Asia Times - Daily News
Asia Times Online
People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, Taiwan
Southeast Asia - Myanmar, Thailand, Burma, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia
South Asia - India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan
Central Asia
Middle East
War on Terrorism
Business in Brief
Asian Economy
Global Economy
Letters to the Editor

Search Asia Times

Advanced Search

 ATol Specials

Iraq: In all but name the war's on 
(Aug 17, '02)

Kabul Diary
    by Pepe Escobar
    Nov-Dec 2001
4Iran Diary
    by Pepe Escobar
    May-June 2002

Iraq Diary
by Pepe Escobar
    March-April 2002
War and Terror

By July-August 2001, it was clear that something dramatic was about to happen. Pepe Escobar, our "Roving Eye", was
traveling in Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan. The rumor was that US forces were about to use Pakistan to launch a raid into Afghanistan. Escobar's article, published by Asia Times Online on August 30, 2001, was headlined  Get Osama! Now! Or else ... Our Karachi correspondent, Syed Saleem Shazad, was meanwhile filing articles like Osama bin Laden: The thorn in Pakistan's flesh (August 22, 2001) ...

September 2003

Pakistan and the al-Qaeda curse
For the second time in a month, a tape attributed to al-Qaeda has called for resistance to Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf, who is dubbed a "traitor". The threat is not being taken lightly. - Syed Saleem Shahzad (Sep 30, '03)

Daniel Pearl's case in limbo
It has been a year since the defendants in the case involving the kidnapping and murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl filed an appeal. Nothing has happened, except that a senior Pakistani intelligence official involved in the case is in line for a top diplomatic posting. - B Raman (Sep 30, '03)

Cheney's mask is slipping
Dick Cheney has long portrayed himself as a steady hand on the rudder, and a vice president who safeguards good old mainstream conservative Republicanism against any possible excesses on the part of his boss. Now there are hints that Cheney is not quite the reasonable presence that many believe. - Jim Lobe (Sep 30, '03)

Part 2: All quiet on the Dandong front
There are rumblings on the border between China and North Korea, with official news reports of the prowess of Chinese troops and stern warnings to those visiting certain border towns. But not in Dandong, where Alan Fung visited a pleasant park and gazed at North Korean patrols on the opposite riverbank. (Sep 30, '03)

Part 1: Soldiers head for Korean frontier 
No one is backing down in the standoff between the United States and North Korea, and suddenly reports are emerging of large Chinese troop deployments along the Korean border. Just routine, says Beijing. But what is really going on? This is the first in a series of Asia Times Online reports from the scene. - Alan Fung
(Sep 29, '03)

Fear and anger in the Sunni triangle
Across the Sunni triangle, businessmen sheikhs are angry, religious sheikhs are angry, and the people are angry as well as afraid, not only of local thieves who stalk the highways, but also of what is happening to their country. - Pepe Escobar (Sep 29, '03)

US: Leaner is not always meaner
The ongoing transformation of the US military into a sophisticated fighting machine that can do more with less becomes a highly controversial proposition in the face of the problems that are being encountered in Iraq, in the "war on terrorism", and potentially in any of the 136 countries in which US troops are currently stationed. - Ehsan Ahrari (Sep 26, '03)

Bush: A battle on his hands
With a constant stream of bad news coming out of the Middle East, growing domestic discontent over the war and occupation in Iraq and infighting within his administration, US President George W Bush is trying to battle what could be a very big storm. - Jim Lobe (Sep 26, '03)

Russia: An army at war with itself
Russia's moves to obtain and rebuild bases in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan confirm its strategy of creating a ring of pliant client states around itself. Whether the poor state of the Russian military will allow it to lend sufficient muscle to these foreign policy objectives is entirely another matter. - Stephen Blank (Sep 26, '03)

Japan: Defining its role in Iraq
A hazy special measures bill hastily passed by the Japanese government to dispatch troops to "non-combat areas" of Iraq reflects wrong-headed policy. Japan's focus should be on rebuilding Iraq, not merely backing the US offensive there.
(Sep 26, '03)

