Tag: Hamid Karzai

“ISRAELI APARTHEID WEEK”‘S VICIOUS ANTI-ZIONIST BDS CAMPAIGN RETURNS TO CAMPUSES; AFGHANISTAN: AS CANADIAN FORCES WITHDRAW AFTER 13 YEARS, CAN U.S. BE FAR BEHIND?

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org



                                           

As IAW is With us Again:

 

THIS ACADEMIC YEAR’S WAR FOR AND AGAINST ISRAEL ON CAMPUS

Edward Beck

Jerusalem Post, Mar. 12, 2014

 

What a year it’s been on campus in the war for and against Israel on campus. Things are heating up on American campuses in a way we haven’t seen since the second intifada.

 

Three American and one international academic associations have developed a foreign policy for their association either to boycott Israeli scholars or academic institutions (with several more societies contemplating such actions this Spring).

 

Hillel’s new president, Eric Fingerhut, clarifying Hillel’s policies about what political programming is not acceptable in Hillel facilities caused significant dissension and rebellion at a number of campuses.

250 of American’s nearly 4,000 college and university presidents condemned academic boycott resolutions to one degree or another, while faculty held closed “academic conferences” on some of those very same campuses to try to plan and spread those actions to vulnerable and receptive academic colleagues around the globe.

Legislation is pending in the Congress and in several state legislatures to penalize academics and universities that participate in academic boycotts with both acceptance and rejection by Israel advocacy and other groups, both major and minor.

“Big Tent” academic approaches to difficult discussions are being decried and thwarted by extremist line-drawing, name-calling academics and polemicists with PhDs, from both the Left and the Right. Academics and polemicists of all stripes are claiming that academic boycotts and efforts to resist academic boycotts are threats to academic freedom. The list goes on, and will develop radically and exponentially as we head into Spring Break toward the end of the academic year since we can predict that the war will heat up between the end of Spring Break and before finals, as it always does on campus. These developments point to the fact that the Jewish community has never been more heatedly divided in facing significant intellectual and academic threats to the Jewish people, Judaism and Israel and that we really need to have some serious discussions among ourselves about unified approaches to these existential threats…                                          

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link –ed.]
 

 

Contents:

 

 

Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the Lowering of the Canadian Flag in Afghanistan: Stephen Harper, Prime Minister’s Office, Mar. 12, 2014— Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement to mark the lowering of the Canadian Flag by the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan.

Reflecting on Wins, Losses as Canadian Troops Prepare for Afghan Pullout: Mathew Fisher, Montreal Gazette, Mar. 10, 2014 — An Egyptian court ban on Hamas activities could push the increasingly isolated Palestinian Islamist movement into another battle with Israel, analysts say.                  

U.S. General Warns of Perils in Leaving Afghanistan: Helene Cooper, New York Times, Mar. 12, 2014 — Egypt faces plenty of threats, from a growing insurgency in the Sinai to a shaky and still unstable presidential regime.

Twenty-Five Years After Soviet Afghanistan Withdrawal: Michael Rubin, Commentary, Feb. 12, 2014 — When the last war between Egypt and Israel was fought in 1973, Abd El-Fattah El-Sisi was almost 19 years old.

 

On Topic Links

 

Paranoia in Kabul: David Devoss, Weekly Standard, Feb. 24, 2014

Timeline: Involved since 2001, Canada Wraps Up its Mission in Afghanistan: Christina Commisso, CTV News, Mar. 11, 2014

Al-Qaida Plots Comeback in Afghanistan: Kimberly Dozier, Associated Press, Feb. 28, 2014
The Grinning Generals Who Highlight Flaws in our Afghanistan Exit: Rob Crilly, Telegraph, Feb. 20, 2014

Will 'Zero Option' in Afghanistan Cause Chaos?: Robert Burns, Associated Press, Feb. 28, 2014

                                     

STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA

ON THE LOWERING OF THE CANADIAN FLAG IN AFGHANISTAN     

Stephen Harper                      

Prime Minister’s Office, March 12, 2014

 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement to mark the lowering of the Canadian Flag by the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan:

 

“Today, the Canadian Flag was lowered at NATO’s International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul for the last time. Since 2001, Canada has deployed its largest military contingent in generations to the region, and now our mission in Afghanistan draws to a close.

 

“The end of the military mission and the lowering of the flag is a significant milestone in the fight against global terror. Over 40,000 Canadian Armed Forces members have fought to defeat the threat of terrorism and to ensure the freedom of others, to build a stronger, safer world. In the course of this fight, many have paid the ultimate price. 

