Monthly Archives: July 2012

Strategic disconnect?

By: Javed Hafiz

The Pak-US relations have gone through cycles of warm engagement to cold estrangement. Interestingly, these relations were usually warm during military dictatorships in Pakistan, even though the US leaders always paid lip service to democratic norms. This highlights two cold realities of international relations. Firstly, these relations are governed by convergence or divergence of national interests. Secondly, some gap could always be expected between policies and postures. I believe that Pak-US relations are vital for a variety of reasons and we must set emotionalism aside while dealing with the superpower.
But I also believe that the US should approach Pakistan with a degree of respect for its sovereignty, and Pakistan should talk to the US with confidence and poise. However, that confidence is not possible till we are internally divided, poorly governed and confused about our strategic objectives. The strategic disconnect between Pakistan and the United States became visible after Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and continues to this day. Their perceptions and policies appear to be divergent in a number of areas.
Firstly, Pakistan and the United States look at China, India and Iran differently. Pakistan looks at China as a future superpower that could bring stability to the region. It could counterbalance the US and Indian hegemonic designs in Asia and Pacific. The United States appears to be following a policy of containment towards China and wants to use India as a means towards that objective. Whether India would play ball with the United States is yet not clear.
The US also wants India to lead Asia and Pacific. It has not realised the limitations of this policy, as both China and Japan would have their reservations for India is not a country of the Pacific Ocean. It also wants India to play a major role in Afghanistan and Central Asia. For that to happen, it is essential that Indian goods move freely to the Central Asian markets and that is not possible without Pakistani cooperation. For that reason, the United States desires a Pakistan that panders to India. The US looks at Iran as a lethal component of the ‘Axis of Evil’, while Pakistan looks at that country as a brotherly neighbouring Islamic nation. Pakistan also views Iran as a vital source of its future energy needs.
The United States views Indian and Pakistani nuclear programmes differently. Through its nuclear deal with India in 2006, Washington recognised it as a de jure nuclear power. However, it has reservations about recognising Pakistan even as a de facto nuclear power. The US media often harps on the possible dangers to Pakistan’s nuclear programme, despite the fact that security measures around Pakistani nuclear assets are near perfect. The US played a major role in lobbying for India in the Nuclear Suppliers Group before signing the agreement in 2006. Will the United States undertake similar lobbying effort for Pakistan? The answer in my mind is clearly in the negative. Since the days of Bill Clinton, the US has treated Pakistan at two different levels, a reality that became clearer in 2006.
Pakistan and the United States largely agree on the future of Afghanistan, but they disagree on the means to achieve it. In fact, Pakistan’s links to the Haqqani group are largely because of the US and Indian policies in Afghanistan. The US presence in post-2014 Afghanistan is viewed by Pakistan as a potential cause of continued instability, while the US and Karzai see it as a stabilising factor. In any possible civil war in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States are likely to support opposing forces, overtly or covertly.
Historically, the bilateral ties have been based on a robust relationship between Rawalpindi and Pentagon. In 2008, the United States decided to take a different route. While civilian oversight of the military establishment is a laudable goal in the long run, it is not possible in Pakistan in the immediate future. Our civilian leadership is weak and corrupt and lacks capacity for good governance. No wonder, it has surrendered its security and foreign policies to the military establishment. President Zardari may be a great friend of the Americans, but Pakistani public views them differently. According to a recent survey, 74 percent of the Pakistanis view US as an enemy country. Zardari’s own approval rating in Pakistan is very low. I wonder why the Americans have tried all this while to control Pakistani military establishment through Zardari-led civilian setup. Are they so oblivious of the ground realities in Pakistan?
Perceptions, they say, are more important than reality. And both nations have very negative perceptions of each other. Hawks have gained ground in both countries. Cool heads, on both sides, have become endangered species. The outgoing US Ambassador Cameron Munter was not a hawk. He supported US apology to Pakistan on the Salala incident and was also against drone attacks. However, the hawks in Washington were not prepared to listen to him. No wonder, a frustrated Munter has decided to join the academia.
The irony of this relationship is that while we raise anti-US slogans at the pitch of our voices, we also go running to Washington for budgetary support. This situation is neither sustainable, nor desirable in the long run. It can be partially sustained, but only till the USA needs our cooperation in Afghanistan. So what should be done to achieve a long-term healthy relationship?
The United States should try to improve its image in Pakistan. It used to do that quite effectively in the past. The US Information Service used to be quite active in Pakistan. Young Pakistani students were taken to the United States to live with families there. It may be difficult today to duplicate that. But I wonder what stops it from constructing some high profile mega projects in Pakistan. On its part, Pakistan should too improve its image abroad through think-tanks, media, lobbies and universities.
But the key to a strong foreign policy is the strength within. In Pakistan, we must extend the writ of state to every inch of our territory, Karachi and Fata, in particular. We should collect more taxes to reduce our external dependence and not let any Faisal Shahzad receive training in terrorism on our soil.
n The writer is a former ambassador and a freelance analyst with Arabic satellite channels.

