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Thread: US plan to improve Afghan intelligence operations branded a $457m failure

  1. #286
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Taliban's response to the peace offer

    Taliban pour cold water on Afghan peace overtures | Reuters | Mar 01 2018

    “Our country has been occupied, which has led to an American-style supposed Afghan government being imposed upon us,” the Taliban response said.

    “And your view that we talk to them and accept their legitimacy is the same formula adopted by America to win the war,” it said, adding that the Kabul Process was simply aimed at seeking the “surrender” of the Taliban.

    The Taliban statement said the movement was “sincerely committed” to meeting international concerns over Afghanistan being used as a base for terrorist attacks and had no wish for conflict with the United States or other powers.

    “The crux of the matter is, what is the vital concern of America, is it really terrorism?” it said.

    “Or is it extracting the mineral wealth of Afghanistan, imposing a self-styled government, preventing establishment of an Islamic system and pursuing imperial ambitions in the region from this land?"

    “In such circumstances, we do not care about America, neither do we want to talk, nor end resistance, nor will we get tired,” it said.

  2. #287
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Trying to understand this FATF business


    To put terror lens on Pakistan, US nudged Saudi, cut China deal | IE | Feb 25 2018


    Being on the FATF’s watchlist means Pakistan can be placed in either the “black list” or the “grey list” of countries with strategic deficiencies posing a risk to the international financial system.


    Pakistan found itself on the watchlist of the global terror financing watchdog on Friday evening after a dramatic volte face by two of its three principal backers. After the United States negotiated with China, and got Saudi Arabia to lean on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on Thursday, only Turkey was left standing with Pakistan as the plenary meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) ended in Paris.

    Being on the FATF’s watchlist means Pakistan can be placed in either the “black list” or the “grey list” of countries with strategic deficiencies posing a risk to the international financial system. The FATF is an intergovernmental organisation founded at the initiative of the Group of 7 to establish standards for the effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures to combat threats such as money laundering and terror financing.

    As of now, Pakistan does not feature on the FATF’s updated grey list, which was issued on Friday along with the FATF statement. The grey list is a list of “jurisdictions with strategic anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism deficiencies for which they have developed an action plan with the FATF”.

    Pakistan has not yet “developed an action plan with the FATF”, which, as per existing FATF norms, is developed only after the FATF has carried out a “Mutual Evaluation”, or in-depth study of the financial system of the country.

    Following the completion of an earlier process of Mutual Evaluation, Pakistan was put on the grey list in 2012, to follow the action plan suggested by FATF. In 2015, it was taken off the grey list, after the FATF was satisfied that it had done enough to counter terror financing. The next Mutual Evaluation starts in April, which is expected to take at least 18 months of study, followed by another 12 months of analysis. An Action Plan for overcoming “strategic deficiencies” would be suggested at the end of Mutual Evaluation.

    However, in the absence of a latest Mutual Evaluation report for Pakistan, the US, along with the UK, France and Germany, started an unprecedented process at the FATF meeting in Paris. They co-sponsored a motion to nominate Pakistan as a country having “strategic deficiencies” in “countering financing of terrorism”.

    This motion was passed on Thursday — and Pakistan is now required to submit an Action Plan to FATF in May. Once the FATF approves the Action Plan in June, it will make a formal announcement about placing Pakistan on the grey list. Should Islamabad fail to submit an Action Plan, or if the FATF does not accept it, the global watchdog will have the option of placing Pakistan on its black list, along with North Korea and Iran.

    Pakistan’s recent actions against Hafiz Saeed’s charities and strong diplomatic lobbying to avert grey listing was undone by some deft moves from the US in Paris. While the FATF works on consensus, a vote by at least three members is required to block a nomination in the 37-member grouping. During the preliminary discussions between Sunday and Tuesday, the US-led proposal was opposed by China, Turkey and the GCC. The GCC was following the lead of Saudi Arabia, which is an observer, and not a full voting member of the FATF.

    On Wednesday, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif posted an update on Twitter that Pakistan had received a three-month reprieve, stating that it was “grateful to friends who helped”. This followed the US decision to not put the nomination to vote on Wednesday, the first day of the plenary session. But Asif’s premature announcement came a cropper when US officials negotiated with China and Saudi Arabia behind the scenes, bringing the two countries around to its view on Pakistan’s terror financing.

    Official sources told The Indian Express that the Chinese turnaround came after the US offered it the vice-presidentship of FATF from July 1. The FATF Vice-President is also the FATF President-designate, which means that Beijing will head the terror financing and money laundering watchdog for one year starting July 2019. Sources said that the US also leaned on Saudi Arabia, which is hoping to become a full member of the FATF in June, to ask the GCC to drop its opposition to the proposal. The US and the three co-sponsors then moved the proposal on Thursday, which was opposed only by Turkey.

