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Author Topic: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan  (Read 238117 times)
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1200 on: December 26, 2011, 10:34:05 AM »

Comments, especially from YA?
=========================

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — With the United States facing the reality that its broad security partnership with Pakistan is over, American officials are seeking to salvage a more limited counterterrorism alliance that they acknowledge will complicate their ability to launch attacks against extremists and move supplies into Afghanistan.
The United States will be forced to restrict drone strikes, limit the number of its spies and soldiers on the ground and spend more to transport supplies through Pakistan to allied troops in Afghanistan, American and Pakistani officials said. United States aid to Pakistan will also be reduced sharply, they said.
“We’ve closed the chapter on the post-9/11 period,” said a senior United States official, who requested anonymity to avoid antagonizing Pakistani officials. “Pakistan has told us very clearly that they are re-evaluating the entire relationship.”
American officials say that the relationship will endure in some form, but that the contours will not be clear until Pakistan completes its wide-ranging review in the coming weeks.
The Obama administration got a taste of the new terms immediately after an American airstrike killed 26 Pakistani soldiers near the Afghan border last month. Pakistan closed the supply routes into Afghanistan, boycotted a conference in Germany on the future of Afghanistan and forced the United States to shut its drone operations at a base in southwestern Pakistan.
Mushahid Hussain Sayed, the secretary general of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, an opposition political party, summed up the anger that he said many harbored: “We feel like the U.S. treats Pakistan like a rainy-day girlfriend.”
Whatever emerges will be a shadow of the sweeping strategic relationship that Richard C. Holbrooke, President Obama’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, championed before his death a year ago. Officials from both countries filled more than a dozen committees to work on issues like health, the rule of law and economic development.
All of that has been abandoned and will most likely be replaced by a much narrower set of agreements on core priorities — countering terrorists, stabilizing Afghanistan and ensuring the safety of Pakistan’s arsenal of more than 100 nuclear weapons — that Pakistan will want spelled out in writing and agreed to in advance.
With American diplomats essentially waiting quietly and Central Intelligence Agency drone strikes on hold since Nov. 16 — the longest pause since 2008 — Pakistan’s government is drawing up what Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani called “red lines” for a new relationship that protects his country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Said an American official: “Both countries recognize the benefits of partnering against common threats, but those must be balanced against national interests as well. The balancing is a continuous process.”
First, officials said, will likely be a series of step-by-step agreements on military cooperation, intelligence sharing and counterterrorism operations, including revamped “kill boxes,” the term for flight zones over Pakistan’s largely ungoverned borderlands where C.I.A. drones will be allowed to hunt a shrinking number of Al Qaeda leaders and other militants.
The C.I.A. has conducted 64 missile attacks in Pakistan using drones this year, compared with 117 last year and 53 in 2009, according to The Long War Journal, a Web site that tracks the strikes.
In one of the most visible signs of rising anti-American sentiment in this country, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Lahore and Peshawar this month. And on Sunday in Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city, at least 100,000 people rallied to support Imran Khan, a cricket celebrity and rising opposition politician who is outspoken in his criticism of the drone strikes and ties with the United States.
Some Pakistani officers talk openly about shooting down any American drones that violate Pakistani sovereignty. “Nothing is happening on counterterrorism right now,” said a senior Pakistani security official. “It will never go back to the way it was.”
Any new security framework will also require increased transit fees for the thousands of trucks that supply NATO troops in Afghanistan, a bill that allied officials say could run into the tens of millions of dollars.
Officials from Pakistan and the United States anticipate steep reductions in American security aid, including the continued suspension of more than $1 billion in military assistance and equipment, frozen since the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May.
Page 2 of 2)
The number of American military officers, enlisted troops and contractors in Pakistan has dropped to about 100, from about 400 more than a year ago, including scores of American trainers who have all been sent home. Pakistan is also restricting visas to dozens of other embassy personnel, from spies to aid workers.
Of the nearly two dozen American, Western and Pakistani officials interviewed for this article, a few sought to put the best face on a worsening situation. With Pakistan taking a seat on the United Nations Security Council for two years beginning next month, these officials argued that too much was at stake to rupture ties completely. “It is better to have a predictable, more focused relationship than an incredibly ambitious out-of-control relationship,” said one Western official.
But another Western diplomat put it more bluntly: “It’s a fairly gloomy picture.”
Just two months ago, a visit here by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; David H. Petraeus, the C.I.A. director; and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, seemed to begin to thaw relations that had been nearly frozen since Raymond Davis, a C.I.A. security contractor, shot and killed two Pakistanis in Lahore in January and Navy Seals killed Bin Laden in May.
Pakistani manufacturers of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, a component of homemade bombs used against American soldiers in Afghanistan, tentatively agreed to dye it for easier tracing, American officials said. Interior Ministry officials pledged to track large, unexplained purchases of the substance.
At the same time, Pakistani officials indicated that they would help rein in attacks by the Haqqani network, an insurgent group that is the main killer of allied troops in Afghanistan, and there were hints that Pakistan would pave the way for peace talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
But the fatal airstrike on Nov. 26 erased that preliminary progress, dealing the most serious blow to reconciliation talks involving Pakistan. “It’s not happening,” said Aftab Ahmed Sherpao, a former interior minister.
All of this comes as the Pakistani economy is in a free fall, civilian and military leaders are clashing over purported coup plots, and 150,000 Pakistani troops are stuck in a stalemate fighting a witches’ brew of militants along the Afghan border.
“These people are stuck there very badly,” said Javed Ashraf Qazi, a retired lieutenant general and a former head of the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, Pakistan’s main spy agency.
The number of attacks from homemade bombs throughout the country, but mostly focused in the border areas, skyrocketed to 1,036 through November this year, compared with 413 for all of 2007, according to the Pakistani military. More than 3,500 Pakistani soldiers and police have been killed since 2002.
The Obama administration is desperately trying to preserve the critical pieces of the relationship. General Dempsey asked the Pakistani Army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, in a phone call on Wednesday if the relationship could be repaired, a person briefed on the conversation said. General Kayani said that he thought it could, but that Pakistan needed some space.
The State Department this month quietly dispatched a senior diplomat and South Asia specialist, Robin Raphel, to canvass a wide spectrum of Pakistanis. She returned with a sober assessment and the view that many Pakistanis will not move forward without a formal apology from President Obama for the airstrike, which White House aides say is not in the offing.
Still, administration officials held out hope. “We’ve been very forthright in acknowledging that this is a relationship that needs to work,” a State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, said on Friday

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ya
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« Reply #1201 on: December 31, 2011, 06:15:45 AM »

I think this image shows a Freudian slip of sorts...Gilani offering to shake Kiyani's hand (thinking Kiyani may not salute him)...and perhaps Kiyani thought that Gilani would not extend his hand, so he salutes  grin
Overall, it captures the state of relations between Pak leadership and army.

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ya
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« Reply #1202 on: December 31, 2011, 06:44:56 AM »

As discussed earlier, some in Pak have described the US behaviour towards them, as analogous to that of a used condom. Its a transactional relationship, there is no love lost between them. The US has decided to withdraw/reduce activities in Afghanistan, which means Pak is losing leverage. pak had the most leverage when US troops needed to be supported in Afghanistan which has been reduced due to the availability of alternate supply routes, Another area of paki leverage was in negotiations with taliban and haqqani group. The US seems to not care too much about negotiations these days, infact we just seem to want out. Karzai too has not been greatly supportive of the US. All of this is happening because the end game is near, and the players are jockeying politically to position themselves in a post US world (after the withdrawl).

Kiyani and his army has suffered tremendous loss of H&D in the last year (raymond davis affair, PNS Mehran base, OBL, killing of 24 pak soldiers etc). Each of these incidents resulted in tremendous damage to paki H&D, cumulatively this loss of H&D is quite serious and dont know if western commentators fully appreciate the significance or seriousness of this loss of face that the paki army has suffered. Kiyani needs to recoup, and the only way he can do so is by being tough on the US. So as the US ready's to withdraw, he has asked the US to withdraw from Shamsi base, shut down the border crossing of US goods, no more help in negotiating with the taliban etc. All of these actions help him pacify the rank and file of the army, who are greatly disturbed by all that has happened. This is one part of the story.

In reality, pak needs US money and they are not about to give that up. So based on Paki 101, they will next hold a gun to their head, and claim to blow themselves up if money is not provided (they can always threaten islamist radical take over, lose a few nukes etc). In a light hearted manner, the concept is illustrated below.

« Last Edit: December 31, 2011, 07:10:12 AM by ya » Logged
ya
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« Reply #1203 on: January 01, 2012, 08:03:07 AM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/02/opinion/can-russia-help-us-withdraw-from-afghanistan.html?_r=2
OP-ED CONTRIBUTORS
Can Russia Help Us Withdraw From Afghanistan?

Yarek Waszul
By DOV S. ZAKHEIM and PAUL J. SAUNDERS
Published: December 1, 2011

AMERICA’S relations with Pakistan have been steadily deteriorating ever since a Navy Seals team killed Osama bin Laden near Islamabad in May. Matters became still worse in September, when Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accused Pakistan’s intelligence agency of supporting an attack on the American Embassy in Kabul. And on Saturday, the relationship hit a new low when a NATO airstrike mistakenly killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers, and Pakistan retaliated by shutting down supply routes to Afghanistan that crossed its territory.

Instead of relying heavily on Pakistan as a supply corridor, the United States should expand its cooperation with Russia, which has been playing an increasingly important role in military transit to and from Afghanistan. This would serve as both a hedge and a warning to the generals who control Pakistan.

True, this proposal might seem ironic, as Afghanistan was the site of a nearly decade-long struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union toward the end of the cold war. (During that time, America cooperated with Pakistan to support Afghan mujahedeen fighting the Soviets.) But working with Russia today is in fact the key to preventing the United States from becoming a hostage to Pakistan’s dysfunctional politics and its ambitions in Central Asia.

Expanding transit routes into and out of Afghanistan is a critical American national interest, and it would improve security for NATO forces while signaling that Washington was not beholden to Islamabad. It might also cause Pakistan to reassess its policy of providing sanctuary and support to terrorist networks operating against American forces.  

In the last two years, the Northern Distribution Network through Russia and Central Asia has evolved from a peripheral component of American wartime logistics to the principal path for non-combat supplies into Afghanistan. These routes — which traverse Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Latvia, Azerbaijan and Georgia — carry approximately 52 percent of all coalition cargo into Afghanistan. And under a 2009 air transit deal with Russia, 225,000 Americans have traveled there through Russian airspace on more than 1,500 military flights.

These northern routes are far less dangerous than the supply routes that go through Pakistan, where militants often attack American and NATO convoys. As the Obama administration’s surge in Afghanistan draws to a close and we begin to reduce our military presence there, these routes will become even more significant. Indeed, the United States might be able to draw down its forces from Afghanistan safely, rather than subjecting American convoys to attacks while passing through Pakistan.

Negotiations to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan through Russia will not be easy; thus far, Moscow has allowed only the shipment of non-combat supplies. Nevertheless, Russia agreed earlier this year to let certain types of armored vehicles cross its territory into Afghanistan, and Washington should pursue further cooperation.

Facilitating the American drawdown from Afghanistan would allow Russian leaders to make an important contribution to regional security; successful American-Russian cooperation, with help from other countries along the northern routes, could also help maintain regional stability.

Russia remains deeply conflicted about America’s wider role in Central Asia.  However, the prospect of an American withdrawal has helped a number of Russian officials appreciate the security benefits of the American presence there. Indeed, during a Nov. 11 meeting outside Moscow, Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin of Russia stated clearly that NATO played a “positive” role in Afghanistan and expressed concern about the consequences of a premature withdrawal.

Many Americans forget that Mr. Putin was the first world leader to call President George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks to offer his assistance, and Moscow quickly agreed to permit American bases in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia to support the war effort in Afghanistan. And even before 9/11, during the Clinton administration, Mr. Putin proposed United States-Russian cooperation against the Taliban; Washington turned down the offer for political reasons — a mistake we should not repeat.

