Showing posts with label AfPak. Show all posts
Showing posts with label AfPak. Show all posts

22 January 2018

How ISIS’ Strategy Is Evolving

By Michael P. Dempsey

Over the course of 2017, the Islamic State (or ISIS) suffered defeat after devastating defeat at the hands of the United States and its allies, culminating in the seizure last October of the group’s declared capital of Raqqa, Syria. As of today, the group controls no major population center in either Iraq or Syria. Yet this does not mean that ISIS no longer poses a significant danger. With the end of the physical caliphate, ISIS’ tactics are evolving. It is more and more likely to avoid major battlefield engagements and instead resort to terrorist attacks in the Middle East, other conflict zones, and the West. U.S. policy needs to change quickly to meet the evolving threat, both in terms of its operations in the region and of its counterterrorism priorities at home.

The Pakistan Problem: Why America Can't Easily Cut Ties with Islamabad

Javid Ahmad
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Last week brought a new low for the U.S.-Pakistan relationship that began with a stormy tweet message from the U.S. president, citing Pakistan’s deceitfulness in fighting terrorism. Following the tweet, the United States unveiled a string of measures that made a clear distinction about how the Trump administration no longer views Pakistan as an imperfect friend, but as a clever enemy. The new measures included a suspension of U.S. security assistance to Pakistan, comprising $255 million in Foreign Military Financing and as much as $900 million in the Coalition Support Fund (CSF). On top of that, the State Department placed Pakistan on a severe watch list for religious freedom violations, all while Sen. Rand Paul vowed to introduce a bill in the U.S. Senate to cut all aid to Pakistan. In response, Pakistan’s foreign minister furiously declared that there was no alliance between the two countries and that the United States has been a “friend who always betrays.”

Taliban Fighters Using High-Tech Gear Kill Afghan Forces

By NAJIM RAHIM 

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan — Taliban insurgents using sophisticated night vision and laser targeting equipment overran Afghan Army positions near the northern city of Kunduz on Tuesday, killing at least eight people and wounding five more, Afghan officials said. The officials blamed what they said was a Taliban Red Unit, an insurgent formation that has increasingly featured in attacks on government positions, especially at night. “The unit is equipped with American weapons and night vision,” said Imamuddin Rahmani, a spokesman for the police in Kunduz. “The Red Unit carried out several attacks on check posts in Kunduz, captured the check posts and killed several soldiers. The Red Unit is a headache for security forces in Kunduz.”

21 January 2018

What Pakistan's Decision to Pull Out of a Mega Dam Project Tells Us About the Future of CPEC

By Umair Jamal

About a month ago, Pakistan withdrew its request to include the $14-billion Diamer-Bhasha Dam in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project citing strict monetary conditions on Beijing’s part as being against the country’s national interests. The fact that an energy-starved country like Pakistan has pulled out of a dam project that it has not been able to complete on its own for years is significant. While the exclusion of a single major project doesn’t mean that the whole infrastructure scheme between the two countries is in danger, observers warn that Beijing’s strict monetary conditions have landed the future of Pakistan’s whole economy in a tight spot. The whole process of Chinese-funded projects has not been transparent. There are alarming reports about the levels of debt these secret dealings will impose on Pakistan.

What Pakistan's Decision to Pull Out of a Mega Dam Project Tells Us About the Future of CPEC

By Umair Jamal

About a month ago, Pakistan withdrew its request to include the $14-billion Diamer-Bhasha Dam in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project citing strict monetary conditions on Beijing’s part as being against the country’s national interests. The fact that an energy-starved country like Pakistan has pulled out of a dam project that it has not been able to complete on its own for years is significant. While the exclusion of a single major project doesn’t mean that the whole infrastructure scheme between the two countries is in danger, observers warn that Beijing’s strict monetary conditions have landed the future of Pakistan’s whole economy in a tight spot. The whole process of Chinese-funded projects has not been transparent. There are alarming reports about the levels of debt these secret dealings will impose on Pakistan.

China prepares to deploy nuclear submarines at Pakistan's Gwadar Port: True face of CPEC?


China has already begun work on infrastructure required to station nuclear submarines at the Gwadar Port in southwestern Pakistan. This vindicates India's long-standing discomfort over the possibility that the true purpose of China's involvement in Gwadar is strategic more than trade. Gwadar Port, which China has financed and built, would give Beijing the direct strategic access and to the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) that it has always craved, and give it blue water naval capability. The stationing of a submarine fleet there would also allow China to keep close tabs on the operations and influence of the Indian Navy.

