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G M
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« Reply #1350 on: February 26, 2013, 10:48:01 AM »

http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2013/02/15/the-5-biggest-insults-to-american-manhood-by-the-rules-of-engagement-in-afghanistan/?singlepage=true

The 5 Biggest Insults to American Manhood by the Rules of Engagement in Afghanistan

Bing West and Vince Flynn make the case against the castration of our military.





by
David Forsmark


America’s muddle in Afghanistan is not merely an unwise policy. Two prominent American authors — one a serious analyst (and former badass warrior), the other a bestselling novelist (who created one of our biggest badass heroes) — worry that it is an affront to American manhood as well.

 


For years Bing West has argued that our carrot with no stick approach to counterinsurgency and nation building in Afghanistan is sapping the “martial spirit” of our armed forces. Recently, he even wrote a column titled “We’re Too Nice to Win in Afghanistan,” detailing how a wimpy approach to a truly savage enemy is making victory impossible.
 
West proposes we change from a counterinsurgency protocol (winning hearts and minds in order to recruit allies against the terrorists while building a civil society) to a counter-terror strategy (kill them whenever and wherever we can find them and let the Afghan government build its own society).
 
Vince Flynn, in his new book The Last Man, has his fictional alter ego, Mitch Rapp, take a very direct approach. Upon being introduced to a former Taliban official the CIA has recruited to be part of the Afghan security infrastructure as America prepares to leave the country, and who is certainly playing both sides, he sees only one incentive structure that can work:
 
Pistol-whip the sneaky bastard and threaten to kill him if he doesn’t cooperate.
 
So, based on West’s superb book on the war in Afghanistan, The Wrong War, and Flynn’s best thriller to date, here are 5 ways that Obama’s approach to Afghanistan is an affront to American manhood.
 


5. Sets a Date Certain to Give Up
 
From the time Americans males are little boys — at least for those who have real men for fathers — we are instructed in the virtues of perseverance. Sports gives a prime example. NFL coaches stress “playing for 60 minutes,” and NBA coaches for 48.
 
Winning is about how you finish, not how you start. Just ask Admiral Yamamoto.
 
Now George W. Bush had his problems with how he conducted the war, adopting a counterinsurgency strategy of nation-building; but he drew the line at drawing this line. You don’t tell the enemy “Just hold out until 2014, and we will be out of your hair.”
 
Even if you think that nation-building is good, and merely letting SEALs, Delta, and the like play whack-a-mole with the bad guys to their hearts’ content is insufficient, this is just plain stupid. Telling the people whose support you need that you are outta here soon, but the enemy will stay forever, is not exactly what an economist would call a good incentive.
 
Mitch Rapp adds that incentive through pistol whipping.
 
Bing West explained in a Wall Street Journal column last October that the deadline loomed over everything the Marines he was with were trying to accomplish:
 

Joint patrols cannot substitute for Afghan troops who must believe in their own cause. Nothing is gained by “jointness” if the Afghan forces are getting ready to cut local deals and pull back as we leave.
 
It will just be great for morale, and for recruiting soldiers with a warrior spirit, if the greatest military the world has ever seen is just admitting they are tired, even though they are not being beaten on the battlefield.
 


4. It Doesn’t Inflict Justice on the Guilty
 
In The Wrong War, West uses a history of modern guerrilla warfare and counter-insurgency to point out that the United States is trying to do something that has never been done before anywhere in how it is trying to bring civilization to Afghanistan, rather than merely punishing the enemy:
 

Following the First World War, Winston Churchill, then secretary of state for the colonies, approved of summary executions of Irish insurgents in retaliation for the deaths of British soldiers occupying southern Ireland. The foremost scholar on counterinsurgency, David Galula, described his experience as a French officer in the Algerian War in the 1950s in these terms: “We searched the suspect’s house thoroughly and found the missing shotgun. I phoned my battalion commander and asked him if he agreed that the man should be shot on the spot. He did. The harkis executed him.” On another occasion, Galula threatened to bake a man in an oven. The man co-operated.
 
During the Second World War — the “good war”— the esteemed journalist Eric Sevareid stood by as U.S. soldiers shot German troops and Italian civilians. “As the weeks went by and this experience was repeated many times,” Sevareid wrote, “I ceased even to be surprised.” In his book Citizen Soldiers, the historian Stephen Ambrose devoted a chapter to prisoners of war, citing numerous instances when American soldiers shot prisoners. The press never reported one instance.
 
In The Village, a chronicle of my Combined Action Platoon in Vietnam, I wrote, “The Marines watched as Thanh beat his prisoners. When one woman refused to talk, he rubbed a wet cloth with lye soap and pressed it against her face. The woman struggled to breathe and sucked into her throat the stinging lye.”
 
Such stories had no effect at the time they were written; in 2011, they would all be sensations to the press. Today, the U.S. Congress would not tolerate deportation, sanction a $500-million bribe, approve of retaliatory executions, or ration food. Galula would be portrayed as a war criminal. Sevareid, the face of CBS, would be excoriated for not reporting the killings of prisoners, as would I for complicity in waterboarding.
 
Afghanistan was singularly different from any prior insurgency. Far from employing sticks of coercion of any sort, the Western coalition offered only aid and sympathy to hostile villagers. The United States possessed precision firepower, with sensors that tracked any individual out of doors. Yet in 2010, less than 5% of aircraft sorties dropped a single bomb, despite over 100 reports of troops in contact daily. This forbearance was without historical precedent. The coalition imposed upon itself the strictest rules in the history of insurgent warfare.
 
Forget the hoary clichés about the British and the Russians failing to rule Afghanistan. Afghanis (whatever they are) have never ruled the region named Afghanistan — basically a border drawn around the leftovers as the British Empire contracted.
 
3. It Doesn’t Protect the Innocent
 
The first manly virtue is to protect the weak. Women and children first may be considered chauvinistic in some circles, but… good. Who cares about those circles, anyway? More from West in The Wrong War  :
 

However, coalition and Afghan rules covering crime and punishment lacked purpose, consistency and reliability. A few kilometres south of Jakar, an 11-year-old boy often waved at passing patrols. The Marines took to chatting with the boy, who pointed out a trail the Taliban occasionally used. A few weeks later, the Taliban executed him and his brothers, sisters, mother and father. Although shocked neighbours knew the identities of the gang that had gone to the farm in the middle of the day, no one would testify.
 
The tragedy illustrated a disquieting truth: American military doctrine didn’t know how to confront evil. On the one hand, the Taliban were portrayed as extremists who stoned women to death, burned schools and whipped men. On the other hand, the generals indicated that most Taliban were misguided youths.
 
“In the Taliban ranks,” Gen. Stanley McChrystal said, “there’s a tremendous number of fighters and commanders who would like to come back in.” Among the fighters who might come back in were the local Taliban farm boys who murdered the 11-year-old and his family. The American military and judicial systems were so tied up in political knots that in Afghanistan there were no coalition trials for murderers or terrorists. If they renounced the insurgency, the coalition would give them jobs.
 
Worse, Afghans as a society denied that fellow Afghans were capable of evil. The locals knew the killers. But there was no penalty for murder if committed in the name of Islam.
 
(By the way, the above quote is worth considering before conservatives like Sean Hannity put McChrystal on a pedestal just because he is critical of Obama.)
 
Our only concern for the innocents in Afghanistan seems to be the politically motivated desire to avoid collateral civilian deaths. But by instituting the most restrictive rules of engagement since Vietnam, we have given the Taliban and al-Qaeda incentive to use human shields.
 
And by making American soldiers, Marines, and airmen stand around and let this happen, we murder their martial spirit, and ask them to be less than the men they are.
 


2. It Spoils Them Rotten
 
As West spells out in frustrating detail, the nation-building policies of the last two administrations have made welfare clients rather than allies out of Pakistani villages. Even if you think that counterinsurgency programs rather than counterterrorist missions are a wise policy, all carrot and no stick is doomed to fail.
 

Thus, our military became a gigantic Peace Corps, holding millions of shuras, drinking billions of cups of tea, and handing out billions of dollars for projects. Risk in battle was avoided because generals proclaimed that killing the enemy could not win the war. Senior officials fantasized that the war would be won by protecting and winning over the population. The tribes however, were determined to remain neutral, while the Afghan president tolerated corruption and ineffectiveness. The futile effort to build a democracy diverted the energies of our soldiers and weakened their martial spirit.
 
For years, Pakistan was in the hunting-bin-Laden business, to the tune of $2 billion a year. If they actually had “found him” it would have been nice publicity, but that would have ended that particular gravy train.
 
Of course, as Flynn details in The Last Man, the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence agency, was neck deep with bin Laden from the beginning — and the location of his ultimate hiding place only adds to the suspicion that that association did not end after 9/11.
 
Our policy now is of continuous handouts to tribal leaders whose hands are constantly out, but who will do nothing to help us against the Taliban because they know there is a date certain where we will be gone and they will be on their own.  All the while we do nothing to make them regret coddling the terrorists.
 


1. It Requires Negotiation Where a Good Pistol Whipping Would Do
 
Mitch Rapp to the rescue!
 
Vince Flynn’s latest Mitch Rapp novel is about a rescue mission in Afghanistan, but it’s also a mission of mercy to thriller readers at the end of a tepid year for red-blooded American heroes.
 
In fact, from the summer on, I’m not sure I can think of two adult-oriented suspense novels I enjoyed as much as PJM contributor Andrew Klavan’s two “young adult” actioners in 2012.
 
But while Flynn targets action-starved readers with his latest book, he also targets the Obama administration’s policy of reintegration, re: not only granting amnesty to former Taliban members, but making them members of the security forces in Afghanistan.
 
Flynn does a nice job of detailing what is wrong with the policy and its various dangers and complications — but his hero Mitch Rapp registers his disgust minutes after landing on the ground, without needing all that.
 
In fact, pretty much the first thing Rapp does when he lands in Kabul on a rescue mission is to pistol whip a former Taliban official that CIA officers have recruited.
 
As any real American man would like to.
 
The Last Man is not only one of the year’s best thrillers, it’s also Vince Flynn’s most politically sophisticated work to date. The plot — while it features Mitch Rapp’s signature methods as the Dirty Harry of international espionage — has the currency, and nearly the complexity, of an Alex Berenson novel.
 
The Last Man plunges Mitch Rapp into America’s current exercise in nation-building in Afghanistan — a situation so muddled and confused that even our favorite bull-in-the-china-shop hero can stop and smell the ambiguity.
 
Joe Rickman, the head of CIA clandestine operations in Afghanistan, has been kidnapped in a bloody raid on his quarters in Pakistan, and presumably spirited across the porous border into a Taliban camp. For Irene Kennedy, concerns are two-fold. First, Rickman is one of those operators whose every move and contact are not necessarily known to his superiors, and he knows everything the Agency is doing in Afghanistan… and should be doing.
 
Second, she remembers all too well the Hezbollah capture of William Buckley, the Beirut station chief in the 1980s, and the damage done to networks in the Middle East — but also the regular taunting videos of his torture sent to Langley by the terrorist group.
 
Mitch Rapp is sent to Kabul with his favorite kind of orders — get the job done at any cost. Rickman is important enough that even the delicate balancing act of the “alliance” with Pakistan takes a back seat.
 
Pakistani officials, after the embarrassment of the Osama bin Laden raid, are not only suspicious of American operatives inside their borders but of each other. Adding to Rapp’s headaches — and outrage — is the fact that the CIA station chief and his top aide are heavily investing in the policy of “reintegration,” the policy of recruiting former Taliban into the Afghan police and security forces.
 
Rapp promptly pistol whips a corrupt former Taliban and current police commander into working for him under the threat of death—drawing the ire of the CIA officials on scene.
 
But his impatience at what he considers the wimpy policy of coddling enemies really takes a beating when Rapp is forced to accept the help of the assassin who killed his wife.
 
Meanwhile, Rapp is not so convinced that Rickman’s disappearance is merely a Taliban operation. A coordinated attack on the clandestine division—including evidence going to the FBI, and egged on by a liberal senator that implicates Rapp in the theft of millions in black bag mission money—smacks of state involvement more reminiscent of a Cold War-class operation than of something the Taliban or even the Pakistanis could pull off.
 
But the title also refers to the attempt by liberals to weed real men out of the CIA. The ultimate bad guy of the book (a twist I can’t reveal here) is not merely afraid of Rapp because he is talented, smart, or dangerous. It is he who dubs Rapp “the last man” at the CIA.
 
What the villain fears most about Rapp is that while all the other bureaucrats around him are caught up in the weeds of their complicated calculations and alliances, Rapp’s all-American sensibilities will be offended enough that his B.S. detector will cut through the policy he despises and straight to the real solution.
 
Through Rapp, Flynn continuously expresses manly contempt for the various schemes the United States has concocted in Afghanistan in order to conduct the war in a way that is acceptable to wimpy modern sensibilities. He fully adopts Bing West’s point in The Wrong War that America has bought temporary allies with our largess, but that the bad guys we don’t kill are a permanent fixture, just waiting for us to leave.
 
Flynn is contemptuous of the notion that complicated is always smarter than simple and that believing in shades of gray in the name of pragmatism  is successful. Some ideas really are so absurd that only “smart” people can convince themselves they will work. Evil is evil, and it can only be defeated or accommodated in the long run. It is never bought off.
 
The Last Man is a welcome return to the present day for Mitch Rapp, after a couple of so-so origin stories from Flynn.
 
Now if only a foreign policy worthy of the American males who do the fighting and dying for it would return, also.
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bigdog
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« Reply #1351 on: March 10, 2013, 10:45:27 AM »

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/03/04/what_went_right

From the article:

Forget what you hear from some of the more vocal critics of U.S. President Barack Obama's drawdown plans -- the chances of the Taliban coming back to run Afghanistan are now vanishingly small. Favorable views of the Taliban in polling across Afghanistan over the past several years are consistently no more than 10 percent. There is nothing like experiencing life under the Taliban to convince Afghans that the group cannot deliver on its promises of an Islamist utopia here on Earth. And if the Taliban have scant chance of returning to power, their al Qaeda buddies have even less chance of returning to Afghanistan in any meaningful way. Few Muslim countries harbor a more hostile view of al Qaeda and its Arab leaders than Afghanistan.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1352 on: March 10, 2013, 10:34:06 PM »

One notes there are plenty of other places for AQ/Islamo-fascist groups to hang out and prepare, the prevention of which in Afpakia was a major leg of our justification for being there, , , ,

No time to read the piece right now on the hotel lobby connection-- perhaps later this week.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1353 on: March 12, 2013, 07:14:23 PM »

Afghan President Hamid Karzai made a slight adjustment to a time-tested strategy March 10 when he publicly stated that the United States was colluding with the Taliban in order to justify a post-2014 troop presence. The claim coincided with new U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's first visit to Afghanistan. The remarks were mostly expected -- similar verbal attacks have accompanied other public visits by high-profile officials because of the publicity they generate. What was unexpected, however, was the harshness of the claim.
 