Critics may worry that relying on the northern routes to supply our troops in Afghanistan and withdraw them as we reduce our presence there will make the United States overly dependent on Russia. But because of Afghanistan’s location, we have no choice but to depend on others for access to its territory.

The choice is between Pakistan on one hand, and Russia and Central Asian nations on the other. And Russia, unlike Pakistan, has not hosted militants who are killing Americans on the battlefield.

Dov S. Zakheim, an under secretary of defense from 2001 to 2004, is vice chairman of the Center for the National Interest, where Paul J. Saunders is executive director.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2012, 02:37:31 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1204 on: January 08, 2012, 08:07:27 AM »

WASHINGTON — A nearly two-month lull in American drone strikes in Pakistan has helped embolden Al Qaeda and several Pakistani militant factions to regroup, increase attacks against Pakistani security forces and threaten intensified strikes against allied forces in Afghanistan, American and Pakistani officials say.
The insurgents are increasingly taking advantage of tensions raised by an American airstrike in November that killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers in two border outposts, plunging relations between the countries to new depths. The Central Intelligence Agency, hoping to avoid making matters worse while Pakistan completes a wide-ranging review of its security relationship with the United States, has not conducted a drone strike since mid-November.
Diplomats and intelligence analysts say the pause in C.I.A. missile strikes — the longest in Pakistan in more than three years — is offering for now greater freedom of movement to an insurgency that had been splintered by in-fighting and battered by American drone attacks in recent months. Several feuding factions said last week that they were patching up their differences, at least temporarily, to improve their image after a series of kidnappings and, by some accounts, to focus on fighting Americans in Afghanistan.
Other militant groups continue attacking Pakistani forces. Just last week, Taliban insurgents killed 15 security soldiers who had been kidnapped in retaliation for the death of a militant commander.
The spike in violence in the tribal areas — up nearly 10 percent in 2011 from the previous year, according to a new independent report — comes amid reports of negotiations between Pakistan’s government and some local Taliban factions, although the military denies that such talks are taking place.
A logistics operative with the Haqqani terrorist group, which uses sanctuaries in Pakistan to carry out attacks on allied troops in Afghanistan, said militants could still hear drones flying surveillance missions, day and night. “There are still drones, but there is no fear anymore,” he said in a telephone interview. The logistics operative said fighters now felt safer to roam more freely.
Over all, drone strikes in Pakistan dropped to 64 last year, compared with 117 strikes in 2010, according to The Long War Journal, a Web site that monitors the attacks. Analysts attribute the decrease to a dwindling number of senior Qaeda leaders and a pause in strikes last year after the arrest in January of Raymond Davis, a C.I.A. security contractor who killed two Pakistanis; the Navy Seal raid in May that killed Osama bin Laden; and the American airstrike on Nov. 26.
Pakistan ordered drone operations at its Shamsi air base closed after that airstrike, but C.I.A. drones flying from bases in Afghanistan continue to fly surveillance missions over the tribal areas. The drones would be cleared to fire on a senior militant leader if there was credible intelligence and minimal risk to civilians, American officials said. But for now, the Predator and Reaper drones are holding their fire, the longest pause in Pakistan since July 2008.
“It makes sense that a lull in U.S. operations, coupled with ineffective Pakistani efforts, might lead the terrorists to become complacent and try to regroup,” one American official said. “We know that Al Qaeda’s leaders were constantly taking the U.S. counterterrorism operations into account, spending considerable time planning their movements and protecting their communications to try to stay alive.”
C. Christine Fair, an assistant professor of political science at Georgetown University who just returned from a month in Pakistan, put it more bluntly: “They’re taking advantage of the respite. It allows them to operate more freely.”
Several administration officials said Saturday that any lull in drone strikes did not signal a weakening of the country’s counterterrorism efforts, suggesting that strikes could resume soon. “Without commenting on specific counterterrorism operations, Al Qaeda is severely weakened, having suffered major losses in recent years,” said George Little, a Defense Department spokesman. “But even a diminished group of terrorists can pose danger, and thus our resolve to defeat them is as strong as ever.”
Analysts say the hiatus coincides with and probably has accelerated a flurry of insurgent activity and new strategies.
In the past week, leaflets distributed in North Waziristan announced that the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda had urged several Pakistani militant groups to set aside their differences and some commanders have reportedly asked their fighters to focus on striking American-led allied forces in Afghanistan.
Page 2 of 2)
The Pakistani groups include the Pakistani Taliban, an umbrella group led by Hakimullah Mehsud that has mounted attacks against the Pakistani state since the group was formed in 2007. The new council also includes the Haqqani network and factions led by Maulvi Nazir of South Waziristan and Hafiz Gul Bahadur of North Waziristan, which already target NATO soldiers and have tacit peace agreements with the Pakistani military.
In telephone interviews, some Pakistani militants said the purpose of the agreement was to settle internal differences among rival factions and improve the image of the Taliban, which has been tarnished because of the increasing use of kidnapping and the rise in civilian killings.
Other analysts say that the Afghan Taliban are also feeling the pinch of American-led night raids and other operations across the border. They said the Taliban needed the militants in Pakistan’s tribal region to focus more on helping to launch a final offensive in Afghanistan, in hopes of gaining leverage before any peace talks and the ultimate withdrawal of most American forces from Afghanistan by 2014.
One of the main drivers of the accord was Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the Haqqani network, prompting some Pakistani analysts to reason that the Pakistani Army had also prodded the creation of the council, or shura, to maintain its leverage in any peace negotiations. Last summer Adm. Mike Mullen, who was then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the Haqqanis “a veritable arm” of Pakistan’s main military spy agency.
“No agreement is ever permanent in frontier politics, and it’s all very complicated,” said one American government official with decades of experience in Pakistan and its tribal areas.
Stuck in a stalemate in the lawless borderlands with this array of militants are 150,000 Pakistani troops. A recent report by an Islamabad-based research organization, the Pak Institute for Peace Studies, said that militant-based violence had declined by 24 percent in the last two years. But it also concluded that terrorist attacks in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province increased 8 percent in 2011 from the year before.
“The security situation remained volatile as militants dislodged from their strongholds constantly managed to relocate to other parts of the FATA,” the report said.
In a sign of the shifting insurgent tactics, the number of suicide bombings in the country declined to 39 through November, compared with a high of 81 in all of 2009, according to the Pakistani military.
The number of attacks from homemade bombs, however, increased to 1,036 through November, compared with 877 for all of 2009. More than 3,500 Pakistani soldiers and police officers have been killed since 2002.
One senior Pakistani Army officer with experience in the tribal areas said that insurgents had devised increasingly diabolical triggers and fuses for bombs.
Unlike Americans, Pakistani soldiers still drive in pickups or carriers with little protection. “The effects are devastating,” said the officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Vehicles are basically vaporized.”
“The Pakistani Army is overstretched, and that’s clearly had an impact on morale,” said Maleeha Lodhi, a former Pakistani ambassador to the United States. “But we have to maintain the pressure on the militants.”
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ya
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« Reply #1205 on: January 10, 2012, 08:56:46 PM »

MIRANSHAH: After a lull of about 55 days, the valleys of Pakistan’s tribal region reverberated once more with missile fire from stealthy US air borne drones.
http://tribune.com.pk/story/319683/us-drone-attack-kills-four-militants-in-pakistan-officials/

Looks like we are back in business... grin
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ya
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« Reply #1206 on: January 11, 2012, 07:19:37 PM »

Things are heating up in pak...Allah-O-Akbar

Coup fears resurfaces in Pakistan as Gilani-Kayani spat turns ugly
TNN | Jan 12, 2012, 01.50AM IST



Tensions between the Pakistan civilian government and the military have risen since a memo seeking US help to prevent a military coup in May and rein in the country’s powerful khaki establishment came to light in November 2011.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan army on Wednesday warned of "grievous consequences" over accusations by the country's prime minister that the top military brass had violated the constitution.

Yousaf Raza Gilani also sacked the defence secretary, considered close to the military, in an apparent tit-for-tat move that worsened ties between the wobbly civilian government of Asif Ali Zardari and the powerful military that has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its existence.

Tensions have risen since a memo seeking US help to prevent a military coup in May and rein in the country's powerful khaki establishment came to light in November. Pak-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz had claimed to have delivered the memo to the Americans that former envoy to US Husain Haqqani had allegedly authored at Zardari's behest. Zardari can face impeachment if his links to the memo are established.


Shortly before news that defense secretary Naeem Khalid Lodhi had been sacked, the military released a statement saying allegations leveled against the army chief Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and director-general Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Ahmed Shuja Pasha were very serious and will have grave consequences.

"There can be no allegation more serious than what the PM has leveled against the chief of army staff and the DG ISI and has unfortunately charged the officers for violation of the constitution of the country. This has very serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the country," a statement released by the military said.

The handout stated that PM Yousaf Raza Gilani gave an interview to the People's Daily Online when Kayani was on an official visit to China. Gilani had said that replies of Kayani and Pasha in the SC without the prior approval of the government in connection to the alleged memo controversy were unconstitutional and illegal.

The army has confronted the government over the memo in the SC that has constituted a three-member commission to probe the scandal that threatens to implicate Zardari. The government had asked the court to dismiss a plea seeking a judicial probe into the memo, while Kayani and Pasha in their statements took the opposite position, saying the memo was a conspiracy against the army.

The statement, issued after Kayani returned from China, maintained it had passed its response through the defence ministry to the court in accordance with the law.

Naeem Khalid Lodhi, a retired general seen as an army representative within the civilian setup, was dismissed for the "misunderstanding" between Gilani and the top brass. "PM has terminated the contract of defence secretary for gross misconduct," said an official. Lodhi was fired for his role in submitting the statements to the court.

Lodhi was regarded to be more powerful than the defence minister because of his direct ties to the army high command. Nargis Sethi, considered close to Gilani, would replace Lodhi. The PM needs the defence secretary on his side if he sacks the army or intelligence chiefs.

Analysts said the removal of Lodhi and Sethi's appointment shows the government is not in a defensive mode. "Firing Lodhi may be a first step by the government in removing the chief of army staff and the DG ISI," political analyst Ikram Sehgal said.
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #1207 on: January 12, 2012, 09:43:54 AM »

Woof,
 This will bring our troops home. Not a good day for America if it proves to be a legitimate video.




<iframe width="853" height="480" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/F6lR3ZGFwvI?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

                                              P.C.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1208 on: January 12, 2012, 02:19:50 PM »

Speaking only as a humble civilian my sense of things is that these things have always happened, that we do them far, far less than others, and the new technologies make covering them up harder and give them mass dissemination in an instant.  Who amongst the greater public knows that Abu Graib was expossed through internal Army procedures and released to the press by the Pentagon?

===================

The Pakistani military issued a press release Wednesday criticizing remarks that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani made to China’s People’s Daily Online. Pakistan’s Supreme Court is probing allegations that the civilian government sent a memo seeking U.S. assistance to reverse the military’s domination over the state. In an interview with the newspaper, Gilani had said the chief of the country’s army, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, and the head of the country’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, acted unconstitutionally in statements they submitted to the court. The statement from the military’s public relations directorate warned that Gilani’s comments to the Chinese newspaper entailed “very serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the country.”

On the same day, Gilani fired the Defense Ministry’s senior-most bureaucrat -- a retired three-star general with close ties to military leadership -- accusing him of “gross misconduct” and illegal action.

These two events, the latest in a standoff between the country’s civilian and military leaders that began when the memo controversy surfaced last October, are being read internationally as signs that the military is working once again to force a civilian government out of office. Since Pakistan’s first coup in 1958 -- a mere 11 years after independence -- three more have followed, in 1969, 1977 and 1999, and have ushered in long periods of military rule. Even during the longest period of civilian rule, from 1988 to 1997, the security establishment constitutionally ousted three elected governments, in 1990, 1993 and 1996.

Considering that history, it is not unusual that the military would try to get rid of the current government. That said, much has changed since the last coup, which brought former Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf to power a little more than 12 years ago. Since that time, it has been difficult for the military to dispose of a government it does not like. The proliferation of private media and rise of civil society during Musharraf’s rule, the popular uprising that helped bring about the military dictator’s fall from power, and the judiciary’s emergence as a power center have greatly complicated matters for Pakistan’s military-intelligence complex.