 

“Their courage and dedication has brought much pride to our country. I look forward to personally welcoming home the last contingent of Canada’s brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces when they return home on the final flight from Afghanistan on March 18. I also look forward at that time to announcing details of Canada’s plans to formally commemorate the mission in Afghanistan. Canada will continue to play an important role in supporting efforts that contribute to building a better future for all Afghans.”    
                                                                         

Contents

                                                                                                                                                   
                                                

REFLECTING ON WINS, LOSSES AS CANADIAN                                       TROOPS PREPARE FOR AFGHAN PULLOUT                                        

Mathew Fisher                                                                        

Montreal Gazette, Mar. 10, 2014

 

In soldiers’ parlance, I did six tours in Afghanistan. Over 12 years, I spent more than three years in that benighted country, covering Canada’s longest war ever, beginning in Kandahar and Kabul, then Kandahar again and the end piece, which has been a training and mentoring mission in Kabul. As I witness Ukraine teeter on the brink of war over Russia’s designs on Crimea, the last handful of Canadian military trainers serving in Afghanistan are about to go home.

 

It was all so new and exciting in early 2002 when a battalion from the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry lived among the ruins of Kandahar Airfield. The Pats were heavily involved in the hunt for Osama bin Laden in the mountains near the Afghan border with Pakistan. The darkest days followed Canada’s only decisive victory over the Taliban in Kandahar during the summer of 2006. The enemy learned from Operation Medusa. Never again did it concentrate its forces. From then on, the Taliban did most of its fighting with homemade landmines. For several years, Canada had no meaningful counter to this menace. But by sticking at it in the face of mounting casualties – like the boy who put his finger in that Dutch dike – the Canadians prevented Kandahar from falling to the Taliban.

 

The momentum shifted in favour of Canada and its Afghan allies in 2009 after the Manley report to Parliament got the troops the helicopters and drones they badly needed and insisted that additional NATO forces (Americans) must join the battle in Kandahar, which changed the battle space geometry. For the first time, Canada was able to concentrate its forces and attention on districts to the south and immediately west of Kandahar City. The designer of the “ink spot” strategy that evolved was Lt.-Gen. Jon Vance, now the second-ranking NATO officer in Italy and soon to become Canada’s top “operator” as commander of the Canadian Joint Operations Command. Shrugging off praise for his Afghan strategy, Vance called it “Insurgency 101″ when I reached him the other day by telephone in Naples.

 

Vance had two combat commands in Afghanistan, so is well-placed to ponder the country’s future as Canada and NATO wind down their operations. Like me, the general has reservations about the Afghan government and wonders what might have been. “I am not convinced all of the Afghan political elite were honestly working towards the creation of a political movement that would be more powerful than the Taliban with an enlightening message for the people,” he said. “It seems to me there was not a wider catching on of those messages in the political architecture in Afghanistan so that the Taliban narrative got pushed out by a more positive Afghan narrative.” Vance’s point was that the Afghan government had a vital political role to play in the counter-insurgency. “You can’t be as effective as you want if the government is not there,” he said. “I don’t want too be too critical, to be too hard. They did not have enough white-collar capacity, for example. But I do wish that that part had been better.”

Vance and I differ somewhat over what Canadians think of the war and why. My view has been that Canadians were given an unnecessarily hysterical view of the situation by the media during the first half of the combat mission in Kandahar and heard far less about how Canada had turned the situation around during its last two years in the south. “Honestly, I am on the side of the ledger that the Canadian people did understand Afghanistan,” Vance said. “I think that they saw the nature of the Afghan conflict and found it difficult to arrive at a firm, satisfactory solution. That is pretty astute, because so did we.”

 

The roughest time for me, personally, in Afghanistan was when my colleague, Michelle Lang of the Calgary Herald, died alongside four soldiers in a roadside bombing just after Christmas in 2009. Having had dinner with Michelle not long before that in Alberta, and seeing her flag-draped coffin getting loaded into an aircraft, I could not for a long time reconcile two such different memories. Vance’s “toughest emotional moment” in Afghanistan happened six months earlier when Cpl. Nick Bulger, who was travelling with the general, as he often did, was killed by another roadside bomb.

 

“Every casualty was a real kick in the stomach,” Vance said. “It hurt especially when everybody had done the right thing. They were superbly trained and nobody did anything wrong. The nature of war is that you can get killed or injured at any time. It is capricious.” That was the precise message that my father, who fought in Normandy, Belgium and Holland, imparted to me when I went off to war with the U.S. Marines in Iraq and the Canadians in Afghanistan. War’s caprices were something I reflected on during every one of the dozens of solemn ramp ceremonies that I attended for Canada’s war dead in Kandahar. They will be on my mind again when the Canadian flag is lowered for the last time in Afghanistan.