20 January 2018

Is China really building a military base in the northern province of Afghanistan?

By Kemel Toktomushev

Beijing has long refrained from engaging militarily beyond its borders. However, as some recent reports suggest, this situation may soon change. Ferghana News reported that China will build a military base in the northern province of Afghanistan, and, according to the news agency, the Ministry of Defense of Afghanistan is already expecting a Chinese expert delegation to discuss the location and further technicalities for the base. If these reports are true, China will fully fund the new military base in Badakhshan, covering all material and technical expenses, including both lethal and nonlethal weaponry and equipment.

19 January 2018

US renews call for steps against ‘externally focused terrorists’


ISLAMABAD: The first diplomatic engagement between Pakistan and the United States after the mini-crisis created by President Donald Trump’s tweet ended with Washington renewing its demand for Islamabad to clear its territory of “externally focused terrorists”. “Ambassador [Alice] Wells urged the government of Pakistan to address the continuing presence of the Haqqani network and other terrorist groups within its territory,” said a US embassy statement at the conclusion of a two-day visit by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells. Her visit followed the US military’s outreach to Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa to contain the damage caused by the Trump tweet which accused Pakistan of “lies and deceit”. During her meetings in Islamabad, she conveyed to her Pakistani interlocutors that the US wanted to shift to a “new relationship with Pakistan” based on “mutual interest”.

The Islamic Republic of Hysteria

BY STEPHEN M. WALT
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To the extent the Trump administration has a discernible Middle East strategy, it is to contain and confront Iran. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, and President Donald Trump himself have all denounced Iran’s regional activities. (In February, after Iranian ballistic missile tests, Trump tweeted that the country was “playing with fire.”) In October, the White House announced that moving forward, the official U.S. policy is aimed at “neutralizing Iran’s destabilizing influence and constraining its aggression.”

Top U.S. General says ‘not giving up’ on Pakistan ties

The top U.S. military officer, Marine General Joseph Dunford, said on Monday he was committed to the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, which has been strained in recent weeks as Washington piles pressure on Islamabad to crack down on militants. “Do we agree on everything right now? No we don‘t. But are we committed to a more effective relationship with Pakistan? We are. And I‘m not giving up on that,” Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a small group of reporters during a trip to Brussels. The United States has long blamed militant safe-havens in Pakistan for prolonging the war in neighboring Afghanistan, giving insurgents, including from the Haqqani network, a place to plot attacks and rebuild their forces.

18 January 2018

The United States and Pakistan: Best Frenemies Forever?

Laurel Miller

The United States is once again ratcheting up the pressure on Pakistan to fall in line with U.S. policy in Afghanistan by ending the Afghan Taliban’s enjoyment of safe haven. Unsurprisingly, Pakistan is once again pushing back. Amid the mistrust, mutual recrimination, and stale narratives that have increasingly characterized the U.S.-Pakistan relationship in recent years, there is one Pakistani talking point I have heard routinely from officials that should be taken at face value: Pakistan does not intend to fight the Afghan war on Pakistani soil. Although the reality of the situation is dissatisfying, the United States needs a strategy in Afghanistan and policy toward Pakistan based on the best Pakistani behavior it can have, not the Pakistani behavior it wants to have.

Will It Even Matter If U.S.-Pakistan Ties Collapse Altogether?

Steven Metz

Soon after 9/11, President George W. Bush recognized that the United States needed Pakistan’s cooperation to eradicate the training camps in Afghanistan where al-Qaida planned the attacks. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf declared that his nation was a full partner in the new “war on terror.” A few years later, Bush designated Pakistan a major non-NATO ally. Since 2002, Pakistan has received more than $33 billion in economic and security assistance from the United States, while the American military greatly expanded cooperation with its Pakistani counterpart.

Was Vietnam winnable? A new book suggests yes and offers advice for the war in Afghanistan.

By Jennifer Rubin 

Max Boot, a highly regarded military historian and foreign-policy analyst who is also a fierce critic of President Trump, is out with a new book: “The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam.” Lansdale(whose name is mentioned as Daniel Ellsberg’s boss in the opening scene of “The Post”) was a Vietnam analyst who correctly saw that our strategy was going in the wrong direction. As Boot said in a recent interview at the Council on Foreign Relations, “Lansdale tried to make [Defense Secretary Robert] McNamara and the other policymakers in the Kennedy administration realize the true nature of the war and to understand that we were not going to win just through superior firepower. And unfortunately, that message would be vindicated in the years ahead. But it was not something that McNamara was willing to believe in the beginning.”