The current military leadership knows that present domestic and international circumstances make a classic coup unviable. And at any rate, the military does not wish to seize power and with it inherit the responsibility for addressing the social, economic and security issues plaguing the country. The military would much rather see the government ousted through constitutional means.

The constitutional option is also not presently viable. In the past, the military would align with the presidency and opposition parties in parliament to counter the government. But Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari leads the ruling Pakistan People’s Party. And while opposition parties in parliament would like to reap the benefits of a weakened ruling party, they are unwilling to see the army gain the upper hand.

That leaves the Supreme Court, which has taken a clear stance against the civilian administration and is pressing the president and others in the government on corruption charges.

However, even a Supreme Court ruling against it would not necessarily bring about the government’s ouster. For that to happen, parliament needs to vote down both the prime minister and the president -- and the arithmetic of such a theoretical vote right now favors the ruling party. So even as it retains a great deal of power, the military cannot oust governments as easily as it has done in the past.

Even if the government is forced to call early elections and is unable to complete the term set to expire in about a year, a shift in the civil-military power dynamic is undeniably in the making in Pakistan. Given the historical trend, the military will not become subordinate to civilians anytime soon -- while the country’s political parties have yet to demonstrate they are a coherent lot capable of effective governance. That said, the military’s ability to dominate the polity is no longer what it once was.

.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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JDN
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« Reply #1209 on: January 12, 2012, 03:37:25 PM »

Woof,
 This will bring our troops home. Not a good day for America if it proves to be a legitimate video.

<iframe width="853" height="480" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/F6lR3ZGFwvI?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

                                              P.C.

"Not a good day for America" in more ways than one.  It's front page center.  And it seems to be legitimate. The fallout is just beginning.
What a disaster...

http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/12/us/video-marines-urinating/index.html?hpt=hp_t3
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Cranewings
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« Reply #1210 on: January 12, 2012, 04:52:45 PM »

I feel like it is kind of strange that this video suddenly is a big deal. I've seen a ton of this kind of stuff on the internet. Best quote I've heard, "We've been fighting here for 3 days, but in a few minutes, all these people are going to learn to stop worshiping Allah and start worshiping the GBU 24 (or whatever)... boom!

"Go kill the people that you will learn to hate because they killed your co-workers, but don't hate them openly, gloat, or do any grave dancing." It isn't that realistic. If you don't want you people grave dancing, don't send them to fight to the death for years.
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ccp
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« Reply #1211 on: January 13, 2012, 11:44:28 AM »

I recall it was reported Hillary Clinton laughed out loud when they told her Khadaffi was killed.

I wonder if that was before of after the videos of him being dragged out of drain pipe beaten, stabbed and basically shot in the face at point blank range.

Certainly I don't feel sorry for him but I thought her gloating seemed telling abouther.


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JDN
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« Reply #1212 on: January 13, 2012, 12:24:15 PM »

I recall it was reported Hillary Clinton laughed out loud when they told her Khadaffi was killed.

I wonder if that was before of after the videos of him being dragged out of drain pipe beaten, stabbed and basically shot in the face at point blank range.

Certainly I don't feel sorry for him but I thought her gloating seemed telling abouther.


Gloating or laughter may be inappropriate, but this is much MUCH worse.  And then to film it?   shocked  These guys will be lucky if they are not sent to jail.
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« Reply #1213 on: January 13, 2012, 01:00:53 PM »

"deplorable" seems to be the agreed upon adjective from Panetta, Clinton, etc.

I will be shocked if they are not court martialed.  I don't feel it is as bad as Abu Graib.  Surely this is sad to see but I agree with Crafty - we have seen far worse.  Now if those corpses were innocent farmers or herders, or civilians who were murdered that is a complete different story.

We accept the idea of dead people lying there presumably killed in war but we are to get all bent out of shape when the bodies are desecrated?

Just odd about the rules - politically correctness in war and as in anything else I guess.
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Cranewings
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« Reply #1214 on: January 13, 2012, 03:50:29 PM »

I recall it was reported Hillary Clinton laughed out loud when they told her Khadaffi was killed.

I wonder if that was before of after the videos of him being dragged out of drain pipe beaten, stabbed and basically shot in the face at point blank range.

Certainly I don't feel sorry for him but I thought her gloating seemed telling abouther.


Gloating or laughter may be inappropriate, but this is much MUCH worse.  And then to film it?   shocked  These guys will be lucky if they are not sent to jail.

The marines just shot a whole bunch of people.

What have those men gone through? Maybe it was cathartic. Maybe pissing on an object, a pile of meat they already shot dead, released the emotional energy they need to stay sane. Pissing on corpses might save lives.

Perhaps the military shouldn't be sent to set up a culture fighting for Americans to wade in for a decade.
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Cranewings
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« Reply #1215 on: January 13, 2012, 03:54:37 PM »

I've never been known to believe in authority or trust the military, police, or government, but this is one case where I think the wrong doers are getting a raw deal. I can not, at all, identify with a sniper. I can't judge this. All I know is that the events leading up to it should have been avoided. It's time for them to come home.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1216 on: January 14, 2012, 02:43:39 AM »

Given the incoherence of our strategy the emotion is quite understandable.

Question:  Given its rogue history and given what our YA has brought to our attention about increasing Jihadi sentiment in the Pak army, what to do about the Pak nuke program, what do you think will happen after we leave?
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Cranewings
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« Reply #1217 on: January 14, 2012, 11:20:45 AM »

Given the incoherence of our strategy the emotion is quite understandable.

Question:  Given its rogue history and given what our YA has brought to our attention about increasing Jihadi sentiment in the Pak army, what to do about the Pak nuke program, what do you think will happen after we leave?

I think that if the legitimate authority loses power in Pakistan, we will use the cover of the turmoil to disarm them forcefully.I think the location of their 100 or so weapons is known and those sites will be quickly targeted.

I heard a military suit talking about it on T.V. a while ago. I don't know if it is naive or not.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2012, 11:25:55 AM by Cranewings » Logged
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« Reply #1218 on: January 14, 2012, 11:27:53 AM »

If we are gone from Afpakia, do you think it will be harder or easier to keep track of WTF the situation is and to accomplish that mission should it be necessary?

Just to be perfectly clear, do you support the concept of that mission?
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Cranewings
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« Reply #1219 on: January 14, 2012, 11:49:06 AM »

I am not really educated on the details. Obama has been to India quite a few times and they have a lot of interest in this as well. Nuclear weapons require an awful lot of expensive maintenance. It isn't like hiding an old man in the basement. I would imagine that with India and US intelligence and satellite monitoring, they must have a pretty good idea where they are.

A fundamentalist takeover is even more an Indian problem than its ours, and I'm pretty sure they would help us / give us access to that long boarder to take care of it. Not to mention, when their government goes into exile, if it does, they will probably become our allies as a ticket back to regaining power later. They could tell us where the bombs are.

I don't believe either Iran or any other Islamic fundamentalists should be allowed to get a nuclear bomb right now. The idea that Iran is seeking nuclear power for peaceful means seems a little unnecessary given the amount of oil they are sitting on and how much more money they could possible make just by willingly giving up the pursuit. It is suspicious and crazy.

In any case, yes I would support that sort of action. It would save millions of lives in New Delhi alone. I'm not sure that we need Afghanistan to do it.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2012, 11:51:25 AM by Cranewings » Logged
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« Reply #1220 on: January 14, 2012, 11:08:10 PM »

FYI (and YA or anyone correct me if I don't have this quite right) Pakistan is the world's 4th largest nuclear power with some 100 bombs or so.  Along with the Norks they have a proven history of rogue dissemination of nuclear bomb capabilities (Libya, Syria, Iraq all come to mind-- can someone confirm or deny?)  If you read further back in this thread or the Nuclear War thread, you will see that they have been doing their best to hide their nukes from us, including moving them around in unguarded trucks  shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked  Not only is the Pak army and or ISI Jihadi-ridden, indeed arguably Jihadi controlled, but the ease with which AQ and its ilk could seize one or more nukes is  shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked

I understand you questioning the need for us to be in Afg. to stay on top of the situation in Pak., especially with our strategy as incoherent as it is, and yes, as YA posts from Indian sources show, the Indians have a far superior understanding of Pak to our understanding and yes they too have great motive to be concerned, but to think they can do it for us when Pak developed 100 nukes principally for the purpose of countering India's conventional superiority is, IMHO, wishful thinking.

With the substantial risk of AQ et al getting one or more nukes, either through a deniable handoff or by AQ theft, presents a profound danger to the US homeland.  To put one or more of these things on a boat and sail it in to a US harbor and set it off is not that difficult.  Yes I know we have some measures in place, but they are not something I want us to have to depend on.
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Cranewings
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« Reply #1221 on: January 14, 2012, 11:39:26 PM »

 There are a lot of factors. I just wish the government didn't burn up public trust like rain forests so that they could deal with these sorts of things in a less political way.
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« Reply #1222 on: January 15, 2012, 12:49:47 AM »

I know what you mean.

President Obama ran saying the Afghanistan was an essential war of national self-defense.  Once elected he put in his own general and ignored him for six months  shocked until the poor man had to leak to the press that he had spoken with the President once in six months.  He and his staff leaked that he needed more troops.  The White House leaked that they better not here of needing more troops.  Public pressure built on Obama to pay attention.  The generals said they wanted 40-60k.  After several months of Hamlet-like indecision, Obama gave them 30k and told the enemy and us that they would leave in 18 months leaving this essential war of national self-defense in the hands of Karzai, the Afghani Army, and the Afghani police.  Given the time of year of the announcements, this amounted to one summer season of fighting. 

Now we can't understand why everyone is focused on what happens when we leave.

Not to mention the failure to speak Truth that the Pak govt/ISI hid OBL from us and other similar deeds which some would call Acts of War.  In that the real issue IS Pakistan and not Afghanistan, the cranial-rectal interface here is profound.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #1223 on: January 16, 2012, 09:52:44 AM »

Pete Hegseth, founder of Vets For Freedom, is now posted to Afghanistan, where he has been training Afghans as well as American and coalition troops. His reports on the situation there are as knowledgeable as any you can find. Here is his final dispatch [addressing the difficult issues and choices we face] before he heads home next month:
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/01/endgame-in-afghanistan.php

The Endgame in Afghanistan

My first email from Kabul was entitled “First Impressions” and the caveats I used in that email remain unchanged. Afghanistan is such a dynamic place—layered with umpteen complexities, contradictions, mysteries, and unknowns—that a holistic understanding of the country, let alone the conflict (overt and covert), is nearly impossible. That said, over the past eight months I’ve had the opportunity to challenge my first impressions, test hypotheses, and attempt to understand the true nature of the conflict. This section represents my modest—if declarative—initial attempt at distilling what I’ve learned and making some observation about America’s eventual endgame in Afghanistan.

Rather than break down my assessment categorically as I did in previous emails, I will instead look at the war through a lens provided by an insurgency expert who visited us this past summer. His name is Gérard Chaliand and the day we spent with him was fascinating. In addition to authoring over 40 books on guerilla warfare, he has also been a participant/observer of over a dozen insurgencies around the world—including Afghanistan in the 1980s, and again during the current conflict. Listening to him was like sitting in a semi-circle around Yoda himself, absorbing the insight and knowledge of a rare specimen.

Mr. Chaliand visits Afghanistan yearly, but said his 2011 trip was his last. When asked why, he said, “Because I know how it will end. The Taliban control the countryside and are growing in support throughout the country by providing an effective underground government structure. The seeds of their return were planted long ago—much before Gen. McChrystal’s 2009 counterinsurgency strategy—and their ascension is now inevitable. International forces started doing the right things at ‘half past eleven’ and now it’s too late.”

While I certainly didn’t share his pessimism then, I’ve come begrudgingly to agree with his assessment today. The Taliban—by mitigating their negatives (brutality, ethnic exclusion, and overt association with al Qaeda) and accentuating their perceived positives (swift justice, longevity, and ideological cohesion)—have gained, and maintained, a psychological grip on the Afghan population. While most Afghans, especially non-Pashtuns, do not want the Taliban to return (“hearts”), they are grappling with—and calculating accordingly—the looming reality that the Taliban will outlast U.S. forces (“minds”) and eventually challenge a weak, corrupt, and fractured Afghan Government for control of the country.

