Tag: islamic radicalism

GIVEN M.E. SHIFTS, U.S. WITHDRAWAL, PEACE FOR AN ISRAEL INCREASINGLY ON ITS OWN IS ON THE BACK BURNER

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Contents:                          

 

(Please Note: some articles may have been shortened in the interest of space. Please click on the article  link for the complete text – Ed.)

 

What's behind Abbas' new tone?: Dore Gold, Israel Hayom, Jan 11, 2013 —Mahmoud Abbas delivered a speech on Jan. 4, on the anniversary of the founding of Fatah, that may have marked a turning point in the relations between the Palestinian Authority president and the State of Israel. Using extremist rhetoric that he has not adopted before, Abbas spoke about the need of the Palestinians "to renew an oath to the heroic martyrs and to walk in their path."

 

Intellectual Savages?: Giulio Meotti, Jerusalem Post, Jan.13, 2013 —Benighted humanists in Israel and in the West believe that Hamas’s terrorists are brainwashed, poor or illiterate, when in fact the best minds of Palestinian society are at the top of Islamic terrorism. Is it inconceivable that people who have the holy mission of returning to Jaffa and Ashkelon on a carpet of Jewish bodies are also well-educated surgeons, academics and writers?

 

Jewish-Arab Demography Defies Conventional “Wisdom”: Yoram Ettinger, Israel Hayom, Oct. 19, 2012

Jewish majority west of the Jordan River is secure, benefitting from a tailwind in defiance of conventional “wisdom,” which once again is detached from reality. In 2012, Israel’s Jewish demography continues the robust surge of the last 17 years, while Muslim demography, west of the Jordan River and throughout the Middle East, increasingly embraces Western standards. 

 

 

On Topic Links

 

 

The Arabs’ Betrayal of the Palestinians: Joseph Puder, Front Page Magazine, Jan. 14, 2013
The Legal Basis of Israel’s Rights in the Disputed Territories: Alan Baker, JCPA, Jan. 8, 2013

Abbas Reinstates a Radical Political Doctrine: Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, JCPA, January 10, 2013

Protecting the Contiguity of Israel: The E-1 Area and Maale Adumim: Nadav Shragai, JCPA, May 24, 2009

The Arabs Fear a ‘More Jewish’ State of Israel: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Jewish Press, January 13th, 2013

Israel Investing in Disputed West Bank Sites: YNet News, Jan 15.13

The Palestinian Authority's Inconvenient Truths: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, January 3, 2013

A View From The Hills: Mainstreaming Annexation: Josh Hasten, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 14, 2013

 

 

 

WHAT'S BEHIND ABBAS' NEW TONE?

Dore Gold

Israel Hayom, Jan 11, 2013
 

Mahmoud Abbas delivered a speech on Jan. 4, on the anniversary of the founding of Fatah, that may have marked a turning point in the relations between the Palestinian Authority president and the State of Israel. Using extremist rhetoric that he has not adopted before, Abbas spoke about the need of the Palestinians "to renew an oath to the heroic martyrs and to walk in their path."

 

In his list of Palestinian "martyrs" are not only recent leaders of Hamas, like Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and of the pro-Iranian Islamic Jihad, like Fathi Shkaki, but also figures from the 1930s, like Izzedine al-Qassam, and especially the notorious Jerusalem mufti, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, who openly collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.

 

What happened to Mahmoud Abbas? Hasn't he been regarded by Israeli leaders for the last twenty years as a moderate who was interested in reaching a peace agreement? What is important is not the vapid debate over whether Abbas can still be regarded as a partner for peacemaking, but rather understanding the hard fact that conditions have changed influencing the declared intentions of leaders. What is essential to internalize is that the political environment in 2013 no longer resembles what the Middle East looked like when Israel began talking to the Palestinians in 1993.

 

There were three very specific geostrategic conditions that prevailed when the political process of the last two decades was originally launched in 1991. These are now undergoing dramatic changes.
 

First, the Soviet Union was collapsing leaving the U.S. the sole superpower dominating the Middle East. With the U.S. armed forces deployed across the region after the American victory in the first Gulf War, the supremacy of American power was not theoretical but very real.

 

Second, with the defeat of Saddam Hussein, the most powerful member of what had been known as the “Rejectionist Front” was no longer a significant factor in the Middle Eastern balance of power. The pro-American Arab pragmatists were the predominant regional force.

 

And third, Iran, which had not yet recovered from its eight-year long war against Iraq in the previous decade, was not in any position to exploit the collapse of the 40-division strong Iraqi Army and assert itself as the new hegemonic power. These three conditions set the stage for the convening of the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991 and later for the signing of the Oslo Agreements in 1993.

 

Yet, in 2013, that unique international constellation plainly no longer exists. The oil-rich Arab states, especially in the Persian Gulf, were concerned that the American withdrawal from Iraq at the end of 2011, marked a new period in which the U.S. would have far less to do militarily with the region and could no longer be depended upon to assure their security.

 

Qatar effectively jumped from the ship of American protection and made up with Tehran already in 2007, when the Bush administration published its National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. This move was interpreted as meaning that Washington was not going to dedicate military resources to resolve the problem of the Iranian march to nuclear weapons.