Though the statement seems illogical and inflammatory, it illustrates the two main constraints that Karzai has consistently had to deal with. First, he must placate a domestic populace hostile to cooperation with the United States. Second, he must prevent direct negotiations between Washington and the Taliban for fear that they could leave him and his allies with little to no power. Despite the bluster, the United States and its allies will not dramatically shift their course.
 


Analysis
 
U.S. and International Security Assistance Force officials have categorically denied Karzai's claim and even expressed confusion as to the reasoning of the accusations since they seem to run counter to Karzai’s security imperatives. In his visit to the United States earlier this year, Karzai expressed his gratitude for and acceptance of a long-term security presence and funding to be provided by various International Security Assistance Force members.
 
Karzai's public about-face is rooted in the extreme constraints under which he must operate and the undermining effects those constraints have on each other. On one hand, he has his security imperatives, which require a security apparatus that far outstrips his country's resources. Therefore, he must rely on foreign security forces just so his government may exist and operate -- a role the International Security Assistance Force has fulfilled. The force's presence has helped prevent the Taliban from regaining power.
 






.
 

On the other hand, there is the fractured Afghan public that, while generally hostile to the Taliban, is on the whole nearly as hostile to the decadelong foreign security presence and anyone seen as directly linked to it. The challenge for Karzai is that he must rely on the intervention force but not be seen as a tool of it. The result over the years has been Karzai's sharp and public criticisms of specific unpopular U.S. and International Security Assistance Force tactics, such as U.S. special operations forces night raids.
 
With the official drawdown of foreign forces in Afghanistan under way, Karzai's criticisms and demands have begun to evolve. First, he fought for and gained control of all private security companies operating in Afghanistan. He also moved to consolidate control of the International Security Assistance Force detention facilities, with the facility at Bagram Air Field being the notable exception. (The handover of the facility, scheduled for March 9-10, was canceled after Karzai balked at some of the exemptions.) More recently, Karzai has accused Afghan units attached to U.S. special operations forces of abuses in Wardak province and has demanded that all U.S. forces leave the province. He also recently limited the ability of Afghan security forces to call for and use U.S. airpower.
 
Karzai's escalating public rebukes are in many ways symbolic, since troop reductions and the assumption of a supporting role have already limited foreign forces' direct combat role. It is the Afghan National Security Forces that have shouldered much of the burden and that enable Karzai to seemingly challenge the foreign powers without shifting the balance of power on the ground.
 
At the same time, the claim is an attempt to undermine direct bilateral talks that the United States has taken up with the Taliban without including Kabul. The talks are particularly unnerving for the Karzai government, which fears a deal that could include power sharing with the Taliban and that could sideline Karzai and his allies. By claiming that the two sides are cooperating to prolong the foreign security presence in Afghanistan, Karzai is hoping to discredit their negotiations and bolster his nationalist qualifications.
 
The domestic pressure on Karzai is intense and diverse, coming from several different ethnicities, powerful warlords, foreign interlopers and multiple tribes and clans. In order for Karzai -- or his successor after the 2014 elections -- to succeed, he must constantly maneuver between these groups. The West recognizes these challenges, and a major shift in their approach in Afghanistan is unlikely in response to Karzai's comments.


Read more: The Afghan President's Strange Public Statements | Stratfor
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ya
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« Reply #1354 on: March 17, 2013, 09:31:20 AM »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=RDqu6dxcwEQ#!

Enjoy the Harlem Shake af-pak style.... grin
« Last Edit: March 18, 2013, 01:02:13 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #1355 on: March 21, 2013, 10:09:49 AM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/21/world/asia/afghan-villages-rise-up-against-taliban.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130321&_r=0
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1356 on: March 21, 2013, 10:26:09 AM »

second post

The mountains of Afghanistan are among the most hazardous terrains for military operations. This topography has long enabled Afghans to successfully resist much more powerful conventional armies, as it did when Alexander the Great tried to conquer Afghanistan in the fourth century B.C. and again when Europeans undertook conquest attempts in the 1800s. After the Taliban were removed from power, they retreated to these mountains to stage their resistance against the new Afghan government and NATO forces.
 


Analysis
 
Afghanistan's mountains, which run east to west through the country, are the westernmost extension of the Himalayan mountain system. The mountains consist of extremely elevated mountain ranges, such as the Safed Koh range along the Pakistani border and the Hindu Kush range to the north, which contain some of the highest peaks in the world and very rugged, steep topography. Though the desert climate means there is little vegetation to limit visibility, the complexity of the topography makes it difficult to observe or strike at militants hiding there, whether by ground or from the air.
 
The mountains that dominate central and northeastern Afghanistan break up the plains in the north and south of the country. While the Taliban have been active across Afghanistan, the mountain region along the Pakistani border is where most militant activity persists. This activity is mostly concentrated in Wardak, Logar, Paktia, Nangarhar, Kunar and Laghman provinces, south and east of Kabul. Militancy has also been on the rise in Badakhshan province in the northeastern corner of the country. Until around 2010 the main threat of Taliban forces was in the southern plain, in Helmand and Kandahar provinces, but the lack of complex terrain allowed NATO forces there to be much more effective than those in the mountains during the U.S. troop surge. Since the mountains provide more protection for the Taliban than the plains, NATO troops have had to focus their operations in this area, though they remain active throughout Afghanistan, including in its southern provinces.
 






.
 This mountainous terrain is also important due to its proximity to the Pakistani border. Political borders can cause a major interdicting factor in military operations against militants. The need to coordinate operations with separate actors, as well as the inability to operate across the border in the territory of an allied sovereign state without causing diplomatic incidents, affects operations on the ground and can create areas of lesser resistance that allow militants to seek refuge or supplies across borders. Militants' seeking refuge in Pakistan is one of the main factors behind U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle operations across Afghanistan's borders.
 
Pashtun tribes and other Afghan ethnic groups on both sides of the border also help make the Pakistani border a haven for militants. This population can support militant activity across the border and enables those that cross from one side to the other to easily blend into the local population. On the Pakistani side of the border, there are also a number of large refugee camps that have been a great source for Taliban recruitment and shelter or medical care for militants. The ability to execute precise unmanned aerial vehicle strikes against suspected militant leaders, such as those of the Haqqani network, is greatly limited by the militants' ability to take cover or hide among the population. This also allows them to set up bases and operate in populated areas, where they can depend on familial and logistics support.
 
The prime target of Kabul is also located within these mountains, allowing militants to operate in and around the city. Since many targets are within the same terrain that protects the militants, they can attack their adversaries without leaving cover. In addition, the mountainous provinces south and east of Kabul, where Taliban militants are currently concentrated, make up the main supply line leading directly from Pakistan into Kabul. However, this area also presents a challenge to the Taliban because it forces them to maneuver tribal relations in order to guarantee access throughout the region. For this they need to work with and often pay tolls to local tribes, whose allegiances can change over time. As many advantages as the mountainous terrain may provide, militants and local governments still must navigate the intricate web of tribal relations in the region.
 
Winter adds an extra element of hardship to the Afghan mountain terrain. From December to April, the temperature in much of this area drops below freezing and snowfall limits movement during part of the winter, reducing supply lines in the central and northern regions of Afghanistan. After the winter period, thawing snows and storms can cause flash floods. The region's extremely limited transportation infrastructure makes it especially vulnerable to these natural phenomena.
 
These meteorological constraints are as applicable to the NATO forces as they are to the Taliban militants. Taliban forces disperse and, while some do remain in the mountains, others go home to farm or cross the border into Pakistan, returning in the spring to recommence the insurgency around late March and April. NATO forces become static throughout the winter season, due to the difficulty of conducting patrols or maneuvers. During the winter usually only special operations forces conduct offensive actions, but even these slow down because the militants are less active.
 
Though the value of this terrain is similar to other mountainous regions used by militants in other countries, the great area of the Afghan mountains enhances their ability to provide refuge for militants. The region's elevation and distance from the equator causes it to have a harsh winter that introduces temporal constraints in addition to the spatial constraints on operations against militants. The downtime during the winter gives the Taliban an opportunity to reorganize and continue the insurgency. The combination of protective physical geography and temporal constraints enhances the ability of a guerilla-styled Taliban force to resist, and continue to remain effective against, the conventional armed forces trying to dislodge them


Read more: The Taliban's Mountain Hideout in Afghanistan | Stratfor
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1357 on: March 21, 2013, 05:04:49 PM »

Second post of the day

Summary


At the same time that Pakistan has experienced an increase in religious extremism and terrorism, the country has been on a path toward democratization. March 17 marked the first time since the country's founding in 1947 that a democratically elected Pakistani parliament has completed a full term. The outgoing government has been in talks with the opposition to nominate a caretaker prime minister, whose interim administration is expected to hold fresh elections in May.
 
Pakistan is likely to continue democratizing, which could help the country deal with its social, economic and security problems. The rise of civilian rule in Pakistan might also help on the foreign policy front, especially with regard to post-NATO Afghanistan.   
 


Analysis
 
Pakistan is not a country that would be expected to be making progress toward democratization. It is the global headquarters of al Qaeda transnational jihadist forces and has experienced a massive Islamist insurgency. Thousands of attacks have occurred in Pakistan over the past decade, killing at least 40,000 citizens, including the leader of the country's largest political party and former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, in 2007. The country's economy is in shambles, a situation made worse by collapsing infrastructure in its power and energy sectors and high levels of insecurity. Since the 1980s, it has experienced a growth in religious extremism and radicalism. And, most important, Pakistan has been ruled by its military-intelligence establishment for most of its history.
 
Nevertheless, the government's completion of a full five-year elected term on March 17 could be significant turning point. In accordance with the constitution, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has dissolved the parliament and Cabinet and will remain in his position for a few days, until the government and the opposition agree on a caretaker prime minister. The democratic transfer of power is not complete and will not be until after elections are held in May, but this is a time of many unprecedented developments in Pakistan's history -- developments made all the more significant by the many ills that are plaguing and will continue to plague the country in the near term.
 
The Paradox of Pakistan's Democracy
 
How is it possible that Pakistan can democratize at the same time that it is facing unprecedented challenges?
 

First, the constitutional process has been ingrained in Pakistan since its inception. Even though military autocrats have long ruled the country, it was created as the result of a constitutional process in which the demand for Muslim separatism from the founders of Pakistan led to the partition of British India in 1947. Second, the country's 1973 constitution is resilient, having survived two long periods of military rule: the regimes of Muhammad Zia ul-Haq (1977-88) and Pervez Musharraf (1999-2008). Third, for the first time the two main parties, the Pakistan People's Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, looked beyond their differences and, recognizing that it was always a loss for both sides, did not collaborate with the military to topple the other's government.
 
But most important, the military's ability to run the country has been reduced, largely due to the manner in which Musharraf, the country's last military ruler, governed the country. It was under Musharraf's rule that Pakistan saw an exponential growth of civil society, the rise of the private media and the country's judiciary asserting itself as an actor independent of the military. Certainly Musharraf did not intend for his doctrine of "enlightened moderation" to undermine his own government, but it did.
 
It was under Musharraf that Pakistan, in the wake of 9/11, was forced to revise its decades-old policy of using Islamist militants as instruments of foreign policy in relation to India and Afghanistan. That policy had allowed Islamist militants to establish deep roots in society and the state, especially the security establishment. This is why when Pakistan aligned with the United States in the war against jihadism, many of Islamabad's former proxies and their local and international allies responded by launching an insurgency that has worsened in the past seven years. Largely, Pakistan suffered because of the Taliban and al Qaeda spillover in the aftermath of the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.
 
The Military's Weakening Political Role
 
Until early 2007, the Musharraf-led military regime had things mostly under control -- there were still hundreds of terrorist attacks, but they targeted foreigners and religious minorities instead of the state. Musharraf's decision to sack the chief justice in March 2007 and the military raid to flush out extremists from a major mosque in the heart of the capital in July created a twin crisis for the regime. As a major pro-democracy movement began, jihadists dramatically increased their attacks, largely against police, military and intelligence targets.
 
Eventually, the military could no longer manage the situation. Musharraf was forced to resign as military chief in November, and one month later, Bhutto was assassinated. Bhutto's party and other secular parties then won most of the seats in the February 2008 elections. Six months later, Musharraf was forced to step down from the presidency.
 
Since the fall of Musharraf, the army and the country's main intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, have increasingly been off-balance -- in great part because they could not simultaneously deal with the jihadist insurgency and the growing demands for civilian rule. The position of the Pakistani military was further undermined when relations between Islamabad and Washington imploded in 2011, due largely to the May 2 killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by U.S. commandos.
 
Considering the overall situation of the country, military rule would only aggravate matters. Most social and political forces are no longer willing to tolerate the military in government. If the military tried to intervene, it would risk a major public uprising, which the jihadists would exploit. The United States and the international community could also impose sanctions. In fact, the $7.5 billion Kerry-Lugar aid package that the United States approved for Pakistan specifically states that the aid will be given to Pakistan only if there is a civilian government.
 
Agreement Is Key
 
All these factors have enabled civilian rule to grow in Pakistan. It should be noted that the military may not be in a position to intervene in politics, but it retains significant influence in policymaking, especially when it comes to foreign policy and national security matters. What has kept the democratic process going is that the men in uniform and their civilian counterparts so far have been more or less on the same page on most issues.
 
Of course, the performance of the outgoing government has been dismal, especially on the security and economic front. There is growing public dissatisfaction with the main parties, as seen in the rise of Imran Khan's movement and the recent popular march and sit-in organized by cleric-turned-politician Tahir-ul-Qadri. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that there will be enough public outrage for Khan's movement to make a strong showing in the May elections.
 
The major parties will retain considerable support from their core constituencies. In fact, according to two recent polls (especially the one organized by the independent democracy promotion group Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency), Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz seems to have the most support. Regardless of which party comes out on top, a more divided parliament is likely to emerge, meaning policymaking will be a struggle.
 
But as long as the political process moves forward, Islamabad will probably be able to continue to manage the country's numerous crises. The most significant challenge for the next government will be to deal with the effects of a U.S. and NATO drawdown from Afghanistan, something that threatens to worsen militancy in Pakistan. Washington and Islamabad are both hoping that a democratic government will produce enough political stability that the situation can be managed.
 
Ultimately, whether Pakistan continues on this path of democratization depends largely on the ability of the civilian forces to get along with one another.


Read more: The Unlikely Democratization of Pakistan | Stratfor
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« Reply #1358 on: April 08, 2013, 07:19:13 AM »



http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/08/world/asia/afghan-army-learning-to-fight-on-its-own.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130408&_r=0
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« Reply #1359 on: April 15, 2013, 07:32:57 PM »

Afghanistan and Pakistan After the 2014 NATO Drawdown
April 15, 2013 | 1045 GMT

Summary


Pakistan has been simultaneously grappling with a complex political transition and a domestic Taliban insurgency for many years. Now, Islamabad is under pressure to weaken its Taliban insurgency before NATO withdraws from Afghanistan since U.S.-Afghan Taliban talks are not going well and the Afghan Taliban could emerge in a position of power in 2014. A dominant Taliban in Afghanistan would represent a nightmare scenario for Islamabad because it could embolden the Pakistani Taliban and thwart Pakistan's desires to take control of its northern territories.
 


