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The Next Afghan War

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  • Double Edge
    replied
    One Amrullah Saleh, straight up

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  • 1980s
    replied
    AP reports that thousands of Pakistani militants have been deploying to FATA from mainland Pakistan of late. While im sure the Taliban will welcome the support, the dilution of the ethnic character of Taliban with Pakistanis could strongly diminish their credibility inside Afghanistan with some of their own constituents, and i suspect will provoke a doubly aggressive backlash across Afghanistan than would occur if the Taliban remains predominantly Afghan.

    'Thousands' of mainland Pakistanis deploying to FATA might not actually be a bad thing if it serves to act as a unifying factor among Afghanistan's factious groups.

    Pakistan militants preparing for Afghanistan civil war
    Published September 08, 2013
    Associated Press

    Militants in Pakistan's most populous province are said to be training for what they expect will be an ethnic-based civil war in neighboring Afghanistan after foreign forces withdraw in 16 months, according to analysts and a senior militant.

    In the past two years the number of Punjab-based militants deploying to regions bordering on Afghanistan has tripled and is now in the thousands, says analyst Mansur Mehsud. He runs the FATA Institute, an Islamabad-based think tank studying the mix of militant groups that operate in Pakistan's tribal belt running along much of the 1,600-mile Afghan-Pakistan border.

    Mehsud, himself from South Waziristan where militants also hide out, says more than 150 militant groups operate in the tribal regions, mostly in mountainous, heavily forested North Waziristan. Dotted with hideouts, it is there that Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri is thought by the U.S. to be hiding, and where Afghanistan says many of its enemies have found sanctuary.

    While militants from Punjab province have long sought refuge and training in the tribal regions, they were fewer in number and confined their hostility to Pakistan's neighbor and foe, India.

    All that is changing, say analysts.

    "Before, they were keeping a low profile. But just in the last two or three years hundreds have been coming from Punjab," said Mehsud. "Everyone knows that when NATO and the American troops leave Afghanistan there will be fighting between Pashtuns and non-Pashtuns."

    And the Punjabi militants will side with the Afghan Taliban, who are mostly Pashtun, Afghanistan's dominant ethnic group and the majority ethnic group in Pakistan's northwest region that borders Afghanistan. Like many in the Taliban, the Punjabi militants share a radical and regressive interpretation of Islam.

    "We will go to Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban as we have done in the past," said a senior member of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a militant Sunni Muslim group, who goes by a nom de guerre, Ahmed Zia Siddiqui.

    In an interview with The Associated Press in Pakistan, he said the Taliban haven't yet requested help, but when asked whether Punjab-based militants were preparing for war in Afghanistan after the foreign withdrawal, he replied: "Absolutely."

    Despite being outlawed in Pakistan, Siddiqui's group is among the most active and violent, providing a cadre of suicide bombers for attacks both in Pakistan and in Afghanistan. It has taken responsibility for dozens of attacks that have killed hundreds of minority Shiites in Pakistan.

    It has also been implicated in some of the most spectacular attacks in Pakistan, including the 2008 bombing of a five-star hotel in the capital and an assassination attempt on former dictator and U.S. ally Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

    Zahid Hussain, whose books plot the rise of militancy in Pakistan, said at least two dozen militant groups are headquartered in Punjab province, while in Waziristan their numbers are growing as mainstream religious parties such as Jamaat-e-Islami recruit young men to the militant cause.

    "Even if a settlement occurs in Afghanistan there are still a lot who will continue to fight and those who are most likely to resist a settlement are Pakistani militants," Hussain said. He said that during a recent trip he made to North Waziristan, local tribesmen spoke of the influx of Punjab-based militants into their area. Foreign journalists are not allowed in the tribal regions.

    Pakistan's new elected civilian government has promised a strategy to tackle the militants whose actions, says Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, are a scourge that has killed upward of 40,000 Pakistanis in recent years.

    In a televised speech last month, he lamented Pakistan's inability "to restrict the culprits or even identify them, to spot their hideouts and take them to task."

    "Pakistan cannot tolerate this anymore," he said.

    While Sharif suggested that "incompetence or insensitiveness" were to blame, analysts accuse the government of lacking the political will to go after the militants. They say Sharif's conservative Pakistan Muslim League rules Punjab province, where militant headquarters are easy to spot and are left undisturbed.

    In the south Punjab city of Bahawalpur, the al-Qaida linked Jaish-e-Mohammed is expanding its headquarters and building bigger religious schools for its adherents, said Ayesha Saddiqa, a defense analyst from Bahawalpur. The militant group has radicalized locals, and its leader, Azhar Masood, freed from an Indian jail in 1999 in exchange for a hijacked Indian Airlines plane, moves about freely, she said.

