Secret US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks on March 15 show that former US ambassador to Nepal, James Moriarty, actively sought to destabilise Nepal’s peace process in order to prevent a Maoist rise to power.
The Maoist-led People’s Liberation Army waged a decade-long “people’s war” against Nepal’s centuries-old feudal monarchy. A people’s uprising in 2006 brought the monarchy down, opening the way for an elected constituent assembly in 2008.
The Maoists won the largest number of seats. After the government led by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) was overturned by a soft coup led by top generals in 2009, the constitutional process was blocked.
A peace process was established as part of a democratic transformation. But it has been frustrated by the old elite, especially by the top ranks of the royalist Nepalese Army.
The cables reveal Moriarty as a bitter man, utterly convinced that the peace process endorsed by the Maoists in 2006 was a temporary ploy to help them advance their revolutionary agenda.
They show how determined he was to block that process.
One key cable was dated September 22, 2006. The monarchy had just been toppled in a huge popular uprising, during which the Maoist revolutionaries and the more mainstream and conservative political parties united to bring down the dictatorial king.
In the deal that was struck, the Maoists and the other parties agreed to hold elections for a constituent assembly with a mandate to radically transform Nepal. The Maoists ended the armed struggle and signed peace accords in November 2006.
The PLA declared a ceasefire and the conservative parties agreed to begin the restructuring of Nepali society.
At the time of the cable there was a political vacuum. The king had been defeated on the streets and the Maoists were openly walking the streets of Kathmandu for the first time in over a decade.
However, it took almost another year of negotiations before an interim government was formed with Maoist participation.
It is now known, at least partly, why this took so long. US imperialism was interfering in Nepal’s political process to try to prevent the Maoists, the most popular political movement in the country, from being included in a government.
In the cable, Moriarty wrote: “It looks like we’re getting to crunch time here in Nepal … the Maoists appear intent on organizing during the month of October massive public demonstrations … If the government still refuses to cave, the Maoists, according to a number of pretty good sources, seem ready to move in November to a campaign of urban violence, using the demonstrations as cover.”
US officials feared that a Maoist “path to power” might emerge from the overthrow of the king.
In the five years since these cables were written, the UCPN-M has remained committed to the peace process it initiated and continues to push for radical change and a people’s constitution using peaceful mobilisation of the people.
This process has been locked in a stalemate. Significant social change is being prevented by the parliamentary parties. The cables noted that faced with these blocks, the Maoists have threatened to move outside the process in order to press forward with popular revolutionary demands.
In the September 2006 cable, Moriarty said: “The good news is that the Maoists are doing much of this through bluff. They have relatively little popular support, and they have nowhere near the military capability to take on the government’s security services in an open fight.”
This is a somewhat amusing statement to read in retrospect. When elections were held, the mainstream media and Western governments repeated over and over again that the Maoists had little popular support.
The constant prediction was the Maoists would come a distant third in the vote. As it turned out, the Maoists proved to be the most popular party in the country.
In a section entitled “What We Need to Do”, Moriarty outlined a strategy for the US to prevent the Maoist revolution from succeeding.
Moriarty declared: “[W]e need to increase the possibility that the leaders here will make the right decisions. I’ve been meeting regularly with the Prime Minister, urging him (so far unsuccessfully) to use the police to enforce law and order and bucking him up to stick to his bottom line of not letting gun-toting Maoists into the government (with greater success so far).
“We’ve also been pushing the other major parties … to support the Prime Minister on arms management and to push him to use the police against Maoist excesses. I’ve also created a firestorm of controversy by visiting a couple of military bases … and publicly condemning Maoist violence.
“Leftist MPs have called for my expulsion, but at least some of the people here are beginning to debate Maoist intentions.”
The cable proves that the US ambassador was not only pushing for the Maoists to be excluded from government, but also for the police to crack down on the Maoist movement.
Such crude intervention in the internal affairs of Nepal is outrageous — especially as it is clearly for the purpose of suppressing the people and their just demands.
Behind the scenes, the US was opposing democratic change in Nepal — and seeking out political forces that could continue the king’s repression.
The police are hated in Nepali society. Systemically corrupt, they stand accused of torture, rape and assassination.
In a country where the state completely neglected the people in the rural areas, the local police station was often the only state presence in the area. There were no hospitals or schools, just corrupt thugs protecting the landlords and money lenders.
During the people’s war in the 1990s, one of the first actions during a peasant uprising was to attack and destroy the local police station.
By the early 2000s, the police had been driven out of huge swathes of the Nepali countryside.
Calling for police to move against “Maoist excesses” meant a call to continue the government’s wartime brutalities.
Moriarty also urged the US government to prepare another huge arms shipment to Nepal.
During the period of the people’s war, the US and other Western nations donated weapons to the Royal Nepal Army, even as stories of its brutality leaked out.
It shows how the US quickly came to see the Nepalese army as their most reliable instrument and ally in suppressing the revolutionary movement.
Moriarty wrote: “We need to be prepared for the possibility of a Maoist return to violence in November. The key will be to condemn as quickly as possible Maoist violence, while shipping as quickly as possible some 4,500 more weapons that we have in storage for the Nepali Army.
“Those weapons would have an immediate tactical impact but more importantly would shore up a government that will be under tremendous pressure to capitulate.”
If a violent and repressive force is willing to obey orders, the US is prepared to give them all the guns they need to crush any attempts by their own people to rise up.
As a peace process was taking shape, the US embassy was doing everything in its power to sabotage the process and find ways to crush the Maoists and their popular base — even at the cost of reigniting the civil war.
If Nepal’s peace process does fail and some form of conflict or popular revolt does take place in the future, the fault will not lie with the Maoists. They have demonstrated great patience and compromise within this peace process, making great sacrifices.
We now know that from the very start, the US was trying to derail this.
The cables also shed light on the role of India in Nepal. Nepal has long been a de facto colony of India. Its politicians, economy, military and countless other aspects of its society are under near-total Indian domination.
A key demand of the Maoist movement is to change this unequal relationship and forge a new one based on equality, Nepali sovereignty and self-determination.
The Maoists have long accused India of interfering in Nepal’s political process, and specifically trying to undermine and sabotage the Maoists.
It has been an open secret, but now there is hard evidence.
In Moriarty’s September 2006 cable, he revealed the Indian ambassador’s role in seeking to block an interim government that included the Maoists and in pushing for a return to police violence.
He said: “I coordinate closely with my Indian counterpart here and in private he pushes the exact same message I do: that the police need to enforce law and order and that the GON [government of Nepal] should not let armed Maoists into an interim government.”
Moriarty finished his cable with an apt warning: “A Maoist victory would energize leftist insurgencies and threaten stability in the region. It thus behooves us to continue to do everything possible to block such an outcome.”
A Maoist victory would do all of this and more.
In a period of capitalist economic crisis, with falling living standards, rising prices, imperialist war and restriction of civil liberties across the globe, a liberated Nepal entering a process of radical social transformation would be a beacon of hope in the darkness.
And in 2011, as the people take to the streets across Africa and the Middle East, all of a sudden the word “revolution” does not seem outdated and idealistic, but modern, concrete, immediate and real.
A Maoist victory in Nepal would send shockwaves across the entire globe, and “threaten stability” for the ruling elite in more than just South Asia.
However hard the US embassy tries, it can do nothing to change that.
[Abridged from www.southasiarev.wordpress.com .]