 

Moreover, with the uprisings in the Arab world since 2011, a new rejectionist front has come to power through Islamist parties that are now ruling from Tunisia to Egypt. Hamas, which already ousted the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip in 2007, serves as a Palestinian affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood and hence has a built-in advantage over Abbas, given the new regional map that was emerging.

 

Abbas, who in the past looked to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as his key ally, now had to contend with a Muslim Brotherhood government in Cairo, which worked in favor of his Islamist rival, Hamas. In Middle Eastern capitals, it became widely believed that this shift came about with Washington's approval. This was a huge overstatement, but nonetheless it was a shared perception across the region.

 

Finally, despite the losses it faces in Syria (including Lebanon), Iran has been demonstrating an enhanced ability to project its influence with weapons, training, and in some cases, special forces, by inserting itself into multiple Middle Eastern conflicts, from Iraq to Yemen and from Sudan to the Gaza Strip. Its activism is likely to only increase, should it cross the nuclear threshold.

 

Israel does not have to reach the conclusion that it has no diplomatic options with the Palestinians and that an impasse is inevitable. But to proceed with any initiative in the future it needs to make several important adjustments in its approach. First, the next Israeli government must accept that given what is going on in the Middle East, it is completely unrealistic to propose negotiations to reach a full-blown final status agreement with the Palestinians.

 

Second, given the regional dangers that are on the horizon, any political arrangement in the future must have a much stronger security component than what was proposed in the past. It is unfortunate that in the internal political debate in Israel, politicians often take out of the file cabinet old diplomatic ideas that did not work, without reconsidering whether they are still applicable, if they ever were. More than ever, Israel needs to preserve the ability to defend itself, by itself, no matter how the declared intentions of its neighbors change.

 

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INTELLECTUAL SAVAGES?

Giulio Meotti

Jerusalem Post, Jan.13, 2013

 

Benighted humanists in Israel and in the West believe that Hamas’s terrorists are brainwashed, poor or illiterate, when in fact the best minds of Palestinian society are at the top of Islamic terrorism. Is it inconceivable that people who have the holy mission of returning to Jaffa and Ashkelon on a carpet of Jewish bodies are also well-educated surgeons, academics and writers? Ask Hamas about the paradox of Josef Mengele, a doctor of philosophy, a medical doctor, a refined man who enjoyed music and poetry, but didn’t hesitate to experiment on an order the death of a million of Jews.

 

The Palestinian hatred has not been deciphered by our writers and intellectuals. It’s because we have been told that “they hate us” is the language of xenophobes, the illiberal, the intolerant; that genocidal anti-Semitism was buried in the ashes of Auschwitz; that we have to be polite and self-critical. A seductive combination of post-colonial white guilt mixed with liberal condescension has dulled our moral senses and made us blind to an Islamism that conveys unleashed hatred, contempt, physical aggression, the desire to expel, to destroy and to eliminate the Jews.

 

Nizar Rayan was not only a Hamas terrorist leader. He was a fine historian, academic and intellectual. Author of more than 10 books on Islam, Rayan was killed in Jabalya along with his wife and three children. They remained in the house even after the Israelis had warned them of the raid. Rayan had sent a son on a suicide mission against a Jewish town in northern Gaza and had taken part in an attack on the Israeli port of Ashdod, which killed 10 “sons of pigs and monkeys,” as Rayan call the Jews. Rayan was a gem of the Islamic University of Gaza, he had studied at the prestigious faculty of Um Dorman and had written an essay on the life of the Prophet, titled “Medina becomes Dark,” a best-seller in Saudi Arabia. His library, destroyed in the Israeli raid, contained 10,000 books.

 

Palestinian terrorism is led by academics, surgeons, scientists, scholars, intellectuals, people with an enviable curriculum vitae. Their biographies are the Palestinian version of al-Qaida. They are like Ayman al-Zawahiri, al- Qaida mastermind and a surgeon; Omar Sheikh, the mastermind in the execution of Daniel Pearl, who had studied at the London School of Economics; and the planner of the September 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, who attended US universities.

 

The head of the July 7 suicide bombers, Muhammad Siddique Khan, taught in Leeds, while the English doctor Bilal Abdullah, who participated in the failed attacks in London and Glasgow in June 2007, was born into one of the richest families in Baghdad. The Hamas leadership is the most educated in the Arab world, with 500 high-level degrees between them. Its leader, Khaled Mashaal, is a professor of physics and was an academic in Kuwait. Gaza’s prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, was dean of a university and his strongman for religious affairs, Muhammad Tartouri, is a dean of the College of Shari’a in Hevron, epicenter of jihad against the Jews.

 

Even among the Palestinian Arab “secular” terrorists you find many PhDs. Ahmed Sadat, who ordered the killing of Israeli minister Rehavam Ze’evi, is a professor, while terror mastermind George Habash was a doctor. That is because there is no difference between the Hamas Covenant and the Covenant of the PLO. They both want Israel’s territorial truncation and eventual annihilation.

