Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Strategic Divergence: The War Against the Taliban and the War Against Al Qaeda

January 26, 2009
By George Friedman, Stratfor.com

Washington’s attention is now zeroing in on Afghanistan. There is talk of doubling U.S. forces there, and preparations are being made for another supply line into Afghanistan — this one running through the former Soviet Union — as an alternative or a supplement to the current Pakistani route. To free up more resources for Afghanistan, the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq probably will be accelerated. And there is discussion about whether the Karzai government serves the purposes of the war in Afghanistan. In short, U.S. President Barack Obama’s campaign promise to focus on Afghanistan seems to be taking shape.

We have discussed many aspects of the Afghan war in the past; it is now time to focus on the central issue. What are the strategic goals of the United States in Afghanistan? What resources will be devoted to this mission? What are the intentions and capabilities of the Taliban and others fighting the United States and its NATO allies? Most important, what is the relationship between the war against the Taliban and the war against al Qaeda? If the United States encounters difficulties in the war against the Taliban, will it still be able to contain not only al Qaeda but other terrorist groups? Does the United States need to succeed against the Taliban to be successful against transnational Islamist terrorists? And assuming that U.S. forces are built up in Afghanistan and that the supply problem through Pakistan is solved, are the defeat of Taliban and the disruption of al Qaeda likely?

Al Qaeda and U.S. Goals Post-9/11

The overarching goal of the United States since Sept. 11, 2001, has been to prevent further attacks by al Qaeda in the United States. Washington has used two means toward this end. One was defensive, aimed at increasing the difficulty of al Qaeda operatives to penetrate and operate within the United States. The second was to attack and destroy al Qaeda prime, the group around Osama bin Laden that organized and executed 9/11 and other attacks in Europe. It is this group — not other groups that call themselves al Qaeda but only are able to operate in the countries where they were formed — that was the target of the United States, because this was the group that had demonstrated the ability t o launch intercontinental strikes.

Al Qaeda prime had its main headquarters in Afghanistan. It was not an Afghan group, but one drawn from multiple Islamic countries. It was in alliance with an Afghan group, the Taliban. The Taliban had won a civil war in Afghanistan, creating a coalition of support among tribes that had given the group control, direct or indirect, over most of the country. It is important to remember that al Qaeda was separate from the Taliban; the former was a multinational force, while the Taliban were an internal Afghan political power.

The United States has two strategic goals in Afghanistan. The first is to destroy the remnants of al Qaeda prime — the central command of al Qaeda — in Afghanistan. The second is to use Afghanistan as a base for destroying al Qaeda in Pakistan and to prevent the return of al Qaeda to Afghanistan.

To achieve these goals, Washington has sought to make Afghanistan inhospitable to al Qaeda. The United States forced the Taliban from Afghanistan’s main cities and into the countryside, and established a new, anti-Taliban government in Kabul under President Hamid Karzai. Washington intended to deny al Qaeda bases in Afghanistan by unseating the Taliban government, creating a new pro-American government and then using Afghanistan as a base against al Qaeda in Pakistan.

The United States succeeded in forcing the Taliban from power in the sense that in giving up the cities, the Taliban lost formal control of the country. To be more precise, early in the U.S. attack in 2001, the Taliban realized that the massed defense of Afghan cities was impossible in the face of American air power. The ability of U.S. B-52s to devastate any concentration of forces meant that the Taliban could not defend the cities, but had to withdraw, disperse and reform its units for combat on more favorable terms.

At this point, we must separate the fates of al Qaeda and the Taliban. During the Taliban retreat, al Qaeda had to retreat as well. Since the United States lacked sufficient force to destroy al Qaeda at Tora Bora, al Qaeda was able to retreat into northwestern Pakistan. There, it enjoys the advantages of terrain, superior tactical intelligence and support networks.

Even so, in nearly eight years of war, U.S. intelligence and special operations forces have maintained pressure on al Qaeda in Pakistan. The United States has imposed attrition on al Qaeda, disrupting its command, control and communications and isolating it. In the process, the United States used one of al Qaeda’s operational principles against it. To avoid penetration by hostile intelligence services, al Qaeda has not recruited new cadres for its primary unit. This makes it very difficult to develop intelligence on al Qaeda, but it also makes it impossible for al Qaeda to replace its losses. Thus, in a long war of attrition, every loss imposed on al Qaeda has been irreplaceable, and over time, al Qaeda prime declined dramatically in effectiveness — meaning it has been years since it has carried out an effective operation.

The situation was very different with the Taliban. The Taliban, it is essential to recall, won the Afghan civil war that followed the Soviet withdrawal despite Russian and Iranian support for its opponents. That means the Taliban have a great deal of support and a strong infrastructure, and, above all, they are resilient. After the group withdrew from Afghanistan’s cities and lost formal power post-9/11, it still retained a great deal of informal influence — if not control — over large regions of Afghanistan and in areas across the border in Pakistan. Over the years since the U.S. invasion, the Taliban have regrouped, rearmed and increased their operations in Afghanistan. And the conflict with the Taliban has now become a conventional guerrilla war.

The Taliban and the Guerrilla Warfare Challenge

The Taliban have forged relationships among many Afghan (and Pakistani) tribes. These tribes have been alienated by Karzai and the Americans, and far more important, they do not perceive the Americans and Karzai as potential winners in the Afghan conflict. They recall the Russian and British defeats. The tribes have long memories, and they know that foreigners don’t stay very long. Betting on the United States and Karzai — when the United States has sent only 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, and is struggling with the idea of sending another 30,000 troops — does not strike them as prudent. The United States is behaving like a power not planning to win; and, in any event, they would not be much impressed if the Americans were planning to win.

The tribes therefore do not want to get on the wrong side of the Taliban. That means they aid and shelter Taliban forces, and provide them intelligence on enemy movement and intentions. With its base camps and supply lines running from Pakistan, the Taliban are thus in a position to recruit, train and arm an increasingly large force.