Analysis
 
In the latest violence in Pakistan's tribal belt along the Afghan border, up to 25 Pakistani soldiers and some 125 militants have been killed in a new counterjihadist offensive. Pakistani ground and air forces for the past week have sought to dislodge Taliban fighters from key heights in the Tirah Valley in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, one of the seven districts that make up the country's Federally Administered Tribal Areas. This represents the biggest offensive in the region over the past two years against fighters from Pakistan's main Taliban rebel grouping, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, and their allies from Laskhar-e-Islam, a local Taliban grouping.
 






.
 

Islamabad launched a major counterjihadist offensive nearly four years ago to try to regain control of its northwest, a region that since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan increasingly has fallen under the control of Pakistani Taliban rebels aligned with al Qaeda. The Pakistani armed forces have struggled to hold these areas long enough to build up civilian governance and pursue development projects to integrate its northwestern Pashtun periphery into the core. Civilian governance, however, has a long way to go before it can establish itself in the core of the country, and thus it is unlikely that peripheral areas affected by the Taliban insurgency will fall under Islamabad's writ anytime soon.
 
Pakistani Interests in Afghanistan
 
Pakistan has hoped a negotiated settlement between the United States and the Afghan Taliban ending the insurgency in Afghanistan would eventually help Islamabad deal with militants on Pakistani side of the border. But with just a little more than a year until the NATO drawdown concludes, talks between Washington and the Afghan jihadist movement have produced little in the way of results.
 
Exacerbating the uncertainty in Afghanistan, Afghan President Hamid Karzai -- who has been at the center of the post-Taliban Afghan state since its inception 11 years ago -- will be leaving office due to term limits. From Islamabad's perspective, a post-NATO Afghanistan that fails to include the Taliban in a political understanding would be disastrous.
 
An Afghan Taliban insurgency unencumbered by Western forces poses a direct national security threat to Pakistan because it offers the Pakistani Taliban havens in Afghanistan and could even reverse the dwindling fortunes of al Qaeda prime, which is headquartered in Pakistan. Already, Pakistani Taliban rebels displaced from the greater Swat region have found sanctuary in northeastern Afghan provinces such as Kunar, from where they periodically mount attacks in Pakistan. For this reason, the outgoing Pakistani government has spent the last few years trying to improve its relations with the Karzai administration. It also has reached out to anti-Taliban factions among Afghan ethnic minorities not represented in the central government. Both steps are meant to build additional checks on the Taliban.
 
The latest example of this outreach was the April 10 inauguration of the $18 million Liaquat Ali Khan Engineering University, built by Pakistan in Afghanistan's Balkh province. The province is a major stronghold of Afghanistan's second-largest ethnic community, the Tajiks, who have long been at odds with Islamabad given the latter's historical support for their enemies, the Taliban.
 
Though Pakistan has an incentive to continue building such ties, there has been a reversal in the move toward improved Kabul-Islamabad relations in recent weeks as both sides have accused the other of undermining the peace efforts. To a great extent, this souring of ties is due to the uncertainty in Kabul regarding who will assume power after Karzai in next year's presidential election. Progress in NATO-Afghan Taliban talks remains elusive, and the Afghan state could destabilize even before NATO forces depart.
 
Pakistan's Transition
 
Meanwhile, Pakistan is going through a historic transition of its own. Its first democratically elected government recently completed its five-year term and the country's first democratic transfer of power is expected to take place after May 11 elections. While Pakistan is slowly moving toward consolidating its democracy, the coming elections are expected to produce an even more fragmented parliament than before. Right-wing nationalist political forces, including former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League and Imran Khan's Pakistani Tehrik-i-Insaf, could make major gains at the expense of the center-left Pakistan People's Party, which led the coalition government until last month.
 
An even more divided parliament will complicate matters regarding the cross-border Taliban insurgencies on Pakistan's western flank. A fragmented legislature will complicate policymaking, and a right-wing government would create room for the Pakistani Taliban to exploit. These right-wing parties rely heavily on Islamists and the broader group of conservative voters -- many of whom do not favor what is perceived as a U.S. war that has undermined Pakistani security. The Pakistani political right has argued that if a superpower like the United States is being forced to talk to the Afghan Taliban, then Pakistan should be able to negotiate with its own citizens who have shifted toward supporting the Taliban in order to bring them back into the mainstream.
 
While this might seem logical, the bulk of the Pakistani Taliban subscribe to al Qaeda's transnational jihadism -- unlike the Afghan Taliban, who are nationalist jihadists and thus have self-imposed limits on their political goals for the state. Accordingly, the Pakistani Taliban wish to see Pakistan serve as a launchpad for the creation of an international caliphate. However, it could still be possible to negotiate with some elements within the Pakistani Taliban landscape and bring them into the political mainstream.
 
Many among Pakistan's strategic planners had hoped a settlement in Afghanistan would help Islamabad tackle its own Taliban problem. The thinking is that a withdrawal of U.S. forces and a power-sharing deal that empowers the Afghan Taliban would eliminate much of the basis for the militancy in Pakistan. The entry of the Afghan Taliban into the political mainstream would then create fissures within the Pakistani Taliban landscape, making the group much more militarily and politically manageable.
 
But there are two major factors that will likely prevent this outcome. First, the talks with the Afghan Taliban have stalled. Second, many among the Pakistani Taliban are fighting not because of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, but to topple the Pakistani state because they deem it "un-Islamic." This makes them unlikely to end their insurgency in the event of a breakthrough in Afghanistan.
 
An intensified civil war in post-NATO Afghanistan would only make matters worse for Pakistan because it would provide strategic depth for the Pakistani Taliban to operate more freely. A politically dominant Taliban  in post-NATO Afghanistan would also embolden the Pakistani Taliban to act against Islamabad.
 
If the Afghan Taliban are not part of a broad-based coalition government in Kabul, Pakistan will face serious difficulties in getting a handle on its own Taliban rebels. This explains why Pakistan has been pushing for a balance of power between the Taliban and anti-Taliban forces. Islamabad cannot hope to integrate its own Taliban and tribal areas into the federation if the main Taliban movement in Afghanistan is not brought into a post-NATO coalition government. Pakistan's own political transition is thus in many ways linked to political stability in Afghanistan. Ultimately, Pakistan will need to exert its energies to encourage the Afghan Taliban to reach a settlement with their opponents in the Afghan state and society. It must also continue to reach out to reconcilable elements among its own Taliban rebels through the help of neutral warlords. The key question is to what degree Afghan and Pakistani Taliban forces will be willing to accept the current constitutional setups in both countries.
.

Read more: Afghanistan and Pakistan After the 2014 NATO Drawdown | Stratfor
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« Reply #1360 on: April 17, 2013, 10:24:33 AM »



By MICHÈLE FLOURNOY AND MICHAEL O'HANLON
Afghanistan has held two presidential elections since 2001. Hamid Karzai won both, but the most recent (in 2009) was marred by irregularities such as stuffed ballot boxes and acrimony between Mr. Karzai and the international community. The Afghan constitution demands that Mr. Karzai step down next year, and by most accounts that is his intention. Who will succeed him?

On a recent trip to Afghanistan, almost everyone we spoke to highlighted next April's presidential election as a make-or-break event for the country—including its ability to fend off the Taliban and avoid backsliding into civil war.

What should be the international community's role over the next 12 months? Although the United States and other key outside nations shouldn't and won't try to pick a winner, they should do what they can to ensure that the next elections are freer and fairer than the last. Since the U.S. has promised at least $5 billion a year in future aid (for half a decade or more) and is considering spending $10 billion a year or more on a post-2014 military presence, Americans in particular have a stake in the electoral process and outcome.

Put more bluntly: If Afghans either hold a fraudulent election or elect a corrupt future leader, the odds of the U.S. Congress providing the expected aid are slim to none. This is also the case for other countries. The U.S. should, therefore, voice its views now rather than simply cut off aid later if the election goes badly.

As Afghans remember all too well, the Soviet-installed government of Mohammad Najibullah fell not when the Soviet Union left Afghanistan in 1989 but when Moscow cut off the money three years later. When the Taliban overran Kabul in 1996, Najibullah was tortured and murdered. All too aware of this history, Afghan reformers, opposition politicians and members of civil society are asking Americans and others to help them make their election a success.

No Afghan has yet announced a candidacy for next year's election, but many names are being floated. They include current or former chiefs of staff to the president, Mr. Karzai's brother Qayum, Minister of Education Ghulam Farooq Wardak, Minister of Finance Omar Zakhilwel, Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul, former Foreign Minister and presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah, and former minister Haneef Atmar.

There is much talk in Kabul these days about the desirability of finding a "consensus" candidate or slate. The idea here is to use Afghanistan's consultative traditions to avoid a divisive election while the country's democracy is so fragile.

In principle, this is a reasonable and even appealing idea. In practice, it risks having President Karzai play the role of kingmaker, since it is hard to see how a consensus would otherwise develop in a place with such strong political rivalries and with so many people clearly angling to be president. The devil will be in the details of a consensus candidate if one emerges.

Against this confusing backdrop, the international community can help by focusing on a few goals:

First, remind Afghans that Americans and others will exercise their own sovereign rights to determine future aid levels once Afghanistan exercises its sovereign right to choose a new leader. The quality of the election process and the quality of the new president's leadership will both affect decisions on aid. This is just common sense and should be conveyed as a matter of fact, not a menacing threat.

Second, help ensure the independence and integrity of the Afghan watchdog groups charged with overseeing the electoral process. For all the criticism of past Afghan elections, it was these Afghan groups—the Independent Electoral Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission—that uncovered the fraud and threw out the bad ballots. Whether or not they include foreigners, future appointees to the commissions should be selected with the input of parliament, and Mr. Karzai shouldn't be able to dismiss them once appointed. This issue is more important than many others currently being debated in Kabul, including redoing voter registration and issuing new voter cards.

Third, watch how the campaigns play out starting later this year. Afghan state media need to give reasonable time to all candidates, including the opposition. Vote-buying and voter intimidation need to be deterred and prevented through timely investigations of allegations. The electoral commissions will do the investigating, but outside forces must stand behind them.

Fourth, give technical, moral and if necessary financial support to fledgling Afghan political parties—provided they have multiethnic memberships and platforms, and promise to eschew violence. When U.S. officials visit Afghanistan, they should meet not only with members of the executive branch but also with a broad range of next-generation Afghan politicians and civil-society members who are the real hope for the country's future.

American passivity in the coming Afghan elections could be just as counterproductive as American assertiveness (including some nasty public spats with Mr. Karzai) was last time around. The verdict on the war in Afghanistan may be settled less on the country's battlefields than at its polling stations next spring. That election is already sneaking up on us—there is little time to lose.

Ms. Flournoy, a co-founder of the Center for a New American Security, was under secretary of defense for policy from 2009-11. Mr. O'Hanlon is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
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« Reply #1361 on: May 09, 2013, 11:00:19 AM »

I must confess, I am not at all clear at what the point is for the US , , ,

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

Karzai Ensures a Continued U.S. Presence in Afghanistan
May 9, 2013 | 1518 GMT

Summary

JOHN MOORE/Getty Images

U.S. soldiers in Kunar province, Afghanistan, in 2011

It appears the United States will maintain a robust military presence in Afghanistan well after its withdrawal in 2014. In a speech at Kabul University on May 9, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he would be willing to allow the U.S. military to keep nine bases in Afghanistan. The details are not set, but this would indicate that Karzai sees that he must have U.S. security support in order to keep shaping his desired outcome in Afghanistan.

Analysis

The essence of the announcement is not surprising, but the timing and the large number of bases mentioned is telling of Karzai's strategy. Currently, his attention is split between upcoming elections, for which he must choose a successor, and the multiparty peace negotiations that so far have made almost no progress. These bases would give the United States the option to leave a sizable and geographically dispersed force in the country as long as it continues to work with Karzai -- and that is the key. Karzai is making himself indispensable to the United States so that Washington cannot push him aside and work through someone else.

The proposed bases will initially anger the Taliban and pose a serious obstacle to negotiations. However, the talks are already stalled, and the large number of bases means that Karzai's government and the United States will have a point to negotiate down from. Karzai can use the bases' potential existence as leverage to get some concessions from the Taliban in ongoing talks.

Lastly on the political front, the announcement rebuffs several of the other third-party actors that have a stake in the country and that are clamoring for influence, such as Pakistan, Iran and China. Karzai clearly stated that the United States will continue to have sway in the system, unlike in Iraq, where the absence of an agreement led to a full withdrawal, creating an opportunity for Iran to step in and assume an influential role. Karzai is avoiding a similar outcome in Afghanistan by cementing the U.S. presence now.

From the Pakistani point of view, U.S. bases have benefits and drawbacks. Islamabad has been hoping that the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from its Western neighbor would eliminate some of the justification for the Taliban to continue fighting -- a situation that could help Pakistan regain control over its own Taliban rebels. U.S. bases in Afghanistan undermine that objective, but they help mitigate the vacuum that the Pakistanis were afraid would further undermine their security, especially if there is no negotiated settlement with the Afghan Taliban.

The announcement means that the Taliban will have to show that these bases will not help the Afghan state establish security, and an escalated offensive on their part can be expected. It also gives the Taliban fuel for their claims that the United States does not intend to give up its occupation of the country.

On the security front, Karzai is acknowledging that a U.S. military presence is absolutely necessary for his government's survival. The Afghan National Security Forces have taken the lead in all operations and will soon assume responsibility for the entire territory of the country, but the fact remains that they still require massive support from U.S. firepower in order to be combat-effective. Losing this support at the end of 2014 would be a security nightmare. International funding, predominantly from the United States, is also a critical reason that the Afghan National Security Forces are even able to exist. If the United States were summarily rebuffed from the country, it would have little incentive to continue this funding for long.

Karzai is weak on his own, and given the country's fractures, anyone who wants to control it needs a great deal of military strength. A U.S. commitment to Afghanistan lends U.S. strength to Kabul. Without that, the fight for political pre-eminence in the country would continue.

Read more: Karzai Ensures a Continued U.S. Presence in Afghanistan | Stratfor
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« Reply #1362 on: May 11, 2013, 01:48:22 PM »

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« Reply #1363 on: May 11, 2013, 03:03:07 PM »

Op-Ed Contributor
Pakistan’s Tyrannical Majority
By MANAN AHMED ASIF
Published: May 10, 2013


JUST after the stroke of midnight on Aug. 14, 1947, the Peshawar broadcast station of All India Radio crackled to life: “This is Pakistan Broadcasting Service.” Next came the words of the Urdu-language poet Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi: “Pakistan bananay walay, Pakistan Mubarak” — “Oh, maker of Pakistan, congratulations on Pakistan.”