Pakistan at odds over student arrests
The arrest in Pakistan of a number of foreign students was meant to be a major public relations coup for the country as a US ally in the "war on terror". Instead, the detentions, which include the brother of terror mastermind Hambali, have spawned an atmosphere of distrust, bordering on outright disbelief. - Syed Saleem Shahzad (Sep 25, '03)

Iran: Damned and damned again
Iran has much to lose whether or not it plays ball with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is why its leaders are leaning toward the example of fellow "axis of evil" conspirator North Korea. - Safa Haeri (Sep 25, '03)

Fallujah: A multilayered picture emerges
At the heart of the Sunni triangle, where most anti-American resistance takes place in Iraq, lies the city of Fallujah. Its people have stories to tell, from the mayor to a powerful sheikh to the ordinary citizens, and they all paint a different picture from the one the US prefers to present. - Pepe Escobar (Sep 25, '03)

Bush's dangerous singleminded dualism
Once again, this time at the United Nations, President George W Bush has set out his agenda in stark black and white terms, leaving little room for the demands of the international community that are vital in preventing the security situation in Iraq from becoming altogether hopeless. - Ehsan Ahrari (Sep 24, '03)

'Logic' of occupation points to more trouble
The more that United States forces encounter resistance in Iraq, the more nervous they become, and the more they fight back, which fuels a vicious cycle that will be increasingly difficult to break. - Jim Lobe (Sep 24, '03)

Another tell-tale arrest
The weekend arrests of a number of foreign students in Pakistan, including the brother of terror mastermind Hambali, had all the elements of a well-orchestrated magic show, reports Syed Saleem Shahzad, while the timing could not have been better for President General Pervez Musharraf, adds B Raman.
(Sep 23, '03) 

Like pulling rabbits out of a hat 
Swoops, once again, right on cue

Hot off the press
Iraq's press is now free - well, sort of, depending on which side of the fence one sits. At least, though, newspapers can publish all the juicy rumors and speculation doing the rounds in Baghdad, which Pepe Escobar notes down. (Sep 23, '03)

The tangled WMD web
While officially no one knows whether or not there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, it seems that the US group charged with finding them has yet to make a report - and isn't about to any time soon.  - David Isenberg (Sep 23, '03)  

   A war based on fallacious reasoning

Moscow marches into Kyrgyzstan
In what is being described as the most significant military development outside Russia's borders since the Soviet collapse in 1991, Moscow has finally hammered out an agreement with Kyrgyzstan for the establishment of a base in that country, and just 30 kilometers away from a US facility already in operation. - Sergei Blagov (Sep 23, '03)

The mean streets of Baghdad
With the risk of assassinations, car bombings, muggings and incurring the deadly wrath of extremely nervous US soldiers, Baghdad's streets are not the place for the faint-hearted, or the innocent, as Pepe Escobar finds out. (Sep 22, '03)

US revives Taliban tryst in Afghanistan
The Americans are continuing with an initiative to find a political solution to Afghanistan's problems by involving sections of the Taliban. History is not on their side, though. -
Syed Saleem Shahzad (Sep 22, '03)

India sticks with Iran, for now
In total contradiction to what one would think its ideological roots would demand, and despite United States and Israeli disapproval, the Indian government continues to warm its relations with Iran. Such diplomatic single-mindedness, however, could result in some awkward choices for Delhi down the track. - Sultan Shahin (Sep 19, '03)

Pakistan through the US looking glass
Recently declassified US government intelligence documents relating to the Taliban and al-Qaeda carry predictions that have proved both spot on and well wide of the mark. And with regards to Pakistan, no punches are pulled. - B Raman (Sep 19, '03)

Pakistan's potent religious and political mix
The impasse that has all but rendered Pakistan's parliament impotent is close to being broken, although the conservative religious parties that have made this possible are now in a position to exact a very high price. (Sep 19, '03)

