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PAKISTAN : Daily stuff here please......

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Author Topic: PAKISTAN : Daily stuff here please......  (Read 1813 times)
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« on: July 26, 2010, 01:46:22 pm »

Bombing hits Pakistani minister's home

Mon, 26 Jul 2010 09:30:44 GMT
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=136286&sectionid=351020401

 
Rescue workers at the site of bomb attack near Peshawar


A bomber has targeted the house of a Pakistani cabinet minister mourning, killing seven people mourning his slain son.

The attack came on Monday when a bomber blew himself up at the home of Mian Iftikhar Hussain, information minister in Pakistan's northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in the town of Pabbi.

"Seven people, including three policemen, have been killed and 21 injured," AFP quoted a senior police official as saying.

The attack targeted Hussain's house as people had gathered there to mourn the assassination of his 28-year-old son Mian Rashid by suspected pro-Taliban militants on Saturday.

The blast took place shortly after Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik had visited to give his condolences over the death of Hussain's son.

An intelligence official from regional headquarters in Peshawar put the death toll at six.

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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2010, 02:18:55 pm »

Weekend of Pakistan drone attacks leaves 35 dead

BBC News

http://uruknet.info/?p=m68284&hd=&size=1&l=e

July 26, 2010

Nineteen people died in three US drone strikes in north-west Pakistan on Sunday, a day after a similar raid killed 16 others, say local officials.

They said 10 suspected militants died in a strike in the Shaktoi area of South Waziristan on Sunday morning.

Later, two more raids killed five in Tabbi Tolkhel, North Waziristan, and four in Srarogha, South Waziristan.

Last week, a BBC investigation found more than 700 people had died in such drone strikes since January 2009.

A Taliban spokesman admitted to the BBC then that militants had been affected by the attacks, but he said they would win the war in the end.

Saturday's missile strike by an unmanned US plane killed 16 suspected insurgents at a compound in Dwasarak village, South Waziristan, near the Afghan border, Pakistani security officials said.

It is difficult to check if any civilians died because the region is virtually inaccessible to journalists.

North and South Waziristan are havens for al-Qaeda and Taliban militants blamed for attacks in Afghanistan.

US drone attacks are highly controversial in Pakistan, fuelling the public's strong anti-American sentiment.



 
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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2010, 06:27:40 am »

South Asia
Jul 28, 2010 
http://atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LG28Df03.html 
 
Pakistan has its own battle to fight


By Syed Saleem Shahzad

ISLAMABAD - Some of the 92,000 American classified military documents released by WikiLeaks at the weekend point to Pakistan's intelligence service backing the Taliban, an issue that has been seized on by the international media, although Islamabad's ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani said the release consisted of "unprocessed" reports from the field.
Pakistan overtly supported the Taliban while they were in power in Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001 when they were forced out by the US-led invasion. Islamabad then signed onto the US's "war on terror" and committed to fighting the Taliban insurgency.

However, Pakistan has always been acutely mindful of its strategic interests, a key to which is preparing for the eventual US withdrawal from Afghanistan. It had been expected that this would happen within five years of the invasion; now the pullout is scheduled for 2013, if even then.

Pakistan's military establishment throughout has adopted the pragmatic approach of retaining its political Pashtun connections as the Pashtuns will play a defining role once the foreign soldiers withdraw. The early action plan included keeping in touch with the Taliban without contacting Taliban leader Mullah Omar, and without al-Qaeda.

The Americans have been well aware of this over the years, and regularly complained during the presidency of General Pervez Musharraf, who resigned in August 2008.

From that point, the US steadily expanded the war theater through its AFPak policy, which recognized Pakistan as an essential part of the solution to the problems in Afghanistan, especially as militants used the Pakistani tribal areas as important bases from which to wage the Afghan insurgency.

Washington actively encouraged the emergence of a civilian coalition to rule in Islamabad, one that was wholly supportive of the American war, while Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Pervez Kiani, developed close ties to the US military. Kiani's term was last week extended by three years from November, when he was due to retire - a move heartily backed by the US. The tenure of US ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson has also been extended to 2013.

The significance of this week's leaks, even if they are dismissed as comprising much information supplied by naive Afghan informants, is that they come at a juncture when in Pakistan the lines are clearly drawn between the militants and the military, and any misunderstanding between Islamabad and Washington would only benefit the militants.

The ISI’s maneuvering
Afghan Senator Arsala Rahmani is the main communication link for the British and Americans to talk to the Taliban (see War and peace: A Taliban view Asia Times Online, March 26, 2010.)

When the Taliban fled Kabul in late 2001, Rahmani, a former deputy prime minister in the pre-Taliban days and deputy education minister during the Taliban regime, moved to Islamabad, where he started a cold storage business.

Before long, though, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had him relocated to Peshawar, the capital of North-West Frontier Province - now Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa. Here, along with a few other former minor Taliban ministers, Rahmani denounced Mullah Omar and al-Qaeda and announced the formation of Jamiatul Khudamul Koran (see Revival of the Taliban Asia Times Online, April 9, 2005).

Through this group, which included provincial ministers and mullahs considered as moderate Taliban, Pakistan sought to regain its influence in Afghanistan. Initially, the US was not too concerned as they were considered an insignificant bunch of mullahs. However, as US efforts in Afghanistan faltered, with the help of the ISI, Washington came to accept the idea of "good" Taliban who could join President Hamid Karzai's government in Kabul.

Some time earlier, Pakistan summoned Jalaluddin Haqqani, the legendary Afghan commander against the Soviets in the 1980s, to Islamabad and asked him to leave Mullah Omar. He was promised that with American support he would be appointed chief executive of Afghanistan. Haqqani's network has become one of the main drivers of the Taliban-led Afghan insurgency.

While Jalaluddin Haqqani was not Taliban, when they took power he threw in his lot with them - although he remained bitter that he was never given any high command since he was not a part of the movement.

However, Haqqani understood that the minute he left Mullah Omar he would lose any authority he had. He apologized to Pakistan, saying that he could not leave Mullah Omar in the lurch in difficult times. The Pakistani military establishment and the ISI understood and they never abandoned Haqqani.

Similar to Haqqani's case, mercurial Afghan warlord and politician par excellence Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and his Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) members were gathered by the ISI and asked to open offices in the southern port city of Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province.

They were urged to go to Kabul and become involved in the politics of Afghanistan or, alternatively, to leave Pakistan anyway. Under this arrangement, a few years ago HIA leader Qutubuddin Hilal went to Kabul to see President Hamid Karzai. Karzai welcomed the HIA delegation with respect, but American officials humiliated them and insisted that they should be condemned as terrorists.

Meanwhile, Pakistan tried to impress Washington by rounding up hundreds of al-Qaeda members, but the doubts over its links to the Taliban persisted. This led to talks between Washington and Islamabad and eventually to Pakistan coming up with the demand that it wanted a Pashtun-dominated, pro-Pakistan government in Kabul. It was agreed that the government should be moderate and both Pakistan and the US agreed to provide space to moderate Taliban.

People like Rahmani, former Taliban foreign minister Abdul Wakeel Mutawakil and others were welcomed in Kabul. HIA members were allowed to contest elections in their individual capacity and open offices.

At the same time, the ISI launched the Jaishul Muslim, a militant organization aimed at fighting foreign occupation troops in Afghanistan but one that also condemned Mullah Omar's support for al-Qaeda, which led to the US invasion. (US revives Taliban tryst in Afghanistan Asia Times Online, September 23, 2003.) This was a ploy to divide the Taliban. Several Taliban commanders initially joined Jaishul Muslim.

While this was going on, al-Qaeda was active in Pakistan's tribal areas regrouping militants, and all American and Pakistani plans were undermined. Whatever men Jaishul Muslim and similar groups gathered, they soon joined forces with the Taliban.

Western intelligence agencies took this as a betrayal by Pakistan. By 2007, al-Qaeda had taken the insurgency from the tribal areas to Pakistan's cities and gradually took over many of the ISI's jihadi assets. As a result, a battle was orchestrated between state forces and jihadi elements.

A key development came in 2005, when highly experienced Kashmiri militants joined forces with al-Qaeda and the Taliban. By 2007, Ilyas Kashmiri and Sirajuddin Haqqani (Jalaluddin Haqqani's son) were working together and they changed the dynamics of Taliban-led attacks in Afghanistan. This alliance gradually opened up a gap between Haqqani and Pakistan.

For instance, in early 2009, Naseeruddin Haqqani, a brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani, was arrested by the Pakistani security agencies. Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud (now killed) secured his release by swapping some Pakistan army prisoners. Similarly, Sirajuddin Haqqani provided shelter to fleeing members of the Pakistani Taliban when the military began operations in the South Waziristan tribal area.

The WikiLeaks have once again turned the spotlight on Pakistan, where the situation on the ground is that while Pakistan has long-standing ties to the Taliban and militants, the country is on the brink of an unprecedented showdown with militants and their organizations.

In response, streams of militants are believed to be grouping in North Waziristan; Pakistan is at a critical juncture and a false move by it - or by its ally the US - could place it in the lap of extremist forces.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com

 
 
 
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« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2010, 06:29:53 am »

British PM: Pakistan exports terror

Wed, 28 Jul 2010 10:05:10 GMT
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=136526&sectionid=351020401

 
UK Prime Minister David Cameron addresses an audience in Bangalore, India.

The British Prime Minister has accused Pakistan of 'exporting terror' in Afghanistan and around the world.

David Cameron was speaking at a question and answer session following a speech in Bangalore where he is paying an official visit to Pakistan's long-time rival India.

Cameron also accused Islamabad of having links with terrorist groups, noting that the Pakistani government was guilty of double dealing by both making an alliance with the West and helping terror groups inside Pakistani territory.

The UK Prime Minister was responding to the publication of thousands of previously secret war files by the whistleblower site Wikileaks in which Pakistan has been accused of collaboration with the Taliban and al-Qaeda inside its territory.

Cameron said he was extremely concerned about the issue, adding that he had already discussed the problem with US president Barack Obama.

He also said he would be discussing Pakistan's terror implications with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh when he meets him in New Delhi on Thursday.

"We can not tolerate in any sense the idea that this country is allowed to look both ways and is able, in any way, to promote the export of terror, whether to India or whether to Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world," Cameron said.

Cameron's words followed an already-robust warning for Pakistan in his speech.

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« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2010, 08:11:24 am »

Thursday, July 29, 2010
14:54 Mecca time, 11:54 GMT
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/07/201072984539460857.html
   
News CENTRAL/S. ASIA 
 
Pakistan slams UK 'terror' remark  

 
Cameron is visiting India in an attempt to strengthen bilateral trade [Reuters]

 
Pakistan has strongly criticised David Cameron, the British prime minister, for his remark that Islamabad should not "promote the export of terror".

Abdul Basit, a foreign ministry spokesman, on Thursday said Cameron seemed to have based his comments on leaked US documents, which he called "biased and self-serving".

"We are obviously disappointed at these comments because these are not coming from any original source, rather biased sources and I would say not even raw intelligencebut disinformation against Pakistan," he told Al Jazeera.

On a visit to India, Cameron on Wednesday said Pakistan should know "that it is not right to have any relationship with groups that are promoting terror".

He said: "We cannot tolerate in any sense the idea that this country [Pakistan] is allowed to look both ways and is able, in any way, to promote the export of terror, whether to India or whether to Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world."

Though his comments were likely to be welcomed in India, which often accuses Islamabad of harbouring armed groups, Pakistan's reaction has been quick and angry.

'ISI role'

Basit strongly denied any Pakistani links with terror groups and defended Islamabad's role.

"Britain knows full well as to how Pakistan, particularly the ISI [the Pakistani intelligence service] has been extending help and assistance to Britain in thwarting so many terrorist plots in Britain.

"They know the effectiveness of the ISI and our constructive and positive role in Afghanistan so we do not find any reason whatsoever for such remarks."

"The ISI has been extending help and assistance to Britain in thwarting so many terrorist plots."
 
Earlier, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan's high commissioner in London, told Al Jazeera that he had received hundreds of calls from Pakistanis, who offered "a very sharp reaction" to Cameron's comments.

"I think Cameron will review his statement, clarify his position, because we need to be supported not criticised for what we are doing," Hasan said.

He also refuted renewed criticism of Pakistani intelligence servicesover its alleged ties to Taliban, following revelations by Wikileaks, the whistle blower website.

The site leaked US government documentssuggesting links between Pakistan's security services, the Taliban and other groups operating in Afghanistan.

"ISI was one of the conduits used by the CIA and other agencies to raise these Taliban, these mujahidin, to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. Only [the] ISI can't be blamed for it," he said. 

Bilateral ties

Cameron's comments came during a two-day visit to India, which is aimed at improving bilateral trade between London and New Delhi.

He was meeting Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, on Thursday.

Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, a South Asia expert for the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said Cameron's comments in India were made "to please the host nation".

"He's very keen to boost the bilateral ties and it's very clear that this can't only take place on the base of trade and economic issues but needs a security dimension," he told Al Jazeera.

"It is significant that he has made these remarks on Pakistan in India during a state visit as opposed to making them in London.

"But they still don't go far enough in terms of the Indian government's perspective. After all he has not talked about any complicity of elements of the Pakistani government in terrorism, an allegation that India strongly supports."

Cameron is scheduled to meet Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president, in Britain next week.
 
 
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« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2010, 06:52:37 am »

South Asia
Aug 5, 2010 
http://atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LH05Df01.html 
 
Al-Qaeda meddles while Karachi burns


By Syed Saleem Shahzad

ISLAMABAD - Pakistani police claimed on Tuesday that a lawmaker from the Muthahida Quami Movement (United National Movement - MQM), Syed Raza Haider, had been murdered by the al-Qaeda-backed South Waziristan-based Fazl Mehsud group.

Haider and his bodyguard were killed on Monday by gunmen at a mosque in the Nazimabad area of the southern port city of Karachi.

The killing sparked violence in Karachi, with at least 65 people killed in clashes between supporters of the anti-al-Qaeda MQM and pro-militant groups. Hundreds of buildings and vehicles have been destroyed and the city remains extremely tense and virtually closed down after overnight fighting on Tuesday.

The unrest comes at time the country is reeling from its worst floods in living memory, with vast parts of northwestern Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province, southern Punjab and parts of Balochistan affected.

The assassination has reopened deep faultlines in Karachi, the country's main financial and industrial city, where over the past six months targeted killings on ethnic as well as sectarian lines have been frequent, with 165 people killed.

Haider hailed from the ethnic Urdu community and was a Shi'ite. The alleged killers, if they did indeed belong to the Fazl Mehsud group, would be Sunnis and ethnically Pashtun.

Karachi's closure has completely choked the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO's) supplies, of which more than 60% of non-fuel supplies and up to half of the fuel used by Western forces in Afghanistan passes through the port city.

Asia Times Online investigations lead to the conclusion that al-Qaeda desires to jack up tensions in Karachi, open up a front in central Punjab and exploit the flood-affected situation in restive Khyber Pakhoonkhwa. The belief among al-Qaeda leaders is that NATO's combat operations will have to be abandoned by the end of this year.

Al-Qaeda's war
In al-Qaeda's broader analysis, mainly agreed on by ideologues Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mustafa Abu al-Yazid (the latter - better known as al-Masri - was killed in drone attack this year), it is essential that Pakistan's armed forces be engaged across as much of the country as possible. This, it is argued, will eventually lead to Pakistan's support of the "American war" drying up.

This approach led al-Qaeda to open up multiple war theaters in the tribal areas, such as Khyber Agency, Orakzai Agency, Kurram Agency and South Waziristan. The result was that the military had no capacity - or will - to launch operations against the global headquarters of al-Qaeda in North Waziristan. Al-Qaeda plans much the same for central Punjab, starting with the capital Lahore.

According to a Pakistani counter-terrorism official who spoke to Asia Times Online, the recent arrest of some high-profile militants revealed that al-Qaeda planned an attack vastly bigger than the one on the Indian city of Mumbai in November 2008 in which for several days 10 Pakistani-linked gunmen went on a rampage, killing 173 people and wounding at least 308. Despite the arrests and the recovery of a huge cache of weapons and explosives in Lahore, it is still believed that the militants are geared up to carry out a devastating operation in the city.

However, in al-Qaeda's view, Karachi, with its multi-national corporations, major banks and stock exchanges, is the weakest link and chaos in this city would be most detrimental to Pakistan - as well as to the war in Afghanistan as a major casualty would be NATO's supply lines. A chaotic and paralyzed Karachi, a disturbed Punjab and a crisis-hit Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa would effectively block all supply routes.

Karachi a simmering volcano
In the early 19th century, Karachi was a small fishing town; by the mid-19th century the British had developed a port and various ethnic trading communities began to move in, mostly from Bombay (now Mumbai), Gujrat and Kach. These included Gujarati-speaking Hindus, Muslims and Parsis besides Christians from Goa.

Later, members of the rich Hindu Sindhi community came down from Hyderabad and Sheikharpur and established businesses. Despite the religious and ethnic diversity in the city, there was one common link among all communities - they were all traders whose prime interest was in the promotion of a peaceful and cosmopolitan environment.

After the partition of British India in 1947, when many people settled in either Pakistan or India according to religion, the rich Sindhi Hindus went to Bombay and Gujarati Muslim businessmen from Bombay and Gujrat settled in Karachi. Well-educated Muslim middle class people from Indian Punjab, Delhi, Uttar Pardesh and other parts went to Karachi and provided a useful workforce in the fields of the military, the bureaucracy and teaching.

Trade remained the soul of the city and the Christian community (dominating all elite English-medium church schools), Parsis, Bohra Muslims, Kachi Memons (ethnically all Gujarati-speakers) were still the real owners of the city. A large labor force came from Punjab and North-West Frontier Province (now Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa) and by the late 1950s Karachi had been transformed into an industrial city.

The first faultline emerged after the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Karachi became one of the biggest refugee camps for Afghans fleeing the war. This provided a big boost for religious organizations and in 1983 the first large-scale Shi'ite-Sunni riots broke out.

Soon after this the MQM was formed as the flagbearer for the rights of the Urdu community - that is, Muslims who had come from British India. This in turn led to the city's first ethnic violence between Pashtuns and Urdus. Clashes continued until 1990, when the MQM established political dominance and overshadowed all religious and political parties.

The MQM, hated by the military establishment because of its left leanings, was the victim of two military operations, but this simply further strengthened the organization.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the MQM, like all other left-wing forces in the country, leaned towards Washington. After the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US the MQM was the only political party to publicly mourn the attack and it announced its all-out support for the American war in Afghanistan and for the "war on terror".

However, in an extremely anti-American atmosphere this cost the MQM heavily and the six-party religious alliance, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, won five National Assembly seats from Karachi.

The MQM all the same continued to actively support the anti-Taliban, anti-al-Qaeda drive and helped the security forces track down suspects, to such an extent that by about 2005 Karachi was by and large declared clear of Islamic radicalism. Nonetheless, with more than 3,000 madrassas (seminaries) Karachi still had deep roots of Islamic militancy.

Following the demise of the dictatorial rule of president General Pervez Musharraf, Washington pushed hard for the introduction of a civilian, US-friendly administration in Islamabad. For elections in 2008, Washington made it clear its favored parties were the MQM and the Pashtun nationalist Awami National Party (ANP).

Representation of the Pashtun population, which had previously been in the hands of religious parties, was given to the ANP, which managed to win two provincial assembly seats. This was the beginning of a renewed struggle between Pashtuns and Urdus in which al-Qaeda saw an opportunity for eventual control of the city. The South Waziristan-based Mehsud community was the majority component of the ANP and the whole Mehsud tribe was controlled by the late Baitullah Mehsud and now by Hakeemullah Mehsud - the head of the al-Qaeda-backed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistani Taliban).

Al-Qaeda continued to play off the ANP and the MQM. ANP leaders first realized the problem early this year when targeted ethnic killings turned into sectarian killings between Shi'ites and Sunnis and Deobandis and Brelvis.

The ANP's leader in Karachi, Shahi Saed, urged his men to stop all hostilities against the MQM and warned that the situation was being manipulated by al-Qaeda and by the Taliban, who are ethnically Pashtuns. However, Pashtun youths ganged up against the Urdu community in defiance of all orders and MQM office bearers were killed and their offices ransacked.

The American consulate in Karachi played an active role in trying to calm the situation, to some effect, but the underlying tensions exploded with the killing of Haider on Monday.

As the battlelines now stand, all jihadi organizations and Pashtuns are in one camp. They are lined up against the MQM, the Sunni Tehrik (an anti-Taliban Sunni group), and all Shi'ite groups.

It is a highly explosive situation, and one that could again erupt into flames at any time, especially when al-Qaeda holds the lighter.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com
 
 
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« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2010, 07:29:29 am »

Pakistan No Obedient Ally

WikiLeaks data shows how volatile nation is forced to act against own self interests

By ERIC MARGOLIS, QMI Agency

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article26070.htm

August 03, 2010 "Toronto Sun" -- August 01, 2010 - -WASHINGTON — Release of 92,000 U.S. military field reports from Afghanistan by WikiLeaks has revealed the war’s ugly underbelly and embarrassed the hell out of Washington and its NATO allies, including Canada.

They have fired back, claiming release of these old reports from 2004-2009, endangers “our boys.”

Nonsense. The only thing the truth endangers are the politicians who have hung their hats on the Afghan War and some paid informers.

The facts are shocking: Wide-scale killing of civilians by U.S. and NATO forces; torture of prisoners handed over to the Communist-dominated Afghan secret police; death squads; endemic corruption and theft; double-dealing and demoralization of western occupation forces facing ever fiercer Taliban resistance.

I’ve been reporting on the lies and propaganda about the Afghan war since 2001.

The most interesting part of Wikigate was Pakistan’s supposedly duplicitous behaviour in aiding the U.S.-led war while maintaining secret links with the Taliban and its allies.

The U.S. government and media have been blasting Pakistan while downplaying the atrocities — and, charges WikiLeaks, “war crimes” — committed by western forces.

Here’s the bottom line on Pakistan’s “duplicity.”

After 9/11, the U.S. threatened to “bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age” unless it turned against the Taliban, a religious, anti-Communist movement, and opened Pakistan to U.S. military forces and intelligence operations.

This was told to me by a former head of ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence service whose directors I have known since 1985.

Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf says his nation was forced to reluctantly give in to intense U.S. pressure and abandon the Taliban, which served as Pakistan’s proxy army in Afghanistan battling the still active Afghan Communist Party — Tajik Northern Alliance, also backed by Russia and Iran. Intensifying efforts by India to extend its influence into Afghanistan deeply worry Pakistan.

Pakistan was forced by the U.S. to act against its own vital strategic interests. Southern Afghanistan has long been Pakistan’s sphere of influence.

This column revealed that in 2007, Pakistan and India concluded that the U.S. and its dragooned allies would be defeated and driven from Afghanistan. Both old foes began implementing a proxy war to control strategic Afghanistan.

Pakistan was compelled to follow a dual-track policy: Accepting semi-occupation by the U.S. and $1 billion annually from Washington and paying lip service to the U.S.-led war, while keeping open links to Taliban and tribal militants.

This was basic common sense. No one should have been surprised — particularly not Washington which has a long record of abandoning faithful allies.

Washington and U.S. media are heaping blame for the growing fiasco in Afghanistan on Gen. Hamid Gul, former director general of the ISI intelligence agency.

Gul led the anti-Soviet struggle in Afghanistan in the 1980s and was one of America’s most formidable allies.

I knew Gul well. He is not anti-American. He is pro-Pakistan, a Pakistani patriot at a time when so many Pakistani politicians and generals have been bought like bags of Basmati rice.

Many of the false charges against Gul came from the Communist-led Afghan secret police.

What Washington really wants is a totally obedient, obsequious Pakistan, not a real ally.

But the interests of the two nations must at times diverge

Trying to make Pakistan into a satellite state will result in that vastly important, nuclear-armed nation one day exploding with anti-American hatred, as was the case in Iran in 1979.

The U.S.-led war in Afghanistan is putting the two nations on a collision course.

