­teen years, half a tril­lion dol­lars and 150,000 lives since going to war, the Unit­ed States is try­ing to extri­cate itself from Afghanistan. Afghans are being left to fight their own fight. A surg­ing Tal­iban insur­gency, mean­while, is flush with a new inflow of mon­ey.

With their nation’s future at stake, Afghan lead­ers have renewed a plea to one pow­er that may hold the key to whether their coun­try can cling to democ­ra­cy or suc­cumbs to the Tal­iban. But that pow­er is not the Unit­ed States.

It is Sau­di Ara­bia.

Sau­di Ara­bia is crit­i­cal because of its unique posi­tion in the Afghan con­flict: It is on both sides.

All the while, Sau­di Ara­bia has offi­cial­ly, if cool­ly, sup­port­ed the Amer­i­can mis­sion and the Afghan gov­ern­ment and even secret­ly sued for peace in clan­des­tine nego­ti­a­tions on their behalf.

The con­tra­dic­tions are hard­ly acci­den­tal. Rather, they bal­ance con­flict­ing needs with­in the king­dom, pur­sued through both offi­cial pol­i­cy and pri­vate ini­tia­tive.

The dual tracks allow Sau­di offi­cials plau­si­bly to deny offi­cial sup­port for the Tal­iban, even as they have turned a blind eye to pri­vate fund­ing of the Tal­iban and oth­er hard-line Sun­ni groups.

The result is that the Saud­is — through pri­vate or covert chan­nels — have tac­it­ly sup­port­ed the Tal­iban in ways that make the king­dom an indis­pens­able pow­er bro­ker.

Sau­di roy­al throne.

In inter­views with The New York Times, a for­mer Tal­iban finance min­is­ter described how he trav­eled to Sau­di Ara­bia for years rais­ing cash while osten­si­bly on pil­grim­age.

The Tal­iban have also been allowed to raise mil­lions more by extort­ing “tax­es” by press­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of Pash­tun guest work­ers in the king­dom and men­ac­ing their fam­i­lies back home, said Vali Nasr, a for­mer State Depart­ment advis­er.

Yet even as pri­vate Sau­di mon­ey backed the Tal­iban, Sau­di intel­li­gence once covert­ly medi­at­ed a peace effort that Tal­iban offi­cials and oth­ers involved described in full to The Times for the first time.

Play­ing mul­ti­ple sides of the same geopo­lit­i­cal equa­tion is one way the Saud­is fur­ther their own strate­gic inter­ests, ana­lysts and offi­cials say.

But it also threat­ens to under­mine the frag­ile demo­c­ra­t­ic advances made by the Unit­ed States in the past 15 years, and per­haps undo efforts to lib­er­al­ize the coun­try.

The Unit­ed States now finds itself try­ing to per­suade its puta­tive ally to play a con­struc­tive rather than destruc­tive role. Mean­while, the Afghans have come to view Sau­di Ara­bia as both friend and foe.

The ques­tion now, as Afghan offi­cials look for help, is which Sau­di Ara­bia will they get?

Prince Tur­ki al-Faisal, who led the Sau­di intel­li­gence agency for over 24 years and lat­er served as ambas­sador to the Unit­ed States until his retire­ment in 2007, reject­ed any sug­ges­tion that Sau­di Ara­bia had ever sup­port­ed the Tal­iban.

“When I was in gov­ern­ment, not a sin­gle pen­ny went to the Tal­iban,” he wrote in emailed com­ments.

He added that the “strin­gent mea­sures tak­en by the king­dom to pre­vent any trans­fer of mon­ey to ter­ror­ist groups” had been rec­og­nized by Daniel L. Glaser, the Unit­ed States assis­tant sec­re­tary for ter­ror­ist financ­ing at the Trea­sury, in tes­ti­mo­ny to Con­gress in June.