This isn’t to say that we couldn’t achieve a more advantageous outcome for the United States; of course if we got rid of the 2014 withdrawal deadline completely, were truly willing to remove Taliban and Haqqani safe-havens in Pakistan (we know where they are!), and purged the Afghan government of its most corrupt nodes we could “change the game” of this conflict. But for various reasons—be they domestic politics, a nuclear-armed Pakistan (a lesson for Iran, I would suggest), and a trepidation with undermining corrosive “Afghan sovereignty”—it is highly unlikely we will make the hard choices necessary to level the playing field. A bad outcome in Afghanistan isn’t inevitable, but in light of current realities, it is likely.

However, the policies we pursue in the coming years will impact the degree to which the outcome here is bad, or less-bad. Our commitment to training and mentoring Afghan security forces will be central to determining the future of this country. If we do it right—truly creating a multi-ethnic force that will defend the interests of most Afghans—it could be a vanguard against total Taliban control and a buffer against outright civil war. If we do it wrong or hurriedly, we’re merely indiscriminately (and heavily!) arming different elements of an Afghan army that will eventually turn its guns on each other. In my opinion the later outcome is most likely, but not inevitable.

If you know me, I’m not one for pessimism, and certainly not interested in undermining the efforts of our troops in harm’s way. Afghanistan is nowhere near a John Kerry-esque “who will be the last American to die for a mistake?” situation. Our effort is noble, our cause just, and our military sharp. But at the same time, my sentiments are in keeping with most Coalition members over here—even if they’re unwilling to say it. We soldier on. We will fight until the end. But with our ear to the ground and our boots in the snow, we can feel the undercurrent in Afghanistan. As the clock ticks to 2014, we become more irrelevant as Afghans make decisions (hoarding, segregating, and hedging) regarding a post-American future in their country.

While I don’t like acquiescing to a “non-victory” in Afghanistan, we will have nonetheless achieved an outcome in Afghanistan that is an exception to the rule in the so-called “graveyard of empires.” From a historical perspective, whenever we “leave” we will be the first “invader” that left on our own terms—a not insignificant accomplishment. Thankfully, and necessarily, I’m fairly certain our commitment to Afghanistan will continue on a smaller and enduring scale—and in doing so we will have done everything we can to create the conditions for a friendly and capable (at least on paper) Afghanistan government to determine their own future. It may not end well, but it won’t be for a lack of U.S. effort, courage, and ingenuity.

As supporting evidence for these heavy-hearted assertions, I would first submit my previous two emails (here and here). My feelings on the fundamentally corrupt Afghan government, Pakistan safe-haven, the 2014 deadline, Taliban capabilities and more are clearly stated in those emails—along with facts and financial figures. However, I’d like to take one more broad look at our mission in Afghanistan, as it currently stands in January of 2012. In doing so, I’ll use Mr. Chaliand’s closing statement to us as a framework for examination. He said, when looking at a counterinsurgency conflict, we must: “Never believe your propaganda, always re-asses the facts, challenge assumptions, and don’t rely on wishful thinking.” Wise words, and a useful filter for analyzing our mission in Afghanistan.

“Never believe your propaganda…”

The Coalition narrative (I don’t consider it “propaganda,” because we’re beholden to the truth—unlike our enemies) in Afghanistan is as follows: the “surge” summer of 2011 has inflicted serious damage on the Taliban, especially in the south; and at the same time, we are aggressively pushing Taliban re-integration programs, training increasingly capable Afghan security forces, and working to improve local governance. But, as I’ve said before, only half of this is grounded in reality. Yes the “surge” has allowed U.S. troops to push the Taliban out of traditional strongholds in the south, significantly disrupting their operations. However, there is also evidence that, despite heavy casualties, the Taliban have been able to regenerate themselves quickly, maintain their military and shadow-governance networks, and are waiting us out.

More troubling is the fact that we have not seen the ripple affects we needed the surge to induce (as it did in Iraq). While re-integration numbers (fighters giving up the fight) are increasing, they still include very few Pashtuns, especially Pashtuns from the south. Most of the re-integrated fighters are from the north and west, places not known for Taliban support. Second—and more importantly—Afghan governance at the local and national level has not decisively taken advantage of the surge environment to improve capability and legitimacy. While there are great programs (like Village Stability Operations and the Afghan Local Police) working to create the conditions for local governance, there hasn’t been—nor will there be—an Anbar-style tribal awakening like we saw in Iraq, largely because of the segmented and fractured nature of Pashtun society in modern Afghanistan. And without a legitimate government in Kabul and in the provinces, the chances for a stable outcome are minimal.

Another aspect of our narrative is that the 2012 “fighting season” (April to October) will be a decisive moment for our forces. We will increase our gains in the south, and degrade the Taliban enough to create the space for increasingly capable Afghan forces and a burgeoning government. There are three big problems with this. First, the idea of a “fighting season” is misleading. While violence is higher in the summer months, the non-violent aspect of this conflict doesn’t stop. When we’re not fighting (and sitting snug on our FOBs for the holidays), the Taliban continues to spread their influence through local dispute resolution, mobile Sharia courts (seen as increasingly legitimate by the people), and propaganda. Second, while we have achieved a critical mass of soldiers in the Afghan National Army, their ability and motivation to continue the fight when we’re not in the lead is still suspect (more on this below). Finally, it’s hard to overstate how damaging the 2014 deadline is in creating these outcomes. As the perception of 2014 gets closer, our influence—by point of fact—will diminish. The Taliban can stand back and wait us out because we told them how long to wait.

“Always reassess the facts…”

The fact is: facts are sticky in Afghanistan. And, depending on whom you’re talking to—especially amongst Afghans—they are always different, and oftentimes contradictory. So, rather than only talk “facts” now, I’d like to do a quick comparison between old facts and new realities.

Fact: In 2004, President Hamid Karzai was elected the President of Afghanistan, and seen as legitimate by wide swaths of Afghans as well as around the world. Reality today: Not only is the Karzai government corrupt and dysfunctional, it is already seen as illegitimate by most groups inside Afghanistan and as a complete money-pit to international donors. In fact, by any fair assessment, it can barely be called a “government” by traditional standards; it’s more like a ruling mafia. Bribery, nepotism, and blatant disregard for the rule of law and their own constitution are off the charts. The ruling elite are getting rich off international aid while regular Afghans scarcely see their lives improve. All-the-while, the Taliban exploit this fact through piercing propaganda. The end result is that we continue to prop up an Afghan government that is seen as increasingly illegitimate by the people, all the while hoping “peace talks” with the Taliban will provide an exit ramp for the war. The Taliban doesn’t want to work with the Afghan government, they want to replace it.

Fact: Since 2001 the United States has spent $456,000 an hour, every hour, on non-military developmental aid alone, and has spent even more on the military. Reality today: Afghanistan is an international donor state, almost completely reliant on international aid money to function. They have almost no tax base (save import taxation and…untaxed opium) and 97% of Afghanistan’s Gross Domestic Product is linked to foreign aid. We pay for their government and military, and have created financial realities that are completely unsustainable. Take, for example, the Afghan Army. This year we will spend $13 billion on training and equipping the Afghan Army, while the Afghan government will take in less than $2 billion in revenue. Some tough financial realities loom: either we cut spending and reduce the size of their Army or we continue to pay for it. The former would mean—for certain—the Afghan Army would eventually capitulate to the Taliban; the later that we continue to pump billions into Afghanistan’s Army while we downsize our own (a bad idea, by the way). Not not only is Afghanistan’s current situation unsustainable, but spending in the country for the past decade has distorted their economy and government more negatively than positively.

Final fact: In 2001, the U.S. was attacked by al Qaeda from Afghanistan, where the Taliban granted them safe-haven. Reality today: Bin Laden is dead, al Qaeda is on the ropes, and the Taliban are wary of their association with al Qaeda. Yes the groups still coordinate, but it’s not the rock solid alliance it was ten years ago. Vice President Biden recently said that “the Taliban is not our enemy.” I respectfully and adamantly disagree (as would, I suspect, the families of those U.S. troops killed by the Taliban). Any group openly fighting and killing our soldiers is our enemy. But the more important question is—does the Taliban pose an existential threat to America and our interests? They might tell us during negotiations that they will swear off association with Al Qaeda, but just like the Iranian denial of nuclear weapons—we should not believe them. There isn’t a scenario where a radical and violent Islamic group taking control of Afghanistan is a good outcome; however, we can still salvage conditions where the Taliban are not able to utilize, or provide, substantial haven for radical Islamists with global ambitions.

“Challenge assumptions…”

The largest and most dangerous assumption we make is that there is a nation called “Afghanistan” and a collection of people called “Afghans.” Neither is correct, but that assumption continues to fuel our push for a multi-ethnic military and government that holds sway inside the arbitrary boundaries of Afghanistan. Having spent time with Afghans from multiple backgrounds—Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Hazaras—it’s painfully clear that beneath the surface of the “we are Afghans” talk are true feelings of ethnic and tribal affiliations that supersede an “Afghan” identity. History, language, violence, custom, mistrust, and animosity separate these groups—and a flag, a national anthem (only in Pashto, which angers Dari speakers) a “government” and a western-style Army are not enough to create a nation where none exists. I could tell story after story about this, but suffice it to say—this country is fragmented, and won’t unite in time to fight an ideologically cohesive, Pashtun-based Taliban movement.

In regards to the western-style Army I mentioned above, the assumptions we make with this force will have lasting, and potentially positive or negative impacts. Not only have we attempted to create a multi-ethnic institution that will represent all Afghans, but we’ve also built an Army in our image—with strong conventional capabilities and a Non-Commissioned Officer Corps, where none has existed before. We are producing new units at a rapid rate, recruiting from all backgrounds and then sending them to the Consolidated Fielding Center (CFC) in Kabul where multi-ethnic units are established and trained, before being sent to the field. There’s nothing wrong with that; but the problem is what happens after that, on three fronts:

First, each new unit is given millions of dollars of brand new weaponry and equipment, with minimal actual accountability. The kandak (battalion) commander is responsible for the equipment, some/much of which eventually ends up missing (and sometimes on sale in Pakistan). For example, a heavy weapons kandak leaves the CFC with approximately eighteen brand-new 50-caliber machine guns, and dozens of smaller-caliber heavy weapons and RPGs. I challenge you to walk into any National Guard armory in the States and ask how many functioning 50-caliber machine guns they have. They’ll probably pull out four beat-up 50-cals with rusting barrels, likely dated back to Vietnam. If things don’t end well, someone will use these weapons—and it might not be our friends.

Second, while units are formed as multi-ethnic entities, once they get to the field a slow, but deliberate, self-segregation is starting to occur. Soldiers from the north try to get back to the north, and likewise for soldiers in the south. A Tajik ultimately wants to fight alongside Tajiks from his area, and likewise for Pashtuns and other groups. What you could end up having is a series of regional armies with more commitment to their area then to “Afghanistan.” If things don’t end well, they will end up fighting each other—with weapons we have supplied them. On the flip side, if things move forward as we plan, these units will be a bulwark for the state. There are certainly many multi-ethnic units in the field, fighting bravely together and doing great things. The question is—will this be the rule, or become the exception?

Third, even once the units are fielded—and assuming they are fighting for “Afghanistan”—we are currently making big assumptions about their capability to eventually independently operate and sustain their activities. With U.S. support—which includes things like logistical resupply, air support, and medical evacuation—many units currently do well in the fight. But if we take that away in 2013, 14, or 15—will they sustain the fight? And will they push into enemy territory? Many Afghan units have become accustomed to U.S. support, and may not be willing to fight an emboldened Taliban without the robust U.S. support they receive. They’re also accustomed to being paid well, while their Taliban counterparts fight for nothing. Our brave soldiers will mentor and train them to make them as capable as possible, but if they don’t develop their own systems soon, the Afghan Army house of cards could come falling down more quickly than anyone would like to admit.