Here in Washington, the U.S. Congress just ignored the WikiLeaks scandal and voted for yet more billions to fuel the Afghanistan War.

Politicians are petrified to oppose this nine-year war, lest they be accused of being anti-patriotic, the kiss of death in hyper-patriotic America — where flag-wavers root for foreign wars so long as their kids don’t have to serve and they don’t have to pay taxes to finance them.

eric.margolis@sunmedia.ca

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« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2010, 07:32:24 am »

The CIA & The ISI:

More In Common Than We Think?

By Nida Khan

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article26069.htm

Drones Kill 12 Children Playing Outside'

'A Family Buries 15'

'Americans Target the Wrong House Again'

August 03, 2010 "Huffington Post" -- Virtually every morning on the streets of Karachi, Pakistan, these sorts of headlines gleamed across the front pages of major papers, led the evening news broadcasts and drove conversations around dinner tables in both elite and impoverished households alike. With average Pakistanis losing their lives at the hands of terrorist elements within their country at an alarming rate, concern was visibly rampant even as folks went about their daily functions. It was at the top of this year that I found myself here, in of one of the most complicated -- yet integral -- countries in the world. Almost instantaneously, I was engaged in a routine process of interfacing with countless locals with the hopes of garnering the sentiments of average citizens when it comes to terrorism, the United States and their own self-autonomy.

As an American of Pakistani descent, I was met with enthusiasm, sometimes with intrigue and most often with suspicion. Walking down the streets of the country's largest metropolis, you could hear the latest Lady Gaga song blasting through someone's radio, or see your favorite Hollywood blockbuster bootlegged on the sidewalks. But traveling to such a volatile region in a post-9/11 world, you could also easily feel a sense of growing concern. At times hesitant to congregate in crowded areas over fear of random violence, these Pakistanis were simultaneously openly critical -- yet divided -- on their views of Americans.

Following the recent release of the now infamous 92,000 classified U.S. army documents via Wikileaks, the most blaring headline here at home quickly read something like this: 'Pakistan's spy agency meets with insurgents and in some cases plans attacks against Americans'. At first glance, this is unquestionably a troubling, inflammatory notion; how could Pakistan's own secret service, the ISI, engage in covert acts that run counter to our mission, and in effect, stand in direct opposition to their own open political stance? But upon further and deeper assessment, we can see how Pakistan's seemingly contradictory behavior is not too far off base from our own apparent paradoxical actions.

We in the United States are currently engaged in two active wars -- Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to troops on the ground and in the air, our military runs a predator drone program (unmanned aerial vehicles) in both countries. At the same time, in public discourse and policy we have acknowledged nothing but support for the nation of Pakistan as it works alongside our own military to root out terrorism in Afghanistan and within its own bordering communities. As we have repeatedly stated, Pakistan is our biggest ally against extremists and many within Pakistan argue that they have sacrificed the most in terms of dead soldiers and exhausted manpower.

But we are not -- and never have been -- at war with Pakistan. So why is it that our own intelligence agency and military engages in secret, covert attacks that have led to the deaths of over 700 civilians in 2009 alone? If our own undisclosed actions conflict with our public diplomacy, can we really be enraged when Pakistanis are alleged to do the same?

The BBC recently released its findings of our predator drone program in Pakistan, which is oftentimes outsourced to private contractors like XE (formerly Blackwater). The results were startling to say the least. Since President Obama has been in office, the drone attacks have increased threefold. The predator aircraft take off in hidden bases within Pakistan every day, sometimes several times a day. And according to local Pakistani media, like the Dawn newspaper, for each terrorist killed by U.S. drones, some 140 innocent Pakistanis also lose their lives.

I was in Pakistan when ethnic warfare, another byproduct of the combat in neighboring Afghanistan, erupted regularly on the streets. As local merchants and families alike argued over whether or not an American clandestine program was assisting or further exacerbating internal strife, their undeniable frustration and trepidation was clearly evident.

On the one hand, many welcomed a united front to defeat terrorism that continuously plagued their streets on an every day basis. But consistently reading reports of 'collateral damage' and innocent men, women and children losing their lives at the hands of a secret program, their views on the U.S. were visibly torn -- much like ours now are on Pakistan.

Nida Khan is news correspondent for WRKS 98.7 Kiss FM NY

   
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« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2010, 11:56:51 am »

August 12, 2010
http://counterpunch.com/tariq08122010.html

What They've Been Up to is No Secret

Pakistan and the Taliban


By TARIQ ALI

David Cameron's post-WikiLeaks remarks on Pakistan helping the enemy in the Hindu Kush shouldn't be taken too seriously. The carefully orchestrated "outburst" in India was designed to please his hosts and seal a few business deals (Cameron and Cable are fagging for the British arms industry). It's all part of the schmoozing.

Pakistan's official response was equally disingenuous. Since it's impossible for Islamabad to attack the organ grinder, it went for the monkey.

Meanwhile all sides know full well what the Pakistan army has been doing with various Taliban factions since Afghanistan was occupied nearly nine years ago. Three years ago a US intelligence agent was shot dead by a Pakistani soldier at such talks – as reported in the Pakistani press. A source close to the Pakistani military told me last year in Islamabad that US intelligence agents were present at recent talks between the ISI and the insurgents. No reason for anybody to be surprised. The cause, too, is clear. The war cannot be won.

It's hardly a secret that Pakistan never totally abandoned the Taliban after 9/11. How could they? It was Islamabad that had organised the Taliban's retreat from Kabul so that the US and its allies could take the country without a fight. The Pakistani generals advised their Afghan friends to bide their time.

As the war in Afghanistan deteriorated, the insurgency grew. It was the social chaos and the political corruption of Hamid Karzai's outfit that made a foreign occupation even worse in the eyes of many Afghans, bringing a new generation of Pashtuns into battle – young men who had not been part of the displaced regime. It is this neo-Taliban that has effectively organised the spread of resistance, which as the IED diagram revealed by WikiLeaks showed, extends to virtually every part of the country.

Matthew Hoh, a former marine captain serving as a political officer in Afghanistan, resigned from the service in September 2009. His explanation was clear: "The Pashtun insurgency, which is composed of multiple, seemingly infinite, local groups, is fed by what is perceived by the Pashtun people as a continued and sustained assault, going back centuries, on Pashtun land, culture, traditions and religion by internal and external enemies … I have observed that the bulk of the insurgency fights not for the white banner of the Taliban, but rather against the presence of foreign soldiers and taxes imposed by an unrepresentative government in Kabul."

In 2007, the US attempted to wean a section of the insurgents away from Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, by offering them government positions. The neo-Taliban leaders refused to join a government while there were foreign troops in the country. But in order to make the contacts in the first place, the Pakistan army was critically important. This army, used as cover by the US on several occasions, was now forced to shed its Islamist skin (necessary for the jihad against the Soviet Union). This angered many within its ranks, and there were three attempts on General Musharraf's life.

The ISI, whose autonomy was always overrated, was brought under almost total control, and General Ashfaq Kayani (who replaced Musharraf as chief of army staff) re-organised it from top to bottom. A few rogue elements revealed themselves when they approved the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul in 2008; they were immediately disciplined and removed. Today, attacking the ISI has become convenient for the west, who need General Kayani and so cannot attack him directly. There is no way the ISI or any other wing of the military could help the insurgents without Kayani's knowledge – and Kayani knows full well that in order to preserve contacts the insurgents fighting Nato have to be offered a few carrots.

Karzai was so desperate a few months ago to woo the Taliban that he requested General Eikenberry, the doveish US ambassador in Kabul, to remove the entire Taliban leadership, including Omar, from the most wanted list. Eikenberry did not refuse but suggested each case be considered on its merits. What better indication that the war is lost.

WikiLeaks appear to have revived Karzai temporarily. "It is a different question whether Afghanistan has the ability to tackle this," he said in response to a question about Pakistan support for the Taliban, "... but our allies have this capability. The question now is, why they are not taking action?"

But they are. And have been since Barack Obama became president. The drone attacks were intended to burn out support for the insurgents across the border. Instead, they have resulted in destabilising Pakistan. Last year, the army forcibly removed 250,000 people from the Orakzai district on the Afghan border and put them in refugee camps. Many swore revenge, and militant groups have targeted the ISI and other military centres. On 8 June this year militants bearing grenades and mortars attacked a Nato convoy in Rawalpindi. Fifty Nato vehicles were burnt and more than a dozen soldiers were reported dead.

This can only get worse. Time for Obama to abandon all pretences used to justify a war that can only lead to more deaths but no solution. An exit strategy is now desperately needed.

Tariq Ali's latest book, The Protocols of the Elders of Sodom and other Essays,  has just been published by Verso.

 

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« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2010, 07:33:02 am »

South Asia
Aug 24, 2010 
http://atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LH24Df01.html 
 
US clutches at flood relief opportunities

By M K Bhadrakumar

The humanitarian situation resulting from the unprecedented floods in Pakistan has been turned into a playground of regional geopolitics. The responsibility for this primarily lies with the United States, which fashioned its response to the crisis in a needlessly competitive spirit.

The needs of Pakistan are of stupendous proportions. Even cold statistics bring this out. One fifth of the landmass of Pakistan is inundated and the lives of 20 million people have been affected. Nothing further needs to be said about the enormity of the human sorrow.

The fact that the United Nations launched an initial appeal for US$460 million for the immediate relief underscores the magnitude of the crisis - although, according to the Pakistani foreign minister, that amount "will only cater to about 6 to 8 million people for 90 days only".

Yet, Pakistan's crisis presents itself as a theater of public diplomacy for the United States to burnish its image among Pakistani people, of whom 59% regarded America as an enemy country, according to a July 29 Pew Global Attitudes Project poll.

A flood of opportunities
The window of opportunity opens in other directions, too. The areas of Pakistan where the extremists and terrorists have been most active also happen to be the most affected. The expectation in Washington seems to be that US marines will be working in the field closely with the Pakistani military, and that a sort of rank-and-file camaraderie is expected to develop that could have useful fallouts for the war in Afghanistan.

Indeed, the marines will likely come across the relief workers of the Islamist charity organizations affiliated to rabidly "anti-American" groups, especially the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (which figures in the US' list of terrorist groups) and the political party Jamaat-e-Islami, which takes pride - publicly at least - in berating the US regional policies. The US operatives could make useful contacts with the Islamist elements involved in relief work and these could be followed up.

Again, the US is a global power and, unsurprisingly, it has begun linking the floods in Pakistan with the problem of climate change, one of the lead items on the foreign policy agenda of the Barack Obama administration.

Richard Holbrooke, the US special representative for AfPak, openly wondered: ''I know we don't have a definitive answer, but to what extent is there some connection between the [Pakistani] floods, the Russia fires, global warming, the Himalayan [glacier] runoff, what is the preliminary best sense of that?''

Another senior US official, Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the US Agency for International Development added: ''I think we all can recognize ... that we should expect to have more large-scale, erratic weather events ... that trend is leading to a greater number of large-scale hurricanes, a greater number of floods, hotter and dryer growing conditions ... and it's making it very hard for the least resilient, the most lower income communities in the world to survive.''

How the US links these ''ink-spots'' in climate change - Pakistan's floods, Russia's fires and the glacier melt up north of Kashmir in the contested region of Siachen - on the geopolitical plane and transfers the impulses to its regional and global diplomacy in the coming period will bear watching.

Then, there are the profound implications of the Pakistani floods from the strategic and political angles, which are uniquely important to the US's war effort in Afghanistan at the present time. First, there is the lurking possibility that the Taliban might take advantage of the crisis in Pakistan.

The noted Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid wrote recently in the British Daily Telegraph: ''Large parts of the country that are now cut off will be taken over by the Pakistani Taliban and affiliated groups, and governance will collapse.'' The scary scenario may seem far-fetched - and somewhat propagandistic - but the possibility remains that tepid response by the Pakistani government to the massive reconstruction task would alienate public opinion.

War spirit dampened
However, the bigger danger lies elsewhere: to what extent would the crisis be seized by the Pakistani military to fob off any continuing US pressure to crack down on the so-called Haqqani network affiliated with al-Qaeda which is ensconced in the North Waziristan?

The Pakistani military can claim that its hands are full with the priority tasks of relief and reconstruction work and that leaves hardly any surplus capacity for attending to unfinished business on the Afghan-Pakistan border region.

Clearly, the floods may have helped washed away to some extent from the public perceptions the stigma of the recent WikiLeaks disclosures. But the well-established ground reality, which Washington quietly acknowledges, cannot be wished away - the Pakistani security establishment and the military continue to keep an unholy alliance with the Haqqani network.

All in all, therefore, the Obama administration, which is gearing up for the latest troop ''surge'' aimed at an intensification of counter-insurgency operations inside Afghanistan, need not expect a simultaneous thrust by the Pakistani military from its side of the border. This disconnect imparts urgency to the search for a political settlement with the Taliban, which will also be precisely what the Pakistani military is seeking.

Significantly, John Kerry, the chairman of the US senate foreign relations committee and who visited Kabul and Islamabad last week, has been quoted as saying on his return to Washington that there is a ''very active'' effort under way to reach a negotiated political settlement with the Taliban. Kerry told National Public Radio: ''I can report without being specific that there are efforts under way. They are serious and I completely agree with that fundamental premise - and so does General [David] Petraeus and so does President Obama - there is no military solution. And there are very active efforts now to seek an appropriate kind of political settlement.''

The Obama administration's best hope is that Pakistan will reciprocate the robust US support - financially, materially and politically - by helping out on the Afghan front. Quite obviously, US officials are bending over backward to create goodwill with Pakistan.

All this is linked to a much bigger question as well: to what extent will the 2010 floods turn out to be a game changer for Pakistan's political economy? Will the civilian leadership grab the opportunity to seize the political high ground in its shadow-boxing with the military?

The signs available so far are that, on the contrary, the Pakistani civilian leadership stands tarnished by its handling of the crisis. This means the military retains the upper hand vis-a-vis the embattled civilian government in the calculus of power for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, aid politics is likely to become a divisive issue among the civilian politicians as the blame game begins, and the smaller provinces are bound to harbor grievances of discrimination in aid allocation by the Punjabi-dominated establishment. Political corruption will most certainly take its toll too.

Finally, geopolitics has already descended on the Pakistani flood situation. In an extraordinary outburst to the media, Holbrooke mocked China for being allegedly tight-fisted in helping Pakistan. ''I think the Chinese should step up to the plate. They always say that Pakistan is their closest ally, and vice versa.'' He was rubbing in that China's assistance to Pakistan so far amounts to only 5% of the $150 million the US has pledged.

Holbrooke remarked that the US suffers from ''famously low popularity'' in Pakistan. ''And although other countries' popularity is greater, including China's, the US is first and foremost'' in aid to Pakistan. The Faustian tone patently laid claim to the Pakistani soul. Beijing refrained from joining issue.

Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.

 
 
 
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« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2010, 06:36:08 am »

Washington Orders Shahbaz Airbase Saved, not Pakistan's Flood Victims -


by Stephen Lendman



August 23, 2010
http://uruknet.info/?p=m69092&hd=&size=1&l=e

With 20 million or more people affected, about 12% of the population, the equivalent of 37 million Americans, Pakistan's devastating floods are truly of biblical proportions, described by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as worse than anything he'd ever seen, saying:

"Thousands of towns and villages have simply been washed away. Roads, buildings, bridges, crops - millions of livelihoods have been lost. People are marooned on tiny islands with the floodwaters all around them (without food, sanitation, medical help, or shelter). They are drinking dirty water. They are living in the mud and ruins of their lives. Many have lost family and friends. Many more are afraid their children and loved ones will not survive in these condition."

One fifth or more of Pakistan is under water, the US equivalent of Texas, California, New York, Illinois, Michigan, Florida, and Oregon combined, what's unimaginable in America and would never be tolerated without massive emergency aid.

Yet the Pakistani-based News reports that:

"Hundreds of thousands of people including children, women and aged men have been trapped on the rooftops of their houses as floodwaters with 5-feet depth has blanketed entire districts."

They won't survive without help. Deadly disease outbreaks are feared. Already, reports of cholera are surfacing, suggesting perhaps a much wider scale problem than verified.

Unknown numbers have perished, perhaps thousands, likely tens or hundreds of thousands before it's over. Yet aid so far donated has been pathetic, America providing token relief only, hardly enough to matter, Washington's usual response to great need, even emergencies, the way Haitian earthquake victims were treated, still on their own and out of luck eight months after their disaster.

Pakistan's government and world leaders have been disturbingly indifferent to the problem, doing far too little when massive amounts of emergency aid are urgently needed quickly.

Addressing the UN on August 19, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington would increase its donation to $150 million, $92 million to the UN, more for security than humanitarian efforts, Senator John Kerry (Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman) underscoring America's purpose on a visit to Shahbaz Airbase, saying:

"The objective is humanitarian, but obviously there is a national security interest. We do not want additional jihadis, extremists, coming out of a crisis."

Pakistan's Foreign Minister added:

"If we cannot deal with (the flood emergency) there are chances of food riots leading to violence being exploited by people who are known," a thinly veiled reference to "Islamist extremists."

On August 18, US Marine Commandant, General James T. Conway, met Pakistan's army Chief of Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, in Rawalpindi to discuss security, not relief, Pakistan press reports saying "during the course of the meeting....they discussed issues pertaining to national security, war and terrorism, defense needs, etc. at length."

The plight of 20 million Pakistanis wasn't addressed, showing America's contempt for the needy, even under dire emergency circumstances, victims getting little or no aid, one man speaking for many, saying:

"We left our homes with nothing and now we're here with no clothes, no food and our children are living beside the road." So are millions of others, perhaps more than reported.

A Disturbing Asian Human Rights Commission Report

Issued on August 20, it's headlined, "PAKISTAN: Minister tasked with saving US airbase at the cost of the displacement of thousands," saying:

Reports say that "the US Air Force has denied the relief agencies use of the Shahbaz Airbase (it controls) for the distribution of aid and assistance. Soldiers of the Pakistan army, a federal minister and the administration of Sindh province are blamed for the incident involving Shahbaz Airbase at Jacobabad district" where flood waters were diverted to save the base.

As a result, 800,000 people were affected, displaced by floods, their homes lost, their condition desperate and worsening like for millions in affected areas.

Mr. Ejaz Jakhrani, Minister of Sports explained that "if the water was not diverted, the Shahbaz Airbase would have been inundated." He was assigned to protect it, former Prime Minister Mir Zafar Ullah Khan Jamali saying that doing it meant demolishing the Jamali bypass and letting the town of Dera Allahyar drown. He added that "if the airbase was so important, then what priority might be given to the citizens." He blamed "minister Jakhrani, DPO and DCO Jacobabad for deliberately diverting the course of the floodwaters toward Balochistan."

Other discussions confirmed that health relief operations aren't possible because America controls the base, and "there are no airstrips close to" affected areas, including Jacobabad.

Media reports said in 2001, the Musharraf government gave America control of Shahbaz to wage war on terrorism, the presence of army soldiers during the Jamali bypass breach a clear sign "that the Pakistan army (was) ordered to save the airbase." It meant flooding out hundreds of thousands of people, now stranded on their own without help.

"There can be no doubt that the presence of the Pakistan army personnel at (the Jamali bypass) indicates (that) this was an intentional breach," ordered by Americans in charge. "This must be investigated to ascertain who gave the orders. Those giving (them) must be prosecuted," condemning perhaps thousands of victims to death.

"It is a gross contradiction that the United States of America (donates aid, yet) refus(es) permission to use the Shahbaz airbase" to deliver it, the only facility able to do it for a large area affected.

Compare today's Pakistan to Haiti post-quake. America militarized the country, stressed security, took over the Port-au-Prince airport, obstructed relief supplies, sent in the Marines, and left millions of Haitians on their own, most getting little or no aid, nor are they now eight months later.

The same scenario affects Pakistani victims, America taking over, stressing security, and blocking aid, innocent people left stranded, perhaps to perish while imperial wars get limitless resources, powerful interests profiting at the expense of unwanted, deserted millions on their own and out of luck, the real face of US "democracy," in name only, not real.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.





 
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« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2010, 06:08:33 am »

Another U.S.-Inflicted “Ground Zero” in Pakistan

by William N. Grigg

http://www.libertarianstandard.com/2010/08/23/another-u-s-inflicted-ground-zero-in-pakistan/

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August 20, 2010

If opinion polls are reliable at all, most Americans are too enthralled by the manufactured outrage over the so-called Ground Zero Mosque to notice that the government claiming to represent them just massacred, via remote-controlled drone, at least twenty innocent people in Pakistan.

Several of those killed in the attack were children whose lives were violently ended by a missile fired at the hideout of "suspected militants." It was their fatal misfortune to be living next to an address chosen for a "targeted execution" — that is, an assassination conducted pursuant to presidential order.

This is just one of literally hundreds of "ground zeros" the U.S. government has inflicted on Pakistan since Barack the Blessed escalated the drone war early in his presidency. That fact is lost on the  spittle-flecked militarists who profess to be inconsolably offended by the presence of Muslims within a few blocks Ground Zero’s incomparably sacred soil in Lower Manhattan.

People intoxicated with a sense of vicarious victimhood aren’t likely to understand, or care about, the anger and frustration of Muslims whose homes and families have been destroyed, on a whim, by the rulers of a distant and unassailably powerful regime.

The more deranged among the neo-Know Nothings (the "No Mosques in America!" crowd) insist it is a species of sedition even to suggest that there is a connection between the criminal violence committed by Washington abroad, and the retaliatory terrorism we occasionally experience here at home.

This dogmatic indifference to the value of non-American lives was displayed by Hillary Clinton during an October 2009 foreign excursion in which she inflicted herself on the inhabitants of Pakistan.  During a meeting with Clinton, several well-spoken but forceful Pakistanis condemned the strikes as "executions without trial" and acts of state terrorism. Clinton breezily dismissed the complaints: "There is a war going on."

That statement is a distant echo of Madeleine Albright’s notorious comments in a 1996 60 Minutes interview, in which she blithely said that it was "worth it" for the U.S. to suffocate Iraq with sanctions that were killing tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians each year.

Albright’s words, which were re-played incessantly in the Muslim world, resulted in a huge windfall for terrorist recruiters (who really should have given her a commission for each suicide bomber who enlisted in their ranks).

Clinton’s arrogant, dismissive comments weren’t as widely reported, but the policy she defended is cultivating the seeds from which future terrorist attacks will spring. And the bovine residue being spread about the "Ground Zero Mosque" by the War Party’s cynical hate peddlers is helping fertilize that threat.



 
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« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2010, 07:49:07 am »

Reconstruct or Deconstruct Pakistan?

by Irshad Salim



August 30, 2010
http://uruknet.info/?p=m69327&hd=&size=1&l=e

NEW YORK: Former CIA agent Duane Clarridge, who was indicted in 1991 in connection with the Iran-Contra affair, has reemerged in Pakistan.

According to website wsws.org, Clarridge is now running one of many Pentagon-funded private contractors operating in Pakistan to provide intelligence to the US military.

Only this time the feisty former intelligence officer, who left the agency more than 20 years ago, is back in the saddle as a private citizen in the ongoing covert war to "reconstruct or deconstruct" Pakistan. Pick your choice depending on which side of the philosophical plain of the so-called "war on terror" you are saddled on.

The Los Angeles Times reported, back in 2004 that the former intelligence operative joined forces with a group of conservative activists, shortly after his departure from the CIA.

That group used Ahmed Chalabi as a vehicle to overthrow Saddam Hussein in Iraq and replaced him with a pro-American head.

Clarridge has even been accused of forging the infamous Niger letter that led to the infamous series of lies to Congress known simply as weapons of mass destruction, wrote Jayne Lyn Stahl. Stahl is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.

Fred Branfman reporting in AlterNet said about Clarridge: "Latin American Station Chief Duane "Dewey" Clarridge organized, trained, and operated local paramilitary and death squads throughout Central and Latin America that brutally tortured and murdered tens of thousand of civilians."