Oth­ers say the ver­dict is still out. “We know there has been this financ­ing that has gone on for years,” Hanif Atmar, direc­tor of the Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil, said in an inter­view. “This sus­tains the ter­ror­ist war machine in Afghanistan and in the region, and it will have to be stopped.”

That may be eas­i­er said than done. Sau­di Ara­bia remains one of the main sources of what Sec­re­tary of State John Ker­ry recent­ly called “sur­ro­gate mon­ey” to sup­port Islamist fight­ers and caus­es.

Much of that largess is spread about in pur­suit of what Mr. Nasr describes as a Sau­di strat­e­gy of build­ing a wall of Sun­ni rad­i­cal­ism across South and Cen­tral Asia to con­tain Iran, its Shia rival.

That com­pe­ti­tion is being rekin­dled. With the Amer­i­cans leav­ing, there is the sense that Afghanistan’s fate is up for grabs.

In recent months, the Tal­iban has mount­ed a coor­di­nat­ed offen­sive with about 40,000 fight­ers across eight provinces — a push financed by for­eign sources at a cost of $1 bil­lion, Afghan offi­cials say.

At the same time, Sau­di Ara­bia is offer­ing the Afghan gov­ern­ment sub­stan­tial defense and devel­op­ment agree­ments, while Afghans say sheikhs from Sau­di Ara­bia and oth­er Arab Per­sian Gulf states are qui­et­ly fun­nel­ing bil­lions in pri­vate mon­ey to Sun­ni orga­ni­za­tions, madrasas and uni­ver­si­ties to shape the next gen­er­a­tion of Afghans.

“The Saud­is are re-engag­ing,” said Mr. Nasr, now dean of the Johns Hop­kins School of Advanced Inter­na­tion­al Stud­ies, in a tele­phone inter­view. “Afghanistan is impor­tant to them, which is why they invest­ed so much in the 1980s, and they are look­ing to make them­selves much more rel­e­vant.”

Sur­ro­gate Sup­port

The sev­en-year Tal­iban theoc­ra­cy in Afghanistan was com­ing to a fiery end. It was 2001, and the Tal­iban gov­ern­ment was col­laps­ing under Unit­ed States bomb­ing unleashed in retal­i­a­tion for the Sept. 11 attacks.

Dis­guis­ing him­self as a doc­tor, Agha Jan Motasim, the Tal­iban finance min­is­ter, escaped over a remote bor­der cross­ing into Pak­istan aboard a Red Cres­cent ambu­lance, he said in a recent inter­view.

In the Pak­istani bor­der town of Quet­ta, he and oth­er Tal­iban lead­ers regrouped and began orga­niz­ing the insur­gency that con­tin­ues today. Mr. Motasim was appoint­ed head of the finance com­mit­tee.

One of his first stops was Sau­di Ara­bia.

As home to both enor­mous oil wealth and Islam’s holi­est sites, it was the per­fect place to make appeals not only to rich Sau­di sheikhs and foun­da­tions but also to impor­tant donors who trav­eled to the king­dom on pil­grim­age from all over the Mus­lim world.

Between 2002 and 2007, Mr. Motasim trav­eled to Sau­di Ara­bia two or three times a year. Osten­si­bly he went on pil­grim­age, but his pri­ma­ry pur­pose was to raise cash for the Tal­iban.

“There were peo­ple com­ing from oth­er coun­tries for umrah and hajj,” he said refer­ring to the dif­fer­ent Mus­lim pil­grim­ages. “Also the Sau­di sheikhs would come as well. I would ask them for their help for the war.”

“It was not only the Saud­is who would help us but peo­ple who would come from dif­fer­ent coun­tries,” he recalled. “Sau­di Ara­bia was the only coun­try where I could meet them.”

Once secured, the mon­ey could be moved in myr­i­ad ways to Tal­iban cof­fers, offi­cials said, includ­ing through region­al banks near Pakistan’s trib­al areas and the hawala sys­tem of infor­mal mon­ey-chang­ers.