Shared directly by the writer.


The Afghan Endgame – The Dilemma

By;Brig. Imran Malik(R)

Pakistan blinked.

In a blatant display of overwhelming power and clout the US forced Pakistan’s hand in the nerve wrecking and vital battle of wits for the NATO supply routes and by implication the future of its Afghan Campaign. The US pressure tactics included a double pincer movement of sorts comprising a strategic and an economic prong targeting Pakistan’s obvious vulnerabilities. The strategic prong mainly threatened to declare the Haqqani Network (HN) a terrorist organization and by implication Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism. The USS Enterprise led aircraft carrier group was moved off Gwadar to add weight to the argument. The other prong mainly threatened military and economic sanctions while withholding about US $ 1.2 billion owed to Pakistan under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF). Under pressure the weak and bankrupt Pakistan Government capitulated rather spinelessly.

The NATO supply routes were re-opened – and the first step in the end game for Afghanistan had been taken!

US Design for the Afghanistan Pakistan Region (APR)

The Geopolitical Dimension: The US would like to see a self-serving conducive environment prevail over the South Central Asian Region (SCAR) and APR. It would like to see a stable Afghanistan and a compliant Pakistan at peace with themselves and with their neighbors. It would also like to ensure that Russia and China remain contained and blocked out of the region with no direct access to a marginalized Iran or the Arabian Sea/ Indian Ocean. It would also like to see India emerge as a major player in Afghanistan at least if not in the SCAR. However, in the final analysis the US would like to see itself directly ascendant, dominant and in exclusive control of the geo-political/strategic/economic destinies of the SCAR and the APR in particular.

The Geostrategic Dimension: The US has already set about crafting the geo-strategic environment for the end game in Afghanistan. In the next step hereon it will require Pakistan to play a proactive and decisive role in eliminating the terrorist’s threat (Al Qaeda, HN, TTP-?) across the APR.  It could mean undertaking unilateral/combined military operations against them or bringing/coercing them around to the negotiating table. Either way the US will expect Pakistan to play her vital role in neutralizing/eliminating this cross border threat – under the pain of being declared a state sponsoring terrorism and its attendant ramifications! Further the US will retain its foothold in the APR and SCAR through the establishment of US/NATO bases all around Afghanistan ostensibly to train and support the emerging Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

The Geo-economic Dimension: The US would like to be the sole determinant of the economic destiny of the region controlling the mining, flow, transportation, refining and marketing of the minerals/fossil fuels of the region. Further it would like to have absolute control over the emerging (north-south and east-west) trade routes going across the region like the New Silk Road Project (NSRP). Ideally it would like to link Europe to India including all the regions in between in a seamless trade corridor under its sole oversight and to its sole advantage. The US would also want to encourage the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline while blocking the Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline which potentially could have been extended to India and China as well. It would require Pakistan to mold her policies and fall in line. The economic development of the region will thus remain subject to the vagaries of US national interests. 

The Afghan Political Dimension: The US would further want a Northern Alliance (NA) Government to be firmly in power in a peaceful and secure Afghanistan with its writ extending far beyond the municipal limits of Kabul to the extremities of Afghanistan’s vast badlands – albeit an unsustainable and patently unfair   and undemocratic political dispensation with a minority ruling roughshod over the majority Pashtuns. Furthermore the US would like to see the elimination of terrorists, warlords and drug czars and their fiefdoms/businesses. Regional players including Pakistan will be expected to remain non-interfering. The US would also expect the international community to help sustain Afghanistan beyond 2014 – Tokyo Conference.

The Dilemma/Pakistan Factor: The main US demand from Pakistan would be for her to unconditionally support all US initiatives in the region even to the peril of her own national interests. Not only would the US want Pakistan to help the US/NATO/ISAF Combine egress from the region safely and securely but also to ensure that the scourge of international terrorism is eliminated once and for all. Furthermore it would want Pakistan to support her and her proxies’ continued residual presence in the region.

The national interests of the US and Pakistan in the APR-SCAR remain generally divergent. It may have been relatively easy for Pakistan to concede on the re-opening of the NATO supply routes. It will not be so in the case of further US imperatives in the APR/SCAR.