The Taliban have the classic advantage of guerrillas operating in known terrain with a network of supporters: superior intelligence. They know where the Americans are, what the Americans are doing and when the Americans are going to strike. The Taliban declines combat on unfavorable terms and strikes when the Americans are weakest. The Americans, on the other hand, have the classic problem of counterinsurgency: They enjoy superior force and firepower, and can defeat anyone they can locate and pin down, but they lack intelligence. As much as technical intelligence from unmanned aerial vehicles and satellites is useful, human intelligence is the only effective long-term solution to defeating an insurgency. In this, the Taliban have the advantage: They have been there longer, they are in more places and they are not going anywhere.

There is no conceivable force the United States can deploy to pacify Afghanistan. A possible alternative is moving into Pakistan to cut the supply lines and destroy the Taliban’s base camps. The problem is that if the Americans lack the troops to successfully operate in Afghanistan, it is even less likely they have the troops to operate in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The United States could use the Korean War example, taking responsibility for cutting the Taliban off from supplies and reinforcements from Pakistan, but that assumes that the Afghan government has an effective force motivated to engage and defeat the Taliban. The Afghan government doesn’t.

The obvious American solution — or at least the best available solution — is to retreat to strategic Afghan points and cities and protect the Karzai regime. The problem here is that in Afghanistan, holding the cities doesn’t give the key to the country; rather, holding the countryside gives the key to the cities. Moreover, a purely defensive posture opens the United States up to the Dien Bien Phu/Khe Sanh counterstrategy, in which guerrillas shift to positional warfare, isolate a base and try to overrun in it.

A purely defensive posture could create a stalemate, but nothing more. That stalemate could create the foundations for political negotiations, but if there is no threat to the enemy, the enemy has little reason to negotiate. Therefore, there must be strikes against Taliban concentrations. The problem is that the Taliban know that concentration is suicide, and so they work to deny the Americans valuable targets. The United States can exhaust itself attacking minor targets based on poor intelligence. It won’t get anywhere.

U.S. Strategy in Light of al Qaeda’s Diminution

From the beginning, the Karzai government has failed to take control of the countryside. Therefore, al Qaeda has had the option to redeploy into Afghanistan if it chose. It didn’t because it is risk-averse. That may seem like a strange thing to say about a group that flies planes into buildings, but what it means is that the group’s members are relatively few, so al Qaeda cannot risk operational failures. It thus keeps its powder dry and stays in hiding.

This then frames the U.S. strategic question. The United States has no intrinsic interest in the nature of the Afghan government. The United States is interested in making certain the Taliban do not provide sanctuary to al Qaeda prime. But it is not clear that al Qaeda prime is operational anymore. Some members remain, putting out videos now and then and trying to appear fearsome, but it would seem that U.S. operations have crippled al Qaeda.

So if the primary reason for fighting the Taliban is to keep al Qaeda prime from having a base of operations in Afghanistan, that reason might be moot now as al Qaeda appears to be wrecked. This is not to say that another Islamist terrorist group could not arise and develop the sophisticated methods and training of al Qaeda prime. But such a group could deploy many places, and in any case, obtaining the needed skills in moving money, holding covert meetings and the like is much harder than it looks — and with many intelligence services, including those in the Islamic world, on the lookout for this, recruitment would be hard.

It is therefore no longer clear that resisting the Taliban is essential for blocking al Qaeda: al Qaeda may simply no longer be there. (At this point, the burden of proof is on those who think al Qaeda remains operational.)

Two things emerge from this. First, the search for al Qaeda and other Islamist groups is an intelligence matter best left to the covert capabilities of U.S. intelligence and Special Operations Command. Defeating al Qaeda does not require tens of thousands of troops — it requires excellent intelligence and a special operations capability. That is true whether al Qaeda is in Pakistan or Afghanistan. Intelligence, covert forces and airstrikes are what is needed in this fight, and of the three, intelligence is the key.

Second, the current strategy in Afghanistan cannot secure Afghanistan, nor does it materially contribute to shutting down al Qaeda. Trying to hold some cities and strategic points with the number of troops currently under consideration is not an effective strategy to this end; the United States is already ceding large areas of Afghanistan to the Taliban that could serve as sanctuary for al Qaeda. Protecting the Karzai government and key cities is therefore not significantly contributing to the al Qaeda-suppression strategy.

In sum, the United States does not control enough of Afghanistan to deny al Qaeda sanctuary, can’t control the border with Pakistan and lacks effective intelligence and troops for defeating the Taliban.

Logic argues, therefore, for the creation of a political process for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan coupled with a recommitment to intelligence operations against al Qaeda. Ultimately, the United States must protect itself from radical Islamists, but cannot create a united, pro-American Afghanistan. That would not happen even if the United States sent 500,000 troops there, which it doesn’t have anyway.

A Tale of Two Surges

The U.S. strategy now appears to involve trying a surge, or sending in more troops and negotiating with the Taliban, mirroring the strategy used in Iraq. But the problem with that strategy is that the Taliban don’t seem inclined to make concessions to the United States. The Taliban don’t think the United States can win, and they know the United States won’t stay. The Petraeus strategy is to inflict enough pain on the Taliban to cause them to rethink their position, which worked in Iraq. But it did not work in Vietnam. So long as the Taliban have resources flowing and can survive American attacks, they will calculate that they can outlast the Americans. This has been Afghan strategy for centuries, and it worked against the British and Russians.

If it works against the Americans, too, splitting the al Qaeda strategy from the Taliban strategy will be the inevitable outcome for the United States. In that case, the CIA will become the critical war fighter in the theater, while conventional forces will be withdrawn. It follows that Obama will need to think carefully about his approach to intelligence.

This is not an argument that al Qaeda is no longer a threat, although the threat appears diminished. Nor is it an argument that dealing with terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan is not a priority. Instead, it is an argument that the defeat of the Taliban under rationally anticipated circumstances is unlikely and that a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan will be much more difficult and unlikely than the settlement was in Iraq — but that even so, a robust effort against Islamist terror groups must continue regardless of the outcome of the war with the Taliban.

Therefore, we expect that the United States will separate the two conflicts in response to these realities. This will mean that containing terrorists will not be dependent on defeating or holding out against the Taliban, holding Afghanistan’s cities, or preserving the Karzai regime. We expect the United States to surge troops into Afghanistan, but in due course, the counterterrorist portion will diverge from the counter-Taliban portion. The counterterrorist portion will be maintained as an intense covert operation, while the overt operation will wind down over time. The Taliban ruling Afghanistan is not a threat to the United States, so long as intense counterterrorist operations continue there.