Finally, I came to Afghanistan with the assumption that this battlefield is central to defending the United States. In the realm of perception and international opinion it is still very important; how we “finish” in Afghanistan will send strong signals to the rest of the world about whether we finish what we start. Recent events in Iraq make this plainly clear. However, the question is whether the cost in Afghanistan is worth the outcome? As my British colleague says, “is the juice worth the squeeze?” I think seeing this through, while gradually drawing down, is worth doing. That said, larger and more strategically significant issues staring us in the face need to take a higher priority. We need to muster our political courage and confront our crippling domestic debt. (Did you know that, by 2015, just the interest payments on our debt to China will pay for its entire military?). We need to ensure our force posture and military might is capable of deterring a rising China. And we need to do what is necessary—including military action—to prevent a nuclear Iran (the fact that we can’t do anything in a nuclear-armed Pakistan should demonstrate that). There are obviously plenty of other challenges as well (especially at home), and spending money the way we are today in Afghanistan prevents us from confronting these challenges.

“…and don’t rely on wishful thinking.”

If you’ve read the previous two sections (and my previous emails), then I hope most of your “wishful thinking” has been stripped. That’s the point—we can’t wish our way to victory (as we say, “hope is not a strategy”). But we can look at the world the way it is and craft strategies to effect a more-desirable outcome. From where I’ve been sitting in Afghanistan, thankfully it’s clear that General Allen understands this; and as a result we’ve already seen (and will continue to see) a shift in our strategy from counterinsurgency to security force assistance. It’s a subtle, but important change. Instead of U.S. units taking the military lead in the field and trying to “partner” with Afghan units in the process, the lead responsibility will now fall to Afghans. Our soldiers will serve as embedded advisors, with 12-16 man teams embedded inside every Afghan unit—pushing the Afghan Army (and Police) to the point where they can defeat the enemy on their own. U.S advisors will start with infantry units trained to clear and hold areas of insurgents and gradually shift toward support units, including helicopter units, logisticians and other support personnel. This change makes complete sense and is the best strategy to securing a less-bad outcome for us.

At the same time, General Allen continues to talk about a post-2014 presence for NATO and the United States. This is extremely important as well. The Afghan Army, and the Taliban, need to be convinced that we won’t just leave in 2014—but will instead maintain an enduring, and strategically significant, presence. The perception (as opposed to the reality) of 2014 is what is most damaging to our effort—and from General Allen and all elements of command, there is a clear effort to erode this perception. It won’t change overnight, but we must aggressively pursue a counter-narrative.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the ongoing “peace talks” with the Taliban (aptly placed in the “wishful thinking” section). It appears that both the U.S. and the Afghan government have approved a Taliban “office” in the country of Qatar, from which they can hold peace talks. Right now the Taliban is only talking to the U.S., which angers President Karzai. In fact, the Taliban’s most recent pronouncement on negotiations rejected Karzai, his government and the Afghan constitution—which is not a promising starting point. From our side, there are talks of a prisoner exchange from Guantanamo, as well as ceasefires, etc. The U.S. insists that the Taliban would have to forswear violence, stop harboring international jihadists, and recognize the Afghan government and constitution. It is highly unlikely they will agree to all three; therefore, which one would we be willing to cave on? If they keep their weapons, they’ll keep fighting; if they continue to harbor terrorists, then our entire effort is for naught; and if they won’t recognize the Afghan government, then they’re never join it.

I honestly don’t have the slightest idea how these talks will unfold, but we’re being shortsighted and “wishful” if we think they will provide a silver bullet for this conflict. I’m fearful the beltway intelligencia, out of options and desperate for a rapid solution, will seize on this idea—regardless of underlying realities. The Taliban will not be content to share power in good faith; and since they think they’re “winning,” they’re not likely to capitulate to our demands. Their negotiation strategy is based on (again) waiting until 2014 when the United States could be forced to compromise on the most important aspects of the post-2001 order in Afghanistan.

In the end, we clearly cannot abandon Afghanistan—pulling our troops out now would be a disaster. On the other hand, maintaining our effort at the current scope and cost is not commensurate with the benefits. The surge, led by the finest generals the American military has to offer, was the right approach; however, it was undercut from the outset—when we told the enemy when we were going to leave. Having tried “more troops” (albeit, half-heartedly) and in light of political realities, the best course of action now is to continue drawing down our troops, bolster our advising mission, and emphasize our continued—if much scaled down—commitment to the outcome in Afghanistan. Despite our mistakes, we cannot abandon this mission—lest we invite larger problems in the future. Going forward, a robust advising mission, along with continued targeted special forces raids, could be sustained in perpetuity with minimal cost and most of the benefit of our current presence.
________________________

As I’ve said before, it remains the honor of my life to serve our great country—first in Guantanamo Bay, then Iraq, and finally in Afghanistan. I can think of no greater privilege than to wear our nation’s uniform, and to defend the ideals we all hold dear.

I’ll close by reiterating something I wrote in July. I urge you to remember the guy—dirty, tired, sweaty, and hungry—on patrol somewhere in no-man’s-land Afghanistan. He is fighting as I type this, and as you read this. We must always remember that, and remember him in our prayers. He is the linchpin of this effort, and the one who bears the brunt of all the policies we execute.

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DougMacG
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« Reply #1224 on: January 16, 2012, 10:19:55 AM »

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/clinton-appears-to-acknowledge-talks-about-transferring-taliban-prisoners-from-guantanamo/2012/01/11/gIQAQHgHrP_story.html

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration appeared Wednesday to acknowledge discussions about transferring some Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo Bay as part of U.S. efforts to jumpstart peace talks with the Taliban after 10 years of inconclusive fighting.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said no decision about releasing any Taliban detainees has been made. But in answering a question about whether Washington was ready to transfer Guantanamo detainees, possibly to Qatar, in exchange for talks with the Afghan insurgents, Clinton did not dispute that such a trust-building measure was under consideration.
----------------------
Washington Post,  opinion piece, Jan 9, 2010, Marc Theissen:
Don’t let these Taliban leaders loose

President Obama is reportedly considering releasing several senior Taliban leaders from Guantanamo Bay as an enticement to get the Taliban to the peace table. If he does so, he will do tremendous harm to American national security — and to his prospects for reelection this fall.

To understand why, consider the individuals White House is considering setting free. Last year WikiLeaks released a trove of documents it dubbed the “Gitmo Files” with assessments of hundreds of Guantanamo detainees — including the five Taliban leaders reportedly under consideration for release. Here is the U.S. military’s assessment of them:

Mullah Mohammed Fazl, deputy defense minister. Fazl is “wanted by the UN for possible war crimes while serving as a Taliban Army Chief of Staff and … was implicated in the murder of thousands of Shiites in northern Afghanistan during the Taliban reign.” He has “operational associations with significant al-Qaida and other extremist personnel,” was “involved in Taliban narcotics trafficking,” and is so senior in the Taliban hierarchy that he once threatened the Taliban’s supreme leader, Mullah Omar. Military officials assess that Fazl wields “considerable influence throughout the northern region of Afghanistan and his influence continued even after his capture” adding, “If released, [Fazl] would likely rejoin the Taliban and establish ties with anti-Coalition militias (ACM) participating in hostilities against US and Coalition forces in Afghanistan.”

Abdul Haq Wasiq, deputy minister of intelligence.  Wasiq “was central to the Taliban’s efforts to form alliances with other Islamic fundamentalist groups to fight alongside the Taliban against US and Coalition forces.” He “utilized his office to support al-Qaida and to assist Taliban personnel elude capture…. arranged for al-Qaida personnel to train Taliban intelligence staff in intelligence methods” and “assigned al-Qaida members to the Taliban Ministry of Intelligence.” If released “he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies.”

Mullah Norullah Noori, governor-general of Afghanistan's northern zone. Noori “is considered one of the most significant former Taliban officials detained at JTF-GTMO” who “led troops against US and Coalition forces” and “was directly subordinate to Taliban Supreme Leader Mullah Omar.”  He “is wanted by the UN for possible war crimes,” is “associated with members of al-Qaida,” and is assessed “to be a hardliner in his support of the Taliban philosophy.” He “continues to be a significant figure encouraging acts of aggression and his brother is currently a Taliban commander conducting operations against US and Coalition forces…. (Analyst note: Detainee would likely join his brother if released.”)

Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa, Herat governor and acting interior minister. Khairkhwa is “directly associated to Usama Bin Laden (UBL) and Taliban Supreme Commander Mullah Muhammad Omar” and was “trusted and respected by both.” After 9/11 he “represented the Taliban during meetings with Iranian officials seeking to support hostilities against US and Coalition forces” and “attended a meeting at the direction of UBL, reportedly accompanied by members of HAMAS.” He is “one of the premier opium drug lords in Western Afghanistan” and was likely “associated with a militant training camp in Herat operated by deceased al-Qaida commander (in Iraq) Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.”

Mohammad Nabi, multiple leadership roles. Nabi is “a senior Taliban official” who was “a member of a joint al-Qaida/Taliban ACM cell in Khowst and was involved in attacks against US and Coalition forces.” He “held weekly meetings” with “three al-Qaida affiliated individuals” to discuss anti-coalition plans, “maintained weapons caches,” and “facilitated two al-Qaida operatives smuggling an unknown number of missiles along the highway between Jalalabad and Peshawar,” which intelligence officials believe contributed to the deaths of two Americans.

All have close ties to al-Qaeda and other extremist groups. All been assessed by our military as posing a “high risk” of returning to the fight if released. And we know from painful experience what happens when hardliners like these are released from Gitmo. In 2007, the Bush administration released a Taliban leader named Mullah Zakir to Afghan custody. Unlike these five, he was assessed by our military as only “medium risk” of returning to the fight. They were wrong. Today, Zakir is leading Taliban forces fighting U.S. Marines in Helmand province, and according to former intelligence officials I spoke with, he has provided the Taliban with an exponential increase in combat prowess.

Releasing more like him would be disastrous for national security. And it would also be politically disastrous for Obama. His likely opponent, Mitt Romney, has already blasted the administration for even considering such releases, declaring “We do not negotiate with terrorists. The Taliban are terrorists, they are our enemy, and I do not believe in a prisoner release exchange.”

If Obama goes through with these releases, expect Romney to make a major issue of it in the fall campaign. Every time the president has picked a fight over terrorist detention at Guantanamo during the past three years, he has lost. He will lose again if he raises it in 2012. The last thing Obama should want is to have Americans discussing his decision to release dangerous terrorists in November. If Obama won’t keep these brutal men locked up for the national interest, perhaps he will for his political self-interest.

« Last Edit: January 16, 2012, 10:57:35 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
ya
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« Reply #1225 on: January 16, 2012, 10:27:57 PM »

Cowboys and Indians, paki style


The country is paying a price for their tactical brilliance in encouraging terror, it will take atleast 2 generations to forget these games...
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« Reply #1226 on: January 21, 2012, 02:31:14 PM »

Mansoor Izaz, the guy who caused memogate in Pak is on the video, may have some nudity.

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« Reply #1227 on: January 21, 2012, 06:44:36 PM »

Cowboys and Indians, paki style


The country is paying a price for their tactical brilliance in encouraging terror, it will take atleast 2 generations to forget these games...

When I was a kid we had two games I was especial fond of. One was called "Submarine War." It's one of those games your parents wouldn't let you play if they were home. One kid gathers up all the baseballs, soft balls and skate boards he can find. Then all the other kids get on their bikes and ride around back and forth on the street making fun of the kid with the "torpedos." The kid on the side then rolls the crap at your tires. If you get hit directly, your out. Of course, the real goal was to lodge a skate board in front of the tire and knock the kid off his bike.

Another game was "Assassin." It was basically hide and seek, but you needed a lot of people. Around 15 kids would go hide and two others would team up and with toy guns in hand, go looking for them. Bushes and trees count for cover. If the assassin ever could see you with nothing in the way, you were out. The game took a long time because we would use the whole neighborhood for the battle ground.

