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  War and Terror

Iran carves out an AfPak hub
The United States was the key suspect at Iran's anti-terrorism conference, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei expressing solidarity with his Pakistani and Afghan guests over the US's "shameful and unforgettable" excesses in the AfPak region. While Tehran has the most interest in forging a tripartite alliance, apprehensions in Islamabad and Kabul over the US's Afghan intentions make the overtures timely. - M K Bhadrakumar (Jun 27, '11)

The real face of Hizbul Tehrir
Pakistan army Brigadier Ali Khan and other arrested officers were inspired by shadowy al-Qaeda-linked Hizbul Tehrir in planning a coup to convert the country into a pure Islamic state, according to interrogators. In recent years largely an export of British Islamists of Pakistani origin, the group targets the military and social elite against leaders they claim are putting American interests first. - Amir Mir (Jun 27, '11)

European harakiri in Libya
As French and British jets fly sorties over Libya, claims that they are rescuing the people from state-sponsored massacres raise the question of why they are so ready to empty depleted coffers to gain a Pyrrhic military victory even as protests of economic distress cause havoc at home. As Germany shows, achieving stability for a crisis-plagued economy is a wiser goal for Europe.
- Sreeram Chaulia (Jun 27, '11)

Nine war words that define our world
Nine common terms associated with the United States' wars probably don't mean what you think they mean. These range from victory (the verbal equivalent of a Yeti) to enemy (any super-evil pipsqueak on whose back you can raise at least $1.2 trillion a year for the National Security Complex). Since you live in a 21st century in a perpetual state of war, you might consider making them your own.
- Tom Engelhardt (Jun 27, '11)

Obama puts the heat on Pakistan
Pakistan's military, its reputation sullied by the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden and arrests of officers over alleged links to militants, is feeling the heat as United States President Barack Obama holds up the threat of another solo operation on its turf. Being kept out of the loop on US talks with the Taliban and plans that could undermine its border add to the angst.
- Karamatullah K Ghori (Jun 24, '11)

Islamists break Pakistan's military ranks
The arrest of Brigadier Ali Khan, suspected of links to a banned militant group believed working in tandem with al-Qaeda, brings into the open a tug of war that has split Islamists and reformists in the Pakistani armed forces for more than a decade. Recent deadly attacks on key military installations show that extremists are still sprinkled within the lower ranks. - Amir Mir (Jun 23, '11)

Losers and winners in Afghanistan
The shift in Afghanistan from "combat to support" and from the military track to the political track is now well underway with President Barack Obama's announcement of a timetable for troop withdrawal. India will feel badly let down. Iran will be pleased to no end and so may Russia. China's dependence on Pakistan increases by leaps and bounds, while Pakistan itself has some unpalatable truths to digest. - M K Bhadrakumar (Jun 23, '11)

Drawdown or drawback?
Partisan politicians and the military will find President Obama's withdrawal from Afghanistan of 10,000 US troops by the end of this year too steep and try to slow the pace. But this reduction could lead to a more focused military effort, greater pressure on the Afghan government to reform itself, and increased engagement by regional powers.
- Brian M Downing (Jun 23, '11)

A summit in Tehran trumps the US
An Iranian diplomatic thrust to bring Afghanistan and Pakistan onside against the United States - benefiting already from the countries' fury at US efforts to isolate them from Taliban talks - lends greater significance to an anti-terrorism summit in Tehran being attended by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari. The nations could frustrate US visions of regional dominance and a partitioned Afghanistan.
- M K Bhadrakumar (Jun 22, '11)

Why the US is talking to the enemy
It has taken 10 long years of bitter conflict for the United States to come to the realization that the Taliban cannot be defeated on the battlefields of Afghanistan. A dialogue process is now underway to initiate peace talks with the once stigmatized militia to ensure a negotiated settlement. Pakistan and Afghanistan, though, hold grave reservations about the US's initiative, and are taking their own path towards reconciliation. - Amir Mir (Jun 21, '11)

New al-Qaeda leader targets 'near enemy'
New al-Qaeda leader Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri wants to wage jihad against "apostate" regimes in the Muslim world, unlike Osama bin Laden's focus on the "far enemy" of the West. The terror outfit's irrelevance among the youth of the Arab Spring has already given rise to a new ideologue - a Libyan jihadi leader with a vision of "individual jihad".
- Murad Batal al-Shishani (Jun 16, '11)

The many faces of a homegrown terrorist
The trial of Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley has revealed less about the Mumbai attacks than about a duplicitous psychological subject. While Headley's ability to quickly change identities to infiltrate terror groups and national spy and drug agencies, is partly explained by multiple personality disorder, the roots of his fanatical tendencies are harder to pin down. - Dinesh Sharma (Jun 15, '11)

US escalates war against al-Qaeda in Yemen
Wary that Yemen's chaos presents al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula with an increased chance to plot terror, Washington has tasked the Central Intelligence Agency with launching a drone campaign modelled on its Pakistan operations. However, civilian casualties from "death from above" are likely to simply boost al-Qaeda's recruitment. - Jim Lobe (Jun 15, '11)

Syria boils, US warship in Black Sea
The United States warship floating in the Black Sea is a clear threat to Russia to curtail its obstinance over Syria's bloody uprising. While Washington wants pro-Western regime change in Damascus to break Israel's regional isolation, this would spell the end for Russia's last naval base in the Mediterranean. With Saudi, Israeli and Turkish interests aligning against it, the Kremlin seems in deep water.
- M K Bhadrakumar (Jun 13, '11)

