Saturday, February 18, 2012

Do GOP Congressmen Really Care about an Independent Baluchistan?

Can someone please explain to me how a bunch of  Republican Congressmen find it appropriate to introduce a resolution calling for an independent Baluchistan?

As reported in Dawn (and relayed via Jason Ditz at the site), Dana Rohrabacher (GOP California), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, wants the US on the record as supporting an independent state of Baluchistan.  He tries to dip into what seems to be his own treasure-chest of historical facts to assert in this resolution 

that historically Balochistan was an independently governed entity known as the Baloch Khanate of Kalat which came to an end after invasions from both British and Persian armies. An attempt to regain independence in 1947 was crushed by Pakistan.

You have to pity the poor staffer who was sent to explore Google to track down that nugget - or perhaps Rohrabacher got that handy factoid from one of the Islamophobia-enabling DC thinktanks?  

In any event, perhaps he ought to have checked a little deeper.  As Ditz's report also notes

Interestingly, the Khanate of Kalat was not traditionally a Baluch kingdom, but a Brahui one, whose territory was slowly eroded by an influx of ethnic Baluchs from neighboring Makran.

The Dawn report also notes that Rohrbacher  "created uproar in Pakistan last week when he held the first-ever exclusive hearing on human rights violations in Balochistan" - and that the resolution was co-sponsored by Louie Gohmert of Texas and Peter King of Iowa - two of the most prominent Islamophobic blowhards in a Congress already riddled with them. 

No one wants to see the people of Baluchistan denied their rights.  But that Rohrabacher et al. are picking this particular moment to provoke controversy and potentially destablize further an already destabilized, fragmented putative ally - and one that happens also to own a potent nuclear arsenal - suggests to me that these gentlemen are sorely bereft of geopolitical prudence, and that they do not have truly in mind the long-term interests of "the troops" in Afghanistan.  Those troops still rely significantly on Pakistan's willingness to keep open the supply (truck) routes across Pakistan into Afghanistan, which Pakistani opposition politicians, enraged by US actions, have already closed on several occasions.  This seems hardly a propitious time to enrage them even more.

Or, are these GOP gents' actions propelled by another consideration: Iran?  Baluchistan is not simply the westernmost province of Pakistan. From an ethno-linguistic perspective, Baluchistan also includes the far southeastern portion of Iran.  


So, for the US to fan the flames of separatism for Baluchs not only risks destabilizing Pakistan; it also would be intended to provoke trouble inside Iran itself, at a time when Iranians are already reeling under US-European sanctions and the looming prospect of military attack by Israel and/or the US.  At a time when people close to the Obama administration (even Dennis Ross) are encouraging keeping the diplomacy option on the table  vis-a-vis Iran, these guys seem to want to make that option less viable.

And these gentlemen surely must know that there is already operating in Baluchistan  a Sunni extremist terrorist group, Jundullah, that less than three years ago conducted a suicide attack that killed and injured more than 100 Shia worshippers at a mosque in the Iranian city of Zahedan.  Moreover, as reported in an Asia Times essay a few years ago:

Tehran has alleged in recent years that Jundullah is being run by Pakistan on behalf of the US to destabilize the regime in Tehran. (In 2007, there were controversial reports in some Western media outlets that the George W Bush administration was funding Jundullah covertly to further the agenda of "regime change". One report said that the Bush administration's objective was to gain leverage over Tehran, given Iranian sponsorship of insurgent groups in Iraq. Yet another said that Jundullah had been helpful to the US in tracking movements of al-Qaeda in the notoriously dangerous Pakistan-Iran-Afghanistan border region) 

The same essay notes that Jundullah has been linked to the Mujaheddin-i-Khalq, the favorite Iranian anti-regime terrorist group of US neocons. 

And finally, this gem from Mark Perry in Foreign Policy only a month ago:

Buried deep in the archives of America's intelligence services are a series of memos, written during the last years of President George W. Bush's administration, that describe how Israeli Mossad officers recruited operatives belonging to the terrorist group Jundallah by passing themselves off as American agents. According to two U.S. intelligence officials, the Israelis, flush with American dollars and toting U.S. passports, posed as CIA officers in recruiting Jundallah operatives -- what is commonly referred to as a "false flag" operation.

The memos, as described by the sources, one of whom has read them and another who is intimately familiar with the case, investigated and debunked reports from 2007 and 2008 accusing the CIA, at the direction of the White House, of covertly supporting Jundallah -- a Pakistan-based Sunni extremist organization. Jundallah, according to the U.S. government and published reports, is responsible for assassinating Iranian government officials and killing Iranian women and children.

But while the memos show that the United States had barred even the most incidental contact with Jundallah, according to both intelligence officers, the same was not true for Israel's Mossad. The memos also detail CIA field reports saying that Israel's recruiting activities occurred under the nose of U.S. intelligence officers, most notably in London, the capital of one of Israel's ostensible allies, where Mossad officers posing as CIA operatives met with Jundallah officials.

The officials did not know whether the Israeli program to recruit and use Jundallah is ongoing. Nevertheless, they were stunned by the brazenness of the Mossad's efforts.

Hmm. There sure are lots of dots to connect here, aren't there?

So, getting back to our three GOP worthies . . . one could identify quite a few motives (incentives, even) for their resolution.

Somehow, I find it hard to believe that the human rights of the people of Baluchistan top the list.

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