Anyway, if the Pakistanis or the Iranians had video of us playing those games or could hear what we were saying, I'm sure they would have found it creepy. Especially sense we really are sending assassins after their people now.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2012, 06:46:10 PM by Cranewings » Logged
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« Reply #1228 on: January 21, 2012, 07:25:32 PM »

 rolleyes

What do you make of the fact that they are modelling commiting suicide?
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« Reply #1229 on: January 21, 2012, 07:36:17 PM »

rolleyes

What do you make of the fact that they are modelling commiting suicide?

Never too early to prepare them for the only growth industry in the muslim world.
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« Reply #1230 on: January 21, 2012, 07:57:59 PM »

rolleyes

What do you make of the fact that they are modelling commiting suicide?

Nothing really. Their game has a more blunt message but most kids understand the concept of killing yourself for the greater good.

I remember winning a game of capture the flag when I was in summer camp. It was a 20 on 20 game and the other team had 3 of the fastest kids guarding their flag. I told kids on my team, "I'll run past and get them to chase me. Then you get the flag." So I run in, "kill myself" and draw the guard's attention so that my friend can get the flag and run off with it. As the guy who kills yourself, you never get the glory like the guy who grabs the flag and wins, but you do get some of the glory and people know you helped. Games like that really instilled the idea of sacrificing for the group, because it is fun to have the group be proud of you for helping.

Suicide bomber pretend is sort of the ultimate in your face version of that, but its the same thing. It is a natural out growth of just how incredibly successful suicide bombing has been. Personally, I wish those kids had peace and a sense of safety so that they could have some distance between their play time and the reality of where they live, but unfortunately for them, their entire lives they have lived in the shadow of an invading, nearly indestructible foreign army.
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« Reply #1231 on: January 21, 2012, 08:05:47 PM »

 rolleyes Reality check.  We helped Afg throw the Russians out and left them along until they hosted an attack on our homeland.  As for Pak, I'll wait and see if YA jumps in, but until then would note that there are lots of seriously tough places on the planet that do not teach their children to commit suicide.  Only Iran, the Palestinian territories, and Afpakia come to mind.
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« Reply #1232 on: January 21, 2012, 08:07:04 PM »

"The sukuk market is the fastest growing part of Islamic finance. Indeed it is one of the fastest growing segments in the global financial market. Having attracted interest from the business community worldwide, it has helped place Islamic finance as a viable industry and as an asset class that is not confined to Muslim countries but as part and parcel of the international financial market," says Muhammad Al-Bashir Muhammad al-Amine, who is currently group head of Shariah compliance at Bank Al-Khair (formerly Unicorn Investment Bank) in Bahrain, in the introduction of his book titled “Global Sukuk and Islamic Securitisation Market - Financial Engineering and Product Innovation”.

Sorry, you were talking about growth in the Islamic world but it came off as mean spirited or maybe even racist, so I fixed your post for you. Maybe you could copy and paste this back.
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« Reply #1233 on: January 21, 2012, 08:14:24 PM »

Islam is a totalitarian expansionist political ideology disguised as a religion, not a race. There4fore, it's not racist, as those that murder others and themselves while screaming "allah akbar" come from a whole range of racial/ethnic backgrounds, as do their victims.

Meanspirited? The horrors of islamic barbarism deserve nothing but contempt. As does your spinelessness and lack of attachment to your culture and nation.
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« Reply #1234 on: January 21, 2012, 08:17:18 PM »

rolleyes Reality check.  We helped Afg throw the Russians out and left them along until they hosted an attack on our homeland.  As for Pak, I'll wait and see if YA jumps in, but until then would note that there are lots of seriously tough places on the planet that do not teach their children to commit suicide.  Only Iran, the Palestinian territories, and Afpakia come to mind.

Sorry, I forgot. Our culture is totally superior to theirs. We would never teach them to play suicide bomber.

We might blow 60 bucks on this: one of the best selling entertainment items of all time, mostly played by kids.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXBDkevx5lM
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« Reply #1235 on: January 21, 2012, 08:20:28 PM »

"Our culture is totally superior to theirs."

Hey, you got something right!
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« Reply #1236 on: January 21, 2012, 08:23:29 PM »

Islam is a totalitarian expansionist political ideology disguised as a religion, not a race. There4fore, it's not racist, as those that murder others and themselves while screaming "allah akbar" come from a whole range of racial/ethnic backgrounds, as do their victims.

Meanspirited? The horrors of islamic barbarism deserve nothing but contempt. As does your spinelessness and lack of attachment to your culture and nation.

Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering. You do nothing look for vengeance that leads to a vicious cycle of further vengeance.
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« Reply #1237 on: January 21, 2012, 08:26:12 PM »

Islam is a totalitarian expansionist political ideology disguised as a religion, not a race. There4fore, it's not racist, as those that murder others and themselves while screaming "allah akbar" come from a whole range of racial/ethnic backgrounds, as do their victims.

Meanspirited? The horrors of islamic barbarism deserve nothing but contempt. As does your spinelessness and lack of attachment to your culture and nation.

Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering. You do nothing look for vengeance that leads to a vicious cycle of further vengeance.

Well, I guess we shouldn't have fought that civil war and ended slavery, right? I guess that explains why the Germans and Japanese are still fighting us, right?

P.S. Yoda was just a puppet.
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« Reply #1238 on: January 21, 2012, 08:37:03 PM »

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/5346968.stm

How Pakistan's rape reform ran aground


By Barbara Plett
BBC News, Islamabad



Pakistan's government has put a controversial women's rights bill on hold, throwing into turmoil efforts to reform hardline Islamic laws on rape.

 





President Musharraf had seemed keen to reform the law for women
 
Secular parties are furious after the draft law was amended to appease Pakistan's ultra-conservative Islamic parties.
 Now the authorities are scrambling to reach a broader consensus before trying for a fourth time to present the bill in parliament.
 
The imbroglio has been branded by human rights activists as a disaster for Pakistani women.
 
It is also seen as further evidence that the government of President Gen Pervez Musharraf remains dependent on the Islamists, despite his claims of promoting an Islam of "enlightened moderation".
 
Un-reported rapes

In Pakistan, rape is dealt with under Islamic laws known as the Hudood Ordinances. These criminalise all sex outside marriage.
 
So, under Hudood, if a rape victim fails to present four male witnesses to the crime, she herself could face punishment.
 
This has made it almost impossible to prosecute rape cases.

According to the country's independent Human Rights Commission, a woman is raped every two hours and gang-raped every eight hours in Pakistan.
 
These figures are probably an under-estimation as many rapes are not reported.

Government panic

Until his ruling party caved in, President Musharraf had seemed determined to reform the Hudood Ordinances.
 






Women allied to the Islamist opposition protested against the bill
 

Despite vociferous objections from the Islamic parties - an alliance known as the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) - the bill had been approved by a parliamentary committee with the support of the main secular opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP).
 
The committee proposed removing rape from religious law and putting it instead in the secular penal code, where normal rules of evidence would apply.
 
The MMA cried foul, threatening to resign en masse from parliament if the bill was passed.
 
And in a panic the government set up an extra-parliamentary committee of religious scholars to pacify the Islamists.
 


This said that rape should fall under both religious and secular law. It introduced a new, very broadly defined, category of "lewdness" into the penal code, and reinstated a clause giving the Hudood Ordinances pre-eminence over any law with which they might come into conflict.
 
Political isolation

Liberal political parties, civil and human rights activists and lawyers said these changes essentially eviscerated the reform, and allowed powerful religious lobbies to manipulate what is seen as a weak judicial system.
 






The case of rape victim Mukhtaran Mai heightened reform calls
 

They also denounced the government for bypassing parliamentary procedures.

Gen Musharraf must have known any changes to the Hudood Ordinances would raise the ire of the Islamists. Why then did his government collapse so rapidly before them?
 
Commentators suggest two reasons.

One is that his ruling party is divided, between those who want to keep a tacit alliance with the MMA, and those willing to push for a reform agenda in alliance with the opposition PPP, led by former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
 
The other is that rarely have President Musharraf and his military-led regime been so isolated.
 
They are now opposed by all save one of the secular and nationalist parties, with even the Islamists threatening street protests.
 
Alliance intact

The president has been condemned at home for using excessive force against nationalist rebels in the restive province of Balochistan, and abroad for striking a peace deal with pro-Taleban tribesmen in the tribal area of North Waziristan.
 
Assailed on all sides, the president's only certain support is the military - and the Pakistani army is not prepared to take on the Islamists over women's rights.
 
So after a week of parliamentary and extra-parliamentary shenanigans, the alliance of military and mullah that has governed Pakistan for the last seven years appears shaken but intact.
 
Women remain at the mercy of fundamentalist legislation.

And Gen Musharraf's message of "enlightened moderation" seems intended more for foreign than local consumption.
 
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« Reply #1239 on: January 21, 2012, 09:36:45 PM »


Well, I guess we shouldn't have fought that civil war and ended slavery, right?


Oh no! Logic I can't emote my way out of (;
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« Reply #1240 on: January 21, 2012, 09:40:47 PM »


Well, I guess we shouldn't have fought that civil war and ended slavery, right?


Oh no! Logic I can't emote my way out of (;

Hey, slavery was part of the south's culture. How dare the abolitionists impose their beliefs on them, right? No culture is better than any other, right? This is why we have all those endless attacks by neo-confederates prolonging the cycle of violence first started by Lincoln.
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« Reply #1241 on: January 23, 2012, 12:13:18 AM »

I have called out both Bush and Baraq's policies in Afpakia for incoherence.  I have done my best to draw attention to the insightful intel and analysis brought our way by our YA.  I have done my best to apply what I understand from what he has shared to offer better strategies-- the essence being that the true problem is to be found in Pakistan.  As best as I can tell there is essentially zero chance of an intelligent policy eminating from any of the possible candidates.   I have listened to Romney talk tough on Afghanistan and wondered if he really would produce any better.  I have seen our troops bravely and loyally stay the course through year after year of piss-poor leadership in Afpakia.  I cannot say I disrespect what this man is saying here, though I think he gravely underestimates the consequences of our leaving, especially in conjunction with Baraq's clueless and politically motivated dash for the exits, but I think the thoughts worth sharing here and worth our discussion.

www.captainsjournal.com

Withdraw From Afghanistan
BY Herschel Smith
1 hour, 20 minutes ago

Michael Yon has written a short note entitled Time To Leave Afghanistan.  I concur, but for somewhat different reasons, or at least, I will state my reasons somewhat differently.  I had been pondering going public with my counsel to withdraw from Afghanistan, and then I read possibly the most depressing entry on Afghanistan I have ever seen, from Tim Lynch.  Some of it is repeated below.
 

Ten years ago, Afghans were thrilled to see us and thought that finally they could live in peace and develop their country …
 
Five years ago they watched us flounder – we stayed on FOBs and shoveled cash by the billions into the hands of a corrupt central government that we insisted, despite clear evidence to the contrary, was a legitimate government – one that had to be supported at all costs. We raided their homes at night and shot up civilians who got too close to our convoys, we paid for roads that did not exist and, because of the “force protection” mentality, most Afghans thought our soldiers were cowards because they never came to the bazaar off duty and unarmored to buy stuff like the Russians did. In fact, every bite of food our soldiers consumed was flown into country at great expense, so in a land famous for its melons and grapes our troops ate crappy melon and tasteless grapes flown in by contractors from God knows where.
 
Now, they want to shoot us in the face. Except for the klepocratic elite who want us to give them billions more and then shoot us in the face.
 
There it is; Afghanistan is toast, and what the last 10 years has taught us is we cannot afford to deploy American ground forces.  Two billion dollars a week (that’s billion with a B) has bought what?  Every year we stay to “bring security to the people,” the security situation for the people gets worse and worse, deteriorating by orders of magnitude.  Now the boy genius has announced a “new strategy”.  A strategy that is identical to the “strategy” that resulted in a hollow ground force getting its ass kicked by North Korea in 1950; a mere five years after we had ascended to the most dominant military the world had ever known.
 
Tim goes on to say things about Iraq and national defense policy with which I don’t entirely agree.  My views on Iraq are complicated, as my readers know, and I will recapitulate (and summarize) them soon.  But if anyone would know that Afghanistan is toast, Tim Lynch would.
 