The cost of failure in Afghanistan is simply too high and the connection to counterterrorist activities too tenuous for the two strategies to be linked. And since the counterterror war is already distinct from conventional operations in much of Afghanistan and Pakistan, our forecast is not really that radical.


Taliban were never the same as Al Qaeda. Only now Stratfor has come to realize that. Now, the term 'Al Qaeda Prime' has been introduced. So who are the 'Subprime' Alqaeda? I think they will take another 7 years to figure that out.

These are none else but the Uzbeks earlier expelled from South Waziristan by a joint military plus Moulvi Nazir Lashkar operation, and now allied with the Punjabi Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Obama Inaugral - A Synopsis:

The Arrivals:

The Oath:

The Speech:


The criticism:


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Investigating Swat:


It is clear from this documentary that all kind of Government writ has been lost in Swat, with no chance in sight of regaining the same.

Another fact becoming clear is that the uprising has it's roots in the change of judicial system from the Sharia-based one in the Wali-Swat days to the present one at time of the Princely State's merger with Pakistan, which turned out to be unacceptable to the populace.

The grievance initially took the form of the mainly peaceful agitation of Sufi Muhammad's Tehreek-e-Nifaz Shariat Muhammadi (TNSM) during the 90s, and turned militant after leadership of the movement was snatched by his radical son-in-Law Fazlullah upon the arrest of Sufi Muhammed. The same movement morphed into Taliban-Swat following the bombing of the Bajaur Madrassa run by the TNSM in which 82 were killed including the administrator - Fazlullah's younger brother. The final straw came with the Lal Masjid siege and the subsequent firebombing of the premises with which open war was declared by the same Swat militants.

As the Army spokesman rightly answers when asked as to who was responsible. "No single person can be blamed. We all are responsible"

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Of David Sanger, stray dogs, and crossroads of guns:

Obama’s Worst Pakistan Nightmare
Published: January 8, 2009

"TO GET TO THE HEADQUARTERS of the Strategic Plans Division, the branch of the Pakistani government charged with keeping the country’s growing arsenal of nuclear weapons away from insurgents trying to overrun the country, you must drive down a rutted, debris-strewn road at the edge of the Islamabad airport, dodging stray dogs and piles of uncollected garbage. Just past a small traffic circle, a tan stone gateway is manned by a lone, bored-looking guard loosely holding a rusting rifle. The gateway marks the entry to Chaklala Garrison, an old British cantonment from the days when officers of the Raj escaped the heat of Delhi for the cooler hills on the approaches to Afghanistan. Pass under the archway, and the poverty and clamor of modern Pakistan disappear."

Guests: Lt. Gen. Rtd Haq Nawaz Khan, Tariq Fatmi and Brig (R) Samson Simon.


Brig Samson Simon's entry into the Talk show circuit is a very welcome one. He brings to the analysis an additional approach which had been missing before, and that is a sharp military-tech details mind - while at the same time coupled with a dispassionate geostrategic intellect. Something like a Tom Clancy novel.

Re the subject, the NY Times article portrays the direction events are taking, and a predictable one. It was clear during Obama's election campaign that disarmament and containment of Pakistan would be amongst his very first priorities. Now the implementation of the same will begin to unfold with the Presidential Oath of Office, and it will be upto the Pakistani politicians and diplomats how they counter it.

So far, they have managed to successfully procrastinate using obfuscation and deception, while Obama is much too smart to fall for that. Pakistan will have to chose sides.

Are you with us or against us? That question will not only remain but become even clearer than it ever was with Bush.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

From "I wanna take my pants off" to "I feel okay in a Hijab":

The culmination of Jihad Struggling with Islam

Monday, January 12, 2009

David Mulford on Pak role in 26/11

Credible material? Information? Don't know if evidence? Not a judge of rules of evidence? FBI associated with preparation of the Dossier?

This is the US ambassador to India saying this. What he's actually saying is the credibility of the dossier is only as much as it was prepared by FBI.

Well ... it is the same FBI which said yellow cake had been sold to Saddam from I don't even remember where in Africa.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Stratfor forecasts for Jihadism - 2009:

Jihadism in 2009: The Trends Continue

January 7, 2009

Global Security and Intelligence Report

Stratfor: By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

For the past several years, we have published an annual forecast for al Qaeda and the jihadist movement. Since the January 2006 forecast, we have focused heavily on the devolution of jihadism from a phenomenon focused primarily on al Qaeda the group to one based primarily on al Qaeda the movement. Last year, we argued that al Qaeda was struggling to remain relevant and that al Qaeda prime had been marginalized in the physical battlefield. This marginalization of al Qaeda prime had caused that group to forfeit its position at the vanguard of the physical jihad, though it remained deeply invol ved in the leadership of the ideological battle.

As a quick reminder, Stratfor views what most people refer to as “al Qaeda” as a global jihadist network rather than a monolithic entity. This network consists of three distinct entities. The first is a core vanguard, which we frequently refer to as al Qaeda prime, comprising Osama bin Laden and his trusted associates. The second is composed of al Qaeda franchise groups such as al Qaeda in Iraq, and the third comprises the grassroots jihadist movement inspired by al Qaeda prime and the franchise groups.

As indicated by the title of this forecast, we believe that the trends we have discussed in previous years will continue, and that al Qaeda prime has become marginalized on the physical battlefield to the extent that we have not even mentioned their name in the title. The regional jihadist franchises and grassroots operatives pose a much more significant threat in terms of security concerns, though it is important to note that those concerns will remain tactical and not rise to the level of a strategic threat. In our view, the sort of strategic challenge that al Qaeda prime posed with the 9/11 attacks simply cannot be replicated without a major change in geopolitical alignments — a change we do not anticipate in 2009.
2008 in Review

Before diving into our forecast for the coming year, let’s take a quick look back at what we said would happen in 2008 and see what we got right and what we did not.

