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Second big turban nabbed in northern Mali
Today's Headlines
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Page 4: Opinion
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Page 6: Politix
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Home Front: Politix
Containing the Hagel Disaster
Defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel’s reputation fared nearly as badly on the Sunday shows as it did in his confirmation hearing. Obama administration representatives gave a perfunctory thumbs up to his nomination but refused to declare his hearing a success... A truly responsible nominee would understand how badly he let down the president and would relieve him of the obligation to go forward with an unqualified nominee. I suspect, however, that Hagel– whose massive ego would not permit him to admit error on the Iraq surge, his past opposition to unilateral sanctions or anything else – will have to be pushed off the stage or defeated. He isn’t going gracefully.

Despite being humiliated by Hagel (Schumer looks downright silly for having accepted private assurances from the inept nominee), Schumer and other liberal Democrats will line up behind Hagel.
Posted by: lord garth || 02/05/2013 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6467 views] Top|| File under:

#1  I still hold that this may be the only opportunity for a long time for a US POTUS Admin or US Govt. to have African-Americans or other Minorities in top-tier positions, espec as per the Executive Branch.

Iff Hagel doesn't make it, the Bammer can still pick from qualified African-Americans or other non-White Minority - "MIXED" MINORITY ADMIN???


Condi or Tess Rice, Colin Powell, ....FNG???

And there's 2017.

'Tis 30 yarns from 2013, 26 yarns-n-less iff he acts now.
Posted by: JosephMendiola || 02/05/2013 0:12 Comments || Top||

#2  I called this one wrongly. Poor Chuck is a witless dullard of the Maxine Waters genre.
Posted by: Besoeker || 02/05/2013 2:23 Comments || Top||

#3  He's still a Donk, which means he'll get confirmed by the Senate. For them, it's about power, the rest is just show and dressing for the game. Oh, and something to bludgeon their enemies opponents with - one set of rules for me, another set of rules for thee.
Posted by: Procopius2k || 02/05/2013 8:32 Comments || Top||

#4  He's still a Donk
Technically, he's actually a Trunk.
Posted by: Glenmore || 02/05/2013 8:58 Comments || Top||

#5  I stand corrected - He's a member of the Beltway Party.
Posted by: Procopius2k || 02/05/2013 9:09 Comments || Top||

#6  Wonder how much the White House will have to shell out to get Hagel voted down?
Posted by: Pappy || 02/05/2013 12:46 Comments || Top||

#7  Then again, maybe a 'Defense version' of Joe Biden is exactly what the President (and his claque) wants.
Posted by: Pappy || 02/05/2013 17:47 Comments || Top||

Home Front: WoT
Bombing the Syrian Reactor: The Untold Story
by Elliott Abrams, who was there.
Posted by: trailing wife || 02/05/2013 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6478 views] Top|| File under:

#1  Most insightful, but disturbing in light of our current administration. Thanks TW.
Posted by: Besoeker || 02/05/2013 2:17 Comments || Top||

#2  All the books about how rival bureaucracies or powerful lobbies determine policy are off the mark; the simpler and truer conclusion is that at any given moment our foreign policy reflects the views of the president.
Posted by: Skidmark || 02/05/2013 7:48 Comments || Top||

#3  ......our foreign policy reflects the views of the president.

Yes it does, for good or for ill. With respect to Assad's enabling of the ratlines of jihadis to Iraq: He needed to be covertly hurt for his actions. But he was not, so our being nice cost us American troops' lives. You fight a war to win or you don't fight.
Posted by: Alaska Paul || 02/05/2013 23:50 Comments || Top||

Pakistan's dilemma
[Dawn] THE Pak establishment has been as much a victim of its successes as it has of its failures over the years. The Afghan policy during the 1990s that manufactured the Afghan Taliban's rise to power and shut India out of Afghanistan was celebrated as a victory.

We are now living through the blowback it created.

At Kargil
... three months of unprovoked Pak aggression, over 4000 dead Paks, another victory for India ...
, the plan was to launch a limited tactical operation but the ease with which the infiltrators managed to capture unattended peaks led the advance to go well beyond its remit. The result was that Pakistain lost tremendous international standing and its stance on Kashmire has since never been entertained seriously.

Afghanistan is likely to put the establishment to the test again.