The answer to this dilemma lies in the US’ acceptance of Pakistan’s genuine national interests. Pakistan desires a friendly  government in Kabul with no Indian influence at all and would like to see the majority Pashtuns get their rightful democratic place in any political dispensation in Afghanistan. Pakistan too would like to see the terrorist threat neutralized but in toto and not selectively. Pakistan would want the mineral riches of the region to be exploited to the benefit of the people of the region and a continuing mutually beneficial relationship with the US and all countries in the region.

Now will the US want a willing or an unwilling Pakistan for the endgame? Does the US want to succeed hereon? Will the US still use arrogant, coercive diplomacy, the sickening carrot and stick routine or will it take a genuine reality check of the emerging geostrategic environment of the APR and modify its policy/strategy accordingly!

It may be time for the US to blink now.


The author is a retired Brigadier and a former Defence Attache to Australia and New Zealand.

This is a cross post from The Nation.


The mass graves of Kashmir

Editor’s Note:Suggested  viewing :

For 22 years this contested region has endured a regime of torture and disappeared civilians. Now a local laywer is discovering their unmarked graves and challenging India’s abuses.

By:Cathy Scott- Clark

One sodden evening in April 2010, an Indian army major from the4 Rajputana Rifles arrived at a remote police post where the mountains gather in a half-hitch around KashmirIndia‘s northernmost state. Major Opinder Singh “seemed in a hurry”, a duty policeman recalled. Up in the heights of the Pir Panjal range, down through which the major had descended, it was snowing and his boots let in water. “The officer reported that the previous night his men had killed three Pakistani terrorists who had crossed over into our Machil sector,” the policeman recalled. “Where are the bodies?” the policeman had asked, filling in a First Information Report that started a criminal enquiry. “They were buried where they were shot,” the major retorted, before taking off in his jeep.

“It was not unusual,” the policeman later told investigators, when questioned as to why he had not insisted on viewing the corpses or checking the identities. Kashmir had been in turmoil since Partition in 1947 and on a virtual war footing for the past two decades, with some estimates placing the dead at 70,000. Strung with razor wire and anti-missile netting, the state had been transformed into one of the most militarised places on earth, with one Indian paramilitary or soldier stationed for every 17 residents. The Pakistani intelligence services and military trained and funded a legion of irregulars, who infiltrated over the mountains to kick-start a full-blown insurgency in 1989, keeping the Indian-ruled portion of the Muslim-majority state permanently alight.

Once picture-perfect, a place of pilgrimage for backpackers and mystics of all religions, Kashmir had become one of the most beautiful and dangerous frontlines in the world. Machil, the sector in which Singh had sprung his operation, was especially treacherous, consisting of a clutch of isolated villages strung along the Line of Control (LoC), a high-altitude ceasefire line that had split Kashmir in 1972. Up here in the thin air, India had created a fearsome barrier, made lethal with the help of Israeli technology, a partially electrified series of fences connected to motion detectors, surrounded by a heavily mined no-man’s land.

On 30 April, 2010, an armed forces spokesman in Srinagar, Kashmir’s summer capital, confirmed Singh’s story. “Three militants have been killed in a shootout,” said Lieutenant Colonel JS Brar, detailing how three AK-47s, one Pakistani pistol, ammunition, cigarettes, chocolates, dates, two water bottles, a Kenwood radio and 1,000 Pakistani rupees had been recovered. The standard-issue infiltration kit. The corpseless triple-death inquiry was an open and shut case.

However, a few days later, at Panzalla police station, 30 miles from Machil, a simple missing case was causing everyone problems. Three Kashmiri families from nearby Nadihal village had turned up to report the disappearance of their sons: Mohammad, 19, Riyaz, 20, and Shahzad, 27, an apple farmer, a herder and a labourer. They had not seen them since 28 April and would not be calmed by detectives. Soon, their appeals drew the attention of Kashmir’s most dogged human rights lawyer, Parvez Imroz, whose response to what would become known as the “Machil Encounter” was about to create a watershed in Kashmir.

Dressed in the uniform of the Kashmiri bar, a crisp white shirt and sombre morning suit, over the past two decades Imroz had become a fixture at the high court in Srinagar, filing thousands of habeas corpus actions (which literally translates as “produce the bodies”) on behalf of families who claimed their relatives had vanished while in the custody of the Indian security forces.

These actions rarely succeeded, the Indian army insisting that the missing had flitted over the LoC to Pakistan, recalling historic scenes at the start of the insurgency that terrified New Delhi, when tens of thousands of young Kashmiris jumped aboard buses manned by youthful conductors shouting: “Pakistan, Pakistan here we come.” But what the writs did achieve was to create a paper trail from which Imroz was able to estimate that 8,000 Kashmiri non-combatants had vanished from army custody in a state the size of Ireland – four times more than disappeared under Pinochet in Chile. “The military grip has been suffocating,” he told the Guardian, “and making someone vanish sows far more fear than spilling their blood”.