                                                                                                 

Contents
                                  

U.S. GENERAL WARNS OF PERILS IN LEAVING AFGHANISTAN          

Helene Cooper                                                                               

New York Times, Mar. 12, 2014

 

The top American commander in Afghanistan said on Wednesday that Al Qaeda would regroup and stage another attack on the West from Afghanistan if international troops completely withdrew from the country at the end of 2014. Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the commander, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., said that as long as a new president of Afghanistan was in place by August, he was confident that a new security agreement would be signed to allow American and international troops to leave a residual force in the country, as military commanders would like, and as President Obama has said is his preferred option.

 

But General Dunford warned that if Afghanistan’s coming elections did not produce a new president by August, the residual force and the long-term stability of Afghanistan would be threatened. “The risk to an orderly withdrawal begins to get high in September, because of the number of tasks that need to be accomplished,” General Dunford said. “We still have plenty of flexibility to adjust in July.” He said that if Afghanistan signed a new security agreement with the United States, he would feel comfortable with a residual international force of between 8,000 and 12,000 troops. Those forces would train, advise and assist Afghan forces and also provide security for American commando operations. Under current Pentagon planning, about two-thirds of those forces would come from the United States.

 

President Obama announced two weeks ago that he had instructed the Pentagon to begin planning for a complete withdrawal of American forces because the departing president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, was continuing to refuse to sign the security agreement. But in his testimony on Wednesday, General Dunford echoed fears expressed by other military leaders who have warned that a complete pullout of troops could end up negating 12 years of American fighting in Afghanistan. Without a core of Western troops remaining to support the Afghan government and continue training the security forces, General Dunford said, the chances are high that significant parts of the country will fall back under Taliban control, as they had been before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

 

Nonetheless, Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, pressed General Dunford on why, after more than a decade of war, American forces should remain in Afghanistan. “Can you honestly tell the American people, can you tell the people in West Virginia, that we should be in Afghanistan, stay in Afghanistan, it’s our purpose to do that?” Mr. Manchin asked. “This one makes no sense to any West Virginian at all, not anywhere I go in my state.”

General Dunford insisted that if American forces went down to zero, it would be only a matter of time before the Taliban retook Afghanistan. “The deterioration of the Afghan forces begins to happen fairly quickly in 2015,” he said. “Units would run out of fuel, pay systems would not be completely operable, spare parts would not be available for vehicles and so we’d start to see decreased readiness in the Afghan security forces.” The hearing also touched on the crisis in Ukraine. Asked whether the United States could still get its equipment out of Afghanistan even if Russia cut off supply routes in retaliation for American sanctions against Russia, General Dunford said, “Yes.”                                                          

                                                                                                 

Contents
                                  

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AFTER SOVIET AFGHANISTAN WITHDRAWAL                     

Michael Rubin                             

Commentary, Feb. 14, 2014

 

A quarter century ago tomorrow, the last Soviet tanks rolled across the “Friendship Bridge” into Termez, a small town in Soviet Uzbekistan. The nightmare which the Soviet experience in Afghanistan had become was finally over. Twenty-five years later, the Soviet experience still matters.

 

Washington D.C. in general and the White House in particular are infamous for convincing themselves that their own spin matters. As the United States prepares to withdraw most if not all of its forces from Afghanistan, political leaders and perhaps even some political generals will testify that the withdrawal confirms victory and a mission complete. They can spend hundreds of man hours crafting talking points and convince themselves that such things matter, but Afghans let alone the wider world interpret events through their own experience, not that of Washington spin artists.

 

Every Afghan tribal leader, village elder, and politician lived through the Soviet withdrawal and interprets current events through their own experience. So, what do they see? With the assistance of my colleague Ahmad Majidyar, I was asked to address this question at a presentation for a U.S. army unit. Here’s the core:

 

On one level, the goals of the Soviet Union and United States are remarkably similar on a macro level: Both seek the survival of the system they helped construct. The Soviets hoped to prevent outright Mujahedin victory, while the United States (and its NATO partners) seek to prevent outright Taliban victory. Both engaged similar efforts to advise, assist, and train. Policymakers in both cases were ambitious: The Soviets initially envisioned a 15,000-man advisory team, but ultimately settled for just a couple hundred. Likewise, it seems the United States might have to settle for far less than what its military strategies say is necessary.

 

Both the United States and Soviet Union faced similar obstacles: First was military stalemate. And, make no mistake, the United States and NATO are stalemated militarily by the Taliban, although that is largely because we have made a policy decision in the White House that we will not do what it takes to win. Both the United States and the Soviet Union also faced similar problems emanating from Pakistan, which had become a safe haven for the opposition.

