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Author Topic: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan  (Read 250651 times)
ya
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« Reply #1450 on: January 15, 2015, 10:29:40 PM »

And why its hard to figure out, whats happening in pakiland

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1451 on: January 16, 2015, 04:44:31 PM »

 The Islamic State Reaches Into Afghanistan and Pakistan
Analysis
January 16, 2015 | 10:15 GMT Print Text Size
A Pakistani man holds a pamphlet purportedly distributed by the Islamic State in Peshawar. (A MAJEED/AFP/Getty Images)
Summary

The establishment of the Khorasan chapter of the Islamic State in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region strengthens the group's image as a phenomenon with global reach. But the new chapter's links to the Islamic State are fragile, and it owes its existence more to the fragmentation of the cross-border Taliban movement than to anything the Islamic State has done. The Khorasan chapter, like other Islamic State affiliates beyond the Syrian-Iraqi battlespace, will be met with local resistance from jihadist forces and al Qaeda who see groups friendly toward the Islamic State as a challenge to their authority.

Analysis

According to The News International, the largest English-language daily in Pakistan, the Islamic State announced the creation of a Khorasan chapter in a video released Jan. 13. (Khorasan theoretically includes Iran and Central Asia, in addition to Afghanistan and Pakistan, but so far the chapter is only functioning in the latter two countries.) In the video, a former Pakistani Taliban spokesman by the name of Shahidullah Shahid announced the names of the Islamic State commanders responsible for various parts of Afghanistan and revealed the chapter's new leader, a former Pakistani Taliban figure named Saeed Khan. Lending credibility to the announcement of the group's establishment, Afghan government officials have in recent days told Afghan media of the Islamic State's growing presence in several eastern and southern provinces, saying the group is fighting both Afghan security forces and Taliban militiamen.

In response to those reports, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi sent an email to the Afghan Islamic Press agency, denouncing the reports as propaganda put forth by Kabul and Western governments. He denied that the Islamic State's black flags were flying in several areas where the Taliban are usually active, and insisted that all the "mujahideen" were fighting under the white flag of the Taliban movement and asserted that there was no infighting within the movement.
Taliban Fragmentation

Despite Ahmadi's claims to the contrary, there is growing evidence that elements from the Pakistani and, to a lesser extent, the Afghan Taliban have defected. It is understandable that the Pakistani Taliban would fracture; the group has tended toward transnationalism since its inception, and more recently it has suffered significant losses and struggled with internal dissension. Moreover, the Islamic State has eclipsed the Pakistani Taliban's erstwhile ally, al Qaeda, so alliance with the group seen as the rising star would be reasonable. The Pakistani Taliban have also been far more sectarian than their Afghan counterparts, and the Islamic State's blatant and aggressive anti-Shiite doctrine appeals to them.

While the Afghan Taliban are not hemorrhaging as badly as their Pakistani counterparts, they have had their share of fragmentation over the years. Initially, the source of the frictions was the absence of the group's founder, Mullah Mohammad Omar, who has been in hiding since 9/11. The separation has meant considerable autonomy for field commanders. The Haqqani faction best represents this trend.

But ever since the Taliban acknowledged that they were in talks with the United States in 2011, the group, whose hard-line elements oppose the talks, has become even less cohesive. Al Qaeda has tried for years to exploit this discord but it has had only moderate success. Besides, the talks have not produced much — only a political bureau in Qatar and a few tactical agreements.

However, with improved relations between Kabul and Islamabad, China's emergence as a key international interlocutor and the coming to power of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, the peace talks have been revived. These renewed efforts come at the same time that the Islamic State is gaining support among jihadists and sectarian militants on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The key is the Islamic State expansion in Southwest Asia — to the degree that it is actually happening — is taking place because of divisions among existing jihadists.

If the existing divisions in the Taliban movement become more acute, it still does not mean the Islamic State will take over the jihadist landscape in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Instead, it will be just one more name in an already saturated jihadist market. The ensuing competition will be bloody and will contribute to the overall weakening of jihadism, which is already under a great deal of pressure given the paradigm shift that has been in the making in Pakistan for a few years now and the fact that the Afghan Taliban want to be internationally recognized as an Afghan national force.
Afghan Taliban Position

Already the Afghan Taliban have been portraying themselves as a national jihadist force and distancing themselves from al Qaeda's transnational agenda. While al Qaeda did not challenge the Taliban — and in fact paid allegiance to its chief — the Islamic State, with its professed caliphate, poses a direct threat to the Taliban. Since Mullah Omar claims only to lead the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, he is theoretically lesser in stature than Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who claims to be caliph of all Muslims. The Islamic State was also critical of Mullah Omar and the Afghan Taliban in the latest edition of its Dabiq magazine.

Pledging allegiance to al-Baghdadi would weaken Mullah Omar's position and that of his movement. The Islamic State is unlikely to supplant the Afghan Taliban. However, the Islamic State's spread does create divisions in the jihadist landscape that undermine the position of the Taliban. Furthermore, the sectarian agenda of the Islamic State complicates the negotiations that the Taliban are having with the Afghan government and threatens to draw Iran into the country.

As groups aligned with the Islamic State grow in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in large part recruiting from the Taliban movement, we can expect jihadists in the region to fight back to retain their own influence. Eventually an intra-jihadist struggle could emerge far more intense than what is currently underway in Iraq and Syria, but the Islamic State will not dominate the area as it has in the Levant and Mesopotamia.