Imroz had spent much of his career facing down security forces protected by specially drafted laws. Under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, soldiers and paramilitaries enjoy total immunity from prosecution, unless the ministry of defence sanction their trial. Using new Right to Information (RTI) laws, Imroz obtained confirmation that despite the fact that hundreds of soldiers stood accused of murder, rape and torture, not a single case had proceeded. In contrast, Kashmiri citizens are dealt with using the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act, under which they can be jailed, preventively, for two years, if deemed likely to commit subversive acts in the future, with an estimated 20,000 detained, according to Human Rights Watch.

Imroz’s campaigning achieved other things. He caught the attention of the UN, and this year Christof Heyns, a special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, warned India that all of these draconian laws had no place in a functioning democracy and should be scrapped. The price for confronting the security forces and the militants they faced down was severe. In 1992, Imroz mourned the loss of his Hindu mentor, an activist who was gunned down by Muslim insurgents. Three years later, Imroz was driving home from court when he felt a cold draught grip his chest. “I slumped over the wheel, inexplicably,” he recalled. Bystanders who came to his rescue told him he had been shot. A militant group later claimed it was a case of mistaken identity. In 1996, the Indian army abducted Imroz’s friend and fellow lawyer, Jalil Andrabi, whose mutilated body was found after three weeks. Imroz shut himself off. For years he refused to marry or have children, worried they would be targeted. In 2002, his accomplished protégé, Khurram Parvez, a young Kashmiri graduate, was badly injured in an IED attack that killed his driver and a female colleague, Asiya Jeelani. Two years after that, a gunman posing as a client, shot dead another of Imroz’s legal allies. In 2005, when Imroz was awarded the Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Prize, first given to Nelson Mandela, he was unable to accept it in person as India declined to issue him a passport.

But Imroz’s reputation began to build in the countryside, from where terrified villagers travelled to besiege his rickety chambers on the Bund, in central Srinagar, carrying with them stories. In 2008, these accounts enabled the lawyer to make his greatest discovery. While surveying disappearance cases in villages across two of Kashmir’s 23 districts, including Baramulla, from where the three Nadihal men would vanish in 2010, villagers showed him a hitherto unknown network of unmarked and mass graves: muddy pits and mossy mounds, pock-marking pine forests and orchards. According to eyewitnesses, all had been dug under the gaze of the Indian security forces and all contained the bodies of local men. Some were fresh, others decayed, hinting at a covert slaughter that went back many years.

Imroz widened his search, mapping almost 1,000 locations. He was shocked by the implications. Indian law requires that the police probe every violent death and that corpses be identified. But in the village of Bimyar, white-haired Atta Muhammad Khan came forward to describe how he had been forced to inter 203 unidentified bodies under cover of the night – men whose identities and crimes were unstated. “Some corpses were disfigured. Others were burnt. We did not ask questions.” It was a similar story in Kichama village, where the lawyer mapped 235 unmarked graves and in Bijhama, where 200 more unidentified corpses had been interred. In Srinagar, Imroz’s team alerted the government’s State Human Rights Commission (SHRC). “We suspected the missing of Kashmir were buried at these secret sites,” he said, publishing a report, Facts Under Ground.

An official response came two months later, just after 10pm on 30 June, 2008. Imroz had at last married Rukhsana, a business woman, and they now had two children, his daughter Zeenish, 12, and a boy, Tauqir, aged seven. The family lived in Kralpora, a tree-lined suburb eight miles from Srinagar city centre. No one called round on the offchance. Rukhsana heard a rap at the door and glanced outside to see that their security lights had been smashed. “I knew what this meant,” she said, the door knock immediately conjuring memories of murdered friends. Imroz ran to the back of the house and shouted for his brother, Sheikh Mushtaq Ahmad, who lived next door.

As Ahmad emerged with a torch, a shot was fired, narrowly missing his son. A stranger screamed: “Put that light out.” Then, a grenade exploded, shrapnel pitting the front door. Tear gas shells followed, waking neighbours who unlocked the village mosque. The imam mobilised residents to surround Imroz’s house, as an armoured vehicle and two jeeps from the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force and police Special Task Force, took off. “They had come to kill us,” Rukhsana recalled. “We need protection,” she said. Who do you need protection from, we asked her. “From our own government of course. It’s jungle law.”