Listen well.  This is no anti-war cry.  If have argued virtually non-stop for increasing troop levels, staying the course, and increased (and different) lines of logistics for support of our troops.  But I have watched with dismay and even panic over the course of the last six years as we haven’t taken the campaign seriously, and good men have suffered and perished because of it.
 
I have watched as different members of NATO carried different strategies into the campaign without being united at the top level.  I have argued for recognizing the resurgence of the Taliban, while General Rodriguez argued against even the possibility of a spring offensive in 2008.  I watched as that same general micromanaged the Marines as they surged into the Helmand Province, issuing an order requiring that his operations center clear any airstrike that was on a housing compound in the area but not sought in self-defense.
 
We have seen General McChrystal issue awful and debilitating rules of engagement, along with personal stipulations that modified them to be even more restrictive.  “If you are in a situation where you are under fire from the enemy… if there is any chance of creating civilian casualties or if you don’t know whether you will create civilian casualties, if you can withdraw from that situation without firing, then you must do so,” said McChrystal.
 
Those disastrous rules and McChrystal’s disastrous management played a critical role in the shameful and immoral deaths of three Marines, a Navy Corpsman and a Soldier at Ganjgal, the firefight where Dakota Meyer earned his MoH.  Read the comments of the families of those warriors who perished at Ganjgal, and let the sentiments wash over you.
 
Study again my writing on Now Zad.  I was the only writer or blogger anywhere who was following the Marines at Now Zad – how they brought more trauma doctors with them than usual due to the massive loss of limbs and life that Marine command knew they would sustain, how they lived in so-called Hobbit holes in Now Zad, two or three Marines to a hole in distributed operations, hunting for Taliban fighters who had taken R&R in Now Zad because we didn’t have enough troops to prevent them from doing so.
 
While I was arguing for more Marines in Now Zad, I watched as a Battalion of infantrymen at Camp Lejeune (the class entering after my own son returned from his combat deployment in Iraq) entered the Marines expecting to go to Afghanistan or Iraq.  At that time we were heading for the exits in the Anbar Province of Iraq, and instead of focusing on Marines losing their legs and screaming for help in Now Zad, Afghanistan, that Battalion went on a wasteful MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit).  No MEU has ever been used by a President for anything in the history of doing MEUs except for humanitarian missions.
 
So that Battalion didn’t deploy to Iraq, went on a MEU, and then weren’t on rotation for Afghanistan.  Instead of helping their brothers in Now Zad, the Marine Corps Commandant had them playing Iwo Jima, as if we’re ever going to launch a major, sea-based forcible entry again.  A full Battalion of infantry Marines with two wars going on – and no deployment to Iraq, and no deployment to Afghanistan in a four year enlistment.
 
I argued against night raids by the so-called “snake eaters,” with them flying back to the FOBs that night, totally absent from the locals to explain what happened and why.  In addition to pointing out the wrong way to do it, I pointed out the right way to do it in lieu of night time raids by snake eaters.  I have argued for following and killing every single Taliban fighter into the hinterlands of Afghanistan, while the strategists under General McChrystal withdrew to the population centers just like the Russians did.
 
I pointed out that withdrawal from the Pech River Valley would invite the return of of al qaeda, Haqqani and allied fighters, and that’s exactly what happened.  I have been in the thick of this with my advocacy for the campaign, but again and again, it has become clear that we aren’t going to take this campaign seriously.  I have advocated against nation building, and by now I think it has become clear that population-centric counterinsurgency and nation building won’t ever work in Afghanistan.  Staying long enough with enough troops to find and kill the enemy has its problems, of course, including the fact that we may have to go back in eight or ten years later and do it all over again.
 
But that’s the Marine way.  Do now what has to be done, do it quickly and violently, achieve the mission, and leave.  At least I have been consistent, while always acknowledging that we cannot possibly achieve anything permanent, and will probably have to return at some point.  As it is, it isn’t clear that we’ve achieved anything at all.
 
The Wise family from Arkansas has lost their second son in Afghanistan.  For all those warriors who have given their all, and those families still suffering today because of that, America isn’t worthy of their sacrifices.  To be sure, if we continue the campaign there will still be magnificent warriors who answer the call.  But it’s our duty to take seriously the war to which we’re calling them if we let them go.  We’re heading for the exits, releasing insurgents from prisons in Afghanistan, and instead of trying to develop better lines of logistics, we’re trying to figure out how to get all of our equipment out of Afghanistan.
 
Regardless of who calls for what, the President will ask the Joint Chiefs of Staff what can be done to withdraw.  They will ask the flag and staff officers, and the staff officers will ask the logistics officers.  Logistics will decide how and when we can withdraw from Afghanistan.  No one else.
 
But within that framework, I am calling for the full, immediate and comprehensive withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan, and that we focus exclusively on force protection until that can be accomplished.  It’s time to come home.
 
UPDATE: Many thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the attention.
 
UPDATE #2: Thanks to Michael Yon for the attention.






Afghanistan,Featured
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« Reply #1242 on: January 23, 2012, 05:19:08 PM »

http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/ColumnsOthers/A-fractured-policy/Article1-800719.aspx

A fractured policy
Brahma Chellaney, Hindustan Times
January 22, 2012


With the stage set for secret US-Taliban talks in Qatar, the White House strategy for a phased exit from war-ravaged Afghanistan is now couched in nice-sounding terms like 'reconciliation' and 'transition to 2014'. These terms hide more than they reveal. In seeking a Faustian bargain with the
medieval Taliban, President Barack Obama risks repeating the very mistakes of US policy that have come to haunt regional and international security.
Since coming to office, Obama has pursued an Afghan War strategy summed up in just four words: surge, bribe and run. The military mission has now entered the 'run' part, or what euphemistically is being called the 'transition to 2014'.

The central objective at present is to cut a deal with the Taliban so that the US and its Nato partners exit the "Graveyard of Empires" without losing face. This deal-making is being dressed up as 'reconciliation', with Qatar, Germany and Britain getting lead roles to help facilitate a settlement with the Taliban.

Yet what stands out is how little the US has learned from past mistakes. In some critical respects, it is actually beginning to repeat the past mistakes, whether by creating or funding new local militias in Afghanistan or striving to cut a deal with the Taliban. As in the covert war it waged against the nearly nine-year Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, so too in the current overt war, US policy has been driven by short-term interests.

 To be sure, any president must work to extricate his country from a protracted war. Obama thus is right to seek an end to the war. He, however, blundered by laying out his cards in public and emboldening the enemy.

Within weeks of assuming office, Obama publicly declared his intent to exit Afghanistan, before he even asked his team to work out a strategy. A troop surge that lasted up to 2010 was designed not to militarily rout the Taliban but to strike a political deal with the enemy from a position of strength. Yet even before the surge began, its purpose was undercut by the exit plan. This was followed by a publicly unveiled troop drawdown, stretching from 2011 to 2014.

A withdrawing power that first announces a phased exit and then pursues deal-making with the enemy undermines its regional leverage. It speaks for itself that the sharp deterioration in US ties with the Pakistani military has occurred after the drawdown timetable was unveiled. The phased exit has encouraged the Pakistani generals to step up support to the Taliban. Worse, there is still no clear US strategy on how to ensure that the endgame does not undermine the interests of the free world or further destabilise the region.

US envoy Marc Grossman, who visited New Delhi last Friday for consultations, has already held a series of secret meetings with the Taliban over more than a year. Qatar has been chosen as the seat of fresh US-Taliban negotiations so as to keep the still-sceptical Afghan government at arm's length (despite the pretence of 'Afghan-led' talks) and to insulate the Taliban negotiators from Pakistani and Saudi pressures. Meanwhile, even as a civil-military showdown in Pakistan compounds Washington's regional challenges, the new US containment push and energy sanctions against Iran threaten to inject greater turbulence into Afghanistan.

In truth, US policy is coming full circle again on the ISI-fathered Taliban, in whose birth the CIA had played midwife. The US acquiesced in the Taliban's ascension to power in 1996 and turned a blind eye as that thuggish militia, in league with the ISI, fostered narco-terrorism and swelled the ranks of the Afghan war alumni waging transnational terrorism. With 9/11, however, the chickens came home to roost. In declaring war on the Taliban, US policy came full circle.

Now, US policy, with its frantic search for a deal with the Taliban, is coming another full circle. The Qatar-based negotiations indeed highlight why the US political leadership has deliberately refrained from decapitating the Taliban. The US military has had ample opportunities (and still has) to eliminate the Taliban's Rahbari Shura, or leadership council, often called the Quetta Shura because it escaped to the Pakistani city.

Yet, tellingly, the US has not carried out a single drone, air or ground strike in or around Quetta. All the US strikes have occurred farther north in Pakistan's tribal Waziristan region, although the leadership of the Afghan Taliban or its allied groups like the Haqqani network and the Hekmatyar band is not holed up there.

When history is written, the legacy of the Nato war in Afghanistan will mirror the legacy of the US occupation of Iraq - to leave an ethnically fractured nation. Just as Iraq today stands ethnically partitioned in a de facto sense, it will be difficult to establish a government in Kabul post-2014 whose writ runs across Afghanistan. And just as the 1973 US-North Vietnam agreements were negotiated by shutting out the Saigon regime - in consequence of which South Vietnam unintentionally disappeared - the US today is keeping the Afghan government out of the talks' loop even as it compels President Hamid Karzai to lend support and seems ready to meet a Taliban demand to transfer five incarcerated Taliban leaders out of Guantanamo Bay.

Afghanistan, however, is not Vietnam. An end to Nato combat operations will not mean the end of the war, because the enemy will target Western interests wherever they may be. The fond US hope to regionally contain terrorism promises to keep the Af-Pak belt as a festering threat to regional and global security. This is a chilling message for the country that has borne the brunt of the rise of international terrorism - India.

Brahma Chellaney is Professor of Strategic Studies at the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research. The views expressed by the author are personal.
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« Reply #1243 on: January 27, 2012, 10:44:23 AM »

Complications Along the NDN Supply Route
January 27, 2012


As the blockage of NATO supply lines from Pakistan into Afghanistan continues, the primary alternative lines -- those crossing through former Soviet states -- are also once more threatened. Pakistan started to blockade NATO supplies in November after U.S. airstrikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. Islamabad is still considering whether to reopen the routes into landlocked Afghanistan. In the meantime, NATO is heavily dependent on the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), whose lines run through former Soviet states.

The NDN has various routes, though the main ones run from Russia down through Central Asia, with the majority of NATO supplies into Afghanistan traversing Uzbekistan. In summer 2011, the United States struck a series of deals with Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to expand the use of the NDN. By the end of the year, the NDN was carrying approximately 75 percent of ground cargo (and 40 percent of all cargo) into Afghanistan. After the troubles in Pakistan, the NDN has become a cornerstone for NATO operations in Afghanistan, with plans to heavily increase supplies by mid-2012. However, in running a supply-route network through the former Soviet states, Washington now finds itself affected by those states' political issues, including problems that could threaten the majority of the NDN's lines.

Most recently, Uzbekistan has begun to realize that it can leverage its large role in the NDN to help it prepare for major security challenges on its horizon. Uzbekistan feels it needs a stronger, expanded military and increased security capabilities. As it prepares for a power succession, Tashkent is concerned with the possibility of another uprising in the Fergana Valley. Tashkent is also becoming more worried about a possible security vacuum on its border with Afghanistan when the United States withdraws.

Lastly, Tashkent feels pressured by the recent military buildup in the region by its former ruler, Russia. Uzbekistan has long resisted Russian domination, striving to remain independent from Moscow during the days of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and Russia's recent resurgence into Central Asia. Russia sees Uzbekistan as the heart of Central Asia and knows it cannot comfortably control the region until it commands Uzbekistan. Thus far, Tashkent has had little means of resisting Moscow, primarily because Uzbekistan cannot count on an outside power for aid or protection.

Washington's increased reliance on the NDN has given Tashkent an opportunity to try to change this. In agreeing to an expansion of the NDN in summer 2011, Tashkent demanded that sanctions against military aid to Uzbekistan be lifted; Washington complied in September. Tashkent assumed this would naturally lead to negotiations on the provision of military supplies, but Washington never intended to actually transfer weapons to Uzbekistan once the embargo was lifted.