Last year, Afghan secu­ri­ty forces even dis­cov­ered fam­i­lies of Al Qae­da mem­bers enter­ing east­ern Afghanistan with a stash of gold bars, Rah­mat­ul­lah Nabil, for­mer head of Afghanistan’s intel­li­gence agency, the Nation­al Direc­torate of Secu­ri­ty, said.

The Sau­di author­i­ties often say they can­not con­trol or always iden­ti­fy the mil­lions of Mus­lims who trav­el to the king­dom every year on the hajj, said Bar­nett Rubin, who worked as spe­cial advis­er to the Unit­ed States envoy for Afghanistan and Pak­istan.

The Tal­iban always trav­eled on fake Pak­istani pass­ports under assumed names and were unknown to Sau­di author­i­ties, said a secu­ri­ty offi­cial in the region, who spoke on con­di­tion of strict anonymi­ty, cit­ing the extreme sen­si­tiv­i­ty to upset­ting Sau­di Ara­bia.

Amer­i­can requests to cut the fund­ing yield­ed lit­tle result.

In 2009, Amer­i­can offi­cials com­plained that the Tal­iban and oth­er extrem­ist groups were rais­ing mil­lions of dol­lars dur­ing annu­al pil­grim­ages, accord­ing to Amer­i­can diplo­mat­ic cables released by Wik­iLeaks.

A Decem­ber 2009 cable from Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Clin­ton stat­ed that donors in Sau­di Ara­bia con­sti­tut­ed the “most sig­nif­i­cant source of fund­ing to Sun­ni ter­ror­ist groups world­wide.”

The cables date from a peri­od when Richard C. Hol­brooke, who died in 2010, act­ed as spe­cial envoy for Afghanistan and Pak­istan, and active­ly sought to curb fund­ing to the Tal­iban and Al Qae­da.

The fund­ing from the gulf extend­ed well beyond that peri­od and to oth­er groups besides the Tal­iban, includ­ing the Islam­ic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

In a leaked email from 2014, Mrs. Clin­ton described the gov­ern­ments of Qatar and Sau­di Ara­bia as “pro­vid­ing clan­des­tine finan­cial and logis­tic sup­port to ISIL and oth­er rad­i­cal Sun­ni groups in the region.”

Financ­ing such groups, she wrote, was part of a con­test between Qatar and Sau­di Ara­bia, who were in “ongo­ing com­pe­ti­tion to dom­i­nate the Sun­ni world.”

Covert Peace Efforts

It was Sep­tem­ber 2008, the holy month of Ramadan, and King Abdul­lah was host­ing an iftar din­ner in Mec­ca. But this was no rou­tine break­ing of the fast at sun­set.

The feast was an impor­tant sig­nal of the king’s per­son­al sup­port for a covert yet still evolv­ing peace effort. Among the dozens of guests were Afghan offi­cials and elders, as well as for­mer Tal­iban mem­bers.

With­in months, at a more dis­creet venue in the Red Sea port of Jid­da, the Sau­di intel­li­gence agency con­vened Afghanistan’s chief adver­saries to hash out a peace deal.

Mr. Motasim, the same man who had been col­lect­ing mon­ey for the insur­gency, was named by the Tal­iban as its rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

On the oth­er side, the emis­sary for Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan was his broth­er, Qayum Karzai.

Dur­ing three days of intense dis­cus­sions — break­ing at inter­vals when the men locked horns — a Sau­di inter­me­di­ary nudged the two sides for­ward.

The peace effort had begun in 2006. The ini­tial bro­ker was Abdul­lah Anas, an Alger­ian who had won cred­i­bil­i­ty by fight­ing the Sovi­ets for 10 years in Afghanistan.

In an inter­view, Mr. Anas said his deci­sion to seek out the Saud­is as a third-par­ty medi­a­tor was obvi­ous, because of the kingdom’s spe­cial sta­tus as home to Islam’s two holi­est sites and its sup­port dur­ing the fight against the Sovi­et occu­pa­tion.