Virtually all of Pakistain's actions in the 'endgame' phase in Afghanistan can be explained by one overriding objective: pushing for a reconciliation process in Afghanistan which includes the Afghan Taliban, gives their demands adequate weight, and consequently allows them space in a power-sharing structure post-2014. Pakistain's ideal is to get the Taliban in but not on top.

Any military solution in Afghanistan would go against this outlook. Neither a US military victory that would degrade and split the Taliban nor a Taliban triumph that would inevitably be preceded by a bloody civil war -- with the attendant negative spillover into Pakistain -- and be seen as a success of the Islamist ideology could be attractive.

Pakistain's propensity to allow the Taliban sanctuaries to continue perpetrating violence in Afghanistan coupled with the multiple policy failures of the international coalition and Afghan government have brought the on-ground reality closer to the establishment's desired outcome. The quest for military victory for the US-led campaign is all but over.

Moreover, recent developments clearly suggest that all capitals, including Islamabad, are scrambling to get a reconciliation process going. The tough talk vis-à-vis the Taliban is giving way to non-opposition to provocative plans that seek to give the Taliban a way back into the power structure while allowing Pakistain a role to facilitate the process. The "road map to peace plan" floated by the High Peace Council is a pertinent example. Indeed, it is becoming increasingly clear that the realistic options at this point seem closer to Pakistain's position than to the somewhat more hopeful end-results touted by Western capitals and Kabul.

If the present trend continues, the Pak decision-makers may well get an outcome they could consider their latest tactical victory. Herein lies the establishment's dilemma.

First, while it may have moderated its position from the pre-9/11 days, the change does not constitute the much-touted strategic shift. The strategy still relies on the Afghan Taliban and even though the biggest driver of policy today is the concern about domestic instability, Pakistain's actions (or in some cases the lack thereof) have still been Machiavellian and are partly responsible for allowing the Taliban insurgency to fester.

The official line is that once the Afghan Taliban vacate the sanctuaries, Pakistain will be able to go after the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistain in a decisive manner. Till then, however, we will spare the Pak Taliban's centre of gravity in North Wazoo; de facto, the state has accepted a certain level of violence and the TTP's ability to continue spreading its ideology as a fait accompli in the interim.

Worse yet, how can we say that the Afghan Taliban, relieved of Pak hospitality post-2014, will not back the TTP? They may have shown restraint in this regard thus far but they have never denied ideological linkages. In fact, their links are well-known; the establishment even uses the Haqqani network to rein in the TTP from time to time.

As for the Quetta Shura, it is important to recall that even during the 1990s, when push came to shove, Mullah Omar
... a minor Pashtun commander in the war against the Soviets who made good as leader of the Taliban. As ruler of Afghanistan, he took the title Leader of the Faithful. The imposition of Pashtunkhwa on the nation institutionalized ignorance and brutality in a country already notable for its own fair share of ignorance and brutality...
's regime didn't budge -- not on the Durand Line issue, not on the Bamiyan Buddhas, and not even when Pakistain asked for sectarian cut-throats to be handed over. With the Quetta Shura's resentment towards the ISI only having grown over the past decade, why could the same, or even worse, not happen this time round?

But let us assume that the Taliban, given their own constraints and dependence on Pakistain, do not hit back in this manner. What about the other extreme? Would some in the establishment get carried away and see the Afghan situation as a window of opportunity to spread Pakistain's influence westward again?

Will this lead a segment of the establishment to either redeploy a 'forward policy' or to force the Haqqani network and Quetta Shura to do their proxy bidding? Will some be tempted to do unto India what the establishment feels India has done to it in the past 10 years, i.e. fish in troubled waters?

The good news is that the establishment's appetite for such shenanigans is much less than before. There isn't any sense of triumph or much longing for 'victory' in Afghanistan; there is more worry, concern and panic about the situation.

This may not be enough, however, to keep the most adventurist from being tempted when the opportunity arises.

What Pakistain desperately needs is a change in mindset on the Taliban. A complete divorce from any group espousing Islamist ideology must be a primary long-term objective.

Between now and 2014, Pakistain must, at the very least, pressure the Afghan Taliban to enter negotiations and agree on a power-sharing arrangement with other Afghan political factions. It must signal its unwillingness to allow the Taliban to continue waging war from its territory once serious negotiations are under way.