After the attack, Human Rights Watch called on India to “protect Parvez Imroz, an award-winning human rights lawyer” and his case was raised in the European parliament. His family pleaded for him to quit. “I was terrified,” the lawyer conceded. “I was starting to have horrible dreams. But being silent is a crime.”

Imroz and his team redoubled their efforts, spreading their net across 55 villages in three districts, Bandipora, Baramulla and Kupwara. An ad-hoc inquiry run by volunteers and funded by donations saw the number of unmarked and mass graves mapped rise to 2,700. Inside them were 2,943 bodies; 80% of them unidentified. “These were hellish images from a war that no one has ever reported,” said Imroz. “We suspected this to be prima-facie evidence of war crimes,” he added. “Who are the dead, how did they die, in whose hands and who interred them?”

The SHRC finally agreed to an inquiry. Soon, it had its work cut out. Using RTI laws, the police were forced to concede that they had lodged 2,683 cases for the covertly interred in just three districts. And a new deposition submitted by Imroz’s field workers covering two more districts, Rajoori and Poonch, mapped 3,844 more unmarked and mass graves, taking the total number to more than 6,000. There are still another 16 districts yet to be surveyed, leaving Imroz to wonder how many violent deaths and surreptitious burials have been concealed across Kashmir. Finally, last September, the SHRC made an announcement, stating that Imroz’s discovery was correct: “There is every possibility that unidentified dead bodies buried in various unmarked graves … may contain the victims of enforced disappearances.” The UN weighed in this year, a report to the Human Rights Council warning India of its obligations under human rights treaties and laws. Kashmiri families had a “right to know the truth” and that “when the disappeared person is found to be dead, the right … to have the remains of their loved one returned to them, and to dispose of those remains according to their own tradition, religion or culture”.

After the Nadihal men disappeared, Imroz’s field worker, Parvaiz Matta, travelled to the village. He found an eyewitness, Fayaz Wani, a close friend of the missing men. Wani finally revealed the Indian army had offered the men jobs, in a deal brokered by a Special Police Officer (SPO), who had given them a sum equivalent to £7 each, “as a show of good will”, before taking them to a remote army camp in Machil.

The families of the missing men filed a complaint against the SPO, Bashir Lone. “This man broke down, admitting his role, claiming that nine soldiers at a remote army camp had shot the three men, so they could claim reward money,” Matta said. (The army routinely gives financial rewards to soldiers who kill militants.) On 28 May, 2010, three bodies were exhumed from unmarked graves close to the camp, some of those already mapped by Imroz, and in which the government said were foreign fighters. Their families identified Shahzad, Riyaz and Mohammad by their clothes.

The Nadihal cash-for-killing story and news of a legion of unidentified dead lying in unmarked graves, sent hundreds of thousands of demonstrators on to the streets in the summer of 2010. Sensing the building anger, the army and central government in New Delhi promised an inquiry, offering, without irony, talks to anyone in Kashmir “who renounced violence”. However, when no answers came, Kashmir went into convulsions, as crowds of youths armed with stones ambushed soldiers, police and paramilitaries who returned fire with live rounds. I arrived in Kashmir shortly after. More than 100 demonstrators had been killed, many of them children. International news channels briefly took an interest, asking if Kashmir was experiencing its own Arab Spring. But the cameras left quickly, as a vicious crackdown began clearing the streets: the government’s own statistics showing that more than 5,300 Kashmiri youths, many of them children, were arrested.

In 2011, Imroz went to work again, investigating how India had restored the peace, and I shadowed him. He took statements from those who had been released and the families of those still incarcerated. “The affidavits made for chilling reading,” he said. The majority of youths alleged torture, with independent medical examinations confirming that many had their fingernails pulled and bones crushed. One teenage prisoner told the Guardian: “The police started on our hands and fingers, breaking them with gun butts, and by the end when tears were streaming down our faces, we were hung by our ankles and had chilli rubbed in our wounds.” Others claimed to have petrol funnelled into their rectums. One group alleged in court that they were forced to sodomise each other, while a police cameraman filmed.

This year, Imroz and his field workers widened the research to commence the first state-wide inquiry into the use of torture. Their findings will go to the UN and to Human Rights Watch later this summer but a draft seen by the Guardian suggests that not only is torture endemic, it is systemic. In one cluster of 50 villages, more than 2,000 extreme cases of torture were documented, any of which would kick-start an SHRC inquiry, and all of which left victims maimed and psychologically scarred. Methods included branding, electric shocks, simulated drowning, striping flesh with razor blades and piping petrol into anuses.