    India, which is a full member of the FATF, supported the US proposal, but did not actively lobby for it, as the organisation is keen to keep politics out of what it considers to be “a technical process”. Sources said Islamabad’s aggressive lobbying prior to the meeting and the public announcement by its foreign minister contributed to the mood against Pakistan.

  3. #288
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    A history of failed Talks with the Taliban

    An Open Letter to the Taliban | New Yorker | Feb 27 2018

    in reply to the latest open letter from the Taliban

    Letter of the Islamic Emirate to the American people! | Feb 14 2018

  4. #289
    Senior Contributor Oracle's Avatar
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    Why Ashraf Ghani’s Peace Offer to the Taliban Is Doomed to Fail

    The first two months of this year were marred by a barrage of bloody terrorist attacks in Afghanistan by the Taliban and the ISIS’s Wilayah Khorasan (Khorasan province/ISIS-K). The Taliban formally claimed a perfidious attack using an ambulance as an improvised bomb and have continued to target Afghan civilians and security forces in similar attacks while announcing, last month, their desire to talk peace – but only directly with the US.

    On the heels of this barbarity has come the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani’s peace offer to the Taliban last week. While dubbed as an unprecedented peace proposal, the speech had something borrowed, something blue, something old and something new.

    The nature of conflict in Afghanistan over the past 40 years has been such that any peace plan invariably ends up borrowing from the previous attempts. The belligerents have continued to be the Afghan state on one side and the Pakistan-backed Islamists ranging from extremists like the former Mujahideen to outright terrorists like the Taliban and its sword arm, the Haqqani Network (HQN).

    The presence of a superpower in Afghanistan, whether the erstwhile Soviet Union or the present-day US, has only served as a lightning rod for the jihadists. Other regional spoilers like Iran and Russia add considerably to the complexity. The multiethnic composition and the historically decentralised nature of the Afghan state with its endemic governance problems provide fault lines ready for exploitation. Ghani’s speech – which he described as a ‘perspective’, saying ‘vision’ might be too grand a word – attempted to address most of these issues.

    The Afghan president spoke in English, Persian and Pashto with each linguistic section of the speech directed at a particular audience. Speaking in English, Ghani outlined the historical perspective and geographical realities of his country and the region to drive home the point that Afghanistan has not always been at war.

    Poignantly striking was the Afghan president recalling his travels along with his wife in the 1970s within Afghanistan to evoke the thought of peace. It reminded me of my own Kabuli aunt who would often mention the late king Zahir Shah’s era to reminisce about a peaceful Afghanistan.

    The Persian part of Ghani’s speech was clearly directed at the non-Pashtun Afghans and focused on regional cooperation and economic, trade and development projects like the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. The third and most important part of his speech was directed at the Taliban and was delivered in Pashto.

    The peace scheme

    Ghani offered the Taliban a rather comprehensive peace scheme, without any preconditions for talks, as he put it. There were, however, built-in pre-conditions including a ceasefire, and that the Taliban accept the state, its constitution and the government as well as human rights including women’s rights. He offered passports to the Taliban, repatriation of their families, the release of Taliban prisoners, removal of their names off the UN terrorists’ blacklists and, above all, a political office for them in Kabul.

    He proposed that the Taliban organise themselves as a political party and participate in the political process and elections. Ghani also suggested that the venue for the proposed parleys could be Afghanistan or any Islamic country which is not involved in the conflict, i.e. it cannot be Pakistan. He, however, mentioned openness to direct, state-to-state contact with Pakistan as a part of the peace process. A key component of Ghani’s message to the Taliban was an emphasis on women’s rights and that all consultations and even negotiations must include women in leadership.

    Past proposals

    On the face of it, the proposal looks like a good roadmap. But it’s been tried and tested – and has failed – before. Listening to Ghani, it was hard not to think of the late Afghan president Najibullah’s “National Reconciliation” programme which had essentially the same salient features. That Ghani quoted the Quran in support of his reconciliation pitch was also reminiscent of Najibullah.

    Long before the Soviet withdrawal, Najibullah had proposed a comprehensive programme called “Aashti-e-Milli or Masaleha-e-Milli” or national peace and reconciliation programme. Najibullah had changed the constitution to allow for multi-party politics and an elected parliament instead of single-party rule by his Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). He called a Loya Jirga (grand assembly of elders and nobles) in November 1987, first to ratify his proposal and amend the constitution and then to incorporate Islam as the state’s grundnorm. He coopted Mohammad Hasan Sharq and then appointed Fazl-e-Haq Khaliqyar, former loyalists of President Daud Khan as prime ministers.

    Najibullah declared a unilateral ceasefire and offered the defence minister’s post to his Mujahideen adversary, Ahmad Shah Massoud, and left the position vacant for several months when the latter didn’t accept it. Najibullah changed the PDPA’s name to Hizb-e-Watan (Homeland or National Party) and inked the 1988 Geneva Accord with Pakistan, leading up to the Soviet troops’ withdrawal.