The Pakistan Conundrum

RICHARD N. HAASS

The big US error after 9/11 was to treat Pakistan as if it were an ally with which it is possible to assume a large degree of policy overlap. In fact, even a more calculated, transactional relationship will not bring the US and Pakistan closer together. NEW YORK – Harold Brown, the US defense secretary under President Jimmy Carter, was reported to have described the arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union in these terms: “When we build, they build. And when we don’t build, they build.” The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

The Lingering Dream of an Islamic State

By AZADEH MOAVENI

It was inevitable, a young lawyer in Tunisia told me, that the first attempts at a modern Islamic state would flounder. Young Muslims had grown up under the paradigms of nationalism, European racism and harsh police states, he said. They carried these inherited behaviors into the caliphate formed by the Islamic State, a place that was supposed to be just and colorblind but instead reveled in violence and was studded with mini neocolonial enclaves, where British Pakistanis lorded over local Syrians, and Saudis lorded over everyone. It would take one or two generations to unlearn these tendencies and deconstruct what had gone so wrong, he said. But he remained loyal to the idea — partly because the alternative he currently lives under is worse. “When the police become the state itself,” he said, “it is truly terrifying.”

17 January 2018

Russia is Looking to Engage the Taliban. Here’s Why.

By Samuel Ramani

In December, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Indian diplomats that Moscow supported diplomatic engagement with the Taliban. Lavrov’s justification for this bold pronouncement? He argued that no Afghan peace settlementcould proceed without the Taliban’s participation — and that dialogue with the Taliban would reduce the risk of terrorism diffusing from Afghanistan to Central Asia. That’s just part of the story, though. My research on Russia’s Afghan strategy suggests that Moscow’s diplomatic engagement with the Taliban actually aims to challenge internationally accepted rules of engagement with the Islamic extremist organization.

Why Pakistan won’t share intelligence with the US

Pakistan’s defence minister Khurram Dastgir Khan has announced that he has suspended intelligence sharing with the US - the latest twist in the US-Pakistan row. But how much does it matter? Relations between Washington and Islamabad have been in the spotlight since US President Donald Trump’s New Year’s Day tweet, where he accused Pakistan of “lies and deceit”. Since then, Washington announced it would halt all security assistance to Pakistan, and Pakistani politicians have been quick to express dismay - with the foreign minister saying that the two aren’t allies anymore, and the army chief saying he feels “betrayed”. But behind the rhetoric, both sides are actually responding more cautiously than you might expect. US officials have said that the suspension in security assistance is temporary, and that funds may still be reimbursed on case-by-case basis, depending on measurable co-operation extended by Pakistan.

Pakistan pits CENTCOM commander against Trump administration

BY BILL ROGGIO
In a conversation with Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, the Pakistani military claimed CENTCOM commander General Joseph Votel said the idea that the Taliban uses Pakistan as a safe haven is “undermining … Pakistan’s contributions in war against terrorism” in Washington. Pakistan’s characterization of the conversation would seemingly pit General Votel directly against the Trump administration, which has decided to take a hard line against Pakistan for its ongoing support of jihadists in Afghanistan. CENTCOM declined to comment to FDD’s Long War Journal on Pakistan’s view of Votel’s conversation but said it remains “in continuous communication with the Pakistan military.”

A More Radical Way for Trump to Confront Pakistan


By David Rohde

Last week, President Trump conducted an extraordinary week-long public rebuke of a country that he has previously ignored. At 7:12 a.m., on Monday, January 1st, Trump made Pakistan the focus of his first tweet of the New Year, accusing that nation’s leaders of giving the United States “nothing but lies & deceit” in return for thirty-three billion dollars in aid since 2001, and of providing “safe havens for the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan.” He added, “No more!” On Friday, at 11:19 p.m., he ended the week with a retweet of a proposal by Senator Rand Paul, calling on the United States to cut off all aid to Pakistan and to spend that money on building roads and bridges in this country. “Good idea Rand!” Trump wrote.

Cyber Security In Pakistan: Myth Or Reality


By Zaheema Iqbal*

Over the last few decades, the exceptional innovation and use of the cyber space has taken place, giving rise to a inter-connected world and brought people together from all spheres of life on one platform. The majority of modern nations have ridden themselves of manual systems of infrastructure vital to their national economy and shifted to enhance their systems to digitization. But this huge development and progress has a cost to pay. The nature of digital systems are vulnerable to cyber-attacks by malevolent groups, or individuals, with enhanced and serious repercussions for nations of all over the world.