“Even in a very far vil­lage in Afghanistan, Sau­di means some­thing,” said Mr. Anas, who today runs Al Magharib­ia, a satel­lite tele­vi­sion chan­nel based in Lon­don.

Still, get­ting the Saud­is on board took some per­suad­ing. The events of 9/11 had deeply embar­rassed them.

Both the king­dom and the Unit­ed States had nur­tured the muja­hedeen to push out a Sovi­et occu­pa­tion in the 1980s, but the sub­se­quent behav­ior of the Tal­iban infu­ri­at­ed the Amer­i­cans. Har­bor­ing Osama bin Laden was the last straw.

For the Saud­is, it was more com­pli­cat­ed.

Even when the Tal­iban refused to hand over Bin Laden — Prince Tur­ki, the Sau­di intel­li­gence chief, request­ed it in per­son in 1998— the king­dom still did not break with them.

Sau­di Ara­bia sup­port­ed the Tal­iban gov­ern­ment up to 2001 and beyond, in align­ment with Pak­istan, the kingdom’s main ally to check Iran­ian influ­ence in the region.

“The prob­lem is Sau­di Ara­bia sees Afghanistan through the lens­es of Pak­istan,” Mr. Anas said, describ­ing a prime chal­lenge of his peace ini­tia­tive.

To achieve peace, Mr. Anas said he want­ed to encour­age the Saud­is to build a rela­tion­ship with Afghanistan direct­ly.

Peo­ple involved in the effort — who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty because the process was con­duct­ed in con­fi­den­tial­i­ty — say King Abdul­lah was moved to back the effort out of a sense of com­pas­sion.

He did so, they said, even in the face of resis­tance from oth­er Sau­di roy­als who were unhap­py with the Amer­i­can occu­pa­tion. Yet oth­ers were wary of fur­ther involve­ment in Afghanistan.

To over­come Sau­di reluc­tance, Mr. Anas took the Sau­di emis­sary to Afghanistan to show that it remained a freely prac­tic­ing Mus­lim soci­ety, despite the pres­ence of Amer­i­can troops. Pres­i­dent Karzai wrote King Abdul­lah, who had ascend­ed to the throne in August 2005, a def­er­en­tial let­ter request­ing his inter­ces­sion. It worked.

King Abdul­lah met the Afghan leader at the door of his plane on a pil­grim­age vis­it. Mr. Karzai still speaks high­ly of his friend­ship with King Abdul­lah, who died in 2015.

“He would nev­er, nev­er, nev­er leave my call unan­swered,” he recount­ed in an inter­view. “The same day he would get back to me, talk to me and do all that I asked.”

The Sau­di intel­li­gence chief, Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz, per­son­al­ly over­saw the nego­ti­a­tions, send­ing his emis­sary between Mr. Motasim of the Tal­iban and the Afghan gov­ern­ment for two years.

But when talks neared a crit­i­cal end­point, the Tal­iban were gripped by a vicious pow­er strug­gle. The Sau­di demand that the Tal­iban renounce ter­ror­ism and its ties to Al Qae­da was nev­er met. Mr. Motasim was accused of embez­zle­ment and removed.

The next year, 2010, his main pro­tec­tor, Mul­lah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s chief oper­a­tional com­man­der, was arrest­ed in Pak­istan, while an assas­sin shot Mr. Motasim and left him for dead out­side his home in Karachi, though he sur­vived.

Both events were inter­pret­ed as Pakistan’s oppo­si­tion to any peace process being nego­ti­at­ed with­out its par­tic­i­pa­tion, sev­er­al of those involved in the process say.

“It was then that this process was sab­o­taged,” Mr. Motasim said.

King Abdul­lah inti­mat­ed to Pres­i­dent Karzai in 2010 that there were obstruc­tions beyond his con­trol.