On Saturday, Pakistanis will head to the polls to choose a new government; for the first time in 66 years, a democratically elected administration has completed its term. Given Pakistan’s tumultuous past, this is an impressive achievement, but it should not prevent citizens from asking the candidates vying for their votes: what kind of Pakistan have you made?

The makers of Pakistan were peasants and laborers. In 1940, they passed a resolution in Lahore to demand a separate homeland for Muslims and an end to British colonial occupation. In 1946, their votes brought a political party, the Muslim League, to power. They chose Muhammad Ali Jinnah, a modernist technocrat, as their leader.

Jinnah asked his party’s legislators to focus on the well-being of the “masses and the poor” and demanded that “every one of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his color, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges and obligations.” Men like Muhammad Zafrulla Khan (an Ahmadi diplomat) and Raja Amir Ahmad Khan (a Shiite noble) had worked alongside Jinnah for decades to fulfill this dream of equality.

Yet the birth of Pakistan was not auspicious for minorities. The original claim of Pakistan — religious equality — was the first claim proved false. Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, though he became the first foreign minister, was hounded by religious conservatives, who branded him an apostate because of his Ahmadi faith. Ahmadis, followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908), consider themselves part of the Muslim tradition but have faced stern resistance from Sunni Muslims, who accused them of following a false prophet.

In 1974, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto passed an amendment to the Pakistani Constitution declaring anyone who did not believe that Muhammad was the last prophet a non-Muslim. And in the 1980s, the military dictator Gen. Muhammad Zia ul-Haq passed punitive laws that defined the practice of the Ahmadi faith as a “blasphemous” criminal offense. Ahmadis are allowed to vote only for parliamentary seats reserved for non-Muslims, effectively disenfranchising them. Since they refuse to declare themselves non-Muslims, they don’t vote.

Shiites have not fared much better. Raja Amir Ahmad left Pakistan, soon after 1947, fearing for the safety of his community. In the last five years, more than 1,000 Shiites, belonging to the Hazara community, have been targeted and killed in the city of Quetta. In February, when 84 Shiites were killed in a bombing attack, Quetta’s Hazaras refused to bury their murdered kin, demanding that the government ensure their safety. The corpses, wrapped in burial shrouds in coffins, were kept on the streets and mourned by thousands. This act of civic protest shook the nation, but it did little to prompt action from the state.

Today, tolerance is under siege from all directions. Even Imran Khan, the sports star turned politician — who enjoys a near-divine status among young, urban Pakistanis — has contributed to the marginalization of minorities. On May 4, he said at a rally that he did not regard Ahmadis as Muslims and would not campaign for their votes. Mr. Khan has based his campaign on a message of “change” reminiscent of President Obama’s in 2008. His statement on Ahmadis was therefore particularly damaging and chilling.

As a candidate marketing himself as a political outsider, he could have opened up a national conversation on equality of citizenship and reached out to all voters, including Ahmadis, Hindus and Christians. Instead he reaffirmed the political exclusion of minorities and legitimized intolerance in the eyes of his millions of idealistic young followers, who quickly echoed his dismissal in online networks.

Over the last five years, hundreds of Ahmadis have been targeted and killed in Pakistan’s cities. In 2010, 94 were killed in a terrorist attack in Lahore, and since then their burial grounds, mosques and homes have been under assault. There has been no response from the government, which still refuses to grant them equal status as citizens of Pakistan. Christian communities have also been targeted, and prominent Christian leaders, like Shahbaz Bhatti, the minister of minorities, have been assassinated. While the state has done little to punish these acts, various militant organizations have brazenly claimed credit for them.

The candidates campaigning in this election, rather than arguing for the rights of all Pakistanis, have further marginalized religious minorities and given license to those who attack them.

Despite the rise of satellite television and online media that have allowed mass participation in politics outside of old patronage networks, a new form of majoritarian tyranny has taken hold. It is built on the classic anxieties of the rising middle class: the fear of the other, the conspirator among us.

Today, the verses of another poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, who was imprisoned and exiled by Pakistan’s military dictators, seem more appropriate: “Chalay chalo kay woh manzil abhi nahin aaye” — “Keep on walking, for we are not at the destination yet.”

Manan Ahmed Asif, an assistant professor of history at Columbia, is the author of “Where the Wild Frontiers Are: Pakistan and the American Imagination.”
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« Reply #1364 on: June 02, 2013, 07:54:03 AM »

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghanistan-uprising-20130602,0,877331.story
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« Reply #1365 on: June 05, 2013, 08:56:50 PM »

http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2013/05/31-successful-outcome-afghanistan-flournoy-ohanlon-allen

From the report summary:

The United States can still achieve its strategic objectives in Afghanistan if it maintains and adequately resources its current policy course – and if Afghan partners in particular do their part, including by successfully navigating the shoals of their presidential election and transition in 2014. The core reasons for this judgment are the impressive progress of the Afghan security forces and the significant strides made in areas such as agriculture, health and education, combined with the promising pool of human capital that is increasingly influential within the country and that may be poised to gain greater influence in the country’s future politics. However, the United States and other international security and development partners would risk snatching defeat from the jaws of something that could still resemble victory if, due to frustration with President Hamid Karzai or domestic budgetary pressures, they were to accelerate disengagement between now and 2014 and under-resource their commitment to Afghanistan after 2014
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« Reply #1366 on: June 25, 2013, 05:54:59 PM »

 The Reality of Afghanistan
Geopolitical Weekly
Tuesday, June 25, 2013 - 04:39 Print Text Size
Stratfor

By George Friedman

The United States made a decision to withdraw from Afghanistan several years ago. That decision carried with it an inevitable logic. Once the United States resolved itself to leave at any cost, its failures up to that point were laid bare, as were the vulnerabilities of the government it had spent more than a decade building. The door was opened for the enemies of the regime of President Hamid Karzai -- the man who has been synonymous with the post-Taliban government. All that was left to do was wait for the American pullback.

U.S. Failures

Elements within the U.S. government have not been shy in their criticisms of the Afghan government and the Afghan military as being corrupt and incompetent. Some units have been effective, but it is well known that the Taliban created a program designed to penetrate post-Taliban institutions shortly after those institutions were created. At the most senior level, the Taliban paid, through family members, substantial sums to buy the loyalties of individuals. These bribes worked partly because there was a lot of money involved and partly because people realized that once the United States left, government loyalists would be on their own. This is not a phenomenon unique to Afghanistan -- people would prefer to live, and those in question were hedging their bets.

Separately, there was a significant enlistment of Taliban sympathizers into the incipient Afghan military. This trend was less formal but even more effective. Soon there were Taliban supporters at several levels of the military, something we saw during the wave of unexpected assassinations of NATO personnel by people believed to be loyal to the regime. These are what came to be called green-on-blue attacks.

Therefore, Afghan forces are fundamentally unreliable. Not everyone has to be in contact with the Taliban to render the force unusable; a single person prepared and able to signal planned operations renders any operation either useless or disastrous.

When it created the Afghan force, the United States was extraordinarily lax in monitoring recruitment. Of course, the defense is that most of the trainers had no way to distinguish the loyal from the subversive. This was widely experienced in Vietnam. There was a bartender at a favorite American hangout in Saigon who turned out to have been a colonel in the North Vietnamese Army for years.

But this brings us to one of the most serious U.S. failures in Afghanistan: a cultural contempt for the Taliban. As it did in Vietnam, Washington failed to understand that the absence of U.S.-style bureaucracy and technology didn't mean that the enemy could not identify opportunities or that it lacked the will to take advantage of them.

The Taliban have suffered heavy losses, but in the end what matters on the battlefield is not the absolute size of the force but the correlation of forces. The problem with the Afghan force is that while there are some reliable units, it is impossible to identify them. Moreover, Karzai's ability to cleanse the force of Taliban sympathizers was thwarted by the fact that his own bureaucracy was seen as unreliable. As the United States learned from the South Vietnamese army and the Vietnamization program, the penetration of your force makes your operations ineffective. It gives the enemy insight into your tactical organization and strategic thinking and, most important, it sows uncertainty and distrust.

In a civil war, the viability of the government is not a function of ideas such as legitimacy or international recognition. It is a function of your ability to reliably assert your presence in regions. There are tribes and other groups in Afghanistan that have a high degree of coherence. It is these entities -- not the Afghan government -- that can and will challenge the Taliban. There are a few possible outcomes, including total fragmentation, but the creation of a sustainable national government by the Karzai regime isn't one of them. More important, the United States doesn't believe it is a possibility either.
U.S. Strategy

The American strategic priority is to end the war, leaving some forces to fight al Qaeda but abandoning any attempt to pacify the country. The United States understands that the Karzai government -- or the one that succeeds it -- will be weak and fragmented, but it would prefer that it at least relegate the Taliban to being merely a faction, enabling a transition to occur within the existing framework. The Taliban might well consider this strategy, but the coalition would be a sham. It is unlikely that Karzai could have built a viable force to counter the Taliban. But it is certain that he failed to counter the Taliban. He has no options left, and many of his senior aides know it. They are making their own plans to leave the country or are reaching their own secret accommodations with the Taliban.

I would guess that the United States knows this is going on, but it has no intention of policing Karzai's house. The United States has stated plans to maintain a sizable military presence through 2014, but its ultimate goal is to leave. Washington understands that the Taliban are the single-most powerful force in Afghanistan but also that there are other factions that could block them. However, the United States is not prepared to plunge into the complexities of Afghan politics. Its failures leading up to this moment have left it with no confidence in its ability to do so -- and with no interest in trying.

The U.S. decision to negotiate openly with the Taliban followed more than two years of relatively secret talks. Many issues have already been discussed, and there is an understanding in Washington of the Taliban and what matters to them, and vice versa. When Karzai got upset over the apparent embassy in Qatar, the Taliban lowered the flag. This is highly significant; the Taliban do not want to make it more difficult for the United States to bring Karzai to the negotiating table. Having made their point, they retreated at America's request.

In many ways, the United States is more comfortable with the Taliban than with the other tribes in the country because secret negotiations have left Washington with a better understanding of the Taliban. But Washington's main objective is to leave. It would like to do so gracefully, but graceful or not, it's happening. However, I would argue that the United States believes the Taliban have sufficient coalition partners to wield the most influence in a post-U.S. Afghanistan.

International legitimacy and U.S. recognition are of secondary importance to everyone. What matters is the military reality on the ground. Karzai does not have a reliable force, and soon there will be virtually no U.S. presence in the country. The Karzai regime's fate is sealed. What may be open is the degree to which the Taliban control the country after the U.S. exit, and whether the pretense that there is such a thing as a Karzai government is maintained. The United States will make some cosmetic concessions to Karzai, but there will be no strategic adjustment.

The United States is on its way out. In this negotiation, Karzai is a military cripple. The Taliban are weaker than they were but stronger and more coherent than anyone else in the country. And there are other factions. This is the reality in Afghanistan.

Read more: The Reality of Afghanistan | Stratfor
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« Reply #1367 on: July 07, 2013, 10:56:27 AM »

Posted without comment...
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« Reply #1368 on: July 08, 2013, 10:22:46 AM »

http://blogs.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jul/8/afghanistans-looming-partition/?page=all#pagebreak

CHELLANEY: Afghanistan’s looming partition
It may be time to think outside the borders
by Brahma Chellaney
Monday, July 8, 2013

 
The United States, still mired in a protracted Afghan war that has exacted a staggering cost in blood and treasure, has agreed to formal peace talks with the Taliban, its main battlefield opponent. With the Obama administration already reducing U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan after almost 12 years of fighting, the talks in Doha, Qatar, are largely intended to allow it to do so “honorably.”

How the end of U.S.-led combat operations shapes Afghanistan’s future will affect the security of countries nearby and beyond. Here the most important question is whether the fate of Afghanistan, which was created as a buffer between czarist Russia and British India, will be — or should be — different from that of Iraq and Libya (two other imperial creations where the United States has intervened militarily in recent years).

Foreign military intervention can effect regime change, but it evidently cannot re-establish order based on centralized government. Iraq has been partitioned in all but name into Shia, Sunni and Kurdish regions, while Libya seems headed toward a similar tripartite, tribal-based territorial arrangement. In Afghanistan, too, an Iraq-style “soft” partition may be the best possible outcome.

Afghanistan’s large ethnic-minority groups already enjoy de facto autonomy, which they secured after their Northern Alliance played a central role in the U.S.-led ouster of the Taliban from power in late 2001. Having enjoyed virtual self-rule since then, they will fiercely resist falling back under the sway of the Pashtuns, who ruled the country for most of its history.

For their part, the Pashtuns, despite their tribal divisions, will not be content with control of a rump Afghanistan consisting of its current eastern and southeastern provinces. They will eventually seek integration with fellow Pushtuns in Pakistan, across the British-drawn Durand Line — a border that Afghanistan has never recognized. The demand for a “Greater Pashtunistan” would then challenge the territorial integrity of Pakistan (itself another artificial imperial construct).

The fact that Afghanistan’s ethnic groups are concentrated in distinct geographical zones simplifies partition and makes the resulting borders more likely to last, unlike those drawn by colonial officials, who invented countries with no national identity or historical roots, lumping together disparate ethnic groups. Afghanistan’s ethnic divide also runs along a linguistic fault line, with the Pashto language of the Pashtuns pitted against the more widely spoken Dari (a Persian dialect). Indeed, both geographically and demographically, Afghanistan’s non-Pashtun groups account for more than half of the country, with Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras alone making up close to 50 percent of the population.

After waging the longest war in its history, at a cost of tens of thousands of lives and nearly $1 trillion, the United States is combat-weary and financially strapped. The American effort, pursued in coordination with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, to cut a deal with the Pashtun-based, Pakistan-backed Taliban is stirring deep unease among the non-Pashtun groups, which suffered greatly under the Taliban and its five-year rule. (The historically persecuted Hazaras, for example, suffered several large-scale massacres.)

The rupture of Mr. Karzai’s political alliance with non-Pashtun leaders has also aided ethnic polarization. Some non-Pashtun power brokers continue to support Mr. Karzai, but most others now lead the opposition National Front.

These leaders are unlikely to accept any power-sharing arrangement that includes the Taliban. In fact, they suspect that Mr. Karzai’s ultimate goal is to restore Pashtun dominance throughout Afghanistan.

Their misgivings have been strengthened by the “Peace Process Road Map to 2015,” a document prepared by the Karzai-constituted Afghan High Peace Council that sketches several potential concessions to the Taliban and Pakistan, ranging from the Taliban’s recognition as a political party to a role for Pakistan in Afghanistan’s internal affairs. The road map dangles the carrot of Cabinet posts and provincial governorships to prominent Taliban figures.

The most serious problem today is that the country’s ethnic tensions and recriminations threaten to undermine the cohesion of the fledgling, multi-ethnic Afghan army. Indeed, the splits today resemble those that occurred when Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, an exit that led to civil war and the Taliban’s eventual capture of the capital, Kabul.