Donor delay spells doom for Afghanistan
As if the world needed reminding, a new report released in the US warns that Afghanistan is rapidly turning into a basket case, and donor countries that have talked big but delivered little are largely to blame. - Jim Lobe (Sep 19, '03)

The end of American economic supremacy?
The costs of maintaining troops at the frontiers of Islamic extremism are expected to hit the American economy hard, while the administration of President George W Bush is compounding economic problems with its supply-side budgeting. - Hussain Khan (Sep 18, '03)

(Just) alive and kicking in Baghdad
The word in some intelligence quarters, and also on the streets in Baghdad, where Pepe Escobar does some footwork, is that Saddam "Elvis" Hussein is secreted in the capital, although it's a devastated city that he would not recognize from the days when he ruled with an iron fist. (Sep 18, '03)

Al-Qaeda turns on Pakistan, Saudi Arabia
For some time, authorities turned a blind eye to the presence of al-Qaeda operatives in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. This has all changed now, forcing the network to devise plans to strike back at these two countries, at the very top if need be. - Syed Saleem Shahzad (Sep 18, '03)

Anti-war general targets Oval Office
A critic of the US occupation of Iraq, and of the "war on terror", retired General Wesley Clark is bound to make the runoff for the Democratic presidential nomination more interesting and will almost certainly strengthen anti-war forces determined to unseat George W Bush in 2004. - Jim Lobe (Sep 18, '03)

Multilateralism or not, Iraq is a mess
However the issue of increased United Nations involvement in Iraq pans out - and even the Bush administration does not speak with one voice - the fact remains that the more time is wasted arguing, the more Iraq will suffer in the long run. - Ehsan Ahrari (Sep 17, '03)

Pakistan's dubious al-Qaeda suspect
In a new book, Why America Slept, a captured senior al-Qaeda official is quoted as naming a top Pakistani air force officer (subsequently killed in an air accident) who was in close touch with Osama bin Laden, and who agreed that Pakistan would help build up al-Qaeda. B Raman takes issue with this contention, and argues that the
real blame in Pakistan may lie elsewhere.
(Sep 16, '03)

Caught napping
Why America Slept, by Gerald Posner
The author documents incident by incident 10 years of failure on the part of the US intelligence agencies to look hard at what was happening inside the country in the runup to September 11, 2001, and airs some awkward allegations that could have Pakistan and Saudi Arabia squirming. - Seema Sirohi (Sep 16, '03)

The 'war on terror' and its paradoxes
As US President George W Bush and members of his administration reassert their commitment to America's global "war on terrorism", some are questioning whether the recent US-led military action against Iraq - conducted in the name of defeating terrorism - is helping to encourage, rather than end, such attacks. (Sep 16, '03)

The ironies of Afghan opium production
Afghanistan's opium production, nearly wiped out by the Taliban, is on the increase as the country slips out of control. Yet it makes no economic sense to embark on drastic eradication programs. - Pierre-Arnaud Chouvy (Sep 16, '03)

Iran looks to fight back
Iranian officials have yet to indicate how they will respond to the International Atomic Energy Agency's demand that they prove by October 31 that they are not building an atomic weapon. But if Iran's media - including the state-controlled portions - are to be believed, there could be trouble ahead. -
Safa Haeri (Sep 15, '03)

Proliferators under pressure
The UN's nuclear watchdog has done its job by putting pressure on Iran to come clean over its nuclear program. Now it is up to Iran to decide whether it wants to play by the rules or not, with North Korea's example fresh in mind. - Stephen Blank (Sep 15, '03)

Pakistan the odd one out
As India and Israel revel in their new-found relationship, Pakistan is left ruing its waning influence in both Afghanistan and Kashmir. - Syed Saleem Shahzad (Sep 15, '03)

The hawks fall out
Washington's difficulties in stabilizing Iraq have forced into the open a division between Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld and neo-conservatives over US commitment to "nation-building" in Iraq. - Jim Lobe (Sep 15, '03)