Both Najibullah and Hamid Karzai had pursued a reconciliation strategy which led them to negotiate with the Mujahedin and Taliban respectively. In each case, the negotiations backfired as opponents smelled blood. Simultaneously, both the Soviet Union and United States have sought to bolster local and elite militias. This benefited security in the short term, but was corrosive in the long term. Regardless, both Moscow then and Washington now swore by the professionalism of their respective 350,000-man Afghan military. Such military, however, was heavily dependent on foreign assistance.

 

The Soviet Union and then Russia continued to provide about $3 billion in aid for each of the three years after the withdrawal, but as soon as the money ran dry, his regime and its military collapsed. The same will likely hold true for Karzai and the new Afghanistan Security Forces. A major difference, however, is that Afghanistan’s Najibullah-era air force could operate independently. Such cannot be said about Afghanistan’s air force today, which cannot function without ISAF assistance. That said, Karzai’s regime has international recognition. The Soviets had simply appointed Najibullah, who was therefore never able to claim internal legitimacy let alone win broad external recognition.

 

2014 will be a pivotal year for Afghanistan. The White House might hope for stability, but given the degree to which Afghans see history repeating, the opposite is much more likely true: As soon as the money runs out, expect the system to unravel. Momentum matters, and the first few defections will lead to a deluge. Many Afghans expect a civil war, or at least a multi-party civil struggle. How unfortunate this is, because it did not need to be this way.

                                                                          

Paranoia in Kabul: David Devoss, Weekly Standard, Feb. 24, 2014 —With a presidential election less than two months away, all eyes in Afghanistan should be on the coming vote.

Timeline: Involved since 2001, Canada Wraps Up its Mission in Afghanistan: Christina Commisso, CTV News, Mar. 11, 2014—Canada's military efforts in Afghanistan will end this month, with the withdrawal of the last 100 soldiers from Kabul, where they had been wrapping up training of Afghan National Security Forces.

Al-Qaida Plots Comeback in Afghanistan: Kimberly Dozier, Associated Press, Feb. 28, 2014 —Al-Qaida's Afghanistan leader is laying the groundwork to relaunch his war-shattered organization once the United States and international forces withdraw from the country, as they have warned they will do without a security agreement from the Afghan government, U.S. officials say.
The Grinning Generals Who Highlight Flaws in our Afghanistan Exit: Rob Crilly, Telegraph, Feb. 20, 2014 —So it's your first week in one of the most senior positions running international forces in Afghanistan. In the military jargon, you have just taken responsibility for the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command and are the deputy commanding general of American forces in the country. You might assume that your every move is subject to scrutiny.

Will 'Zero Option' in Afghanistan Cause Chaos?: Robert Burns, Associated Press, Feb. 28, 2014 —If President Barack Obama were to decide to leave no military advisory force in Afghanistan next year, would Afghan security unravel to the point of enabling a civil war, a Taliban takeover and a return of al-Qaida in such numbers as to pose a 9/11-type threat?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

AFGHANISTAN: KARZAI’S TROUBLING RELATIONSHIP WITH THE TALIBAN INCREASINGLY UNIGNORABLE; WILL OBAMA REPEAT THE MISTAKE HE MADE IN IRAQ?

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 



                                           

Obama Giving Up On Afghanistan?: Benny Avni, New York Post, Jan. 31, 2014 — With one word, “if,” President Obama this week raised the fear that America’s gains in Afghanistan will go down the drain, as they did in Iraq.

Hamid Karzai's Cozy History With the Taliban: Sarah Chayes, Los Angeles Times, Feb. 9, 2014 — If anyone is surprised that with each passing day Afghan President Hamid Karzai seems to veer more sharply away from the U.S. and toward the Taliban, it might be time to remember some history.

Karzai Arranged Secret Contacts With the Taliban: Azam Ahmed and Matthew Rosenberg, New York Times, Feb. 3, 2014— President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has been engaged in secret contacts with the Taliban about reaching a peace agreement without the involvement of his American and Western allies, further corroding already strained relations with the United States.

An Obama Foreign Policy IQ Test: Wall Street Journal, Jan. 23, 2014— President Obama is a famously quick study, but does he learn from his own mistakes? Let's see what he does on Afghanistan.