This time, the non-Pashtun communities are better armed and prepared to defend their interests after the U.S. withdrawal. Thus, in seeking to co-opt the Taliban, the United States is not only bestowing legitimacy on a thuggish militia, it also risks unwittingly reigniting Afghanistan’s ethnic strife, which would most likely tear apart the country for good.

This raises a fundamental question: Is Afghanistan’s territorial unity really essential for regional or international security?

To be sure, the sanctity of existing borders has become a powerful norm in world politics. Yet this norm has permitted the emergence of ungovernable and unmanageable states, whose internal wars spill across international boundaries, fueling regional tensions and insecurity.

With a war-exhausted United States having run out of patience, outside forces are in no position to prevent Afghanistan’s partition along Iraqi or post-Yugoslav lines, with the bloodiest battles expected to rage over control of ethnically mixed strategic areas, including Kabul. In this scenario, Pakistani generals, instead of continuing to sponsor Afghan Pashtun militant groups such as the Taliban and their allies such as the Haqqani network, would be compelled to fend off a potentially grave threat to Pakistan’s unity.

A weak, partitioned Afghanistan may not be a desirable outcome, but a “soft” partition now would be far better than a “hard” partition later, after years of chaos and bloodletting — and infinitely better than the medieval Taliban’s return to power and a fresh reign of terror. Indeed, partition may be the only way to prevent Afghanistan from sliding into large-scale civil war and thwart transnational terrorists from re-establishing a base of operations amid the rubble.

Brahma Chellaney, a geostrategist, is the author of “Water, Peace and War” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013).

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1369 on: July 09, 2013, 09:59:35 AM »

Who could have seen this coming?  rolleyes  That said, it must be said that Bush left the US in really bad shape in Afpakia.

U.S. Considers Faster Pullout in Afghanistan
By MARK MAZZETTI and MATTHEW ROSENBERG
Published: July 8, 2013 514 Comments

  

WASHINGTON — Increasingly frustrated by his dealings with President Hamid Karzai, President Obama is giving serious consideration to speeding up the withdrawal of United States forces from Afghanistan and to a “zero option” that would leave no American troops there after next year, according to American and European officials.
Enlarge This Image
Larry Downing/Reuters

The Obama-Karzai relationship has cooled recently.


Mr. Obama is committed to ending America’s military involvement in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and Obama administration officials have been negotiating with Afghan officials about leaving a small “residual force” behind. But his relationship with Mr. Karzai has been slowly unraveling, and reached a new low after an effort last month by the United States to begin peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar.

Mr. Karzai promptly repudiated the talks and ended negotiations with the United States over the long-term security deal that is needed to keep American forces in Afghanistan after 2014.

A videoconference between Mr. Obama and Mr. Karzai designed to defuse the tensions ended badly, according to both American and Afghan officials with knowledge of it. Mr. Karzai, according to those sources, accused the United States of trying to negotiate a separate peace with both the Taliban and their backers in Pakistan, leaving Afghanistan’s fragile government exposed to its enemies.

Mr. Karzai had made similar accusations in the past. But those comments were delivered to Afghans — not to Mr. Obama, who responded by pointing out the American lives that have been lost propping up Mr. Karzai’s government, the officials said.

The option of leaving no troops in Afghanistan after 2014 was gaining momentum before the June 27 video conference, according to the officials. But since then, the idea of a complete military exit similar to the American military pullout from Iraq has gone from being considered the worst-case scenario — and a useful negotiating tool with Mr. Karzai — to an alternative under serious consideration in Washington and Kabul.

The officials cautioned that no decisions had been made on the pace of the pullout and exactly how many American troops to leave behind in Afghanistan. The goal remains negotiating a long-term security deal, they said, but the hardening of negotiating stances on both sides could result in a repeat of what happened in Iraq, where a deal failed to materialize despite widespread expectations that a compromise would be reached and American forces would remain.

“There’s always been a zero option, but it was not seen as the main option,” said a senior Western official in Kabul. “It is now becoming one of them, and if you listen to some people in Washington, it is maybe now being seen as a realistic path.”

The official, however, said he hoped some in the Karzai government were beginning to understand that the zero option was now a distinct possibility, and that “they’re learning now, not later, when it’s going to be too late.”

The Obama administration’s internal deliberations about the future of the Afghan war were described by officials in Washington and Kabul who hold a range of views on how quickly the United States should leave Afghanistan and how many troops it should leave behind. Spokesmen for the White House and Pentagon declined to comment.

Within the Obama administration, the way the United States extricates itself from Afghanistan has been a source of tension between civilian and military officials since Mr. Obama took office. American commanders in Afghanistan have generally pushed to keep as many American troops in the country as long as possible, creating friction with White House officials urging a speedier military withdrawal.

But with frustrations mounting over the glacial pace of initiating peace talks with the Taliban, and with American relations with the Karzai government continuing to deteriorate, it is unclear whether the Pentagon and American commanders in Afghanistan would vigorously resist if the White House pushed for a full-scale pullout months ahead of schedule.
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(Page 2 of 2)

As it stands, the number of American troops in Afghanistan — around 63,000 — is scheduled to go down to 34,000 by February 2014. The White House has said the vast majority of troops would be out of Afghanistan by the end of that year, although it now appears that the schedule could accelerate to bring the bulk of the troops — if not all of them — home by next summer, as the annual fighting season winds down.



Talks between the United States and Afghanistan over a long-term security deal have faltered in recent months over the Afghan government’s insistence that the United States guarantee Afghanistan’s security and, in essence, commit to declaring Pakistan the main obstacle in the fight against militancy in the region.

The guarantees sought by Afghanistan, if implemented, could possibly compel the United States to attack Taliban havens in Pakistan long after 2014, when the Obama administration has said it hoped to dial back the C.I.A.’s covert drone war there.

Mr. Karzai also wants the Obama administration to specify the number of troops it would leave in Afghanistan after 2014 and make a multiyear financial commitment to the Afghan Army and the police.

The White House announced last month that long-delayed talks with the Taliban would begin in Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban opened what amounts to an embassy-in-exile, complete with their old flag and a plaque with their official name, “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.”

But the highly choreographed announcement backfired, with Afghan officials saying the talks gave the insurgents undeserved legitimacy and accusing the Obama administration of negotiating behind Mr. Karzai’s back.

To the surprise of American officials, Mr. Karzai then abruptly ended the negotiations over a long-term security deal. He has said the negotiations would not resume until the Taliban met directly with representatives of the Afghan government, essentially linking the security negotiations to a faltering peace process and making the United States responsible for persuading the Taliban to talk to the Afghan government.

The Taliban have refused for years to meet directly with Afghan government negotiators, deriding Mr. Karzai and his ministers as American puppets.

There have been other points of contention as well. Meeting with foreign ambassadors recently, Mr. Karzai openly mused that the West was to blame for the rise of radical Islam. It was not a message that many of the envoys, whose countries have lost thousands of people in Afghanistan and spent billions of dollars fighting the Taliban, welcomed.

The troop decisions are also being made against a backdrop of growing political uncertainty in Afghanistan and rising concerns that the country’s presidential election could either be delayed for months or longer, or be so flawed that many Afghans would not accept its results.

Preparations for the election, scheduled for next April, are already falling behind. United Nations officials have begun to say the elections probably cannot be held until next summer, at the earliest. If the voting does not occur before Afghanistan’s mountain passes are closed by snow in late fall, it will be extremely difficult to hold a vote until 2015.

Of potentially bigger concern are the rumors that Mr. Karzai, in his second term and barred from serving a third, is trying to find a way to stay in power. Mr. Karzai has repeatedly insisted that he plans to step down next year.

The ripple effects of a complete American withdrawal would be significant. Western officials said the Germans and Italians — the two main European allies who have committed to staying on with substantial forces — would leave as well. Any smaller nations that envisioned keeping token forces would most likely have no way of doing so.

And Afghanistan would probably see far less than the roughly $8 billion in annual military and civilian aid it is expecting in the coming years — an amount that covers more than half the government’s annual spending.
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« Reply #1370 on: July 09, 2013, 11:27:11 AM »

"it must be said that Bush left the US in really bad shape in Afpakia"

It was said, if you break it you must fix it.  But Iraq and Afghanistan were already broken.  We had a right of self defense in Afghanistan and Pakistan to take out the elements that were attacking us.  Then we had unrealistic hopes of bridging together a peaceful modern democracy that we could leave behind.  In war, there are always mistakes and miscalculations.  The challenge is how quickly you recognize them and adjust the strategy.  If the end result after 12 years is disaster, the answer in hindsight was to only take out the hostile elements and not try to re-shape the society.
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« Reply #1371 on: July 09, 2013, 12:13:42 PM »

Col. Ralph Peters advocated kicking ass and leaving.  By staying and not following through (and choosing an utterly incoherent strategy), Bush left behind the worst of all possible worlds.  Michael Yon, the first to report from the field the success of the Surge in Iraq, was reporting back in 2006 that we were losing and losing badly.

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« Reply #1372 on: July 09, 2013, 02:07:57 PM »

"Col. Ralph Peters advocated kicking ass and leaving."

As was my thought on Iraq.  Had we used a large stick and left, we leave with a perception of strength (and hatred, criticism, etc.).  In the current plan, facing trouble and then leaving, we leave with a perception of weakness.  Either way, American military resources and personnel had better have a clear mission and justification for being in harm's way.

Unfortunately all choices are always current tense, not hindsight.  What do we do now?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1373 on: July 09, 2013, 03:01:37 PM »

Too late now, too much of a clusterfcuk, no coherent strategy in sight, and our credibility-- both with the American people and with the people of Afpakia-- is gone.

I would not want to be there on behalf of the US, nor would I want my son there.
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ya
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« Reply #1374 on: July 09, 2013, 08:42:40 PM »

I like Brahma Chellaney's article above...but pl. note he is an India hawk!. It is quite possible that the Northern Alliance will rule N Afghanistan and the Pashtuns the border area with Pak. Elimination of the Durrand line will occur in due time...with loss of territory to pak. Things will get interesting, once the US leaves next year!.
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« Reply #1375 on: July 09, 2013, 11:33:19 PM »

YA:

Your views on Afpakia carry considerable weight with most of us around here.  Your thoughts on the apparent coming US bug-out?

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« Reply #1376 on: July 12, 2013, 09:19:03 AM »

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/11/afghan-judges-free-sahar-guls-torturers

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

Afghan Women Worry as the U.S. Departure Looms
Speeding up the U.S. pullout endangers gains that were hard-won.

 By Martha Roby And Niki Tsongas

In many ways, Herat University is like any other college campus. Located in an active commercial center, the institution has helped create opportunities for thousands of young people. But unlike most college students, almost half of Herat's student body learns and lives knowing that their access to education—and most of the basic freedoms they enjoy— could be suddenly ripped away.

The bustling city of Herat, Afghanistan, near the Iranian border, has become a haven for youthful energy and modern thinking. Here, young women especially have thrived, taking advantage of previously nonexistent opportunities in the city and at the university, where they make up 40% of the student body, studying for careers including medicine and academia. It is a far cry from the historic and widespread subjugation of Afghan women by the Taliban.


This week the White House announced that it is considering several options in preparation for the departure of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, which range from leaving a residual advisory force to full troop withdrawal. As the administration works to bring home our servicemen and women, Afghan women find themselves at a critical juncture. The pullout has many dangers for Afghans and for the legacy of American sacrifice, but leaving millions of Afghan women exposed to a possibly resurgent Taliban would be especially lamentable.

The gains in women's equality were achieved by several means: Afghan officials who bucked fundamentalist hardliners; courageous Afghan women who braved reprisal to enter the male-dominated political, military, business and academic worlds; and dogged support from U.S. and international coalition forces to help build up women's confidence and create opportunities.

After more than a decade of war, the U.S. and its allies can point to significant progress toward equal rights for women as a remarkable achievement in Afghanistan. Female leaders have risen to positions of power in the Afghan parliament and government agencies. Girls are being educated in droves and looking ahead to college and careers. And in 2009, President Hamid Karzai signed legislation criminalizing violence against women and establishing basic legal protections for them.

But even now, there are reports of an anti-equality movement gaining traction in the Afghan government. Concern is mounting that the drawdown of coalition forces will leave a vacuum in which Afghan women in Herat and elsewhere see their rights vanish. One of America's biggest successes would quickly spiral into failure.

That's why Afghan and American women leaders are working to prevent backsliding.

In May, our bipartisan group of six U.S. congresswomen visited several locations around Afghanistan. We were the first congressional delegation ever to spend time in Herat. There and elsewhere our delegation met with an impressive group of Afghan women, including cadets at the country's military academy, staffers at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, university students, government officials and community leaders.

Their stunning accounts of life in Afghanistan before and after Taliban rule helped to personalize something we already knew: Afghan women are vital to the stability of their country. Countless studies have demonstrated that gains for women have a direct positive effect on sustainable development, economic growth and peace. Women's equality is more than a moral issue: The investment in women and girls is a matter of national security for Afghanistan and America.

The U.S. military and the Obama administration must formulate a comprehensive action plan for the preservation of women's rights after the pullout. America must utilize its influence to support free and fair elections, with women fully participating. We must also support the expansion of opportunities for Afghan women, especially in government.

In addition, U.S. and international monetary contributions to Afghanistan should be set aside for programs and organizations that promote women's rights. The Afghan government does not allocate much funding to these efforts, so reinforcement from the outside is a worthwhile cause.

Ultimately Afghanistan must carry the baton on this issue. But having elevated women's place in Afghan society—anathema to the Taliban—the U.S. must depart the country in a responsible way that secures these gains. When history grades America's involvement in Afghanistan, the status of Afghan women in the coming years will weigh heavily on that judgment.

Ms. Roby (R., Ala.) and Ms. Tsongas (D., Mass.) are the chairwoman and ranking member, respectively, of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2013, 02:55:44 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
bigdog
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« Reply #1377 on: July 19, 2013, 09:09:08 PM »

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/139584/daniel-markey/a-new-drone-deal-for-pakistan?page=show

(Sidebar: Guro, given the variety of threads where drone articles have been placed, would you mind if I started a "drone/UAV/UAS" thread so that these could be centralized?)


From the article:

For all its successes, the U.S. drone program in Pakistan is unlikely to survive much longer in its current form. Less than a week after his election on May 11, Pakistan’s new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, reportedly declared to his cabinet that “the policy of protesting against drone strikes for public consumption, while working behind the scenes to make them happen, is not on.” This fall, Pakistan’s national and provincial assemblies will elect a new president, likely a Sharif loyalist, and the prime minister will also select a new army chief. It is safe to say that these men are unlikely to follow their predecessors in offering tacit endorsements of the United States' expansive counterterrorism efforts.

In other words, the United States is going to have to hammer out a new drone deal with Pakistan in the years ahead, one that is sensitive to Pakistan's own concerns and objectives. This will likely mean that Washington will face new constraints in its counterterrorism operations. But managed with care, a new agreement could put the targeted killing campaign against al Qaeda on firmer political footing without entirely eliminating its effectiveness.
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« Reply #1378 on: July 19, 2013, 09:12:48 PM »

Sure, good idea, go ahead.