According to published reports, documents declassified during Bill Clinton’s administration, show that covert operatives were placed inside Chile to destabilize Allende’s government, and prevent what was feared to be a Marxist takeover. Allende was replaced with Pinochet. Clarridge at that time was CIA’s Latin American Station Chief.

"I’ll bet you can’t count more than 200" who were killed under Pinochet during his notorious bloody coup, said Clarridge to an interviewer. "Sometimes, unfortunately, things have to be changed in an ugly way." For simply "national security interests."

While Clarridge retired, the CIA hasn’t, and is said to play a large part in destabilizing efforts in Pakistan and Iran, notes Stahl.

The private contractors in Pakistan helping US military Ops may now be taking commands from Duane "Dewey" Clarridge, Stahl observes.

President Obama as well know has not only continued, he has in fact expanded the murderous operations that were waged under the banner of the "war on terror" by the CIA and Pentagon during the Bush administration. The recent NY Times lengthy article, "A Secret Assault on Terrorism Widens on Two Continents", details it all.

CIA’s drone missile attacks have been dramatically intensified against alleged insurgents inside areas of northwest Pakistan bordering Afghanistan. At least 700 Pakistani civilians were killed in these attacks during 2009. The number in 2010 is much higher. These strikes continue with impunity in the flood-ravaged country.

According to the article, the CIA and military operatives involved in Afghan Jihad war are directing or intimately involved in the present operations in AfPak (Afghanistan and Pakistan). It’s not just Clarridge and so many yet unknown operatives out there in and around Islamabad carrying out both overt and covert activities. Most seem to have experience in fighting a "faceless" war.

Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Vickers, who oversees the Pentagon’s expanding Special Operation Command, was a senior CIA agent who helped direct its huge covert war to oust the Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
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The CIA as is generally known, helped arm and train not only the Afghan mujahedin, but also assisted the thousands of Islamist militants from the Middle East, North Africa and Asia who passed through Al Qaeda (the Base) to fight in Afghanistan.

Vickers, along with Defense Secretary (and former CIA head) Robert Gates, was one of several top officials appointed by Bush and kept in place by Obama.

So you have three important covert war players in the Afghan Jihad Theater now War Against Terror Theater: Clarridge, Vickers, Gates.

And the White House is benefiting from "a unique political landscape," in Pakistan with support garnered from all major players – Peoples Party, ANP, MQM – including PML-Nawaz. The Kerry-Lugar-Berman – a bipartisan aid bill for Pakistan, and promises of more, bind these parties’ hopes and wishes together.

In a sign of things to come, according to the article, Obama last month appointed John Bennett to head the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, formerly known as the Directorate of Operations.

Among his previous assignments, Bennett headed the CIA’s Special Activities Division, which handles highly sensitive spying and paramilitary missions.

According to Newsweek, his last posting was as CIA station chief in Islamabad, where he was intimately involved in supervising drone missile strikes inside Pakistan.

Has all these led to destabilizing Pakistan? "Obama’s extension of the Afghan war into neighboring Pakistan, has not only undermined the government in Islamabad and triggered a dangerous civil war, but is destabilizing relations with India and throughout the Indian subcontinent, the article observes," observes wsws.org in its news analysis.

"As the US aggressively pursues its interests through military means—overt and covert—its actions cut directly across the strategic interests of other major powers such as China, and threaten to provoke broader conflicts."

Given the above developments and likely scenarios, Gen Kayani’s three-year extension in tenure, becomes not only significant but meaningful. Measures to preempt coming even close to the corridors of power by the right-wing popular Nawaz party and affiliates are already in the works. It is in nobody’s interest – whether it is the international players or the establishment to let this happen, said one observer. Too much is at stake. It’s reconstruct Pakistan or deconstruct Pakistan.

It’s a regional issue, no longer a Pakistan, an Afghanistan, or for that matter a Pakistan-Afghanistan issue, said another observer.

Shall we then see some peaceful democratic change in the way Pakistan is being governed now? My answer to that is probably a yes! How soon? Don’t know. Ask the croupier, the dice is already loaded!


To be continued…





 
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« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2010, 06:29:45 am »

South Asia
Sep 2, 2010 
http://atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LI02Df03.html 
 
Pakistan's military rises to the fore

By Syed Saleem Shahzad

ISLAMABAD - Flood devastation has affected approximately 20 million Pakistanis, destroyed infrastructure and left the frontline American ally in the war against al-Qaeda in a vulnerable state. At the same time, the Taliban-led insurgency is spreading to northern Afghanistan, with the potential to create trouble in the nearby Central Asian republics.

As a result, Washington is moving towards a new plan that involves regional players. Primarily, this centers on Russia, in cooperation with the United States, coming up with a regional security plan to look after Central Asia and northern Afghanistan.

In tandem, it is envisaged that the military in Pakistan will be given clear empowerment so that it can play an effective role in countering the anticipated chaos as the flood waters finally start to recede.

The floods have changed the dynamics of the American war in Afghanistan. The devastated areas include restive Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province, southern Punjab, Sindh province and parts of Balochistan.

In dealing with the massive humanitarian crisis, the military has had to shelve all operations against militant and al-Qaeda bases in the tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan, as well as in southern Punjab.

The flood has destroyed huge swathes of crops and dragged Pakistan into a serious quagmire, yet the international community, which provided US$6 billion after an earthquake in 2005, has only come up with $80 million in cash and about $60 million in kind for the rehabilitation of over 20 million people, according to the Economic Affairs Division. (Three million people were affected by the earthquake.

It will take many months for people to rebuild their shattered lives, let alone their homes, and the last thing on their minds will be supporting the American war. On the other hand, the deluge has created ideal conditions for the Taliban to mount a major recruitment drive.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Pakistan, with 1.7 million Afghan refugees, has one of the world's largest refugee populations. More than 1.5 million of these people live in flood-affected provinces and they have suffered badly. In Khyber Pakhtookwa province alone more than 12,000 dwellings in refugee villages have been swept away, leaving almost 70,000 people homeless.

"There is no way for the Afghan refugees other than to go back to their native regions in Afghanistan because in the present plight Pakistan has prioritized its citizens." A United Nations official told Asia Times Online on condition of anonymity. "It is planned that land that was being used for refugee camps will be used to shelter homeless Pakistanis."

Most of the refugees in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa hail from the eastern Afghan provinces of Ghazni, Logar, Laghman and Nagarhar. In many of these districts the Taliban run their own administrations - and even their own revenue systems.

The UNHCR has confided that thousands of refugees have returned home, but admits it has not been able to track their movements. It can be expected that many of these impoverished returnees will be enticed to join the Taliban.

In recent months, the insurgency has picked up pace in the eastern border provinces of Nagarhar, Kunar and Khost, where casualties among American troops and their allies in the Afghan National Army have soared to new heights.

In the past five days alone, 25 Americans have died. The number of US soldiers killed in 2010 is the highest annual toll since the conflict began almost nine years ago. A total of 323 US soldiers have been killed this year, compared to 317 for all of 2009.

Troubled tribal areas

Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa's infrastructure has all but collapsed and the civilian administration is non-existent; the crisis is being dealt with by the military.

Militants are taking full advantage of the situation and gradually returning after leaving the area following military operations over the past years. In the absence of bridges and roads, it is not possible for the military to chase them - even if they had the time.
In the past few days, militants have carried out targeted attacks against their rivals in tribal council meetings and individually. According to Mian Iftikhar Ahmed, the minister of information of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, all of the top leaders of the Awami National Party (ANP) that governs the province have received death threats and security has been beefed up around them.

In the southern port city of Karachi, from where North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) supplies go to Afghanistan, all kinds of political, ethnic and sectarian clashes continue and on a daily basis at least five to 10 people are killed.

At this juncture, the Taliban are looking to apply a forward strategy in northern Afghanistan and in Central Asia to stir up rebellions. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is once again active in the Farghana Valley and is believed to be the main engine in many of the recent incidents of violence in different Central Asian states.

A Russian alliance
"The Americans don't have a policy for immediate withdrawal. Even if they withdraw in the future, they will keep their troops in northern Afghanistan," Professor Walter Russell Mead, a prominent American academic, told Asia Times Online while on a recent visit to Pakistan.

"There is cooperation between Russia and the US on Afghanistan and it will grow," says Mead, senior fellow for US foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations and the James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College.

"In future we [the US] will deal with all terror threats in the region with collective efforts. Russia is in big trouble these days. Its economy is in shambles. The Muslim population is outnumbering the Slavic population. As a result, the liberation movement in the Northern Caucuses is strengthening. The US aims to provide all sorts of support to Russia and in return the Russians are supporting American interests in Afghanistan," Mead said.

However, this cooperation is not sufficient to break the siege in and around Afghanistan - the most important deal is to be signed in Pakistan with the army.

The US's strategy has been to limit the power of the military in Pakistan; this led to the civilian government of President Asif Ali Zardari following years of military rule under General Pervez Musharraf, who stepped down in 2008.

The floods, however, have washed away this facade. At the height of the disaster, Zardari was traveling around Europe, and the military stepped in, particularly in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa where the ANP seemed helpless.

In Sindh, ministers and lawmakers of the powerful ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP) are said to have diverted flood water to save their farms, while inundating others. Former prime minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali and other Baloch leaders claimed that Sindh leaders of the PPP flooded their towns and villages.

The Pakistani media showed footage of how influential people saved their properties and farms at the expense of theirs - the flood has exposed the divide between the elite and the downtrodden.

Faced with the tarnished image of politicians and a potential sharp rise in militancy, Washington realizes the military is the only institution capable of confronting future threats. This does not mean the imposition of martial law or a coup. Rather, the military will be encouraged to make use of article 190 of the constitution under which the judiciary can urge the military to intervene in crises on a case-by-case basis.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com

 
 
 
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« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2010, 03:35:38 pm »

Dozens killed in Pakistan explosions


Wed Sep 1, 2010 4:38PM
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/140880.html


Multiple bomb explosions at a Shia Muslim gathering in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore have left at least 28 people dead and 200 others wounded.


Three bombs went off in quick succession during a crowded mourning procession in the Karbla Game Shah area of Lahore on Wednesday, a Press TV correspondent reported.

The Shia Muslims were marking the martyrdom of the first Shia Imam, Ali Ibn-Abi Taleb (PBUH).

Medics say the death toll is expected to rise as some of the injured are said to be in critical condition.

Despite being considered a stable and peaceful city, Lahore has seen several bomb attacks over the past couple of years.

Pro-Taliban groups have launched a violent campaign against the Shia Muslims, and are stretching the campaign toward the so-called stable areas of Pakistan as well.

Several Shia religious gatherings have been targeted in central province of Punjab over the past few months.

Since the 1980s, thousands of people have been killed in sectarian-related incidents in Pakistan.

JR/MMN
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« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2010, 06:24:04 am »

South Asia
Sep 3, 2010 
http://atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LI03Df01.html 
 
Al-Qaeda makes a point with Lahore attack


By Syed Saleem Shahzad

ISLAMABAD - After announcing the formal end to combat operations in Iraq, United States President Barack Obama said the next target was "disrupting, dismantling and defeating al-Qaeda", which he says is anchored in the Pakistani tribal areas.

The top brains of al-Qaeda, sitting in the high mountains of Razmak in North Waziristan tribal area on the border with Afghanistan, will be cognizant of the American designs, and factoring in the chaos caused by the devastating floods of the past month that have displaced about 20 million people. Al-Qaeda's gaze is also firmly on urban centers.

Militant sources tell Asia Times Online that al-Qaeda is in contact with various "franchises", including the Pakistan-based anti-Iranian group Jundallah, the anti-Shi'ite Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the militant Harkat-ul Mujahideen al-Alami. The aim is to draw up plans for target-orientated attacks rather than random terrorism.

A key focus of the plan is to spread the insurgency to the urban centers of Peshawar, the capital of northwest Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province, Dera Ismail Khan, a city in the province, as well as to the areas of Swat and Buner, also in the province. It was here for the first time that in 2007 Western forces in Afghanistan decided to treat Pakistan and Afghanistan as a single war theater.

Al-Qaeda believes that targeted attacks will have a multiplying effect and create a wider space for chaos, and that once American and Pakistani resources are drawn into this region, the militants will step up action in other urban areas.

The southern port city of Karachi has served as a trial run, with the assassination in August of a Shi'ite lawmaker from the multi-party Muthahida Quami Movement. This had some success in unleashing ethnic and sectarian riots. (See Al-Qaeda meddles while Karachi burns, Asia Times Online, August 5, 2010.

On Wednesday evening, as Shi'ite mourners trooped through Karachi's famous Empress Market, which is full of Pashtun shopkeepers, an assailant fired several bullets into the crowd, injuring six people. Thanks to good coordination between the police and Shi'ite scholars, the crowd remained in control.

At the same time, Shi'ite mourners in Multan in Punjab province were pelted with stones, but again the crown was kept under control.

On the same night it was a very different story in Lahore, the capital of Punjab. At least 35 people were killed and more than 250 injured after three bombs exploded during a Shi'ite procession.

The first explosion took place as about 35,000 Shi'ites proceeded to mark the death in the 7th century of the first Shi'ite imam, Ali bin Abi Talib. A few minutes later, as people fled in panic, a suicide bomber blew himself up near an area where food was being prepared for the marchers. This was followed by a second suicide bomber detonating his explosive belt near the end of the procession.

The incident was clearly well-planned and obtained what was no doubt its goal - within half an hour mobs were in control of the streets, even briefly occupying two police stations. Shi'ite mourners vented their anger at the Punjab government, ruled by the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz group, and its alleged alliance with the Taliban.

Paramilitary troops were eventually called in, but it was late into the night before some order was restored.

The understanding that Asia Times Online has gained from militant contacts is that the Lahore attack was not for the massacre of Shi'ites per se. Rather, it was to spread the insurgency to urban centers, and there will be many more such incidents.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com

 
 
 
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« Reply #16 on: September 23, 2010, 06:12:10 am »

Murderers, Cowards, Morons and Thieves: Portrait of an Empire in a Political Season


by Chris Floyd



September 22, 2010
http://www.chris-floyd.com/articles/1-latest-news/2025-murderers-cowards-morons-and-thieves-portrait-of-an-empire-in-a-political-season.html


Jason Ditz at Antiwar.com continues his lonely vigil of documenting the carnage being inflicted upon civilians in Pakistan by the increasingly frenzied drone missile attacks ordered by the Peace Laureate in the White House.

Almost every day, Ditz has fresh hell to offer up on the story of this remarkably brazen campaign of outright war crimes. Most of his pieces draw on foreign sources; there is almost nothing in the American press about this literally inhuman invasion of the sovereign territory of a nation allied to the United States. It is truly a bizarre situation; then again, in a militarist system whose pervasive moral depravity has long reached lunatic proportions, murdering the children of your allies is perhaps not so unusual. Certainly, the guardians of our public discourse don’t consider it newsworthy in any way.

The latest update from Ditz captures many of the main features of Barack Obama’s ruthless robot war on Pakistan: mass killings, murky motives and missed targets:



Pakistan’s remote tribal agencies of North and South Waziristan are in a state of virtual panic tonight as US drones continue to loom in the air and three attacks against separate towns across the region killed at least 28 people and wounded an unknown number of others.


The Daily Times story that Ditz links to goes on to describe the "great panic among the locals" as the American drones continued to hover over the defenseless towns even after the attack. No one could be sure when or if the robots would fire again. There was no way to stop the machines; they were impervious, implacable, just floating there, groaning in the sky, their "pilots" sitting safely and comfortably before computer screens thousands of miles away. You couldn’t get away, you couldn’t hide, you couldn’t protect your children.

This is raw terrorism, pure and simple, nothing but terrorism, terrorism on the grandest of scales, terrorism without end – no one-time "spectacle," but a grim, steady, relentless, mechanical process. It is also the terrorism of cowards, murdering at a vast distance, by remote control, in sneak attacks against defenseless people.

Ditz's story also includes what has become a familiar motif in the American way of Terror War: attacking communal gathering of civilians – weddings, funerals – and slaughtering the participants.



Officials have so far failed to identify any of the targets of the attacks, but reports from the ground suggest that one of the US drones attacked a funeral procession that was carried out for people killed in a previous attack.


Nor was this the only Standard Operating Procedure at play in the latest raid. There was also the familiar "provocative attacks which destroy local peace-making efforts and ensure the continuation of violent conflict" scenario, coupled with one of the overarching themes of the entire Terror War: missing the ostensible targets of a raid and killing civilians instead.



Reports suggested that the targets hit were related to one of the militant factions which has an existing ceasefire with the Pakistani government, and it does not appear that any of the victims of the attacks were "high value" targets.


This is in so many ways a portrait in miniature of the entire bloody and misbegotten enterprise in Central Asia. For viewed in this light – that is, by the declared aims of the American-led coalition of occupation -- what is the entire "Af-Pak" war but a gargantuan failure to capture or kill a handful of "high value" targets, who somehow, miraculously, always manage to escape, while civilians are killed by the thousands?

But of course these "high value targets" are not the true aim of the war. The war itself is the aim of the war: the continuation of perpetual – and profitable – conflict, and the expansion of the power and privilege and corrupted wealth that accrues to the bipartisan operators (and lickspittle apologists) of a militarist empire.

Even the perpetrators of these war crimes no longer to pretend that these conflicts have any real purpose; the War Machine’s own "intelligence analysts" regularly report that the wars are exacerbating the very problems they are ostensibly designed to quell: violent extremism, divisive tribalism, ignorance and poverty, repression of women, political instability in strategic regions, fear and insecurity at home, etc. But none of this matters – not to the Peace Laureate and his party of spineless corporate servitors, nor to the Republicans and their cretinous Tea Partiers, nor, it seems, to the vast majority of the American public who follow these blood-soaked factions of ruthless, third-rate gangsters, bagmen, morons and courtiers.

And now another election season is upon us. The massive acts of state terrorism committed by the United States will fall even further beneath the media radar (if that’s possible). "Progressive" forces will furiously debate the best way to rouse the "base" to support their admittedly disappointing champion, if only to keep the drooling hordes of zealous Know-Nothings at bay. They will put aside the daily murder of innocent people by their champion in order to play a few "savvy" hands of partisan politics – as if they were living in some kind of ordinary, open political system, instead of a phantasmagorical Grand Guignol of state terror, state murder and corporate rapine, a rigged game where the only outcome is more and more and more of the same.

As for me, I am long past caring about the political fortunes of murderers and cowards – and of those who want to take their places and be murderers and cowards too. I can only repeat – for the nth time – the words of Henry David Thoreau:



"How does it become a man to behave toward this American government to-day? I answer that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it."




 
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« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2010, 06:14:51 am »

CIA’s Afghan Kill Teams Expand U.S. War in Pakistan



by Spencer Ackerman

http://uruknet.info/?p=m70019&hd=&size=1&l=e


Wired, September 22, 2010

Let there be no doubt that the U.S. is at war in Pakistan. It’s not just the drone strikes. According to insider journalist Bob Woodward’s new book, the CIA manages a large and lethal band of Afghan fighters to infiltrate into Pakistan and attack al-Qaeda’s bases. What could possibly go wrong?

Woodward’s not-yet-available Obama’s Wars, excerpted today in the Washington Post and the New York Times, unveils a CIA initiative called the Counterterrorist Pursuit Teams, a posse of anti-Taliban and al-Qaeda locals who don’t respect the porous Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The teams are practically brigade-sized: a "paramilitary army" of 3000 Afghans, said to be "elite, well-trained" and capable of quietly crossing over in the Pakistani extremist safe havens where U.S. troops aren’t allowed to operate. The CIA directs and funds the teams.

Administration officials didn’t just confirm the existence of the teams — they bragged about them. "This is one of the best Afghan fighting forces and it’s made major contributions to stability and security," says one U.S. official who would only talk on condition of anonymity — and who wouldn’t elaborate.


The teams are an implicit concession of a paradox at the heart of the Afghanistan war: the enemies upon which the war is predicated, al-Qaeda and its top allies, aren’t in Afghanistan anymore. The drones — flown by both the CIA and the U.S. military — are one answer to their safe havens in Pakistan. (Two more drone strikes hit Pakistani tribal areas on Tuesday, bringing the total this year to at least 71.) Another is to launch the occasional commando raid across the Afghan border or rely on Special Forces, operating under the guise of training the Pakistani military, to engage in some dangerous extracurricular activity. Still another is to outsource "snatch and grab" operations against al-Qaeda to private security firms like Blackwater.

But the Counterterrorist Pursuit Teams follow a more traditional, decades-old CIA pattern. When it’s politically or militarily unfeasible to launch a direct U.S. operation, then it’s time to train, equip and fund some local proxy forces to do it for you. Welcome back to the anti-Soviet Afghanistan Mujahideen of the 1980s, or the Northern Alliance that helped the U.S. push the Taliban out of power in 2001.

But that same history also shows that the U.S. can’t control those proxy forces. Splits within the mujahideen after the Soviet withdrawal (and the end of CIA cash) led to Afghanistan’s civil war in the 1990s, which paved the way for the rise of the Taliban. One of those CIA-sponsored fighters was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, now a key U.S. adversary in Afghanistan. And during the 2001 push to Kabul, a Northern Alliance military commander, Abdul Rashid Dostum, killed hundreds and maybe even thousands of Taliban prisoners. He was on the CIA’s payroll at the time.

Then there are the risks that the Counterterrorist Pursuit Teams pose within Afghanistan. CIA has to recruit those fighters from somewhere. While the agency wouldn’t answer questions about how where its proxy fighters come from, the CIA also pays for a Kandahar-based militia loyal to local powerbroker Ahmed Wali Karzai, the president’s brother. Fearing that the entrenchment of such warlords will ultimately undermine the Afghan government, the U.S. military is trying to limit the influence of such warlords by changing its contracting rules. CIA may be less concerned.

After all, it’s not like the U.S. has many options for Pakistan, where hatred for the U.S. runs high, official ties to extremists are deep and political restrictions on the presence of American combat troops (mostly) prove durable. One of the larger political narratives Woodward’s book apparently presents is President Obama’s inability to either bring the Afghanistan war to a close or find good options for tailoring it to the U.S.’ main enemies in Pakistan. When the CIA comes to the Oval Office with a plan for inflicting damage on the safe havens — no matter how fraught with risk and blowback the plan is — is it any surprise that Obama would approve it?



 
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« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2010, 06:19:23 am »

U.S. covert paramilitary presence in Afghanistan much larger than thought


By Craig Whitlock and Greg Miller, WP

http://uruknet.info/?p=m70026&hd=&size=1&l=e

September 22, 2010

On an Afghan ridge 7,800 feet above sea level, about four miles from Pakistan, stands a mud-brick fortress nicknamed the Alamo. It is officially dubbed Firebase Lilley, and it is a nerve center in the covert war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

The CIA has relied on Lilley, part of a constellation of agency bases across Afghanistan, as a hub to train and deploy a well-armed 3,000-member Afghan paramilitary force collectively known as Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams. In addition to being used for surveillance, raids and combat operations in Afghanistan, the teams are crucial to the United States' secret war in Pakistan, according to current and former U.S. officials.

The existence of the teams is disclosed in "Obama's Wars," a forthcoming book by longtime Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward. But, more broadly, interviews with sources familiar with the CIA's operations, as well as a review of the database of 76,000 classified U.S. military field reports posted last month by the Web site WikiLeaks, reveal an agency that has a significantly larger covert paramilitary presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan than previously known.

The operations are particularly sensitive in Pakistan, a refuge for senior Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders where U.S. units are officially prohibited from conducting missions.

The WikiLeaks reports, which cover the escalation of the Afghan insurgency from 2004 until the end of 2009, include many descriptions of the activities of the "OGA" and "Afghan OGA" forces. OGA, which stands for "other government agency," is generally used as a reference to the CIA.

In clipped and coded language, the field logs provide glimpses into the kinds of operations undertaken by the CIA and its Afghan paramilitary units along the Pakistani border. In addition to accounts of snatch-and-grab operations targeting insurgent leaders, the logs contain casualtyreports from battles with the Taliban, summaries of electronic intercepts of enemy communications and hints of the heavy firepower at the CIA's disposal.

