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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1250 on: February 01, 2012, 10:25:08 AM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/01/world/asia/afghans-fear-economic-downturn-as-foreigners-leave.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha22
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« Reply #1251 on: February 02, 2012, 10:11:32 AM »

Of course, there's no chance that domestic US politics could be playing a role here , , ,
========================

NATO meetings in Brussels this week had been expected to center on France's recent attempts to shorten its commitment to NATO's mission in Afghanistan (with the important repercussion of the potential for other European allies to follow the French lead). But U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, while en route to Brussels on Wednesday, announced that combat operations in Afghanistan would transition to a "training, advise and assist" role before the end of 2013 -- rather than the long-held 2014 deadline. The shortened time frame Panetta proffered would be consistent with what French President Nicolas Sarkozy now desires. But the mission in Afghanistan does not depend on the presence of the French contingent -- or even on the cumulative contributions of European countries that might follow the French in reducing their commitments. Concern about the durability of the French commitment to the war effort is insufficient to understand Panetta’s announcement.

When in 2001 the Northern Alliance -- supported by American airpower and special operations forces -- seized Kabul, Stratfor argued that the Taliban had not been defeated, but had declined combat on American terms and conceded the capital. Washington’s attention quickly shifted to Iraq. As the war in Iraq intensified and then settled, the war in Afghanistan underwent a significant shift. The old al Qaeda core that orchestrated the 9/11 attacks moved to Pakistan and was increasingly degraded, culminating in the 2011 death of Osama bin Laden. Pursuing that al Qaeda core is what originally motivated the United States to invade Afghanistan. But today, the principal military adversary of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force is a diffuse and decentralized group -- the Taliban. And even the peak of NATO's combined forces -- almost 150,000 between the United States and allied personnel -- would not be sufficient to pacify the country within the remaining time.

Washington consequently has an incentive to seek a political accommodation in Afghanistan. The United States wants to negotiate a settlement that allows it to gracefully withdraw from the country while ensuring Washington's long term goal: that Afghanistan not serve as a sanctuary for transnational jihadists.

Thus, looking beyond the alliance's shaky commitment to the war in Afghanistan, the underlying inability of committed troops to defeat the Taliban has led to the current reality, within which the circumstances of American defeat in Afghanistan are being negotiated.

This is not as radical as it sounds. The nature of American global military power is expeditionary. Any power in this position -- British, American or otherwise -- will be involved in spoiling attacks and limited interventions that are intended to protect its national interests at minimal cost. As such, the United States is now seeking a framework in which it can withdraw from Afghanistan. And as Stratfor has argued, there have been more visible signs of progress in facilitating such negotiations in 2012 than in the rest of the history of the war in Afghanistan combined. Panetta’s statement must be viewed in this context.

Stratfor has long argued that this is not a simple, two-way talk between the United States and Mullah Muhammad Omar, the senior leader of the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan, the regime of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and even India, Iran and Russia, all have serious interests in the outcome of any such negotiated settlement. Still, the importance of Panetta's statement is in its relation to Taliban demands.

Each side in a negotiation will open with far more hardline conditions than they are ultimately willing to settle with. The Taliban has long insisted on complete withdrawal as a precondition for talks. But Stratfor sources indicate that talks have long been ongoing, even though they have not necessarily involved negotiations on specific points of contention. In announcing that 2013 is now the deadline for the completion of combat operations, the United States has taken a very visible step toward political accommodation.

This step should be viewed in the appropriate context. Since Panetta made his announcement in January 2012, "next year" actually leaves a two-year time frame, which seasonally entails two full campaign seasons in non-winter months. And the United States demonstrated quite well in 2010-2011 that it can push its advantage in the seasonal winter lull. What’s more, Panetta’s deadline can always be extended. "Conditions dependent" has been the caveat of American strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan, meaning the United States ultimately did not really concede that much.

But it remains true that Panetta conceded ground on a key parameter of an American withdrawal consistent with Taliban demands. Whatever the status of negotiations, it is clear that the United States is talking to the Taliban. And in this context, Panetta put something substantial on the table. Long-term American national interests are not as far apart as they once were from those of the Afghan Taliban. And there has been too much movement between Washington and the Afghan Taliban in the last month to ignore. A negotiated settlement is not inevitable, but both sides seek such an understanding for their own reasons. Panetta’s statement Wednesday is perhaps the strongest indication yet that substantive negotiations may take place in the years ahead.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2012, 10:15:07 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
ya
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« Reply #1252 on: February 05, 2012, 05:00:36 PM »

What a generous guy...gave up 8 ministries...


Caving to opposition demands: Shahbaz Sharif relinquishes control of 8 ministries
By Abdul Manan
Published: February 3, 2012

The Punjab chief minister still retains seven portfolios. PHOTO: NNI/FILE
LAHORE: After much criticism from the opposition, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Thursday finally handed over eight ministries to cabinet members, special assistants and advisers.
Shahbaz, who had been holding 15 portfolios, still maintains seven additional departments including health; home; chief minister inspection team; services and general administration; social welfare; special education; and mines and minerals.
According to statistics of the Punjab government, after the 18th Amendment there were 39 portfolios in the Punjab Cabinet which were being catered by only 16 ministers till March 2011. Out of the 16 ministers, nine were held by the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and seven by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) ministers — under a 60 to 40 proportion as mentioned in the Charter of Democracy.
Initially, the chief minister tried to run the departments through a task force but after criticism from the opposition and media, he handed over the ministries but did not increase the number of ministers in the Cabinet.
In the last budget, the Punjab chief minister had abolished four departments out of the 39 and emerged them into different departments as part of an austerity drive.
In March 2011, after the removal of PPP’s seven ministers from the Punjab Cabinet, Shahbaz added another three departments to his portfolio, giving him a total of 15 portfolios.
Technically after the 18th Amendment, the chief minister is authorised to appoint five advisers and two special assistants with the seat of senior adviser being abolished from the Constitution.
At present, Shahbaz has a total five advisers including Senior Adviser Zulfiqar Khosa, Jehazaib Khan Burki, Zakia Shahnawaz, Raja Ishfaq Sarwar and Saeed Mehdi. He also has two special assistants Senator Perveiz Rashid and Manshaullah Butt.
Under the law, advisers and special assistants are not part of the Cabinet. Despite the fact that they cannot attend the official Cabinet meetings, Shahbaz has been inviting his advisers to these meetings.
Official in the Cabinet section said that though the advisers had been assigned portfolios, the main power remained with the chief minister himself. “The major decisions will be taken by the CM himself,” sources said.
Shahbaz’s Seven
Eight departments were devolved on Thursday and assigned to the following seven ministers:
Malik Nadeem Kamran has the portfolio of Zakat and Ushr
Provincial Minister for Excise and Taxation Department Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman has the additional charge of Transport, School Education, Literacy and NFBE and Higher Education
Human Rights and Minority Affairs Minister Kamran Michael has the additional portfolio of Women Development and Finance
Planning and Development Minister Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor has the Energy Department
Agriculture Minister Malik Ahmad Ali Aolakh has the Live Stock and Dairy, Forestry Fisheries and Wildlife, Irrigation Department, Communication and Works Department
Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan has the Board of Revenue, Local Government Department
Auqaf and Religious Affairs Minister Haji Ehsanuddin Qureshi has the additional Labour and Human Rights Housing and Urban Development, and Public Health Engineering Department
Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd, 2012.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2012, 09:56:26 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
ya
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« Reply #1253 on: February 05, 2012, 05:25:25 PM »

http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/01/18/the_fog_of_peace
The Fog of Peace
By Thomas H. Johnson and M. Chris Mason   Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - 4:03 PM    Share

Afghanistan policy, like Vietnam policy before it, has taken on a life of its own, impervious to ground truth. The simple reality is that "peace talks" with the Taliban have no chance whatever of a positive outcome from the perspective of U.S. policy. Just as it did in Vietnam, the United States has been fighting the wrong war in Afghanistan with the wrong strategy from the very beginning.

In Vietnam, the United States was ideologically hell-bent on fighting a war against communism, and shaped its strategy accordingly. For nearly a decade in Afghanistan, the United States has insisted on fighting a secular war, a counterinsurgency, against a religious movement.  However, our enemy in North Vietnam was not fighting a war for communism, and in Afghanistan our enemies are not fighting an insurgency. They are fighting a jihad, and no South Asian jihad in history has ever ended in a negotiated settlement. And this one will not either.  There is no overlap between the way insurgencies and charismatic religious movements of this archetype in the Pashtun belt end.  Insurgencies by definition have both political and military arms. Regardless of what they have learned to say, the Taliban does not.  One hundred percent of the  movement's leaders are Muslim clerics. After fighting a second war in Asia the wrong way for almost a decade, the United States is now again desperately seeking a way out of the quagmire from within the wrong set of potential outcomes.

The primary reasons why "peace talks" are delusional are three fold:  First, there is no"Taliban" in the sense the proponents of talks envision it. To believe so is cultural mirroring at its peak.  Second, the enemy is interested in pre-withdrawal concessions, not a settlement, in an alien culture in which seeking negotiations to end a war is surrender. To believe otherwise is simply wishful thinking. And third, no understanding with senior clerics in the Taliban movement has ever out lived the airplane flight back to New York. Like a second marriage, trusting the "Taliban" to keep a bargain is a victory of hope over experience.

First, the best way to understand the "Taliban" is not as a political entity that can carry out negotiations, but as an event in time analogous to the First Crusade.  It is a loose network of military-religious orders which share a common goal, quite similar to the Crusader orders, which  included the Knights Templar, Knights of Malta, and the Knights Hospitaller. The "Taliban" is comprised of similar military-religious orders, including, to name a few, the Haqqani network, the Quetta Shura, the Tora Bora Front, the Tehrik-i-Taliban, the Lashkar-i-Taiba, Hisb-i-Islami Khalis, and Hisb-i-Islami Gulbuddin.  Like the crusaders, who shared a common purpose and owed allegiance to the Pope in Rome, the "Taliban" groups share a common purpose and acknowledge the religious supremacy of Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Amir-ul-Mumaneen, or "Leader of the Faithful," in Quetta.  And like the crusader groups, the "Taliban" groups have no real "political wing," because in the jihadist mindset now ascendant in the Pashtun region, Islam and governance are not separate entities. The church and the state cannot be disaggregated in this way.

Just as the Knights of Malta did not agree on policy matters with the Knights Templar, and carried out radically different strategies in the Holy Land, so the various groups of the jihad often fundamentally disagree with one another on how to achieve their common goal of establishing religious rule over disputed territory. Each jihadist group has, just as each crusader group had, its own unique and complex internal dynamics. And, just as the Pope was distant from the Holy Land, Mullah Omar is distant physically and operationally from the central battlefields in Afghanistan. The course of events in Afghanistan, as were those on the ground in Acre, Tyre, or Jerusalem, are decided by local dynamics, events, and power struggles -- not by the Pope, and not by Mullah Omar. Just as the Vatican had no practical control over the behavior of the Knights Templar on the ground in Jerusalem, the Quetta Shura has none over the operational activities of the Haqqani Network, the Tehrik-i-Taliban, or even its own local commanders fighting in Afghanistan. Even if one could find bonafide representatives of the Quetta Shura, and not a conartist Quetta cobbler as was the case last time, the Quetta Shura cannot control events in Afghanistan any more than the Vatican could control events in the Holy Land in the eleventh century.

Second, the motives of any such representatives simply do not now and will never coincide with our own. The Quetta Shura has no genuine interest whatsoever in any "peace talks" or negotiations except to gain concessions such as the release of their comrades in Guantanamo Bay. They have fought for almost 20 years for control of Afghanistan and are now within two years of the withdrawal of foreign troops. As the new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) makes unequivocally clear, they have not in anyway changed their intent to retake control of Afghanistan and reestablish their Islamist state. If they had any interest in genuine talks, they would hardly have assassinated Berhanuddin Rabanni, head of the Afghan High Peace Council and the Karzai regime's lead negotiator, last year.