 

On Topic Links

 

German Official: Karzai Will Sign BSA: Paul D. Shinkman, U.S. News, Feb. 13, 2014

Afghanistan Frees Suspected Taliban Prisoners: Sayed Salahuddin, Washington Post, Feb. 13, 2014

U.S. Won’t Seize Taliban Ally’s Cash: Eli Lake, Daily Beast, Feb. 7, 2014

Barack Obama May be Commander-in-Chief, But He’s a Partisan at Heart: Robert Fulford, National Post, Jan. 11, 2014

 

   

OBAMA GIVING UP ON AFGHANISTAN?                                       

Benny Avni

New York Post, Jan. 31, 2014

 

With one word, “if,” President Obama this week raised the fear that America’s gains in Afghanistan will go down the drain, as they did in Iraq. True: Afghanistan is no Iraq. After all, as Obama’s told us time and again, the latter was a terrible blunder while the former was “the good war.” That’s why, at the end of his first year as president, Obama ordered (albeit unenthusiastically, according to his defense secretary at the time, Bob Gates) an Afghan “surge” of 30,000 troops.

 

Yet their successes, hard won with blood and guts, could well be reversed now, as Afghan President Hamid Karzai refuses to sign an agreement that his own government negotiated with Washington last year. That pact would allow some US presence in Afghanistan even after most of our troops leave at the end of this year. Obama says he wants to finalize the accord, but he mostly sounds enthusiastic about getting out.

 

More than 60,000 troops have already left Afghanistan, Obama boasted Tuesday in his State of the Union Address. To thundering applause he said that soon “America’s longest war will finally be over.” Great. Then what? “If the Afghan government signs a security agreement that we have negotiated, a small force of Americans could remain” for training and assisting Afghans in their pursuit of al Qaeda, Obama said.

 

Flashback: Soon after taking office the new president faced a similar situation in Iraq. He half-heartedly tried to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA, with the Iraqi government to leave a residual US presence after the bulk of the force left. But Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki made unreasonable demands, and Obama, whose overarching goal was to get out, gave up and ordered all the troops to leave by the end of 2011. Remember, this was not long after a surge of US troops defeated al Qaeda in Iraq, something that had seemed like mission impossible. But Sunni Iraqis were sick and tired of the foreign terrorists that usurped their main stronghold, Anbar Province. So the US force, led by Gen. David Petraeus, rallied them and managed to chase al Qaeda out. Zoom back to now: Last month an al Qaeda offshoot, this time called “the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” took over Anbar’s main cities, Falujah and Ramadi. Before Obama “ended” the Iraq war, we got good at rallying Iraqi partners to help us and themselves — and for that, not too many US troops are needed. But with none in the country, the gains of the Iraqi surge are now gone.

 

Ditto Afghanistan. “We won’t survive unless the United States maintains some presence” next year, a top Afghan diplomat told me recently. To be sure, that’s clearly not what Karzai says. He’s amassing impossible new demands (including, weirdly, a US promise to negotiate with the Taliban, his own enemies) before signing the agreement. Obama says he wants Karzai to sign on — but that little “if” on Tuesday indicates that he’s markedly less sure about it than he is about “ending” the war. And there’s more: According to the administration’s favorite paper, The New York Times, Obama recently gathered a panel of experts “to devise alternatives to mitigate the damage if a final security deal cannot be struck with the Afghan president.” He’s worried because the mainstay of his terror-fighting, drone strikes, is about to be lost. If we leave Afghanistan with no agreement, his security aides tell him, we’ll lose our drone bases in the entire region. As the Afghan diplomat made abundantly clear to me, a SOFA pact is in the Karzai government’s interest. Yet Obama, who’s made room for so much understanding of how adversaries like Iran have political needs that sometimes makes them say horrible things in public, fails to see the same in Karzai’s posturing.

 

Seven decades after World War II, we still have troops in Germany. US troops still guard the 38th parallel, though a Korean War ceasefire was reached back in 1953. Obama, however, seems to think that “ending” wars is more important than securing the gains made in them. And no matter that, of the 1,500 Americans killed in the Afghan war, 975 were slain on Obama’s watch. If we let Afghanistan fall apart now, what was the point? Let’s face it: Karzai is there because of America and he’d be in real trouble if we don’t maintain some presence in his country. More importantly, a residual force in Afghanistan is vital to America’s security. So where does this nagging “if” come from?                                                   

 

                                         Contents
                                        

HAMID KARZAI'S COZY HISTORY WITH THE TALIBAN    

Sarah Chayes      

Los Angeles Times, Feb. 9, 2014

 

If anyone is surprised that with each passing day Afghan President Hamid Karzai seems to veer more sharply away from the U.S. and toward the Taliban, it might be time to remember some history. Karzai himself was once asked to become a high-ranking member of the Taliban government. His every word and deed of late seems designed to appeal to the Taliban leadership and its backers in Pakistan, and to fracture the partnership between Afghanistan and the American people.