What we got right:

* Al Qaeda core focused on the ideological battle. Another year has passed without a physical attack by the al Qaeda core. As we noted last October, al Qaeda spent a tremendous amount of effort in 2008 fighting the ideological battle. The core leadership still appears to be very intent on countering the thoughts presented in a book written in 2007 by Sayyed Imam al-Sharif, also known as Dr. Fadl, an imprisoned Egyptian radical and a founder (with Ayman al-Zawahiri) of Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Al-Sharif’s book is seen as such a threat because he provides theological arguments that counter many of the core teachings used by al Qaeda to justify jihadism. On Dec. 13, an 85-page treatise by one of al Qaeda’s leading religious authorities, Abu-Yahya al-Libi, was released to jihadist Web sites in the latest of al Qaeda’s many efforts to counter Dr. Fadl’s arguments.

* Pakistan will be important as a potential flashpoint. Eight days after we wrote this, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. Since then, Pakistan has become the focal point on the physical battlefield.

* The November 2007 addition of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) to the global jihadist network will not pose a serious threat to the Libyan regime. The Libyans have deftly used a combination of carrots and sticks to divide and control the LIFG.

* Jihadists will kill more people with explosives and firearms than with chemical, biological or radiological weapons. We saw no jihadist attacks using WMD in 2008.

What we got mostly right:

* The Algerian jihadist franchise, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), will be hard-pressed in 2008, but not eliminated. AQIM succeeded in launching a large number of attacks in the first eight months of 2008, killing as many people as it did in all of 2007. But since then, the Algerian government has been making progress, and the jihadist group has only conducted two attacks since August 2008. The Algerians also are working closely with neighboring countries to combat AQIM, and the group is definitely feeling the heat. On Dec. 23, 2008, the Algerian government reportedly rejected a truce offered by AQIM leader Yahia Djouadi. Djouadi offered that al Qaeda would cease attacks on foreigners operating in oil fields in Algeria and Mauritania if the Algerian security service would cease targeting al Qaeda members in the Sahel region. The group is still alive, and government pressure appears to have affected its operational ability in recent months, but it di d take a bit longer than we anticipated for the pressure to make a difference.

* Syria will use Fatah al-Islam as a destabilizing force in Lebanon. We had intelligence last year suggesting that the Syrians were going to press the use of their jihadist proxies in Lebanon — specifically Fatah al-Islam. We saw a bit of this type of activity in late May, but not as much as anticipated. By November, Syria actually decided to cut ties with Fatah al-Islam.

* Jihadist operatives outside war zones will focus on soft targets. Major terrorist strikes in Islamabad and New Delhi were conducted against hotels, soft targets Stratfor has focused on as vulnerable for many years now. Other attacks in India focused on markets and other public places. While most of the attacks against hard targets came in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan, there were a few attacks against hard targets in places like Pakistan, Yemen and Turkey. Granted, the Sanaa and Istanbul attacks were unsuccessful, but they were attacks against hard targets nonetheless.

What we missed:

* The jihadist franchises in Yemen resurged, and the al-Shabab in Somalia found success. While we quickly picked up on these trends in April and May respectively (and beat most others to the punch with some very good analysis on these topics), we clearly did not predict them in December 2007. We knew that the influx of fighters from Iraq was going to impact countries in the region, but we didn’t specifically focus on Yemen and Somalia.

The Year Ahead

We anticipate that we will see the United States continue its campaign of decapitation strikes against al Qaeda leadership. While this campaign has not managed to get bin Laden or al-Zawahiri, it has proved quite successful at causing the al Qaeda apex leadership to lie low and become marginalized from the physical jihad. The campaign also has killed a long list of key al Qaeda operational commanders and trainers. As noted above, we believe the core leadership is very concerned about the ideological battle being waged against it — the only real way the theology of jihadism can be defeated — and will continue to focus their efforts on that battlespace.

As long as the ideology of jihadism survives (it has been around since the late 1980s), the jihadists’ war against the world will continue. It will continue to oscillate between periods of high and low intensity. In the coming year, we believe the bulk of physical attacks will continue to be conducted by regional jihadist franchise groups, and to a lesser extent by grassroots jihadists.

With the lack of regional franchises in North America, we do not see a strategic threat to the United States. However, as seen by the recent convictions in the Fort Dix plot trial, or even in the late October case where a U.S. citizen apparently committed a suicide bombing on behalf of al-Shabab in Somalia, the threat of simple attacks against soft targets in the United States remains. We were again surprised that no jihadist attacks occurred in the United States in 2008. Given the vulnerabilities that exist in an open society and the ease of attack, we cannot rule out an attack in 2009.

In Europe, where AQIM and other jihadist franchises have a greater presence and infrastructure, there is a greater threat that these franchises will commit sophisticated attacks. It must be recognized, though, that they will have a far harder time acquiring weapons and explosives to conduct such attacks in the United Kingdom or France than they would in Algeria or Pakistan. Because of this, we anticipate that they will continue to focus on soft targets in Europe. Due to differences between the Muslim communities in the United States and Europe, the grassroots operatives have been more active in Europe than they are in the United States. The May 22, 2008, attempted bombing at the Giraffe Cafe by a Muslim convert in Exeter serves as a good reminder of this.
Jihadist Franchises

After failing last year to predict the resurgence of the jihadist franchises in Yemen and Somalia, we will be keeping a sharp eye on both for 2009. Somalia continues to be a basket case of a country, and the instability there is providing an opportunity for al-Shabab to flourish. There is currently an attempt under way to bring stability to Somalia, but we anticipate that it will not succeed, due to the militant factionalism in the country. The only thing working against al-Shabab and their jihadist brethren is that the Somalian jihadists appear to be as fractious as the rest of the country; al-Shabab is itself a splinter of the Supreme Islamic Courts Council (SICC), which ruled Somalia briefly before the Ethiopian invasion in 2006. There are currently as many as four different jihadist factions fighting one anot her for control over various areas of Somalia — in addition to fighting foreign troops and the interim government.

In Yemen, things have been eerily quiet since the Sept. 17 attack against the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa and the government campaign to go after the group behind that attack. Six gunmen were killed in the attack itself, and the Yemenis have arrested numerous others whom they claim were involved in planning the attack. The Yemenis also killed or captured several significant jihadists prior to the September attack. But given the large number of Yemenis involved in the fighting in Iraq, the number of Saudi militants who have traveled to Yemen due to pressure at home, and the Salafist-jihadist influence within Yemen’s security and intelligence apparatus, it will be possible for the two jihadist franchises in Yemen to recover if the Yemenis give them breathing space.