This work suggests that the statewide ratio for Kashmiris who have experienced torture is one in six. “For the 50 villages, in this small snapshot, we located 50 centres run by the army and paramilitaries in which torture had been practised,” Imroz said. The methods, language and even the architecture of the torture chambers are identical. “What we are looking at is not a few errant officers.” Files released under RTI laws show how these practises go back to 1989. These documents, seen by the Guardian, also reveal horrific practises, including one sizeable cluster, confidentially probed by the government itself, where men from the Border Security Force (BSF) lopped off the limbs of suspects and fed prisoners with their own flesh.

The Guardian traced one of the victims, a shepherd Qalandar Khatana, 45. Hobbling on crutches, bandages covering his ankles, both feet having been sawn off, he recalled: “I was held down, a BSF trooper produced a knife and then I passed out as the blood gushed from me.” His file says a government investigator confirmed the story and produced eyewitnesses.

Another villager, Nasir Sheikh, a carpenter, who lost both legs below the knee and one hand, added: “The smell was of death – urine, shit, sweat. You knew you were about to be slowly murdered. It was like being thrown down a well where no one can hear you scream.” His file confirms the story and suggests that compensation be paid. The UN special rapporteur on torture has been refused entry to Kashmir since 1993. Domestic legislation to outlaw torture has stalled. “When will the world start asking as tough questions of India as it is of Syria?” Imroz asked. “Or are we Kashmiris invisible?”

• Kashmir’s Torture Trail, Tuesday 10 July at 11:10pm on Channel 4

Cross post from Guardian UK

Pro-Israel think tank urges U.S. to cut military aid to Egypt to demonstrate that democracy is a top priority

Suggested complimentary reading: ‘Israel As Mad Dog’ by Philip Giraldi LINK:

By Maidhc Ó Cathail

In an op-ed in the Atlantic entitled “The Real Reason the U.S. Should Consider Cutting Military Aid to Egypt,” Shadi Hamid suggests:

‘The U.S. could still withhold military aid to Egypt. Leverage, though, is a tricky thing. After the U.S. backed down on its last public threat to revoke aid, the challenge is making the SCAF believe that it really could lose the aid this time. Therefore, the best way to restore American credibility — and, with time, to restore leverage as well — is to actually follow through on the threat’.

As for “the real reason” referred to in the title, the Atlantic’s summary puts it thus:

‘It’s not just about deterring the country’s generals from grabbing power — it’s about demonstrating that the U.S. is making democracy a top priority in the Middle East’.

Shadi Hamid is director of research at the Brookings Doha Center and a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. As I noted previously:

‘The Saban Center was established in 2002 with a pledge of nearly $13 million from the Israeli-American media mogul Haim Saban to the Brookings Institution. Having once admitted to the New York Times, “I’m a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel,” Saban told an Israeli conference in 2010 that establishing think tanks was one of his “three ways to be influential in American politics” — along with making donations to political parties and controlling media outlets — so that he could “protect Israel, by strengthening the United States-Israel relationship.”

So the next time someone claims that Tel Aviv feels threatened by the Islamic Awakening, they need to be asked why a think tank specifically set up to advance Israeli interests is urging Washington to pressure SCAF to hand over power to the Muslim Brotherhood.


The piece first ran at the writer’s blog ‘The Passionate Attachment’.

US’ Afghan Expedition – The Aftermath

By: Brig. Imran Malik (R)

What would the US/NATO/ISAF Combine leave in its wake as it egresses from the South-Central Asian Region (SCAR) – apart from a geopolitical and geostrategic mess of gargantuan proportions!

Quite like Iraq, it will leave behind a country devastated beyond redemption, a nation ripped, torn apart, traumatized and brutalized beyond reconciliation, a region destabilized and polarized beyond extremes! And US’ own reputation as a sensible, responsible and assertive Imperial Super Power – in tatters and beyond repair!

What pathetic, pitiful and pitiable returns for a labor of such arrogantly savage proportions!!

The Geopolitical Dimension:

The Regional Scenario:  The resultant power vacuum in Afghanistan will entice regional powers like Russia, China, Iran, and Pakistan to mount direct/indirect challenges to the US/NATO/ISAF forces/bases there. Thus this power struggle will emanate from beyond the borders of Afghanistan portending serious implications within. Pakistan and Iran have genuine interests in Afghanistan and their national interests will get primacy there. Russia, China and the Central Asian Republics (CARs) will get more proactive while a peripheral India, still lacking genuine credentials to project power, will observe from afar.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Factor: The emerging geopolitical and geostrategic environment is ripe for the SCO (with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran as full members) to assume responsibility for SCAR. It must emerge as a unified competing pole and countervailing force to the US-led West in the region. It must secure the enormous mineral resources of the region for its people and assert decisive control over the many East-West and North-South trade corridors (eg New Silk Road Project) and oil-gas pipelines (TAPI, IPI) under consideration. The SCO must unambiguously declare that the SCAR lies well within its sphere of influence and that it will henceforth contest all ingresses in this vital region! With the US already intending to “rebalance” or “shift pivot” to the Asia Pacific now perhaps would be the ideal time for the SCO to make its move!

