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  War and Terror
    

May 2011

Pakistan's military under al-Qaeda attack
The audacious attack on Sunday by more than 10 heavily armed militants on a Pakistani naval base has been claimed by the Pakistan Taliban as revenge for the assassination of Osama bin Laden. Asia Times Online has learned that the operation - which by Monday was still ongoing - was in fact carried out by 313 Brigade - the operational arm of al-Qaeda that is headed by Ilyas Kashmiri. And the real motive is to sow discord in the armed forces. - Syed Saleem Shahzad (May 23, '11)

US troop surge ignored Pakistan-Taliban ties
Ahead of last November's decision on a United States troop surge in Afghanistan, the Barack Obama administration worked hard for an assurance from Pakistan that it would limit clandestine support of the Taliban to counter India - no such assurance was received. Islamabad's stance highlights a fundamental divergence on Afghan policy that is much more serious than the fallout from the killing of Osama bin Laden.
- Gareth Porter (May 23, '11)

India left out in Afghan musical chairs
Now that the al-Qaeda monster has been slain, the United States has an excuse to pursue reconciliation with the Taliban and crank back its faltering counter-insurgency operations. With the American orchestra packing up, its favored South Asian partner, India, is nervously trying to squeeze its way onto a chair; thanks to signature US diplomatic clumsiness, Pakistan has reserved a seat for America's main strategic competitor in Asia - China. - Peter Lee (May 20, '11)

Delhi seeks a hands-on role
After years of opposing any reconciliation process with the Taliban, there are signs that India is changing its mind. This stems in part from its reading of the ground situation, where there is a measure of support for the reconciliation initiative among the Afghan people. It is at this level that Delhi, whose strength lies in public goodwill, hopes to play an effective role.
- Sudha Ramachandran (May 20, '11)

THE ROVING EYE
What Obama could not possibly say
The true intent of the dodgy "dignity versus dictator" rhetoric of Barack Obama's Middle East "reset" speech lies in a simple tally: Israel mentioned 28 times and a big zilch for Saudi Arabia. Don't watch this United States president's lips for the truth that a US-Saudi-Israeli counter-revolution is on to smash the Arab revolt, or that "It's all about the oil, stupid". - Pepe Escobar (May 20, '11)

To follow Pepe's articles on the Great Arab Revolt, please click here.

Osama as an Afghan exit strategy
With Osama bin Laden disposed of and pro-surge General David Petraeus headed to Langley, the Barack Obama administration will meet no resistance in accelerating the demise of the ill-fated Afghan counter-insurgency program. It's a "mission accomplished" moment that makes a nonsense of the initiative's high-mindedness and strategic objectives, but a swift "drawdown" is crucial ahead of 2012 elections in the United States.
- Shibil Siddiqi (May 19, '11)

Reintegration hinges on turncoat Taliban

Fifteen suicide bombers are pursuing Mullah Noorul Aziz after he left the Taliban under a scheme to reintegrate militants into Afghan society. If Aziz can live in safety, it would serve as a signal that people like him have a stake in a peaceful future. But if things turn out badly, it could sway the decisions of many former comrades he says are contemplating desertion. - Abubakar Siddique and Mohammad Sadiq Rishtinai (May 19, '11)

Syrian violence continues to spiral
At this point, specifically after the Libyan debacle, a military intervention in Syria sounds like an empty threat. Regardless, Russia, China and other countries (notably Iran) have become jittery as military intervention of some sort may become inevitable. Even a regional war with Israel is not out of the question.
- Victor Kotsev (May 18, '11)

Arab Spring or
same old thing?

Whatever the fresh start for American policy in the Middle East that Barack Obama proposes this week, a record that shows that the president and the Pentagon have sought to arm some of the most anti-democratic regimes on the planet smashes Obama's inspiring words to rhetorical rubble. The Pentagon's plans mean business as usual - and then some. - Nick Turse (May 18, '11)

Trouble ahead in new Pakistan-US phase
John Kerry, chairman of the United States Senate foreign relations committee, appears to have put relations with Pakistan back on track, even while pulling no punches during a visit to Islamabad. The Afghan war theater is about to enter a "new phase", with Kerry's hosts once again on board. Those not buying into any fresh agreement include radical middle-level cadre in Pakistan's armed forces, and this is where the trouble lies. - Syed Saleem Shahzad (May 17, '11)

US flexes muscle in the Black Sea
The United States agreement to deploy missile interceptors in Romania in return for a military transit base on the Black Sea has the Russian strategic community up in arms as US anti-missile defenses would break the regional power balance. In the "chronicles of the new great game", it's no coincidence Moscow is also reviving the Soviet-style "mutually beneficial partnership" with Iraq. - M K Bhadrakumar (May 17, '11)

Prelude to an Intifada
Clashes at Israel's borders on the anniversary of the 1948 war may be part of a concerted effort to start a Third Intifada (uprising). Flooding Israel with Palestinian refugees from Syria and Lebanon has enormous potential as a non-violent tactic, and has got Israeli decision-makers worried. More unrest can be expected as the Palestinians prepare to declare independence.
- Victor Kotsev (May 16, '11)

THE ROVING EYE
Sunday, bloody Sunday
The next United Nations General Assembly could be a game-changer for Israel's feeling of impunity as the new Egypt steps up to the podium. Yet Israel's killing of 21 people marching to its borders on Sunday shows that after 63 years of unconditional support from the United States, the "pathological state" has lost none of its penchant for killing Arabs with "maximum restraint". - Pepe Escobar (May 16, '11)

To follow Pepe's articles on the Great Arab Revolt, please click here.