    More recently, the former Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, had also offered peace to the Taliban. He even expressed willingness to directly meet Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Mullah Omar, the then ‘amir’ of the Taliban. The former president conducted first a grand peace Jirga (assembly) in 2010 and then a Loya Jirga in 2011, which endorsed talks with the Taliban. He too offered an amnesty to the Taliban, the removal of their names from terrorist blacklists and promised to provide “work, education, pensions and land to Taliban fighters who lay down their weapons”.

    The Taliban rejected Karzai’s offer just as the Mujahideen had spurned Najibullah’s offer to them. In fact, the Taliban had assassinated the chief of the Afghan High Peace Council – the former president, Burhanuddin Rabbani – weeks before the 2011 Loya Jirga.

    Is the outcome of Ghani’s peace overtures going to be different? I am afraid, not. While Ghani, in his speech, flaunted the successful peace deal he has cut with the insurgent leader Hekmatyar and his return to Kabul as a template for the Taliban, there are qualitative differences between the two.

    Unlike the Taliban, Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e-Islami, its obnoxious and vicious creed notwithstanding, has been a political entity from its beginnings in Kabul University. It was inspired by and patterned after the Egyptian Ikhwan-ul-Muslimoon, with emphasis on both militancy and politics as well as making inroads into the intelligentsia, bureaucracy and military services of the state.

    In contrast, the Taliban have remained a fighting machine with a medieval revivalist mindset that has consistently detested modern politics. At the height of Taliban power, Mullah Omar, its reclusive leader, chose to live in Kandahar rather than in the capital Kabul, where his ministers ran a horror show of a government.

    In the 17 years since its ouster from power, the Taliban have shown no inclination to morph into even a basic political outfit that can challenge the Kabul government on electoral-constitutional grounds. While Ghani invoked the Good Friday Agreement in an interview as a template for reconciling with militant outfits, the Taliban are neither the Irish Republican Army nor do they have a political wing like the Sinn Féin, which believed in a nation-state. Additionally, an ageing Hekmatyar had little battlefield leverage and had lost his Pakistani and Iranian patronage, something which the Taliban continue to enjoy.

    The Taliban and their Pakistani backers have consistently used the peace talks ruse to prolong the conflict so as to wear out the US and international forces, plan and execute terror attacks, and, much more importantly, seek international political legitimacy for the insurgents.

    The Pakistani foreign minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, was quick to use Ghani’s peace offer to declare the Taliban a “political force”. Pakistan, even though under pressure from the Donald Trump administration, continues to bet on a US withdrawal. Getting the Taliban’s foot in the political legitimacy door helps Pakistan seek a much bigger political role for that outfit than it deserves or can ever muster on its own.

    It would be major surprise if the Taliban even considers the offer to open shop in Kabul. While both the Taliban and Pakistan pretend that the former is an enterprise free of the latter’s influence, the fact is that the Taliban did not last even two months without Pakistani patronage when the 2001 war started. Its reliance on Pakistan for military planning, logistics, medical care and sanctuary for the jihadists’ families remains as crucial as ever.

    The Taliban war plan is also rather clear with the spate of its recent attacks across several provinces and in Kabul. The deadly terror attacks, especially in the capital, seek to delegitimise the central government, demoralise the Afghan people and erode their confidence in the Kabul dispensation.

    The Taliban are also trying to mount attacks against peripheral cities and garrisons and seek to topple the regional governments but not necessarily hold ground afterwards. They will again attempt to move the face-off to the ethnically mixed regions, as they did in Kunduz a few years ago, in an effort to exploit the country’s ethno-linguistic fault lines. The thrust into the areas away from the Durand Line gives some level of deniability of Pakistani patronage and also compels the Afghan government forces to expose their southern and western flank, which could allow moving some elements – but not the core leadership – of the Quetta Shura over to the Helmand and Kandahar areas.

    Next step?

    It is understandable that Ghani needed to exhaust the diplomatic bag of tricks, including a genuine and comprehensive peace proposal. Now that he has done so, he, the Afghan government and the US must plan in earnest for the next step. The Taliban have not issued a formal response to the Afghan government’s offer but their bombings continue to speak on their behalf. An erroneous belief that has been peddled during this conflict is that all wars, including insurgencies, end with negotiations. This is far from the truth.