Both sides in terror war bloodied, unbowed
After two years, both the Bush administration and al-Qaeda claim that they have each other right where they want them. There is an element of truth in both claims, but events in Iraq could be the ultimate deciding factor. - Jim Lobe (Sep 12, '03)

   Bin Laden's tapes - curiouser and curiouser

US steps up pressure on India
Just two months after being firmly told by India that it would not send troops to Iraq, the United States is again pressing Delhi to spare some soldiers. And again all logic points to a negative response. - Sultan Shahin (Sep 12, '03)

Iraq is India's war, not its battle
Unless Washington thinks that less-equipped Indians can outdo their techno-lethal US counterparts in Iraq, it is brazenly asking Indians to serve as cannon fodder. And as it is, India is already fighting its own battle in the "war against terrorism". - A href=FONT color=#000000 /FONTSTRONG /FONT Shubh Saumya (Sep 12, '03)

North Korea becomes China's bete noire
Only a year ago, few if any of China's top policymakers gave more than a passing thought to North Korea. Today, few would disagree that this onetime ally has become Beijing's No 1 headache and puts several of its essential strategic interests at risk - no matter what the outcome of the present standoff on the Korean Peninsula. - Marc Erikson (Sep 11, '03)

Japan's missile defense a matter of timing
The Japanese Defense Agency is pushing for a multibillion-dollar missile defense system, using US hardware. As usual, the government is taking its time to decide, prompting some critics to ask whether any Japanese is capable of deciding to push a missile-defense button within the 10-minute flight time from North Korea to Japanese soil. - Axel Berkofsky (Sep 11, '03)

Iran's nuke potential bedevils Israel
Iran's recent moves toward developing peaceful nuclear energy, which could be a guise for future development of nuclear arms, is troubling Israel, which has relied on its nuclear superiority in the Middle East for leverage. Israel's options, however, are limited. (Sep 11, '03)

WMD transport targeted on high seas
Eleven industrialized nations have endorsed the Proliferation Security Initiative, which aims to make it much more difficult for "rogue states" such as North Korea and Iran to transport the parts necessary to manufacture weapons of mass destruction. Inspecting suspect ships on the high seas is key to the initiative, however, and China takes a dim view of that idea. - Safa Haeri (Sep 11, '03)

Tribes, traditions and two tragedies
Long before its present battles in Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States took a very keen interest in these two countries, although that interest unfortunately did not extend to coming to grips with the complex tribes and traditions that make them tick. -
Syed Saleem Shahzad (Sep 11, '03)

Bin Laden, what have you done to us?
In the post-September 11 era, it has become easier, and even fashionable in some places, to be derisive or contemptuous of others, especially Muslims. By doing this though we diminish our own humanity, and belittle even our own religions. - Ehsan Ahrari (Sep 11, '03)

Jihadis: Assassins by another name
The 13th century Assassins struck fear into their enemies, just as today's jihadis evoke images of terror and destruction. The latter-day killers, though, will not be as easy to wipe out. - K Gajendra Singh (Sep 11, '03)

Central Asia: Impact of siding with US
Two years after the September 11 attacks, Central Asian republics have established themselves as reliable allies of the United States in the "war on terrorism". But their alliance with the US, while generally beneficial, has not always had a positive effect on their economies, political development, or human rights. (Sep 11, '03)

Twin Towers and the Tower of Babel
Part 2 : The roadmap of human folly
The past two years of the "war on terror" have offered up myriad lessons for mankind, with Afghanistan and Iraq sad examples of how things can go horribly wrong, and will continue to do so if the lessons remain unheeded, writes
Roving Eye Pepe Escobar in the concluding article of a two-part series. (Sep 10, '03)

Part 1: Sleeping with the enemy

Terrorism and the battle of wits
Countering the jiahdi terrorism that has ignited in the two years after September 11 is as much a psychological problem as it is a political, economic, social and operational problem. But try telling this to some governments, notably India's. -
B Raman (Sep 10, '03)

Washington's policies veering off course ...
Two years after September 11, a recent poll shows that the Bush administration's "go it alone" policy isn't resonating with the American people, who would prefer more multilateralism - which many say is the most important lesson from the terrorist attacks. - Jim Lobe (Sep 10, '03)