 

Fathi Shaqaqi, the late founder of Islamic Jihad, was a physician. The last of the Hamas’s founders still alive, Mahmoud Zahar, is an excellent doctor, a well-known specialist in the thyroid who founded the Palestinian Medical Society, his wife is a teacher, one of their children had a degree in finance and a daughter is a professor of English.

 

These two doctors are responsible for scores of children, women and elderly being incinerated on Egged buses in Israel; cafes and pizzerias destroyed; malls turned into slaughterhouses; mothers and daughters killed in front of ice cream shops; families exterminated in their own beds; infants executed with a blow to the base of the skull; fruit markets blown to pieces; nightclubs eviscerated along with hundreds of students; rabbinic seminarians murdered during their studies; husbands and wives killed in front of their children; children murdered in their mothers’ arms.

 

A well-known pediatrician was the Hamas leader Abdul Aziz Rantisi, a senior manager of the Arab Medical Society known for his tireless campaign to “kill as many Jews as possible.” Doctor Rantisi ordered that pieces of metal should be added to the explosives in the terrorist’s vest or backpack, with blasts often severing limbs completely. Israeli children have had their faces burned or their hands rendered useless; some have had their sight ruined forever.

 

A talented mathematician is Siyaam Saeed, Minister of the Interior. A former education minister, Nasser Eddin to Sha’er, studied in Manchester and New York. Ibrahim Hamed, the planner of brutal attacks such as the Moment Café, Ben-Yehuda Street and Hebrew University murders has a BA magna cum laude. Baseem Naeem became a surgeon in Germany, Atif Adwan owes its formation to the most brilliant scientific universities in the United Kingdom, while Aziz Dweik learned perfect English at the University of Pennsylvania. Mousa Marzook, accused by Israel of involvement in the murder of Israeli civilians between 1990 and 1994, studied at Louisiana Tech and Columbia University.

 

Of the Palestinian suicide bombers, 47 percent had a college degree, 29% a high school diploma, 24% attended primary school. People like Dia Tawil, who came from a “bourgeois” family with no financial problems, “only” dreamed of killing Israelis. Tawil’s last words were: “Their bones will know the taste of death.”

 

Israel is confronting Islamic revolutionaries ready to drench the holy land with blood and Palestinian Arab pediatricians who send their angels of death to kill Israeli children. But we also live in a time when death – of Jews – is celebrated and romanticized in the “civilized” democracies. These ferocious Palestinian anti-Semites have been sanitized by the Western public opinion which calls them “militants,” as The New York Times did last week…..

 

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JEWISH-ARAB DEMOGRAPHY DEFIES CONVENTIONAL “WISDOM”

Yoram Ettinger

Israel Hayom, Oct. 19, 2012

 

Jewish majority west of the Jordan River is secure, benefitting from a tailwind in defiance of conventional “wisdom,” which once again is detached from reality. In 2012, Israel’s Jewish demography continues the robust surge of the last 17 years, while Muslim demography, west of the Jordan River and throughout the Middle East, increasingly embraces Western standards.

 

According to a June, 2012 study by the Washington-based Population Reference Bureau (PRB), 72% of 15-49 year old Palestinian married women prefer to avoid pregnancy, as are 78% in Morocco, 71% in Jordan, 69% in Egypt and Libya, 68% in Syria, 63% in Iraq and 61% in Yemen.  The PRB study states that “a growing number of women are using contraception, as family planning services have expanded in the Arab region.”

 

The unprecedented fertility decline in the Muslim world was documented in June, 2012 by Dr. Nicholas Eberstadt, a leading demographer at the American Enterprise Institute, and Apoorva Shah of the Hoover Institute.  According to Eberstadt and Shah, “Throughout the worldwide Muslim community, fertility levels are falling dramatically…. According to the UN Population Division estimates and projections, all 48 Muslim-majority countries and territories witnessed fertility decline over the last three decades…. The proportional decline in fertility for Muslim-majority areas was greater than for the world as a whole over that same period, or for the less-developed regions as a whole…. Six of the ten largest absolute declines in fertility for a two-decade period yet recorded in the postwar era (and by extension, we may suppose, ever to take place under orderly conditions in human history) have occurred in Muslim-majority countries…. Four of the ten greatest fertility declines ever recorded in a 20-year period took place in the Arab world…. No other region of the world — not highly dynamic Southeast Asia, or even rapidly modernizing East Asia — comes close to this showing…. The remarkable fertility declines now unfolding throughout the Muslim world is one of the most important demographic developments in our era.”

 

The key developments yielding a drastic decline in Arab fertility, in the Middle East including west of the Jordan River, have been modernity and its derivatives.  For instance, urbanization (70% rural Arab population in Judea and Samaria in 1967 and 75% urban in 2012), expanded women’s education and employment, a record high divorce rate and wedding age, all time high family planning, rapidly declining teen-pregnancy, youthful male net-emigration, etc.