    In the not-so-distant past, Sri Lanka neutralised the Tamil insurgency by force, while more recently Pakistan itself fought and militarily subdued the Pakistani Taliban, after several failed efforts at appeasement and negotiations. The Afghan and US governments must act in unison to not just neutralise the Taliban on the battlefield inside Afghanistan but to also go after their leadership, wherever they have sanctuary. Designating the Taliban as terrorists and their backers as sponsors of terrorism is the way to go, not the other way around. The US must prepare to go after the terror-financing engines that have bankrolled the Taliban war machine and sanction the individuals and regimes involved. In an asymmetric or guerrilla war where there’s no defined front, decapitating the insurgent leadership helps slow down its momentum, stir chaos within the cadres and eventually help break its back. Targeting the Taliban leadership and denying them sanctuary ought to be the US priority otherwise, as the old dictum holds, the guerrilla wins by merely not losing, while a traditional army loses by not winning. A US withdrawal must not be hasty, arbitrary or on the Taliban’s terms. It should take place if and when the peace process leads to it. A withdrawal, like that of the Soviets in 1989, will produce more war and chaos, not peace and stability.

    The late Selig Harrison and Diego Cordovez had noted in their book, Out of Afghanistan: The Inside Story of The Soviet Withdrawal, that “Dr. Najibullah’s policy of national reconciliation went just far enough to antagonise hard-liners in the PDPA but not far enough to win over significant local tribal and ethnic leaders to support his government”.

    A beleaguered Najibullah was hamstrung by a Soviet Union wilting on the vine but Ghani does not have any such problems. The genuine peace offer by Ghani is likely to expose the Taliban as the perfidious enemy that they are; meanwhile he, along with Afghanistan’s international backers should prepare for hitting them where it hurts.

  5. #290
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Older article explaining Iran's motivations for supporting the Taliban, to keep tabs and spy on IS

    Mounting Afghan Ire Over Iran's Support For Taliban | RFERL | Jul 31 2017

    Iran’s growing alliance with the Taliban is attributed to its quest to guard the ultra-radical IS militants from threatening its southeastern borders with Afghanistan. It is not a coincidence that Taliban militants have systematically eliminated IS cells in the Afghan provinces bordering Iran.
    The Russians are encouraging the Taliban to do the same along the northern borders of Afghanistan to prevent Central Asia from being infected by IS. Russia has been pushing this militancy threat for over a decade with the stans. It's helps Russia maintain their influence in the region, CSTO etc. The stans were more vulnerable in the 90s, but are more capable of resisting any such advances these days. Getting caught with a black flag in Uzbekistan or Tajikstan is a minimum ten year jail sentence

    Iran's relations with Afghanistan are further strained by dams built in Afghanistan

    Iran’s alleged covert support for the Taliban is not the only issue plaguing relations between the neighboring countries. Earlier this month, Afghan officials reacted strongly to remarks by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani about water projects in Afghanistan.

    “We cannot remain indifferent to the issue [water dams], which is apparently damaging our environment,” Rouhani noted. “Construction of several dams in Afghanistan, such as Kajaki, Kamal Khan, Salma, and others in the north and south of Afghanistan, affect our Khorasan and Sistan-Baluchistan provinces.”
    India helped build Salma dam, Iran would like to see it blown up (!)

    Salma Dam attacked by Taliban | IE | Jun 25 2017

    The Amazing Indian Story Behind Herat’s Salma Dam | The Wire | Jun 04 2016

    Meanwhile, Iran is a ubiquitous presence in the Herat province, where it is the biggest investor in development projects – from roads to power supply. “But Iran is blamed for being behind all things there. If any Indian official ask Herat authorities who is behind any particular incidents, the finger is always pointed at across the border,” said an Indian diplomat.

    At frequent intervals, Afghan and international media report accusations from Herat security officials and politicians that Iran is trying to “sabotage” the Salma dam project.

    Indian diplomats, however, remain sceptical about such blame-game. “We have seen no signs of Iran being involved in sabotaging our work. Iran has that much influence in Herat, that if it really wanted to stop the project, we would not have been able to build a one-feet high wall”.
    Interesting difference in pov between the two sources there. One says Iran is guilty, the other not



    Another aIranian enterprise that fell flat. Supposed to sabotage the TAPI pipeline but the perps surrendered

    Afghan Militants ‘Trained In Iran’ Surrender Before TAPI Attack | RFERL | Feb 22 2018

    Why would Iran want to sabotage the pipeline ? the I in TAPI doesn't include Iran
    Last edited by Double Edge; 06 Mar 18, at 20:09.

  6. #291
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Iran massed 250,000 troops on the Afghanistan border in and threatened war in 1998 in response to the killings of its diplomats by the Taliban in Mazar-i-Sharif. I wish they'd gone and ahead and done it. Iran would have likely been the focus of this jihadism instead of us, but instead now we're there solving security problems for other countries who all work against our interests, where those very problems would have pitted them against one another.

    I can't help but to think of Afghanistan as an arena for a royal rumble that would suck in the Russians, Iranians, and Pakistanis, if only we weren't there.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 08 Mar 18, at 18:46.

  7. #292
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    See the timing

    Aug 7 1998 - US embassy bombing in Nairobi & Mombasa

    Aug 8 1998 - Iranian diplomats & journalists killed in Mazar-i-Sharif

  8. #293
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Repeat after me...