Furthermore, although the Pentagon has added the imaginary golden fabric of "progress" and the imaginary significance of the "attrition of mid-level leadership" to the emperor's new clothes of peace talks in Afghanistan, both of these are simply fictitious. The reality is, despite all the Pentagon smoke and mirrors, the new NIE shows there has been no sustainable progress in Afghanistan, and the enemy still has a virtually unlimited supply of soldiers and leaders. There are hundreds of thousands of recruits waiting to join the cause in Pakistan, every village has a mullah to lead them on the battlefield, and the madrassas of Pakistan produce hundreds of new militant mullahs every year. They have extensive direct and indirect military support from the Pakistani government and army. And just as the Saigon government was in Vietnam in 1970, the Karzai kleptocracy in Kabul is illegitimate, incompetent, and utterly unpopular in Afghanistan today. As the desertion of a third of the tiny Afghan National Army each year proves, almost no one except Americans and Britons are willing to die for it. On a good day, the Afghan National Army has perhaps 100,000 men under arms.  In a sobering comparison, the South Vietnamese army (ARVN) had more than a million men under arms, including a large, modern air force, in a country one quarter the size of Afghanistan, and it collapsed in three weeks of fighting in 1976. The Taliban, who have studied American military history, fully understand this calculus.

Finally, the last nail in the coffin for "peace talks" is simply pragmatic. The Taliban in its original, unsplintered form, was a notoriously unreliable partner in discussions. In seeking to mediate with its elements between 1996 and 2001, foreign groups representing every interest from health care to oil pipelines to preservation of antiquities found that every "understanding" with the Taliban had completely unraveled before the foreign negotiators had even landed back in New York or London. The Taliban of 1996-2001, which was infinitely more centralized and controllable than it is today, never kept a single such agreement for more than a week.

In summary, wishful thinking aside, there is no central, political entity called the "Taliban" with whom to negotiate. The enemy is not interested in "peace talks" when they are convinced they have already won a complete victory against a hated and infidel puppet regime and an American puppeteer they now see as weak. And even if all that were not true, today's disaggregated jihadist groups would not and could not keep any bargain which a few members of one crusader order might make in any case. "Peace talks" and hopes of a negotiated solution in Afghanistan are delusional, and American policy-makers should be devoting their time and efforts to managing the coming civil war in Afghanistan rather than weaving any more new clothes for the emperor. In the next phase ofthe war, which will certainly begin when NATO has removed most of its combat power from the country, the United States will face stark political and military choices in determining the modality and extent of its support to the non-Pashtun ethnic groups who will oppose the Taliban's restoration.

Thomas H.Johnson is a Research Professor in the National Security Affairs Department at the Naval Postgraduate School and the Director of the Program for Culture & Conflict Studies. M. Chris Mason is a retired Foreign Service Officer with long experience in South Asia and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies in Washington, DC.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2012, 09:57:12 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #1254 on: February 05, 2012, 10:39:10 PM »

That seems dead on to me-- no surprise to those here who have read my posts of the last several years commenting on the incoherence of our policy.

The incoherence of that policy began under President Bush.  In the beginning, it was quite understandable, but I think it not unjust to think that Bush should have recognized the inapplicability of the original ad hoc policy.  I also think it reasonable to respect the assertion of those who opposed the initiation of the Iraq War because Afpakia was still unfinished business.  By the end of the Bush years, hobbled as he was by the vicious and not infrequently unpatriotic opposition to the Iraq War, the political capital simply was not there for him to even contemplate any changes.

Enter Baraq, who campaigned on Afpakia as the good war of essential national self-defense.  Of course it was a lie, and neither side, here at home or over there, believed him.

Given the incoherence and the two-facedness of our policy and our discourse about it, it is not surprise whatsoever that at this point the American people, as JDN has noted, are fed up with an incoherent war explained in incoherent terms.

Mitt Romney IMHO has a tin ear to all of these variables, and says what he thinks conservatives want to hear.  While conservatives and other patriotic Americans are discontent with the President, including the way he places his personal political benefit above that of our country, it does not mean that what Romney says here resonates. 

I have warned here more than once that Republicans currently lack coherence and message on foreign policy.   Some of you have commented, in effect, so what?  The economy sucks and the Reps will win on that.  Wesbury argues, and in the last 9 months his track record as a prognosticator exceeds that of our GM, the economy is improving and the meme of the Pravdas goes in the same direction.  At the moment, it looks to me that Baraq will win.

Bringing this back to the subject of this thread, it appears that we are going to get run out of Afpakia, the Pak nuke program will return to full rogue status, which as the Iranians go nuke, means that the Pak Saudi connection will yield the nuclearization of the Arab world.  The feckless weakness of President Baraq certainly will deserve responsibility that it almost as certainly will not be given, but so too do the Republicans for also not getting the points that YA's article makes and coming up with something coherent of their own to put in front of the American people.


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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1255 on: February 10, 2012, 10:42:45 AM »


By DION NISSENBAUM
KABUL—U.S. taxpayers paid Afghan entrepreneur Ajmal Hasas millions of dollars as part of a plan to win over villages in the country's insurgent heartlands.

 WSJ's Dion Nissenbaum reports a three-year U.S.-led project to build roads in Afghanistan has little to show after three years and nearly $300 million in funding. Photo: Mali Khan Yaqubi
.Instead, Mr. Hasas' seven-mile road construction project went so awry that his security guards opened fire on some of the very villagers he was trying to woo on behalf of his American funders.

Mr. Hasas was a point man in a $400 million U.S. Agency for International Development campaign to build as much as 1,200 miles of roads in some of Afghanistan's most remote and turbulent places.

Three years and nearly $270 million later, less than 100 miles of gravel road have been completed, according to American officials. More than 125 people were killed and 250 others were wounded in insurgent attacks aimed at derailing the project, USAID said. The agency shut down the road-building effort in December.

As the American involvement in Afghanistan is winding down ahead of the pullout of most forces in 2014, the USAID roads saga stands as a reminder of the limited progress the U.S. and its allies have achieved here over the past decade—and at how high a cost.

"You can find programs and projects that have been successful, but for me it is quite obvious that huge amounts of money have been misspent," says Kai Eide, the Norwegian diplomat who headed United Nations operations in Afghanistan in 2008-2010. "There has been no clear strategic thinking on development assistance."

With USAID's road project cut short, special internal auditors from the agency have been trying to figure out what went wrong. Afghan construction companies are still seeking millions of dollars for unpaid bills from the American nonprofit, International Relief and Development, or IRD, that ran the program. And remote Afghan villages that were supposed to benefit from the U.S. initiative have been left with unfinished roads and unfulfilled promises. USAID officials say the program fell short of its goals, which is why they canceled it.

Enlarge Image

CloseInternational Relief and Develop
 
Another stretch of road completed as part of a U.S. effort to win over Afghan civilians.
.The road-building efforts began a decade ago, as Washington began transforming USAID into a tool in its military counterinsurgency campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, shifting the agency's focus from promoting long-term development to shorter-term initiatives meant to attract community support in insurgent-saturated areas.

"I call it hijacking," said one USAID official formerly stationed in Afghanistan. "Aid as a weapons system has never been tested—and they are putting it into the field with no evidence that it works."

J. Alex Thier, Washington-based director of USAID's Afghanistan and Pakistan program, disagrees. He said the strategy can help stabilize regions of the country—if used when security is improving and local leaders are cooperating.

"What USAID does in these districts can at best have an impact if the other things are also pulling in the right direction," he said.

USAID was established 50 years ago by President John F. Kennedy. It became America's key economic tool to help developing nations.

The Bush administration overhauled the agency's mission after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, aligning USAID more closely with military objectives as America invaded Afghanistan and Iraq.

In Iraq, U.S. officials embarked on the largest rebuilding project since the Marshall Plan that helped rebuild Europe after World War II. But the $53 billion initiative was hobbled by the spreading insurgency, massive security costs that sometimes ate up more than half of contract costs, uncooperative government leaders and constantly shifting priorities, according to Stuart Bowen, America's special inspector general for reconstruction in Iraq.

After concluding that at least $4 billion in U.S. aid had been squandered in Iraq, Mr. Bowen warned American officials in 2009 that they were making the same mistakes in Afghanistan. State Department officials said at the time that they had learned lessons from Iraq and were working to better coordinate military and civilian efforts in Afghanistan.

Enlarge Image

Close.As part of America's $85 billion reconstruction program in Afghanistan, USAID has spent more than $15 billion since 2002, more than in any other country. As in Iraq, the program in Afghanistan has been repeatedly disrupted by the spread of the insurgency across the country, poor oversight, an overreliance on outside contractors, cost overruns and corruption, according to U.S. officials and government investigative reports.

A $260 million effort to upgrade southern Afghanistan's Kajaki hydroelectric dam has repeatedly faltered and remains incomplete. Meanwhile, a $300 million contract to build a major power plant outside Kabul cost more than twice the original estimate and remains largely idle as Afghanistan relies on cheaper power from its neighbors.

But road projects have received the single largest slice of USAID money—more than $2 billion. One of the biggest beneficiaries has been IRD, founded in 1998 by Arthur Keys.

From the start, President Barack Obama's administration saw road construction as key for winning support from Afghans by making it easier to travel, by opening up new trade routes—and by connecting remote villages to Afghan government institutions and services.

Officials at USAID and IRD say that the Afghanistan Strategic Roads Project wasn't a roads program in the usual sense. They said building roads was, in many ways, a secondary goal; the main objective was spreading jobs and money to win over rural communities that harbor insurgents.

"As a grant, this was never intended to be a major road construction project," says Jeff Grieco, a former USAID official who now serves as communications director at IRD. "It was intended to be a capacity building program. We have dramatically improved Afghan capacity to build roads and to do community development work."

It certainly wasn't the cheapest way to get roads built. A typical gravel road in Afghanistan is supposed to cost about $290,000 per mile, according to USAID. It cost American taxpayers about $2.8 million for each mile of gravel road completed by IRD, making them the most expensive miles of road ever built by the U.S. government in Afghanistan.

Less than half the $269 million spent on the project went to actual road construction, IRD officials say. A quarter of the funds were paid to IRD administration and staff. About 15% was spent on security, and 8% was allocated to the community-development projects IRD said were central to the success of the project.

As part of the Strategic Roads Project, USAID set aside millions of dollars in the contract to set up small soap factories, run reading programs for illiterate villagers, dig wells and teach sewing to Afghan women—all with the expectation that it would win American troops good will.

But the community program was hobbled when IRD put a halt to awarding grants in southeastern Afghanistan for eight months after discovering that IRD staff were falsifying reports and exaggerating the impact of the development projects, according to former IRD workers. After revamping the staff and project, IRD resumed handing out grants for things like "flower literacy" programs that taught Afghan women how to make flower arrangements.

Then, after conferring with USAID, IRD tried to press ahead with construction without setting up new community projects, said U.S. officials.

"You had these villages with no community ownership or buy in and they just made the situation worse," said one USAID official. "That's when things really started going sour."

In Khost, the volatile eastern province along the Pakistani border where Mr. Hasas was paid $3 million to build seven miles of gravel road, tensions flared soon after he began work in 2008.

Ajab Noor Mangal, a local construction-company owner hired to work on the project, said Mr. Hasas alienated the community by only hiring workers from two of the five local clans.

Afghans excluded from the project looted Mr. Hasas's construction sites and stripped them bare. At one point, Mr. Hasas said, four men affiliated with the project were kidnapped, killed and dumped in public with a warning note signed by insurgents. The deaths brought construction to a halt.

"We couldn't find a single person to work on the road," Mr. Hasas recalls.

Under the IRD contract, Mr. Hasas and the other Afghan firms working on their roads were responsible for providing their own security. So Mr. Hasas said he cobbled together nearly 100 gunmen and armed them with rented rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns.

Things reached a nadir in the fall of 2010, when around 100 angry Afghans, including a small number of suspected insurgents, tried to storm the construction site, according to Messrs. Hasas and Mangal.

Mr. Mangal, who was in Kabul at the time, says he ordered the contractor's gunmen to open fire on the demonstrators, including some armed protesters who he said shot at the security team. Mr. Mangal says he is still paying for the wounded villagers' medical treatment.

Villagers who took part in the demonstration told a different story. Two men involved in the protest said IRD security sparked a larger confrontation after opening fire on a dozen unarmed men protesting IRD's refusal to move staff from an office overlooking homes where outsiders could see into private family compounds—a major slight in the conservative culture.