The CIA declined to comment on the Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams. A Pakistani official said the government will not comment on Woodward's book until after it is released.

A U.S. official familiar with the operations, speaking on the condition of anonymity, described the teams as "one of the best Afghan fighting forces," adding that they have made "major contributions to stability and security."

The official said that the teams' primary mission is to improve security in Afghanistan and that they do not engage in "lethal action" when crossing into Pakistan. Their cross-border missions are "designed exclusively for intelligence collection," the official said.

In addition to Firebase Lilley, in Paktika province, the WikiLeaks logs reveal the existence of an "OGA compound"at Forward Operating Base Orgun-E, another U.S. military installation in Paktika.

The field reports show that casualties are common for Afghan paramilitary forces training and operating there.

On Oct. 6, 2009, for example, an "OGA-trained" fighter was ambushed near Orgun-E while off duty, according to one log; he was treated on the base for gunshot wounds to the face, lower leg and hand.

The logs also indicate that the CIA and its Afghan units are at times involved in heavy fighting, in contrast to long-standing perceptions that the agency has largely served to direct attacks carried out by U.S. Special Operations forces or conventional military units.

On Aug. 11, 2008, U.S. soldiers stationed at Firebase Lilley reported that insurgents were targeting the base with rocket fire, a common occurrence. The soldiers responded at first with counterfire but then paused because of the "OGA dropping bombs," including three 500-pound explosives, according to an Army field report. The counterattack apparently worked, as no casualties were reported.

According to the logs, CIA forces also have mortars in their arsenal. On at least one occasion, in March 2008, the CIA used 81-millimeter rockets to repel an attack on Forward Operating Base Chapman, the same compound that a Jordanian suicide bomber later targeted in Dec. 30, 2009, killing seven CIA operatives. Chapman is in Khost province, also near the Pakistani border.

The agency's paramilitary wing, known as the Special Activities Division, has been active in Afghanistan since the U.S.-backed effort to oust the Taliban government began in 2001. But current and former U.S. intelligence officials said that the CIA almost immediately began assembling an elite Afghan commando force that has expanded in scale and mission over the past nine years.

A former senior CIA official involved in the formation of the Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams said the first unit was created in Kabul shortly after the U.S.-backed invasion in 2001. The team based in the capital remains the largest and most sophisticated, and it is routinely used to carry out operations elsewhere in the country, the former official said.

Over the past eight years, however, new units have been created in other locations, including Kandahar. Their missions vary from sensitive intelligence-gathering operations to carefully orchestrated takedowns of Taliban targets.

When intelligence indicates a Taliban or al-Qaeda presence in a nearby village, the teams often make the first move. "You might knock on the door. You might ask a neighbor. Or you might raid the place," the former official said.

Most of the teams are trained in Afghanistan by CIA and U.S. Special Operations forces. "Unlike the Afghan army, these guys are fairly well paid, very well motivated," the former official said.

The Army field reports suggest that the Afghan paramilitary forces can also be ruthless. On Oct. 23, 2007, military personnel at Orgun-E reported treating a 30-year-old Afghan man for the "traumatic amputation of fingers" on his left hand. The patient had been "injured by Afghan OGA during a home breach," according to the report.

The CIA has been running operations for several years from its eastern Afghan bases, which generally are shared with U.S. Special Operations forces and other military units. U.S. officials said that the CIA and the military frequently use different names for the same base and that the agency code names do not necessarily correspond with those used in the WikiLeaks records.

In October 2003, two Americans working on contract for the CIA were killed near a U.S. military outpost in the Shkin Valley in Paktika province. The outpost, then known as Firebase Shkin, was renamed in 2007 to honor Master Sgt. Arthur L. Lilley, a U.S. Special Forces soldier who was killed in a firefight there.

The CIA has also used the border bases to build and manage networks of ethnic Pashtun informants who cross into Pakistan's tribal belt. In combination with near-constant surveillance from U.S. drone aircraft in the skies, the informants have enabled the CIA to identify the whereabouts of al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders.

That has led to an exponential increase in missile attacks by the drones. The CIA has carried out 71 drone strikes in Pakistani territory this year, more than double the number for all of 2008, according to statistics compiled by the New America Foundation.

At the same time, the border-hugging bases have reduced the CIA's dependence on Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, a mercurial spy service that has helped track down dozens of al-Qaeda and other insurgent leaders but is also considered a secret supporter of the Afghan Taliban.

For years, the ISI restricted CIA operatives to Pakistani bases in the tribal belt and strictly controlled access to its sources in the region. As a result, the Americans were kept largely in the dark about the presence of al-Qaeda and Taliban forces on that side of the border.

whitlockc@washpost.com millergreg@washpost.com

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

 
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« Reply #19 on: September 27, 2010, 06:20:08 am »

34 killed in NATO raid

Coalition helicopters intrude across border

http://dailymailnews.com/0910/27/FrontPage/index.php?id=2


ISLAMABAD: According to the eyewitness and news sources from the tribal area, the US troops on two helicopters conducted raid in Pakistan territory and killed at least 34 people in the region near Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Although the US drones are frequently conducting strikes against militant targets in the tribal areas but raid of the US ground troops with help of helicopters is a rare incident, wherein over 34 people were statedly killed on Saturday night.

Two years back, in September, 2008, the US troops had conducted a similar raid across border and 20 people were in the raid, which had elicited strong criticism from Pakistan. Moreover,

Two US drone strikes targeting vehicles killed eight people on Sunday in North Waziristan near the Afghan border, officials said. Both attacks took place in Asar village of Datta Khel town, some 50km (31 miles) west of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan tribal district. “The US drone fired three missiles at the militants’ vehicle, killing four rebels,” a senior security official in the area said of the first strike.

Another senior security official in the area confirmed the strike and toll.

The second strike, also targeting a vehicle, killed three rebels in the same village. “Four missiles fired from a US drone on another vehicle which was going to the site of the first attack for rescue work, killing three militants,” a senior security official in the area said. The two strikes came little over 24 hours after a similar drone attack in the same Datta Khel area, which killed four militants on Saturday. The US has launched eighteen such drone attacks in just 23 days in North Waziristan.

More than 1,100 people have been killed in over 130 drone strikes in Pakistan since August 2008.

Suspected US drone aircraft carried out two missile strikes against a house and a vehicle in North Waziristan on Sunday, killing seven alleged militants, Pakistani intelligence officials said. The US is now suspected of conducting 19 such attacks this month, the most intense barrage since the strikes began in 2004. Most have targeted Datta Khel, part of the North Waziristan tribal area that is dominated by militants who regularly stage attacks against Nato troops in Afghanistan. In the first strike Sunday, a drone fired three missiles at a house in Lwara Mandi village in Datta Khel, killing three suspected militants, said the intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Minutes later, a drone fired two missiles at a vehicle in the same area, killing four suspected militants, the officials said. The exact identities of the seven people killed in the attacks were not known, but most of this month’s strikes have targeted forces led by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a commander who was once supported by Pakistan and the US during the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan.—Agencies

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« Reply #20 on: September 27, 2010, 06:22:59 am »

South Asia
Sep 28, 2010 
http://atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LI28Df02.html 
 
Vultures are circling in Pakistan

By Syed Saleem Shahzad

KARACHI - Pakistan is reeling in the wake of a devastating flood, rampant militancy, bad governance and a crisis between the executive and the judiciary. Far less testing conditions than these have in the past led the military to wade in with the imposition of martial law.

General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani, the wise and highly literate Pakistan army chief, who is also well-connected to Washington, is fully cognizant that the country faces a precarious situation in which a third force - the military - could take the country out of the quagmire. This is especially so as the southern port city of Karachi is burning with ethnic and sectarian violence and Baloch insurgents have forced over 90,000 Punjabis to leave the province so that the Balochi separatist movement can grow.

All it might take to trigger military intervention is one incendiary incident, possibly a clash between the judiciary and the government.

This centers on the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) passed by the Pervez Musharraf regime that granted amnesty to politicians, political workers and bureaucrats who were accused of corruption, embezzlement, money laundering, murder and terrorism. It was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on December 16, 2009.

Some politicians and bureaucrats resigned as a result, but many others who had received amnesty are still in office. On Friday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani urged people who took advantage of the NRO to voluntarily resign. This might affect Interior Minister Rahman Malik and the ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani.

The main problem, though, relates to President Asif Ali Zardari, who had benefited from the NRO. After its annulment, the Supreme Court ordered the government to reopen cases against the president in a Swiss court, where he is alleged to have misappropriated money. The government defied the order, claiming that no action could be taken against an incumbent president. However, constitutional experts believe the Supreme Court will come up with a different interpretation of presidential immunity.

A ruling against Zardari could bring down the government - and open the way for the army to intervene.

First, the politics of peace
During Musharraf's regime (2001-2008), the Pakistan army fought a very limited war against militants; after every operation there was a peace agreement. However, under Kiani, who took over as army chief in November 2007, the military has waged all-out war against militants, and they were never offered an olive branch. The reason was simple - he fought as a soldier without any political ambition.

However, the situation took an abrupt turn while the army was heavily engaged with the Afghan Taliban in soliciting them to engage in talks, which are bearing fruit. Backchannel negotiations began with the al-Qaeda-linked Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (PTT - Pakistani Taliban) in the North Waziristan tribal area.

This coincides with military operations being shelved in the tribal areas due to the floods.

Maulana Muhammad Deendar, 80, is no longer active in politics. He is a member of the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) that is part of the coalition government and an ex-member of parliament. Nonetheless, he is respected by all, including the militants.

His astute diplomatic skills have resulted in several ceasefire agreements in the past between militants and the military. This year, when the flood played havoc in Pakistan and militants began to mobilize, Deendar's services were once again requested by the Pakistan military and once again he worked a miracle. Despite all of al-Qaeda's clout, he brought the military and the PTT together to work on a peace agreement.

Yar Muhammad, Mohammadullah and Waqas belonged to the PTT were released from the detention of the Frontier Corps, and FC's personnel Noor Wali and Shakeel were freed in return by the Taliban last week. This marks the beginning of a peace agreement between the previous arch-rivals of the PTT and the Pakistan army. The swap was carried out after prolonged negotiations between the militants and the military, through Deendar.

If the peace process begun in North Waziristan continues without interruption, it could help the country both domestically and internationally.

At the international level, it helps Pakistan isolate al-Qaeda while it engages the Afghan Taliban on one side and Pakistani militants on the other. And on the domestic front, it gives the country breathing space to disengage from war and focus on domestic politics to defuse any event that could trigger military intervention, not necessarily a coup, but an arrangement under the constitution that would allow the military to intervene in running the country.

Setting up the political stage
Kingri House in Karachi is the home of veteran politician Syed Shah Mardan Shah Pir Pagaro II, a spiritual guide and the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League. His great-grandfather was a lieutenant of Syed Ahmad Brelvi, the founder of the jihad movement in South Asia and his father was executed by the British government.

Pagaro was sent to Oxford University as compensation by the British government and after the partition of British India in 1947, Pakistan’s first prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, brought Pagaro back to Pakistan to lead the spiritual legacy of his family and disciples known as Hur (independent and brave). Pagaro's disciples always supported the Pakistan army during its fights against India and always provided support to all military governments. Pagaro proudly call himself "a representative of GHQ" (military headquarters).

When the clash between the judiciary and the government began, Pagaro's residence became the hub of all political wheeling and dealing.

Sheikh Rasheed, a former Musharraf cabinet minister was one of the first to visit Pagaro, followed by other politicians from Musharraf's administration.

The president of the former "king's" party the Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam, Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain, along with the secretary general of the party Mushahid Hussain Syed, announced the merger of the party with Pagaro’s Muslim League (Functional group). Pagaro publicly announced that he expected cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan would soon join the new platform.

International players like Nasir Lotha, a businessman and a member of the royal family in the United Arab Emirates, also visited Karachi and hosted dinners for other visiting political personalities.

Meanwhile, at General Headquarters Rawalpindi Kiani met with opposition leader Sheikh Rasheed, constitutional expert and former law minister S M Zafar, and a former minister, Ameer Muqam.

In a separate development, Pakistan proposes to raise defense spending 61% to 552 billion rupees (US$6.4 billion) in the year to next June, after adding a further 25%, or 110 billion rupees, to the amount already approved by parliament for this financial year. About 343 billion rupees were allocated in the 2009-10 budget.

The latest increase was disclosed last week when the International Monetary Fund released the government's revised budget projections. Neither the government nor the military "has seen fit to divulge any details, making it difficult to comment on the need for such an extraordinary increase", Dawn newspaper commented on Friday.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com

 
 
 
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« Reply #21 on: September 28, 2010, 05:34:26 am »

Published on Monday, September 27, 2010 by The Guardian/UK


Pakistan Furious Over NATO Cross-Border Taliban Raids

NATO claims it acted in self-defense after US helicopters crossed 'very briefly' from Afghanistan to attack Taliban fighters


by Saeed Shah in Islamabad

Pakistan reacted angrily today after NATO said US helicopters had crossed into its territory from Afghanistan to attack militants, claiming to have killed more than 50 Taliban fighters.
The admission that two incursions had taken place over the weekend by helicopters from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and possibly a further cross-border raid today, came after recent reports of a covert CIA military force in Afghanistan that crosses into Pakistan to kill Taliban and al-Qaida fighters.

Pakistan's foreign ministry condemned the incursions as a "clear violation and breach of the UN mandate under which Isaf operates", saying it had made a formal protest to NATO. "In the absence of immediate corrective measures, Pakistan will be constrained to consider response options," said Abdul Basit, the foreign ministry spokesman.

Although remote-controlled US "drone" planes regularly cross into Pakistan to target suspected extremists in the country's lawless tribal area, the use of manned aircraft is highly controversial in a country in which anti-Americanism runs high and widely believed conspiracy theories maintain that nuclear-armed Pakistan is the next American military target.

"This should be considered a watershed event," said Mehmood Shah, an analyst who was the top security official for the tribal area. "They [NATO] must be warned: the next time you do this, it can lead to war. Our units should be deployed to fire upon them. This border has sanctity. NATO must realize they have a mandate to operate in Afghanistan, not in Pakistan."

Nato was seeking to justify the breach of Pakistani territory as self-defence or "hot-pursuit", which have some defence under international law. Pakistan is forced into the position of having to react angrily, because if it did not, it may have profound consequences for the Pakistan eastern border with arch-enemy India. There, India could use the same logic for pursuing extremists into Pakistani territory.

The incursions will add to pressure on the fragile pro-western government in Pakistan, the survival of which is in doubt after the fallout from the country's devastating floods and a constitutional battle in the courts. Marvi Memon, an opposition member of parliament, said she would raise the issue in parliament and demanded to know if there was a deal allowing incursions.

"Self-defense is no excuse for violating Pakistani airspace and thus our sovereignty," said she said.

According to NATO, a remote Afghan military outpost in the eastern province of Khost, close to Pakistan border, came under fire on Saturday. Two US Apache helicopters responded. Reports said the aircraft then entered the Kurram part of Pakistan's tribal area.

"Two helicopters were engaged and acted in self-defense. They crossed very briefly into Pakistani territory and neutralized the threat," said Captain Ryan Donald, a spokesman for NATO. "Later in the day, two helicopters received small-arms fire and, in self-defense, returned fire. In doing so, they entered Pakistan very briefly."

Donald said 49 militants had been killed in the first incursion and four to six were killed in the second attack, according to a review of the video surveillance tapes from the helicopters. He said NATO was investigating reports of a third incursion, which took place today.

Training ground

The Afghan government has bitterly complained about Taliban insurgents using Pakistan's tribal area as a haven and a training ground. Pakistan has launched military operations against extremists in the tribal area but they have targeted Pakistan-focused fighters, not those targeting Afghanistan.
The Afghan government was circumspect about the strikes. "We do not have any formal information," spokesman Waheed Omer told the Guardian today. "Our position is that countries, training grounds, sanctuaries and financing of terrorists have to be addressed for a solution in the region. We do not believe there should be military action against any other country."

Afghanistan maintains a politically sensitive relationship with Pakistan. The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has been treading a fine line, seeking international action against the Pakistani-bred terror groups while trying to shore up the political relationship with the Pakistan government.

Opposition leader Dr Abdullah Abdullah told the Guardian: "Since the main bases of the Taliban and al-Qaida are there, there can be counter attacks as long as civilians are protected and not harmed. The focus should be the prevention of civilian casualties. When there is direct fire from there [across the border], one cannot hide under the rocks. When groups plan and operate with impunity, the problem cannot be contained on the Afghan side."

Separately, US drone aircraft continued their assault on suspected extremists in Pakistan. A drone flying over the North Waziristan region today reportedly fired missiles at a house in a village near the town of Mir Ali, killing at least two. The missile strike was the 20th such attack this month – the most intense barrage ever unleashed by American planes on Pakistani territory. Pakistan also officially objects to the deployment of the drones on its territory, while apparently acquiescing to it behind the scenes.

© Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Article printed from www.CommonDreams.org

URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/09/27-4



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« Reply #22 on: September 28, 2010, 08:09:50 am »


SEPTEMBER 27, 2010.

Drones Target Terror Plot

CIA Strikes Intensify in Pakistan Amid Heightened Threats in Europe

By SIOBHAN GORMANN
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703694204575518553113206756.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLETopStories


WASHINGTON—In an effort to foil a suspected terrorist plot against European targets, the Central Intelligence Agency has ramped up missile strikes against militants in Pakistan's tribal regions, current and former officials say.

The strikes, launched from unmanned drone aircraft, represent a rare use of the CIA's drone campaign to preempt a possible attack on the West.

 

In this July 8, 2010 file photo, Pakistani paramilitary troops took position on a hilltop post in Khajore Kut, an area of Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal region. AP


.The terror plot, which officials have been tracking for weeks, is believed to target multiple countries, including the U.K., France, and Germany, these officials said.

The exact nature of the plot or plots couldn't be learned immediately, and counterterrorism officials in the U.S., Pakistan and Europe are continuing to investigate. There have, however, been multiple terror warnings in recent days in France, Germany and the U.K.

"There are some pretty notable threat streams," said one U.S. military official, who added that the significance of these threats is still being discussed among counterterrorism officials but that threats of this height are unusual.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano plans to discuss the current European terrorism intelligence with her European counterparts at a U.N. aviation security meeting this week in Montreal. "We are in constant contact with our colleagues abroad," she told a Senate panel last week. "We are all seeing increased activity by a more diverse set of groups and a more diverse set of threats. That activity, much of which is Islamist in nature, is directed at the West generally."

The CIA has launched at least 20 drone strikes so far this month in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas, a lawless region neighboring Afghanistan. That is the highest monthly total in the past six years, according to a tally by the New America Foundation think tank. The previous monthly high was 12 strikes in January, following the December suicide attack that killed seven CIA agents on an agency base in eastern Afghanistan.

The latest known drone strike occurred Monday, hitting a house in Northwestern Pakistan. Four people were killed in that attack, the Associated Press reported.

Separately, Pakistan on Monday protested NATO helicopter strikes that killed more than 70 militants, saying the attacks breached its air space. NATO said it attacked in self defense. Unlike the CIA drone strikes, manned attacks are rare in the region.

Not all of the drone strikes in the latest wave are connected to the suspected European plot. But many have targeted militants who are part of the Haqqani network, a militant group connected to al Qaeda. The group controls a key region abutting Afghanistan, where U.S. defense and intelligence officials believe Osama bin Laden could be hiding.

Since al Qaeda has been under pressure from the drone campaign and other counterterrorism operations, it has come to rely increasingly on affiliates in the region as well as in countries like Yemen and Somalia. The failed Christmas Day attack on a Detroit-bound Northwest flight, for example, was hatched in Yemen, authorities believe.

Last week, France stepped up its level of vigilance over what was thought could be an imminent al Qaeda threat. Authorities said that they had uncovered a suicide bombing plot to attack the Paris subway linked to al Qaeda's North African affiliate. They said the threat might be connected to France's recent vote to ban the wearing of burqas, the head-to-toe garb worn by the most conservative Muslim women.

Earlier this month, the Eiffel Tower was evacuated due to a bomb scare, but that was determined to be a false alarm.

In recent weeks, intelligence officials in the U.K. have issued warnings that the al Qaeda threat remains high.

While it couldn't be learned who is believed to be behind the plot against European targets, the targeting of the Haqqani network suggests it could be involved.

"There have been some actionable targets, including Haqqani targets, that have presented themselves," said one U.S. military official.

If the Haqqani network were involved in a European terror plot, it would be the first known instance where it sought to launch attacks outside of South Asia, said Bruce Hoffman, a professor at Georgetown University who has written extensively on terrorism. The Haqqani group's involvement would be particularly worrisome, he said, because "you're talking about one of the more skilled and competent groups spreading its wings." The Haqqani network is also believed to have been involved in the December attack on the CIA base.

A U.S. official declined to speak about the strikes this month or a connection to the suspected European plot. The official vowed to continue to keep the pressure on al Qaeda and affiliated militant groups in Pakistan.

"Our operational tempo has been up for a while now, we have good information driving it, and—given the stakes involved—we hope to keep the pressure on as long as we can," the official said. "The mix of threats isn't new. Sometimes it's groups like the Haqqanis, and sometimes it's al Qaeda or the Afghan or Pakistani Taliban."

U.S. officials believe that conducting attacks in an area where militants are present can disrupt planned attacks, even if they do not hit the precise cells plotting the attack.

In advance of the Afghan elections, the military increased both targeted special operations attacks against Taliban leaders, and increased more general operations in areas considered insurgent strongholds, in hopes of making it more difficult for militants to attack polling centers on the day of the election.

While targeting militants involved in planning an attack is the most effective way to disrupt a plot, stepped up operations forces other militants to communicate less and act more carefully, making it more difficult for them to carry out plans.

"The strikes are a product of precise intelligence and precise weapons," the official said. "We've been hitting targets that pose a threat to our troops in Afghanistan and terrorists plotting attacks in South Asia and beyond."

The drone campaign has come under increasing legal pressure in recent months, with civil-liberties and human-rights groups filing suit to press for more transparency about the campaign.

—Julian E. Barnes contributed to this article.
Write to Siobhan Gorman at siobhan.gorman@wsj.com



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« Reply #23 on: September 29, 2010, 06:56:33 am »

NATO Expands Afghan War Into Pakistan


By Rick Rozoff
 
Global Research, September 28, 2010
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21228
Stop NATO 


On October 7 the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization military allies will begin the tenth year of their war in Afghanistan, over 3,000 miles from NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

The following month midterm elections will be held in the U.S. and NATO will hold a two-day summit in Portugal. The American administration is eager to achieve, or appear to have achieved, a foreign policy triumph in an effort to retain Democratic Party control of the Congress and NATO something to show for the longest and largest military mission in its 61 years of existence.

President Barack Obama has tripled the amount of American combat troops in Afghanistan to 100,000 and along with forces from other NATO member states and partner nations there are now over 150,000 foreign troops in the nation, the most ever stationed in the war-wracked country. 120,000 of those soldiers are now under the command of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the most ever serving in a North Atlantic Alliance-led military operation. NATO Kosovo Force at its peak had 50,000 troops, but they entered the Serbian province after an almost three-month air war had ended.

The 120,000 NATO forces currently in theater - from 50 nations already with more pegged to provide troops - are at the center of the world's longest-lasting and increasingly deadly hot war. NATO's first ground war, its first combat operations in Asia.

Last year was the most lethal for the U.S and NATO in what is now a nine-year conflict and this year has already proven even more costly in terms of combat deaths. And there are three more months to go.

Washington and Brussels could decide to save face and end the fighting through some combination of an internal political settlement and a true international peacekeeping arrangement - rather than the subversion of the International Security Assistance Force that was established by a United Nations mandate in December of 2001 but which is now the Pentagon's and NATO's vehicle for waging war in Afghanistan. And in neighboring Pakistan.

But the military metaphysic prevalent in Washington over the past 65 years will allow for nothing other than what is seen as victory, with a "Who lost Afghanistan?" legacy tarnishing the president who fails to secure it and the party to which he belongs being branded half-hearted and defeatist.