Libya: The land of make believe
The absurdities of the Libyan war have reached a new level, with contradictory voices making it very difficult to separate fact from the fanciful. What is clear, though, is that in the foreseeable future, no victors are set to emerge, only more chaotic strife and carnage. - Victor Kotsev (Jun 13, '11)

Petraeus' captured 'Taliban' were civilians
Some 83% of the 4,100 "Taliban rank and file" that General David Petraeus last year claimed Special Operations Forces had captured in a 90-day period were actually civilians. Though aware of the discrepancy, the United States' commander in Afghanistan exploited the dramatic capture rate to lionize his troops. This raises doubts over the 2,000 kill rate he released at the same time. - Gareth Porter (Jun 13, '11)

Peace doves hover over Islamabad
Afghan President Hamid Karzai arrives in Pakistan on Saturday amid a huge wave of expectation that the process of reconciliation with the Taliban is finally on a track that could lead to peace. Most important, Islamabad's longstanding demand for reconciliation now finds almost complete acceptance in the United States establishment. This puts the onus on Pakistan to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. - M K Bhadrakumar (Jun 10, '11)

Uzbek militants carve north Afghan niche
Deadly attacks wrecking the relative peace of northern Afghanistan are a sign that plans between the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Taliban to develop the region as a launching pad for strikes across Central Asia are nearing completion. After returning with transformed strength from its decade-long refuge in Pakistan, the IMU is easily recruiting marginalized and disgruntled youth.
- Abubakar Siddique (Jun 10, '11)

Iraq: A frat house with guns
The United States military is due to leave Iraq at the end of this year. Even if it does - and that's a big if - Washington still won't actually be leaving, not with a "diplomatic" mission staffed by 17,000 people, including 5,500 armed mercenaries (think biker gang or Insane Clown Posse fan boys) and a small air force. The Barack Obama administration is taking a dubious path in extending its unofficial stay in Iraq, State Department style. - Peter Van Buren (Jun 9, '11)

Afghanistan: To go or not to go
Debate on the United States' drawdown in Afghanistan is intensifying as a July deadline nears. Insisting victory is close, the Pentagon wants to see a token withdrawal of a few thousand. The White House - sensing the nation's war fatigue - wants some 15,000 of the nearly 100,000 troops removed this year. Obama's track record suggests he'll side with the military. - Jim Lobe (Jun 9, '11)

The cold hard cash counter-revolution
The House of Saud is showering billions of dollars on a "new Egypt", an imploding Yemen and a suddenly more useful Muslim Brotherhood as the great Arab revolt is smothered under a mountain of oil wealth. Washington has meanwhile granted its own loaded gifts to Cairo, while quietly working with Bahrain's crown prince on the Persian Gulf American satrapy.
- Pepe Escobar (Jun 9, '11)

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

'US-NATO war served al-Qaeda strategy'
In a book released just days before he died, Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times Online's Pakistan bureau chief, explained that al-Qaeda is assisting the Taliban fight against United States-North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in Afghanistan to continue the occupation in that country as an indispensable condition for the success of al-Qaeda's global strategy of polarizing the Islamic world. - Gareth Porter (Jun 8, '11)

Kashmiri: Most wanted - dead or alive
Claim and counter-claim continue to swirl over reports that Ilyas Kashmiri has been killed by a United States Predator drone in Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal area. The head of al-Qaeda's operational arm has been declared dead on two previous occasions, and doubts linger that the "most-wanted global terrorist" by the US and Pakistan is trying to take the heat off himself.
- Malik Ayub Sumbal (Jun 7, '11)

US breathes life into a new cold war
Just as the Greek Titan god Prometheus was released from captivity, the United States is being "released" from the chains of Afghanistan and is pursuing with renewed vigor its Eurasian energy strategy. A Russian-Chinese initiative to embrace Pakistan and India could deal a devastating blow to the US's drive, coupled with tapping into Turkmenistan's massive gas reserves.
- M K Bhadrakumar (Jun 6, '11)

Is an attack on Iran in the works?
In the past few months, ostensibly in the wake of the Arab Spring, Israeli discussion of a war with Iran has been relegated to the back-burner. If the rhetoric heats up, it could paradoxically mean a delay in any attack. If discussion remains muted, it could be in anticipation of a strike.
- Victor Kotsev (Jun 6, '11)

Israel, Ireland and
the peace of the aging

A generation from now, the Palestinians will make peace with Israel, since the stone-throwing kids of the First Intifada will be close to retirement age, and the gun-toting young men of today will have families. Just like the Irish before them, they will get tired of killing. The window for radical Islam is closing, and that makes the present an exceptionally dangerous period. (Jun 6, '11)

Saleem in the
shadow of Massoud

In 2001, al-Qaeda killed Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Lion of Panjshir and leader of the Northern Alliance, as he had become an inconvenience to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Is it possible that the killing of Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times Online's Pakistan bureau chief, took place because he had become an inconvenience to those planning a major operation, possibly against Israel? (Jun 2, '11)

US moves to divide Taliban and Pakistan
The United States plans to sow discord between the Taliban and Pakistan at ongoing talks, hoping to exploit the Afghan insurgents' long-held resentment of their dependence on Islamabad to weaken demands over a US troop withdrawal. However, the Taliban are unlikely to cut Pakistan out of the diplomatic loop or backtrack on crucial withdrawal conditions.
- Gareth Porter (Jun 1, '11)

 May 2011

ATol Specials

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

How Hezbollah defeated Israel
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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