"All the villagers criticize the construction company because they were just here to earn money and they did not care about the quality of the road," said Najib, a local resident who worked on the road project and had two relatives injured during the protest.

IRD officials say they never heard about the conflict between the contractor and the villagers.

The project was part of the ongoing "Afghan First" initiative meant to support Afghan companies instead of the international firms that have received the lion's share of the billions in aid that have flooded Afghanistan.

But IRD is still embroiled in payment disputes with Afghan subcontractors who say that the company has failed to pay its bills. Now that the project is shut down, IRD said it has told contractors final payment decisions rest with USAID. USAID said it couldn't comment on the question of payments.

The animosity escalated in 2010 when embittered Afghan subcontractors secured arrest warrants for two IRD officials. Afghan police briefly detained one of the Westerners in Kabul who oversaw the project, according to officials familiar with the incident.

Faced with more arrest threats during the spring, IRD hid another top manager in the back of an SUV, flew her to Kandahar and quietly spirited her out of the country before she, too, could be detained, according to former IRD employees familiar with the controversy. IRD declined to comment on the incident.

USAID officials say the agency moved swiftly to scale back and shut down the IRD roads project as it became clear in 2010 that it was foundering. "How quickly can you stop a dump truck?" said one USAID official. "You get the momentum going and one thing we committed to doing isn't stopping it and creating a wreck."

Mr. Thier said his agency has learned important lessons from the problems in the IRD project and has changed the way it operates. USAID tripled its Afghanistan-based staff, beefed up its screening of Afghan partners, established new independent monitoring procedures and added more people to directly oversee such programs, he said.

The steep drop-off in U.S. reconstruction funds for Afghanistan has also prompted USAID to shift its focus from big ticket stabilization projects to more modest proposals, including agricultural development programs, that can be successfully taken over by Afghan officials.

In November, as part of a wider shift at the State Department, USAID established a new Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations that is meant to address some of the long-standing coordination and strategic problems with America's reconstruction missions abroad.

Still, the project's failures appeared to have no impact on USAID's confidence in IRD. Last year, as construction delays mounted and American officials moved to shut the program down, USAID awarded IRD nearly $140 million to launch three new projects in Afghanistan, though none involved roads. USAID officials said they still had confidence in IRD's ability to carry out big projects in Afghanistan.

Afghan entrepreneur Delawar Faizan, meanwhile, says that IRD still owes him nearly $4 million for his work in constructing roads in eastern Afghanistan's Nangarhar Province. He said that IRD gave him a check last fall to settle some of his claims, but it bounced because the company's bank account was frozen. Now, he said, IRD has told him he has to wait for approval from USAID to get paid.

"Where has the money gone?" he asked.

—Ziaulhaq Sultani, Habib Khan Totakhil and Mali Khan Yaqubi contributed to this article.
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« Reply #1256 on: February 10, 2012, 02:51:36 PM »



By AMRULLAH SALEH
Washington's olive branch to the Taliban—no matter the excuses or justifications—amounts to the management of failure, not the mark of victory. Negotiating with the Taliban after more than 10 years of fighting means giving legitimacy and space to militant extremism.

The objective of NATO's post-9/11 intervention in Afghanistan was to starve militant extremism by defeating the nexus of al Qaeda and the Pakistan-backed Taliban. That now seems like a dream.

With support from Pakistan, the Taliban has managed to protract the fighting and create a strategic deadlock. The U.S. military surge in 2010 weakened the Taliban, but it hardly pressured their strategic support across the Durand line in Pakistan. So the deadlock remains—chiefly because of Pakistan's unwillingness to cooperate fully with NATO, coupled with the fractured state of Afghan politics since the fraud-marred 2009 presidential elections.

Pakistan and the Taliban have no interest in producing quick positive results from talks. The Taliban has already gained certain advantages, including the possible transfer or release of their commanders from U.S. custody, the opening of an office in Qatar, and the legitimacy to enter into mainstream politics at the time of their choosing. They will definitely use these preliminary gains to further their psychological influence over the Afghan populace. And they won't likely bargain away the gains they have earned by suicide bombings, ambushes and the marginalization of civil society. Now that the Taliban has guaranteed its basic survival, it will fight for domination.

Washington's talks with the Taliban—taking place, on and off, in Qatar—come at a time when most anti-Taliban Afghan civil-society leaders have deserted President Karzai. He is head of a heavily subsidized state whose pay master (Washington) is now largely bypassing his government to negotiate with the enemy. This raises the question: Who and what does President Karzai represent?

In a bid to make himself relevant, President Karzai has adopted a strategy of meddling. He has demanded that NATO halt night raids, hand over the Bagram detention facility, and place strict restrictions on security companies. He has also refused to echo NATO's mission goals and justifications, and he wanted the Taliban to open an office in Saudi Arabia, not Qatar.

In return, NATO has accused Mr. Karzai of corruption, of committing abuses of human rights, and of being detached from reality. Successful counterinsurgency work requires international troops and the host nation to be seen as unified; that is simply not the case here. Pakistan and the Taliban are more coordinated in their approaches than are NATO and Afghanistan.

This is one of the key reasons why concerned anti-Taliban Afghans are creating a third force to ensure their rights and interests are represented and protected. They no longer see either President Karzai or NATO committed to those rights and interests. Though fragmented in their approach, these forces share a common goal: to counterbalance the growing influence of the Taliban and to fill the vacuum created by the declining relevance of Afghanistan's democratic institutions.

Certainly no Afghan political coalition can stop Washington from talking to the Taliban—but those talks won't bring stability. Talks and a potential ceasefire may provide the U.S. and its NATO allies their justification for a speedy withdrawal, but it won't change the fundamentals of the problem in Afghanistan. Striking a deal with the Taliban without disarming them will shatter the hope of a strong, viable, pluralistic Afghan state.

The absolute majority of the Afghan people are against the Taliban and the domination of our country by militant extremism. They have wholeheartedly supported and participated in the democratic process, but they are now marginalized both by President Karzai, who controls massive resources with no accountability, and the international community, which is focused disproportionately on transition, withdrawal and the Taliban.

Afghanistan's neglected majority can provide a political alternative for the military mission in Afghanistan. Its inclusion, which the U.S. could secure by pursuing reconciliation in a way that pressures President Karzai to respect the role of parliament and independent judges, would contain or push back the Taliban, increase the cost of war for Pakistan, and provide hope for post-transition Afghanistan.

By contrast, should that majority remain outside the strategic calculus, we'll see further fragmentation of political power and legitimacy in Afghanistan. That will weaken Washington's position and endanger the entire mission.

Mr. Saleh, who directed Afghanistan's national security directorate from 2004 to 2010, is now an opposition political activist.

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« Reply #1257 on: February 25, 2012, 05:21:36 PM »

#Invalid YouTube Link#

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ZYEctbGSkkw#!

My new heroine of the interwebs!
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« Reply #1258 on: February 25, 2012, 07:40:02 PM »

Krauthammer on Baraq's apology:
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« Reply #1259 on: February 28, 2012, 12:22:30 PM »



It has now been nearly a week since it was discovered that Korans and other Islamic material had been burned at Bagram Air Field. Violence flared in response to it. Most recently, a car bomb exploded at the gate of Jalalabad airport -- essentially a military air base -- killing at least nine people, while three others were killed in Oruzgan province. The Taliban claimed responsibility and described both events as revenge for the burning of the Koran. This follows the death of two U.S. officers inside the Afghan Interior Ministry in Kabul, apparently by an Afghan colleague working with the officers in the ministry.

There is no question that the burning of the Koran, accidental or not, generates rage in Afghanistan. But there is also a war being waged and a negotiation being carried out and while the rage might be genuine, a week of violence serves a strategic purpose. This is particularly true in the ministry killings, where the point was driven home that even in a place regarded as secure by Americans and working with people who are seen as allies, the fact is that Americans are not safe, the building is not secure and their allies are not as reliable as they might think.

There are intense negotiations going on between the Taliban, the United States and the Afghan government. They also involve elements in Pakistan. These negotiations are structurally even more complex than the four-way negotiations at the end of the Vietnam War. The Taliban goals include securing a rapid U.S. withdrawal with no remaining residual force and a new coalition government that is dominated by Taliban. The United States also wants to withdraw combat forces, but allow a residual force to remain behind for training, protect the Kabul government and provide an enduring guarantor against Afghanistan serving as sanctuary for transnational terrorism. It is prepared to have the elements join this government as junior coalition partners. The Pakistanis want to make sure that whatever the final agreement, it creates a sufficiently stable Pakistan so that violence will not spill over into Pakistan nor draw Pakistani forces into Afghanistan.

The Taliban understands that any U.S. withdrawal will be staged over time. The Americans are aware that the Taliban is not going to be playing a junior role in the current regime. The Pakistanis know that they are going to have to become involved in Afghanistan in the wake of an American withdrawal. While all of this may be known, the precise details of when the United States withdraws, how much of a residual force remains and where, and what sort of political arrangement will be made, are uncertain.

The negotiations appear to have entered a fairly intense stage, and winter will end soon, signaling the beginning of the traditional campaign season. For the Taliban, it is important to demonstrate to the Americans not only that they continue to have capabilities, but also that U.S. forces are far less secure than the past two years of tactical successes might imply. The Taliban imperative is to make it known that the tempo of violence is in their hands, and the United States can do little to control it. The more the Taliban can demonstrate this, the more eager the United States will be to leave. In addition, this is an election year in the United States. There is not overwhelming political pressure for an early withdrawal, but an increase in casualties and instability could possibly generate that pressure.

It therefore makes sense, with or without the burning of the Korans, for the recent attacks to have been carried out. The killings in the ministry generated a particular psychological atmosphere of insecurity throughout the system where U.S. and allied troops interact with and train indigenous officials, officers and soldiers. From a negotiation standpoint, the prospect of increased instability coupled with the ability to conduct further small unit attacks as the spring thaw approaches creates a favorable negotiating situation for the Taliban. Casualties have been low by recent terms so far, but the prospect is what matters, given the psychological component. Violence and insecurity could cause the United States to become more flexible in the negotiations.

The rage over the Koran burnings might well be genuine and intense, but it also opened the door for a series of actions that could enhance the Taliban’s negotiating position. It is in the Taliban’s interest to ensure that it is the dominant factor in determining the tempo of violence in the coming months. Any meaningful increase in violence and casualties would leave the United States with the option of increasing their own operations beyond what they expected to have to do, or to reach out to the Pakistanis to facilitate a settlement. Either option puts the United States at a disadvantage and reduces the chance of achieving the solution it wants, but simply absorbing increasing punishment does not seem an option.
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« Reply #1260 on: March 02, 2012, 12:59:05 PM »



http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203753704577255531768384866.html?mod=world_newsreel
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« Reply #1261 on: March 05, 2012, 06:50:32 AM »

Max Boot makes his case:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204653604577249363870929358.html?grcc=1d0d539c7b9bc62d88ee7050a09124fdZ11&mod=WSJ_hps_sections_whatyoumissed

MAX BOOT

Violent Afghan protests over the burning of Qurans have strengthened the hand of those in Washington who argue for a faster reduction of U.S. troops. Especially galling was an incident of violence within Afghanistan's Interior Ministry, in which a disaffected driver shot and killed two American advisers.

Many Americans seem to be saying that if the Afghan people don't want us there, why should we stay? That's dubious logic because we are not in Afghanistan as a favor to the Afghan people. We are there to protect our own self-interest in not having their territory once again become a haven for al Qaeda.

 Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Max Boot on how the U.S. drawdown will empower the Taliban and al Qaeda.
.It's also a fallacy to assume that most Afghans are anti-American. The protests, which tapered off Tuesday, have involved a few thousand people out of a population of 30 million. The attacks on Americans have been carried out by a handful of assailants. President Hamid Karzai has accepted President Obama's apology over the Quran-burning incident, condemned the violence and called for restraint. His security forces have policed the protests and suffered heavier casualties than our own.