 

In one recent display, he held a news conference for Afghan villagers who claimed U.S. bombing had killed a dozen neighbors on Jan. 15. They identified mourners in a photograph purportedly taken at a funeral the next day, Jan. 16. But it turned out the photo was from four years back. In fact, it has been featured on Taliban websites, according to the New York Times. Karzai was indulging in just the type of heavy-handed propaganda we've come to expect of the Taliban itself. He has also ordered the release without trial of three dozen suspected insurgents, some of whom U.S. officers have tied to specific attacks. And, by his refusal to sign a security pact with the United States, he seems to be actively expediting the departure from Afghanistan of all foreign forces.

 

This behavior is not all born of current events. It is not some recently conceived hedging strategy pegged to the impending U.S. troop draw-down. Rather, it is entirely consistent with Karzai's own past. That past, presumably known to U.S. officials, has shaped his actions since the Taliban regime fell in 2001. I began noticing the pattern in 2003, when I lived in Kandahar, running a nonprofit founded by Karzai's older brother Qayum. Repeated, perplexing anomalies in Hamid Karzai's decision-making — his choices for filling certain positions, or the way he interacted with specific communities — were so egregious and inexplicable that I was driven to hunt for some underlying logic. I began asking family retainers, neighbors, tribal elders and former resistance commanders what Karzai's relationship with the Taliban had been when the religious militia swept into the city in 1994. The story I heard, with consistent details, took me aback.

 

In those days, Kandahar, like most of Afghanistan, was in turmoil. Resistance fighters, who had helped drive the Soviet army out of Afghanistan in 1989, had not disarmed and gone back to tending their orchards. They had turned on one another. Neighborhoods were plowed up in pitched battles, while travelers on the roads were shaken down at gunpoint for money or goods. "If you had five guys with guns, you were the mayor of your street corner," a former bus driver named Hayatullah once told me. In this context, according to several witnesses, Karzai began holding meetings with many of the proto-Taliban leaders, organizing them into a force that could gain control of Kandahar, and eventually the rest of the country. These meetings were taking place across the border in Quetta, Pakistan. And the Pakistani military intelligence agency, the ISI, which has long made use of Islamic extremism to further its policies, supported the project.

 

In October 1994, the Taliban moved on Afghanistan. "I lived next to the bus station in Quetta," a former refugee named Shafiullah told me. "Busloads and busloads of them left for the border, army officers with them." The Taliban and their Pakistani advisors fought one battle just inside the line, where they captured a weapons cache, then another in the small town of Takhta Pul, halfway to Kandahar. Within a week they owned the city. One reason the assault went so easily was the work Karzai had done ahead of time. The strongest commander in Kandahar was a thick-bearded tribal elder named Mullah Naqib. For weeks before what amounted to the Taliban invasion, he and others told me, Karzai argued with him to stand his men down so the Taliban could come in. "He told me it was the best thing for Afghanistan," Mullah Naqib recalled in 2004. "He said the Americans supported this." Without Mullah Naqib's tribesmen, no fighting force would last long against the ISI-supported Taliban.

 

Once in power, the Taliban leadership asked Karzai to be their U.N. ambassador, a position he later said he turned down. My Kandahar sources disputed that claim. And as it turned out, the U.N. never recognized Taliban rule, so the Kabul government could not send an ambassador. According to information found by journalist Roy Gutman in the U.S. National Archives, however, Washington launched a diplomatic demarche to ambassador-designate Karzai in December 1996, requesting the extradition of Osama bin Laden. None of this is to say that Karzai personally shares the fundamentalist religious ideology espoused by the Taliban. I don't think he is driven by any ideology at all. However, he has repeatedly marched with the Taliban when it has seemed expedient. As he suggested to the Sunday Telegraph's Christina Lamb on Jan. 27, Karzai wants to matter. U.S. officials and Afghan citizens alike should not assume they will be rid of his influence after next April's presidential election.                                    

                                                                                                                Contents
                                       

KARZAI ARRANGED SECRET CONTACTS WITH THE TALIBAN     

Azam Ahmed & Matthew Rosenberg         

New York Times, Feb. 3, 2014

                                                           

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has been engaged in secret contacts with the Taliban about reaching a peace agreement without the involvement of his American and Western allies, further corroding already strained relations with the United States. The secret contacts appear to help explain a string of actions by Mr. Karzai that seem intended to antagonize his American backers, Western and Afghan officials said. In recent weeks, Mr. Karzai has continued to refuse to sign a long-term security agreement with Washington that he negotiated, insisted on releasing hardened Taliban militants from prison and distributed distorted evidence of what he called American war crimes.

