From Volume 37, Issue 8 of EIR Online, Published Mar. 5, 2010
Asia News Digest

Afghan Cabinet Warfare: Washington Again Manipulated by London

Feb. 21 (EIRNS)—According to a senior Indian intelligence contact, the recent arrests of top Afghan Taliban leaders in Pakistan—Mullahs Bardar, Salam, and Mir—is a sleight of hand used by Pakistani intelligence to "assure" Washington that the 15,000-troop U.S./NATO-led campaign in Helmand Province will meet with resounding success. According to this report, Karachi police officials pointed out that the leaders arrested since the end of January, in Karachi and other parts of Pakistan, no longer constituted the command and control of the Afghan Taliban, and that is why their arrests have not yet had any impact on operations on the ground—either in Helmand or elsewhere. They pointed out that the Taliban forces presently resisting the U.S.-led offensive in Helmand are led by a new crop of leaders, who, while devoted to Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Amir of the Afghan Taliban, are capable of operating without the need for direction from a central command and control.

The veracity of this information has already been established on the ground in Helmand, where the advancing U.S./NATO troops have met with much more resistance than what Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A), had told the media. Now, Britain's Maj.-Gen. Nick Carter has been quoted as saying: "I guess it will take us another 25 to 30 days to be entirely sure that we have secured that [in Marjah] which needs to be secured, and we probably won't know for about 120 days whether or not the population is entirely convinced by the degree of commitment that their Government is showing to them. So I guess, looking downstream, in three months time or thereabouts we should have a pretty fair idea of about whether we have been successful."

Less Afghan Drugs Passing Through Pakistan, More Heading to Russia

Feb. 26 (EIRNS)—According to Russian drug-control chief Viktor Ivanov, Pakistan's anti-drug division's special operations group has blocked a large quantity of Afghan drugs moving through Pakistan into India, and beyond. Ivanov told Ria Novosti that "special operations caused a 70% weakening in the southern drug-trafficking routes across Pakistan to India, and that [percentage] has been redirected to the North Caucasus." He said drug traffickers were using Iran and Azerbaijan as transit countries, and pointed to the substantial role Georgia was playing. "According to our data and information from foreign sources, the high level of corruption among Georgian authorities is preventing the fight against drug transit across the country from being effective," Ivanov said.

Russia has been a principal victim of the opium explosion in Afghanistan, which has occurred under the watch of the British troops in Helmand Province, particularly since 2005. Russia, China, and the Central Asian states held a conference about a year ago, addressing the threat posed by the Afghan drugs, and urging Washington to consider these nations' interests in shaping its Afghan strategy. Russia and its Central Asian allies are concerned that fighting in Afghanistan has been accompanied by a surge in heroin production, the main source of revenue for Afghan factions opposing the U.S.-backed government. However, the Obama Administration has done nothing except to pay lip service to the scourge that opium poses to the regional countries.

Mahathir Denounces Invitation to Tony Blair 'The Liar'

Feb. 22 (EIRNS)—Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, former Prime Minister of Malaysia, posted an article on his website, titled "Blair the Liar," in response to an invitation for former British Prime Minister Blair to speak at a conference of "National Achievers" in Kuala Lumpur in April. The annual conference, according to its website, "attracts 6,000-7,000 delegates who spend three days learning from, and being inspired by, some of the world's greatest leaders and entrepreneurs." Dr. M's response, in part:

"I am shocked that Malaysians have invited Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of Britain, to speak in Malaysia. I am even more shocked and I am disgusted that the organisation, which is inviting this liar of a Prime Minister, is one concerned with being achievers.... Maybe they have not heard that this is the man, the Prime Minister of Britain, who has been proven to be a liar, who had admitted that he lied about the capability of Iraq to launch a nuclear attack against Britain within 45 minutes. He lied about this absurdity because he wanted his Government, Parliament and the British people to support war against Iraq, to support his violent overthrow of a foreign Government he did not approve....

"Blair has been subjected to a public enquiry. All he can say for himself is that he wanted to get rid of Saddam Hussein—to achieve a regime change even if Saddam had no WMD.... But it is illegal, it is against international laws for any country to violently force a change of government in another country. Of this alone Blair is guilty...."

Britain's 'Global Finance Minister of the Year' Award to Thailand

Feb. 22 (EIRNS)—As if it were not enough that Thailand's Prime Minister is British-born, -raised, and -educated, and placed in office by a royal coup from London. Now the Financial Times wants to make sure that the Thai Finance Minister is properly recognized as one of their own. As Reuters reports: "British-born, Oxford-educated Korn Chatikavanij" was granted the "Global Finance Minister of the Year" honors from the Financial Times' Banker magazine today.

Korn's history explains the British pride: "In 1987, at 23, he founded J.F. Thanakom Securities to become the youngest chief of a major Thai investment bank after working three years for SG Warburg in London, which he joined from Oxford University." After 19 years as a British banker, he joined the Cabinet of his "long-time friend and fellow Oxford alumnus Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thailand's prime minister."

Korn has proven his worth to the Empire. When a corrupt, military-appointed court ordered the suspension, over environmental complaints, of 64 projects worth up to $12 billion at the world's eighth-biggest petrochemicals hub in eastern Thailand, "Korn came down firmly on the side of the environmentalists, saying the case could mark a positive turning-point and help Thailand retool its economy to rely less on manufacturing" and more on services—like investment bankers, for instance. He also opposes plans to build a deep seaport on the western coast, and the related plans for a canal across the Kra Isthmus—a plan championed by Lyndon LaRouche for 30 years—to allow exporters to ship directly to the Middle East, Europe, and Africa.

"Such a project would jeopardise one of Thailand's biggest assets.... We shouldn't sacrifice a very robust tourism sector in the south and put that at risk through the development of major industrial projects that would go along with that port,' Korn said."

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