Meanwhile, though Iraq is far calmer than it was a few years back, a resurgence in jihadist activity is possible. One of the keys to calming down the many jihadist groups in Iraq was the formation of the Awakening Councils, which are made up of many Sunni former Baathist (and some jihadist) militants placed on the U.S. payroll. With the changes in Iraq, responsibility for these Awakening Councils has been passed to the Iraqi government. If the Shiite-dominated government decides not to pay the councils, many of the militants-turned-security officers might return to their old ways — especially if the pay from jihadist groups is right. Intelligence reports indicate that Baghdad plans to pay only a fraction of the approximately 100,000 men currently serving in the Awakening Councils. The Iraqi central government apparently plans to offer the bulk of them civilian jobs or job training, but we are skeptical that this will work.

Elsewhere, Pakistan is once again the critical location for the jihadists. Not only is Pakistan the home of the al Qaeda core leadership as its pursues its ideological war, it also is home to a number of jihadist groups, from the Afghan Taliban and the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan in the northwest to Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed in the northeast, among several others. The coming year might prove to be pivotal in global efforts against the jihadists in Pakistan. Pakistan already is a country in crisis, and in some ways it is hard to imagine it getting much worse. But if Pakistan continues to destabilize, it could very well turn into a failed country (albeit a failed country with a nuclear arsenal). Before Pakistan becomes a failed state, there are a number of precursor stages it probably will pass through. The most immed iate stage would entail the fall of most of the North-West Frontier Province to the jihadists, something that could happen this year.

This type of anarchy in Pakistan could give the jihadists an opportunity to exert control in a way similar to what they have done in places like Afghanistan and Somalia (and already in the Pakistani badlands along the Afghan border.) If, on the other hand, Pakistan is somehow able to hold on, re-establish control over its territory and its rogue intelligence agency and begin to cooperate with the United States and other countries fighting the jihadists, such a development could deal a terrible blow to the aspirations of the jihadists on both the physical and ideological battlefields. Given the number of plots linked to Pakistan in recent years, including the Nov. 26 Mumbai attack and almost every significant plot since 9/11, all eyes will be watching Pakistan carefully.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

America’s Foot Soldiers In Islamabad:

Durrani’s Firing Reveals How Pakistan Is Penetrated At The Top:

Thursday, 8 January 2009. www.ahmedqureshi.com

M. A. Durrani was busy leaking information to embarrass Pakistan internationally. He was part of an influential group in Islamabad that worked overtime to ensure Pakistan accepted blame for Mumbai and initiated action against the military and ISI without verifying the so-called evidence. Mr. Durrani says his leaks had the blessings of President Zardari. Who are they working for? Alarmingly, Pakistan’s security stands breached at the highest levels in the capital, where shady individuals are working for foreign interests with impunity. It is time for a major purge to cleanse Pakistani government and politics of foreign assets. Mr. Durrani should be debriefed as to whose interests he was serving in his sensitive position.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—A secretive powerful group in the top corridors of the Pakistani government has been working overtime for the past few weeks to push Islamabad into publicly accepting the half-cooked ‘evidence’ provided by the United States and India that implicates Pakistan, its military and the ISI in the Mumbai attacks.

Two prominent names in this group are national security adviser Mehmud Ali Durrani and the Ambassador in Washington Husain Haqqani. They pushed hard for Pakistan to accept blame without verification and without pursuing other compelling leads in the Mumbai attacks. These other leads cast a wider net and significantly weaken India’s ‘Pakistan-only’ fixation.

The behavior of Mr. Durrani became particularly desperate in the last few days, and especially on Wednesday, Jan. 7. His boss, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, was not off the mark when he cited betrayal of Pakistan’s national security as the main reason for sacking Mr. Durrani.

The question is: Who was Mr. Durrani working for? There is even chatter about the possibility that he might be arrested and interrogated to determine whose interests he was serving. There is no question that his bold moves were sanctioned by President Zardari. It is also interesting to note that information minister Sherry Rehman came to Mr. Durrani’s rescue in the final stage of the bizarre power struggle that marked Durrani’s last few hours in office.

Given the traps created by this government for Pakistan and especially for the ISI after the Mumbai attacks, it is safe to conclude that Pakistan’s power echelons stand breached by individuals, like Mr. Durrani, who are keenly pursuing policy objectives of a foreign government or governments.

The conduct of Mr. Durrani, coupled with massive recent policy failures with direct bearing on national security, reinforce the need for a purge within the government and within the country’s political elite. Foreign governments have been able to penetrate both and cultivate assets. These ‘assets’ conduct their own private foreign policies directly with foreign powers without the approval or knowledge of the Pakistani state.

The Signs

Sitting in Washington, Ambassador Husain Haqqani has been wrangling with the Pakistan Foreign Office for several days now over the FBI evidence shared with Pakistan, which apparently includes a tape recording purporting to show a Pakistani citizen inside Pakistan talking to a Mumbai terrorist over telephone. Mr. Haqqani wants Pakistan to accept this piece of evidence as final proof that elements within Pakistan executed the attack on Mumbai. Other Pakistani officials disagree and say the audio tape and other information need to be verified by Pakistani experts to determine if it is fake or real. We don’t trust India and they don’t trust us. It’s as simple as that.

Durrani’s Suspicious Role

Behind the scenes, Mr. Durrani has been playing what amounts to a dirty role in this whole crisis with India. In the last week of December, he contacted a known Pakistani journalist working for the Wall Street Journal and leaked to him a ‘breaking’ a story: an activist of the defunct Lashkar Tayyeba in Pakistani custody had confessed to making phone calls to Mumbai terrorists.

It was strange that Mr. Durrani chose to leak this information to a U.S. newspaper. If the story was true [it wasn’t. It was officially debunked later] the Pakistani government would have released it through its spokespeople. The only plausible purpose of the leak was to embarrass Pakistan, quash the voices calling for evidence and verification, and push a weak government into accepting responsibility for the Mumbai attacks. It was a classic pressure tactic, in this case used by an insider – Mr. Durrani – against his own government.