 

The clandestine contacts with the Taliban have borne little fruit, according to people who have been told about them. But they have helped undermine the remaining confidence between the United States and Mr. Karzai, making the already messy endgame of the Afghan conflict even more volatile. Support for the war effort in Congress has deteriorated sharply, and American officials say they are uncertain whether they can maintain even minimal security cooperation with Mr. Karzai’s government or its successor after coming elections. Frustrated by Mr. Karzai’s refusal to sign the security agreement, which would clear the way for American troops to stay on for training and counterterrorism work after the end of the year, President Obama has summoned his top commanders to the White House on Tuesday to consider the future of the American mission in Afghanistan.

 

Western and Afghan officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the peace contacts, said that the outreach was apparently initiated by the Taliban in November, a time of deepening mistrust between Mr. Karzai and his allies. Mr. Karzai seemed to jump at what he believed was a chance to achieve what the Americans were unwilling or unable to do, and reach a deal to end the conflict — a belief that few in his camp shared. The peace contacts, though, have yielded no tangible agreement, nor even progressed as far as opening negotiations for one. And it is not clear whether the Taliban ever intended to seriously pursue negotiations, or were simply trying to derail the security agreement by distracting Mr. Karzai and leading him on, as many of the officials said they suspected…

 

The first peace feeler from the Taliban reached Mr. Karzai shortly before the loya jirga, Afghan officials said, and since then the insurgents and the government have exchanged a flurry of messages and contacts.

 

Aimal Faizi, the spokesman for Mr. Karzai, acknowledged the secret contacts with the Taliban and said they were continuing. “The last two months have been very positive,” Mr. Faizi said. He characterized the contacts as among the most serious the presidential palace has had since the war began. “These parties were encouraged by the president’s stance on the bilateral security agreement and his speeches afterwards,” he said.

 

But other Afghan and Western officials said that the contacts had fizzled, and that whatever the Taliban may have intended at the outset, they no longer had any intention of negotiating with the Afghan government. They said that top Afghan officials had met with influential Taliban leaders in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in recent weeks, and were told that any prospects of a peace deal were now gone. The Afghan and Western officials questioned whether the interlocutors whom Mr. Karzai was in contact with had connections to the Taliban movement’s leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, whose blessing would be needed for any peace deal the group were to strike.

 

Though there have been informal contacts between Afghan officials and Taliban leaders since the very early days of the war, the insurgents’ opaque and secretive leaders have made their intentions difficult to discern. Afghan officials have struggled in recent years to find genuine Taliban representatives, and have flitted among a variety of current and former insurgent leaders, most of whom had only tenuous connections to Mullah Omar and his inner circle, American and Afghan officials have said.

 

The only known genuine negotiating channel to those leaders was developed by American and German diplomats, who spent roughly two years trying to open peace talks in Qatar. The diplomats repeatedly found themselves incurring the wrath of Mr. Karzai, who saw the effort as an attempt to circumvent him; he tried behind the scenes to undercut it. Then, when an American diplomatic push led to the opening of a Taliban office in Qatar, Mr. Karzai lashed out publicly at the United States. Afghan officials said that to them, the office looked far too much like the embassy of a government-in-exile, with its own flag and a nameplate reading “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” Within days, the Qatar initiative stalled, and Mr. Karzai was fuming at what he saw as a plot by the United States to cut its own deal with Pakistan and the Taliban without him.

 

In the wake of the failure in Qatar, Afghan officials redoubled their efforts to open their own channel to Mullah Omar, and by late autumn, Mr. Karzai apparently believed those efforts were succeeding. Some senior Afghan officials say they did not share his confidence, and their doubts were shared by American officials in Kabul and Washington.

 

Both Mr. Karzai and American officials hear the clock ticking. American forces are turning over their combat role to Afghan forces and preparing to leave Afghanistan this year, and the campaigning for the Afghan national election in April has begun. An orderly transition of power in an Afghanistan that can contain the insurgency on its own would be the culmination of everything that the United States has tried to achieve in the country.

 

“We’ve been through numerous cycles of ups and downs in our relations with President Karzai over the years,” Ambassador James B. Cunningham said during a briefing with reporters last week. “What makes it a little different this time is that he is coming to the end of his presidency, and we have some very important milestones for the international community and for Afghanistan coming up in the next couple of months.”