May I suggest you bring your previous posts on the subject over to it?  This would make for one-stop shopping for those looking to research the subject.
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« Reply #1379 on: July 20, 2013, 12:39:06 PM »

Commander Cautions Against Full Afghan Pullout
U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford Calls Talk of 'Zero Option' Unhelpful
By  NATHAN HODGE   and   MARGHERITA STANCATI
   

KABUL—The U.S.-led coalition's commander in Afghanistan cautioned against withdrawing all troops from the country next year, arguing that discussions of the so-called zero option, gaining currency in Washington and Kabul, were damaging to the mission.

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford told The Wall Street Journal that he didn't see a total military exit from Afghanistan as an option, but as a possible outcome should Washington and Kabul fail to reach an agreement on a post-2014 U.S. military presence.

The U.S. has yet to work out its presence in Afghanistan after 2014. Here, a U.S. soldier in Ghazni province.

"Anyone who reinforces this idea of December 2014 as being Y2K or a cliff that the Afghan people are going to fall off is actually being unhelpful," he said in the interview.

"An option to me is something you plan against," he said. "And we are not planning against the zero option."

For months, administration officials have said President Barack Obama might consider a complete pullout from Afghanistan, a posture many Afghan officials view as a negotiating tactic in the sensitive talks about the post-2014 American military role here.
Winding Down

May 2012 Presidents Obama and Karzai sign Strategic Partnership Agreement, signaling long-term U.S. security commitment.

January 2013 Amid discussions over post-2014 troop levels, U.S. officials first float the possibility of the 'zero option' of pulling all forces from Afghanistan.

June 18 Afghan forces formally take over responsibility for security in the country from the U.S.-led coalition. On the same day, the Taliban open a political office in Doha, Qatar, as a way to facilitate peace talks.

June 19 Karzai, angered by high-profile opening of Taliban office, halts planned peace negotiations and suspends talks with the U.S. about a long-term American military presence in Afghanistan.

Feb. 2014 U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan are expected to roughly halve current levels, to around 32,000.

April 2014 National elections set to take place to pick a successor to Karzai.

Dec. 31, 2014 The mission of the U.S.-led international military coalition formally ends. A follow-up support mission is expected to follow.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently suspended the talks to protest the American involvement in the Taliban's opening of an office in Qatar, and U.S. officials have suggested more strongly that the administration's patience with Mr. Karzai was wearing thin. The failure of similar security talks with Iraq led the U.S. to withdraw all troops from that country in late 2011.

Gen. Dunford suggested that the mere prospect of a complete American withdrawal was already damaging morale in the country. Without a clear signal from leadership at all levels, he said, Afghans will continue to worry about the international community's wavering support for their country.

While the mandate for the U.S.-led military coalition doesn't expire until the end of 2014, Gen. Dunford said advance planning would have to begin in earnest by this fall if there is to be a post-2014 North Atlantic Treaty Organization mission.

A new mission, which would focus on training and advising Afghan security forces, is supposed to take over from the International Security Assistance Force that Gen. Dunford commands—provided the suspended security talks between Washington and Kabul resume and succeed.

"By the late fall, you've got to know what the size of the force is going to be in the fall of 2014 when you deploy the force in the summer of 2014," he said.

Further complicating matters is a logistics bottleneck. Afghan officials are demanding customs fines for moving containers of U.S. military hardware out of the landlocked country, slowing the pace of withdrawal.

The cash-strapped Afghan government has also assessed hundreds of millions in taxes and fees on U.S.-funded reconstruction projects, despite what the U.S. said are broad agreements that exempt such assistance from taxation.

Gen. Dunford said top Afghan officials had recently given assurances such issues would be resolved. "It's really just a question of leadership, of working through it and of making sure that the agreement we already have…is enforced, and that's what the leadership has promised me," he said.

According to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, a U.S. watchdog agency, the Afghan government has improperly assessed more than $150 million in fines since 2009 on U.S. military shipments for inadequate customs documentation, in addition to nearly $1 billion in taxes and penalties improperly imposed by the Afghan government on contractors supporting U.S. operations.

The Afghan government didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the customs and taxation issues.

In June, the Afghan government and its allies marked the formal handover of security responsibilities from the U.S.-led coalition to Afghanistan's 350,000-strong military and police, a high-profile ceremony that was upstaged by the announcement of the opening of the Taliban office in Qatar a few hours later.

The security transition comes as Afghanistan is preparing for presidential elections in April 2014 that, if successful, will mark the first democratic transfer of power in its modern history.

Afghan and coalition military officials are already deeply involved in security planning for next spring's election. Violence and instability is highest in the country's southern and eastern provinces, leading to fears that the Pashtuns, Afghanistan's single largest ethnic group, could be excluded from the vote.

Gen. Dunford said U.S. and coalition forces—which will be in the midst of withdrawal next spring—"won't be visible at all" in providing security around Afghan polling stations, but added that the Afghans would deploy forces to protect population centers to allow a more credible vote.

"You've got to make sure that the Pashtun belt across the south is engaged and has access to the polls," he said. "You're not going to disregard the rural areas, but the challenge is being in some of the more populated areas, particularly where they are heavily Pashtun."

There are currently 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, according to the coalition, and the exit of international forces has raised considerable anxieties in Afghanistan about diminished central government control, a potential collapse of Afghan security forces or even civil war.

To facilitate a smooth political transition and to prevent instability in Afghanistan after 2014, some argue the country's new government will need vigorous international support.

"In 2014 there should be a weak opposition, a strong government, a weak Taliban," said Amrullah Saleh, the former head of Afghanistan's intelligence agency and now a leading opposition politician. "But if it is a strong Taliban, a noisy opposition and a very weak government in between, I'm not saying Afghanistan will collapse, I'm saying that to finance a government under siege you have to increase aid and military assistance, not reduce it."

Public support for the protracted military involvement, however, has waned in both the U.S. and Europe. While Afghanistan's international backers have made pledges to provide billions of dollars in military aid and civilian development assistance after 2014, donors have also made it clear that Afghanistan must hold credible elections and make serious efforts toward reducing corruption if aid is to continue.

The Obama administration recently said that a decision on post-2014 troop levels wasn't imminent.

"The issue isn't a number," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, adding: "It's the fulfillment of our policy objectives"—namely countering the remnants of al Qaeda and continuing to train and equip Afghanistan's security forces.

Gen. Dunford acknowledged the importance of public perceptions in both Afghanistan and the U.S.

"This whole war at this point is about the intangible factors," he said. "There is no question about it. It's about perception, it's about trust, it's about confidence, it's about commitment, it's about hope, it's about all those things."

Next spring's political transition, he added: "is the most important event in the campaign."
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ya
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« Reply #1380 on: July 21, 2013, 07:49:14 AM »

http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnists/edit/wests-blame-it-on-india-afghan-plan.html
Some interesting view points from the Indian sub-continent..

WEST’S ‘BLAME IT ON INDIA’ AFGHAN PLAN
Friday, 19 July 2013 | G Parthasarathy | in Edit

The US and its allies are looking for scapegoats. They will target India for their failure to contain the Pakistani Army's support to the Taliban. Self-styled historians like William Dalrymple are willing accomplices in the act

Bruce Riedel, arguably one of the best informed and most experienced American analysts on the AfPak region, recently wrote an interesting analysis titled, ‘Battle for the Soul of Pakistan’. Mr Riedel noted: “Pakistan also remains a state sponsor of terror. Three of the five most-wanted on America’s counter-terrorism list live in Pakistan. The mastermind of the Mumbai massacre and head of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafeez Saeed, makes no effort to hide. He is feted by the army and the political elite, and calls for the destruction of India frequently and Jihad against America and Israel”. Mr Riedel adds: “The Head of the Afghan Taliban Mullah Omar shuttles between ISI safe houses in Quetta and Karachi. The Amir of Al Qaeda Ayman Zawahiri is probably hiding in a villa not much different from the one his predecessor (Osama bin Laden) was living in, with his wives and children, in Abbotabad until May 2011.”

Despite these realities, a new narrative seems to be creeping in, as uncertainties grow in Western capitals over how the much touted ‘end game’ will play out. American combat operations are progressively ending and Afghan Forces assuming full responsibility to take on the Taliban. There is uncertainty over whether Afghanistan’s presidential election scheduled in April 2014 will be free and fair and whether the new President will enjoy support cutting across ethnic lines, as President Hamid Karzai, a Durrani Pashtun, currently enjoys. As Pakistan remains an integral part of Western efforts to seek ‘reconciliation’ with the Taliban and for pull out equipment by the departing Nato forces, there appears to be a measure of Western desperation in seeking to persuade themselves and the world at large that there has been a ‘change of heart’ on the part of the Pakistan Army, which is now depicted as having given up its larger aim of seeking ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan through its Taliban protégés, led by Mullah Mohammed Omar.

As Mr Riedel notes, Mullah Omar remains an ISI protégé housed in ISI safe-houses in Pakistan. Pakistan’s real aim as a ‘facilitator’ of ‘reconciliation’ in Afghanistan became evident when Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz suggested to the Afghan Ambassador that the Taliban should be allowed to take control of provinces in Southern Afghanistan, as the process of ‘reconciliation’ commences. The Americans have only encouraged such thinking and added to the confusion by their over-anxiety to directly engage the Taliban, discarding earlier conditions for dialogue. Such obvious over-anxiety prompted the Taliban to up the ante and infuriate President Karzai by converting their premises in Doha to the Office of a virtual Government in exile.

The Americans and their Nato allies are evidently looking for scapegoats in case their ‘exit strategy’ fails, as it did in Vietnam. India now appears to be the new scapegoat in the event of such failure, as the US and its Nato allies seem to be bent on blaming India for their failures to deal with the Pakistani Army’s support for the Taliban, which could lead to an ignominious exit for them from Afghanistan. In this effort, British writers like the self-styled historian, William Dalrymple, seem to have become willing and enthusiastic accomplices. In a recent paper published by the Washington-based Brookings Institution, Mr Dalrymple avers: “While most observers in the West view the Afghanistan conflict as a battle between the US and Nato on the one hand and the Taliban and Al Qaeda on the other, in reality the hostility between India and Pakistan lies at the heart of the conflict in Afghanistan”.

As a self-styled historian, Mr Dalrymple conveniently forgets that the present AfPak tensions flowed from British colonial policies advocated by imperialists like Lord Curzon, whose ‘forward policy’ aimed to check growing Russian influence in Central Asia and also give the British undisputed and unchallenged control over the oil resources of the entire Persian Gulf. It was Imperial Britain that changed historical borders, depriving the Pashtuns of moving across their historical homeland by the imposition of the Durand Line in 1893. The problems between Pakistan and Afghanistan since the birth of Pakistan have been primarily because of past actions of Imperial Britain, as no Afghan Government has ever recognised the borders imposed by Imperial Britain. It is this border dispute that has bedevilled relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan since August 14, 1947, when Pakistan was born.

India has never taken sides on this Pakistan-Afghanistan dispute — a creation of British imperialism. The Afghans, in turn, have never taken sides on differences between India and Pakistan, except during the Taliban rule. In a recent paper I received, written by a former Director General of the ISI, the author noted, while referring to past Pakistan-Afghanistan relations: “The message from Kabul both in 1965 and 1971 (India-Pakistan conflicts) was that we could move all our troops from the Durand Line to the Eastern borders, where we needed them. We did precisely that and the Afghans ensured for the duration of the crises there was all quiet on the western front. The two countries have their good neighbourly troubles, but their stakes in each other’s security and stability are so high that neither would do anything deliberately to hurt the other’s interests”.

The likes of Mr Dalrymple and his American and European friends should remember that the religious extremism and violence that ail and afflict Pakistan and Afghanistan today, are direct outcomes of the backing given by the ISI, joined by the CIA and MI6, to armed fundamentalist groups, to wage jihad against the Soviet Union on Afghan soil and beyond. This, in turn, encouraged the ISI to believe that promotion of ‘militant islam’ is the ideal means to build influence within Pakistan, ‘bleed’ India and carry the forces of ‘radical Islam’ to Afghanistan and beyond. The US and the CIA paid the price for their earlier follies in Pakistan and Afghanistan, when attacks like those of 9/11 and the London bombings were planned and executed from safe havens in Afghanistan and along the Durand Line.

India will have to keep these realities in mind when fashioning its policies in Afghanistan. While we have played along with the Americans and complemented their policies in Afghanistan, there is need for New Delhi to be prepared to build new bridges in relations with its old partners like Russia, Iran and the Central Asian Republics, given the uncertainties and unpredictability in emerging American policies.
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« Reply #1381 on: July 21, 2013, 08:19:19 AM »

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-07-13/india/40553601_1_indian-army-russian-origin-mi-35-helicopter-gunships-afghan-national-army
US exit: India steps up Afghan army training
Rajat Pandit, TNN Jul 13, 2013, 01.56AM IST


(Defence ministry sources…)
NEW DELHI: India is stepping up training of Afghan National Army (ANA) in a major way, even as it also considers supply of military equipment to the fledgling force, in the backdrop of the US-led coalition preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014.

Defence ministry sources say "a major Indian effort has been launched for capability enhancement of the ANA" to ensure it can handle the internal security of Afghanistan after the progressive exit of the 100,000 foreign soldiers from there by end-2014.


India is worried about the stability of the strategically-located Afghanistan after the withdrawal because it is likely to witness a concomitant surge in the activity of the Taliban and its deadly arms like the Haqqani network, which have long worked in league with the Pakistani Army against Indian interests.

Defence minister A K Antony, in fact, recently warned the Indian military brass to be on guard to tackle "any spillover effect" in Jammu & Kashmir and elsewhere due to Pakistan's continuing support to the Taliban and its inroads into Afghanistan.

Though India has worked largely on re-construction and developmental projects in the war-ravaged country over the last decade, it is now also boosting the "capacity-building" of ANA. If 574 ANA personnel were trained in different Indian Army establishments in 2012-13, for instance, the number will be "well over 1,000" in 2013-14.

The training includes counter-terrorism operations, military field-craft, signals, intelligence, counter-IED, information technology, battle-field nursing assistance and, of course, the English language. Afghan personnel are also being "attached" to the Infantry School at Mhow, Artillery School at Devlali and Mechanised Infantry Regimental Centre at Ahmednagar for specialized courses.

India has also posted some Army officers in the central Asian nation teach basic military and English skills as well as military doctors to help at hospitals in Kandahar and elsewhere. The training of Afghan pilots and technicians in operating Russian-origin Mi-35 helicopter gunships is also on the anvil.

A joint Indian military-civilian team had also gone to Kabul earlier this month after Afghan President Hamid Karzai submitted "a wish list" of military equipment to India during a visit here in May. The 17-page list includes armoured vehicles, 105mm artillery guns, utility helicopters, trucks, communication equipment and the like.