 

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has inflated the actual number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria (1.65 million) by one million, since the arrival of one million Olim from the USSR. Thus, in contrast with internationally accepted demographic standards, the PA counts some 400,000 overseas residents, who have been overseas for over a year, as de-facto residents.  Some 300,000 Israeli I.D. card-bearing Jerusalem Arabs are doubly-counted as Israelis (by Israel) and as Palestinians (by the PA).  The number of births is over-reported, the number of death is under-reported, emigration is ignored, etc.

 

In 2012, Israel’s Jewish fertility rate (three births per woman) is trending upward, boding well for Israel’s economy and national security, exceeding any Middle Eastern Muslim country, other than Yemen, Iraq and Jordan, which are trending downward.  Iran’s fertility rate is 1.8 births per woman, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States – 2.5, Syria and Egypt – 2.9 and North Africa – 1.8.  The average fertility rate of an Israeli-born Jewish mother has already surpassed three births.  In 2012, the Israeli Arab-Jewish fertility gap is half a birth per woman, compared with a six birth gap in 1969.  Moreover, young Jewish and Arab Israeli women have converged at three births, with Arab women trending below – and Jewish women trending above – three births.

 

In 2012, Jewish births have expanded to 77% of total Israeli births, compared with 69% in 1969. While the ultra-orthodox Jewish fertility rate has declined, due to growing integration into the workforce and the military, the secular Jewish fertility rate has risen significantly. Since 2001, the number of Jewish emigrants has decreased and the number of returning Jewish expatriates has increased. Aliya has been sustained annually since 1882, while Arab net-emigration – especially from Judea and Samaria – has been a fixture, at least, since 1950.

 

The current 66% Jewish majority in the combined area of the pre-1967 Israel, Judea and Samaria would catapult to an 80% majority in 2035, if Israel realizes the clear and present dramatic Aliyah (Jewish immigration) window of opportunity.  At least 500,000 Olim from the former USSR, France, Britain, Argentina and the USA could reach Israel during the next five years, in light of Israel’s economic indicators, the intensification of European anti-Semitism, the Islamic penetration of Europe and the growth of Jewish-Zionist education. The suggestion that Jews are doomed to become a minority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean is either dramatically-mistaken or outrageously-misleading.

 

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The Arabs’ Betrayal of the Palestinians: Joseph Puder, Front Page Magazine, Jan. 14, 2013—At least one Palestinian leader is honest enough to blame his “brotherly” Arab states for the cash crisis faced by the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah.  PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, in an interview with the Associated Press on Sunday, January 6, 2013 complained of an immense financial crisis in the PA, largely due to the Arab countries’ failure to dispatch promised millions of dollars in aid. 

The Legal Basis of Israel’s Rights in the Disputed Territories: Alan Baker, JCPA, Jan. 8, 2013—Upon Israel’s taking control of the area in 1967, the 1907 Hague Rules on Land Warfare and the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) were not considered applicable to the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) territory, as the Kingdom of Jordan, prior to 1967, was never the prior legal sovereign, and in any event has since renounced any claim to sovereign rights via a vis the territory.
 

Abbas Reinstates a Radical Political Doctrine: Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, JCPA, January 10, 2013—Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), chairman of the Palestinian Authority and leader of the PLO and the Fatah movement presented a radical political doctrine in his speech on January 4, 2013, honouring the anniversary of Fatah’s establishment.

 

Protecting the Contiguity of Israel: The E-1 Area and Maale Adumim: Nadav Shragai, JCPA, May 24, 2009—The E-1 area is a part of the Israeli city of Maale Adumim, located immediately adjacent to Jerusalem. There is an E-1 construction plan that was devised in order to link Maale Adumim and its 36,000 residents to Jerusalem. Every Israeli prime minister since Yitzhak Rabin has supported the plan. The E-1 site covers an area of largely uninhabited, state-owned land.

 

The Arabs Fear a ‘More Jewish’ State of Israel: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Jewish Press, January 13th, 2013—The elections  are approaching in Israel, and polls are predicting what the Arab media calls, with great dread, “the meteoric rise of the radical right in Israel.” Every article about  the Israeli political map has the latest polls, showing the obvious trend that all of us here are aware of.

 

Israel Investing in Disputed West Bank Sites: YNet News, Jan15.13—Israel is advancing a plan to invest in places it considers part of its national heritage, including nine West Bank sites, the government said Monday in an announcement that could appeal to hard-line voters a week ahead of elections. It triggered an angry Palestinian response.

 

The Palestinian Authority's Inconvenient Truths: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, January 3, 2013—Western journalists, funders and decision-makers need to know that there are many truths being hidden from their eyes and ears. The truth sometimes hurts; that is why the Palestinian Authority has been working hard to prevent the outside world from hearing about many occurrences that reflect negatively on its leaders or people.

 

A View From The Hills: Mainstreaming Annexation: Josh Hasten, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 14, 2013—In 2011, Women in Green, a grassroots organization dedicated to safeguarding the Land of Israel for the Jewish people, hosted a conference to discuss applying full Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria. The inaugural event was held in a small banquet hall in Hebron, adjacent to the Cave of the Patriarchs.

 

 

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AFGHAN END GAME – CAN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TRUMP INTERNAL TRIBAL DIVISIONS & INDIAN/PAKISTANI/U.S. RIVALRIES?