While no doubt most people in Afghanistan are outraged over the desecration of their holy book, they are not anti-American. The most recent survey of Afghan views, conducted by ABC/BBC/ARD in November 2010, found that 62% of Afghans support the U.S. military presence while only 11% support the Taliban. That's considerably higher than the share of Americans who back the mission—35%. Another poll, conducted by the Asia Foundation last year, found that only 21% of Afghans blame foreign troops for the war waged by the Taliban and other insurgents. Most Afghans think the Taliban are fighting to gain power, make money, or for other selfish motives.

One can always question opinion polls in a country where illiteracy and insecurity are rampant. But Afghans also demonstrate with their actions where their sympathies lie. More than 350,000 Afghan men have joined the security forces and more would sign up if there were money to pay them. Estimates of the insurgency's strength are generally under 30,000 men. That's far below the number of mujahedeen—an estimated 100,000 out of a smaller population—who took up arms against the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

Enlarge Image

CloseZuma Press
 
Afghans protesting against Quran desecration in Kunduz province, Afghanistan, on Saturday.
.There is considerable resentment of the United States in Afghanistan, as you would expect from any proud people who are compelled to deal with a foreign military presence. But the biggest reason Afghans are wary is because the NATO mission has not delivered what they most want—freedom from fear. In the Asia Foundation poll, 46% said the country was moving in the right direction but pervasive insecurity was their greatest concern.

The U.S. and its allies have been taking important steps to address insecurity, especially in Kandahar and Helmand provinces where most surge troops have gone. Commanders had hoped to pivot the focus of operations this year to eastern Afghanistan, where insecurity continues to lap at the outskirts of Kabul. But that plan has been put in serious jeopardy by President Obama's decision to bring home 32,000 troops by September.

Further troops cuts are rumored for announcement in May—as are cuts in the Afghan Security Forces. The U.S. is pushing to reduce the size of the Afghan army and police to just 230,000 by 2014 from 352,000 today to save a few billion dollars out of a federal budget of nearly $4 trillion.

Contrary to popular impression, the Afghan Security Forces are not a hotbed of anti-Americanism. Major Fernando Lujan, a Dari-speaking Special Forces officer, spent 14 months in Afghanistan, mostly embedded as the lone American in Afghan units, and came away impressed by their fighting spirit.

What the Afghan forces lack is logistics, equipment and intelligence. Most have to drive over IED-strewn roads in unarmored pickup trucks. The support they need to fight effectively is provided by NATO units, but Afghan fighting quality will suffer if we start withdrawing. So will their morale, because they'll feel abandoned to face an insurgency that retains Pakistan support.

The woes of the Afghan forces will surely multiply if, as currently envisioned, 120,000 troops and cops are demobilized with little prospect of a civilian job. Many could join the insurgency or the drug traffickers simply to make a living. This could be the reverse of the surge in Iraq, when 100,000 formerly hostile Sunnis joined with coalition forces to fight insurgents.

All of the problems today in the Afghan Security Forces—including Taliban infiltrators—will be aggravated by a rapid American drawdown. That will make it impossible to secure even our most basic interests and will likely consign Afghanistan to another civil war. We saw how the last such conflict played out in the 1990s with the rise of the Taliban and al Qaeda. Why risk a repeat?

Mr. Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of "Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present," due out next January.
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« Reply #1262 on: March 10, 2012, 10:14:19 AM »

****Leave Afghanistan now

By Cal Thomas
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Most wars have a turning point that either signals the road to victory or the ditch of defeat. In Vietnam, the 1968 Tet Offensive by communist troops against South Vietnamese and American forces and their allies is regarded as the turning point in that conflict. Though communist forces suffered heavy losses, which would normally define defeat, CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite and others in the U.S. media, portrayed the operation as an allied loss, thus encouraging not only the anti-war movement, but North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops who believed all they had to do was hang on until America grew tired of the war and quit.

Since the Obama administration appears to care more about not offending those Afghans who want to kill Americans and since it has announced the deadline for the withdrawal of surge-level troops in Afghanistan for later this year, despite the fact that they have stymied the efforts of Taliban insurgents to destabilize the country, maybe it's time to pull all U.S. forces out and leave our puppet, Hamid Karzai, to his fate.

The latest affront comes courtesy of the burning of Korans by U.S. soldiers on a military base near Kabul. Military officials maintain the Korans were being used by imprisoned jihadists to pass messages to other prisoners and were confiscated and destroyed. A spokesman for the NATO-led force said the troops, "...should have known to check with cultural advisers to determine how to dispose of religious material properly." For this unintended action, however, Karzai wants the soldiers to be put on trial and has asked NATO commanders to allow it. If they do, they will have disgraced their uniform.


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Does writing in a Koran desecrate it? One might expect it would, but the outrage is over the burning, not the writing. More than 1,700 Americans have died in and around Afghanistan and more than 14,000 have been wounded since the United States invaded shortly after September 11, 2011. And this is the thanks we get? How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless puppet.

When do jihadists apologize for mass murder or religious persecution? Two years ago in Rasht, Iran, Youcef Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor who converted from Islam, was arrested on charges of apostasy. He has been sentenced to hang for his religious conversion. Anyone hear any apologies from "moderate" Muslims about that, much less attempts to shame the ayatollahs, or label them apostates?

The New York Times reported recently that President Obama's three-page apology letter to President Karzai contained these sentences: "I wish to express my deep regret for the reported incident. I extend to you and the Afghan people my sincere apologies." This will only serve as further evidence to our enemies in Afghanistan of America's weakness and lack of resolve in what is likely to be a very long and global war. American impatience, fatigue and a desire not to offend, does not bode well for an American victory or for Afghan liberation. No one worried about offending our enemies during World War II. That's why the forces for good won.

Can Afghanistan be stabilized so as not to pose a threat to America and American interests? Probably not, if the surge forces pull out on schedule and America continues to fight under restrictive and self-imposed rules of war while the enemy does not.

So what's the point? Are we to stay only until after the election so President Obama won't be asked, "Who lost Afghanistan?" If our troops are coming out anyway and if the administration can't define victory, or commit the resources necessary to achieve it, waiting longer only ensures more casualties. As with Vietnam, that is a waste of blood and treasure. Ask the ghosts of the more than 58,000 fallen whose names appear on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, or the ghosts of the politicians who are responsible for putting them in their graves.****








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« Reply #1263 on: March 11, 2012, 06:12:53 PM »

I have been away...just too exhausted with Af-Pak..at some point the Baloch battlefield will become important...
http://soodvikram.blogspot.com/
The Baloch battlefield


March 7, 2012

From the West’s perspective, while Syria has to be destabilised to get at Iran, Balochistan must be kept stable in order to keep Pakistan happy

.The killing of Zamur Domki along with her 13-year-old daughter Jaana on January 31 in Karachi was a new low in that violence-prone city. It may have been routinely described as yet another criminal act except that Zamur was the granddaughter of slain Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and the sister of Brahamdagh Bugti. Brahamdagh is wanted by the Pakistani authorities for rebelling and waging war against Pakistan. This brutal murder was a ruthless message to Brahamdagh. There was immediate retaliation by the Baloch Liberation Army, which killed 15 Frontier Corps men and injured 12 others in attacks on four posts.

Balochistan has been in perpetual revolt ever since Pakistan became independent — there were four other campaigns after 1948. The current rebellion gained momentum after the assassination of Nawab Bugti in August 2006 and the murder of Balaach Marri, son of Nawab Khair Bux Marri, one of the two surviving leaders of the famous 1973 Baloch uprising. The other survivor is Sardar Ataullah Khan Mengal. Among younger leaders of a possible Baloch revolt, Brahamdagh Bugti lives in exile in Switzerland, while Hyrbair Marri (Khair Bux’s son) is in London. But there is no totem pole in Balochistan around which the Baloch nationalists can rally.

The constant Baloch grievances against Islamabad have ranged from deprivation of profits from its contribution to the national exchequer to inequitable sharing of the province’s abundant natural resources with the Baloch people (which are siphoned off, mainly to Punjab). The Baloch also resent the fact that they are outnumbered by outsiders (mostly Punjabis), and that prime arable land is being parcelled out to these “outsiders” and the Army, which, in many cases, is double jeopardy. The nationalists probably echo Ataullah Mengal’s warning last year — “Balochistan will not remain with you.”
There are other problems for the Baloch. The Baloch lack centralised leadership in the campaign for their rights. There are as many as six Baloch insurgent organisations that have been banned by Islamabad, including the Baloch Liberation Army, Balochistan Republican Army and Baloch Liberation Front. In the absence of reliable data, conservative estimates assess that there have been at least 180 attacks since 2005.

While the West may fret over events in Syria, very little attention has been paid to what has been happening in Balochistan. From the West’s perspective, while Syria has to be destabilised to get at Iran, Balochistan must be kept stable in order to keep Pakistan happy and maybe helpful in Afghanistan. Balochistan provides access to Kandahar and borders the predominantly Sunni province of Sistan-Balochistan in Iran. It is not in America’s interest, therefore, to make any noise about killings and disappearances in Balochistan. The province is thrice the size of Syria in area, located on the borders of Iran and astride the Strait of Oman, and not far from the Strait of Hormuz. Balochistan was a base for drones, and Pakistan remains far too important for America’s global calculations to allow anything more than congressional hearings. The deliberations of the US House foreign affairs committee on February 8 upset the Pakistan government as much as it elated the Baloch nationalists. The US simultaneously has been making moves to “normalise” relations with Islamabad.

There is also considerable long-term Chinese interest in having access to the port of Gwadar, which would shorten the route for China from and for its African and Gulf interests to Xinjiang. The Chinese have considerable interests in the Saindak copper mines, in mineral resources, Sui gas and the possibility of participating in the Iran-Pakistan pipeline if and when it materialises. The Iranians have alleged that Mujahideen-e-Khalq as well as Jundullah are sectarian Sunni-US proxies operating from Balochistan against Iranian interests.

Having learnt from the tactics used in the Arab Spring protests last year, the Baloch nationalists — many of whom are outside Pakistan — have been using Internet platforms such as Twitter to spread their message rather effectively. Almost every day one reads about killings, abductions and kidnappings both by the state and the nationalists; there are reports of explosions but very little is reported outside the province. There have been a few brave articles in Pakistan’s English-language press, but the Baloch anger at years of discrimination, deprivation and suppression — at the hands of Pakistan’s Punjabis — continues to manifest itself.

The reaction from Islamabad to all this has been predictable. It has been a policy of kill and dump bodies of young Baloch nationalists as a warning to others. Human Rights Watch, in its 2012 World Report, documented that 200 Baloch nationalists had disappeared or were killed in the previous year. The Asian Human Rights Commission report says at least 56 bullet-ridden bodies of “disappeared persons” had been found in Balochistan. An estimated 200 extra-judicial killings had taken place since 2010. There were a total of 711 killings in 2011 — comprising 122 SF personnel, 47 militants and 542 civilians.
The situation is further complicated because, along with Baloch insurgents, there are Pushtun Islamists and sectarian mafia. The Quetta Shura of Mullah Omar, which is present in the midst of a strong Afghan Pushtun population, is another complication and cause for ethnic tension. Sectarian militant outfits like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi have repeatedly targeted the Shias. It is suspected that this has the blessings of Islamabad/Rawalpindi. Over 50 Hindus have also been kidnapped for ransom in Balochistan in a bid to discredit the nationalists, which gives a clear indication of the lawlessness in the province. And last year around 12,000 Persian-speaking Hazaras had to leave Quetta, fearing for their lives. All this is a form of Wahabi ethnic cleansing.

The best way out for Pakistan would be to negotiate with Baloch leaders in good faith; but possibly it feels the jackboot is the better option. The world will continue to ignore Balochistan, while the Baloch will continue their lonely struggle, which the Pakistan government will try to suppress through force, and innocents will continue to die.


The Asia Age New Delhi and the Deccan Chronicle March 7 2012
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« Reply #1264 on: March 12, 2012, 02:41:17 AM »

YA:

What is your opinion of where things stand, what the US should be doing right now?  Please include Balochistan in your analysis.

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« Reply #1265 on: March 13, 2012, 12:36:56 PM »



A U.S. soldier is suspected of killing 16 Afghan civilians in a solitary shooting spree early Sunday. These attacks followed by a few weeks the killing of two U.S. officers at the hand of an Afghan soldier working in Kabul's secure Interior Ministry. Earlier still, Korans and Islamic religious materials were burned at Bagram Air Field.