Using this deliberate leak, the Wall Street Journal came out with an elaborate story . Its editors somehow linked the alleged confession to ISI’s tense relations with elected governments in the 1990s. There was a separate box in the story that gave a timeline to the supposed tense relations.

In short, Durrani’s leak to Wall Street Journal became a condemnation of the ISI. Which seems to be the whole purpose of the Indian drama anyway. The leak also weakened the effect of foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s rare bold statement that demanded India deactivate its forward air bases, withdraw troops and defuse the war hysteria.

Durrani’s leak in effect threw the ball back in the Pakistani court.


With Ambassador Haqqani’s failure to convince Pakistani officials to accept the American evidence, the pro-American lobby in Islamabad began to get desperate. U.S. military chief Adm. Mike Mullen flew into Islamabad to convince President Zardari to allow the Indian air force to conduct limited ‘surgical strikes’. He asked Zardari to deactivate the state of alert in the Pakistan Air Force for this purpose. The deal was sealed if not for the strong stand taken by the Pakistani military. Mullen returned empty handed.

The ‘Charge Sheet’

Mr. Durrani’s reign of double dealings at the top, as Prime Minister’s adviser on national security, makes the list of foreign policy blunders by the government appear deliberate and calculated and not just the work of incompetent administrators:

The immediate admission of guilt on behalf of ISI, when Mr. Gilani was told to accept sending ISI chief to New Delhi on India’s ‘summon’.

The weak, apologetic diplomacy in the face of Indian warmongering.

Misleading China in the U.N. Security Council voting, resulting in incriminating Pakistani individuals and organizations without evidence. Some observers even go as far as saying that this vote has smoothed the way for future sanctions on Pakistan and its military if and when major powers pursue this.

The Zardari government is suspected of having dragged its feet on issuing orders to the Pakistani military to raise the level of alert even when Indian army, air force and navy were moving to forward positions. The plot becomes sinister when the consequences of this reluctance become clear. A snap attack by India when the Pakistani military was not ready could have resulted in humiliation for the military. This would have emboldened the current government to take on a humiliated military and pursue the U.S. agenda of dismantling the ISI and transform the Pakistani military into a glorified police force at the beck and call of U.S. and India. This ‘ideal role’ for Pakistan is now openly discussed in Washington and is no longer a secret.

The Memorable 7 January

The actions of Mr. Mehmud Ali Durrani on this day show how desperate he had become to see Pakistan taking the blame and submitting before India. This portion of the story needs careful reading because it reveals how far this game goes to the top levels of the Pakistani government.

Mr. Durrani apparently leaked to an Indian TV channel and a couple of Pakistani news channels that Pakistan has accepted Indian ‘evidence’ that Ajmal Kassab, the lone surviving Mumbai terrorist, was a Pakistani citizen. [Please click here for an incisive examination of the Indian and American ‘evidence’].

Mr. Durrani probably intended for this information to be quoted ‘anonymously’. But one of the journalists probably made the mistake of mentioning Durrani’s name.

Reacting to this, Pakistan’s second most senior diplomat, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, came out to deny that Kassab’s identity has been determined, in effect brushing aside Durrani’s leak.

To counter Mr. Bashir, Information Minister Sherry Rehman went a step further. She volunteered this information [that Kassab is a Pakistani] through a text message to a reporter of the American Associated Press news agency. Her move seconded Durrani’s.

Surprisingly, the government’s own Minister of State for Interior, Mr. Tasnim Qureshi, reacted angrily to Mr. Durrani’s leaks. He told reporters that Kassab’s Pakistani links mean little because Kassab was a “creation of Indian intelligence.”

Now, was Mr. Durrani acting alone in making the leaks? After being sacked, Mr. Durrani told Geo News that he consulted the President on all his moves.

This begs the question: Did President Zardari approve the calculated leaks to the media by Durrani and Sherry? If so, why? Why did they have to do it this way? Who were they hiding from? Why try to force the hand of the rest of the organs of the Pakistani state?

Does this mean that Mr. Zardari, Mr. Durrani, and Mr. Haqqani will leak confidential material to the media every time things don’t go their way? Why this act of desperation? Who were they trying to please?

Time For A Purge In Islamabad

A growing number of Pakistani officials and politicians have been cultivated by foreign governments in a variety of ways to pursue the goals of those governments. This foreign meddling and direct contact is confined in large part to the United States, and then to the United Kingdom. It is happening outside the knowledge of the Pakistani state and has reached dangerous proportions. Mr. Durrani’s story is a case in point.

Mr. Durrani was and remains an active member of something called the Balusa Group, created and financed by the U.S. government as a way to create influence in the upper echelons of the Pakistani government. The Americans say the purpose of this group was to bring peace between Pakistan and India through ‘Track II’ diplomacy. But the truth is that its members, like Mr. Durrani, were involved in lobbying for U.S. sponsored energy corridors between Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. A side goal was to convince Pakistan to give India unlimited access to Afghanistan and Central Asian republics as a free concession without asking for anything in return, like resolving Kashmir and water disputes.

Foreign Minister Mehmood Qureshi distanced himself from the group as soon as he assumed his new position. He wanted to ensure he was not linked to foreign interests while discharging important business of the state. However, Mr. Durrani and Mr. Husain Haqqani have not publicly ceased their associations with foreign policy groups and interests after becoming servants of the Pakistani state. Mr. Durrani has been serving the state for almost three years now without renouncing his foreign associations, and all of them happen to be tied to U.S. interests.

The result of the damage brought by Mr. Zardari, Mr. Durrani and Mr. Haqqani to Pakistan in the past few weeks is obvious. Pakistan’s wishy-washy diplomacy in the face of Indian belligerence and warmongering has emboldened New Delhi to pursue a tougher line with Islamabad. Officials in Washington and New Delhi are betting on the confusion created by the actions of Mr. Durrani to make it easier for them to extract concessions from Pakistan.

There is no question that the United States plans to expand the war in Afghanistan to include Pakistan. This is the only way to weaken the Pakistani military and firmly align Pakistan with American interests opposite China and others. The only way this is possible is with India’s help. People like Mr. Durrani are helping this happen from the inside. Such elements need to be purged form the system.