As for NATO, the Strategic Concept to be adopted in November is predicated upon the bloc's expansion into a 21st century global expeditionary force for which Afghanistan is the test case. A NATO that loses Afghanistan, that loses in Afghanistan, will be viewed more critically by the populations of its European member states that have sacrificed their sons and daughters at the altar of NATO's international ambitions. In the words of then-Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer six years ago: "What is NATO doing in Afghanistan? Defending values at the Hindu Kush in the present day international climate. We have to fight terrorism wherever it emerges. If we don't do it at the Hindu Kush, it will end up at our doorstep. In other words, this perception gap [of the North Atlantic military alliance operating in South Asia] in the long run must be closed and must be healed - that is, for NATO's future, of the utmost importance." [1]

Not satisfied with the Vietnam that Afghanistan has become, NATO has now launched its Cambodian incursion. One with implications several orders of magnitude greater than with the prototype, though, into a nation of almost 170 million people, a nation wielding nuclear weapons. Pakistan.

As the U.S. delivered its 20th deadly drone missile attack of the month inside Pakistan on the 27th, five times the amount launched in August and the most in any month since they were started in 2004, NATO conducted a series of attacks with helicopter gunships in Northwest Pakistan. Claiming the "right of self-defense" and in "hot pursuit" of insurgents that had reportedly attacked a NATO camp, Combat Outpost Narizah, in Afghanistan's Khost province near the Pakistani border, this past weekend NATO attack helicopters conducted two forays into the Federally Administered Tribal Areas where U.S. drone strikes have killed a record number of people this month.

Estimates of those killed, dutifully referred to in the Western press as insurgents, militants or terrorists, were 30, then 50, afterward 60, 70 and later "82 or higher." [2]

The amount, like the identify, of the dead will never be definitively known.

Press reports stated the targets were members of the Haqqani network, founded by veteran Afghan Mujahedin leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, who when he led attacks from Pakistani soil against Afghan targets slightly over a generation ago was an American hero, one of Ronald Reagan's "freedom fighters." Two years ago the New York Times wrote: “In the 1980s, Jalaluddin Haqqani was cultivated as a ‘unilateral’ asset of the CIA and received tens of thousands of dollars in cash for his work in fighting the Soviet Army in Afghanistan, according to an account in ‘The Bin Ladens,’ a recent book by Steve Coll. At that time, Haqqani helped and protected Osama bin Laden, who was building his own militia to fight the Soviet forces, Coll wrote.” [3]

As to the regret that the otherwise praiseworthy Haqqani has of late allied himself with the Taliban, one voiced by among other people the late Charlie Wilson who once celebrated Haqqani as "goodness personified," in an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press last year Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari told his American audience that the Taliban "was part of your past and our past, and the ISI and the CIA created them together. And I can find you 10 books and 10 philosophers and 10 write-ups on that...." [4]

On September 27 two NATO helicopters attacked the Kurram agency in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas, killing six people and wounding eight. A local Pakistani government official described all the victims as civilians. According to Dawn News, "Nato has also shelled the area before." [5] Three attacks in three days and as many as 100 deaths.

On the same day a U.S. drone-launched missile strike killed four people in the North Waziristan agency. "The identities of the four people killed in the attack were not known...." [6]

The above events occurred against the backdrop of the revelation in Bob Woodward's new book Obama’s Wars that "a 3,000-strong secret army of Afghan paramilitary forces run by the Central Intelligence Agency had conducted cross-border raids into Pakistan." [7]

After mounting in intensity for two years and consisting in part - helicopter gunship attacks and special forces assassination team raids - of covert operations, the U.S. and NATO war in Northwest Pakistan is now fully underway and can no longer be denied.   

The Pentagon - the helicopters used in the attacks on September 25 and 26 were American Apaches and Kiowas - defended the strikes over the weekend as falling within its rules of engagement and Defense Department spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said the U.S. had adhered to "appropriate protocol" and "Our forces have the right of self-defense." [8]

A spokesmen for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force initially denied that Alliance forces had launched any attacks inside Pakistani territory, although Afghan police officials had confirmed that they did. On September 27, however, the International Security Assistance Force verified that NATO forces had conducted the deadly strikes. As the third attack by NATO helicopters occurred on the same day, "Coalition officials said the cross-border attacks fell within its rules of engagement because the insurgents had attacked them from across the border." [9]

A NATO official informed the press that "ISAF forces must and will retain the authority, within their mandate, to defend themselves in carrying out their mission.” [10]     

Mehmood Shah, former top security official of the Pakistani government in the region where the helicopter gunship and drone strikes have killed over 200 people so far this month, said of the recent NATO attacks: "This should be considered a watershed event. They [Nato] must be warned: the next time you do this, it can lead to war. Our units should be deployed to fire upon them. This border has sanctity. Nato must realise they have a mandate to operate in Afghanistan, not in Pakistan." [11]

On September 27 Interior Minister Rehman Malik denounced the NATO raids as a violation of Pakistani territorial integrity and national sovereignty and told the nation's Senate that the Afghan ambassador to Islamabad would be summoned to explain the attacks. Malik and the Pakistani government as a whole know that the Hamid Karzai administration in Kabul has no control over what the U.S. and NATO do in its own country, much less in Pakistan. The interior minister's comment were solely for internal consumption, for placating Pakistani popular outrage, but as Pakistan itself has become a NATO partner and U.S. surrogate [12] its officials, like those of Afghanistan, will not be notified of any future attacks.

Nevertheless domestic exigencies compelled Malik to denounce the strikes inside his country and assert “I take the drone attacks in Pakistani territory as an attack on the sovereignty of Pakistan.” A senator from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz "asked the government to inform the parliament about any accord it had reached with the US under which drone attacks were being carried out." [13]

At the same time Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit went further and lodged what was described as a strong protest to NATO Headquarters in Brussels over the weekend's air strikes, issuing a statement that said in part: "These incidents are a clear violation and breach of the UN mandate under which ISAF operates," as its mandate “terminates/finishes” at the Afghan border.

“There are no agreed 'hot pursuit' rules. Any impression to the contrary is not factually correct. Such violations are unacceptable.” [14]

By the evening of September 27, after the Pakistani complaints were registered, NATO's ISAF attempted to conduct damage control and reverted to the military bloc's original position: That it has not launched attacks inside Pakistan at all. On that very day it had dispatched two more helicopter gunships for the third raid in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

NATO will continue to launch lethal attacks inside Pakistan against whichever targets it sees fit and will proffer neither warnings nor apologies. The U.S. will continue to escalate attacks with Hellfire missiles against whomever it chooses, however inaccurate, anecdotal and self-interested the reports upon which they are based prove to be.

The death toll in Pakistan this month is well over 200 and for this year to date over 2,000. The justification for this carnage offered by the U.S. and NATO is that it is intended to extend the policy of Barack Obama to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat" insurgent networks in Afghanistan into Pakistan, supposedly the sooner to end the war.

Forty years ago Obama's predecessor Richard Nixon began his speech announcing the expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia with these words: "Good evening, my fellow Americans. Ten days ago, in my report to the nation on Vietnam, I announced the decision to withdraw an additional 150,000 Americans from Vietnam over the next year. I said then that I was making that decision despite our concern over increased enemy activity in Laos, in Cambodia, and in South Vietnam. And at that time I warned that if I concluded that increased enemy activity in any of these areas endangered the lives of Americans remaining in Vietnam, I would not hesitate to take strong and effective measures to deal with that situation." [15]

He claimed that "enemy sanctuaries" in Cambodia "endanger the lives of Americans who are in Vietnam," and "if this enemy effort succeeds, Cambodia would become a vast enemy staging area and a springboard for attacks on South Vietnam along 600 miles of frontier: a refuge where enemy troops could return from combat without fear of retaliation."

The course he ordered was to "go to the heart of the trouble. And that means cleaning out major North Vietnamese and Vietcong occupied territories, these sanctuaries which serve as bases for attacks on both Cambodia and American and South Vietnamese forces in South Vietnam."

The practical application of the policy was that "attacks are being launched this week to clean out major enemy sanctuaries on the Cambodian-Vietnam border."

In language that has been heard again lately in Washington and Brussels - with nothing but the place names changed - Nixon claimed: "We take this action not for the purpose of expanding the war into Cambodia, but for the purpose of ending the war in Vietnam...."

Washington indeed expanded the Vietnam War into Cambodia, with what disastrous effects the world is fully aware, and soon thereafter departed Southeast Asia in defeat, leaving vast stretches of Vietnam and Cambodia in ruins.

Afghanistan and Pakistan will not fare any better.

Notes

1) Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, November 12, 2004
2) New York Times, September 27, 2010
3) New York Times, September 9, 2008
4) Meet the Press, May 10, 2010
   http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30658135
5) Dawn News, September 28, 2010
6) Daily Times, September 28, 2010
7) Financial Times, September 27, 2010
Cool Associated Press, September 27, 2010
9) New York Times, September 27, 2010
10) Dawn News, September 27, 2010
11) The Guardian, September 27, 2010
12) NATO Pulls Pakistan Into Its Global Network
    Stop NATO, July 23, 2010
    http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/07/23/nato-pulls-pakistan-into-its-global-network
13) Dawn News, September 28, 2010
14) Dawn News, September 27, 2010
15) Richard M. Nixon, Cambodian Incursion Address
    http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/richardnixoncambodia.html


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« Reply #24 on: September 29, 2010, 07:00:45 am »

Pakistan under Attack: Now NATO gunships


 
Global Research, September 28, 2010
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21230
The Nation (Pakistan) 

As so many had been predicting, if the Pakistani state does not delink itself from the misguided US ‘war on terror’, the US would eventually shift the centre of gravity of the war from Afghanistan to Pakistan and move militarily into Pakistani territory.

This is exactly what is now happening. Already the US has been carrying out drone attacks against Pakistanis, killing thousands of innocent citizens in their wake and perhaps in the process a few militants also.

Meanwhile, US covert operatives and Special Forces have spread themselves all over Pakistan and these revelations and warnings in the Pakistani media have been there for some time.

Now the US has begun the next phase of its agenda targeting Pakistan and that is the aerial gunship attacks from across the Afghan border into Pakistan.

On Friday NATO admitted that two gunship helicopters had entered Pakistan and killed 30 people – euphemistically termed “suspected militants” – just as Dr Aafia has been penalised for being a “suspected terrorist”!

Since the government of Pakistan has to its eternal shame kept silent on this new military targeting of Pakistani citizens, NATO has undoubtedly become emboldened and on Monday two gunship helicopters again came into Pakistani territory and killed a few more citizens – so far the tally is five killed in Kurram Agency.

Accompanying this new upping of the military ante inside Pakistan, the US drone attacks continue – with their frequency rising rapidly especially after Obama’s coming to power in the US.

Almost daily there are reports of 10 people or more killed by these unmanned drones – as if Pakistani lives were worth nothing. Perhaps the US is right about this as far as Pakistani rulers are concerned since President Zardari is said to have told the CIA chief that collateral damage from the drones was not an issue that bothered him!


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« Reply #25 on: September 29, 2010, 07:06:36 am »

U.S. Drone Attacks Wreak Material, Psychological Damage In Pakistan


 
Global Research, September 28, 2010
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21232
Xinhua News Agency 


Pakistani tribesmen ask for sedatives amid stepped-up U.S. drone strikes 

by Syed Moazzam Hashmi, Shahzad Wazir


-The approximately 25:1 horrific ratio of civilians killed for each suspected militant has attracted severe criticism from around the world including the United Nations and prominent human rights watchdogs.


WANA, Pakistan: Sudden ear-ripping explosions, splitter bodies in rubble amid clouds of spreading dust as soon as U.S. drones start hovering like vultures in the sky, it is what generally constitutes nightmares that frequently wake Naseemullah Wazir up in the middle of night with the rapidly increasing pace of U.S. surgical strikes in Pakistan.

Over 130 suspected militants and civilians have so far been killed in 19 unmanned drone attacks till Sunday night with a fresh wave of intensified controversial spy plane strikes from Sept. 3, according to local media and official reports.

"I am not scared but haunted by the uncertainty that anything can happen anytime to my home and my loved ones," commented Naseemullah, a native of Wana, the main administrative town in the South Waziristan tribal area who goes to a college in Dera Ismail Khan in the northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.

"Usage of tranquilizers has been increased," local physician Dr. Faizur Rehman Burki told Xinhua in an interview, as the increasing sudden drone strikes have not only panicked people but also catalyzed uncertainty.

During the past week, over 40 people were killed in seven drone strikes by Sunday overnight, all concentrating on the sub-district Dattakhel area near the Afghan border in rugged North Waziristan, as the U.S.-led NATO forces are tightening the noose around insurgent Sirajuddin Haqqani and Hafiz Gul Bahadur's network area, where the United States believes Al-Qaeda is currently concentrated.

Some 1,753 people have so far been killed in 167 drone strikes since the first unmanned missile killed five people in 2004, according to official reports. However, over 1,100 people were killed, mostly civilians, in more than 130 drone strikes on Pakistani territory since August 2008.

The United States holds it to be the most successful strategy in the war against terror so far that certainly has helped smash certain high value targets, but at a questionably high controversial cost of a greater number of innocent civilian lives.

"People generally complain of insomnia and ask to be prescribed sleeping pills," Dr. Burki added, "the uncertainty about further deteriorating law and order and the fragile future is quiet vivid on their faces."

"Younger people asks more for sedative pills," said Dr. Burki, observing that years of continuing militancy is taking a toll on youths as now they feel more vulnerable and are falling prey to different types of neurosis.

"Peace and tranquility is nonexistent," a local notable businessman Allauddin Wazir told Xinhua, adding the fear of sudden drone strikes have brought business activities to a standstill. "The economic and financial backbone is broken and they can hardly sustain life," the elderly businessman said.

"Whether Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar might have been killed in a volley of drone attacks or not, one thing is for sure - that all those martyred in such attacks were innocent civilians," Malik Safdar Hayat Dawar, a North Waziristan resident, told Xinhua. He believes the controversial drone strikes are a "direct attack on Pakistan's sovereignty, which should be stopped, now."

The approximately 25:1 horrific ratio of civilians killed for each suspected militant has attracted severe criticism from around the world including the United Nations and prominent human rights watchdogs.

Unheeding of the repeated Pakistani request of transferring drone technology with a logic of understanding its own territory and people best, the U.S. had rather intensified the strikes that compelled most of residents in tribal areas to start migrating out of their native homelands.

A single unmanned remotely controlled spy plane can carry up to four precision guided missiles. Drone sorties are usually conducted in a pair or sometimes even four to six participate in a "licensed to kill" mission. Reports say they fly from two to three U.S. Air Force bases in Afghanistan operating under the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). However, certain unconfirmed reports had earlier suggested that drones had even been used from certain air strips in Pakistan that had been leased to the United States.

The whole tribal population of North Waziristan would opt to leave the area due to increasing "extra-judicial" drone strikes, Dawar said, fearing that "all major cities of Pakistan would be swarmed by internally displaced persons (IDPs) soon," if unbridled drone strikes continued with an ever increasing frequency.

"We are unable to offer prayers in mosques, visit crowded places or tourism spots for even a little picnic," complained Shah Noor, a college student at Razmak city of North Waziristan. "The future of our education is in the doldrums. We can't even sleep peacefully because a drone strike can eliminate our lives anytime, " he told Xinhua.

Local watchers foresee that it would trigger another IDPs crisis in the making as Pakistan is already challenged by a severe human crisis in its history's worst devastating floods that had displaced over 20 million people this summer
 
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« Reply #26 on: September 29, 2010, 07:17:24 am »

South Asia
Sep 30, 2010 
http://atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LI30Df02.html 
 
US hope lies in Pakistan


By George Friedman

Bob Woodward has released another book, Obama's Wars, this one on the debate over Afghanistan strategy in the Barack Obama administration. As all his books do, the book has riveted Washington. It reveals that intense debate occurred over what course to take, that the president sought alternative strategies and that compromises were reached. But while knowing the details of these things is interesting, what would have been shocking is if they hadn't taken place.

It is interesting to reflect on the institutional inevitability of these disagreements. The military is involved in a war. It is institutionally and emotionally committed to victory in the theater of combat. It will demand all available resources for executing the war under way. For a soldier who has bled in that war, questioning the importance of the war is obscene. A war must be fought relentlessly and with all available means.

But while the military's top generals and senior civilian leadership are responsible for providing the president with sound, clearheaded advice on all military matters including the highest levels of grand strategy, they are ultimately responsible for the pursuit of military objectives to which the commander-in-chief directs them. Generals must think about how to win the war they are fighting. Presidents must think about whether the war is worth fighting. The president is responsible for America's global posture. He must consider what an unlimited commitment to a particular conflict might mean in other regions of the world where forces would be unavailable.

A president must take a more dispassionate view than his generals. He must calculate not only whether victory is possible but also the value of the victory relative to the cost. Given the nature of the war in Afghanistan, Obama and general David Petraeus - first the US Central Command chief and now the top commander in Afghanistan - had to view it differently. This is unavoidable. This is natural. And only one of the two is ultimately in charge.

The nature of guerrilla warfare

In thinking about Afghanistan, it is essential that we begin by thinking about the nature of guerrilla warfare against an occupying force. The guerrilla lives in the country. He isn't going anywhere else, as he has nowhere to go. By contrast, the foreigner has a place to which he can return. This is the core weakness of the occupier and the strength of the guerrilla. The former can leave and in all likelihood, his nation will survive. The guerrilla can't. And having alternatives undermines the foreigner's will to fight regardless of the importance of the war to him.

The strategy of the guerrilla is to make the option to withdraw more attractive. In order to do this, his strategic goal is simply to survive and fight on whatever level he can. His patience is built into who he is and what he is fighting for. The occupier's patience is calculated against the cost of the occupation and its opportunity costs, thus, while troops are committed in this country, what is happening elsewhere?

Tactically, the guerrilla survives by being elusive. He disperses in small groups. He operates in hostile terrain. He denies the enemy intelligence on his location and capabilities. He forms political alliances with civilians who provide him supplies and intelligence on the occupation forces and misleads the occupiers about his own location.

The guerrilla uses this intelligence network to decline combat on the enemy's terms and to strike the enemy when he is least prepared. The guerrilla's goal is not to seize and hold ground but to survive, evade and strike, imposing casualties on the occupier. Above all, the guerrilla must never form a center of gravity that, if struck, would lead to his defeat. He thus actively avoids anything that could be construed as a decisive contact.

The occupation force is normally a more conventional army. Its strength is superior firepower, resources and organization. If it knows where the guerrilla is and can strike before the guerrilla can disperse, the occupying force will defeat the guerrilla. The occupier's problems are that his intelligence is normally inferior to that of the guerrillas; the guerrillas rarely mass in ways that permit decisive combat and normally can disperse faster than the occupier can pinpoint and deploy forces against them; and the guerrillas' superior tactical capabilities allow them to impose a constant low rate of casualties on the occupier.

Indeed, the massive amount of resources the occupier requires and the inflexibility of a military institution not solely committed to the particular theater of operations can actually work against the occupier by creating logistical vulnerabilities susceptible to guerrilla attacks and difficulty adapting at a rate sufficient to keep pace with the guerrilla.

The occupation force will always win engagements, but that is never the measure of victory. If the guerrillas operate by doctrine, defeats in unplanned engagements will not undermine their basic goal of survival. While the occupier is not winning decisively, even while suffering only some casualties, he is losing. While the guerrilla is not losing decisively, even if suffering significant casualties, he is winning. Since the guerrilla is not going anywhere, he can afford far higher casualties than the occupier, who ultimately has the alternative of withdrawal.

The asymmetry of this warfare favors the guerrilla. This is particularly true when the strategic value of the war to the occupier is ambiguous, where the occupier does not possess sufficient force and patience to systematically overwhelm the guerrillas, and where either political or military constraints prevent operations against sanctuaries. This is a truth as relevant to David's insurgency against the Philistines as it is to the US experience in Vietnam or the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.

There has long been a myth about the unwillingness of Americans to absorb casualties for very long in guerrilla wars. In reality, the United States fought in Vietnam for at least seven years (depending on when you count the start and stop) and has now fought in Afghanistan for nine years. The idea that Americans can't endure the long war has no empirical basis. What the United States has difficulty with - along with imperial and colonial powers before it - is a war in which the ability to impose one's will on the enemy through force of arms is lacking and when it is not clear that the failure of previous years to win the war will be solved in the years ahead.

Far more relevant than casualties to whether Americans continue a war is the question of the conflict's strategic importance, for which the president is ultimately responsible. This divides into several parts. This first is whether the United States has the ability with available force to achieve its political goals through prosecuting the war (since all war is fought for some political goal, from regime change to policy shift) and whether the force the United States is willing to dedicate suffices to achieve these goals. To address this question in Afghanistan, we have to focus on the political goal.

The evolution of the US political goal in Afghanistan

Washington's primary goal at the initiation of the conflict was to destroy or disrupt al-Qaeda in Afghanistan to protect the US homeland from follow-on attacks to 9/11. But if Afghanistan were completely pacified, the threat of Islamist-fueled transnational terrorism would remain at issue because it is no longer just an issue of a single organization - al Qaeda - but a series of fragmented groups conducting operations in Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, North Africa, Somalia and elsewhere.

Today, al-Qaeda is simply one manifestation of the threat of this transnational jihadist phenomenon. It is important to stop and consider al-Qaeda - and the transnational jihadi phenomenon in general - in terms of guerrillas, and to think of the phenomenon as a guerrilla force in its own right operating by the very same rules on a global basis. Thus, where the Taliban apply guerrilla principles to Afghanistan, today's transnational jihadis applies them to the Islamic world and beyond. The transnational jihadis are not leaving and are not giving up. Like the Taliban in Afghanistan, they will decline combat against larger American forces and strike vulnerable targets when they can.

There are certainly more players and more complexity to the global phenomenon than in a localized insurgency. Many governments across North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia have no interest in seeing these movements set up shop and stir up unrest in their territory. And al-Qaeda's devolution has seen frustrations as well as successes as it spreads. But the underlying principles of guerrilla warfare remain at issue.
 
Whenever the Americans concentrate force in one area, al-Qaeda disengages, disperses and regroups elsewhere and, perhaps more important, the ideology that underpins the phenomenon continues to exist. The threat will undoubtedly continue to evolve and face challenges, but in the end, it will continue to exist along the lines of the guerrilla acting against the United States.

There is another important way in which the global guerrilla analogy is apt. STRATFOR has long held that Islamist-fueled transnational terrorism does not represent a strategic, existential threat to the United States. While acts of transnational terrorism target civilians, they are not attacks - have not been and are not evolving into attacks - that endanger the territorial integrity of the United States or the way of life of the American people. They are dangerous and must be defended against, but transnational terrorism is and remains a tactical problem that for nearly a decade has been treated as if it were the pre-eminent strategic threat to the United States.

Nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, "The most fundamental form of human stupidity is forgetting what we were trying to do in the first place." The stated US goal in Afghanistan was the destruction of al-Qaeda. While al-Qaeda as it existed in 2001 has certainly been disrupted and degraded, al-Qaeda's evolution and migration means that disrupting and degrading it - to say nothing of destroying it - can no longer be achieved by waging a war in Afghanistan.

The guerrilla does not rely on a single piece of real estate (in this case Afghanistan) but rather on his ability to move seamlessly across terrain to evade decisive combat in any specific location. Islamist-fueled transnational terrorism is not centered on Afghanistan and does not need Afghanistan, so no matter how successful that war might be, it would make little difference in the larger fight against transnational jihadism.

Thus far, the United States has chosen to carry on fighting the war in Afghanistan. As al-Qaeda has fled Afghanistan, the overall political goal for the United States in the country has evolved to include the creation of a democratic and uncorrupt Afghanistan. It is not clear that anyone knows how to do this, particularly given that most Afghans consider the ruling government of President Hamid Karzai - with which the United States is allied - as the heart of the corruption problem, and beyond Kabul most Afghans do not regard their way of making political and social arrangements to be corrupt.