Soldiers caught under the pressures of war sometimes engage in acts of stunning brutality against enemy soldiers and civilians. As anyone with a cursory knowledge of the history of war knows, some soldiers commit crimes against the very civilians they are fighting for.

However, these killings must also be understood for their psychological and political impact. The psychological pressure on every side of the Afghanistan conflict has become enormous. The war has gone on for more than 10 years, and while the Taliban have always opposed U.S. and NATO troops, supporters of the regime of Afghan President Hamid Karzai now distrust them as well. The United States is looking for a way out, and Karzai supporters understand what this might mean to them personally.

The United States and its allies now face both the Taliban and the growing dissatisfaction of other Afghans. This marks an important inflection point, given that a key effort of the American-led "surge" was to win Afghan "hearts and minds." While winning the trust of a local population is an enduring objective of counterinsurgencies throughout history, cultural incompatibilities between locals and an occupying power make it a challenging task. When the effort starts to lag, it becomes difficult to negotiate with parties whose attitudes run from hostile to sullen. The task of nation building becomes vastly more complicated.

Meanwhile, there is substantial pressure on foreign troops, who are at once drawing down and attempting to craft the perception of strength to force a negotiated settlement. We know little about the Afghan who reportedly killed two Americans in Kabul and about the American soldier in custody for the shootings of Afghan civilians, but we do know that the pressure on all sides is growing.

Politically, the killings have serious consequences. As we have argued, the ability of U.S. and allied forces to coordinate with indigenous forces is central to the overarching strategy of “Vietnamization” and increases in importance as the drawdown of Western forces accelerates. But the Vietnamization strategy entails a number of risks related to infiltration and to the surfacing of cultural animosity. The recent burning of Korans and Islamic materials from a detention facility in Bagram Air Field, and this weekend's rampage, reflect deep cultural incompatibilities and tensions.

But the incidents also create a political opening for the Taliban, who can exploit the killings as proof of the Americans' unreliability and hostility and spread unfounded rumors that the killings were the result of a planned operation, not the action of an unbalanced soldier. True or not, this message will resonate with people who need little additional motivation to be terrified of the American troops seeking their trust, especially as the inevitable drawdown of Western troops leaves locals vulnerable to whatever forces remain in their location.

Peace talks may also be affected. There is a clear division within the Taliban: Some are ready to reach a settlement that leaves a coalition government while the Americans withdraw, while others feel that extending the fight will allow them to achieve their goals without compromise. The second faction will use the the Koran burnings, the killings of Afghan civilians and other recent controversies to try to delegitimize the talks with the Americans.

The two recent sets of killings are politically significant because they strike at the heart of two claims central to the U.S. and NATO war effort. First, the idea that there is close coordination between Western and Afghan forces is undermined by the killings in a secure area of the Afghan Interior Ministry. Second, recent controversies undermine Western efforts to win the trust of local Afghan populations. In fact, neither proposition ought to be disproven by what happened, especially if the acts were committed by a single murderer in Kabul and a single soldier on a rampage in a village. But in this war, we are well past proofs. The conflict's inherent contradictions are being laid increasingly bare, and what might have passed with little notice five years ago will now be taken as justification, by those opposed to a settlement, for sowing further distrust.
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« Reply #1266 on: March 16, 2012, 08:52:06 AM »

Well, Karzai the Corrupt is now calling for US troops to pull back from the country side and stay in the barracks and the Taliban no longer thinks it needs to even pretend to bargain with us.  The chances of a YA strategy are zero.  US Marines are disarmed before listening to SecDef Panetta speak.

Is there anything left to our efforts there? 
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« Reply #1267 on: March 16, 2012, 09:21:37 AM »

Well, Karzai the Corrupt is now calling for US troops to pull back from the country side and stay in the barracks and the Taliban no longer thinks it needs to even pretend to bargain with us.  The chances of a YA strategy are zero.  US Marines are disarmed before listening to SecDef Panetta speak.

Is there anything left to our efforts there?  

I like to call it "The Ripley plan".



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCbfMkh940Q
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« Reply #1268 on: March 16, 2012, 09:30:41 AM »

Well, so much for those little school girls who have risked their lives to go to school , , ,
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« Reply #1269 on: March 16, 2012, 01:01:03 PM »

Well, so much for those little school girls who have risked their lives to go to school , , ,

It obviously was not the will of allah! Buraq be praised!
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« Reply #1270 on: March 23, 2012, 06:40:29 PM »

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/01/us-afghanistan-idUSTRE8100E520120201
Taliban vows to retake Afghanistan: report
(Reuters) - The Taliban, backed by Pakistan, remains confident despite a decade of NATO efforts that it will retake control of Afghanistan, NATO said in a new classified report that raises more questions about Afghanistan's future as foreign forces withdraw.

"Taliban commanders, along with rank and file members, increasingly believe their control of Afghanistan is inevitable. Though the Taliban suffered severely in 2011, its strength, motivation, funding and tactical proficiency remains intact," according to an excerpt of the report, published by the Times of London and the BBC.

"While they are weary of war, they see little hope for a negotiated peace. Despite numerous tactical setbacks, surrender is far from their collective mindset. For the moment, they believe that continuing the fight and expanding Taliban governance are their only viable courses of action," the published excerpts said.

Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie Cummings, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, confirmed the existence of the document, but military officials downplayed it as a depiction of the views of thousands of Taliban detainees who were interviewed by NATO officials.

"The classified document in question is a compilation of Taliban detainee opinions," Cummings said. "It's not an analysis, nor is it meant to be considered an analysis."

Still, the published excerpts paint a troubling picture of the Afghan war more than 10 years after the Taliban government was toppled, and as foreign forces begin to go home in earnest.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Wednesday the United States was aiming to complete its combat role in Afghanistan by mid- to late 2013, shifting to a training role.

The report's findings - including assertions that the Taliban had not formally split from international extremists - could also reinforce the view of Taliban hard-liners that they should not negotiate with the United States and President Hamid Karzai's unpopular government while in a position of strength.

Hours after the Times report, the Afghan Taliban said that no peace negotiation process had been agreed to with the international community, "particularly the Americans."

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement that before any negotiations, confidence-building measures must be completed, putting pressure on Washington to meet demands for the release of five Taliban in U.S. custody.

The hard-line Islamist movement also said it had no plans to hold preliminary peace talks with Afghanistan's government in Saudi Arabia, dismissing media reports of talks in the kingdom.

Britain's Kabul ambassador, William Patey, wrote on his Twitter feed that "if elements of the Taliban think that in 2015 they can take control of Afghanistan they will be in for a shock." He did not say if he was referring to the NATO report.

"We really do believe that militarily we are making an impact on the Taliban," said Captain John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman.

PAKISTAN LINK

The published excerpts of the report also gave further indication of the Taliban's reliance on neighboring Pakistan, where elements of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency has long had links to the Taliban.

"Reflections from detainees indicate that Pakistan's manipulation of Taliban senior leadership continues unabated. The Taliban themselves do not trust Pakistan, yet there is a widespread acceptance of the status quo in lieu of realistic alternatives," another excerpt published by the Times read.

The report overshadowed a visit to Kabul by Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar designed to repair ties and raise the issue with Karzai of peace talks with the Taliban.

"I can disregard this as a potentially strategic leak. ... This is old wine in an even older bottle," she told reporters, repeating Pakistan's denials it backs militant groups.

Khar, whose visit was the first high-level meeting in months between officials from both countries, added the neighbors should stop blaming each other for strained cross-border ties.

The Times said the "highly classified" report was put together by the U.S. military at Bagram air base, near Kabul, for top NATO officers last month. It was based on interrogations of more than 4,000 Taliban and al Qaeda detainees, it said.

Kirby declined to comment on the specifics of the report, but did acknowledge "long-standing concerns about the ties between elements of the ISI and the Taliban. This is not a new notion."

Large swathes of Afghanistan have been handed back to Afghan security forces, with the last foreign combat troops due to leave by the end of 2014. While some foreign soldiers will stay, likely to conduct counterterrorism operations, many Afghans doubt their security forces can stave off insurgents.

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu, speaking in Brussels, played down the implications and said a surge offensive had seen the Taliban suffer "tremendous setbacks."

"We know that they have lost a lot of ground and a lot of leaders, and we also know that support for the Taliban is at an all-time low," she said.

As of January 1, 889 U.S. soldiers had been killed in a conflict that was launched after the September 11, 2001, attacks and has drained almost half a trillion dollars from U.S. coffers.

'WRONG POLICIES'

New accusations of Pakistani collusion with the Taliban could further strain ties between Western powers and Islamabad.

Critics say Pakistan uses militants as proxies to counter the growing influence of India in Afghanistan. The belief that Pakistan supports the insurgents is widely held in Afghanistan.

"It would be a mistake now for the international community to leave Afghanistan, and drop us in a dark ocean," said Afghan telecommunications worker Farid Ahmad Totakhil.

Pakistan is reviewing ties with the United States, which have suffered a series of setbacks since a U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil in May last year humiliated Pakistan's powerful generals.

A November 26 cross-border NATO air attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers deepened the crisis, prompting Pakistan to close supply routes to NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Pakistan is seen as critical to U.S. efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. Yet Islamabad has resisted U.S. pressure to go after insurgent groups like the Taliban, and argues Washington's approach overlooks complex realities on the ground.

Pakistan says the United States should attempt to bring all militant groups into a peace process and fears a 2014 combat troop exit could be hasty, plunging the region into the kind of chaos seen after the Soviet exit in 1989.

"They don't need any backing," Tariq Azim, of the Pakistani Senate's Defence Committee, told Reuters, referring to the Taliban. "Everybody knows that after 10 years, they (NATO) have not been able to control a single province in Afghanistan because of the wrong policies they have been following."

The Taliban announced this month it would open a political office in Qatar to support possible reconciliation talks. There has been talk of efforts to hold separate talks in Saudi Arabia.

U.S. lawmakers also pressed the Pentagon on Wednesday to step up measures to ensure Western soldiers are not attacked by Afghan forces or employees of security firms working with NATO.

France said it would withdraw its troops completely by the end of 2013 after four of its soldiers were killed by a rogue Afghan soldier, the latest such "insider" attack.

The U.S. Defense Department said that over 40 similar attacks on foreign personnel had taken place since mid-2007, some of them by people working with private security contractors.

"We ... owe it to our military personnel to do everything we can to reduce this sort of risk," said Representative Adam Smith, the senior Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.

Pentagon officials said NATO took extensive steps to vet Afghans working with foreign troops and was exploring ways to prevent future attacks.