Download Today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf 

 

Contents:                          

 

(Please Note: some articles may have been shortened in the interest of space. Please click on the article  link for the complete text – Ed.)

 

 

Two Diverging Roads for Afghanistan: Thomas Barfield, Real Clear World, Jan. 14, 2013—As the 2014 date for the withdrawal of most foreign troops from Afghanistan approaches, the country faces two starkly different futures. One is a return to the civil war conditions of the 1990s that brought disaster and disunity. The other is the emergence of a stable, prosperous Afghanistan bankrolled by these same neighbours. In this scenario economic self-interests trump old parochial politics.

 

U.S. Needs Significant Military Presence in Afghanistan: Ahmad Majidyar, CNN, Jan. 11, 2013—The United States has two vital interests in the AfPak region: preventing al Qaeda and its affiliates from reconstituting in Afghanistan and ensuring that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons do not fall into terrorists’ hands. These two objectives cannot be guaranteed without a significant military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

 

Pakistan's Territorial Disunity Stirs Ghosts of a Violent Past: Sajjad Ashraf, The National (UAE), Nov. 11, 2012—More than 30 years after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan finds itself sucked into a quagmire from which it is hard to extract itself. Its governance structures, never strong points, are broken. Pakistan is now radicalised to a point where even the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, accuses it of exporting terrorism.

 

 

On Topic Links

 

 

U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan on Rise for 2013: Greg Miller, Washington Post, Jan. 10, 2013
A Million StepsAmericans in Afghanistan: Bing West, National Review, October 15, 2012

Playing With Fire: Pakistan Must Crack Down on Terrorism for Its Own Sake: Editorial, Times of India, Jan 14, 2013

America's Go-to Man in Afghanistan's Oruzgan Province: David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times, Jan. 12, 2013

Pakistan Bombings: Militancy is a Many-Headed Beast Here: Samira Shackle, The Guardian, Jan. 11, 2013

Despite Fears of Afghan Collapse, U.S. May Pull All Troops by 2014: Robert Burns,  National Post, Jan 9, 2013

 

 

 

 

TWO DIVERGING ROADS FOR AFGHANISTAN

Thomas Barfield

Real Clear World, Jan. 14, 2013

 

As the 2014 date for the withdrawal of most foreign troops from Afghanistan approaches, the country faces two starkly different futures. One is a return to the civil war conditions of the 1990s that brought disaster and disunity. In this scenario Afghanistan is abandoned by the international community before falling prey to the machinations of neighbours who bankroll conflict between rival ethnic groups, potentially bringing about the country's dissolution as a unitary state. The other is the emergence of a stable, prosperous Afghanistan bankrolled by these same neighbours. In this scenario economic self-interests trump old parochial politics.

 

But how can two such divergent paths proceed from the same Afghan starting point? The neighbours and rivalries are the same, with the Afghans politically fractured and the West marginalized in both cases. The direction depends on whether Afghanistan breaks its longstanding lack of economic integration with the outside world. Growing Asian economies could make life-transforming investments in Afghanistan, restoring its old role as an overland trade entrepôt and ensuring a new role as mineral treasure house. Instability and violence could derail this process, and the short-term thinking of Afghanistan's current political class presents an almost greater challenge.

 

The pessimistic path has been well trodden over Afghanistan's past 35 years. Over the past century and a half a series of Afghan rulers cultivated economic isolationism and religious xenophobia as a protective survival response to successive "Great Game" rivalries over their country. Indeed, Afghanistan had the almost unique misfortune of attracting new geopolitical conflict whenever a previous one subsided. In the 19th century British India and Czarist Russia both preserved and clashed over Afghanistan as a buffer state between their respective colonial empires. In the 20th century Afghanistan became a proxy battleground in the Cold War. And Afghanistan opened the 21st century under Taliban rule, hosting Osama bin Laden who organized a terrorist attack on the United States. The culmination of each of these geopolitical rivalries was one or more foreign invasions, foreign occupations and foreign withdrawals, of which the 2014 departure will be the fourth for Afghanistan since 1841.

 

Many analysts assume disorder will ensue with the American withdrawal and predict quick victory for the Taliban over a weak Karzai government in Kabul. Afghan history suggests otherwise. Insurgents do have a splendid track record in getting foreign armies to leave Afghanistan, but tend to struggle in displacing a Kabul government that retains the patronage of a Great Power. Insurgents' unity against foreigners breaks down when the conflict is only among Afghans. Supporters of Kabul governments also historically replace their feckless, passive rulers with more active ones. Afghan rulers installed by an invading foreign army fail, but those installed by a withdrawing foreign army succeeded. Only in the absence of any Great Power partnership did Afghanistan fall into anarchy, such as the decade-long civil war in the 1990s that brought the Taliban to power. Such devolution into civil war rather than Taliban victory is the more likely scenario if Afghanistan falls into political violence.