Washington's relationship with Uzbekistan has long been controversial. The State Department and human rights groups have accused the country of a string of human rights violations, many of which were connected to the violent crackdown on the Andijan uprising in 2005. Many within U.S. defense circles are also wary of relying on Uzbekistan: The country has shown that it will cut ties, having ejected Washington from its military bases in 2005. Lastly, Washington has been cautious not to cross Russia, which has facilitated the negotiations for an expanded NDN, in its relationships with Central Asian states.

The United States had assumed that lifting sanctions on military supplies to Uzbekistan was a good way to demonstrate improved relations, but Tashkent wants more. According to Stratfor sources, in October the Uzbek government started to threaten the NDN supply route, citing a disagreement over the price of transit. But the sources said that behind the scenes, Tashkent was really demanding military aid and weapons.

Providing military aid and weapons to Uzbekistan would not only stir up criticism in Washington among those wary of Uzbekistan, but it would also draw a reaction from Moscow. Still, the United States cannot afford to have the only other major supply route into Afghanistan cut off like the line through Pakistan. So this week, the U.S. State Department waived its assessment on human rights against Uzbekistan, which opened the door for a military aid deal to be struck. Now Washington is proposing to help Uzbekistan by training its border guards, which is similar to a U.S. arrangement with Uzbekistan's neighbor, Tajikistan. The United States says the deal does not arm Uzbekistan in any manner that could facilitate internal crackdowns or be used against Russia. The question now is whether Tashkent will be satisfied with this arrangement, since Uzbekistan knows the deal only addresses a fraction of the country's many security problems.

The more important question is whether Russia sees even this small security tie between the United States and Uzbekistan as a step too far. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake said Wednesday that the military assistance to Uzbekistan would be non-lethal. Moreover, Blake repeatedly confirmed that Washington understood Russia's dominance in the region and that "the Russians are in such a position that they could block what we do if they want." The United States is attempting to balance Uzbekistan's demands for military assistance with Russia's demand that the United States not meddle in Central Asian affairs. A slight miscalculation by the United States in either regard could threaten supply lines into Afghanistan, placing further pressure on the United States in the Afghan war theater.
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ya
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« Reply #1244 on: January 28, 2012, 04:28:36 PM »

Pl. listen to video in the link.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/25/louie-gohmert-afghan-strategy-balochistan-pakistan-taliban_n_1232250.html

Louie Gohmert Afghan Strategy: Carve Out Balochistan From Ally Pakistan To Beat Taliban



WASHINGTON -- President Obama is losing the war in Afghanistan to the Taliban, argued Rep. Louie Gohmert after listening to Tuesday's State of the Union address. So he proposed one way to win: create a new, friendly state within the borders of neighboring Pakistan.

The Texas Republican took issue with Obama's assertion that "the Taliban's momentum has been broken." He said he had just visited Afghanistan and came away with a very different sense from talking to members of the Northern Alliance, a multiethnic confederation of warlords and other forces who led the U.S.-backed ouster of the Taliban in 2001.

Gohmert argued that, far from being broken, the Taliban are feeling powerful enough to demand that members of the Northern Alliance apologize before the United States leaves in 2013. "If you look at the objective facts ... they're not on the run," Gohmert said.

His solution was first to supply more arms to the Northern Alliance. But then, he said, the Afghan border with Pakistan needs to be shored up.

"Let's talk about creating a Balochistan in the southern part of Pakistan," Gohmert told The Huffington Post, referring to a region of Pakistan that constitutes nearly half that vital if troublesome ally.

"They love us. They'll stop the IEDs [improvised explosive devices] and all the weaponry coming into Afghanistan, and we got a shot to win over there," said Gohmert, who accused Obama's national security advisers of giving the president bad intel on Afghanistan.

"His strategy of working from ignorance and thinking we have them on the run is no way to go through life, son," Gohmert said. "I'm about to borrow from an 'Animal House' line, but anyway, that's no way to go through life when you're that ignorant of what's really going on."


The White House did not answer a request for comment, and Gohmert's office did not elaborate on how the United States could even discuss carving off Balochistan from a country that is both an ally and a nuclear power.

The United States recently has been talking about a truce with the Taliban. Gohmert, a member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, characterized such efforts as begging, backed by an offer to "let all these Taliban murderers" go free.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2012, 04:33:32 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
ya
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« Reply #1245 on: January 28, 2012, 04:36:56 PM »

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,650264,00.html

Islamists in Pakistan Recruit Entire Families from Europe

By Yassin Musharbash and Holger Stark

The German government is trying to secure the release of a group of suspected German Islamists who were arrested by Pakistani authorities while making their way to a jihadist colony in the Waziristan region along the Afghan-Pakistani border. Entire families from Germany are moving to the region to join the jihad.

  
The young speaker, who calls himself "Abu Adam," praises the stay in the mountains -- almost as if he were shooting an ad for a family holiday camp. "Doesn't it appeal to you? We warmly invite you to join us!" Abu Adam says, raising his index finger. He lists all the things this earthly paradise has to offer: hospitals, doctors, pharmacies as well as a daycare center and school -- all, of course, "a long way from the front." After all, they don't want the children to be woken up by the roar of guns.

The latest recruitment video from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) is a half-hour in length and is addressed to our "beloved" brothers and sisters back in Germany. The video is presented by, among others, Mounir Chouka, alias "Abu Adam," who grew up in the western German city of Bonn.
The video shows shacks erected against a backdrop of lush greenery and craggy rock formations. Women wearing blue burqas are seen surrounded by their children. One small girl is holding an artillery gun.

Welcome to the wild world of Waziristan, the region along the Afghan-Pakistani border controlled by Pashtun tribes, al-Qaida and other splinter groups which has become a regular target of US drones and their remote-controlled missiles.

Islamists Recruiting Entire Families

The ad for Waziristan appears to be finding fertile ground in Germany. Security officials here believe the IMU is currently the largest and most active Islamic group recruiting in the country. But there's an unusual development here, too -- militants don't normally recruit women and children as the IMU appears to be doing. The families move to mujahedeen villages in the rough terrain which are used as bases for supporting the battle against the US troops and the Afghan army.

The German government in Berlin is also examining the propaganda offensive. For several weeks, diplomats in the German Foreign Ministry have been negotiating with Islamabad over the fate of a group of suspected Islamists from Germany's Rhineland region who have been held in custody in Pakistan for several months now. The group includes a young Tunisian and six Germans, including Andreas M. of Bonn, a Muslim convert, and his Eritrean wife Kerya.

A Child in Custody

The case is being viewed with concern by the federal government. The married couple's four-year-old daugher has been held in custody together with her parents since May and has suffered particularly in the tough conditions. Germany's Foreign Ministry has made several attempts to negotiate a swift return to Germany for the mother and her daughter at least, but Pakistani authorities have so far refused.

The travelers, who apparently met each other in a Bonn prayer room, left Germany in several small groups in March and April. They traveled through Turkey to the Iranian city of Zahedan. Located close to the border with Pakistan, Zahedan is notorious for its jihad tourism -- hotels even set aside entire room allotments for radical foreigners making their way to the city.

From Zahedan, most take taxis to Pakistan. For the group of Germans, though, that's where the problems started. After crossing the border, the Germans were captured by police and taken to a jail in Peshawar. The prisoners claim they were handled roughly by Pakistani officials. When German consular officials finally got access to the prisoners, several of the men claimed, in mutually corroborating statements, that they had been beaten.

Initially, the detainees claimed they were from Turkey and had lost their identification papers -- leaving authorities with little information to start with. In August, however, the Pakistani ISI intelligence service got involved in the case, moving the prisoners to Islamabad and confirming to the German government that the detainees were Germans. During the first visit by a consular employee from the German Embassy, two of the group's members, identified as Azzedine A. and Bilal Ü., openly admitted that they had wanted to join "the jihad."

Security officials believe that the goal of Mounir Chouka and the IMU was to strengthen the German "colony" in Waziristan. The detainees also include Chouka's brother-in-law, the German-Libyan Ahmed K.

Release Could Be Imminent

"I hope that Ahmed will come home soon," says Ahmed K.'s father Mohamed.
It appears that hope might soon come true. The Pakistani government has signalled that it might not prosecute the group for entering the country illegally or for supporting a terrorist organization and instead put the Germans on a plane back to Frankfurt.

But one of the travelers won't be part of the group if that happens: Atnan J., a Tunisian from the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia. In a development similar to that of Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish citizen raised in Germany who was wrongly imprisoned by the United States at Guantanamo, the German Interior Ministry wants to prevent Atnan J. from returning to Germany because his residence permit has expired. Officials in Berlin have asked Islamabad to deport the man to Tunisia.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2012, 07:05:31 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
ya
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« Reply #1246 on: January 28, 2012, 04:45:46 PM »

From the web..

Islam most misunderstood ...

1) Moro "Islamic" front misunderstood in Phillipines;
2) Jemehiah "Islamia" misunderstood in Indonesia;
3) Bodo's "Islamic" front misunderstood in Thailand;
4) Party se "Islam" misunderstood in Malaysia;
5) Hizbul Tahrir misunderstood in Australia;
6) Uighur Islamic front misunderstood in China;
6) Lashkar Mohammed misunderstood in India;
7) Taliban misunderstood in Afghanistan;
6) Laskah e Toiba misunderstood in Pakistan;
7) Khomenie and gang misunderstood in Iran;
8 ) Moqtada Al Sadr misunderstood in Iraq;
9) Hezbollah misunderstood in Lebanon;
10)Hamas misunderstood in Jordan;
11) Whole of Saudi and GCC are misunderstood;
12) Nour party and Muslim brotherhood misunderstood in Egypt;
13) NLF in Libya is misunderstood in Libya;
14) Boko Haram is misunderstood in Nigeria;
15) Whole of Sudan is misunderstood;
16) Chechens are misunderstood in Russia;
17) Kosovars are misunderstood in Balkans;
18) Assorted Imams are misunderstood in Europe;
19) Assorted Imams are misunderstood in US; and
20) Not to mention Somalia
« Last Edit: January 28, 2012, 07:07:49 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1247 on: January 30, 2012, 08:10:08 AM »

The usual slander against the French is that they have no stomach for fighting. Not so: From the first Battle of the Marne to the last stand at Dien Bien Phu to recent commando operations in Afghanistan, French troops have proved their mettle against every adversary. Too bad their civilian masters don't always share the soldierly courage.

That's the story again as Nicolas Sarkozy announces that he'll speed France's withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of 2013, a year earlier than planned. The French President doubled France's troop presence in 2008, and he has called the Afghan war "the central issue for relations between Islam and the West." But now he has had a change of heart.

The proximate cause seems to be the recent killing of four French troops by a rogue Afghan army soldier, though Mr. Sarkozy insists that's not the reason he wants out. Probably true. The President faces an uphill battle in April's presidential election, and the French public is overwhelmingly opposed to the Afghan deployment.

As a military matter, the accelerated departure of 4,000 French troops makes little difference to the overall effort against the Taliban. But Mr. Sarkozy says he will use next month's NATO summit to convince the rest of the coalition to follow his lead. The Obama Administration set the tone for the Afghan slink-out last summer, when it announced that 33,000 U.S. surge troops will leave by this September. Washington is now quietly considering an even earlier withdrawal.

Still, it would be unfair to lay too much blame on Mr. Sarkozy, who is only trying to get ahead of the coming stampede for the exits. That was bound to happen the moment President Obama announced a timetable for the surge and a date-certain for withdrawal, thereby giving the Taliban hope that they could bide their time while giving America's coalition partners no good reason to stay. Mr. Sarkozy may not be the bravest of politicians, but in the matter of Afghanistan he is merely one of the herd.

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JDN
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« Reply #1248 on: January 30, 2012, 08:26:32 AM »

The President faces an uphill battle in April's presidential election, and the French public is overwhelmingly opposed to the Afghan deployment.


The American public is also becoming overwhelmingly opposed to the Afghan deployment.  The will of the people....
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1249 on: January 30, 2012, 08:31:30 AM »

It might be different if we had been offered a coherent policy , , ,
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