    Higher than the mountains
    Deeper than the oceans
    Stronger than steel
    Sweeter than honey
    Closer than lips and teeth

    Friends with limited benefits: China won’t save Pakistan during crises of its own making | The Print | March 6 2018

    ANDREW SMALL 6 March, 2018

    There are areas where, although China is willing to spend political capital on Pakistan’s behalf, it doesn’t like being repeatedly put in the position where it has to do so.

    From the Nuclear Suppliers Group to the UN’s 1267 committee, every now and then a relatively obscure international body provides the stage for a heated geopolitical battle. The most recent drama played out at a plenary meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and the storyline was a seemingly familiar one – after inflated expectations on Pakistan’s part, China ends up demonstrating that its support has limits.

    Pakistan’s return to the FATF’s “grey list” is costly in its own right, necessitating heightened monitoring and further measures to address terrorist financing. But the fact that the Saudis and the Chinese ended their resistance was arguably worse. Islamabad has been counting on Beijing to help navigate a period of growing US pressure, and believed that casting its lot in more fully with a rising China would be a sound long-term bet.

    Cruelest of all, though – Beijing did a deal not just with Washington but with New Delhi. China was looking to secure the FATF presidency and the United States had encouraged a Japanese candidacy to block the bid. Pakistan’s listing was the price Beijing paid for Indian and US backing, which paved the way for a clear Chinese run at the position. The Indian MEA’s congratulatory tweet to China the next day was a virtual victory lap.

    This wasn’t the first time in recent months either. At the BRICS summit in Xiamen last year, China – during tough negotiations with Indian officials – ended up accepting the wording in the joint statement that named Pakistani militant outfits as a regional security concern. That could be written off as a mistake: Beijing had believed it could get away with using “cut and paste” language from a prior intergovernmental meeting in Islamabad that Pakistan itself had signed on to. China had not thought through the ramifications of repeating the same phraseology at a higher-profile summit meeting where the Pakistanis themselves were not present. Similarly, Chinese behavior in Paris could be explained away as a product of circumstance – the Saudis had been persuaded to change stance anyway, and China and Turkey alone could not have prevented the listing. Nonetheless, it has started to look like a pattern: after considerable obduracy in recent years, Chinese political backing for Pakistan now appears less assured.

    These developments should not be over-interpreted. It remains true that China is deepening its overall economic and security support to Pakistan, as the continued advance of CPEC attests. But the question of Beijing’s limits has always been an important one. It is most often understood in military terms: whether in 1971 or 1999, China has demonstrated little willingness to swing in on Pakistan’s side during crises of its own making. Its support has focused on providing Pakistan with the capabilities that it needs, not acting as a military ally. These limits have also been in evidence in the diplomatic sphere, such as China’s clear signal in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks that it would not protect Pakistani militants at the UN, and economically, where China has been much keener to see Pakistan go to the IMF than to provide its own bailouts.

    So how are we to interpret the developments in Paris in the longer arc of the China-Pakistan relationship?

    First, there are areas where, although China is willing to spend political capital on Pakistan’s behalf, it doesn’t like being repeatedly put in the position where it has to do so. This is particularly true for issues relating to terrorism, where Beijing faces its own problems of growing complexity, relies on the cooperation of an array of other countries to address them, and cannot afford to be wholly inflexible. China is also, despite the routine statements about Pakistani sacrifices at MOFA press briefings, quietly sympathetic to its critics, even if Beijing does not think that outside pressure is the right way to bring about a change in Pakistan’s approach.

    Second, China is returning to an understanding that relations with India and Pakistan cannot entirely be de-hyphenated. The sharp deterioration in Sino-Indian relations in the last few years is partly a product of China’s handling of Pakistan-related issues, from CPEC to Masood Azhar to the NSG. In the aftermath of Doklam, China has been aware – at least at the diplomatic level – that it needs to get ties with New Delhi on a sounder footing in the coming period if competition between the two powers is going to be managed effectively. While this won’t mean throwing Pakistan under the bus, it will be impossible to reach a new Sino-Indian modus vivendi if these issues are taken off the negotiating table entirely. While there is no doubt that China attached value to securing the FATF presidency, it also valued the deal with India as a positive in its own right.

    Third, in the global financial system, Chinese power is still relatively restricted. For all China’s vast reserves and investment capacity, there is not yet an alternative Shanghai-and-renminbi-centric order to the dollar system, New York, and SWIFT. From Iran to Russia, major Chinese banks and companies have trodden very carefully when there are risks that they might be cut off from that system as a result of their dealings with designated companies and individuals. If the FATF is a prelude to further pressure from the United States and Europe in the financial sector, it is better that Pakistan takes further steps to clean things up now than risk China’s economic activities in the country being exposed to more severe problems further down the line. This is not an area in which Beijing can ultimately shield Pakistan, even if it wants to.