Simply withdrawing from Afghanistan carries its own strategic and political costs, however. The strategic problem is that simply terminating the war after nine years would destabilize the Islamic world. The United States has managed to block al-Qaeda's goal of triggering a series of uprisings against existing regimes and replacing them with jihadist regimes. It did this by displaying a willingness to intervene where necessary.

The idea that US intervention destabilized the region raises the question of what regional stability would look like had it not intervened. The danger of withdrawal is that the network of relationships the United States created and imposed at the regime level could unravel if it withdrew. America would be seen as having lost the war, the prestige of radical Islamists and thereby the foundation of the ideology that underpins their movement would surge, and this could destabilize regimes and undermine American interests.

The political problem is domestic. Obama's approval rating now stands at 42%. This is not unprecedented, but it means he is politically weak. One of the charges against him, fair or not, is that he is inherently anti-war by background and so not fully committed to the war effort. Where a Republican would face charges of being a warmonger, which would make withdrawal easier, Obama faces charges of being too soft.

Since a president must maintain political support to be effective, withdrawal becomes even harder. Therefore, strategic analysis aside, the president is not going to order a complete withdrawal of all combat forces any time soon - the national (and international) political alignment won't support such a step. At the same time, remaining in Afghanistan is unlikely to achieve any goal and leaves potential rivals like China and Russia freer rein.

The American solution

The American solution, one that we suspect is already under way, is the Pakistanization of the war. By this, we do not mean extending the war into Pakistan but rather extending Pakistan into Afghanistan. The Taliban phenomenon has extended into Pakistan in ways that seriously complicate Pakistani efforts to regain their bearing in Afghanistan.

It has created a major security problem for Islamabad, which, coupled with the severe deterioration of the country's economy and now the floods, has weakened the Pakistanis' ability to manage Afghanistan. In other words, the moment that the Pakistanis have been waiting for - American agreement and support for the Pakistanization of the war - has come at a time when the Pakistanis are not in an ideal position to capitalize on it.
In the past, the United States has endeavored to keep the Taliban in Afghanistan and the regime in Pakistan separate. (The Taliban movements in Afghanistan and Pakistan are not one and the same.) Washington has not succeeded in this regard, with the Pakistanis continuing to hedge their bets and maintain a relationship across the border. Still, US opposition has been the single-greatest impediment to Pakistan's consolidation of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and abandoning this opposition leaves important avenues open for Islamabad.

The Pakistani relationship to the Taliban, which was a liability for the United States in the past, now becomes an advantage for Washington because it creates a trusted channel for meaningful communication with the Taliban. Logic suggests this channel is quite active now.

The Vietnam War ended with the Paris peace talks. Those formal talks were not where the real bargaining took place but rather where the results were ultimately confirmed. If talks are underway, a similar venue for the formal manifestation of the talks is needed - and Islamabad is as good a place as any.

Pakistan is an American ally which the United States needs, both to balance growing Chinese influence in and partnership with Pakistan, and to contain India. Pakistan needs the US for the same reason.

Meanwhile, the Taliban want to run Afghanistan. The United States has no strong national interest in how Afghanistan is run so long as it does not support and espouse transnational jihadism. But it needs its withdrawal to take place in a manner that strengthens its influence rather than weakens it, and Pakistan can provide the cover for turning a retreat into a negotiated settlement.

Pakistan has every reason to play this role. It needs the United States over the long term to balance against India. It must have a stable or relatively stable Afghanistan to secure its western frontier. It needs an end to US forays into Pakistan that are destabilizing the regime. And playing this role would enhance Pakistan's status in the Islamic world, something the United States could benefit from, too. We suspect that all sides are moving toward this end.

The United States isn't going to defeat the Taliban. The original goal of the war is irrelevant, and the current goal is rather difficult to take seriously. Even a victory, whatever that would look like, would make little difference in the fight against transnational jihad, but a defeat could harm US interests.

Therefore, the United States needs a withdrawal that is not a defeat. Such a strategic shift is not without profound political complexity and difficulties. But the disparity between - and increasingly, the incompatibility of - the struggle with transnational terrorism and the war effort geographically rooted in Afghanistan is only becoming more apparent - even to the American public.

(Published with permission from STRATFOR, a Texas-based geopolitical intelligence company. Copyright 2010 Stratfor.)


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« Reply #27 on: September 29, 2010, 07:26:22 am »

South Asia
Sep 30, 2010 
http://atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LI30Df01.html 
 
War, and another peace plan


By Syed Saleem Shahazad

ISLAMABAD - As peace overtures with the indigenous Afghan resistance move forward, the United States is stepping up efforts to eliminate al-Qaeda and other foreign militants.

In what could be a severe blow to al-Qaeda, Sheikh Fateh al-Misri, its chief commander in Pakistan and Afghanistan, is reported to have been killed at the weekend in a drone strike in Pakistan. The Egyptian Misri, previously not a member of al-Qaeda, in May replaced Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, who was also killed in a drone attack in the North Waziristan tribal area. [1]

The development coincides with Washington impressing on all key players in South and Central Asia to combine efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan. The groundwork has already been laid for the US to negotiate with the Taliban, with the Pakistani military and Saudi Arabia acting as go-betweens.

However, Taliban sources in the southern regions of Pakistan confirmed to Asia Times Online that while different Taliban groups had been approached, the Americans would prefer to talk to one of the major anti-US forces in Afghanistan, the Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) led by former Afghan premier Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The HIA is likely to strike a deal with the Americans before the Taliban, and notably HIA fighters showed no hostility during this month's parliamentary elections in the areas they control in Kunar, Nuristan, Baghlan, Qunduz and Kapisa provinces.

Talking to Asia Times Online from Los Angeles on phone, Hekmatyar's main negotiator with the Americans, Daoud Abedi, confirmed that in the ongoing backchannel negotiations, Washington is leaning towards the HIA, the reason being that the HIA's plans for Afghanistan are considered more practical than those of the Taliban. The Taliban are insistent on the revival of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, which crumbled following the US-led invasion of late 2001. The Taliban do, however, agree to give representation in government to "clean" people of other groups.

"At the moment, the HIA's peace plan, which we presented to the Afghan government early this year, is now the central focus at all relevant forums," Abedi said.

Abedi was invited by the White House-appointed Afghanistan Study Group and the Center for International Strategic Studies to give a detailed presentation of the HIA's plan on September 17 in Washington. The plan, "Mesaq Milli Nejat" (Afghanistan Rescue National Agreement) covers internal and external issues [2].

The plan calls for the withdrawal of all foreign troops and a subsequent commitment to expel foreign militants. The draft does not aim to immediately dissolve the government or the presidential parliamentary system. However, it aim is that once foreign forces leave, fresh elections will be held at all levels and power should be transferred accordingly.

"At the moment, the Americans don't want to make public their viewpoint on this proposed agreement as the [November] mid-term American elections are near. They want to form their opinion next year," Abedi said.

In the Taliban camp, the activity in the HIA camp is viewed as a bid to divide the resistance.

In parallel with the peace efforts, the top US commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, is stepping up the battle, with gunship helicopters this week crossing into Pakistani territory to kill about 50 insurgents. Petraeus has also established an extensive intelligence network in the tribal region. This led to the extremely reclusive Fateh being pinpointed and then eliminated.

According to an American official who spoke to Asia Times Online, peace agreements will slow down the war antics of the insurgents. If the US succeeds in getting a complete ceasefire, that would be good. Alternatively, partial peace agreements would provide breathing space before next summer and increase the pressure on the Taliban to come to terms.

Notes

1. Asia Times Online broke the news of Misri's appointment (see Al-Qaeda's new man eyes Pakistan July 8, 2010)
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LG08Df02.html
and remained the only media outlet to detail his activities (see Tension ramped up a notch in Pakistan July 21, 2010.)
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LG21Df02.html

2. The proposed agreement reads:
We, [Afghans] promise to assist each other, to take our country out of its miseries, to end the war forever, have confident security, have an Afghanistan free of foreign forces and foreign interferences, empower our national conciliation, allow our nation to choose their leader(s) and establish our own type of governance based on our ideology and belief.

In order to reach these holy and high-value goals, we have agreed to the following plan:
1. Foreign forces to start departing from Afghanistan in July of 2010 [the plan was drawn up earlier this year] and complete their departure within six months.
2. Within this time period, the foreign forces are to leave the cities and gather in their military bases for their scheduled departure.
3. Within this period, security to be completely handed over to the Afghan National Army, police, and foreign forces must not have the right to engage in military operations, searching of homes or imprisonment of any person on their own in any part of Afghanistan.
4. The current government and parliament can continue their daily work until according to this agreement an election is held and a newly elected parliament and government is formed, nonetheless, controversial personalities as well as corrupt people, national traitors, atheists and war criminals must not be included in this government; also, leadership of the three branches of the government must not include those members of the parties who have fought on behalf of one party against another.
5. With the agreement of all Afghan parties, a seven-member council in the name of National Security Council will be formed which will have the authority to make the final decisions in regard to important national issues of the country. The head office of this council (NSC) will be in such a province of the country where the security of that province is completely under the control of Afghan security forces and no foreign security force(s) will be present there.
6. After the departure of the foreign forces, elections based on proportional representation should be held simultaneously for the presidency, the House of Representatives, and provincial councils.
7. Those cabinet members and governors of the current government who wish to take part in these elections can do so only if they resign three months prior to the election date from their current governmental positions.
8. In the first elected government, all sides' shares in the government will be honored based on their achieved percentage of votes, but after the first election the high vote winner in future elections is not obligated to form a coalition government.
9. Those parties or political alliances will have the right to participate in the future elections that received 10% of the votes (of eligible voters) in this first election.
10. A complete ceasefire will be held among all warring sides, all political prisoners are to be released. All sides must promise that from now on they will not search for unconstitutional ways for reaching political goals nor will they take up arms against their political rivals.
11. The first elected council [House of Representatives] has the right to review the drafts of the constitution offered by the three sides and make a final decision in regard to the Afghan constitution.
12. No foreign country has the right to have prisons in Afghanistan, imprison any Afghan or punish him/her, send and take him/her out of Afghanistan for investigation, imprisonment or court processing.
13. Corrupt persons, drug smugglers, thieves of national wealth and war criminals will be handed over to the Afghan courts and no one will have the right to defend them in illegal ways, publicly or privately.
14. After the departure of the foreign forces, foreign fighters will not be [allowed] in Afghanistan.
15. Any internal or external force which disagrees to this reconciliation agreement and insists in the continuation of fighting, we all agree that together we will fight them until we rescue our nation and country from them. 
 
 
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« Reply #28 on: September 29, 2010, 01:10:04 pm »

September 28, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/29/world/asia/29pstan.html?_r=2&hp

Generals in Pakistan Push for Shake-Up of Government

By JANE PERLEZ


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Pakistani military, angered by the inept handling of the country’s devastating floods and alarmed by a collapse of the economy, is pushing for a shake-up of the elected government, and in the longer term, even the removal of President Asif Ali Zardari and his top lieutenants.

The military, preoccupied by a war against militants and reluctant to assume direct responsibility for the economic crisis, has made clear it is not eager to take over the government, as it has many times before, military officials and politicians said.

But the government’s performance since the floods, which have left 20 million people homeless and the nation dependent on handouts from skeptical foreign donors, has laid bare the deep underlying tensions between military and civilian leaders.

American officials, too, say it has left them increasingly disillusioned with Mr. Zardari, a deeply unpopular president who was elected two and a half years ago on a wave of sympathy after the assassination of his wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

In a meeting on Monday that was played on the front page of Pakistan’s newspapers, the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, confronted the president and his prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, over incompetence and corruption in the government.

According to the press and Pakistani officials familiar with the conversation, the general demanded that they dismiss at least some ministers in the oversized 60-member cabinet, many of whom face corruption charges.

The civilian government has so far resisted the general’s demand. But the meeting was widely interpreted by the Pakistani news media, which has grown increasingly hostile to the president, as a rebuke to the civilian politicians and as having pushed the government to the brink.

After the meeting, the president’s office issued a statement, approved by all the men, saying they had agreed “to protect the democratic process and to resolve all issues in accordance with the constitution.”

A Pakistani official close to the president who was familiar with the conversation but did not want to be identified, said, “The president made it clear that he would not leave, come what may.”

“Sanity had prevailed,” the official added.

Since the floods, the government has defended its handling of the crisis, arguing that any government would have been overwhelmed by its scale.

Still, it is clear that General Kayani, head of the country’s most powerful institution, and the one that has taken the lead in the flood crisis, has ratcheted up the pressure on the government.

Having secured an exceptional three-year extension in his post from Mr. Zardari in July, General Kayani appears determined to prevent the economy from bankruptcy. Military officers in the main cities have been talking openly and expansively about their contempt for the Zardari government and what they term the economic calamity, an unusual candor, reporters and politicians said.

“The gross economic mismanagement by the government is at the heart of it,” said Rifaat Hussain, a professor of international relations at Islamabad University and a confidant of the military. “And there is the rising public disaffection with the Pakistani Peoples Party under Zardari and Gilani.”

As the military demands the overhaul, the Supreme Court is also pushing the government on the issue of corruption by threatening to remove the president’s immunity from prosecution, a move that would expose him to charges of corruption in an old money-laundering case in Switzerland.

The government has defied the court’s demand to write a letter to the Swiss government requesting a reopening of the case against Mr. Zardari, who served 11 years in prison in Pakistan on unproved corruption charges. On Monday, the court granted an extension of two weeks for the government to reconsider its position.

Much of the rising disdain for the government has to do with the perception among the media and the public of the callous and inept handling of the floods by the nation’s wealthy ruling class.

Mr. Gilani drew public ire for appearing at an ersatz camp for flood victims set up just for television cameras. It also did not help that newspapers reported that scores of cartons from the London luxury store Harrods had arrived at his residence in Lahore at the height of the flooding.

Mr. Zardari, meanwhile, was vilified for visiting his chateau in France as torrents of water wiped out millions of villagers in his home province, Sindh.

In his most recent visit to Pakistan, Richard C. Holbrooke, the American special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said the international community could not be expected to provide all the billions of dollars needed to repair the flood damage, a warning interpreted here as a rebuke of the civilian government and its mismanagement.

But Washington, not unlike Pakistan’s military, is caught, American officials say, because there is no appetite for a return of military rule. Nor is there desire to see the opposition politician and former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, resume power.

Mr. Sharif, who has also faced corruption charges during his career, is considered by Washington to be too close to some of Pakistan’s militant groups, whose members vote in Punjab, the Sharif electoral base.

As the head of the of the main opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-N, Mr. Sharif is not ready to come to the fore in any case, his aides say, because he does not want to be associated with the paralysis of the current government.

Of mounting concern to the Obama administration is the potential for serious unrest if the economy unspools further: inflation by some predictions will reach 25 percent in the coming period. The price of sugar has tripled, and the cost of flour has doubled since the Zardari government came to power.

In particular, Washington wants the government to raise taxes on the wealthy landed and commercial class, a shortcoming that has become especially galling as Pakistan’s dependence on foreign donors rises.

Pakistan’s revenues from taxes are among the lowest in the world: only 2 million Pakistanis of a population of 170 million pay income tax, according to estimates by the United States.

A report in a leading newspaper, The News, said Monday that Mr. Gilani and 25 of his ministers, including the finance minister, Hafiz Shaikh, did not pay income taxes at all, according to sworn affidavits by the ministers to the Election Commission of Pakistan.

The alarm about the economy was first sounded by Mr. Shaikh, a former officer of the World Bank, who told a meeting of political and military leaders last month that the government had enough money to pay only two months’ salaries. The economy was “teetering on the brink” before the floods but was now heading for the “abyss,” Mr. Shaikh was quoted as saying.

The military officers who attended were astounded, Mr. Hussain and others informed of the meeting said, and have pressed the government for changes, politicians and diplomats said.

As the military maneuvers for change, it is not immune from criticism. Defense spending is budgeted at 13.6 percent of total expenditures in 2011, in line with past yearly expenditures even as the civilian population suffers.

The defense budget remains beyond public scrutiny, a fact that increasingly irks the public.

“Do we even know how much it costs taxpayers each year to make possible the office, the home, the car fleets, attendants, guest houses and other amenities that are enjoyed by the army chief or even a corps commander?” asked Babar Sattar, a lawyer who often writes about corruption.


Ismail Khan contributed reporting from Peshawar, Pakistan.


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« Reply #29 on: October 01, 2010, 06:32:06 am »

Friendly Fire: Whining Up Front, Warmongering in the Back



by Chris Floyd

http://uruknet.info/?p=m70300&hd=&size=1&l=e

Empire Burlesque, September 30, 2010



While Barack Obama busies himself in public with hectoring his "base" for not appreciating the super-progressive wonderfulness of his administration, behind the scenes he is rapidly escalating America's war on its own ally, Pakistan, with a series of deadly incursions that seemed designed to provoke the Pakistanis into a violent response -- which could then be used to "justify" a further escalation.

The new "surge" against Pakistan is not limited to attacks on "militants" (the description now given to any Pakistani -- man, woman or child -- who is killed by American ordnance) but is also being waged against the forces of the Pakistani government itself. After a weekend bombing blitzkrieg across Pakistan's supposedly sovereign border that left more than 50 people dead, American forces launched a pre-dawn helicopter raid on Thursday which hammered two posts of Pakistan's Frontier Corps, killing three soldiers. That is to say, three allied soldiers of an army that has lost hundreds of men fighting (and killing and displacing) its own people at the behest of Washington.

No explanation for the attacks on Pakistani forces has been offered yet. Perhaps they were launched to put a little muscle behind the visit of Obama's CIA chief, Leon "Let the Torturers Go Free" Panetta, who coincidentally, or not so coincidentally, was arriving in Pakistan for talks with the nation's military chiefs on Thursday. After all, shedding blood is an excellent way to concentrate the minds of one's counterparts in negotiation.

In response to the attack, Pakistan did close a transit point for supplies for the American-led occupation forces in Afghanistan; but this is doubtless a temporary measure -- and anyway, it's pretty weak beer compared to actually murdering your ally's soldiers.

It is almost certain that we will never learn the real reasons behind these particular attacks; the operations of the Terror War are obscured by so much deliberately fomented murk, so many factions with various covert agendas, and so much "plausible deniability" that specific events can rarely be discerned with any clarity. But the general fact of Obama's relentless escalation of military action in and against Pakistan cannot be denied. Likewise, the result of this surge, if it continues apace, is equally clear: the further destabilization of a nuclear-armed nation now suffering one the greatest humanitarian disasters in modern times, with a concomitant rise in extremism, desperation, violence, and the world-shaking destabilization of a region already long poised on the brink of nuclear war.

As I've said here before, you must forgive me for not being overly concerned about the political fortunes of a president and a party embarked on a course of such murderous lunacy. 




 
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« Reply #30 on: October 01, 2010, 06:53:41 am »

'Horrifying' Swat Valley Executions

Video Hints at Executions by Pakistanis

By JANE PERLEZ

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article26486.htm

September 30, 2010 "New York Times" - -ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — An Internet video showing men in Pakistani military uniforms executing six young men in civilian clothes has heightened concerns about unlawful killings by Pakistani soldiers supported by the United States, American officials said.

The authenticity of the five-and-a-half-minute video, which shows the killing of the six men — some of whom appear to be teenagers, blindfolded, with their hands bound behind their backs — has not been formally verified by the American government. The Pakistani military said it was faked by militants.

But American officials, who did not want to be identified because of the explosive nature of the video, said it appeared to be credible, as did retired American military officers and intelligence analysts who have viewed it.

(Video of the killings Warning: Contains graphic images)


- (Download / Play video from ICH servers)


After viewing the graphic video on Wednesday, an administration official said: “There are things you can fake, and things you can’t fake. You can’t fake this.”

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon E. Panetta, who was in Islamabad on Wednesday on a previously scheduled visit, was expected to raise the subject of the video with the chief of the Pakistani Army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and the head of the Pakistani spy agency, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, American officials said.

The video adds to reports under review at the State Department and the Pentagon that Pakistani Army units have summarily executed prisoners and civilians in areas where they have opened offensives against the Taliban, administration officials said.

The video appears to have been taken in the Swat Valley, where the Pakistani military opened a campaign last year to push back Taliban insurgents. The effort was widely praised by American officials and financed in large part by the United States.

The reports could have serious implications for relations between the militaries. American law requires that the United States cut off financing to units of foreign militaries that are found to have committed gross violations of human rights.

But never has that law been applied to so strategic a partner as Pakistan, whose military has received more than $10 billion in American support since 2001 for its cooperation in fighting militants from the Taliban and Al Qaeda based inside the country.

The State Department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley, called the images “horrifying.” He said the American ambassador, Anne W. Patterson, had raised the issue with the Pakistani government and was awaiting a response. “We are determined to investigate it,” he said.

The spokesman for the Pakistani Army, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, dismissed the video as part of a propaganda campaign by jihadists to defame the Pakistani Army. “No Pakistan Army soldier or officer has been involved in activity of this sort,” he said.

A senior Pakistani intelligence officer, who declined to be named, dismissed the video as a staged “drama.”

The Pakistani military came under strong pressure from the United States to make the drive into the Swat region. Having since expanded operations to South Waziristan, the military has found itself in a counterinsurgency campaign in which it has struggled to maintain local support and weed out insurgents and their sympathizers from the population.

The video, apparently taken surreptitiously with a cellphone, shows six young men being lined up near an abandoned building surrounded by foliage. As the soldiers prepare to shoot, one soldier asks the commander, a heavily bearded man with the short hair typical of a military haircut: “One by one, or together?” He replies, “Together.”

A burst of gunfire erupts. The young men crumple to the ground. Some, still alive and wounded, groan. Then a soldier approaches the heap of bodies, and fires rounds into each man at short range to finish the job.

The men doing the shooting wear Pakistani Army uniforms and appear to be using G-3 rifles, standard issue for the Pakistani Army and rarely used by insurgents, according to several Pakistanis who watched the video.

The soldiers also speak Urdu, the language of the Pakistani Army, and use the word “Sahib” when addressing their commander, a polite form for Mr., which is uncommon among the Taliban.

The question of extrajudicial killings is particularly sensitive for Pentagon officials, who have tried in visits to Pakistan and through increased financing to improve their often-tense relationship with the Pakistani Army.

But growing word of such incidents in recent months has led to an internal debate at the State Department and the Pentagon over whether the reports are credible enough to warrant cutting off funds to Pakistani Army units, American officials said.

Not least of the concerns is keeping the Pakistani Army as an ally. Pentagon officials, already frustrated at Pakistan’s refusal to take on Taliban militants who cross into Afghanistan to fight American forces, fear that raising the question of human rights will sour the relationship.

“What if the Pakistanis walk away — is there any option?” was a question uppermost at the Pentagon, a senior administration official involved in the debate said.

Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and sponsor of the law that would require withholding money, said Wednesday that anyone who had seen the video would “be shocked.”

If the video was found to be authentic, the law could be imposed, he said.

Currently, the United States spends about $2 billion a year on the Pakistani military, including funds specifically designated for antiterrorism operations, which the Pentagon has said it would like the Pakistanis to expand.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, raised the reports of extrajudicial killings with the head of the Pakistani Army, General Kayani, in meetings this year, a senior administration official said.

One unresolved question, the official said, was how seriously General Kayani took the killings, and whether he was willing to punish the soldiers involved.

Some reports, particularly from Waziristan, that the State Department was reviewing were increasingly specific and credible, the senior official said.

“There is a particular set of incidents that have been investigated with great accuracy, and, we believe, lead to a pattern,” the official said.

The State Department briefed members of the Senate about the issue this summer, and was set to do so again next month, an indication of the rising concern on Capitol Hill, according to one Congressional staff member.

The episode in the video may be just the most glaring to surface. The Pakistani military is believed to have detained as many as 3,000 people in makeshift prisons in the region of its operations. Reluctant to turn them over to Pakistan’s undependable courts or to grant them amnesty, the problem of what to do with the detainees has grown pressing.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said in June that 282 extrajudicial killings by the army had taken place in the Swat region in the past year.