Moreover, Islamabad must work to moderate the Taliban. For this, it ought to view northern political factions in Afghanistan (that will also be part of post-2014 Kabul according to the establishment's vision) as partners, not opponents. An unchecked Taliban presence on Pak borders will invite an ideological spillover into a Pakistain that is far more susceptible to such thinking than it was in the 1980s and 1990s.

Is there another tactical victory in the making for the establishment? If so, will it again turn into a strategic blunder? Or has the establishment learnt from the past? We will know soon.
Posted by: Fred || 02/05/2013 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6461 views] Top|| File under: Govt of Pakistan

#1  What Pakistan needs is thousands of massive "natural disasters" that turn everything the c___suckers look at to dross.

Posted by: Water Modem || 02/05/2013 3:40 Comments || Top||

More bloodshed
[Dawn] AN audacious strike on a military installation and a cruel attack on worshippers at Friday prayers -- what ought to be the unacceptable exception appears to have become the norm in Pakistain's insurgency-hit areas. Lakki Marwat and Hangu have been hit by terrorism before, were hit by terrorism over the weekend -- and the unhappy truth is, those towns, and many other places, are almost sure to be hit by terrorism and militancy again. By now it has also become clear that defensive tactics have gone as far as they can. Body searches and security perimeters outside mosques during Friday prayers are common across Pakistain. But mosques are by definition venues that have to allow the public in -- and so can only be secured up to a point from suicide or other attacks. The same goes for military installations -- the more high-profile and sensitive sites can have layers and layers of security, but when located in remote areas and on the frontline in the fight against militancy, there will be vulnerabilities that cannot be fully protected. The problem, then, is really of how to build a more proactive and aggressive strategy to fight militancy.

Both attacks have been owned by the Pak Taliban -- and it's clear where the centre of gravity of the Taliban now lies: North Wazoo Agency. And yet, North Waziristan appears to have slipped off the to-do list in the fight against militancy, a victim of the security establishment's sympathetic approach towards the Haqqanis and reluctance to be seen succumbing to American diktat. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
... formerly NWFP, still Terrorism Central...
, Fata, Pata and parts of Punjab will fundamentally remain vulnerable while the Agency stands lost -- but where is the conversation, let alone action, on what needs to be done to recover North Waziristan?

With Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa hit hard, yet again, by violence in recent months, the ANP is trying to mobilise political support and public opinion to create a new consensus on the need to fight militancy. But the response to the ANP's efforts has been less than encouraging. Politicians are wary of courting controversy ahead of a general election and the army has failed to clear apprehensions about its true intentions. Little support, no plan -- the upshot is, sadly, that Pakistain must brace itself for more violence.
Posted by: Fred || 02/05/2013 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6461 views] Top|| File under: al-Qaeda in Pakistan

Terror Networks
Gitmo Detainees Return to Field of Battle
Former Guantanamo prisoners fighting in Syria with Islamist opposition group
Posted by: tipper || 02/05/2013 13:11 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6470 views] Top|| File under:

Who's in the News
6Govt of Pakistan
4Arab Spring
3al-Qaeda in North Africa
2Govt of Iran
2Govt of Syria
1al-Qaeda in Pakistan
1Thai Insurgency

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Two weeks of WOT
Tue 2013-02-05
  Second big turban nabbed in northern Mali
Mon 2013-02-04
  Ansar Dine #3 arrested in northern Mali
Sun 2013-02-03
  Yemen Troops Kill 12 'Qaida Militants' in Restive South
Sat 2013-02-02
  Syria Suicide Attack on Regime Kills 53
Fri 2013-02-01
  Binori Mosque cleric among 10 killed in Karachi
Thu 2013-01-31
  Boko Haram 'commander' declares ceasefire
Wed 2013-01-30
  Mali and Niger forces retake Ansongo
Tue 2013-01-29
  Sahel jihadist groups splinter
Mon 2013-01-28
  Timbuktu mayor: Mali rebels torched library of historic manuscripts
Sun 2013-01-27
  French and Malian troops begin restoring control in Timbuktu
Sat 2013-01-26
  Green-on-green clash in Khyber tribal region kills 32
Fri 2013-01-25
  AQAP #2 killed for the THIRD time in Yemen
Thu 2013-01-24
  US drone strike near Sanaa kills 7 hard boyz
Wed 2013-01-23
  Nuristan Airstrike Kills 14 Insurgents
Tue 2013-01-22
  French seize control of Diabaly, Douentza

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