 

It could take a number of forms. Nuclear-armed Pakistan and India could bring their rivalry into Afghanistan to fight a proxy war with Pakistan supporting the Taliban and India backing the Kabul government. Or, Afghanistan regions could revive their militias and turn a two-party war into a free-for-all. Or the Central Asian states, Russia, India and Iran could back a two-state solution that splits the non-Pashtun north, west and center from the Pashtun south and east, leaving Pakistan with a supersized Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

 

The positive path harks back to long ago when Afghanistan was the prosperous hub of an international overland Eurasian trade network linking China with South Asia and the Middle East. Today's model would have China and India making massive investments in rail systems and processing plants to extract Afghanistan's mineral deposits. Pakistan and India would support construction of pipelines and pylons through Afghan territory to import natural gas from Turkmenistan and hydroelectricity from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Landlocked Central Asian states would transit Afghan roads and new rail lines to reach ocean ports of Iran or Pakistan.

 

Few in the West give this possibility much credence, but they have not been following the moves of Afghanistan's neighbours. With the exception of Pakistan, all have already committed large investments and infrastructure that integrate Afghanistan into their economies, motivated not by charity but pursuit of profits and resources.

 

The list of projects is impressive. In 2008 India completed construction of a 220-kilometer road connecting the Iranian port Chahbahar with Afghanistan's Nimroz Province. As part of a larger billion-dollar-plus Indian-financed transportation network within Afghanistan, the new road ended Pakistan's former monopoly on seaborne transit trade to landlocked Afghanistan and Central Asia. India has also taken a large role in constructing $500 million project financed by the Asian Development Bank to build a 1300-megawatt, high-voltage transmission power line through Afghanistan, across the Khyber Pass into Pakistan.

 

Despite its suspicion of India, Pakistan is poised to be the greatest beneficiary of a new Central Asia/South Asia Regional Electricity Market. In 2008 China signed a $3 billion mining agreement for a 30-year lease on the rich Aynak copper deposit south of Kabul with an estimated value of $88 billion. China has already begun preliminary site development and announced plans to finance and construct a rail line north to its western province of Xinjiang through the Hindu Kush Mountains. Other mining projects include an Indian-financed agreement to mine 1.8 billion tons of iron ore from the Hajigak deposit west of Kabul, a $14 billion investment that also includes a steel-mill complex and transport links.

 

Even the long stalled Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Natural Gas Pipeline (TAPI) no longer seems like a pipe dream. Designed to carry up to 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually, the 1,800-kilometer long pipeline, at a cost of $7.6 billion, would make Afghanistan the primary export corridor for Turkmenistan's enormous surplus of natural gas desperately in demand by energy-poor South Asia.

 

By way of comparison, the United States has funded $1.6 billion in infrastructure projects since 2006. Significantly, the many projects span multiple economic sectors and Asia's largest emerging economic powers play key roles. The projects do not demand Western financing, nor do all need to succeed for Afghanistan to prosper. As each comes online the risk/reward calculation of making trouble in Afghanistan changes. Pakistan might think twice about supporting attacks in Kabul if the Afghans can turn off the lights in Islamabad. China is unlikely to sit idly by if its investments and engineers are attacked by insurgents. As Afghanistan's neighbors become more dependent on transportation, minerals and energy flows within a common regional market, preserving Afghanistan's peace and stability moves from the realm of goodwill into the matrix of self-interest. For those that think any stability is impossible to achieve in Afghanistan, a similar growing economic interdependence in Western Europe after 1945 proved more successful in preserving peace than any set of political treaties.

 

The Afghan government plays only a passive role in these developments. Other than balancing out its mineral contracts with both India and China, it has displayed no strategic vision. If Afghanistan wishes to become another Dubai rather than another Somalia, it needs imaginative leaders who offer an economic vision that offers hope to people who have already suffered too much.

 

Thomas Barfield's is director of Boston University's Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies & Civilization and currently serves as president of the American Institute for Afghanistan Studies.

 

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PAKISTAN'S TERRITORIAL DISUNITY
STIRS GHOSTS OF A VIOLENT PAST

Sajjad Ashraf

The National (UAE), Nov. 11, 2012

 

More than 30 years after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan finds itself sucked into a quagmire from which it is hard to extract itself. Its governance structures, never strong points, are broken. Pakistan is now radicalised to a point where even the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, accuses it of exporting terrorism. Located on historic invasion routes to India, the lands that now constitute Pakistan have had their fair share of border changes. In the process, many kingdoms, sultanates and states have been formed and disintegrated. Perceived discrimination was the basis of independence movements that created Pakistan, and later Bangladesh. And today, three different territorial issues have the potential of seriously altering the current boundaries of the state.

 

Balochistan, Pakistan's largest province by area, constituting nearly 42 per cent of the country and home to much of its natural resources, is into its fifth military confrontation with the federation since its controversial accession in 1948. Balochis have continued to resent the exploitation of their resources, with little compensation. The current troubles began in 2002, when the army moved in to set up cantonments in Kohlu and Sui districts, which are located in the middle of the country.