Sources said the visit of an ANA "Strategic Group", with 10 high-ranking officers, was also planned to India from September 1 to 13. The delegation will hold talks with the top military brass here, part from visiting military establishments in Pune, Mumbai and Bangalore.
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« Reply #1382 on: July 21, 2013, 08:40:16 AM »

http://www.dawn.com/news/1028773/taliban-ban-tight-mens-clothing-in-waziristan

Its only fair....

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« Reply #1383 on: July 22, 2013, 11:44:11 AM »

http://www.businessinsider.com/one-marines-views-on-afghanistan-2012-8
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« Reply #1384 on: August 08, 2013, 09:50:54 AM »

 Alana Goodman writing in the Washington Free Beacon, Aug. 7:

Four years ago, an Afghan translator known as "Hafez" charged into enemy fire to help Marine Corporal Dakota Meyer rescue wounded American soldiers during one of the most famous battles in the Afghanistan war.

Meyer received the Medal of Honor for his courage in the battle of Ganjgal—the first living Marine to receive the honor since the Vietnam war.

But Meyer says his friend Hafez is still waiting to receive a U.S. visa he applied for years ago. The former translator remains in Afghanistan under daily threat from the Taliban while his application is caught in the bureaucratic limbo of the State Department.

"He stood next to me, by my side pretty much the entire time [during the Battle of Ganjgal]," Meyer, 25, said in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon on Monday. "He helped me carry my guys out."

"If we can't help get this guy back who sacrificed so much to bring these Americans home, I'm sure he'll be killed," he said. . . .

Gen. Joseph Dunford, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, signed off on Hafez's application. The visa was also green-lighted by U.S. Embassy officials in Kabul, said West. The application then went to the U.S. State Department's visa department for "vetting," according to West, where it has remained ever since.
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« Reply #1385 on: August 18, 2013, 01:17:47 PM »

This relates more to India, but Narendra Modi is the man to watch in India. He is the leader of the hindu nationalist party, BJP. He has a lot of momentum to become the next PM of India. the guy is strong on defense, not corrupt, has made his home state one of the best in terms of economic development. The guy uses Obama style drives to mobilize the youth, but is not a socialist, more of a nationalist. Only downside is that a few years ago when Pakis burnt a train full of Hindus, he did not bat an eyelash to hold back the hindu response against muslims. However, the courts have not found anything incriminating, though the US refuses to give him a visa.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narendra_Modi
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« Reply #1386 on: August 18, 2013, 01:26:24 PM »

I hope no one minds some interesting pictures from pakiland. Anyone know the long term effects of oxygen depravation ?

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« Reply #1387 on: August 18, 2013, 01:27:57 PM »

I hope no one minds some interesting pictures from pakiland. Anyone know the long term effects of oxygen depravation ?



It hides the bruises well.
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« Reply #1388 on: August 18, 2013, 06:50:15 PM »

 cry cry cry

PS: Ya, would you please post about Modi on the India thread?
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« Reply #1389 on: August 31, 2013, 08:42:08 AM »



http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/31/world/asia/us-soldiers-find-surprise-on-returning-to-afghan-valley-peace.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130831
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« Reply #1390 on: September 13, 2013, 08:24:39 AM »

Taliban attacks U.S. consulate in Afghanistan
Published by: Dan Calabrese

Taliban calls AP to claim responsibility.

We're basically just going to give you a few graphs from the AP report, because that's all we have - and apparently all U.S. personnel are safe - but I do find it curious that the Taliban simply gets on the phone to the AP and says, yeah, we did it. In this part of the world, the AP typically uses regional stringers for reporting in the field - and while it's probably not fair to conclude anything about the stringers from their names (Amir Shah and Nahal Toosi) - I think it's fair to ask if the AP really has any way of knowing the backgrounds or associations of these stringers it hires.

Are the Taliban and the AP's regional reporters on each other's speed dials? Did some of these guys know each other growing up?

Anyway, here are the details:

Taliban militants unleashed car bombs at the U.S. Consulate in western Afghanistan on Friday morning, triggering a firefight with security forces in an attack that killed at least two Afghans. The U.S. said all its personnel from the mission were safe and that American forces later secured the site.

The attack in the city of Herat — along with a suicide truck bombing in the country's east that wounded seven Afghans — underscored the perilous security situation here as U.S.-led troops reduce their presence ahead of a full withdrawal next year. It was also a rude return to reality for Afghans who had spent a day and a half celebrating their nation's first international soccer championship.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi took responsibility for the Herat attack in a phone call with The Associated Press. Afghan and U.S. officials, meanwhile, offered slightly different accounts of what happened — differences which could not immediately be reconciled.

According to Gen. Rahmatullah Safi, Herat province's chief of police, the attack began around 6 a.m. when militants in an SUV and a van set off their explosives-laden vehicles while others on foot fired on Afghan security forces guarding the compound in the city, 1,000 kilometers (625 miles) from Kabul.

An Afghan police officer and an Afghan security guard were killed, though it was not clear whether they died in the explosions of the two vehicles or in the gunfire, Safi said. At least seven attackers were killed, including the two drivers of the explosives-laden vehicles, he said, and several people were wounded.
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« Reply #1391 on: September 16, 2013, 09:05:20 AM »

Taliban Claim Killing of Pakistani General
Roadside Bombing May Threaten Proposed Peace Talks
By  SAEED SHAH

ISLAMABAD—The Pakistani Taliban stepped up their confrontation with the country's government Sunday, killing a general in a roadside bomb attack and issuing new demands as a condition to opening peace talks.

Pakistan army Maj. Gen. Sanaullah Niazi was killed when his convoy was hit by a roadside bomb in Dir district, an area of northwestern Pakistan close to the Afghanistan border, the Pakistani military said. A lieutenant colonel and a soldier were also killed in the attack and two soldiers were injured, it added.

In two other bombings over the weekend, in and around North Waziristan in the tribal areas, three paramilitary troops were killed, the military said.

Gen. Niazi was the officer in charge of the Swat Valley, an area in Pakistan's northwest that had been taken over by the Pakistani Taliban until an army operation drove them out in 2009. He was on his way back from spending two days visiting posts in Dir along the border with Afghanistan when his convoy was struck, the military statement said.

Taliban militants led by a commander named Fazlullah are still active in Dir, and are believed to operate from a safe haven across the border in Afghanistan. The border posts that Gen. Niazi was inspecting had been beefed up over the last two years to counter raids by Fazlullah's group, security officials said.

Senior Pakistani officers often travel by helicopter to the Afghan border area. The attack on Gen. Niazi's convoy appeared to indicate precise intelligence, including which vehicle in the convoy to hit.

The Pakistani Taliban, a group closely linked with al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack. The group demanded Sunday that the government withdraw the army from the insurgents' strongholds in the country's tribal areas and free its prisoners before it would agree to enter into peace talks.

The Pakistani Taliban spokesman, Shahidullah Shahid, said that they targeted the general "to show that there is no cease-fire" with the government in Islamabad. "The government has to show that it is serious and sincere first," said Mr. Shahid. "Then we'll talk to them."

Mr. Shahid said the Taliban had put the conditions on the talks after three days of internal meetings to discuss the government's unconditional offer of talks, discussions presided over by the Pakistani Taliban leader, Hakimullah Mehsud.

Last week, Pakistan's parliamentary parties endorsed the strategy of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to hold peace negotiations with the Pakistani Taliban, who operate independently of the Afghan Taliban.

The attack on the general's convoy and the new demands raise the stakes for peace talks. The Pakistani Taliban have formulated a raft of far-reaching demands in response to the government's offer, militant commanders say, and the two conditions announced Sunday are the only ones their spokesman has made public.

According to militant commanders, the Pakistani Taliban have prepared a list of 4,752 members who are currently in the country's jails. A spokesman for Pakistan's interior ministry said Sunday there was no official response so far to the demands.

Separately, Pakistan's top foreign-policy official, Sartaj Aziz, suggested Saturday that Islamabad would use its contacts with the Afghan Taliban to help persuade the Pakistani Taliban to come to the negotiating table.

In a related development, a member of the Afghan Taliban's top decision-making body, known as the Quetta shura, made a rare appearance on television, giving an interview to Pakistan's Geo News channel.

Hassan Rehmani, who was the last serving governor of the southern province of Kandahar before the fall of the Taliban government, hit out at the U.S. for "breaking its promises" about allowing the group to have a negotiating office in the Gulf emirate of Qatar.

The Qatar office was closed in June this year following objections from Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who was infuriated by the Taliban office's trappings of a government-in-exile. Mr. Rehmani confirmed that the Taliban weren't prepared to talk to the Afghan leader.

"Contacts with Kabul cannot happen in the presence of American forces, and foreign forces [in Afghanistan], because the Americans have the power there at the moment," Mr. Rehmani said.
================================
http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2013/09/16/Top-policewoman-shot-in-Afghanistan-has-died
« Last Edit: September 16, 2013, 10:53:14 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #1392 on: October 13, 2013, 10:34:04 AM »

http://www.michaelyon-online.com/afghanistan-a-bigger-monster.htm#comments
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« Reply #1393 on: October 14, 2013, 06:59:49 PM »


All as Buraq planned.
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« Reply #1394 on: October 19, 2013, 08:11:47 PM »

I don't think the US would give up Mossad agents but I don't trust the Obama led US not give up Israel plans for an attack on Iran"

****Turkish Betrayal’ Is the Talk of Israel

By Karl Vick and Aaron J. Klein / Tel Aviv @karl_vickOct. 18, 201320 Comments   
       
Israeli newspapers were dominated Friday morning by a Washington Post report that Turkey betrayed Israeli spies to Iran.  “Turkey Blows Israel’s Cover for Iranian Spying Ring, “ was the headline on columnist David Ignatius’  Thursday piece, quoting “knowledgeable sources” who described how the Turkish government disclosed to Iran the identities of 10 Iranians who had been meeting in Turkey with Israeli intelligence case officers. The Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth noted a “thunderous silence” from the Israeli government in its article, headlined “The Turkish Betrayal” and including numerous quotes from unidentified officials reinforcing the premise of the story.  The Post column followed an Oct. 10 Wall Street Journal profile of Turkey’s intelligence chief, Hakan Fidan, that included a broader charge that he had passed Israeli secrets to Iran.

Turkey’s foreign ministry dismissed the reports as a “smear campaign” intended to further damage Turkey’s fraught relations with Israel, which Ignatius is in a position to appreciate better than most.  He was the moderator at the 2009 World Economic Forum panel featuring Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli President Shimon Peres, when Erdogan pulled off his microphone and stormed off the stage over the 2008-2009 conflict in Gaza. “When it comes to killing, you know well how to kill,” Erdogan told Peres.

Beyond tightening tensions between Ankara and Jerusalem, the new reports also add to the narrative of the secret war between Israel and Iran that has been emerging in bits and pieces.  In January 2012, intelligence sources acknowledged to TIME that a young man who appeared on Iranian state television in 2011 confessing he had been working for the Mossad, had, in fact, been an asset for the Israeli intelligence agency. The chagrined intelligence officials said 24-year-old Majid Jamali Fashi, who was executed in May 2012 as a “Mossad spy”, had been betrayed to Iran’s security services by a third country, which TIME did not identify.   A subsequent Israeli investigation concluded that Turkey had not overtly identified the Mossad agents, but rather permitted them to be discovered by Iranian state security, either by possibly through their movements between Iran and Turkey, according to an intelligence official.

Three months after Fashi was hanged, the Iranian government paraded another 14 Iranians on primetime television, all describing their roles in the assassinations of scientists involved in Iran’s nuclear program. Iran blames the killings on the Mossad – and correctly so, Western intelligence officials said. The officials acknowledged the loss of more operatives, Iranian nationals paid to provide logistics and other support for the Mossad operation. The officials said the assassinations were intended both to deter Iranian scientists from joining the nuclear effort, and as part of a broader covert campaign aimed at delaying Iran’s program. Before scaling back the level of covert operations later in 2012, Israel’s secret campaign ranged from silent attacks such as the Stuxnet computer virus, to very loud ones, like the massive Nov. 2011 blast at a missile base outside Tehran, which intelligence officials acknowledged to was Israeli sabotage.

Iran attempted again and again to strike back at Israel, in a fast-moving  “shadow war” that involved attempts on the lives of Israeli diplomats and expatriates, from Bangkok to Baku to Nairobi.  But it did not fare well. The Israelis or other governments thwarted every attack until July 2012, when agents of Hizballah – which Iran created and has a history of partnering with in terror attacks – bombed a bus in the Bulgarian resort of Burgas,  killing five Israeli tourists, a Bulgarian bus driver and a Hizballah operative who may not have meant to die.

Karl Vick   @karl_vick   

Karl Vick has been TIME's Jerusalem bureau chief since 2010, covering Israel,the Palestine territories and nearby sovereignties. He worked 16 years at the Washington Post in Nairobi, Istanbul, Baghdad, Los Angeles and Rockville,

Read more: http://world.time.com/2013/10/18/turkish-betrayal-is-the-talk-of-israel/#ixzz2iDhwVzJk****
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« Reply #1395 on: October 20, 2013, 10:21:16 AM »

Why is this article here and not in the Israel thread on the Mid-East FUBAR thread?
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« Reply #1396 on: October 23, 2013, 11:45:09 PM »

WSJ


By
Margherita Stancati in Kabul and
Rachel Pannett in Makassar
connect
Updated Oct. 15, 2013 12:51 a.m. ET

Thousands of Afghans have fled their homes for refugee camps in and around Kabul. Many are hoping to get asylum in Australia and elsewhere.

Wazira, a 37-year-old mother of six, abandoned her home and apple orchard in Afghanistan's rural Wardak province last year and moved with her whole family into a single room on the fringes of the Afghan capital.

"We didn't have any choice but to come to Kabul," she says. "The Taliban were forcing us to prepare food for them. But if we did, the government would harass us. We were stuck in the middle."

More than 590,000 Afghans had been displaced from their homes by fighting and Taliban threats by late August, according to the United Nations, a 21% increase since January and more than four times the number in 2006, when the insurgency began in earnest. Wazira, who like many Afghans goes by one name, is one of more than 12,000 displaced people from Wardak province alone who now share homes around Kabul, according to the U.N.

U.N. officials worry that widening violence could kick off an exodus abroad when American-led forces leave the country next year.

For those trying to leave Afghanistan altogether, the first stop often is neighboring Iran or Pakistan. Some who are wealthy or lucky enough head for Europe or Australia, which already is coping with an influx of Afghan boat people. Some 38,000 people from Afghanistan have managed to get into industrialized nations to apply for asylum last year, more than from any other country, according to the U.N., and the highest figure since the U.S. invasion in 2001.

"The desperation is incredible," says Richard Danziger, the Afghanistan head of the International Organization for Migration, a U.N. affiliate that is helping resettle the refugees.

A confidential preliminary report drafted by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal describes a scenario that would see some 200,000 Afghan refugees fleeing to Pakistan and Iran next year.