... while misperceptions abound
Why do 68 percent of Americans believe that Saddam Hussein played a role in the September 11, 2001, attacks despite a continuing lack of evidence? The answer can be found in the speeches of Bush administration officials. (Sep 10, '03)

The UN pays in blood
With the assassination of United Nations representative Sergio Vieira de Mello in Baghdad, the corporate culture of the UN, which tends to view its staff in the field as benefiting from an undefined mantel of universal protection, was badly shaken. And in the process, the perpetrators scored a major triumph. -
Alexander Casella (Sep 10, '03)

Southeast Asia counts its costs
Two years have passed since the attacks on the US, and people on the other side of the world fear that bomb-savvy al-Qaeda-linked Islamic extremists are advancing across Southeast Asia. The response of the authorities to this threat, including scrutiny of "untidy beards" at Thailand's lunar-lit and drug-enhanced Full Moon Party, has been mixed. - Richard S Ehrlich (Sep 10, '03)

Unhappy anniversary for US-Indonesia ties
Since the "war on terror" began two years ago, the relationship between the United States and Indonesia has been rocky, with the two sides talking past each other and neither nation getting what it wants. - Gary LaMoshi (Sep 10, '03)

                       Go to our 2001 edition
Go to our 2002 edition

Palestinians pay for Indian ambitions
Other than the promise of a gift of 10 acres of prime diplomatic land in New Delhi, a recent official Palestinian visit to India received small change. India, not to mention expatriate Indians in the US, have much more to gain by nurturing the new-found relationship with Israel. - Ramtanu Maitra (Sep 9, '03)

The down side of cozying up to Israel
Fears that India, by closing ranks with Israel, will alienate Palestinians and Arabs are unfounded - New Delhi has in the past received scant support from them anyway. What is of much greater concern is a jihadi backlash on Indian soil. - B Raman (Sep 9, '03)

Twin Towers and the Tower of Babel
Part 1: Sleeping with the enemy
After consistently blaming "remnants of Saddam's regime" for all of the troubles in Iraq, Washington has been forced to recruit hundreds of the worst of these remnants - the feared Mukhabarat - to try to at least identify the more than 40 different groups that compose the resistance. Roving Eye Pepe Escobar reports in the first article of a two-part series. (Sep 9, '03)

America's blocked message
It is clear that the United States has a communication problem with other states, considering the situations in Iraq and the Korean peninsula. The fault, however, is not only Washington's, although the failure of its diplomacy and its strategy is not an occasion for rejoicing. - Stephen Blank (Sep 9, '03)

Israel and India join forces
Although on the face of it India has most to gain through closer cooperation with Israel, especially in terms of the purchase of sophisticated weaponry and related technology transfer, Israel is certainly getting something that it badly needs. - Arun Sahgal (Sep 8, '03)

Musharraf awaits his marching orders
Even though Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf has indicated that he might step down from the army within the next year, something that his critics have long demanded, there remains a strong move in the military for him to go immediately, or face the consequences. - Syed Saleem Shahzad (Sep 8, '03)

Suspicion falls on Chechens for Iraqi blasts
Arab nationals of Chechen origin belonging to al-Qaeda are the most likely perpetrators of the recent spate of bombings in Iraq, and intelligence information indicates that they have not yet finished. - B Raman (Sep 8, '03)

I spy with my little eye ...
Suspicion, deception and betrayal are the standard tools of the spy world, yet nowadays, with governments becoming so loose with the truth and increasingly murky, people are questioning everything, believing no one. Citizens, it seems, have become their own counterintelligence agents. - Richard Thieme (Sep 8, '03)

Bin Laden hunt intensifies
The two years since the September 11 terror attacks have been frustrating ones for the United States in its quest to reel in Osama bin Laden. Not that it has given up, though, as recent events in Afghanistan show. Rather, it has now been forced to change its strategy. But so, too, have its opponents. - Syed Saleem Shahzad (Sep 5, '03)