Read more: The Islamic State Reaches Into Afghanistan and Pakistan | Stratfor
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ya
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« Reply #1452 on: January 16, 2015, 10:31:36 PM »

The question is who is the greenest of them all...and IS wins hands down....and so the jihadi flight to "quality".
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ya
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« Reply #1453 on: January 17, 2015, 08:57:31 PM »

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1454 on: February 01, 2015, 09:58:38 PM »


http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/01/world/asia/taliban-justice-gains-favor-as-official-afghan-courts-fail.html?emc=edit_th_20150201&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193&_r=0
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1455 on: February 04, 2015, 11:38:40 PM »

How Not to Squander Hard-Won Gains in Afghanistan
The woes are well-known, the strengths too often forgotten. Major cities and roads, for example, are increasingly safe.
By
Michael O’Hanlon
Feb. 4, 2015 7:15 p.m. ET
7 COMMENTS

As President Obama prepares to pull all U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of next year, the recent news coverage of America’s longest war is depressingly violent and familiar. Suicide bombings and insider attacks in Kabul, Taliban comebacks in parts of Helmand and Kunduz provinces (in the south and northeast respectively), continued insurgent activity throughout much of the east, and high casualties to Afghan soldiers and police.

But after my systematic survey in consultation with the U.S. command in Afghanistan, unclassified reporting and other information, I would argue that the security situation is on balance stressed but generally holding. It has deteriorated somewhat over the past couple of years, as NATO forces have dramatically downsized, from a high of nearly 150,000 in 2010-11 to about 15,000 today. But thanks largely to the hard work and sacrifices of Afghan security forces as well as recent political compromise in Kabul, Afghanistan is by no mean a failing state.

The core Western requirement of preventing a large-scale extremist sanctuary on Afghan soil continues to be met. This central fact should guide Mr. Obama, Congress and the 2016 presidential hopefuls. The war is not won, but those who base their thinking on the premise that the war is lost need to reconsider.
More Opinion
Hamilton Foundation President Christian Whiton on reports the Obama administration wants to talk with Kim Jong Un, only weeks after Pyongyang’s cyberattack on Sony Pictures. Photo credit: Getty Images.

While Afghanistan’s woes are well known, its strengths are often forgotten. The country has a security force of 350,000 that, unlike the Iraqi army in 2014, has not dissolved in the face of battle or split along ethnic lines. President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah have fashioned a workable political compromise out of last year’s tortured election process, bridging major ethnic and power-broker divides and this January beginning to forge a cabinet.

This political reconciliation makes it likely that the security forces will continue to respect central-government authority. The nation’s citizenry remains strongly anti-Taliban, partly due to a much-improved quality of life since 2001, and evinces much greater political awareness and participation.

Consider recent security trends:

• Most major cities remain safer for Afghan citizens than they were even four or five years ago. There has been some worsening on balance over the past one to two years, in Kabul particularly, and some smaller cities in the south and northeast. But on balance the country’s largest cities after Kabul—Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif—are not becoming more violent or anarchic. Kandahar, where the Taliban movement originated, is probably safer than at any time in the past seven or eight years. Of the country’s 34 provinces, no capital cities are inaccessible to the government.

• Many rural areas remain contested and not in government hands. Most have not benefited in a lasting way from the “clear, hold, build” paradigm recommended by standard counterinsurgency logic and advocated by Gens. Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus . Yet there are only a few significant swaths of territory where the central Taliban organization truly controls an area, as in parts of Helmand, Kunduz, Wardak, Kunar, Nangahar and Khost provinces.

• Most major roads in Afghanistan remain usable and well traveled. A majority, even if only a small majority, of citizens in recent polls report feeling truly safe on the nation’s highways, according to data provided by the U.S. command in Kabul. The so-called ring road, including the key section from Kabul to Kandahar, generally fits this description.
An Afghan laborer pulls a cart carrying mattresses on a street in Kabul, Afghanistan. ENLARGE
An Afghan laborer pulls a cart carrying mattresses on a street in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo: Associated Press

A useful way to put today’s security picture in perspective is to ask what kinds of events or dynamics could plausibly produce a collapse of Afghanistan, and then to compare these to current conditions.

If Congress and other donors like Japan and European countries cut off funds for the Afghan army and police, Afghan security forces could face the dilemmas they did when the Soviet Union dissolved and ended financial support for the Najibullah government in the early 1990s. But even as Western parliaments chip away at aid, they are wisely sustaining flows of several billion dollars a year.

If Messrs. Ghani and Abdullah and other key actors stopped cooperating and sent their followers onto the streets in zero-sum political showdowns, civil war could erupt along ethnic lines. Yet this is not happening, partly due to the stabilizing presence of even much-reduced numbers of NATO forces.

If Pakistan went all out in supporting the Afghan Taliban, it is not clear that Kabul could fend off the challenge. But Islamabad’s interest seems less in destroying Afghanistan than in exercising continued leverage. This is regrettable and short-sighted but it is not an all-out proxy war.

And if Afghanistan’s youth stop joining the army and police, losses from battle could not be replaced. Yet in a country where national pride is greater than we in the West acknowledge—and where other economic opportunities are limited—army and police recruiting hasn’t been a problem despite combat fatalities of about 5,000 annually over the past two years.

While U.S. policy makers may feel discouraged, they should not be despondent or fatalistic. If Congress sustains financial help for the Afghan state, and especially if President Obama rethinks his plan to zero out U.S. combat forces in Afghanistan by the end of 2016, something resembling partial success in this very long and costly war is still possible.

Mr. O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is co-author with Hassina Sherjan of “Toughing It Out in Afghanistan” (Brookings, 2010).
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