A Pakistani intelligence official, who did not want to be identified discussing the issue, said he had seen other such videos and heard reports of executions larger than the one in the video, which was posted on the Facebook page of a group that calls itself the Pashtuns’ International Association.

Two retired Pakistani senior army officers said they believed that the video was credible.

“It’s authentic,” said Javed Hussain, a former Special Forces brigadier. “They are soldiers in Swat. The victims appear to be militants or their sympathizers.” The executioners were infantry soldiers, he said. “It’s shocking, not expected of a professional, disciplined force.”

A retired lieutenant general, Talat Masood, also said the video seemed credible. “It will have a serious setback in the effort for winning the hearts and minds so crucial in this type of warfare,” he said.

A Pakistani employee of The New York Times contributed reporting.
 

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« Reply #31 on: October 01, 2010, 06:58:04 am »

New U.S. Raids on Pakistan Constitute 'Naked Aggression'

Editorial

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article26489.htm

September 30, 2010 -- "The Frontier Post" - - Pakistan -- These attacks are, plain and simple, a naked aggression against Pakistan by the Afghanistan-based and NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which is to say, America. What else could they be? On Sunday, two of their helicopter gunships intruded into Pakistan and killed over thirty people, claiming they were militants. A Foreign Office spokesman said that Pakistan had protested to NATO/ISAF over the incursion, yet the very next day their gunships trespassed into Pakistani territory again and slaughtered another six people. 

ISAF insists that it has a mandate for hot pursuit into Pakistani territory and targeted “militants” who attacked coalition forces in Afghanistan from Pakistan and had been fleeing after the assault. Our foreign spokesman denied such a mandate for ISAF, but his assertion must be taken with a pinch of salt. Islamabad has long clamored about how the incessant U.S. drone attacks are stark violations of our territorial sovereignty, yet it's clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that these incursions carry the tacit support of the Pakistani State, if not its explicit acquiescence.

There is a foul air about the acts of Pakistani officialdom: it keeps too many things secret from its own people while playing the obedient and loyal slave to Western capitals, particularly Washington. After every drone incursion, it goes so far as to instantly endorse American claims of killing militants, while the locals often wail that innocent civilians, commonly composed of women and children, have been murdered. Even on Sunday, as ISAF officials and their Afghan puppets were crowing that their gunships had killed “militants” in two sorties in North Waziristan, local politicians were in complete denial that any incursion had occurred. Ultimately, the officials grudgingly bleated that only one assault had taken place, and that it occurred in Kurram Agency and not North Waziristan, where Monday’s attacks took place.

It's high time that the Pakistani government wake up to the potential costs of its trickery with its own people. It must know that, for all intents and purposes, the game is up for the U.S.-led occupiers in Afghanistan. Their soldiers know it, their commanders know it, their political bosses know it, and even their embedded journalists are now talking of the war being unwinnable. This frustration escalated sharply after the Marja adventure, which coalition forces thought would be a showcase for President Barack Obama’s troop-surge, but which has turned into a humiliating fiasco. The occupiers are in despair and growing desperate to cut and run, particularly as their own domestic publics, even in America, are becoming increasingly opposed to this war and want their army home at once.

Even Obama would find it hard to stay beyond the middle of next year. On top of the war’s snowballing unpopularity and the growing divisions within his administration, with a significant segment calling for a pullout, there are compelling political reasons to do so. A continuing stream of American soldiers in body bags and a yearly drain of $100 billion on the recession-hit U.S. economy, added to the economic woes of a skeptical public, could hurt his bid for recapturing the presidency. He would certainly be loath to risk that for a military adventure that has obviously gone irreversibly wrong. However, he wouldn't want to leave with his tail between his legs, but with a show of victory, no matter how false. Extending the war into Pakistan, in whatever fashion, would thus come naturally to him and other occupiers as a way to drive home a deceitful impression to their people that the war had been won in Afghanistan, that only Pakistan remained to be tackled, and that they had tackled it.

So they've escalated from drone attacks on our territory to gunship assaults, which in all probability will intensify in the days ahead. Don't forget that during the campaign, Obama had spoken of hot pursuit into Pakistan. Prime Minister Gilani must immediately hold an inter-agency meeting on this new U.S.-led adventurism and decide on how to respond, which should be tangible and no ruse. Otherwise the occupiers will go back laughing from Afghanistan while we're left in the lurch with our tribal compatriots unappeasably angry at Islamabad and the rest of our disdainful political and military establishment.

===========

Now NATO Gunships

Editorial

September 28, 2010 -- "The Nation" --- AS so many had been predicting, if the Pakistani state did not delink itself from the misguided US ‘war on terror’, the US would eventually shift the centre of gravity of the war from Afghanistan to Pakistan and move militarily into Pakistani territory. This is exactly what is now happening.

Already the US has been carrying out drone attacks against Pakistanis, killing thousands of innocent citizens in their wake and perhaps in the process a few militants also. Meanwhile, US covert operatives and Special Forces have spread themselves all over Pakistan and these revelations and warnings in the Pakistani media have been there for some time. Now the US has begun the next phase of its agenda targeting Pakistan and that is the aerial gunship attacks from across the Afghan border into Pakistan.

On Friday NATO admitted that two gunship helicopters had entered Pakistan and killed 30 people – euphemistically termed “suspected militants” – just as Dr Aafia has been penalised for being a “suspected terrorist”!

Since the government of Pakistan has to its eternal shame, kept silent on this new military targeting of Pakistani citizens, NATO has undoubtedly become emboldened and on Monday two gunship helicopters again came into Pakistani territory and killed a few more citizens – so far the tally is five killed in Kurram Agency.

Accompanying this new upping of the military ante inside Pakistan, the US drone attacks continue – with their frequency rising rapidly especially after Obama’s coming to power in the US. Almost daily there are reports of 10 people or more killed by these unmanned drones – as if Pakistani lives were worth nothing. Perhaps the US is right about this as far as Pakistani rulers are concerned since President Zardari is said to have told the CIA Chief that collateral damage from the drones was not an issue that bothered him!



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« Reply #32 on: October 01, 2010, 07:06:29 am »


New Poll: Pakistanis Hate the Drones, Back Suicide Attacks on U.S. Troops


By Spencer Ackerman  September 30, 2010  |  10:54 am 
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/09/new-poll-pakistanis-hate-the-drones-back-suicide-attacks-on-u-s-troops/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wired%2Fpolitics+%28Wired%3A+Politics%29


The CIA can kill militants all day long. If the drone war in Pakistan drives the local people into al Qaeda’s arms, it’ll be failure. A new poll of the Pakistani tribal areas, released this morning, suggests that could easily wind up happening. Chalk one up for drone skeptics like counterinsurgent emeritus David Kilcullen and ex-CIA Director Michael Hayden.

Only 16 percent of respondents to a new poll sponsored by the drone-watchers at the New America Foundation say that the drone strikes “accurately target militants.” Three times that number say they “largely kill civilians.”

CIA director Leon Panetta, by contrast, has staunchly defended the drone program as meticulously targeting terrorists. In a war that depends heavily on perceptions, it’s a big discrepancy.

There’s more bad news for Panetta and his boss in the White House. A plurality of respondents in the tribal areas say that the U.S. is primarily responsible for violence in the region. Nearly 90 percent want the U.S. to stop pursuing militants in their backyard and nearly 60 percent are fine with suicide bombings directed at the Americans. That comes as NATO accelerates incursions into Pakistan. Just this morning, it announced that a pursuit of insurgents in Afghanistan’s Paktiya Province led to a U.S. helicopter shooting at the militants from Pakistani airspace. Enraged Pakistani officials responded by shutting down a critical NATO supply line into Afghanistan.

Whatever NATO says, very few in the tribal regions are inclined to believe the U.S. is in Afghanistan and occasionally in Pakistan to fight terrorism. They think the U.S. is waging “larger war on Islam or… an effort to secure oil and minerals in the region.”

On the brighter side, wide majorities in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas disapprove of al Qaeda (over three-quarters), the Pakistani Taliban (over two-thirds) and the Afghan Taliban (60 percent). There’s also strong support for the Pakistani army: almost 70 percent want the army to directly confront al Qaeda and the Taliban in the region; 79 percent say they wouldn’t mind if the tribal area were run by the army.

Now for the qualifiers. Polling in the conflict-heavy tribal areas is a dicey proposition. A survey last year of the tribal areas published in the Daily Times found that almost two-thirds of respondents wanted the U.S. drone campaign to continue. So either support for the drones has bottomed out or there’s significant methodological discrepancies. The Pakistani firm that actually conducted the new poll of 1000 respondents across 120 FATA villages, the Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme, has polled the area for years.

Not everyone is convinced. During a trip to Pakistan this summer, Georgetown University’s Christine Fair, an influential defender of the drones, heard a lot of support for the drone strikes among her hosts. (Though one imagines that those willing to host Americans would probably be favorably inclined to the drones.) From her perspective, the opposition to what she’s termed the “most successful tool that the United States and Pakistan have” against militants is based on a “disinformation campaign” spread by terrorist sympathizers in the Pakistani intelligence services.

Fair says she’s unsurprised by New America’s poll. “The biggest problem is that they fail to control for the proximity to the drone strikes,” she tells Danger Room. “That is, the farther from the actual point of impact [of the drones] the distrust and ignorance of the program expands, due to the prevailing propaganda.” The upshot from the poll, in Fair’s view, is to “impress upon [Pakistani intelligence] that the disinformation campaign needs to stop,” not to stop the drones.

Indeed, stopping the drones is a remote possibility. As (possibly dubious) fears of a FATA-based plot to attack European cities expand within the intelligence community, September alone has seen 20+ unmanned attacks, making it the most drone-intense month of the war thus far. Bob Woodward’s new book, Obama’s Wars, revealed a behind-the-scenes decision late last year by the Obama administration to intensify aerial and even ground assaults on the extremist safe havens in Pakistan. It’ll take more than local outrage over the drones to get an administration fearing domestic terror attacks to place them back in their hangars.

Update, 2:40 p.m. Kenneth Ballen of Terror Free Tomorrow, one of New America’s partners on the poll, emails to explain the methodological difference between today’s poll and the 2009 survey. ” Our poll of FATA was a methodologically valid random sampling of opinion. Informal and anecdotal interviews of residents, while important, do not have the same statistical validity,” he says.

Photo: USAF

See Also:

•Drone Pilots Could Be Tried for ‘War Crimes,’ Law Prof Says …
•Pakistanis Ask: Drones? What Drones?
•CIA Snitches Are Pakistan Drone-Spotters
•Call Off Drone War, Influential U.S. Adviser Says
•CIA Drone Guy Becomes New Top Spy
•CIA Chief: Drones ‘Only Game in Town’ for Stopping Al Qaeda …


Read More http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/09/new-poll-pakistanis-hate-the-drones-back-suicide-attacks-on-u-s-troops/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wired%2Fpolitics+%28Wired%3A+Politics%29#ixzz116kugIzY


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« Reply #33 on: October 01, 2010, 07:17:34 am »

Musharraf to launch new party  
 
Ex-president says it is time for a political culture that represents the people and "shuns dynastic principles".


Last Modified: 01 Oct 2010 11:53 GMT
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/10/201010164531436629.html


http://www.youtube.com/v/PuLGiMxkcns


Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's former president, is set to announce the launch of a new political party on Friday in London.

The party, the All Pakistan Muslim League, will take part in the general elections planned for 2013.

Musharraf, who had seized power in 1999 through a bloodless military coup, told Al Jazeera in an exlusive interview that it is time for a new political culture that will represent the people and "shun dynastic politics".

The move comes as Pakistan's current government is being criticised for its response to floods that devastated the country.
 
 
Source: Al Jazeera 
 
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« Reply #34 on: October 04, 2010, 06:14:20 am »

South Asia
Oct 5, 2010 
http://atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LJ05Df01.html 
 
Carryings on up the Khyber Pass


By Syed Saleem Shahzad

ISLAMABAD - Hawkish anti-American elements in Pakistan's military prevailed on pro-United States army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kiani to close a key North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) supply route in Pakistan in a move that signals a possible ominous deterioration in relations between Islamabad and Washington.

The hand of the hawks was strengthened by a record number of US unmanned drone attacks inside Pakistan last month - 22 - as well as two raids by US gunships into Pakistani territory.

On Thursday, Pakistan blocked the Khyber Pass at the Torkham border crossing into Afghanistan through which 80% of the NATO supplies that pass through Pakistan are transported. These supplies go straight to Bagram air base on the outskirts of the capital, Kabul. The remaining 20% of the supplies that go through Pakistan use the Chaman border, from where they go to Kandahar air base; this passage remains open. Approximately 80% of NATO's supplies go through Pakistan. The remainder go via a much more expensive and time-consuming route through Central Asia, or by air.

The tense situation was exacerbated on Monday morning when about 20 NATO tankers near Islamabad were set alight by gunmen with Molotov cocktails. Three people were killed and eight wounded in the incident, which follows a similar attack on Friday in the south, when gunmen burned more than 24 trucks and tankers carrying fuel destined for NATO forces in Afghanistan.

According to high-level contacts who spoke to Asia Times Online, the prime mover behind having the Khyber Pass closed was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of the Staff Committee, General Tariq Majid, who is due to retire on October 8.

Following the closure of the border, Washington was stunned when the Pakistani Foreign Office arranged interviews for its spokesperson, Abdul Basit, with international news agencies. Basit defiantly stated that NATO supply trucks would only be allowed to cross into Afghanistan through Pakistan when anger among the people over the American attacks inside Pakistani had subsided. He added that any attacks on NATO convoys would be "the reaction of the Pakistani masses".

However, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistani Taliban - TTP) on Monday claimed responsibility for the two attacks. "We accept responsibility for the attacks on the NATO supply trucks and tankers. We will carry out more such attacks in future. We will not allow the use of Pakistani soil as a supply route for NATO troops based in Afghanistan," TTP spokesman Azam Tariq was quoted by Agence-France Presse as saying.

Basit's briefing followed comments by Richard Holbrooke, the US's special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, that he expected the closure to last for only a short period and that an extended disruption of supplies would have a colossal affect on the region. Hundreds of trucks normally cross into Afghanistan each day. The envoy described the overall US relationship with Pakistan as "more complicated than any strategic relationship I've ever been involved in".

After a recent surge in militant activities in the border regions with Pakistan, especially in Khost, Paktia, Paktika and Ghazni, the Americans strongly reiterated their demand for Pakistani operations against the Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani network based in the North Waziristan tribal area. The US believes this powerful faction of the Afghan resistance to be behind all the attacks in the bordering provinces.

Pakistan refused due to devastating floods that had distracted the army, and pointed out that Haqqani’s most important commander, Sangeen, is now in Paktia and Khost and is directly commanding his men from the ground. Besides, these provinces, especially Ghazni, are mostly in the control of the Taliban, therefore the demand for immediate operations in North Waziristan is not justified.

Following Pakistan's refusal, NATO forces adopted a policy of hot pursuit. One gunship helicopter attacked a town in North Waziristan last month and another went into Kurram Agency in an attack in which three Pakistani soldiers were killed, along with suspected militants.

The China factor

The outgoing Majid has agitated that Islamabad should review its strategic relations with the US, especially in light of China's growing influence in Pakistan. This is even though the US, along with Saudi Arabia, had been at the forefront of rescue and aid efforts in the recent crippling floods across vast swathes of the country.

The anti-American viewpoint in the army is that the cost of American friendship is heavy, in that while Pakistan annually receives millions of dollars in aid and loans, the militant backlash against this pro-American stance is deeply divisive and undermines the stability of the country.

China, meanwhile, it is argued, simply wants to do business in Pakistan, and its presence does not stir up the masses. Recently, Pakistan handed over control of the operations of the strategic Gwadar port to China. Beijing is interested in turning it into an energy transport hub by building an oil pipeline from Gwadar into the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The planned pipeline would carry crude oil sourced from Arab and African states.

General Khalid Shamim Wyne has been nominated to replace Majid, who orchestrated a dimension of the Pakistan-China strategic relationship as he dealt with naval projects. (The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee is a ceremonial position, but all defense deals in the three branches of the armed forces need his approval.)

Majid's tilt towards China and a movement away from the US is expected to be continued by Wyne.

On Sunday, Pakistan's ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani said on CNN's State of the Union program that he did "not expect this blockade to continue for too long".

This might be the case, but the incident is a harsh reminder for the US that it cannot take the cooperation of its most-valued non-NATO partner for granted.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com

 
 
 
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« Reply #35 on: October 04, 2010, 09:06:06 am »

MISSION CREEP IN AFPAK

by Eric S. Margolis

http://www.ericmargolis.com/political_commentaries/mission-creep-in-afpak.aspx

October 3, 2010

The focus of the Afghan War is clearly shifting south into Pakistan, drawing that nation and the United States forces ever closer to a direct confrontation. This grim development was as predictable as it was inevitable.

In fact, this writer has been warning for years that US and NATO efforts to defeat resistance by Afghanistan’s fierce Pashtun tribes to Western occupation would eventually lead to spreading the conflict into neighboring Pakistan, a nation of 175 million.

Last week, Pakistan temporarily closed the main US/NATO supply route from Karachi to the Afghan border at Torkham after the killing of three Pakistani soldiers by US helicopter gunships. Two US/NATO fuel supply convoys were burned by anti-American militants.

Eighty percent of the supplies of the US-led forces in Afghanistan come up this long, difficult route. Along the way, the US pays large bribes to Pakistani officials, local warlords, and to Taliban. The cost of a gallon of gas delivered to US units in Afghanistan has risen to $800.

US helicopter gunships have staged at least four attacks on Pakistan this past week alone, in addition to the mounting number of strikes by CIA drones that are inflicting heavy casualties on civilians and tribal militants alike. US special forces and CIA-run Afghan mercenaries are also increasingly active along Pakistan’s northwest frontier.

Pakistan’s feeble government has long closed its eyes to CIA’s drone attacks. Washington does not even seek permission for the raids or give advance warning to Islamabad. Pakistani civilians bear the brunt of the attacks.

The failing government in Islamabad is caught between two fires. Pakistanis are furious and humiliated by the American attacks. Each new assault further undermines the inept, US-installed Zardari government. Even Interior Minister Rehman Malik, the government’s strongman, protested last week’s US attacks.

But Pakistan is on the edge of economic collapse after its devastating floods. Islamabad is now totally reliant on $2 billion annual US aid, plus tens of millions more "black" payments from CIA. Washington has given Islamabad $10 billion since 2001, most of which goes to financing 140,000 Pakistani troops to join the US-led Afghan war.

As Osama bin Laden just pointed out in a new audio tape, the Muslim nations have been derelict in coming to Pakistan’s aid. He blamed the massive flooding in Pakistan on global warming.

An influential former Pakistani chief of staff, Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg, just demanded Pakistan’s air force shoot down US drones and helicopters violating his nation’s sovereignty. His sentiments are widely shared in Pakistan’s increasingly angry military.

Pakistan’s senior generals are being blasted as "American stooges" by some of the media and are losing respect among Pakistanis. A video this week of the execution of six civilians by army troops has further damaged the army’s good name.

However, Washington’s view is very different. Pakistan is increasingly branded insubordinate, ungrateful for billions in aid, and a potential enemy of US regional interests. Many Americans consider Pakistan more of a foe than ally. The limited US financial response to Pakistan’s flood was a sign of that nation’s poor repute in North America.

Fears are growing in Washington that the nine-year Afghan War may be lost. American popular opinion has turned against the war. The Pentagon fears a failure in Afghanistan will humiliate the US military and undermine America’s international power. In short, just what happened to the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

America’s foreign policy establishment is venting its anger and frustration over the failing Afghan War by lashing out at Pakistan and the US-installed Karzai regime in Kabul.

Pakistan’s President, Asif Ali Zardari, is seen in Washington as hopeless and incompetent. Full US attention is now on Pakistan’s military, the de facto government, and its respected but embattled commander, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, whose tenure was just extended under US pressure. Kayani is still regarded as an "asset" by Washington. But like Zardari, he is caught between American demands and outraged Pakistanis – plus concerns about the threat from India and Delhi’s machinations in Afghanistan. The recent upsurge of violence in Indian-ruled Kashmir has intensified these dangerous tensions.

The neoconservative far right in Washington and its media allies again claim Pakistan is a grave threat to US interests and to Israel. Pakistan must be declawed and dismembered, insist the neocons. Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is reportedly being targeted for seizure or elimination by US Special Forces.

There is also talk in Washington of dividing Afghanistan into Pashtun, Tajik and Uzbek mini-states, as the US has done in Iraq, and perhaps Pakistan, as well. Little states are easier to rule or intimidate than big ones. Many Pakistanis believe the United States is bent on dismembering their nation. Some polls show Pakistanis now regard the United States as a greater enemy than India.

Now that America is in full mid-term election frenzy, expect more calls for tougher US military action in "AfPak." Already unpopular politicians are terrified of being branded "soft on terrorism" and failing to maximally support US military campaigns. Flag waving replaces sober thought.

If polls are right and Republicans achieve a major win, it’s likely there will be more and deeper US air and land attacks into Pakistan. The Pentagon is convinced it can still defeat resistance by Taliban and its allies "if only we can go after their sanctuaries in Pakistan," as one general told me.

Where have we heard this before? Why in Cambodia and Laos, that’s where, during the Vietnam War. The frustrated US expanded the war into Cambodia and Laos to go after Communist base camps. The war spread; these two small nations were largely destroyed, but the war was ultimately lost.

Victory in war is achieved by concentration of forces, not spreading them ever thinner and wider.

copyright Eric S. Margolis 2010




 
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« Reply #36 on: October 06, 2010, 05:27:24 am »

South Asia
Oct 7, 2010 
http://atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LJ07Df02.html
 
Afghan war moves deeper into Pakistan


By Syed Saleem Shahzad

ISLAMABAD - Information supplied by a Pakistani-German jihadi led to the United States Predator drone attack in Pakistan on Monday in which at least eight other Germans were killed, Asia Times Online has learned.

A senior Pakistani security official said the two missile strikes near the town of Mir Ali in the North Waziristan tribal area followed intelligence passed on by Rami Mackenzie, 27, during interrogation following his arrest in the middle of this year by Pakistani security officials in Bannu, the principal city of Bannu district in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province.

At the time of his capture, Pakistani authorities said they believed Mackenzie, who had been disguised in a traditional woman's burqa, was an expert in manufacturing suicide vests.

Drone attacks have been significantly stepped up in the past few months - there were a record 22 in September - since the arrest in July in Kabul of Afghan-German Ahmad Siddiqi. He revealed that al-Qaeda was planning attacks in London, Paris, Berlin and other European cities similar to those carried out in Mumbai, India, in November 2008 in which 166 people were killed and scores wounded.

The threat of attacks has set off a Europe-wide travel alert issued by the United States.

"On Ahmad Siddiqi's tip-off, CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] drones targeted North Waziristan on September 8 in which a few Germans were killed," the security official said. Siddiqi attended the same mosque in Hamburg in Germany as the September 11 lead hijacker, Mohamed Atta.

"The interrogators also gleaned information on the role of Sheikh Fateh al-Misri as the mastermind and the commander of the new al-Qaeda mission in Europe." Egyptian Misri, al-Qaeda's chief commander in Pakistan and Afghanistan, was killed in a drone attack on September 25. Misri, previously not a member of al-Qaeda, in May replaced Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, who was also killed in a drone attack in the North Waziristan tribal area.

The official said highly concerned American and European intelligence services were desperately trying to track down suspected al-Qaeda connections in North Waziristan in an effort to eliminate al-Qaeda's European franchise.

The Pakistani ambassador in Washington, Hussain Haqqani, has confirmed a link between the increased drone strikes and efforts to disrupt possible attacks in Europe, which unconfirmed reports said were to take place in November.

"The activity we see in North Waziristan, in terms of strikes and terms of measures to try to get people from al-Qaeda and associated groups, is connected to the terrorist warnings that we have heard about potential strikes in Europe," Haqqani told the BBC.