    The China-Pakistan relationship has entered a genuinely new phase in recent years, which is seeing the two sides increasingly closely intertwined. Beijing will provide forceful political cover in many other areas. But the warning from a Dawn editorial of 1972, assessing Pakistan’s misplaced hopes of Chinese support in 1971, applies with equal force today:

    “The People’s Republic of China has been a great friend of Pakistan. Let us honour this friendship by being rational and realistic and by not imposing unnecessary burdens and strains on the friendship. Objective reality must be measured by its own size and not by the length of its shadow.”

    Andrew Small is a senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. He has worked on foreign and economic policy issues in Beijing, Brussels, London, and Washington D.C., where he is now based. He is the author of the book The China-Pakistan Axis.
    As for his point #2, If the US has managed to dehypehate what is stopping China. Only a matter of time ?

  9. #294
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    Another Iranian enterprise that fell flat. Supposed to sabotage the TAPI pipeline but the perps surrendered

    Afghan Militants ‘Trained In Iran’ Surrender Before TAPI Attack | RFERL | Feb 22 2018

    Why would Iran want to sabotage the pipeline ? the I in TAPI doesn't include Iran
    Is TAPI really any good for India? Do Indians feel comfortable having Pakistan as a transit country, with the potential for leverage over 30% of India's gas supply in the event of a dispute?

    Sure, pipelines are an inexpensive means with which to deliver gas after they're constructed, but wouldn't India be better served by importing LNG from abroad, via tanker ships and port terminals? Afghanistan and Pakistan are not stable countries, and the TAPI pipeline is going to be targeted by a host of militant groups operating within their borders. It's not hard to see disputes arise in the vein of those seen between Russia and Ukraine, with the potential to be on an order of magnitude worse with worse implications.

    I'd like to understand the reasoning as to why India thinks this is a good idea and how it's beneficial. Does India think Pakistan will become a more rational actor with regards to bilateral relations because of the revenues from transit fees?

    The Russians are encouraging the Taliban to do the same along the northern borders of Afghanistan to prevent Central Asia from being infected by IS.
    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    Older article explaining Iran's motivations for supporting the Taliban, to keep tabs and spy on IS

    Mounting Afghan Ire Over Iran's Support For Taliban | RFERL | Jul 31 2017
    Also a very inexpensive means with which to keep us distracted and tie down a portion our strength and resources, in the Afghanistan Forever War. IS may explain a small part of Iran and Russia's motivations, but just a small part, and I'm not convinced by any narrative that Russia and Iran are pushing, that they are principally motivated over concerns regarding IS. Anyways, from what I understand may be the case, IS in Afghanistan may simply be the Haqqani Network flying a false flag.

    Russia has been pushing this militancy threat for over a decade with the stans. It's helps Russia maintain their influence in the region, CSTO etc.
    Agreeing with the gist of this. The bottom line for Russia isn't the threat of terrorism or militancy, it's maintaining control over their "near abroad". While I'd be very much interested to theorycraft how a US withdrawal from Afghanistan would set events into play, and what it would mean Russia's bottom line and those of other countries, such a withdrawal is unlikely to happen in the short-term, so for the time being my thoughts on the matter are just waxing theoretical and wholly speculative.

    That being said, I'm unpersuaded with the notion of "another 9/11" from terrorists using Afghanistan as a safe harbor, with the host of other preventative measures and capabilities developed that have been put into place since then, and in light of pre-existing institutional failings that made such an attack possible, that have otherwise been largely rectified since then.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 09 Mar 18, at 16:16.

  10. #295
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    Is TAPI really any good for India? Do Indians feel comfortable having Pakistan as a transit country, with the potential for leverage over 30% of India's gas supply in the event of a dispute?

    Sure, pipelines are an inexpensive means with which to deliver gas after they're constructed, but wouldn't India be better served by importing LNG from abroad, via tanker ships and port terminals? Afghanistan and Pakistan are not stable countries, and the TAPI pipeline is going to be targeted by a host of militant groups operating within their borders. It's not hard to see disputes arise in the vein of those seen between Russia and Ukraine, with the potential to be on an order of magnitude worse with worse implications.

    I'd like to understand the reasoning as to why India thinks this is a good idea and how it's beneficial. Does India think Pakistan will become a more rational actor with regards to bilateral relations because of the revenues from transit fees?
    TAPI is a competitor to an earlier project from Iran that fell through due to sanctions

    India should revive IPI gas pipeline: panel | Livemint | Mar 19 2018

    Everything you said has been expressed in the popular press when IPI was being mooted. But India is the biggest customer here. Any interruptions means the seller loses so has an interest in keeping supplies flowing. The Paks have an interest in maintaining their transit fees too. LNG already comes via ships. A pipeline would just be an extra option.


