1 July 2020 — American Herald Tribune
Following last Friday’s allegations by the New York Times that Russian intelligence officers had offered financial incentives to Taliban insurgents who had targeted US and coalition forces in Afghanistan, the ensuing outrage by the mainstream media went as predictably as expected.
Despite the allegations being denied by Russia, US intelligence officials and even the Taliban themselves, Western media was awash with claims of the Trump administration being unduly sympathetic to Moscow – a clear attempt at stirring up a ‘Russiagate’ Part Two in the run up to the November Presidential election, in the same vein as the media’s attempts to give credence to the claims of ‘Russian collusion’ in the run up to the 2016 election.
The irony of the Western media claiming that Russia had provided financial support to the Taliban in order to target US Forces based on unfounded allegations is seemingly lost on the aforementioned media however, when there is in fact documented evidence of the United States and its allies providing not only financial, but also logistical, military and political support to the precursors of the Taliban in late 70s and 1980s Afghanistan, who would then go on to target the predominantly Russian troops of the then-Soviet Union.
Originally beginning in 1979 under the US administration of Jimmy Carter, Operation Cyclone would see the CIA, along with MI6, the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI and the Saudi GIP, provide arms, funding and military training to Salafist insurgents known as the Mujahideen – with the intention of then sending these terrorists on to wage war on the then-Socialist government of Afghanistan, with the left-wing Kabul leadership having come to power the previous year when the Saur Revolution seen the previously Western-friendly government of Mohammed Daoud Khan overthrown and replaced by the Soviet-aligned People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) at the height of Cold War tensions between East and West.
From 1979 onwards and throughout the entire 1980s, the governments of Carter’s successor Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives would provide funding worth billions to the Mujahideen – who were committing atrocities not only against those still loyal to the Socialist government of Kabul but also against Soviet troops, with Moscow having intervened at the outset of the conflict at the request of the Afghan government.
The effects of Operation Cyclone would go on to have even further reaching consequences than Afghanistan, with one of the most prominent Mujahideen fighters being none other than Saudi businessman Osama Bin Laden, it is a widely held consensus that the actions of Western governments during Operation Cyclone were a direct precursor to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
However, despite being well aware of the consequences of arming Salafist extremists in a bid to foster regime change, by 2011 the United States and Britain alongside Saudi Arabia were again carrying out the same actions in Syria – this time as a result of Bashar al-Assad’s 2009 refusal to allow Western-allied Qatar to build a pipeline through his country, one which would have undermined Damascus’ relationship with key ally Russia.
In a similar vein to Operation Cyclone, Timber Sycamore, authorized under the Obama administration, would also see Salafist death squads being provided with arms, funds and military training by the CIA in a bid to remove Assad from power and replace him with a Western-friendly leader.
Unlike the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan however, the Syrian Arab Republic has so far been able to successfully withstand this attempt at regime change, with Assad remaining in power more than nine years later – owed in a great deal to the interventions of Iran and Russia in 2013 and 2015 respectively, both interventions being requested by the Syrian government.
This is not to discount the fact that many gallant members of the Syrian Arab Army, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and Russian military have lost their lives in defence of the Arab Republic, however, with more than 112 Russian servicemen being killed in action since 2015, a direct result of the CIA’s funding and support of terrorism.
Gavin O’Reilly is the Secretary of Dublin Anti-Internment Committee.