UN gains the upper hand
The fact that the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, who normally report only through the secretary of defense, have established an independent line to Colin Powell in the State Department could be a deciding factor against the hawks in the US administration as Washington negotiates with the Security Council over United Nations involvement in Iraq. - Jim Lobe (Sep 5, '03)

  The UN should just say 'no'

India spins on its own axis
The visit next week of Ariel Sharon to India will further add substance to New Delhi's desire to form an axis with Israel and the United States, notwithstanding the diplomatic contortions that the creation of such an alliance will entail. - Sultan Shahin (Sep 5, '03)

Quagmire? What quagmire?
The United States administration has consistently, and vehemently, denied that it is embroiled in a Vietnam-style quagmire in Iraq. It is absolutely correct. The situation is much worse than just a quagmire. (Sep 4, '03)

Kim Jong-il's impeccable logic
Some say that Kim Jong-il is a dangerous nut case, erratic, paranoid, mendacious, a loose cannon.  Although his behavior at one time or another has displayed all of those characteristics, Marc Erikson shows how the Dear Leader uses remarkable survival tactics under adverse circumstances. (Sep 3, '03)

Pyongyang's doomsday scenario
Unlike his father, Kim Jong-il has not prepared North Korea for a successor, which could lead to a disastrous power struggle should the Hermit Kingdom headman die unexpectedly. And that, James Zumwalt says, is why it is in the United States' best interests to wish the Dear LeFONT size=2 /FONTader good health and long life. (Sep 3, '03)

Jemaah Islamiya 'damaged but dangerous'
Men linked to Southeast Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiya are under the gun: mastermind Hambali was captured last month, and this week radical cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir was sentenced to four years behind bars. So has this organization been tamed? Far from it, says a new report. - David Isenberg (Sep 3, '03)

Al-Qaeda: Overestimate at your peril
The United States, by blaming nearly all acts of aggression by Islamic radicals in some part on al-Qaeda, exaggerates the group's power and scope. By doing this, the "war on terrorism" risks overlooking the multiple, diverse groups threatening US interests. (Sep 3, '03)

The socialist roots of the Korea crisis
To understand the current nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, Jeffrey Robertson argues, it is necessary to step back in history to the earliest signs of decay in a once promising socialist paradise, whose moribund economy has led to a survival conundrum that might not be solved without revolutionary change. (Sep 2, '03)

The new face of terror in India
In all of the finger pointing and blame apportionment following the Mumbai blasts last week, factors that have fueled anger and alienation among a section of youth, pushing them to turn to terrorism and prompting them to offer themselves as recruits for terror outfits, are ignored. - Sudha Ramachandran  (Sep 2, '03)

Copycatting the US 'war on terrorism'
Members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which comprises China, Russia and four Central Asian states, have taken full advantage of the climate created by the US "war on terror" to adopt harsh measures in dealing with dissident groups, separatists and Islamists in the name of fighting terrorism. - Ehsan Ahrari (Sep 2, '03)


Ayatollah's killing: Winners and losers
The car bomb outside the Imam Ali Shrine in Iraq's holy city of Najaf on Friday has simultaneously split the country's majority, moderate Shi'ites and turned them against the United States. At last, a Saddam-al-Qaeda nexus comes into view, with both being the big winners from the killing of Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim. - Pepe Escobar (Sep 1, '03)

August 2003 

  For earlier articles,
  please go to:

August 2003

July 2003

June 2003

May 2003

April 2003

March 2003

February 2003

January 2003

Dec 24-Nov 11, '02

Nov 10-Oct 11, '02

Oct 10-Sep 10, '02

Sep 9-Jul 20, '02

Jul 19-Jun 21, '02

Jun 20-Apr 9, '02

Apr 9-Jan 2, '02

Dec 31-Jul 26, '01



No material from Asia Times Online may be republished in any form without written permission.
Copyright 2003, Asia Times Online, 4305 Far East Finance Centre, 16 Harcourt Rd, Central, Hong Kong