 

Mr. Karzai has been increasingly concerned with his legacy, officials say. When discussing the impasse with the Americans, he has repeatedly alluded to his country’s troubled history as a lesson in dealing with foreign powers. He recently likened the security agreement to the Treaty of Gandamak, a one-sided 1879 agreement that ceded frontier lands to the British administration in India and gave it tacit control over Afghan foreign policy. He has publicly assailed American policies as the behavior of a “colonial power,” though diplomats and military officials say he has been more cordial in private.

 

Mr. Karzai reacted angrily to a negative portrayal of him in a recent memoir by the former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, and he is still bitter over the 2009 presidential election, when hundreds of thousands of fraudulent ballots were disqualified and, as he sees it, the Americans forced him into an unnecessary runoff against his closest opponent…         

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link –ed.]           

 

 

                                              Contents
                                  

AN OBAMA FOREIGN POLICY IQ TEST                                 

Wall Street Journal, Jan. 23, 2014              

                                                           

President Obama is a famously quick study, but does he learn from his own mistakes? Let's see what he does on Afghanistan. Mr. Obama must soon decide how many U.S. troops to keep in that country when the NATO mandate ends this year. The Journal reported Wednesday that the Pentagon has presented the White House with a plan for a 10,000 "residual" force (down from 37,500 now). The proposal came in at the higher end of Administration preferences, and Vice President Joe Biden is already opposed.

 

During a visit to Washington last week, U.S. commander in Afghanistan General Joseph Dunford offered a take-it-or-leave-it scenario: Maintain a post-2014 force of 10,000-strong that is minimally sufficient to train the Afghan military and protect U.S. diplomats, spies, aid workers and troops—or pull out entirely at year's end. The Pentagon added a political sweetener by calling for a complete withdrawal of the residual force within two years. In other words Mr. Obama could claim to have ended the Afghan war as he leaves office. The generals know their Commander in Chief. The White House said no decisions have been taken, and a spokeswoman said the U.S. first needed to conclude a Bilateral Security Agreement with the Afghans. The pact has already been negotiated and an Afghan assembly endorsed it. But erratic President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign it before elections for his replacement this spring. The Karzai bonzo act is no reason to stop the U.S. from moving ahead with its plans.

 

President Obama has been here before. In his first term he had to deal with a difficult leader about a future U.S. military presence in Iraq. He settled for a complete pullout. Unlike in Afghanistan today, at least the war in Iraq was over and the country's military was reasonably well-trained and funded. We now know the Iraqi withdrawal was one of the President's worst blunders. Without America's calming presence, Iraqi politicians reverted to bad sectarian habits. U.S. troops could have also helped stop the jihadist spillover into Iraq from Syria's civil war. Al Qaeda has returned and taken control of chunks of Anbar Province, which had been pacified at great cost in American lives.

 

The President can't undo the Iraq mistake, but he can avoid repeating it in Afghanistan. While he's at it he should throw out the Pentagon's 2017 withdrawal date. The main flaw in his own 2009 Afghan troop surge was to set a deadline to draw down American troops two years later, signalling to the Taliban and their Pakistani backers that the U.S. could be waited out. Why give Mullah Omar another date to circle on his calendar? America has kept far more than 10,000 troops in Germany, Italy, Japan and South Korea for decades. No one considers them "another Vietnam." An open-ended military presence signals a commitment that will reassure Afghans, send a message of resolve to the Taliban, and avoid a terrorist comeback that wastes 12 years of sacrifice.

                                                                      

Contents

                                                                          

German Official: Karzai Will Sign BSA: Paul D. Shinkman, U.S. News, Feb. 13, 2014—Afghan President Hamid Karzai will sign the agreement that will define U.S. forces after a combat drawdown at the end of this year, he told a German official. 

Afghanistan Frees Suspected Taliban Prisoners: Sayed Salahuddin, Washington Post, Feb. 13, 2014 —Afghanistan freed 65 suspected Taliban prisoners from jail on Thursday, ignoring repeated warnings by the U.S. government that the men pose a threat.

U.S. Won’t Seize Taliban Ally’s Cash: Eli Lake, Daily Beast, Feb. 7, 2014—In the last 17 months since the U.S. government financially blacklisted the Haqqani Network, one of the deadliest insurgent groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan, not a single dollar associated with the group has been blocked or frozen, according to U.S. officials and one of the Congressman who oversees the Treasury Department’s financial war on terrorism.

Barack Obama May be Commander-in-Chief, But He’s a Partisan at Heart: Robert Fulford, National Post, Jan. 11, 2014 —A newly published account of Barack Obama’s White House confirms the worst that outsiders have imagined: The Obama staff is over-politicized, over-confident and desperate to oversee every aspect of government.

 

 Contents:         

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org