In conclusion, this is what Dr. Ayesha Siddiq, the author of Military Inc., had to say about Mr. Durrani when he was first appointed in government:

"The PPP selected Washington's dream team to run foreign relations and national security. One is not sure that appointing Durrani as the National Security Adviser will do the job. The appointment (of Durrani) is in consideration of the general's close ties with the US Pentagon. Not to mention the fact that Durrani owes his intellectual growth to Shirin Tahirkheli, a Bush administration adviser and former senior official of the [U.S. delegation to the] UN National Security Council".

Enough said.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The war has already begun. The question is. When did it begin?

Pakistan's present and future war

By Samson Simon Sharaf
Saturday, January 03, 2009

India has carried out a revaluation of its strategic options with Pakistan, and the coming years could witness an all-out strategy of coercion by it, a strategy so effectively applied by Israel in the Middle East. India's biggest advantage in conceptual and technical military cooperation with Israel lies in the fact that its technology is largely indigenous and facilitates material transfer with no end-user problems. Pakistan is already engaged in a war of attrition and the future will be a serious test of its strategy of defiance and ability to ride out the crises as a cohesive nation state.

India's quest for security and response to perceived external threats is shaped and complicated by its past. India desires to exist as a great power with a capability of bullying its neighbours and turning them into vassal states. Pakistan has been the major impediment towards this India's quest for great-power status. Wary of the freedom struggle in Kashmir, an exaggerated threat of Islamic militants and fear of another Two Nation Theory from within, Indian strategists have been toying with the idea of using a small but lethal rapid-reaction force for a limited duration inside Pakistan. However, India cannot accomplish what it has failed to do in the past six decades, unless the breeze blows in its favour.

In the post-9/11 scenario, India sees an opportunity and is acting as a neo-realist to minimise the importance of Pakistan through high-profile coercion in line with international perceptions. In this India is even ready to forego its traditional mantra of keeping the great powers out of the region and to align with them for short-term gains. In the final analysis, India wishes to frame a politically discredited, ethnically fragmented, economically fragile and morally weak Pakistan. This can only happen if the role of the armed forces in Pakistan's policymaking is reduced, Punjab divided and the rallying call of Kashmir taken care of for good.

The Indian military structure is geared towards such a capability with active assistance from Russia and Israel, and now the USA and UK. Having allied itself closely with Israel, India will now seek a continuous harassment through heightened military coercion, control of river waters, diplomatic isolation and covert interference. Mumbai and any such incidents in future will continue to provide reason for such intimidation, all in concert with the US and western strategic objectives in the region.

Interestingly, much of the blame for having landed in the box and then pushed into a vulnerable position must also be shared by the Pakistani establishments of the past decade. Pakistan's declared nuclear capability was meant to deter all types of conflicts and pave the way for sustained economic growth, international stature, and a political solution of the Kashmir dispute, Through Kargil, Pakistan led India and the world to believe that notwithstanding a nuclear shadow, a limited military conflict in an existing conflict zone was still possible. Kargil, and later 9/11, changed international perceptions on an armed freedom struggle in Kashmir as well as Pakistan's relevance to the new form of threat: non-state actors. Seen in the backdrop of 9/11, it was the second effect that finally resulted in disownership of the freedom fighters in Kashmir by Pakistan while also resigning the Kashmir question to the impossibility of backdoor diplomacy.

The nuclear capability of Pakistan provides a very small window of opportunity to India to carry out a physical offensive action across the LoC or the international border. This action could be a raid in the form of hot pursuit through ground or helicopter-borne troops, precision air strikes with or without stand-off; remote-controlled targeting through a guided-missile attack, and in the worst case, an attempt to seize objectives close to the international border with little military but considerable political significance. India had a fully developed chemical weapons programme even before it signed the chemical weapons convention as a country not possessing chemical weapons. But it declared its arsenal soon after signing the convention and is not averse to using quickly diffusing chemical weapons. After 9/11, India has held war games and fine-tuned these concepts and implemented some in a very limited manner during the escalation on the LoC.

Hot pursuit, as the name suggests, is only possible in an already hot theatre like the LoC. These are launched through ground troops or heliborne forces. Such an option has little probability because of the bilateral ceasefire. But such an option, however remote, cannot be ruled out.

With the active assistance of Israel, some Indian aircrafts have acquired a beyond-visual-range, precision stand-off capability, something witnessed during the Kargil conflict. India may use its air force remaining inside its own territory and launch laser-guided munitions diagonally inside Pakistan. However, the selected targets should be within 20 kilometres of the LoC or the international border.

Precision strikes imply that Indian aircrafts will physically violate Pakistan's airspace and launch precision surgical strikes against selected targets from a very high altitude, or conventional bombing runs, or use heliborne troops. In such a situation, these aircrafts will be vulnerable to Pakistani air defence and the PAF.

In the cold start strategy, India positions forces with offensive capabilities in military garrisons close to the international border, equipped, trained and tasked to capture some nodal points along the international border, before the Pakistani forces can react. India may not succeed in such an operation without a massive air cover. In Indian strategic calculus, the timing and lightening speed of such operations will solicit immense international pressure on Pakistan so as to curtail Pakistan's conventional and nuclear response.

Notwithstanding such options hinging on military and diplomatic brinkmanship, India will benefit from the use of Israeli armed and surveillance drones operated by Israeli crews from inside India. Historical precedents for such cooperation already exist.

The whole body of war fighting reasoning in such limited conflicts warrants a level of rationality and comprehension of a common strategic language between the belligerents. This is technically impossible. Different actors would draw varying conclusions from an animated Graduated Escalation Ladder (GEL) always vulnerable to a Fire Break Point that could result in uncontrolled conventional and nuclear escalation. It is, therefore, most important that the decision to graduate a conflict rest solely with the political leaders of the country, wherein a common strategic parlance could be evolved with more ease.

Taking a leaf from the Israeli opaqueness in its nuclear doctrine, India over time has applied a conceptual innovation in her nuclear strategy. The Indian revision in the nuclear doctrine implies the ambiguity in the "no first use clause" through a declared no first use and pre-emptive retaliation to create a perception that it is making a coercive transaction from doctrine of limited conventional war to an opaque level of conflict in which the nuclear weapons remain in a very high state of alert. The implication is that India may flirt with the concept of a limited strategic coercion in the shadow of a very high non-degradable nuclear alert beyond Pakistan's capability to neutralise. It is also my opinion that, as of now, after having signed the Nuclear Deal with USA, India benefits from an extended US nuclear umbrella, and strategic and diplomatic support.