The reasons why India celebrated
India at least for now will not carry out clandestine raids against Pakistan and can only vicariously celebrate the operation by United States Special Forces to take out Osama bin Laden, while also basking in the notion that there is nothing like being proven right in the face of indifference, disbelief and opposition. - Dinesh Sharma (May 12, '11)

US broke deal with Osama hit
The messy case of a United States spy operating in Pakistan strained relations to such an extent that the countries sought international mediation to hammer out a new strategic agreement. A key part of this was that the US would be allowed to go after high-profile targets, with Pakistani assistance, provided Islamabad was given all the credit. This never happened with the killing of Osama bin Laden, leaving the Pakistanis angered and embarrassed. Such operations will continue, though. - Syed Saleem Shahzad (May 11, '11)

Libya aviation show cannot help NATO
Air-superiority fighter jets with secondary ground-strike capabilities, for example the F-16 and the Mirage 2000, have failed miserably to change facts on the ground in the campaign against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, while the French Rafale and the European Typhoon are proving highly effective. All the same, shiny new air weapons are running low on time to win the war on their own. - Victor Kotsev (May 11, '11)

THE ROVING EYE
Bin Laden out, Gaddafi next
"Our" bastards are left to do their dirty work in peace, but Gaddafi beware: international law has taken it in the head from a bullet stamped "R2P" (aka "Responsibility to Protect"), courtesy of war in Libya, drones and targeted assassinations, including of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Luckily, R2P as a humanitarian imperialist concept, as the end of sovereignty as we know it, isn't fooling everyone.
- Pepe Escobar (May 11, '11)

To follow Pepe's articles on the Great Arab Revolt, please click here.

Hezbollah caught in vortex of chaos
Just as Hezbollah was growing confident its hard-fought victories would climax in victory over Israel, unrest in Syria - its main sponsor with Iran - brought such optimism to a halt. With supply lines compromised, the one thing that the Lebanese Shi'ite movement hates perhaps as much as Zionism is the prospect of chaos bleeding over into Lebanon.
- Nicholas Noe (May 10, '11)

Israel and the Bin Laden assassination
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gained an argument once United States President Barack Obama pulled a six-shooter on Osama bin Laden; Israel has killed hundreds of Palestinian militants that way. But with the terrorist mastermind dead, Netanyahu has to come up with a peace initiative. For now, he is keeping his cards close to his chest.
- Victor Kotsev (May 9, '11)

US pushes Osama onto Afghan chessboard
Osama bin Laden's death boosts the United States' position for talks with the Taliban, says Washington. While a strike "so deep inside Pakistan" intimidates Afghan insurgents, Pakistan - embarrassed over the incident - will stop "interfering". This outlook ignores Islamabad's eagerness to begin the talks and the Taliban's refusal to ever accept a long-term US military presence. - Gareth Porter (May 9, '11)

CHAN AKYA
US spins web of self-deceit
TD colSpan= type= maxLength= border=5 size= American disenchantment with the supposed double-game played by Pakistan in taking money from the US government while housing terrorists can perhaps be mollified by the realization that much the same game has been played with taxpayer money in the US banking system. Throwing other people's money at a problem without full understanding or control is to blame in both cases. (May 6, '11)

Pakistan seeks solace in the Kremlin
Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari will make an unexpected three-day trip to Russia next week. The timing underscores that Moscow recognizes the central role that Islamabad plays in the Afghan situation - both share the view that any peace process should be "Afghan-led". While it is too early to say the "fizz" has gone out of the United States-Russia reset, Zardari will be keen to see how this affects Pakistan.
- M K Bhadrakumar (May 6, '11)

Osama hit a wake-up call for India
The boldness with which the United States decapitated al-Qaeda's leadership inside Pakistan should be a wake-up call for India. New Delhi has been impotent in solving the security dilemmas it has faced since independence, and cannot afford to be caught off-guard as terrorist groups, separatist insurgents in Kashmir and Pakistan's military now revert to old flashpoints.
- Chietigj Bajpaee (May 6, '11)

Osama bin Laden's American legacy
The point has been repeatedly made about Osama bin Laden that by the time of his death on Monday he was already a footnote to history in a Middle East convulsed by the Arab Spring. What's not being said is this: The world Bin Laden really changed forever wasn't in the Greater Middle East, it was in the United States. And that change was for the worse in almost every way.
- Tom Engelhardt (May 6, '11)

THE ROVING EYE
Welcome to the post-Osama world
Almost a decade after 9/11 - and with the "dead or alive" promise finally fulfilled - the answer to the magic bullet question on the timing of the Osama bin Laden hit is that United States psychoanalyst-in-chief Barack Obama deemed a symbolic kill of the "war on terror" necessary to purge America's desire for foreign misadventure. The post-Osama cure faces monstrous contradictions, and the Pentagon will fight on.
- Pepe Escobar (May 5, '11)

To follow Pepe's articles on the Great Arab Revolt, please click here.