(Additional reporting by Dan Magnowski, Rob Taylor and Amie Ferris-Rotman in KABUL, David Brunnstrom in BRUSSELS, Qasim Nauman in ISLAMABAD, Missy Ryan in WASHINGTON; Writing by Michael Georgy and Rob Taylor; Editing by Robert Birsel and Peter Cooney)

« Last Edit: March 24, 2012, 10:00:58 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
ya
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« Reply #1271 on: March 24, 2012, 08:37:30 AM »

My views on what the US needs to do have been relatively constant. The US needs leverage over Pak. There are 2 levers, 1.Independent Pashtoonistan (also a lever over Karzai), 2. Independent Balochistan (leverage over Pak and Iran). Incidentally, none of these areas ever belonged to Pak. Each of these plays will likely have different outcomes, but both will cut Pak down to size and seriously motivate them to stop terrorism and give up their nukes.
I prefer the Independent Pashtoonistan option, or even better support the breakdown of the Durrand line and allow the NWFP/FATA to join Afghanistan. Such a move will have the support of the Afghans, Pashtoons and the Taliban. The paki army will have a hard time fighting the pashtoon, their writ does not run in most of those areas anyway.
Once Pashtoonistan is freed, further leverage can be applied on Pak to give up its nukes and wrap up any remaining AQ types, or that they loose Balochistan next.
The long term outcomes would be greatly increased influence in Afghanistan and Central Asia, as well as access to the seaports of Balochistan.
P.S.
- Cutting aid is useful, currently around 1-2 Billion/year, but not enough, because China will pick up some of the slack. Also there is no real pain, because the army appropriates its share of the national wealth as needed, any left overs go for public welfare.
- I still struggle to understand the geopolitics and rationale of the US supporting Pak, especially vis a vis India. The old concept of maintaining balance of power between the two does not apply anymore. India is far ahead in technology and GDP, and only spends 1.9% of GDP on the military. The new balance of power game is between India and China. I am seeing a small tilt towards India, but the umbilical cord to Pak is frayed but intact.
- The US would be wise to team up with India in achieving the above two aims. India has excellent relations with Karzai and Balochistan, and even Iran for that matter. Something that has not been discussed so far is the Indus water treaty between India-Pak. The terms have been unsually favorable to pak, considering that its the lower riparian. India can abrogate the treaty and start afresh. Water wars between India-Pak and India-China will likely occur in the future. There are also some rivers that originate in Afghanistan that flow to Pak. Already Pak has taken India to court over water rights (lost every time), because as I said the terms are unusually favorable at the moment.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2012, 01:30:19 PM by ya » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1272 on: March 31, 2012, 08:04:39 AM »

More kills by an infiltrator:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/31/world/asia/afghan-militia-member-drugs-kills-colleagues.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120331

Businesses beginning to flee
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/31/world/asia/businesses-may-flee-afghanistan-after-troop-withdrawal.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120331
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« Reply #1273 on: April 15, 2012, 05:54:51 PM »

A Passage to Indian-Pakistan Peace
A free trade agreement would give each country a stake in the other's success.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304444604577338170624567022.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEFTTopOpinion

By MICHAEL J. BOSKIN

With their sizable nuclear arsenals and tensions over territory, water and terrorism, India and Pakistan pose staggering risks to South Asia. But they also offer outsize economic potential for their citizens, the region and the world. Leaders in both nations seeking peace, stability and a prosperous future should seize on free trade as the best way to further these goals. The time has come for an India-Pakistan free trade agreement.

Free trade would substantially increase trade and investment flows, incomes and employment, and it would give the citizens of both countries a far greater stake in the other's success. Economists of varying backgrounds agree that free trade is a positive-sum economic activity for all involved. In the seven years following Nafta, trade among the United States, Canada and Mexico tripled and real wages rose in each country.

More at the link...
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ccp
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« Reply #1274 on: April 18, 2012, 11:55:33 AM »

The news of American soldiers "posing" with dead enemy.   I don't get it.  I really don't recall ever seeing anything like this from WW1,  WW2, or Korean wars.   I don't recall any WW2 photos of US troops "posed" in a way humiliating or showing off prisoners dead or alive like trophies.  Am I missing something here?  Is it just because everyone carries cameras now?

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-afghan-photos-20120418,0,5032601.story
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« Reply #1275 on: April 18, 2012, 12:05:40 PM »

They didnt have the access to cheap cameras that we have now. I have a very good friend who was in Viet Nam and has ears from his kills over there. It happens in every war.
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bigdog
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« Reply #1276 on: April 18, 2012, 02:04:49 PM »

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/17/us-afghanistan-women-idUSBRE83G0PZ20120417

About 150 Afghan schoolgirls were poisoned on Tuesday after drinking contaminated water at a high school in the country's north, officials said, blaming it on conservative radicals opposed to female education.
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« Reply #1277 on: April 18, 2012, 02:35:22 PM »

The news of American soldiers "posing" with dead enemy.   I don't get it.  I really don't recall ever seeing anything like this from WW1,  WW2, or Korean wars.   I don't recall any WW2 photos of US troops "posed" in a way humiliating or showing off prisoners dead or alive like trophies.  Am I missing something here?  Is it just because everyone carries cameras now?

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-afghan-photos-20120418,0,5032601.story

Yes it happened in the past. War is ugly. It should be avoided because of the bad press but I personally could give a rat's ass about jihadist remains. Piss on them, feed them to pigs, whatever.
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« Reply #1278 on: April 18, 2012, 06:05:41 PM »

BD:  Michael Yon has something about the poisoning on his site but I haven't had the time to read it yet.
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« Reply #1279 on: May 01, 2012, 01:26:47 PM »

As noted on Drudge complete silence from the MSM.  I remember quite well during Vietnam hearing EVERY single day the death and injury count on the networks.   Remarkable hypocracy.  When W was President we heard constant daily baggering about Guatanomo and water boarding as torture including from the phoney American in the WH.   We have our own people dying and near silence.   I heard the ex CIA guy on Hannity speaking last night how he was offended about the he and others being accused of torturing people at the same time I hear the jerk in chief running around taking credit for essentially murdering Bin Ladin in cold blood.  Not that I care about Bin Laden but why is one politically correct but not the other - answer - politics.

http://www.unknownsoldiersblog.com/2012/05/bigger-than-day.html
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« Reply #1280 on: May 02, 2012, 06:48:51 AM »

Both the NYT and the USA Today have fallen troops section of their front section.  That isn't silence or ignoring.  And, the thing about news is the "new."  Old news is an oxymoron, though I think we should debate/discuss the wisdom of this situation. 
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« Reply #1281 on: May 02, 2012, 10:00:00 AM »

Both the NYT and the USA Today have fallen troops section of their front section.  That isn't silence or ignoring. ... 

This is an interesting point and a credit to those publications missed by those of us who read around on the internet.
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« Reply #1282 on: May 02, 2012, 10:51:32 AM »

Last night on the Brett Baier Report on FOX one of its senior foreign correspondents (woman with really short greying hair) made some interesting comments.

She spoke about how the ISI came to support the Taliban as Afg. was sinking into war lord anarchy after the Soviet withdrawal in hope of promoting stability and building alliance with the Pashtuns (and Pathans?) and that its original intention included building a gas pipeline from central Asia to the Indian Ocean.

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« Reply #1283 on: May 02, 2012, 01:07:59 PM »

Well Bigdog perhaps you are not old enough to remember Vietnam.

I agree with Doug.  Good for the NYS(limes) and USA today.  As for cable and internet yahoo news I don't see much.

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« Reply #1284 on: May 02, 2012, 01:36:48 PM »

Well Bigdog perhaps you are not old enough to remember Vietnam.

I agree with Doug.  Good for the NYS(limes) and USA today.  As for cable and internet yahoo news I don't see much.



You may not have noticed that since the mid-1970's there has been a bit of change in the media environment.  Moreover, as I noted, two of the largest newspapers (for whatever that is worth these days) covers exactly what you said isn't covered in their front sections.  Here, let's take a quick look at some websites:

Here is the Huffington Post ignoring the casualty rate: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/obama-afghanistan-_b_1470191.html

Here is the Washington Post ignoring the casualty rate, with pictures even: http://apps.washingtonpost.com/national/fallen/

And Fox, in an AP article: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/05/01/us-military-deaths-in-afghanistan-at-1828/

If only I could that data: http://icasualties.org/oef/

Also, remember all the pissed off conservatives talking about how the constant coverage of the body count in Somalia and then later in Iraq and Afghanistan undermined the mission?  I'll see if I can find some footage of bodies being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu as reminder.  Talk about hypocrisy...

« Last Edit: May 02, 2012, 01:47:06 PM by bigdog » Logged
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« Reply #1285 on: May 02, 2012, 02:43:31 PM »

'This week with David Brinkley George Stephanopolous' ABC Sunday mornings also has kept their feature of naming and honoring the dead.  A credit to them.

I don't watch evening network news but it would be interesting to know if there is consistency.  My selective memory recalls it being the lead if not only story every day from Iraq under Bush until they finally had a bad economy to crow about.
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« Reply #1286 on: May 02, 2012, 02:49:49 PM »

"Better in the Afpakia thread , , ,"   Okay, so moved.
--------------------------------
I had to read to the end of a good piece, critical of the President, to find out the word missing was "victory".

http://news.investors.com/article/609958/201205020818/obama-visits-afghanistan-to-talk-troop-withdrawal-speech-text.htm?p=full
...
"the document he signed with Afghan President Hamid Karzai is a meaningless basic agreement to talk later about forging a real agreement."
...
"Tuesday night's speech from Kabul emphasizing withdrawal was his first substantive statement in eleven (11!) months. Nothing to the nation from its leader on an ongoing war for nearly one year, while finding time for 124 campaign fundraiser speeches, more golf games and vacations."
...
"One little-noticed provision of the agreement Obama and Karzai signed Tuesday, however, is that American troops will remain in Afghanistan for not one, not two, not even three more years. They will be there for 12 more years, until 2024, helping. So, John McCain was correct after all about lengthy U.S. troop stationings."

(More plus full text of the President's remarks at the link.)
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« Reply #1287 on: May 03, 2012, 03:11:37 PM »

"You may not have noticed that since the mid-1970's there has been a bit of change in the media environment."

Yes that is true.  There were newspapers, some radio and 6 oclock and 11 oclock news.  So maybe the 24/7 news, media, internet cycle results in stories "blending" in or getting lost in the blitz.

" Also, remember all the pissed off conservatives talking about how the constant coverage of the body count in Somalia and then later in Iraq and Afghanistan undermined the mission?"

No actually, I don't.
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« Reply #1288 on: May 03, 2012, 05:35:17 PM »


" Also, remember all the pissed off conservatives talking about how the constant coverage of the body count in Somalia and then later in Iraq and Afghanistan undermined the mission?"

No actually, I don't.

Vietnam: "The correspondents' reports began to reflect the popular doubts that had been rising among the American public, primarily because of the increasing numbers of casualties.... Because of the effort to reveal the truth from correspondents, many Americans began to doubt the government and the war. The media and the American people alike began losing hope in the government and war." (http://voices.yahoo.com/how-media-coverage-vietnam-war-changed-america-667863.html)

Somalia: "Horrifying footage of Somalis dragging the body of a dead American soldier through the streets followed, prompting U.S. officials to withdraw." (http://www.brookings.edu/events/2002/0123media_journalism.aspx)  By the way, here is the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbSuBZLlSr8

Afghanistan/Iraq: "...the military's fears that the news media only focuses on deaths and not the other, more positive aspects of military operations...". (http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA435124)

“Since the end of the Vietnam War, presidents have worried that their military actions would lose support once the public glimpsed the remains of US soldiers arriving at air bases in flag-draped coffins,” wrote the Post’s White House reporter Dana Milbank. “To this problem, the Bush administration has found a simple solution: It has ended the public dissemination of such images by banning news coverage and photography of dead soldiers’ homecomings on all military bases.”


"This local coverage of US military deaths "actually has a bigger affect on public opinion than the overall trends," said Matt Baum, an associate professor of politics at the University of California, Los Angeles.

But with the US military death toll hitting 2787 today, analysts said even local media coverage struggles to overcome the numbing affect of the steady flow of deaths." (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1723374/posts)

"On October 25, 2005 the Department of Defense announced the 2,000th U.S. death from the war as Staff Sergeant George T. Alexander Jr., who was killed when a roadside bomb detonated near his M2 Bradley in the city of Samarra.[54] In response, Senators including Dick Durbin made statements opposing the war, and activists held six hundred anti-war protests and candlelight vigils across the United States.[55] In contrast, the Pentagon downplayed the death — Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, chief spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq, told the Associated Press that "the 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone. It is an artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives."[56][57][58]" (must have been the media, and not the administration and/or military) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_coverage_of_the_Iraq_War)

A soldier's view of the media coverage: "Roche also addresses media coverage of U.S. military casualties in Iraq:

I don't know why the media insists on trumpeting the idea that all of us are tired and worn out and just want to stop fighting. I don't, and I am not alone. The fact is that we are not experiencing casualty rates anywhere near past conflicts, nor for that matter as bad as during peacetime. There were weeks in Vietnam when 350-400 Americans died, and in other wars thousands would die in single battles. Nothing like that is happening now." (http://www.nationalcenter.org/PRRocheIraqCasualtiesMorale805.html)



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ccp
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« Reply #1289 on: May 03, 2012, 07:23:41 PM »

BG,

Are you saying the coverage of the wars is not different during W's Presidency and O's Presidency?

