|A new war beyond the
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
KARACHI - When the dust settles in Iraq, it
could simply be the prelude to a much longer and less
defined war involving any number of militant groups in
addition to al-Qaeda.
These new battles against
the interests of the US and its allies can be expected
to be of two types. The first will involve planned
attacks by militant organizations such as al-Qaeda; the
second will be independent assaults perpetrated by
disgruntled elements drawn from the masses of the Muslim
There is no dispute that the US has the
overwhelming military might to crush Saddam Hussein into
submission, but such a one-sided and "unauthorized"
attack in the sense that it does not have United Nations
backing is sure to stir the Muslim world.
most expected reaction is attacks by al-Qaeda.
Individual groups with no affiliation to al-Qaeda can
also be expected to take action, notably in Afghanistan
Isolated incidents are also
anticipated, as evidenced by the recent killing of US
and Canadian citizens in Yemen, where a Yemeni oil
worker shot dead his American supervisor, a Canadian and
a Yemeni before killing himself on Tuesday. The
assailant is reported to have no links with any group.
Within the US, the country is on a high state of
alert for the activation of al-Qaeda cells. Another
pressure point is sure to be Israel. The Lebanese
Shi'ite Hezbollah has already publicly stated that it
plans attacks on Israel. Although there is no hard link
between al-Qaeda and Hezbollah on the one side and with
the Iraqi regime on the other, reports have emerged of
the Iraqi leadership providing Hezbollah with arms.
There have also been reports that al-Qaeda leader Abu
Mussab al-Zarqawi is in southern Lebanon under the
protection of the Hezbollah. If Hezbollah indeed carries
out its threats, Israeli retaliation can be expected,
possibly against Lebanon and even Syria.
Afghanistan, where the snow has started to melt,
heralding the traditional beginning of military action
in the strife-torn country, the ever-growing resistance
movement of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the Hezb-i-Islami
(HIA), will be stepping up its resistance to the
presence of foreign troops in the country.
Reports emerging from Afghanistan say that the
HIA has held back its activities in the past 15 days on
the instructions of Hekmatyar to wait for the attack on
Iraq to begin. The HIA now includes Uzbek, Chechen and
Arab commanders, as well as two legendary mujahideen
leaders of the anti-Soviet resistance movement of the
1980s, Mullah Saifullah Mansoor and Maulana Jalaluddin
Haqqani, as well as a representative of Ismail Khan, the
powerful governor of Herat province who has not
disguised his friendly terms with anti-US forces in
Apparently, a "post snow-fall
strategy" has been devised that will include attacks not
only in the south and the southeast of the country, but
also in the capital Kabul and northern Afghanistan.
News reports on Thursday say that fierce
fighting has in fact started in the cities on Khost,
Kunhar, Kandahar and Jalalabad. In response, about 1,000
US troops have launched a raid on villages in the
southeast in the biggest US operation in just over a
Helicopters ferried troops from the US
Army's 82nd Airborne Division to the remote, mountainous
area, according to US military officials in Washington.
They confirmed in a statement that the operation,
code-named "Valiant Strike", began with an early morning
air assault near Kandahar, the former spiritual
headquarters of the Taliban.
Further afield, the
situation in countries like Yemen, Egypt, Jordan,
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia could become critical as
anti-US sentiments run high in these nations. For
example, in Karachi, the largest city of the Muslim
world, the artery that leads to the US consulate and the
residence of the US consul general has been completely
shut down for fear of suicide attacks.
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