December 3, 2001
Happened in Mazar?
hundred prisoners of war are now dead. You see, they were starting
riot. It wasn't as if anyone broke the Geneva Convention or
anything, but these fanatics were asking for it, you know how fanatics
are. That is why they were prisoners. What they wanted was martyrdom,
where they could get their seventy-two black-eyed maid servants
(this is a family site so excuse the less than literal translation)
and their turquoise mansion. Call me stupid, actually that's one
of the nicer things people are saying about me; but if they wanted
to die as glorious martyrs wouldn't they, well, die on the battlefield.
It just seems to me in my naive little way that there are more direct
routes to martyrdom on a battlefield than being taken prisoner.
there is the arms cache that I cannot quite figure out. You see
getting a load of guns into a prisoner of war camp chock full of
enemy soldiers would be quite difficult. Now, before I have some
half-witted radio show host saying "how do you know, you weren't
there" I'll just point out that common sense would dictate that
the last thing you allow enemy prisoners of war to keep is weapons.
So how did they get the weapons?
a couple of days (!) the answer seemed clear. There was an arms
cache right next to the prison. I can imagine how that one went.
Imagine, if you will, General Dostum (the Afghan commander in Mazar)
and some underling:
We have a problem sir.
Dostum: Tie them to the tank tracks, go two circuits round the
track, end of problem.
Not a discipline problem, sir, but some prisoners of war.
Dostum: Tie them to...
With respect, sir, there's not just four or five like last week;
there are five hundred of them.
Dostum: Then they can join us, we can't all be on the winning
side. Even I fought for the Russians once.
But these aren't Afghans, they're foreigners Arabs, Pakistanis,
Chechens, the lot.
Dostum: How many tanks do we need? We just tie them...
But sir, what about the media?
Dostum: They can come and film it. They've been whining about
how we don't give them good enough footage.
Well I don't think the Americans would like that.
Dostum: They can drive a couple of the tanks.
No, you see they don't like the idea of their public thinking that
the liberators of Afghanistan are just like the Taliban with public
executions and all.
Dostum: Oh, I see, and what do they do?
They make them "prisoners of war."
Dostum: And then they tie them to the tank tracks?
Not exactly, they put them into a prison.
Well, they keep them there.
Well, sir, that's it. It's all written down under the Genie Conventicle,
or something like that.
Dostum: So when does this conventicle say we can start tying
them to tank tracks?
It doesn't, sir.
Dostum: So, where do we put them?
Somewhere safe, so they can't escape.
Dostum: Like a fortress, or something like that?
That's right, sir.
Dostum: How about Qala-i-Janghi?
Good idea, sir. Whereabouts in Qala-i-Janghi?
Dostum: Hmm... I know. Next to the arms cache.
it wouldn't happen like that, would it? Why were all these prisoners
of war placed next to an arms dump? Or was an arms dump placed next
there's the question of all of these guys dying. All of them, during
a three-day battle? Did not one surrender in all of those three
days? After all, they had already surrendered once before. A spokesman
for the Northern Alliance said, "They got killed because of their
own stubbornness." Well, it seems that eighty or so did surrender
the fighting finished. Not any of them during the fighting itself,
but only after the media started paying attention. Then
they had to get some survivors. And you know what? They actually
that odd, all these people fighting to the death and then surrendering
when the media asked why there weren't any survivors. But before
that every last one of them was stubborn enough to face death. All
hundred, even those who had their hands tied behind their back.
there was something that Donald
Rumsfeld said. Allowing the Al-Qaeda fighters to go free would
mean they could "make their mischief elsewhere". He also
said, "my hope is that they will either be killed or taken prisoner".
On the other hand, there was this charming line:
idea that those people ... should end up in some sort of a negotiation
which would allow them to leave the country and go off and destabilise
other countries and engage in terrorist attacks on the United States
is something that I would certainly do everything I could to prevent.
I am not claiming that the Northern Alliance did this under Rumsfeld's
orders. They are perfectly
capable of doing this sort of thing for themselves, and they
need no prompting. But it hardly looks good just before a "battle"
in which every last enemy prisoner dies, does it?
there were no British troops or bombs, I wouldn't mind. Civil wars
in Afghanistan can be bloody things, and the "Arabs" should have
known that they were more than a little unwelcome. However, British
Special Forces and planes have been involved, and if this turns
out to have been anything less than some suicidal revolt where everyone
was willing to die, we will be in trouble.
Arab "street" will not spare a second thought on the culpability
of General Dostum, but they will think of all those "brave" Muslim
fighters who were shot after surrendering. And they will remember
whose special forces directed the attacks and which markings the
bombers had when they bombed the buildings. I still have enough
faith in my government to believe that they may not have
done something as stupid as collaborated in a wholesale massacre
of prisoners. However, I do not have enough faith to take it on