- (August 2005)
The next Afghanistan?.
Obscured by the vastly more popular trouble in Iraq,
the civil war in Nepal is largely neglected by the international media.
Battles between the army and the Maoist rebels have claimed the lives
of dozens of soldiers, just like in Iraq, although in a more convetional
kind of warfare. On august 9 the government announced that 140 soldiers
were unaccounted for.
The situation has deteriorated to the point that the King Gyanendra assumed
absolute power, arresting politicians and journalists, banning political
activities and restricting civil rights.
The reason the international media show little interest for Nepal's fall into
anarchy is that neither the Maoists nor the government are targeting foreigners.
Foreigners are free to hike the beautiful Nepalese mountains and enjoy the
proverbial Katmandu atmosphere.
Despite being a favorite destination of international tourism since the 1960s,
Nepal has remained one of the poorest countries in the world. Rampant
corruption, inept governments and the communist rebellion are among the factors
that have made Nepal a textbook case of how to remain undeveloped when both
its huge neighbors (China and India) are prospering.
The Maoists themselves are a symbol of how Nepal still lives in the past.
Inspired by Peru's "Sendero Luminoso", the men of
"Comrade Prachanda" (real name Pushpan Kamal Dahal) are
leading a struggle to install the kind of regime that China itself abhors.
But the peasants who support the Maoists live in a world that is hard
to imagine for modern Chinese and Indian consumers and high-tech employees.
Even if the king of Nepal or someone on his behalf knew what to do, it would
be difficult to win this war, because the only way to win it would be to
bring social and economic development to the countryside, but the Maoists
won't let this happen.
The parallels with Iraq (where Islamic fundamentalists want to disrupt the
reconstruction in order to keep the Sunni minority disgruntled and therefore
receive support from it) are many.
The difference is that both the Maoist rebels and the Nepalese regime are
lightly armed and cannot cause the carnage that the insurgents and the USA
troops are causing in Iraq.
It is surprising that the powers show so little interest in the future of
Nepal. If there is one country that could become the next Afghanistan,
that is Nepal. When the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan they were widely
regarded as a bunch of crazy nuts ruling over a useless piece of land. A few
years later the world's superpower was attacked on its own soil by a terrorist
organization who had used the Taliban regime to grow. It turned out that
the Taliban were the ideal vehicle for a new kind of political movement (one
founded on Islam) to grow.
Today the world's powers are witnessing a similar kind of civil war in a
similarly poor country, and they are discounting its importance because
of a similar remoteness and isolation of the country. The Maoists, just like
Al Qaeda, have publicly advocated the mission to "use Nepal as a base for the
There are one billion disgruntled poor people in the world among whom the
Maoist message could reverberate, just like there were one billion Muslims
among who the Al Qaeda message reverberated.
History has not taught much to the USA and the other "powers".
TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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