Baluchistan: An 800-Pound-Guerrilla in Central Asia?
by Dr. Robert D. Crane
Baluchistan may be the hidden eight-hundred-pound guerrilla in Central Asia, because all the forces and factors for change are concentrated there, which is why policy-advisors talk about it only in whispers, if at all.
The so-called exogenous factor, deliberately ignored by everyone except the Iranians, is the fact that half of Baluchistan is in the current Pakistan and half is in Iran. Mahan Abedin, the Managing Editor of Islamism Digest, which is published in London by The Centre for the Study of Terrorism, was interviewed on October 18th, 2009, in BBC’s World Today program about the spectacular suicide bombing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC)
headquarters by the Baluchi ethnic-based terrorist organization, Jundallah. Although American CIA agents allegedly are working with this group, even the Iranian government denies that any foreign connections are relevant to the Iranian “Baluchi problem,” nor are any alleged contacts relevant between these ethnically-based insurgents and the ideologically counter-revolutionary Sunni groups in the area. In fact, as in Afghanistan, the ethnic insurgents and the foreign terrorists are natural enemies.
More importantly, there does not yet seem to be any cooperation among Baluchi extremists across the Iranian/Baluchi border, even though if only in geographic size both parts of Baluchistan could be major players in what the Brits a century ago called The Great Game. This lack of cooperation in a common cause could change, however, if U.S. drones start targeting Quetta, which is the capital of Baluchistan and now is the de facto headquarters of the entire Taliban movement in Central Asia.
The “unthinkable” but emergent issue now is becoming whether the remnant sliver of Pakistan east of the Indus River, encompassing the smaller of Pakistan’s four provinces, namely, the Punjab in the north and Sindh in the south, can survive as an independent state, and, if so, whether a Pushtun confederation encompassing initially half of both British creations, the states of Pakistan and Afghanistan, can succeed in promoting peace, prosperity, and freedom, and whether this can lead to a still larger confederation, including Islamabad and Tehran, in pursuing the same goals.
This may be similar to the Holy Land in Southwest Asia, where a single polity might serve as the basis for a larger decentralized confederation replacing the hopeless two-state scenario.
The so-called local variables are linked to four larger regional and global issues, which are:
1) What are U.S. interests and prospects for controlling a regional Pipelineistan in Central Asia, based in part on Pakistan’s two largest provinces, Pushtunistan in the north and the gas and oil rich Baluchistan in the south?
2) What are India’s and China’s long-range strategic cost-benefit analyses for supporting American interests?
3) Under what conditions would the Taliban again make the offer, declined by “get him dead or alive” President George W. Bush shortly after 9/11, to turn Osama bin Laden over to a neutral country for trial, and
4) Would the U.S. government agree as part of a trial to publicly explore the 9/11 mystery?
Among my several hundred articles and position papers in http://www.theamericanmuslim.org the following give some background:
Baluchistan: Pivot of Asia, 8/29/06
Freedom (from America): The New Global Paradigm, 10/13/06
Waging Memetic Warfare on Tricky Terrain, 8/19/08
Geopolitics of the Caucasus: A Key to the Fourth World War Against Terrorism, 11/06/08
Gaza and Afghanistan: A Grand Strategic Perspective, 01/10/09
Building a Central Asian Confederation: The Grand Strategy of Pushtunistan for the Pushtunis, 2/24/09
Baluchistan: Pivot of Asia, Revisited, 5/09/09
New Frontiers in Global Strategy: The Case of Pushtunistan, 5/12/09
Sufis and Moderate Islamists Unite to Bring Peace, Prosperity, and Freedom to Somalia, 5/24/09
A Real H-Bomb for Real Change: Cooperate with Palestinians’ Legitimate Government Now, 6/12/09
Axes of Good and Evil: Exploring the Options, 10/18/2009
The largest question is what are the options? Are America’s policy advisers considering them, or are they committed in their current deliberations on PakAf strategy to lose big-time because, as all suicide bombers are told for a domestic audience, this, at least in the short-run, is more patriotic?