 

The callous killing of the Oxford educated tribal leader, Nawab Akbar Bugti, in 2006, has led the Baloch nationalists and the military into a war of attrition. Thousands of Baloch young men have allegedly disappeared in the process. Many tortured and mutilated bodies have since been found…The [Pakistan] Supreme Court  has ruled that the Balochistan government has constitutionally failed. The military's statement supporting a political solution to Balochistan provided it is "within the constitution" sounds hollow. Yet proposed energy pipelines, critical to the economic growth of Pakistan and Gwadar port's success, depend upon peace in Balochistan.

 

The second territorial hot spot is Sindh, the only province that voted for a Muslim League-majority government before the partition of India. People in Sindh have not forgiven the Punjab-led army for Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's killing, in 1979 (the Bhutto family traces its ancestral roots to Sindh). To destroy Bhutto charisma, especially in urban Sindh, General Zia Al Haq sponsored the Muhajir Qaumi Movement-MQM (meaning refugee – the descendants of migrants from India, and later renamed Muttahida Qaumi Movement), arguably the first ethnic party in Pakistan. The Karachi-centred MQM has been unable to garner any support in other provinces.

 

Pashtuns, about 25 per cent of the 20 million people in Karachi, now demand more political space. With MQM unable to augment their numbers, every round of trouble is deadlier than the previous one. To secure a governing coalition, President Asif Ali Zardari, is taking the short-term route of placating the MQM, which is widely believed to harbour plans to divide Sindh. Knowing their value to President Zardari, the MQM demands and receives higher returns every time it threatens to walk out of the coalition. The recently promulgated Sindh local government law, negotiated secretly between Mr Zardari's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the MQM will solidify MQM's control of cities and thus access to huge funds. The Sindhi nationalists and others coalition partners have quit Sindh cabinet in protest. The MQM and the Pashtuns are arming themselves for a possible showdown. With time running against them, the MQM are in a hurry to secure political advantage.

 

The third territory in crisis is southern Punjab. Some months back the PPP, protesting against discrimination, called for the division of Punjab for "administrative" reasons into a Saraiki speaking southern Punjab province, and a northern Punjab. But the real reason is PPP's inability to break the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's (PML-N, referring to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif) stranglehold over Punjab for over a quarter of a century.

 

For obvious reasons, a call for the division of Punjab, which considers itself as the glue holding the country together, evokes sharp reaction. Dithering initially, the PML-N, mindful of the electoral cost of opposing the idea, demanded Punjab be divided into three parts instead of two. Political sparring has already begun for elections next year, leading to hardening of positions drawing similarities to East and West Pakistan fissures before 1970 elections.  The big issue is the reaction of the Punjab-based military. If trouble spills over to a point where a military solution is sought, a Bangladesh-like situation may arise, which will predictably be the "1971 moment", as some commentators fear. That year, of course, was when Bangladesh earned its independence.

 

Only a few things, like cold-blooded attacks on teenage girls, anti-Americanism or cricket, seems to unite Pakistanis now. Indeed, on the day Malala Yousafzai was attacked, 13 innocent women and children were killed in a US drone attack. While history will judge the US for its actions, Pakistan needs to shed its own ignorance, elect credible and honest leaders, establish the rule of law and look inward to secure its future.

 

Sajjad Ashraf is a former Pakistani foreign service officer and an adjunct professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore

 

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U.S. NEEDS SIGNIFICANT
MILITARY PRESENCE IN AFGHANISTAN

Ahmad Majidyar

CNN, Jan. 11, 2013

 

President Barack Obama will meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai today [jan 11] at the White House to assess the progress of the war and discuss America’s future role in Afghanistan. The two leaders are expected to talk about a wide range of issues, particularly concerning security transition to the Afghan lead, reconciliation with the Taliban, and Afghanistan’s presidential elections slated for April 2014. At the top of the meeting agenda, however, will be a discussion over the nature, scope and obligations of a residual U.S. military footprint in Afghanistan after the foreign combat mission there ends next year. Three key issues are likely to be contentious in the talks: legal immunity for U.S. soldiers, transfer of detention facilities to the Afghan government, and Kabul’s request for advanced military equipment.

 

The immunity issue, which derailed negotiations for a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the U.S. and Iraq in late 2011, will be the most sensitive one. A postwar U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is inconceivable unless American soldiers are granted protection from local prosecution. Nonetheless, while Karzai might use the question of immunity as leverage to extract concessions from the White House, the issue is unlikely to be a deal breaker this time. Kabul will be more flexible than Baghdad in negotiating a SOFA with Washington because, unlike oil-rich Iraq, Afghanistan’s economy is almost entirely dependent on foreign aid. Moreover, the Afghan government requires U.S. and NATO help to fund, train, and equip its 350,000 security personnel for many years beyond 2014.

 

Another sticking point could be Karzai’s demand for transfer of all detainees held by the U.S. military at a facility in Bagram Air Base near Kabul. The U.S. has already handed over more than 3,000 terrorism suspects to the Afghan government since the two sides signed an agreement last March, but Karzai has recently accused U.S. forces of breaching the accord by still keeping some prisoners under custody. Washington believes the Afghans are not yet ready to take over the control of all prisoners, especially ones believed to be too dangerous or affiliated with al Qaeda….