There are reliable reports from Afghanistan that Indian contractors are busy building billets and accommodation in Kabul and Bagram to station two Indian divisions in the area. At the same time, bids have been invited by the US Corps of Engineers to construct a divisional size cantonment in Kandahar. Hypothetically, troops in the garb of protection for Indian investments will actually seal off Afghanistan's Pakhtun regions from the North. Then the US, NATO and Indian troops will go for an all-out counter insurgency operation in the cordoned off Pakhtun areas. The effects of spill-over into Pakistan would be pronounced and the Durand Line would become a figment of imagination. Premised on the romantic notion of Pakhtun nationalism, the doors to Pakhtunkhwa would be opened. The USA would then select the shortest route to Afghanistan through the Arabian Sea and Balochistan.

Whatever the concept, scope and objective of such limited escalations, India, with its newfound allies, has decided to maintain a constant vigil and coercion of Pakistan over a prolonged period of time but well below a Fire Break Point. The obvious targets, in tandem, with its allies, will be addressed through diverse instruments like control of rivers, economics, diplomacy, international pressure, internal law and order, military intimidation and even insurgency. A trillion-dollar question is: will the USA be ready to occupy Balochistan for a secure supply corridor?

The war has already begun. The question is. When did it begin?

The writer is a retired brigadier of the Pakistani army. Email: nicco1988@hotmail.com

United against the goyim!

Auntie Ziona Against Auntie Simone

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Oy gevalt, the terror attack in Mumbai was all we talked about at Shabbat last week.

With a few bottles of Uncle Shlommi's kosher wine from Chile pushing up the angst levels, old Mrs Mendelsohn became quite tearful about India being Israel's biggest customer in the global arms trade, and the way India invited our Mossad to provide intelligence and training to the paramilitary mobs of Hindutva, and keep the country safe from the Achmeds and Mustafas.

And we raised our glasses to the hard work put in by our Bush'le to encourage an arms race between India and Pakistan, making them feel honoured to join the nuclear club and get their chance to wipe one another out, without involving our armies and our gelt.

Auntie Shelomi said she was convinced that the CIA was behind Mumbai, because of Obambi's response right after the attack and his election campaign promises to bomb Pakistan out of existence, coupled with the arrival of US warships in Pakistani waters the moment the shooting began in Mumbai.

"And only the American shmoigers could have done something as stupid as ordering large amounts of LIQUOR and meat for the 'Muslim' terrorists holed up in Chabad House, if the plan was to create support for the coming war against Pakistan!"

"Nu, at least we can be sure that Socialists were not involved," said Mony, who's still feeling fercockt after his altercation with Mikey'le a few weeks ago.

"It sounds like a typical false'le flag operation to me," said Rachel, who has a goy conspiracy theorist for a boyfriend. "Mossad, the CIA and the British MI ZEX working with a core group of meshuggenah ideologues within India's military, intelligence and political elite who were planning a coup, and who want to see India emerge as a groys-power closely allied with our Jewmerice."

"Feh!", shouted Auntie Shelomi, "If the Mossad was involved and the plan was to frame the Muslims, wouldn't they have had the brains to remind the killers to remove from their right wrists the red strings that signify devotion to Hinduism?

But why were the police told to 'stand down' and not fire back at the killers, and why was Hemant Karkare, the anti-terrorism chief of Mumbai police, the first target of the mysterious terrorists?

Auntie will tell you, but keep it to yourself and don't tell anyone... Kerkare had been uncovering the nexus between the Indian military and the sudden rise of well-armed and well-financed Hindu terrorism groups with their wide network of militant training camps across India. And he'd arrested a few very important people.

As usual, Uncle Shlommi was able to help us to make sense of the puzzle. He served in the elite forces when our Golda was PM, and can still remember how to tap out Hava Nagila in Morse Code from those days.

"Girls, there's no need to plotz" he said, standing up and lifting the menorah high in the air. "Always remember that we work together with the intelligence agencies of our allies. To understand the Mumbai attack, you have to figure out who is going to benefit from it, and I promise you, it's not going to be these schmendriks in Pakistan.

"Do you remember what our David Ben-Gurion had to say about that anti-semitic sewer of a country, if ever there was one?

"The world Zionist movement should not be neglectful of the dangers of Pakistan to it. And Pakistan now should be its first target, for this ideological State is a threat to our existence. And Pakistan, the whole of it, hates the Jews and loves the Arabs.

"This lover of the Arabs is more dangerous to us than the Arabs themselves. For that matter, it is most essential for the world Zionism that it should now take immediate steps against Pakistan.

"Whereas the inhabitants of the Indian peninsula are Hindus whose hearts have been full of hatred towards Muslims, therefore, India is the most important base for us to work from there against Pakistan."

"Oy vey", said old Mrs Mendelsohn, swaying a bit as she pulled up her sleeve to display the number tattooed on her wrist, something she does every Shabbos, "Can you imagine another Shoah, only this time with Pakis instead of Germans?!

"Got in himmel. The first thing they would smash on Kristallnacht would be the kosher wine."

United against the goyim!

angst - cold sweat, anxiety
feh! - An expression of disgust or disapproval, representative of the sound of spitting.
fercockt - all fucked up
gelt – money
groys - big, large
Got in himmel - God in heaven
"Hava Nagila" is a hebrew folk song, the title meaning "Let us rejoice".
meshuggenah - a crazy person, someone who is nuts.
plotz - Or plats. Literally, to explode, as in aggravation.
Shabbos or Shabbat - Sabbath. Friday night sundown to Saturday night sundown.
shmendrik - a pathetic loser, hapless soul, an inept nincompoop.
shmoiger - A shmuck, but really stupid.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Brig Samson Simon - Crisis Cell 26 Dec 08


There're many significant facts in Brig Simon's comments. The war of attrition with Pakistan, the Israeli military hardware nexus with India, the US/Indian installations and troop buildup in Bagram.

But people are curious to know who Ajmal Kasab is. Will they ever know?