“I wish to help Afghanistan,” Mr. Karzai recalled the king’s say­ing. “I want it to be peace­ful, I want you to sit down and talk to the Tal­iban, but you must rec­og­nize that all I can do is what Sau­di can do.

“That was a very mean­ing­ful word,” Mr. Karzai con­clud­ed, “mean­ing that there were oth­er forces who were prob­a­bly not will­ing to allow this to hap­pen.”

Trou­ble on the Hori­zon

Despite those covert efforts, the Sau­di king­dom, pub­licly and offi­cial­ly, has been large­ly absent in Afghanistan. While pay­ing lip ser­vice to the Amer­i­can mis­sion, Sau­di Ara­bia has not built a sig­nif­i­cant project in its own name in Afghanistan in 15 years.

Yet offi­cial Sau­di neglect stands in stark con­trast to the wealth of pri­vate Sau­di fund­ing that has done more than bol­ster the Tal­iban and allied mil­i­tant groups in the region.

It has also spawned hun­dreds of uni­ver­si­ties, madrasas and rad­i­cal groups that have extend­ed Sun­ni influ­ence and that Afghans fear are sow­ing seeds of future tur­moil.

One of those Afghans is Nis­ar Karimzai, who runs a small research office, the Orga­ni­za­tion for Research of Peace and Sta­bil­i­ty.

Dur­ing the Sovi­et occu­pa­tion, Mr. Karimzai went to school in Pak­istan, where he fell in with a Sun­ni extrem­ist crowd. “They teach that the Shia are not Mus­lim,” he recalled, refer­ring to Shi­ites.

He even­tu­al­ly dis­card­ed extrem­ist think­ing. But his own expe­ri­ence made him wary when he saw a cousin become involved with an Islamist group called Jami­at Eslah.

“I rec­og­nize the way they are train­ing them,” Mr. Karimzai said. “It was exact­ly the same way they taught me.

“Per­son­al­ly I am scared,” Mr. Karimzai added. “In five years we will face a dan­ger from them. One day they will fight and we will have a very big prob­lem.”

Jami­at Eslah pro­motes a strict Islamist world­view and describes itself as a self-financed, non­po­lit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tion focused on human­i­tar­i­an and edu­ca­tion­al work.

But the size of its oper­a­tions, with 40 to 50 build­ings includ­ing offices, a uni­ver­si­ty and a hos­pi­tal, indi­cates sub­stan­tial out­side fund­ing, said Mr. Nabil, a for­mer head of Afghan intel­li­gence.

The group’s bank accounts show no for­eign bank trans­fers, accord­ing to an inter­nal gov­ern­ment report. Nev­er­the­less, the report con­clud­ed that the group is financed by sources in Sau­di Ara­bia, Qatar and the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates.

The group is just one of a pro­lif­er­at­ing num­ber that have sprout­ed in recent years as Sun­ni Arabs from the Per­sian Gulf com­pete with Shi­ite Iran for influ­ence here.

The Ira­ni­ans, too, have been busy build­ing madrasas, uni­ver­si­ties and cul­tur­al cen­ters for the Shi­ite pop­u­la­tion, and even a road to the bor­der with Iran.

The rival­ry under­ly­ing the scale of such com­pet­ing fund­ing, Afghan offi­cials and oth­ers warn, spells trou­ble. In 2001, Afghanistan had just 1,000 madrasas. Today, there are more than 4,000, the major­i­ty of them built in the last few years.

After a sum­mer and fall of vio­lent attacks, includ­ing at the Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty of Afghanistan and against Shi­ite gath­er­ings, Afghans wor­ry at the grow­ing sec­tar­i­an tilt of Sun­ni extrem­ist groups. . . .

. . . . Anoth­er youth move­ment gain­ing trac­tion is Hisb ut-Tahrir, a secre­tive, anti-estab­lish­ment group that has a wide under­ground fol­low­ing in Cen­tral Asia, accord­ing to sev­er­al gov­ern­ment offi­cials.