A failed jihadi
Mackenzie was recruited in Germany this year and sent to North Waziristan for training. However, after spending only a few months he became disillusioned.

"The Europeans who were recruited by al-Qaeda are in really bad shape. They converted to Islam or even if they were Muslims born in Europe, they were reared in a comfortable atmosphere," the security official told Asia Times Online.

"The rugged terrain of North Waziristan and then the ruthless behavior and treatment of the local Wazirs and Mehsuds made most of the Europeans disillusioned. Rami was among one of those who decided to go to Islamabad and surrender himself to the German Embassy. But to his bad luck he was spotted and arrested by the security agencies in Bannu."

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which has been active in Pakistan's tribal areas for many years, split several years ago, leading to the creation of the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU). The IMU remained based in South Waziristan while the IJU set up in Mir Ali, North Waziristan. The IMU began in the Fergana Valley in Uzbekistan and has also fought in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan, with the aim of establishing an Islamic caliphate.

The Uzbeks are Turkic by origin and therefore in North Waziristan they became close with militants from Turkey. The Turks are mostly based in the Shawal Valley in North Waziristan that borders Afghanistan, from where they regularly take part in attacks against occupation forces.

Under the umbrella of the IJU, the Uzbeks encouraged the Turks to move to Mir Ali, away from the border regions, to join forces in a broader alliance that would shock the Western world - such as attacks in Europe.

There is a sizeable Turk diaspora in Europe, especially in Germany, and many have acquired German nationality. The IJU encouraged such Turks among their ranks to return to Germany to recruit Muslim converts, especially ethnic Germans and other Europeans, into al-Qaeda. Within a short period, a sizeable number of German, Dutch, Norwegian and Spanish recruits went to North Waziristan.

"In the town of Mir Ali, this new alliance of Germans, Turks and Uzbeks emerged alongside other European nationals and al-Qaeda supported the alliance as its new franchise in Europe," the Pakistani official told Asia Times Online.

According to estimates, at least 150 German nationals are involved with the al-Qaeda network, including those in North Waziristan in transit to Turkey, Central Asia or other Pakistani areas.

If the past several weeks are any indication, the intensified drone war can be expected to continue as long as Europe feels it is under threat from terror attacks that have their roots in Pakistan's tribal areas.

"The region of Datta Khel [North Waziristan] has been identified as the place where all al-Qaeda bigwigs are gathered. [Osama bin Laden's deputy] Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri is also believed to be there, and it therefore looks as if the Afghan war will cross into North Waziristan this winter," the security official said.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com

 
 
 
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« Reply #37 on: October 18, 2010, 07:31:06 am »

Injustice in the age of Obama


By Cindy Sheehan



The treatment of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is symbolic in the minds of many Muslims. Her treatment has caused more damage to US-Muslim relations (particularly in Pakistan) than any 'soft power' state department program could undo [EPA]

October 17, 2010
http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2010/10/20101016133711604162.html

Barack Obama, a former law professor, should have a healthy respect for civil liberties, but his actions suggest not.

Since being the defendant in about six trials after I was arrested for protesting the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations, it’s my experience that the police lie. Period.

However the lies don’t stop at street law enforcement level. From lies about WMD and connections to "al Qaeda," almost every institution of so-called authority - the Pentagon, State Department, CIA, FBI, all the way up to the Oval Office and back down - lie. Not white lies, but big, Mother of all BS (MOAB) lies that lead to the destruction of innocent lives. I.F Stone was most definitely on the ball when he proclaimed, "Governments lie".

Having clarified that, I would now like to examine a case that should be enshrined in the travesty of the US Justice Hall of Shame.

In February of this year, Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani mother of three, was convicted in US Federal (kangaroo) Court of seven counts, including two counts of "attempted murder of an American." On September 23, Judge Berman, who displayed an open bias against Dr. Siddiqui, sentenced her to 86 years in prison.

The tapestry of lies about Dr. Siddiqui - a cognitive neuroscientist, schooled at MIT and Brandeis - was woven during the Bush regime but fully maintained during her trial and sentencing this year by the Obama (in)Justice Department.

Before 9/11/2001, Aafia lived in Massachusetts with her husband, also a Pakistani citizen, and their two children. According to all reports, she was a quietly pious Muslim (which is still not a crime here in the States), who hosted play dates for her children. She was a good student who studied hard and maintained an exemplary record, causing little harm to anything, let alone anyone.

After 9/11, when she was pregnant with her third child, she encouraged her husband to move back to Pakistan to avoid the backlash against her Muslim children - which was a very prescient thing to do considering the Islamophobia that has only increased in this country since then.

Tortured 'truth'

Following the move to Pakistan, Dr. Siddiqui and her husband divorced. Her life took a horrendous turn justly after. While Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) - supposed mastermind of the 9/11 plot - was being water-boarded by the CIA 183 times in one month, he gave Dr. Siddiqui up as a member of al-Qaeda. Was this a case of stolen identity, or was Mohammed just saying random words like you or I would to stop the torture?

There is some disputed "intelligence" that Aafia had married KSM’s nephew, a tenuous allegation at best, and even so, guilt by association has no place in the hallowed US legal system.

Following KSM’s torture-induced 'insights', Dr. Siddiqui was listed by Bush’s Justice Department as one of the seven most dangerous al-Qaeda operatives in the world. A mother of three equipped with a lethal ability to 'thin-slice' your cognitive personality in seconds. If alleged association and a healthy interest in neuro-psychology are the definitive hallmarks of a 'terrorist operative,' then Malcolm Gladwell better start making some phone calls to Crane, Poole and Schmidt.

A culture of falsehoods

Face it, we all know that since 9/11, there have been numerous false "terror" alerts and lies leading to the capture and torture of hundreds of innocent individuals - and the heinous treatment we have all witnessed to from Abu Ghraib. Additionally, we are supposed to believe that multi-war criminal, Colin Powell, was "fooled" by faulty intelligence so much so that he paved the way for the invasion of Iraq by his false testimony at the UN but we are also supposed to unquestioningly believe the US intelligence apparatus when they lie about others such as Dr. Siddiqui.

In any case, in a bizarre scenario - to make a very long story short - Dr. Siddiqui and her three children disappeared for five years from 2003 to 2008, resurfacing in Ghazni, Afghanistan with her oldest child, a son who was then 11. She claimed that for the years she was missing, she was being held in various Pakistani and US prisons being tortured and repeatedly raped. Many prisoners, including Yvonne Ridley, maintain she was incarcerated in Bagram AFB and tortured for at least part of the five missing years.

After Dr. Siddiqui resurfaced, she was arrested and taken to an Afghan police station where four Americans - two military and two FBI agents - rushed to "question" her through interpreters. The FBI and military, claim that they were taken to a room that had a curtain at one end and that they did not know that Dr. Siddiqui was lying asleep on a bed at the other side of the curtain. As you read below it will become blatantly obvious that personnel involved from both institutions totally fabricated their stories.

This is the Americans' version: They entered the room and one of the military dudes said he laid his weapon down (remember, they were there to interrogate one of the top most dangerous people in the world), and Siddiqui got up, grabbed the weapon, yelling obscenities and that she wanted to "kill Americans." All 5'3" of her raised the weapon to fire and she fired the rifle twice, missing everyone in the small room - in fact she even missed the walls, floor and ceiling since no bullets from the rifle were ever recovered.

Then one of the Americans shot her twice in the stomach "in self-defence." It was shown at the trial that her fingerprints were not even on the weapon. The only bullets that were found that day were in Dr. Aafia's body. How many stories of military cover-ups have we heard about since 9/11? I can think of two right away without even trying hard: Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch.

Hopeless injustice

Dr. Aafia's side is this: After she was arrested, she was again beaten and she fell asleep on a bed when she heard talking in the room she was in so she got out of the bed and someone shouted: "Oh no, she’s loose!" Then she was shot - when she was wavering in and out of consciousness, she heard someone else say: "We could lose our jobs over this."

Even with no evidence that she fired any weapon, she was convicted (the jury found no pre-meditation) by a jury and sentenced to the aforementioned 86 years.  It's interesting that the Feds did not pursue "terrorist" charges against Dr. Siddiqui because they were aware that the only evidence that existed was tortured out of KSM - so they literally ganged up on her to press the assault and attempted murder charges.

Even if Dr. Siddiqui did shoot at the Americans, reflect on this. Say this case was being tried in Pakistan under similar circumstances for an American woman named Dr. Betty Brown who was captured and repeatedly tortured and raped by the ISI - here in the states that woman would be a hero if she shot at her captors - not demonized and taken away from her life and her children.

I believe Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is a political prisoner and now the political bogey-woman for two US regimes.

In Pakistan, the response to her verdict and sentencing brought the predictable mass protests, burning of American flags and effigies of Obama and calls for Pakistan to repatriate Dr. Siddiqui. They know who the real criminals are and who should be in prison for life! At present, Hilary's state department harps on about 'soft power' and diplomacy, but what better way to quell US distrust in the Muslim world than to try such cases with due diligence and integrity.

In the US, not many people know about this case. Obviously many people were Hope-notized by the millions of dollars poured into the Obama PR machine - and believed when he said that his administration would be more transparent and lawful than the outlaws of the Bush era.

I guess they were mistaken.

Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Specialist Casey A. Sheehan, who was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004. Since then, she has been an activist for peace and human rights. She has published five books, has her own Internet radio show, Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox, and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Cindy lives in Oakland, CA, and loves to spend time with her three grand-babies. You can learn more about Cindy at Peace of the Action. 

 
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« Reply #38 on: October 19, 2010, 05:36:31 am »

South Asia
Oct 20, 2010 
http://atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LJ20Df01.html 
 

CIA slipping its leash with drone strikes

By Gareth Porter


WASHINGTON - New information on the Central Intelligence Agency's campaign of drone strikes in northwest Pakistan directly contradicts the image the Barack Obama administration and the CIA have sought to establish in the news media of a program based on highly accurate targeting that is effective in disrupting al-Qaeda's terrorist plots against the United States.

A new report on civilian casualties in the war in Pakistan has revealed direct evidence that a house was targeted for a drone attack merely because it had been visited by a group of Taliban soldiers.

The report came shortly after publication of the results of a survey of opinion within the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan showing overwhelming popular opposition to the drone strikes and majority support for suicide attacks on US forces under some circumstances.

Meanwhile, data on targeting of the drone strikes in Pakistan indicate that they have now become primarily an adjunct of the US war in Afghanistan, targeting almost entirely militant groups involved in the Afghan insurgency rather than al-Qaeda officials involved in plotting global terrorism.

The new report published by the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) last week offers the first glimpse of the drone strikes based on actual interviews with civilian victims of the strikes.

In an interview with a researcher for CIVIC, a civilian victim of a drone strike in North Waziristan carried out under the Obama administration recounted how his home had been visited by Taliban troops asking for lunch. He said he had agreed out of fear of refusing them.

The very next day, he recalled, the house was destroyed by a missile from a drone, killing his only son.

The CIVIC researcher, Christopher Rogers, investigated nine of the 139 drone strikes carried out since the beginning of 2009 and found that a total of 30 civilians had been killed in those strikes, including 14 women and children.

If that average rate of 3.33 civilian casualties for each drone bombing is typical of all the strikes since the rules for the strikes were loosened in early 2008, it would suggest that roughly 460 civilians have been killed in the drone campaign during that period.
The total number of deaths from the drone war in Pakistan since early 2008 is unknown, but has been estimated by Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann of the New America Foundation at between 1,109 and 1,734.

Only 66 leading officials in al-Qaeda or other anti-US groups have been killed in the bombings. Reports on the bombings have listed the vast majority of the victims as "militants," without further explanation.

The victim's account of a drone attack based on the flimsiest rationale is consistent with the revelation in New York Times reporter David Sanger's book The Inheritance that the CIA was given much greater freedom in early 2008 to hit targets that might well involve killing innocent civilians.

The original rationale of the drone campaign was to "decapitate" al-Qaeda by targeting a list of high-ranking al-Qaeda officials. The rules of engagement required firm evidence that there were no civilians at the location who would be killed by the strike.

But in January 2008 the CIA persuaded then president George W Bush to approve a set of "permissions" proposed by the CIA that same month which allowed the agency to target locations rather than identified al-Qaeda leaders if those locations were linked to a "signature" - a pattern of behavior on the part of al-Qaeda officials that had been observed over time.

That meant the CIA could now bomb a motorcade or a house if it was believed to be linked to al-Qaeda, without identifying any particular individual target.

A high-ranking Bush administration national-security official told Sanger that Bush later authorized even further widening of the power of the CIA's operations directorate to make life or death decisions based on inferences rather than hard evidence. The official acknowledged that giving the CIA so much latitude was "risky", because "you can make more mistakes - you can hit the wrong house, or misidentify the motorcade".

The extraordinary power ceded to the CIA operations directorate under the program provoked serious concerns in the intelligence community, according to one former intelligence official. It allowed that directorate to collect the intelligence on potential targets in the FATA, interpret its own intelligence and then make lethal decisions based on that interpretation - all without any outside check on the judgments it was making, even from CIA's own directorate of intelligence.

Officials from other intelligence agencies have sought repeatedly to learn more about how the operations directorate was making targeting decisions but were rebuffed, according to the source.

Some national security officials, including mid-level officials involved in the drone program itself, have warned in the past that the drone strikes have increased anti-Americanism and boosted recruitment for the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda. New support for that conclusion has now come from the results of a survey of opinion on the strikes in the FATA published by the New American Foundation and Terror Free Tomorrow.

The survey shows that 76% of the 1,000 FATA residents surveyed opposed drone strikes and that nearly half of those surveyed believed they killed mostly civilians.

Sixty percent of those surveyed believed that suicide bombings against the US military are "often or sometimes justified".

Meanwhile, data on the targeting of drone strikes make it clear that the program, which the Obama administration and the CIA have justified as effective in disrupting al-Qaeda terrorism, is now focused on areas where Afghan and Pakistani militants are engaged in the war in Afghanistan.

Most al-Qaeda leaders and the Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, who has been closely allied with al-Qaeda against the Pakistani government, have operated in South Waziristan.

North Waziristan is where the Haqqani network provides safe havens to Pashtun insurgents fighting US-NATO troops in Afghanistan. It is also where Hafiz Gul Bahadur, leader of a Pakistani Taliban faction who has called for supporting the Afghan insurgency rather than jihad against the Pakistani government, operates.

Last year, just over half the drone strikes were still carried out in South Waziristan. But in 2010, 90% of the 86 drone strikes carried out thus far have been in North Waziristan, according to data collected by Bill Roggio and Alexander Mayer and published on the web site of the Long War Journal, which supports the drone campaign.

The dramatic shift in targeting came after al-Qaeda officials were reported to have fled from South Waziristan to Karachi and other major cities.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration was privately acknowledging that the war would be a failure unless the Pakistani military changed its policy of giving the Haqqani network a safe haven in North Waziristan.

When asked whether the drone campaign was now primarily about the war in Afghanistan rather than al-Qaeda terrorism, Peter Bergin of the New America Foundation's Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative told Inter Press Service: "I think that's a reasonable conclusion."

Bergin has defended the drone campaign in the past as "the only game in town" in combating terrorism by al-Qaeda.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specializing in US national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, was published in 2006.

(Inter Press Service) 
 
 
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« Reply #39 on: October 19, 2010, 06:16:42 am »

The Choice is Ours

By Sheila Samples
 
"History will repeat itself -- only if we let it"~~Mike Malloy

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article26625.htm


October 18, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- Hardly a day goes by that we are not inundated with demands to attack Iran. Our media, our Congress -- packs of neoconservatives -- have been howling for war on Iran for years. And years.

This reckless axis has been relentless in its orchestrated effort to manipulate and influence public opinion. And, if we are to believe the myriad of polls, it's working. According to investigative journalist Gareth Porter, who wrote on July 30 that "polling data for 2010 show a majority of Americans have been manipulated into supporting war against Iran -- in large part because more than two-thirds of those polled have gotten the impression that Iran already has nuclear weapons."

Horror Tent Revival

Is it possible that a majority of Americans can be lured again into the tent of horror to support yet another bloody war? Have we learned nothing from history -- the blatant lies that catapulted us into Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan? It's amazing how easily our handlers control us; enrage us; shape our beliefs, our opinions. As George Orwell wrote in 1948 about those controlled by Big Brother...

"A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp."

For centuries, those in power have known that fear is the easiest of emotions to work with. As with Iraq, and now Iran, we are paralyzed with fear; fear of "known unknowns" -- of factually unsubstantiated threats about Iran's lust for Israeli blood. Many of us have been ducking and covering for so long that we have lost the ability to reason; even to think beyond the "truth" that is hammered into our national consciousness with blow after blow of an Orwellian sledge hammer -- we must support, and protect, Israel, no matter the cost.

It's tempting to pretend that we believe Iran's refusal to give up its nuclear energy program -- which it has every right to pursue as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty -- is proof that it is an "evil Islamic regime" whose maniacal leaders are feverishly working to wipe Israel off the map. Tempting to take at face value the sinister warnings of those like Reuel Marc Gerecht, a resident fellow at AEI and Weekly Standard contributing editor, who warned in his April 2006 article, "To Bomb, or Not to Bomb -- That is the Iran Question"...

"Given the Islamic Republic's dark history, the burden of proof ought to be on those who favor accommodating a nuclear Iran. Those who are unwilling to accommodate it, however, need to be honest and admit that diplomacy and sanctions and covert operations probably won't succeed, and that we may have to fight a war -- perhaps sooner rather than later -- to stop such evil men from obtaining the worst weapons we know."

Gerecht, a former consular officer for the State Department and CIA Mid-East specialist, is, like most of his neoconservative peers, pathologically obsessed with Iran's destruction, and is as good as it gets when using fear and misinformation to justify that destruction.

Porter also wrote in his July article that "the aim of Gerecht and of the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu is to support an attack by Israel so that the United States can be drawn into direct, full-scale war with Iran." Porter pointed out that Gerecht first revealed his "Israeli-neocon fantasy as early as 2000, before the Iranian nuclear program was even taken seriously, in an essay written for a book published by the Project for a New American Century." Gerecht argued that, if Iran could be caught in a "terrorist act," the U.S. Navy should "retaliate with fury."

Now, a decade later, that appears to still be Gerecht's position. In his ponderous July 26, 2010 Weekly Standard piece, he writes...
 
"...if nuclear weapons in the hands of Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards are an existential threat to the Jewish state -- and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, like his predecessors, has said that they are -- Jerusalem has little choice. Bombing is the only option that could likely alter the nuclear equation in Iran before Khamenei produces a weapon. The Obama administration might fume, but it is hard to imagine the president, given what he has said about the unacceptability of Iranian nukes, scolding Jerusalem long. [...] The left wing of the Democratic party has been going south on the Jewish state for 30 years, but congressional Democrats, who've been pushing for new sanctions against Iran more aggressively than the White House, are not that far gone. By and large, the Republican party would hold behind the Israelis."

Here, Gerecht is echoing the belief blurted out by Netanyahu in 2001 when talking about a broad attack on Palestine and undermining the Oslo Accords -- "I know what America is," Netanyahu said. "America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction. They won't get in the way."

Sadly, there many more like Gerecht -- Dick Cheney and his efforts to do an "end run" around a balking Bush to force an attack on Iran; Norman Podhoretz with his constant refrain "bomb Iran before Iran bombs us"; National Review's Larry Kudlow who says if Israel furiously attacks Iran, it will be "doing the Lord's work"; the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol and Daniel Pipes with their confident forecast that Bush would attack Iran before leaving office if Obama won the election.

Then, there's the US Congress, whose members can agree on absolutely nothing to ease the suffering of their own citizens, but stand shoulder-to-shoulder in passing resolution after shameful resolution for Israel's right to defend itself and against Iran's right to do the same. If Senator Joe Lieberman's mouth is moving, you can bet he is demanding an attack on Iran -- and he was joined by his cohort Senator Lindsey Graham just last month, who said we must sic our military on Iran, "with the goal of overthrowing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."

But by far the the most strident is the wild and woolly former UN ambassador John Bolton. He runs at top speed from one media outlet to another, calling for Iran's destruction -- just as he did for Iraq. I can't help it. This guy is grotesquely fascinating. As I wrote in September 2008 about this issue...
 
It's no laughing matter, but the sight of this tousle-headed, "got milk?" maniac running in circles, warning of -- demanding -- a nuclear holocaust is good for a grin, albeit a grim one. Even as he was being forced onto the United Nations over national and international objections, Bolton was hot on Iran's trail. He insisted that Iran is the most dangerous critter out there -- harboring terrorists, arming terrorists, training terrorists -- sending bombs, IEDs, weapons to Iraq to kill Americans. If it weren't for Iran, there would have been no 9-11 attack because Iran provided safe haven for the box-cutting killers headed our way. Bolton warned if Iran managed to produce a single nuclear weapon, Israel, the United States -- the world -- was toast. He promised that Iran will come after us. "That's the threat," Bolton barked, "that's the reality whether you like it or not. And it will be just like Sept. 11, only with nuclear weapons this time."

Time Out

Considering the consequences of history repeating itself, perhaps we should call a "time out" and take a closer look at Iran. We didn't bother to check out the accusations made by these same bloodthirsty warmongers against Iraq -- false cries of weapons of mass destruction, lies about Saddam Hussein aiding and harboring Al Qaeda terrorists -- we had but a scant 45 minutes to dive under our duct-taped plastic or we would surely die. Now, after hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings have been destroyed -- millions displaced -- trillions of dollars wasted, far too many of us say we were not to blame. Hey -- we were lied to. Besides, that was years ago. It's all history now.

Iran, as a major civilization, dates back to 4000 BC and, although it has been invaded by Greeks, Arabs, Turks, even Mongols, it has no modern history of attacking or occupying other nations. However, unlike other areas that continue to be devastated by US and Israeli assaults, history shows that Iran is capable of defending itself. Both its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and frisky little president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have promised to do exactly that if attacked.

In August, Khamenei said "the consequences of a US attack would be grave...not merely regional, but will cover a vaster scene." If our warmongering babblers took a closer look at that "scene," they would see the destruction of the 32 US bases in the region as well as the shutdown of the Strait of Hormuz -- the gateway to the world's oil.

Regarding Iran's nuclear ambitions, both Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have said over and over (and over) that Iran seeks nuclear power for generating electricity for medical purposes and for its growing population. In 2005, Khamenei issued a Fatwa that "the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that Iran shall never acquire these weapons." And, in spite of blatant lies and distortions to the contrary, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) continues to verify Iran's pursuit of peaceful nuclear energy.
 
The timeline of Iran's nuclear program from the 1950s shows that Iran has never sought nuclear energy for anything other than peaceful purposes. In 1957, the Shah opened the American Atoms for Peace in Tehran, and signed an agreement with the US for cooperation in research on peaceful uses of nuclear technology. And, in 1968, Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on the first day it opened for signature.

Before we buy into railings from those like Gerecht about evil Iran's "dark history" in pursuing nuclear weapons, perhaps we should study the dark history of two other nations -- one that obliterated the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in mere moments just 65 years ago...that used napalm, chemical weapons, and deadly toxins against the Vietnamese...that uses deadly depleted uranium to wipe out entire generations and to deform future generations...or perhaps the other one that takes great delight in dropping white phosphorus bombs on a trapped civilian population with nowhere to run...

The Choice is Ours

If our evil axis succeeds in its lust for war on Iran, yet another March 19, 2003 "Shock and Awe" will come roaring through. We can choose to sit, once again transfixed by sounds of explosions, gunfire, sirens, screams -- and once again listen to Mike Malloy say in a dead voice stripped of all emotion...
 
"This is a dark day.
This is a filthy day.
This is a day for shame..."

Or we can rise up and stand firm. As Malloy also says, over and over (and over) -- "We know the truth. We no longer have an excuse for remaining silent."

History is replete with examples of citizens uniting and changing the course of history. When that happens, empires -- even a shining empire on a hill -- must change...or fall.

History. Round and round it goes. Will the US and Israel attack Iran? Will history repeat itself?
 

Yes, but only if we let it. The choice is ours.

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