The Afghanistan-Afghan Nation Scenario: Any US/NATO/ISAF Combine supported future NA Government will be a blatantly unnatural political dispensation – a minority ruling over the majority (Pashtuns)!! Whither democracy?? An inevitable internecine power struggle will fracture Afghanistan and the Afghan nation along several lines. The country will be politically carved up between the NA (North and West) and the Pashtuns (South and East). And both sides will attempt to widen their areas of influence and writ at the cost of the other. Existing and emerging tribal, sectarian and ethnic divisions/affiliations will further complicate the scenario. External influences of Afghanistan’s neighbors, the presence of militant groups like the Al Qaeda (AQ), Afghan Taliban, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) etc and interference by the US/NATO/ISAF Combine will further polarize the Afghans. Thus a bewildering array of some mutually exclusive and some reinforcing fractures will emerge along which the Afghan body politic and the Afghan nation will be split up. Numerous warlords and militant groups with their respective fiefdoms will emerge. There will be widespread chaos and a total loss of central command and control from Kabul. This phenomenon will lead to a civil war, could cause the balkanization of Afghanistan and could also encourage ethnic unifications across Afghanistan’s political borders with her neighbors – Pakistan (Pashtuns), Tajikistan (Tajiks), Turkmenistan (Turks/Turkmen), Iran (Shiites) etc. Afghanistan could thus splinter and put the region into a frenzied tailspin, a deathly vortex!!

The Geostrategic Dimension: 

The ANSF: and its leadership almost totally comprise of non-Pashtuns! This could lead to a serious implosion once the stabilizing factor of the US/NATO/ISAF is removed. The multi-ethnic nature of the ANSF will cause powerful centrifugal pulls to seriously threaten the unity of the force. Long term sustenance and maintenance of the force (US $ 4.1 billion per annum!) will be a serious concern too. This could well mean the difference between maintaining a professional ANSF or finding thousands of quasi-trained, well-armed deserters/militants roaming the Afghan landscape seeking affiliations and trouble!

The Bases Factor: The ANSF will have the support of the US/NATO/ISAF from five bases – Bagram, Jalalabad, Kandahar, Mazar-e Sharif and Shindand. The US/NATO/ISAF will still be a potent entity comprising drones, gunships, airpower, special operations forces, civilian contractors like Blackwater, Xe, etc and the intelligence agencies. However, easy access to short and secure supply routes will still be crucial.

The Militant Factor: The ANSF and US/NATO/ISAF will encounter AQ, the Haqqani Network (HN), the TTP and most importantly the majority Afghan population, the Pashtuns. The US bases will be isolated and then reduced piecemeal by the Afghans who are historically known to employ the tactics of siege, intrigue, conspiracy, treachery, raids, ambushes, IEDs and outright attacks to defeat their enemies. Their patience and ingenuity in such affairs is legendary.

The Pakistan Factor:  US arrogance and intransigence have transformed their once major non-NATO ally into a virtual enemy! This was always predictable. One, the US was never a reliable ally of Pakistan -flashback 1965, 1971, 1989. Two, there was never any convergence of aims and objectives at the strategic or by implication at the tactical level. Therefore, despite the mutual political rhetoric the US’ Afghan campaign was actually doomed from the very outset. And that is how it will end!

Furthermore, the US will seek some “major or spectacular” victories before it departs the SCAR. She might launch more “Abbotabads” to ostensibly get the likes of Al Zawahiri and Mullah Omar or could also carry out arrogant cross border operations (a parting kick) in North Waziristan Agency (NWA), Balochistan or even at some nuclear sites! Such a gross strategic miscalculation could actually set their withdrawal plans back by decades! Pakistan’s responses will be unpredictable and could take any form, scope and/or dimension!!

Come end 2014, the US will be defeated, piqued, hurt, angry, bitter and perhaps on the prowl, too!

Pakistan, the SCAR and the world, beware!!


The author is a retired Brigadier and a former Defense Attache’ to Australia and New Zealand

This is a cross post from The Nation.