Are you saying the MSM is not going after O the same way they went after W?
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bigdog
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« Reply #1290 on: May 03, 2012, 07:41:33 PM »

I am saying that we, as a people, are tired of war coverage.  New casualties, unfortunately, don't resinate like they used to.  I am also saying that on the one hand, conservatives (including an entire presidential administration) wanted to avoid coverage of the casualty rate, and now that the media have moved on and aren't reporting on it (as requested), those same folks are pissed about it. 
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« Reply #1291 on: May 03, 2012, 08:33:56 PM »



http://fredthompsonsamerica.com/2012/05/03/afghanistan-a-lost-cause/
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« Reply #1292 on: May 04, 2012, 10:20:01 AM »

http://www.usnews.com/opinion/mzuckerman/articles/2012/05/03/us-credibility-on-afghanistan-is-dubious-and-suspect

Bigdog writes:

"I am saying that we, as a people, are tired of war coverage"  True.  Other differences were the 60's culture which included a youth backlash to the war with the drugs, the antiestablishment thing, civil rights, look "what we did to the Indians" thinking.  Most probably the draft at that time pissed of a lot of people.  Now of course the military is all volunteer.   I presume that made a big difference.

I remember growing up as a kid in the 60's getting tired of the daily counts on the 6 or 11 oclock news at that time.  But then again I never had to worry about the draft and I knew no one "over there".  OTOH I didn't get the concept of bashing of our country and troops at the time.  I thought we were there to fight communism and it seemed like a noble cause.   Our troops were risking life limb and their livelihoods and I could not understand the disrespect they got from the people who are now OWS and in power as the IVY elites now.

BDG I think you and I agreed in previous posts we would like our troops home.   IN Vietnam in retrespect while our intentions were good it was not worth the costs.

I am dubious about whether this war is either.  
« Last Edit: May 04, 2012, 10:21:59 AM by ccp » Logged
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« Reply #1293 on: May 04, 2012, 10:50:29 AM »

ccp, I agree with much of what is said here, by you and by others... and we largely agree here.  However, I many of my posts are intended to be either thought provoking or to add clarity or nuance to a thought.  In this case, the clarity I sought came from this line: "As noted on Drudge complete silence from the MSM.  I remember quite well during Vietnam hearing EVERY single day the death and injury count on the networks.   Remarkable hypocrisy."  It simply isn't true that MSM outlets completely ignore the death count.  Moreover, to the extent that it isn't front page (or lead story stuff), I wanted to point out that the Bush administration didn't want it on the front pages, and so for Drudge (or you) to call this hypocrisy also isn't true. 
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« Reply #1294 on: May 04, 2012, 11:35:10 AM »

While I think BD has a fair point, FWIW my sense of things is that the extent and the tone of the death coverage tends to be guided by whether it is good or bad for the Reps or Dems.

I for one would like to see LOTS of coverage of battlefield heroics, of which there is virtually none.

Returning to the merits of the Afpakia War; at this point it has become so fg conceptually muddled that I find it hard to say what the hell to do.  The complete conceptual changes advocated here have zero chance of coming into being and without ti or something like it, what the hell are we doing?

I think Sen. Fred Thompson's assessment of Baraq which I posted the other day rather accurate.  OTOH I also think that Michael Yon's assessment that Bush had us on a losing trajectory also to be accurate.   I cannot say the argument that the Iraq War (which I actively supported) became a distraction from a proper follow-up and finish to Afpakia is implausible or irrational.   Putting these two together it is not irrational for the American people to conclude after ten years that for whatever the reasons, this war is not getting lead by either party very well and that therefore we may as well come home.

Further discussion really needs to address the deeper questions of American foreign policy, but for now for this thread I will say that IMHO Baraq has thrown away the last chance to get it right and that a truly heavy price will be paid much sooner and much more costly than is generally realized.

Pakistan has the world's fourth largest nuke stockpile and it is already a quasi-jihadi state.  With Iran on its trajectory and the Russians threatening to take out our missile defenses in eastern Europe and Iran and Russia cozying up to the Chavez narco state in Venezuela and various accumulating Chinese moves in Latin America and the Carribean, we may be getting to Ron Paul's Fortress America much sooner than anyone realizes or cares for , , ,
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« Reply #1295 on: May 07, 2012, 09:48:54 PM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/01/opinion/finish-off-al-qaeda-stop-trying-to-fix-afghanistan.html?_r=3&hp

OSAMA BIN LADEN’S death a year ago Wednesday, at the hands of a Navy SEAL team, revealed that America has been fighting two wars in Afghanistan. One is against Al Qaeda, and is clearly in America’s national interest; the other war, to fix Afghanistan, is much more questionable. We must take lessons from the way we fight terrorism in Somalia, Yemen and elsewhere: Focus more on finishing the fight against Al Qaeda, and less on bringing good government to a failing state.
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« Reply #1296 on: May 07, 2012, 10:06:38 PM »

In which case too bad that the foto op agreement signed between Baraq and Karzai now blocks our as yet unquantified troops to be left in Afghanistan from launching attacks against anyone in Pakistan , , , or Iran.
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« Reply #1297 on: May 10, 2012, 11:10:20 AM »



http://www.dickmorris.com/afghanistan-is-not-worth-a-single-american-life-dick-morris-tv-lunch-alert/

Morris flogs his new book.  Says it is a narco state.  Forget the Taliban.  Focus drone attacks on AQ.   Misses that the Agreement that Baraq just signed with mega-corrupt Karzai, blocks us from launching drone attacks into Pakistan.

In contrast Romney seems to have a very tin ear on this subject-- he accurately notes that CiC Baraq has ignored our generals terribly and winds up sounding like he wants us to get in deeper.   This is a losing proposition in domestic American politics.  Across the spectrum few one believe in the Afg mission as currently conceived-- and understandably so.
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« Reply #1298 on: May 12, 2012, 08:24:16 AM »

By DAVID FEITH
Washington, D.C.

'The distant rear of an army engaged in battle is not the best place from which to judge correctly what is going on in front."

The words are from Ulysses S. Grant's recollections of the Battle of Shiloh. But they are being quoted to me by H.R. McMaster, arguably the Pentagon's foremost warrior-scholar, to stress that the increasingly common American perception that the Afghan War is lost doesn't jibe with what he witnessed during his recent 20-month deployment to Afghanistan.

"The difficulties are apparent," says the two-star Army general, "but oftentimes the opportunities are masked."

For a sense of those opportunities, consider some of the metrics of battle. When Gen. McMaster arrived in Afghanistan in July 2010—as President Obama's surge reached full strength—enemy attacks numbered 4,000 a month. A year later, they had dropped to 3,250. In March, there were 1,700. Every month from May 2011 through March 2012 (the latest with available data) had fewer attacks than the same month the year before, the longest sustained reduction of the war.

Meanwhile, Afghan security forces will number 350,000 this summer, up from 240,000 when Gen. McMaster arrived. Afghans now lead nearly half of all combat operations. Eight million Afghan children attend school, including three million girls, compared to one million and zero girls in 2001. Where finding a telephone 10 years ago often required traveling a full day, now more than 12 million Afghans own cellphones (out of 32 million total).

"Our soldiers, airmen, Marines and sailors, working alongside Afghans, have shut down the vast majority of the physical space in which the enemy can operate," says Gen. McMaster. "The question is, how do we consolidate those gains politically and psychologically?"

The political and psychological dimensions of warfare have long fascinated the general, who first became famous in the Army when he led his vastly outnumbered tank regiment to victory at the Battle of 73 Easting in the first Gulf War. Six years later, he published "Dereliction of Duty," based on his Ph.D. thesis indicting the Vietnam-era military leadership for failing to push back against a commander in chief, Lyndon Johnson, who was more interested in securing his Great Society domestic agenda than in doing what was necessary—militarily and politically—to prevail in Southeast Asia. For 15 years it's been considered must-reading at the Pentagon.

But Gen. McMaster really earned his renown applying the tenets of counterinsurgency strategy, or COIN, during the war in Iraq. As a colonel in 2005, he took responsibility for a place called Tal Afar. In that city of 200,000 people, the insurgents' "savagery reached such a level that they stuffed the corpses of children with explosives and tossed them into the streets in order to kill grieving parents attempting to retrieve the bodies of their young," wrote Tal Afar's mayor in 2006. "This was the situation of our city until God prepared and delivered unto them the courageous soldiers of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment."

Gen. McMaster's troops fought in Tal Afar with the understanding that victory would not be achieved by using maximum violence to hunt and kill insurgents. Instead, the key tasks were to secure and improve life for the local population, establish reliable local government, and project determination and staying power.

Before long, President George W. Bush was citing Tal Afar as a model. It helped inspire the strategy shift that turned around the Iraq War under David Petraeus, Gen. McMaster's mentor and a fellow West Point graduate with a Ph.D. and a penchant for quoting theorists like Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831), the Prussian officer who famously defined war as the continuation of politics by other means.

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 .Now Gen. McMaster has been attempting to apply counterinsurgency strategy in another war most Americans have written off.

As the head of Task Force Shafafiyat—the word means "transparency" in Pashto—his job was to identify how U.S. and Afghan funds flow not only as payments to contractors, subcontractors and local Afghan officials, but as kickbacks or protection money to criminal networks and insurgents. Since August 2010, the coalition says, it has vetted some 1,400 American, Afghan and foreign companies, barring or suspending more than 150 firms and individuals from doing business with the U.S.


Trying to stop corruption in Afghanistan is often seen in the West as akin to trying to stop the tides. Gen. McMaster calls that view "bigotry masquerading as cultural sensitivity."

But there is little doubt that corruption is a formidable problem. The abuse of official positions of power for personal gain, the general said last year in Kabul, "is robbing Afghanistan of much-needed revenue, undermining rule of law, degrading the effectiveness of state institutions, and eroding popular confidence in the government."

In 2010, Kabul Bank—Afghanistan's largest, and the main source of payment for Afghan security forces—nearly brought down the country's financial system when almost $1 billion in reserves apparently disappeared into the briefcases and Dubai villas of Afghan elites. In another case, Gen. McMaster's investigators found evidence that Afghanistan's former surgeon general had stolen tens of millions of dollars worth of drugs from military hospitals.

Though corruption charges have dogged senior officials and intimates of Afghan President Hamid Karzai for years, not a single person with high-level political connections has been convicted of wrongdoing. In many cases, Mr. Karzai appears to have personally blocked or hampered efforts at accountability.

Staying politic, Gen. McMaster notes that Mr. Karzai and other senior officials have at last acknowledged the problem publicly. "Now, have they matched that with decisive action? No. But is [public acknowledgment] a first step? Yes it is."

Perhaps Gen. McMaster is reluctant to pin too much blame on Mr. Karzai because he thinks the root of Afghanistan's corruption problem goes deeper, to three decades of "trauma that it's been through, the legacy of the 1990s civil war . . . [and] the effects of the narcotics trade." Add to that the unintended consequences of sudden Western attention starting in 2001: "We did exacerbate the problem with lack of transparency and accountability built into the large influx of international assistance that came into a government that lacked mature institutions."

Yet the Afghan War's most important factor, in his view, could be the Afghan people's expectations for the future. "Why did the Taliban collapse so quickly in 2001?" he asks. "The fundamental reason was that every Afghan was convinced of the inevitability of the Taliban's defeat."

Today it's not clear who the strong horse is, so many Afghans are hedging their bets. "What you see in Afghanistan oftentimes," the general says, "is a short-term-maximization-of-gains mentality—get as much out of the system as you can to build up a power base in advance of a post-[NATO], post-international-community Afghanistan."

In this respect, the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed last week by President Obama and Mr. Karzai may help, since it pledges some American military and diplomatic commitments through 2024. Gen. McMaster calls it "immensely important." Still, it doesn't erase the record of Obama administration rhetoric to the effect that American withdrawal is inevitable even if the enemy's defeat is not.

Gen. McMaster steers far clear of any such political criticism. Instead, he argues that the Afghan people can be convinced to bet against the insurgency—and in favor of their government—if they see a crackdown on public corruption.

Some of the signs are good. Afghan civil society, he says hopefully, has a growing number of "groups that don't want to see the gains of the past 10 years reversed, that want a better future for their children, and that are demanding necessary reforms from their leaders." Last year saw the launch of the Right and Justice Party, with an anticorruption message and multiethnic leadership of Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras.