Kicking around in South Waziristan
In Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal area, under the iron hand of commander Nazir Ahmed, the Taliban and the state live in an atmosphere of peace and normality, from football matches to a blood bank to a girl's school run by Dr Taj Muhammad Haqqani. The assassination of Haqqani's father last year by al-Qaeda points to the troubled direction in which South Waziristan is headed.
- Syed Saleem Shahzad (May 5, '11)

This is the conclusion of a two-part report.
Part 1:
Taliban and al-Qaeda: Friends in arms

Fatigue shows in Libya
The moral ambiguity of assassination attempts on Muammar Gaddafi is underscored by the United States having publicly ruled out killing him. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization's apparent assassination campaign against the Libyan leader is indicative of its frustration and the start of an uglier stage of the civil war. More self-declared red lines may yet be crossed. - Victor Kotsev (May 5, '11)

AN ATOL EXCLUSIVE
Taliban and al-Qaeda: Friends in arms
Nazir Ahmed, operating from his base in Pakistan, is one of the main thorns in the side of coalition forces in Afghanistan, yet the United States considers him one of the "good Taliban" with whom they can do business in reconciliation talks. In his first-ever interview with independent media, Nazir categorically rules out any dialogue until all foreign troops leave, and reveals how he - and the Taliban - have been dramatically influenced as al-Qaeda prepares its next generation of leaders. - Syed Saleem Shahzad (May 4, '11)
This is the first article in a two-part report.

THE ROVING EYE
Show us the shooter
The biggest manhunt ever ended with two golden bullets administered to Osama bin Laden by a Navy SEALs shooter after the verdict of guilty as (not) charged. A body bag consigned the "mastermind" of 9/11 to the sea rather than have the CIA's dirty laundry aired in the trial of the century. The system that arranged the hit will be happy; the rest of us will be left in the dark.
- Pepe Escobar (May 4, '11)

To follow Pepe's articles on the Great Arab Revolt, please click here.

How Bush gave Osama a free pass
George W Bush's rejection of a Taliban offer to have Osama bin Laden tried by a moderate group of Islamic states in mid-October 2001 denied the United States the only opportunity it would have to end the terrorist career of the al-Qaeda founder and his lieutenants for the next nine years. The absence of a US military plan to capture him was in effect a free pass from Tora Bora.
- Gareth Porter (May 4, '11)

Syrian butchery casts dark shadow
As the Assad regime teeters on the brink and butchers its citizens, Syria stands out as a greater headache for the international community than other hot spots such as Libya or Yemen. The opposition has rejected the latest offers of reform, army defections are starting to emerge - and the danger of Syria collapsing into chaos is serious, if not yet imminent.
- Victor Kotsev (May 4, '11)

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF OSAMA BIN LADEN
Pakistan has a price to pay
Pakistan's authorities were kept in the loop - and lent active support - as the final stages of the American raid to get Osama bin Laden played out. What they did not know was that the high-profile target was the al-Qaeda leader. This is of no consequence to the previously neutral militant groups that will now target the Pakistan state. Al-Qaeda will join in, while following its agenda against the West and India. - Syed Saleem Shahzad (May 3, '11)

Bali bomber may have been vital link
The capture of Bali bomb mastermind Umar Patek in Abbottabad in January may have yielded vital information that sealed the fate of the al-Qaeda leader in the same innocuous Pakistani city. Patek, who trained in Afghanistan when Bin Laden was a mujahideen commander, may be an explosive expert, but was not necessarily trained to resist interrogation. - Jacob Zenn (May 3, '11)

THE ROVING EYE
Obama/Osama rock the casbah
It may have turned the boogie on United States President Barack Obama's re-election, but the assassination of Osama bin Laden heralds a new breed of hell. The West's prophecy that al-Qaeda, made irrelevant by the Arab revolt, will react "with a vengeance" may be self-fulfilling, and the Arab world will revert to barbarism instead of dreaming of democracy. - Pepe Escobar (May 3, '11)
To follow Pepe's articles on the Great Arab Revolt, please click here.

Deathly figures wait in the wings
The world is not a safer place with the death of the al-Qaeda founder. Dormant cells can spring into action not only in Europe but throughout the Arab world, and a replacement will emerge from a line-up of notorious figures who are perhaps more radical and dangerous than Osama bin Laden himself. - Sami Moubayed (May 3, '11)

 Apr 2011


ATol Specials



Syed Saleem Shahzad reports on the Afghan war from the Taliban side
(Dec '06)

How Hezbollah defeated Israel
By
Mark Perry and
Alastair Crooke
(Oct '06)

Mark Perry and
Alastair Crooke
talk to the 'terrorists'
(Mar, '06)

  The evidence for and against Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program

  Nir Rosen goes inside the Iraqi resistance

Nir Rosen rides with the 3rd armored cavalry in western Iraq

Islamism, fascism and terrorism

by Marc Erikson


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