American and Indian intelligence agencies failed in their frail attempt to convince the world that the Taliban had all of a sudden decided to ally with Daesh, but this fake news story might be the beginning of a new tendency to equate any unfriendly armed group to the “caliphate” or falsely accuse friendly ones of being aligned with Daesh for Machiavellian purposes.
The internet was abuzz over the weekend with yet another fake news story being spread by the CIA, except this time it was about the Taliban and Daesh and not China and Muslims like last week’s one was. Local Afghan media outlet “1TVNews” was apparently the first to break the “news” from an unnamed “senior security official in southern Helmand province” that Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada had apparently called a massive powwow to tell his “shadow governors” and followers that their organization won’t fight against Daesh anymore because of their supposedly “shared goal”. Within hours, this unverified story caught massive traction and spread all across the world, even being picked up by Alt-Media trendsetter RT. It would later turn out that the “senior security official” was reportedly General Abdul Raziq, Kandahar’s police chief, who clearly has a self-interest in promoting this fake narrative in order to “legitimize” more aggressive American attacks against the Taliban in his region.
Fake News As The New Anti-China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Strategy
The reason why this story is being called fake news is because Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Iran’s Tasnim News Agency on Monday that the whole thing is fabricated, and that “the Taliban leadership order to all Mujahideen (militants) is to prevent decisively any type of Daesh activity…Fighting Daesh group is the Taliban leader’s decree…Unity with a group that consider killing of the innocent and defenseless Muslims as lawful would be impossible.” Given that the previous report have now been debunked by one of the group’s official spokesmen, it raises the obvious question about why it were invented in the first place and how it spread so quickly across the internet over the weekend. It seems unlikely that a local Afghan police chief’s words would almost instantly acquire global attention without some sort of premediated information campaign behind it, thereby suggesting the complicity of the American CIA and India RAW intelligence agencies in pushing this narrative – if not outright scripting it – because it’s advantageous to their interests.
The original 1TVNews fake news report also included an important passage stating that “Akhundzada was accompanied by Quetta Shura, a Taliban leadership council based in Pakistan”, thereby attempting to infer that Islamabad is providing support for an influential component of the Taliban. This builds upon Trump’s remarks from late August when he declared that “Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror”, and it coincidentally complements what US Defense Secretary “Mad Dog” Mattis threatened last weekend in revoking Pakistan’s “Major Non-NATO Ally” (MNNA) designation if it doesn’t fully cooperate with the US in an “anti-terrorist” (read: anti-Taliban) capacity. By extension, this fake news attack was meant to imply that Pakistan is providing “safe haven” to Daesh because of the group’s supposed newfound alliance with the Taliban, thereby allowing the US to begin to make the case that the country is a “state sponsor of terrorism” and thus possibly subject to sanctions, which in any case would be directed against CPEC in one way or another.
Chasing Daesh Across Eurasia
A more immediate and tactical reason for this hoax is that it provides “legitimacy” to the US effort to ramp up its attacks against the Taliban through airstrikes and purportedly Afghan-operated helicopter support on the grounds that the group is allegedly a “Daesh affiliate” now, which would in and of itself “delegitimize” the Taliban from any prospective peace talks and consequently sabotage the new Moscow-led dialogue process. The false equivocation between these two groups is also politically expedient in the sense that it allows the US to craft the narrative that its renewed focus on Afghanistan is about continuing its anti-Daesh campaign that was originally initiated in the Mideast, which would give off the perception that the US is on the global operational initiative against the group and is regaining its “lost leadership” on this front after Russia “stole the spotlight” two years ago in Syria. The world should be wary of this storyline, however, because it could be abused not only in Afghanistan, but elsewhere as well, especially if the US decides to “frame” some of its non-state surrogates.
False Flag Fake News
For example, under the guise of “fighting Daesh” and its supposed “affiliates”, the US and its regional “Lead From Behind” allies might initiate fake news psy-ops against local actors that they were previously allied with in order to use their physical presence in the targeted operational theater as a pretext for commencing military operations there. All that it would take is a similar operation to the one that took place this weekend in attempting to trick the world into thinking that a given group is now all of a sudden aligned with Daesh. Of course, this might even be true, but belatedly reported until an opportune moment arises for the US and its partners to take decisive action. It’s difficult to predict exactly where this example might manifest itself outside of “Syraq” and Afghanistan, but one possibility might lay in Myanmar if the US decides to turn on its “Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army” (ARSA) proxies in commencing a South Asian “Kosovo” scenario for the country on the basis that its local partners have defected to Daesh.
In fact, this might actually turn out to be true, but it could nevertheless be exploited by the US for the geostrategic ends described briefly above and in more detail in the aforementioned hyerlinked analysis. The key indicator to pay attention to is just how quickly the said story spreads throughout Mainstream Media, and whether it elicits any significant reaction from the US or its partners. If it does, then there’s a heightened chance that the accusation in question – whether objectively true or just a piece of fake news – is being promoted in order to precondition the population in advance of a possible conventional or Hybrid War campaign. It’s enough to recall how the US denied Russia’s claims over the past couple of years that Daesh had established a foothold in Afghanistan, but now that it sees a self-interested opportunity to advance its New Cold War agenda there, it has no qualms about recognizing this fact, exaggerating it, and even exploiting it against the Taliban, to say nothing of other actors in future battlefields elsewhere in Afro-Eurasia.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.