By Jody White - Friday, October 21, 2011 - 1 Comment
Unlike the Taliban, Afghanistan’s Haqqani network fields “world-class fighters” who are keen to disrupt the peace process
Afghanistan has long been a place where hope is in short supply. Its neighbours are hostile and meddlesome. Its government and institutions are corrupt and weak. And despite the presence of thousands of NATO troops, security is elusive thanks to Taliban bombs and bullets. Now this unhappy country faces yet another threat, one that predates the Taliban and may be competing with it at the behest of the Pakistani military as the clock winds down towards NATO’s withdrawal.
On the morning of September 13, six men disguised in burqas entered a partially-built high-rise in Kabul which overlooks both the U.S. embassy and NATO headquarters. Within minutes, they were raining fire down on both buildings with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. For 20 hours they paralyzed the city and held off hundreds of Afghan troops, police and Western Special Forces while four other attackers with suicide vests prowled the city in search of targets. By the next day, all 10 attackers—along with 11 civilians and five police officers—lay dead. It was the longest and most wide-ranging attack on the Afghan capital since the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 11:45 AM - 66 Comments
Pakistan is helping insurgents. Could that be seen as an act of war?
The United States has never directly attacked Pakistan’s premier spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), despite the ISI’s long-standing ties to Islamist militias and terrorist groups opposed to the U.S. and its allies. Yet Pakistani spies occasionally still die from American bombs.
In 1998, the Clinton administration launched cruise missiles at jihadist training camps in Afghanistan in retaliation for al-Qaeda’s bombing of two American embassies in East Africa. The missiles missed Osama bin Laden but killed a team of ISI agents training militants at the camps.
In November 2001, as many as 1,000 ISI agents and Pakistani soldiers from the Frontier Corps found themselves trapped in the Afghan city of Kunduz—along with their Taliban allies and members of al-Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The Pakistanis had been ordered to leave Afghanistan after 9/11 and had had two months to do so, but they decided to stay and fight with the Taliban instead. The Pakistanis might have reasonably expected to share the fate of their compatriots who died as collateral damage in the American cruise missile attacks three years earlier. Instead, Pakistan asked for and received U.S. permission to send rescue planes. Along with the airlifted ISI agents and Pakistani soldiers were Taliban commanders and international jihadists, including al-Qaeda.
By macleans.ca - Monday, October 3, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Saudi Arabia grants women the right to vote, U.S.-Pakistani relations deteriorate further
Steps in the right direction
The king of Saudi Arabia has granted women the right to vote, acknowledging they can make “correct opinions.” This in a place where females can’t travel without a male’s permission, and where one woman who drove, despite a ban, was sentenced to 10 lashes. King Abdullah’s decision also permits females to run for Shura Council. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai has approved draft regulations allowing women’s shelters to remain independent from government, and receive donations without state intermediation.
It was an exciting week in space news: NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, deployed by the space shuttle in 1991, fell from orbit. A troublemaker on Twitter, armed with some Orson Welles quotes, managed to spread rumours worldwide that UARS had fallen near Okotoks, Alta. Fortunately, it appears the satellite crashed harmlessly somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. A few days earlier, space geeks were titillated with another report: physicists think they saw neutrinos travelling faster than the speed of light, which, if conﬁrmed, would disprove Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity.
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 3:49 PM - 13 Comments
I wrote earlier this summer about moves, in Afghanistan and in Western capitals, to negotiate with the Taliban an end to the war in Afghanistan. These efforts are continuing. Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar has admitted to contacts between his organization and the Americans — although he says discussions have been about exchanging prisoners rather than a political settlement. Credible reports suggest these have been much more substantial.
The prospect of a negotiated end to this war is tantalizing and becomes more so the longer it goes on. But proponents of a settlement need to ask, and answer, several questions about what such a process would entail. Continue…