Offi­cials and for­mer insid­ers of the group said they believed it was fund­ed by for­eign­ers includ­ing Saud­is and oth­er gulf Arabs, as well as donors in Egypt and Europe.

“They want to reach as many peo­ple as they can and bring them into the par­ty and even­tu­al­ly strength­en their ranks and announce a caliphate,” said Mas­soud Rahi­mi, a stu­dent at Kab­ul Uni­ver­si­ty, who said he declined when a cousin tried to recruit him.

“It is going to put Afghanistan on the road of con­flict,” he said.

Which Sau­di Now?

Upon his elec­tion 2014, Afghanistan’s cur­rent pres­i­dent, Ashraf Ghani, chose Sau­di Ara­bia for his first offi­cial trip. Then five months lat­er, after a sec­ond trip to meet the new Sau­di king, Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, Mr. Ghani pledged Afghan sup­port for the Sau­di mil­i­tary coali­tion for Yemen.

In return, Mr. Ghani want­ed Sau­di Arabia’s rulers to stop the flow of funds from rich Sau­di sheikhs to the Tal­iban and encour­age the Tal­iban back into nego­ti­a­tions.

“The signs are pos­i­tive,” said Mr. Atmar of the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil. “We have not yet seen con­crete move­ments against this, but we believe that we have a strong com­mit­ment.”

Yet oth­er Afghan offi­cials and local diplo­mats are deeply skep­ti­cal.

One diplo­mat in Kab­ul said track­ing the flow of ille­gal mon­ey was vir­tu­al­ly impos­si­ble. Anoth­er, who had served in Sau­di Ara­bia, doubt­ed that Riyadh would change, adding that the vast roy­al fam­i­ly is split into fiefs often work­ing at odds with each oth­er.

The scale of the Taliban’s recent offen­sive also has left many Afghans wary.

“The lev­el of finance, the lev­el of logis­ti­cal sup­port in terms of weapons and oth­er mate­ri­als, and the lev­el of orga­ni­za­tion­al sup­port in terms of lead­er­ship of the war they have received is unprece­dent­ed,” said Nad­er Nadery, chief advis­er on strate­gic affairs to the pres­i­dent.

“It clear­ly indi­cates a declared war against Afghanistan,” he added, accus­ing Pak­istan, the stal­wart Sau­di ally.

Mr. Abdul­lah, Afghanistan’s chief exec­u­tive, recent­ly led a del­e­ga­tion to Sau­di Ara­bia. They went seek­ing invest­ment, but also asked Sau­di lead­ers to press Pak­istan to end its safe haven for ter­ror­ists, a request Pres­i­dent Karzai also made repeat­ed­ly.

“They said they will do that, and they said they will try in the gulf region to use their influ­ence to mobi­lize against ter­ror­ism,” said Nas­rul­lah Arsalai, direc­tor gen­er­al of the coun­cil of min­is­ters sec­re­tari­at in Afghanistan, who was part of the del­e­ga­tion.

“Sau­di Ara­bia knows if we fight togeth­er, it means the Tal­iban will not be able to bring mon­ey from there,” he said.

Yet Ruhul­lah Wak­il, a trib­al elder who is now a mem­ber of the Afghan peace coun­cil says he, too, recent­ly beseeched Sau­di offi­cials to spon­sor the work of the coun­cil, which is autho­rized to pur­sue nego­ti­a­tions.

The Saud­is were unin­ter­est­ed.

“They are deaf,” he said. “We asked them to help. We asked them even just to give us some dates to serve to guests.

“But they gave us noth­ing.”

———-

 

Discussion

One comment for “Game of Thrones: Saudis Funding Taliban as Trump Gives Nod to Increased Military Support for Afghans”

  1. It may prove iron­ic in hind­sight that the hoi pol­loi were dis­tract­ed by a fic­tion­al Game of Thrones while this all took place.

    Posted by Uncle Grody | August 29, 2017, 2:07 pm

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