One of the general's historical models is Colombia, where a few years ago many people believed the government couldn't stand up to the narco-terrorist FARC insurgency. "What was the problem of Colombia in the late '90s? It was political will to take [the FARC] on," he says, adding that U.S. counternarcotics and other efforts helped lay the groundwork that Álvaro Uribe built on after winning Colombia's presidency in 2002.

We could see such an outcome again, says Gen. McMaster, especially given "the innate weakness of Afghanistan's enemies."

"What do the Taliban have to offer the Afghan people?" he asks. They are "a criminal organization, criminal because they engage in mass murder of innocent people, and criminal because they're also the largest narcotics-trafficking organization in the world. Are these virtuous religious people? No, these are murderous, nihilistic, irreligious people who we're fighting—we along with Afghans who are determined to not allow them to return."

Taliban groups, he adds, are increasingly seen by Afghans "as a tool of hostile foreign intelligence agencies. These are people who live in comfort in Pakistan and send their children to private schools while they destroy schools in Afghanistan." He notes, too, that indigenous Afghan fighters are wondering where their leadership is: "One of the maxims of military leadership is that you share the hardships of your troops, you lead from the front. Well they're leading from comfortable villas in Pakistan. So there's growing resentment, and this could be an opportunity to convince key communities inside of Afghanistan into joining the political process."

As a tool for this, Gen. McMaster praises the U.S. military's "village stability operations," which send small teams of Special Forces to live among Afghans in remote villages vulnerable to Taliban intimidation.

Still, it's easy to get carried away by the glimmers of hope, and the general is very much a realist. For one thing, Pakistan remains a haven for insurgency, and Gen. McMaster says little more than that it "remains to be seen" whether Pakistan's leaders will conclude that their interests lie in defeating the Taliban.

Just as worrisome, though far less noticed, is the influence of Iran, which is pressuring Kabul to reject the Strategic Partnership Agreement.

"Many of the media platforms that operate in Afghanistan—television, radio, print media—are either wholly captured and run, or owned by hostile organizations or entities," Gen. McMaster says. The Iranian government has about 20 television stations operating in Western Afghanistan. Another disheartening hearts-and-minds metric: Iran and other foreign entities run more schools in Herat City than does the Afghan government.


Near the end of our interview, we turn to the future of American warfare. U.S. troops are scheduled to end combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014, perhaps sooner. Focus is turning from the Middle East to East Asia, and to the air and sea power required in the Pacific.

Does that mean that for the foreseeable future the U.S. won't "do" another Afghanistan or Iraq? "We have a perfect record in predicting future wars—right? . . . And that record is 0%," says the general. "If you look at the demands that have been placed on our armed forces in recent years, I think the story that will be told years from now is one of adaptability to mission sets and circumstances that were not clearly defined or anticipated prior to those wars."

That's fortunate, Gen. McMaster makes clear, in light of Clausewitz's 200-year-old warning not "to turn war into something that's alien to its nature—don't try to define war as you would like it to be."

Mr. Feith is an assistant editorial features editor at the Journal.

A version of this article appeared May 12, 2012, on page A13 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The Warrior's-Eye View of Afghanistan.

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

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1299 on: May 16, 2012, 08:26:30 AM »


North Waziristan and the U.S. Strategy for Afghanistan
May 16, 2012 | 1244 GMT


U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in Seoul on March 27

U.S. and Pakistani officials have been intensely negotiating the reopening of a NATO supply route that has been closed for almost six months. On May 14, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said Pakistan needed to close the supply route to make a point, but Islamabad is now ready to move forward. Washington welcomed her comments but cautioned that the two sides are still working on a deal.

After months of hard bargaining a new agreement will probably lead to the reopening of the supply route. The agreement will not resolve every issue, especially since Pakistan wants to redefine the nature of its cooperation with the United States on Afghan security. Pakistan will continue to demand that Washington end its unilateral unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) strikes, which largely target militants in Pakistan's North Waziristan. Pakistan could use the U.S.-Taliban negotiations to extract concessions from the United States on this issue.



Analysis

North Waziristan is the only tribal agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) that Pakistan has excluded from its ongoing offensive against Taliban rebels and their transnational allies. Pakistan has avoided attempts to bring North Waziristan under state control. Any such effort would be complicated by the intricate relationships among the area's tribes and militant groups, the region's difficult terrain, Islamabad's lack of resources and other domestic constraints.

.Control of North Waziristan is split between tribal warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur and the Taliban's Haqqani faction. Neither entity is hostile toward Pakistan. Bahadur is based in the southwestern stretches of North Waziristan, and his militiamen fight NATO and Afghan security forces across the border in Afghanistan. The Haqqanis use their base in the northeastern end of the agency to attack eastern Afghanistan and Kabul. Transnational jihadists such as al Qaeda and its Pakistani allies also sustain themselves in the region by working with Bahadur and the Haqqanis.

Islamabad will have to manage the situation on its Afghan border long after NATO has withdrawn; Pakistan cannot afford belligerent relations with Bahadur or the Haqqanis. Because of this, Pakistan is reluctant to expand its counterinsurgency operations in North Waziristan, but does not consider the area to be permanently outside of state control.

Islamabad's FATA Strategy
Islamabad has tried since the spring of 2009 to retake northwestern areas that fell under Taliban control in great part due to the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Currently the focus is on clearing and holding areas, but eventually Islamabad wants to integrate the tribal areas into the state better than their historically autonomous status would allow.

Pakistan's strategy for North Waziristan is linked to U.S.-Taliban negotiations and the withdrawal of NATO forces. As an integral wing of the Taliban, the Haqqanis would participate in any power-sharing agreement coming out of U.S.-Taliban negotiations and would no longer need to operate out of North Waziristan. Islamabad could then recognize Bahadur's territory and formalize his status. In return, Bahadur and the Haqqanis might assist in isolating and dealing with al Qaeda and its allies in the region.

Islamabad has always preferred this long-term and rather vague counterinsurgency strategy. Pakistan would rather avoid further aggravating the insurgency and being drawn into a protracted fight in the tribal areas that could reverse the modest gains made in the other six agencies. This strategy directly conflicts with Washington's need for the Pakistanis to crack down on both al Qaeda and the Haqqanis. As a result, the United States focused its unilateral UAV strike campaign on North Waziristan, which has caused increased anger in Pakistan over the past five years.

Negotiating With the United States
U.S.-Pakistani relations fell to their lowest point in 2011 after a critical series of events. Meanwhile, the country's civilian leadership experienced an unprecedented surge in power relative to the historically powerful security establishment, leading to a democratization of policymaking. These trends collided on Nov. 26, 2011, when U.S. aircraft killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at a paramilitary outpost on the Afghan border. Islamabad reacted sharply to the incident, shutting down the supply route and linking its reopening to a renegotiated security cooperation relationship.

A key demand in the negotiations has been Pakistan's call for the United States to end unilateral UAV strikes, which have come to symbolize general U.S. unilateral capabilities in the country. Islamabad is especially worried about a repeat of last year's U.S. Special Operations Forces raid that killed al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in a major urban area in the country. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton exacerbated those concerns during her visit to India in May when she said that Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's second most important figure, is hiding in Pakistan.

The Pakistanis realize that an end to UAV strikes will be tough to extract from the United States. On May 4, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani asked legislators to keep in mind that all foreign fighters should be expelled and that Pakistani territory should not be used against any other country. Gilani added that his government will discuss these issues with the Obama administration.

Gilani was signaling to Pakistan's political and security stakeholders that the Pakistanis have a strong incentive to consider expanding their ongoing counterinsurgency offensive to North Waziristan. Such a move could negate Washington's justification for unilateral UAV strikes. But before his government can negotiate with the Obama administration on this matter, Gilani needs majority support, which is why a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry told reporters May 3 that Islamabad is looking into alternatives to the UAV strikes.

However, such a move is not certain to lead Washington to actually halt its UAV strikes. The Pakistanis have another option in this regard. The U.S.-Taliban negotiations offer Islamabad an opportunity to tie North Waziristan's main militant forces into the United States' attempts to craft a political settlement in Afghanistan.

The Diplomatic Route
Washington has long demanded that Afghan insurgents part ways with al Qaeda as a key condition for a political settlement with the Afghan Taliban. The Taliban intend to comply, but enforcement capabilities on both sides of the border are questionable, especially since most of the remnants of the old al Qaeda core are actually in Pakistan. In October 2011, Clinton said the Obama administration sought negotiations with the Haqqanis. Clinton confirmed that Pakistani officials arranged a meeting with representatives of the insurgent faction in the summer of 2011. If Pakistan can bring the Haqqanis and Bahadur to the negotiating table with the United States, Islamabad might stake out a key role in the shaping of a post-NATO Afghanistan.

This arrangement could help the Pakistanis re-establish control over North Waziristan and thus significantly reduce Washington's need for unilateral action on Pakistani territory. Not only does this sync with the U.S. strategy for Afghanistan, but it also addresses Pakistan's need for cooperation from North Waziristan's two principal players to drive out al Qaeda and other hostile militants.

To get Bahadur and the Haqqanis to cooperate, Pakistan would build upon existing understandings. This is very similar to how Islamabad worked with Maulvi Nazir, the pro-Pakistani warlord in South Waziristan, when it launched its limited offensive in that area in the fall of 2009. Any undertaking to rid North Waziristan of hostile militant factions would require Pakistan to take a careful approach that avoids tampering with the interests of Bahadur and the Haqqanis.

What North Waziristan Stands to Gain
The Afghan Taliban, the Haqqanis, Bahadur and other smaller factions have always known that at some point they would have to move away from the transnational jihadists -- but they wanted to gain power first. Over the years, however, the situation was complicated by the rise of an anti-Pakistan insurgency and the souring of U.S.-Pakistani relations. These actors know that Pakistan can help them realize their goals only when it is internally secure and on decent working terms with the United States.

Both North Waziristani groups are interested in working with Pakistan, the only state actor that can facilitate a deal with the United States. The Haqqanis are eyeing a future role as the main political force in eastern Afghanistan and want to gain major representation in Kabul. Bahadur is interested in expanding his territory in North Waziristan. He wants to secure his political and economic interests across the border and he wants formal recognition as a pre-eminent stakeholder in the tribal agency.

Well aware that their interests are best served when the Pakistani side of the border is secure, the Haqqanis and Bahadur have in fact been trying to prevent Pakistani Taliban rebels from fighting Islamabad. These efforts have been largely unsuccessful, but they suggest that both players are willing to do more for the right price, though both factions oppose a major ground offensive in their areas because it could undermine their authority.

To justify turning against other militants, Bahadur and the Haqqanis would also need to show their constituencies that they gained something substantial. If tribes and jihadists in their territory see the factions as having turned against them, they could resort to violence. But just as Islamabad appreciates the need to adjust its policy toward North Waziristan, Bahadur and the Haqqanis realize they need to shift gears. Their ability to take advantage of negotiations and to gain more power in the post-NATO period depends on it.

As was the case when the United States cut a deal with Iraq's Sunni tribes in 2007 to end the anti-U.S. insurgency and fight al Qaeda, both North Waziristani factions know that they will have to end any support to the hostile militants, or at least not oppose the Pakistan army when it moves to flush those militants out. They will only do so if they gain international recognition as legitimate political actors, which requires considerable progress in U.S.-Pakistani talks.

However, the United States will not negotiate with either player until it knows that Pakistan will actually engage in sanctuary denial efforts -- and more critically, that Bahadur and the Haqqanis will actually sever their ties with irreconcilable jihadists. There is a strong view within Washington that the North Waziristanis are too close to al Qaeda to truly cut their jihadist ties and that Pakistan cannot be trusted either. The Pakistanis are caught between Washington's need for Islamabad to bring the insurgents to the table and the Taliban's need to stage attacks to shape U.S. behavior in negotiations.

Before Pakistan can effectively mediate between the United States and the North Waziristanis, Islamabad and Washington have to sort out their issues and then agree that the Haqqanis and Bahadur constitute reconcilable insurgents. It is not clear whether this can be accomplished, but any agreement on North Waziristan will have to involve deals with the tribal and militant forces that operate there -- similar to the deal that the Obama administration is seeking with the Afghan Taliban.


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