With events escalating quickly in Kashmir it’s incumbent to ask the most pertinent questions in geopolitics.
And, Why Now?
India and Pakistan are both making serious moves to slip out from underneath the US’s external control. India has openly defied the US on buying S-400 missile defense systems, keeping up its oil trade with Iran and developing the important Iranian port at Chabahar to help complete an almost private spur of the North South Transport Corridor.
Pakistan, under new Prime Minister Imran Khan is trying to square accounts with China over its massive investment for its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) known as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It has also been at the forefront of multiple rounds of talks spurred by the Russians and Iranians to forge some kind of peace in Afghanistan.
And the Trump administration cut off US aid to Pakistan for not being sufficiently helpful in the fight against terrorism. This opened up a war of words between Trump and Khan who reminded Trump that the little bit of money the US sent Pakistan nothing compared to the losses both economic and personal.
If there was ever the possibility of peace breaking out between India and Pakistan it would be in the context of stitching the two countries together through China’s regional plans as well as solving the thorny problem of continued US and NATO occupation of Afghanistan.
Anything that can be done to flare up tensions between these two adversaries then serves the US’s goals of sowing chaos and division to keep the things from progressing smoothly. Khan was elected to, in effect, drain the Pakistani Swamp. His, like Trump’s, is a tall order.
And at this point it looks like he’s still willing to give it a go as opposed to Trump who is simply revealing himself to be a thin-skinned version of Barack Obama, albeit with a distinctly orange hue.
But, still why right now?
Because Trump is distracted with his latest love affair with himself – taking credit for a Korean peace process that will proceed with or without him at this point. All he can do is slow it down, which is exactly what his Secretary of State has been doing since last year’s meeting in Singapore.
And that leaves people like John Bolton and the rest of the worst people in D.C. to go to work undermining an entire region of the world.
Last weekend’s terrorist attack was a planned provocation to produce the very outcome we have today. Jaish-e-Mohammed have too many direct and indirect links to Bush the Lesser era programs and Saudi Arabia to be ignored.
This attack happens just days after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman comes rushing in to save Pakistan’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves with promises of $10 billion to build a refinery of Saudi oil at the (now Chinese) port of Gwadar.
There are no coincidences in geopolitics. Timing is everything.
It reminds me of the flare up in Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2016. Then Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Azeri leader Ilham Aliyev on a Wednesday and by Sunday a nearly twenty-year peace was broken.
National Security Advisor John Bolton is desperate to keep Trump from pulling half of the troops out of Afghanistan. After a disastrous “Let Make War on Iran” conference in Warsaw two weeks ago, Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were reeling from having obtained no support outside of those already committed to such a plan.
Europe roundly said no, other than willing satrap Poland, still hoping Daddy Trump will save them from the mean old Nordstream 2 pipeline.
As Alistair Crooke pointed out recently, Bolton is putting pressure on Pakistan to forge a peace agreement with the Taliban which somehow allows for the US to maintain all of its troop presence there.
Washington is now embracing Pakistan (with Saudi Arabia and UAE writing the cheques). And Washington looks to Pakistan rather, not so much to contain and disrupt the Taliban, but to co-opt it through a ‘peace accord’ into accepting to be another US military ‘hub’ to match America’s revamped military ‘hub’ in Erbil (the Kurdish part of Iraq, which borders the Kurdish provinces of Iran). As a former Indian Ambassador, MK Bhadrakumar explains:
“What the Saudis and Emiratis are expecting as follow-up in the near future is a certain “rebooting” of the traditional Afghan-Islamist ideology of the Taliban and its quintessentially nationalistic “Afghan-centric” outlook with a significant dosage of Wahhabi indoctrination … [so as to] make it possible [to] integrate the Taliban into the global jihadi network and co-habitate it with extremist organisations such as the variants of Islamic State or al-Qaeda … so that geopolitical projects can be undertaken in regions such as Central Asia and the Caucasus or Iran from the Afghan soil, under a comprador Taliban leadership”.
Bolton was also able to get Trump to agree to pull most of the troops out of Syria, leave just enough behind to call in airstrikes to protect what’s left of ISIS and relocate the rest to Iraq.
Trump gets to say he fulfilled a campaign promise, and everyone’s plans for War with Iran stays on schedule.
So, if I’m right (and there’s no guarantee that I am) what purpose does poking a fight between India and Pakistan serve?
1. One it sells the regional chaos angle about the need to continue the War on Terror.
2. ISIS is gone but we still have to fight Iran.
3. It punishes India for daring to get off the reservation.
4. It reminds Khan just how tenuous his hold on power is.
5. It is a warning to China that the US will risk everything to not lose the Heartland.
Add in the proximity to the Trump-Kim meeting as well as the fractious trade talks with China and you have an orgy of related news all at the same time to drive the point home.
Bolton, the Brits, France and Netanyahu were willing to risk World War III in Syria to create a false flag event in which Russia attacked a NATO target – the downing of the IL-20 ELINT aircraft last September.
Do you not think these insane animals wouldn’t risk a nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India to blow up (literally) China’s plans to win the biggest prize in geopolitics?
If you don’t then you haven’t been paying attention.
Both Imran Khan and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi need to keep their heads here. Modi has an election coming up later this year. I’m sure the calculus was that he would jump at the opportunity to burnish his cred with voters by lobbing a few bombs inside Pakistan. For Khan, this is the first real test of his leadership and he has to resist the siren’s call of the Saudi’s money to balance all sides of the equation while de-escalating this situation as quickly as possible.
One thing is for certain, we haven’t seen the last of this.