    Turkmenistan will own 85% of TPCL while India, Pakistan and Afghanistan will each have 5% stake.

    India' stake is just 5% here. Since Turkmenistan has the 4th largest world reserve of natural gas and no way of diversifying their customer base their pricing i expect will be competitive which means all along the path win. That TAPI is moving means there is still doubt in investing with Iran due to future potential for sanctions.

    Pakistan isn't a factor here. US sanctions on Iran are the bigger deterrent

    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    Also a very inexpensive means with which to keep us distracted and tie down a portion our strength and resources, in the Afghanistan Forever War. IS may explain a small part of Iran and Russia's motivations, but just a small part, and I'm not convinced by any narrative that Russia and Iran are pushing, that they are principally motivated over concerns regarding IS. Anyways, from what I understand may be the case, IS in Afghanistan may simply be the Haqqani Network flying a false flag.
    Narrative they are pushing is
    - US is responsible for IS (!) no proof offered but it happened before with the mujahideen
    - US wants to spend the next 100 years in the region meddling in their affairs

    IS from what i understand are former Taliban that switched loyalties. IS is dominant presently in two out of 400 districts in Afghanistan. Could that number rise, nobody knows. IS is a competitor to the Taliban

    See what Lavrorv said at the UN recently

    Northern Afghanistan turning into springboard for international terrorism — Lavrov | TASS | Jan 19 2018

    Surviving jihadists are fleeing from Syria to Central Asia, including Northern Afghanistan
    "Northern Afghanistan is turning into a main base for international terrorism with the Afghan wing of the Islamic State in the lead," he said. "It is forming a springboard for heinous designs in the spirit of the notorious ideology of a caliphate."
    "Prompt measures are required to curb this threat, which fuels international terrorism, undermines countries’ stability, the health of the younger generation, provokes crime and corruption,"
    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    Agreeing with the gist of this. The bottom line for Russia isn't the threat of terrorism or militancy, it's maintaining control over their "near abroad". While I'd be very much interested to theorycraft how a US withdrawal from Afghanistan would set events into play, and what it would mean Russia's bottom line and those of other countries, such a withdrawal is unlikely to happen in the short-term, so for the time being my thoughts on the matter are just waxing theoretical and wholly speculative.
    Look at Syria. US didn't move. When we discussed Russia intervention in 2012 it was considered unlikely. Fast forward to 2015, Russians did intervene. They picked a side and finished off IS. US lets the Russians do the dirty work and then moves in later because it wants a seat at the table. Your idea means US cedes control/influence of the region to Russia. Ultimately.

    If the US leaves early the Afghan state will be threatened. So long as funds are recieved the Afghan army will hold, when those funds dry up then defections will occur. At this point its a free for all. If more fighters are needed in Afghanistan it means fewer militants to infiltrate into India. Russians get involved and we get a replay of Syria.

    Nobody buys this board's narrative, not the French with boko Haram, or the Russians with IS or the Americans with Taliban/Haqqanis/LeT & other auxiliaries

    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    That being said, I'm unpersuaded with the notion of "another 9/11" from terrorists using Afghanistan as a safe harbor, with the host of other preventative measures and capabilities developed that have been put into place since then, and in light of pre-existing institutional failings that made such an attack possible, that have otherwise been largely rectified since then.
    Your govt will not leave until it sees the Afghans are ready to stand on their own. Just see what happened in Iraq. Iraq refuses SOFA for US forces, US left only to return a few years later to chase IS out. Why does the US care about IS if what you said is true. That IS presents no current or future threat to the US
    Last edited by Double Edge; 10 Mar 18, at 00:32.

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    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle View Post
    PA is not a professional military anymore. They are the religious zealots that the US hunts and drones in AfPak region (PA regulars and ISI are often killed with irregulars). If relationship deterioriates further to the extent that US declares Pak as a terrorist state, and the country is on the verge of collapse, the Pakmil would find a way out to engage US and India. Nukes then will be the end-game.

    So, with all the praise and honor bestowed on the Pakmil and the ISI, does my POV that an attack in NY or Mumbai (most probably) take place with the active knowledge of the thekedars of Islam make sense? Certainly. Are the generals that crazy? Nope. But the beauty of the PA is that they take a dump thinking nobody is watching, and then deny it outright. Did they ever think Osama would be found? They denied harboring Osama.

    What you say about nukes is true, but what if the Pakmil rejects the accusations after one goes off in NY or Mumbai? Will US or India retaliate with nukes against a country of 200 million?

    And to answer your last sentence - I don't believe in deterrance against rouge countries, nuclear or non-nuclear. If the stage is set for us to burn, let's burn and bury them first.
    Here is one instance of serving Pak naval officer going rogue, trying to capture a frigate to attack the Americans on the high seas

    Al Qaeda's Worrying Ability to Infiltrate the Pakistani Military | Diplomat | Sept 18 2014

    Spoiler!