"If we keep on the current trajectory, there will be one million displaced people over the next two or three years," says Aidan O'Leary, the Afghanistan head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Enlarge Image

Sabir Shah is trying to reach Australia but has gotten no farther than a hotel in Indonesia, where he has been for months. Rachel Pannett

Afghanistan's displacement and refugee problem stretches back over three decades of warfare. The number of displaced Afghans and asylum seekers initially peaked in 2001 when the Taliban government was toppled, then declined during the first few years of the U.S.-backed government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. But as the insurgency gained momentum from 2007, the numbers rapidly climbed.

Afghan troops are sustaining record casualties this year in the fight against the resurgent Taliban. Many Afghans are worried that the security situation will deteriorate sharply next year, as the U.S. completes its withdrawal and an election to choose President Karzai's successor fuels political instability.

"We are expecting emigration to increase," says Jamahir Anwari, Afghanistan's minister of refugees, whose own family is split between Turkey and Sweden. "This worries us."

Faced with a rising tide of displaced people, the Afghan government recently drafted a policy to help resettle them inside the country, which is awaiting cabinet approval.

A U.S. government official familiar with the issue said: "We are concerned about levels of internal displacement.…Providing humanitarian assistance to this displaced population is a priority, and remains challenging because of high levels of insecurity."

Many Afghans caught in the crossfire between government and Taliban forces leave behind everything when they flee their villages. The situation is especially bad in the district of Sayedabad, a battlefield on a crucial highway between Kandahar and Kabul.

That is the region from which Wazira, the mother of six, fled. Her home and orchard had sustained damage from heavy fighting. "We are scared," she says. "The Taliban told us that if we went to Kabul, we wouldn't be able to go back."

Some of the displaced say the violence there is as bad as it has been since the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979. "I've lived through decades of war and never left my village," says a 70-year-old tribal elder who fled his home and now lives on the outskirts of Kabul. "If there's security, I won't stay in Kabul for one more hour."

There are few good prospects for occupants of the displaced persons' camps and informal settlements ringing Kabul and other relatively safe Afghan cities. Many are hatching plans to get out of the country.

Pakistan and Iran are often steppingstones for journeys to Europe or Australia.

The bulk of Afghan migrants aim for Western Europe, according to U.N. data. Last year, about 7,500 Afghans applied for asylum in Germany, followed by Sweden, which received 4,750 applications, and Turkey, which got 4,400. Only 204 Afghans applied for asylum in the U.S.

Australia is regarded by many Afghans as a land of especially good opportunity. The number of Afghan refugees showing up on Australian beaches hit 4,256 last year, up from 118 in 2008, according to the Australian government.

"In our village, people are mainly talking about Australia: Who reached it from our village? Who sent money from Australia? How is the route?" says Ali Shah, a 60-year-old baker from the Muqur district in Ghazni province, a Taliban stronghold.

Last year, Mr. Shah fled his home with 10 family members. "Muqur is not safe," he says. "The Taliban run their own government. They control checkpoints and administer justice." Mr. Shah is now jobless and living in a different district. His 25-year-old son, Sabir, left Afghanistan this spring, hoping to reach Australia.

The journey to Australia often begins with a smuggler in Kabul. One such operative, who uses the name Hadi, told a Journal reporter that he charges up to $10,500 for visa and travel to Indonesia. It would cost another $5,000 to attempt to reach Australia by boat, he said. The cost means that many would-be migrants are, by Afghan standards, relatively affluent, such as small-business owners.

Many who head for Australia, including Mr. Shah's son, belong to the ethnic Hazara minority that has been persecuted by the Taliban, and that has the most to lose should the Taliban return to power after the American withdrawal.

"All the people are worried about what will happen after 2014, and so are the Hazaras," says Afghan Hazara leader Mohammed Mohaqeq, who is running for vice president in next year's national elections. He survived an assassination attempt in June. "Security is getting worse everywhere," he says.

Hayatullah Saadat, 28, an English-speaking management graduate from an Indian university, says he hopes to get to Australia next spring, by boat if necessary. "I came back from India and thought: 'I have to help Afghanistan,' " he says. "But then I lost hope. Nobody is sure about their income. Nobody is sure about their life."

The journey to Australia typically takes refugees through Pakistan or India, then Malaysia and Indonesia. Some have died on the last leg when the Indonesian fishing boats they were traveling in sank.

After Australia tightened its immigration policy, many refugees now are stranded in Malaysia and Indonesia. Prime Minister Tony Abbott's conservative coalition, elected in September, is promising to use the Australian Navy to intercept and forcibly return refugee boats to other countries' waters. His predecessor, Kevin Rudd, had instituted a policy to remove asylum-seekers to poorer countries such as Papua New Guinea to be processed and resettled there.

As a result, the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, which has long served as the starting point for the sea crossing to Australia, is becoming packed with Afghans. Some 80 refugees are living in the dilapidated Mahkota Hotel in the Sulawesi town of Makassar, one of scores of rundown residences filled with Afghans. The International Organization for Migration is paying for the housing.

Sabir Shah, the son of the displaced baker from Muqur, made it to the Mahkota Hotel. He left Kabul carrying a small bag with pair of jeans and a shirt, a traditional Afghan outfit, a shaver and a mobile phone. He flew to Malaysia on a fake student visa in early May, after paying a smuggler the first half of an $8,000 fee.

"There was a fear of Taliban," he says. "Almost every day we heard that a Hazara interpreter or schoolteacher had been killed by Taliban."

He traveled from Malaysia to Indonesia's Sumatra island on a wooden fishing boat one night with about 20 Afghans. The crossing was rough. He has been at the Mahkota Hotel for months, awaiting a chance to resettle in Australia or elsewhere. He spends his time studying English and working out at a local gym.

Jawad Heidari, 29, a resident of the same hotel, says he sold a second-hand-car dealership in Kabul and his Toyota Lexus luxury sedan to raise $36,000 for a smuggler to transport him, his wife and two sons.

A former customs officer, he says he fled Afghanistan in April after receiving Taliban threats. "I would do anything to get to Australia," he said recently from a dingy hotel room.

Nearby, Afghan women fried eggs over a camp stove to augment food deliveries from the international aid organizations. A group of girls played with Barbie dolls on the narrow balcony.

Samrin is one of the girls at the Mahkota Hotel. Her father, Noor Ahmad, entered Australia as a refugee in June after more than two years in immigration detention in Indonesia and two failed attempts to reach Australia by boat.

"After 12 days in the sea, our boat encountered a storm," recalled Mr. Ahmad, a Hazara from Ghazni province, from his new home in Dandenong, a migrant suburb in Australia's second-largest city, Melbourne. "Everyone was scared and we had no hope anyone would survive."

His wife, Zeba Ahmad, 24, and daughter Samrin set out seven months ago to join him, but remain in limbo at the hotel in Indonesia. Every time Samrin sees a plane in the sky, her mother says, she asks whether it will take her to her father.

—Ehsanullah Amiri and Habib Khan Totakhil in Kabul contributed to this article.
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« Reply #1397 on: November 27, 2013, 12:19:46 PM »

fghanistan: A Battleground for Iranian and Saudi Interests
Geopolitical Diary
Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - 19:34 Text Size Print

Many observers have overlooked some of the ancillary regional consequences of the U.S.-Iran deal. As the United States and Iran reached the agreement, Washington encountered trouble with Iran's eastern neighbor, Afghanistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai would not sign the bilateral security agreement that would authorize a residual American force in Afghanistan after 2014. The standoff will be short-lived, but in light of the U.S.-Iran deal, battles will continue to take place in Afghanistan between two historic rivals: Saudi Arabia and Iran, which is now poised to play an unprecedented role in the region.

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice left Kabul on Tuesday after warning Karzai that if he did not sign the bilateral security agreement Washington would have to withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year. That probably will not come to pass; Karzai is simply posturing to get additional concessions from Washington, many of which involve Karzai trying to remain relevant once a successor takes office after presidential elections in April 2014. Considering that Afghanistan needs U.S. support to deal with the Taliban insurgency after NATO completes its drawdown next year, Karzai will sign the agreement sooner or later.

The bilateral security agreement aside, Afghanistan may have just become a key battleground between Saudi Arabia and its regional rival, Iran. This geopolitical struggle has played out along the northern rim of the Middle East and across Iran's western flank, but the U.S-Iran deal may have aggravated the situation. Saudi Arabia became wary of Iran's ascendance when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, and now Riyadh fears that Tehran will become even more powerful -- not as an unpredictable actor pursuing a radical foreign policy agenda, but as a rehabilitated member of the international community.

What is a Geopolitical Diary? George Friedman explains.

No longer a pariah of the international community, Iran will be able to project power with greater ease than before, especially on its eastern frontier, where Afghanistan represents a potential security threat, because of long-standing Saudi influence. In fact, the Iranians believe that the recent surge of attacks by ethnic Sunni Islamist militants in southwestern Sistan and Baluchestan province, which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan, is the work of Saudi proxies that were reactivated after the U.S.-Iranian rapprochement.

But Afghanistan could also provide an opportunity for Iran. Given its historic ethnic, linguistic and sectarian ties, Iran has a great deal of influence in the country. In recent years, Tehran has enhanced its influence in Afghanistan through the Persian-speaking minority communities, by supporting the Karzai regime and by developing ties to elements within the Taliban. As Washington moves toward a drawdown from Afghanistan and improves ties with Tehran, the Americans and Iranians are likely to coordinate on containing Sunni Islamist militancy in the southwest Asian nation.

Washington had hoped that Pakistan would help manage Afghanistan after 2014. However, Pakistan has been severely weakened by the war and is now struggling with its own domestic jihadist insurgency. Simply put, it has lost a lot of its leverage in Afghanistan.

However, the Pakistanis are unlikely to sit back and allow the Iranians to fill the void. The Saudis, who have an especially close relationship with the current government in Islamabad, will come in and exploit Pakistani vulnerabilities to further their own strategic imperative: countering a rising Iran. For its part, Pakistan, having been disaffected by a long history of supporting Islamist militants and having become a major battleground for anti-Shia violence, would want to avoid a firm alignment with Saudi Arabia.

But there is reason to believe Islamabad would cooperate somewhat. Economically, Pakistan is in dire straits, and its relationship with Saudi Arabia, a fellow Sunni state, keeps it within Riyadh's sphere of influence. Already, the Saudis are working closely with the Pakistanis to support Sunni rebels in Syria, especially after the United States backed away from the idea of regime change in Damascus. And because Saudi-Pakistani cooperation against Iran would very likely take place in Afghanistan, Sunni Islamist militancy in Afghanistan and Pakistan could increase dramatically.

Such an outcome is unlikely to help Saudi Arabia undermine Iran. In fact, Washington and Tehran could become even closer if this threat ever materializes. The ensuing proxy war would lead to a greater rise in Islamist extremism and terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Read more: Afghanistan: A Battleground for Iranian and Saudi Interests | Stratfor
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« Reply #1398 on: December 09, 2013, 05:55:32 PM »

Hagel Urges Pakistan to Reopen Afghan Supply Route
U.S. Defense Secretary Meets With Sharif on Reopening Critical Border Checkpoint
by Julian E. Barnes

Updated Dec. 9, 2013 9:33 a.m. ET

ISLAMABAD—U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel pressed Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to help restart the flow of equipment across the Afghan border, saying a key element of American aid could be cut off if the main route from Kabul was not reopened to coalition supply convoys.
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For his part, Mr. Sharif pushed Mr. Hagel on the issues of drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas, counterterrorism operations which Pakistan wants ended.

Washington is keen to get the often difficult relationship with Pakistan back on track and American officials repeatedly insisted that despite the difficult issues on the table the talks were amicable.  Defense officials said Mr. Hagel didn't threaten to cut off aid, but instead explained to Pakistanis that it would be politically difficult to reimburse them for military expenses if Islamabad can't reopen the highway linking Kabul to the port of Karachi.

Protesters affiliated with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party of former cricket star Imran Khan blocked the road around the city of Peshawar to coalition convoys last month, demanding an end to U.S. drone attacks. While PTI sits in opposition to Mr. Sharif in the federal parliament, the stridently anti-American movement controls the Peshawar-based provincial government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on the Afghan border. If Mr. Sharif were to use force to disperse these protests, it could cause a dramatic political crisis in the country.

The PTI protests have led U.S. officials to halt the transport of MRAPs and other military equipment out of Afghanistan.  American officials said they believe drivers bringing the American equipment across the Afghanistan border could be threatened.  Of the 50,000 vehicles the U.S. wanted to remove from Afghanistan as part of the drawdown of international forces, 10,000 of the trucks remain in the country, according to U.S. military officials.

U.S. defense officials said Mr. Sharif was sympathetic, and pledged to help get goods flowing through the border crossing as soon as possible.  Pakistan's troubled economy is highly dependent on the fees the U.S. pays to transport equipment across the border as well as American military aid.  As part of the Coalition Support Funds program, the U.S. reimburses some of the cost of Pakistani military operations. The U.S. in the past has tried to use the reimbursement as a form of leverage.

"This was an issue the secretary raised, particularly in connection with continued Coalition Support Funds being distributed to Pakistan," said a defense official.

The U.S. stopped reimbursing Pakistan's military operations after the border was closed following an incident when an American airstrike killed members of Pakistan's military in November 2011.

The U.S. resumed the reimbursements after the border opened in July 2012, paying Pakistan $1.118 billion for operations between July 2010 and May 2011. The U.S. paid about $688 million in December 2012 and another $322 million this October for operations that took place before September 2012.

The Pentagon is currently reviewing a request by Pakistan to help pay for military operations that took place between October 2012 and the end of that year.

There was less agreement on counterterrorism issues. Pakistani officials said Mr. Sharif raised the issue of drone strikes, which U.S. officials confirmed. For their part, U.S. officials said they remain concerned Pakistan isn't taking action against the Haqqani Network, a group affiliated with the Afghan Taliban, and other militant groups that threatened U.S. and Afghan forces.

The Haqqani Network has long enjoyed support from elements of the Pakistani security establishment.

The drone strikes are a key political issue in Pakistan. Pakistani officials say civilians are regularly injured or killed in strikes meant to target militant leaders. U.S. officials have disputed many of the charges that the strikes regularly create collateral damage.

While no meaningful concessions were made by either side, the defense official said Mr. Hagel only hoped to begin a discussion of the two countries' counterterrorism operations.

"These meetings are intended to flesh out what are the areas we can narrow our differences," the official said.

Mr. Hagel is the first defense secretary to visit Pakistan in four years. But his trip lasted only a few hours as part of a day of whirlwind defense diplomacy that began in Afghanistan and included stops in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.  In addition to Prime Minister Sharif, Mr. Hagel also met with Pakistan's newly appointed Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Raheel Sharif.  The meeting with Gen. Sharif in Rawalpindi was the first between him and a senior American since Pakistan's army chief was appointed in late November.
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« Reply #1399 on: January 04, 2014, 11:45:53 AM »

http://townhall.com/columnists/michellemalkin/2014/01/03/obamas-afghanistan-mess-n1771182?utm_source=thdaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nl
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