 

Leaked reports suggest the White House is considering cutting troop numbers by 20,000 to 30,000 this year and keeping as few as 2,500 troops in Afghanistan after 2014, despite requests by military commanders in the field to maintain most of the remaining 68,000 U.S. troops through the next two fighting seasons and a larger post-2014 presence. Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security adviser, said Tuesday [Jan 8] that a complete pullout by the end of next year is also an option. But while a steep drawdown and keeping a small or no residual force may be politically expedient for the Obama administration, it is a recipe for failure in Afghanistan.

 

First, without a significant military presence after 2014, Washington risks undoing the gains of the past decade and allowing al Qaeda and the Taliban to reconstitute in parts of Afghanistan. Terrorist groups have already returned to some Afghan areas vacated by withdrawing foreign troops. Residents of eastern Nuristan Province, for example, say about 70 percent of the province is under the de facto rule of the Taliban and foreign militant groups, including al Qaeda and Lashkar-e Taiba (LeT). More remote areas could fall into terrorists’ control if U.S. forces leave precipitously.

 

Second, a hasty pullout undermines the training and strengthening of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Over the past three years, the ANSF has made remarkable progress in size and quality and is now responsible for security of 75 percent of Afghanistan’s population. But it still remains heavily reliant on the coalition for enablers, such as logistics, air power, medevac, reconnaissance, route-clear equipment and intelligence. A Pentagon study released last month rated only one of 23 Afghan Army brigades as independent. Without coalition’s help, the ANSF’s operational capabilities will decline dramatically. NATO and other allied nations would also not provide sufficient numbers of advisors and mentors for the ANSF if they perceive ambivalence from Washington.

 

Third, without a post-2014 military presence, the CIA-led drone strikes into Pakistan’s tribal regions will most likely cease. With Washington-Islamabad ties at their nadir, the U.S. drone campaign against al Qaeda and its affiliates in South and North Waziristan is now entirely dependent on bases in Afghanistan. The Navy Seal helicopters tasked with killing bin Laden flew from a base in eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad.

 

Fourth, a significant post-2014 military presence is needed to send a clear message to friends and enemies in the region that the United States and its allies are not abandoning Afghanistan. The Taliban will not have an incentive to enter meaningful peace talks if they see allied forces on the run. With the ANSF not yet ready to defend against a Taliban return, warlords and minority ethnic leaders would decide to take things on their own hands. Many local strongmen have already begun rearming their militias in preparation for a potential civil war.

 

The United States has two vital interests in the AfPak region: preventing al Qaeda and its affiliates from reconstituting in Afghanistan and ensuring that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons do not fall into terrorists’ hands. These two objectives cannot be guaranteed without a significant military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

 

Ahmad Majidyar is a senior research associate at the American Enterprise Institute, focusing on Afghanistan and Pakistan. The views expressed are the author’s own.

 

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A Million Steps: Bing West, National Review, October 15, 2012—Over the past several years, the coalition has partnered throughout the country with Afghan soldiers and police. The goal was for the Afghans to gain skills, confidence, and independence by following our example in operations. That process has ceased, with no known replacement program. Now, without American firepower, reinforcements, and medical evacuation, Afghan forces are even more reluctant to patrol. The Taliban have gained freedom of movement and a psychological edge.

 

U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan on Rise for 2013: Greg Miller, Washington Post, Jan. 10, 2013—The CIA has opened the year with a flurry of drone strikes in Pakistan, pounding Taliban targets along the country’s tribal belt at a time when the Obama administration is preparing to disclose its plans for pulling most U.S. forces out of neighboring Afghanistan.

 

Playing With Fire: Pakistan Must Crack Down on Terrorism for its Own Sake: Editorial, Times of India, Jan 14, 2013—It's no secret that Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, remains a state within a state and continues to patronise known anti-India terrorists such as Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed. Despite New Delhi handing over several dossiers to Islamabad on Saeed's involvement in the 26/11 attack, the latter remains a free Pakistani citizen.

 

America's Go-To Man in Afghanistan's Oruzgan Province: David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times, Jan. 12, 2013—Thousands of desperately poor Afghans in this remote province rely on Matiullah for charity and protection. And his presence here is equally important to the U.S. military, which views Oruzgan as a linchpin in southern Afghanistan. It relies on Matiullah to support a U.S. special forces team and to secure the crucial supply road from Kandahar to Tarin Kowt, the provincial capital.

 

Pakistan Bombings: Militancy is a Many-Headed Beast Here: Samira Shackle, The Guardian, Jan. 11, 2013—Bomb attacks are the background music to life in Pakistan. A blast somewhere in the country is reported nearly every day, and it is easy to become inured to it. After several months living there, I found myself thinking, as many others do: "Only three people died, it wasn't a bad one."

 

Despite Fears of Afghan Collapse, U.S. May Pull All Troops By 2014: Robert Burns, National Post, Jan 9, 2013—The Obama administration says it might leave no troops in Afghanistan after December 2014, an option that defies the Pentagon’s view that thousands of troops may be needed to contain al-Qaeda and to strengthen Afghan forces.

 

 

 

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