    Another reason the Americans go light on the Paks is too much pressure destabilises them and then more incidents like here can occur with possibly more dangerous consequences.

    Well, all this thinking does is preserve whatever they have, allows them to gain more and become still a greater headache to their neighbours and the rest of the world at large.
    Last edited by Double Edge; 10 Mar 18, at 21:45.

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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    IS from what i understand are former Taliban that switched loyalties. IS is dominant presently in two out of 400 districts in Afghanistan. Could that number rise, nobody knows. IS is a competitor to the Taliban
    I'm not working off any firsthand information, obviously, but while the IS is a competitor to the Taliban, it's riven by internal disputes and divisions, and it seems the Haqqani Network faction of the Taliban works closely with factions of IS toward certain ends. There's this constant flux of changing loyalties and divisions that it's hard to make any sense of things.

    Look at Syria. US didn't move. When we discussed Russia intervention in 2012 it was considered unlikely. Fast forward to 2015, Russians did intervene. They picked a side and finished off IS. US lets the Russians do the dirty work and then moves in later because it wants a seat at the table. Your idea means US cedes control/influence of the region to Russia. Ultimately.
    If the US leaves early the Afghan state will be threatened. So long as funds are recieved the Afghan army will hold, when those funds dry up then defections will occur. At this point its a free for all. If more fighters are needed in Afghanistan it means fewer militants to infiltrate into India. Russians get involved and we get a replay of Syria.
    If we can't secure control over Afghanistan, and the Soviets couldn't, how would the Russians? You don't see any opportunities for differences between the states bordering Afghanistan to come back into play? What if instead of Pakistan sending those militants against India, the Russians and Pakistanis are locked into a proxy war?
    Last edited by Ironduke; 10 Mar 18, at 20:47.

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    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    If we can't secure control over Afghanistan
    Who says you cannot : )

    Americans aren't doing the fighting, Afghans are. Americans are in a support role.

    After your special forces invaded in 2001 the Taliban fell in two months. Funny how fast that happened without any sanctuaries or external help. If anyone wants to know how long it takes to collapse the Taliban without external support please refer here.

    Half of afghanistan is a desert. Urban areas are under control of Afghan forces. The Taliban are in the rural areas. They keep moving around staging attacks but not holding on to territory. They hold in areas where they aren't being chased. Yet as their attacks along with the Haqqanis are visible they have this image of being formidable. If one looks at maps with coloured districts under their control there isn't much of a change.

    Taliban don't have air defenses or an air force yet here they are still able to attack Kabul at whim.

    Listening to the video below, Operation Mansouri commenced spring 2017, named after the last leader that got droned. Goal was to win province by province, failed, then Taliban decided district by district, foiled again by the Afghan forces, in the end Taliban got desperate and decided to grab headlines with the terrorist attacks in Jan.

    and the Soviets couldn't
    Back then in addition to Pak aupport, there was Saudi money and US arms.

    how would the Russians?
    because you're not going to support another mujahideen movement against them, right ?

    You don't see any opportunities for differences between the states bordering Afghanistan to come back into play? What if instead of Pakistan sending those militants against India, the Russians and Pakistanis are locked into a proxy war?
    Iran could try to set up another Hezbollah franchise there. That would pit them against the Sunnis. IS would get a boost. The Russians would work with anyone that is against IS. Iran & Russia did this in Iraq & Syria already. Can see the Russians & Paks getting on side to fight IS if the Taliban offer their services. India would likely work with Iran & Russia. Get the Northern alliance going

    So everybody gets to defeat IS yet again. Yay! that's the problem. IS, this external actor that got introduced and the Taliban gets preserved. Which will upset the Tajiks, Hazaras & Uzbeks. Now its northern Afghanistan against southern Afghanistan.

    Which side does the US pick ? the North. You are partnering with Russia & Iran, once again : )

    What about China ? Sit back and watch or take the Paks side. That will pit them against Russia & Iran. I doubt they want to do that. Instead they will try to temper whatever Russia & Iran can do. This will help the Paks preserve the Taliban. The China Afghanistan border via the Wakhan corridor isn't easy to cross. Only way is via Tajikistan.

    Iran & Russia are planning for the day the US exits the area. That won't happen within Trump's term. After is an open question.

    The Afghans don't want this. Ghani's thrown an olive branch at the Taliban who will reject it, he then goes hammer and tongs at them. The FATF will keep the Paks off balance. If it doesn't i'm sure there is more in store. If that then forces a change in Paks calculations, the whole region will benefit.

    If not then we get into your scenario. But we're not there yet
    Last edited by Double Edge; 12 Mar 18, at 02:23.

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    Since Iraq & Syria are winding down, CENTCOM has more resources for Afghanistan. General says the goal is 80% civilian control


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