One Nobel Laureate U.S. President Blasts Another – a “must read” from Dave Lindorff

                                                    (Former US President Jimmy Carter (L) and incumbent US President Barack Obama)
There are two US presidents who have won the Nobel Peace Prize. Now one of those Nobel laureate leaders is accusing the other, though without naming him, of actions that qualify as war crimes and impeachable crimes against the US Constitution.

Former US President Jimmy Carter won his Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, long after his one term of office as President of the United States, which ran from 1977 to 1981. He won the honor primarily for his efforts to mediate conflicts and to advance democracy and human rights, the Nobel Committee said. It’s understandable that they didn’t say much — with the exception of his role in getting Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to sign the Camp David Accords — about his time as president, because Carter, a former US Navy officer, wasn’t such a peacenik back then. Think back to his botched effort to invade Iran and rescue the Americans being held by student activists inside the US Embassy in Tehran, or to his arming of the Afghan Mujahadeen to attack and try to bring down the USSR-backed government in Kabul.

President Barack Obama received his Nobel Peace Prize as president before he even had time to do anything significant in office. When the Nobel Committee gave him the award in 2009, during his first year in the White House, they couldn’t even offer a single concrete example of something he had done to actually earn it. Instead they only said that it was “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

If the members of the Nobel Committee thought, by awarding Obama the prize early, they might encourage him to be a peacemaker, they must wish there was a way they could revoke that prize now. Not long after receiving it, President Obama ordered a doubling of the number of US troops in Afghanistan, approved a brutal campaign of aggressive night-raid attacks on alleged Taliban leaders and their supporters, and later approved a secret raid by Navy SEAL commandos inside Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden.

Now Carter, the ex-president who earned his Peace Prize for actual peace activities, is castigating the current president who got his prize based on a “hope” that he would eventually earn it, saying that the Obama administration is “clearly violating” at least 10 of the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and that under Obama and his predecessor, President George W. Bush, the US has been “abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights.”

In an article published recently on the opinion page of the New York Times, titled A Cruel and Unusual Record, former President Carter roundly condemned the increasing reliance by the US on armed drone aircraft, which have launched over 265 strikes in Pakistan alone, killing hundreds of innocent people, including women and children. The use of attack drones began under President Bush but has been dramatically expanded, both in number and in the number of countries being attacked, under President and Commander-in-Chief Obama.

But Carter didn’t limit his criticism to the Obama administration’s reliance on drone aircraft. He also blasted the current president for failing to live up to his own promise to close down the prison detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, where captives in the so-called “War” on Terror have been held for years without trial, tortured by such practices as “waterboarding more than 100 times, or intimidated with semiautomatic weapons, power drills or threats to sexually assault their mothers.”

President Carter noted that half of the 169 people still being held without trial at Guantanamo have already, years ago, been determined by the Pentagon to have been wrongly picked up, and to actually be guilty of nothing. They’ve been “cleared for release,” he notes, and “yet have little prospect of ever obtaining their freedom,” while others have never even been charged.

Carter blasted the current administration too for its domestic actions undermining American citizens’ freedom of speech, and their right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, both of which rights, enshrined in the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution, have been undermined by federal, state and local police and prosecutors, most notably in the crackdown on last fall’s Occupy movement — a crackdown that, it is becoming increasingly clear, was orchestrated by the Obama administration’s Departments of Justice and of Homeland Security.

Carter never names Obama, but it is clear that he is referring directly to the current president and fellow Nobel peace laureate, when he writes, “Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be assassinated abroad, including American citizens, are only the most recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation’s violation of human rights has extended.”

The New York Times earlier wrote, and the White House has confirmed, that President Obama personally approves the assassinations abroad — including assassinations of American citizens like the American-born Anwar al-Awlaki — by drone aircraft and other methods.

Over the years, there has been considerable controversy over the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize, particularly when it has been given to political leaders — for example the joint award in 1978 to Begin and Sadat, both of whom had launched wars, and the earlier joint award in 1973 to US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and North Vietnamese Foreign Minister Le Duc Tho, both of whose negotiating intransigence needlessly extended the Indochina War for months and years at a cost of hundreds of thousands of lives.

But an attack by one Nobel peace laureate on another is unprecedented and dramatic, particularly given that the two men, Carter and Obama, are from the same country and even belong to the same Democratic Party.

        Dave Lindorff is an award-winning American investigative journalist. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1972 with a BA in Chinese language. He then received an MS in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1975. He has worked for a number of major US news organizations, including the Los Angeles Daily News, the Minneapolis Tribune and Business Week, where he served for five years as a correspondent for Hong Kong and China. He is author of a number of books, including Killing Time about the case of death-row prisoner and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, and The Case for Impeachmentabout the Bush/Cheney administration, and is founder of the online newspaper