    Punjab "is infested with numerous jihadi outfits that support the Taliban based in the tribal areas from time to time," said Saddiqa. "The Punjabi jihadis are critical of the war in Afghanistan and Western presence in the region. This is not just an objection to foreign presence in a Muslim country but is part of a larger war they hope to fight in establishing supremacy of Islam according to their interpretation and imagination."

    Omar Hamid Khan, the Interior Ministry spokesman, says violence has escalated since the Sharif government took office in June, with 68 attacks in 60 days.

    In a recent interview he acknowledged the difficulties the new government faces in meeting its stated goals of creating a counter-terrorism authority and competent police force, and finding experts to translate its national security blueprint into action.

    Dr. Simbal Khan, a regional security expert with the Islamabad Policy Research Institute in Islamabad, said Pakistan doesn't want to see Afghanistan return to the 1990s, when civil war destroyed the country and gave rise to the repressive Taliban regime which in turn strengthened Pakistan's militants. Yet Pakistan's options are few, and according to Dr. Khan exclude an all-out assault on militant hideouts in Punjab that would turn the full force of militancy against Pakistan.

    "We know where they are. We could bomb the whole area, flatten it. That would solve Afghanistan's problem but what would that leave for us?" she asked. "We might solve the Afghan problem but our problem would be far worse. We would suffer for the next 40 years."

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  • 1980s
    replied
    Overall, an interesting piece on the present state of the TTP and the splits emerging between its original Pashtun factions and more recent tag-alongs like the so-called 'Punjab Taliban', which are much more pliable towards Pakistan and its overall politics (no brainer there given their shared ethno-cultural identity with Pakistan's establishment): BBC News - Pakistan talks offer divides Taliban factions

    "Taliban officials say there is increasing pressure on anti-Pakistan groups to embrace a peace deal with Islamabad. This, they believe, will ensure the safety of their leaders and activists while simultaneously freeing them up for operations in Afghanistan once Nato troops withdraw."

    "The Pakistani strategy still seems to be to separate the "bad" Taliban from those who can be tolerated, or even covertly supported. This policy has not worked during the last 10 years and it is not certain whether it will now."


    ^ ^ Reminds me of the chorus from:

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  • 1980s
    replied
    Afghan Officials Cite Revenge Killings in Latest Outbreak of Ethnic Hatred

    “On Tuesday, two Hazara men were killed by the Taliban,” said Matiullah Khan, the provincial police chief. “The next day, meaning Wednesday, this brutal man raided Pashtuns’ villages and killed some 9 to 11 villagers,” he said, referring to the commander alleged to have carried out the killings. Some reports put the death toll as high as 30.

    Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/04/wo..._r=1&ref=world

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  • JAD_333
    replied
    Originally posted by Mihais View Post
    JAD,you missed a big thing in human nature,IMHO.''We'' can do no wrong.''They'' do all the wrongs.Take my word,nobody loves you in Serbia because the USAF was professional.But a lot of folks love you in Albania&Kosovo.Also,quitters are losers.
    Mihais:

    I can't win the argument precisely because of the human nature of which you speak. A general image of a country and it's citizens takes into account the good and the bad it does. If you conclude that, on balance, a country is more good than bad, there will always be some people who will throw up all the bad stuff to refute your conclusion. I think such people are intellectually incapable of accepting a standard that is less than perfection, yet they should, because within themselves they know their own mistakes do not necessarily make them bad people.

    I agree with you that quitters are losers. Yet stopping is not always quitting. You know the sayings, 'don't throw good money after bad' and 'pride goes before the fall'. Prudence is no sin.

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  • Double Edge
    replied
    Originally posted by 1980s View Post
    They may be tired of fighting, but they'll have no choice but to fight as there is no indication that the Taliban will sincerely settle with the Karzai regime, and more importantly, no indication that Pakistan has abandoned its support for them. The Pakistanis in fact just continue to mock the US - Tense Talk in Conference Between U.S. and Pakistan: NYT - These people are not serious at all.
    The Anatomy and Future of Pakistan's Afghan Interests | Journal of Conflict Studies | 2008

    Pakistan's immediate strategy is to avoid transparent negotiations and to emphasize its lack of freedom of action for three reasons.

    First, it is fearful that direct negotiations with NATO or Afghanistan regarding the frontier sanctuaries could lead to consideration of self-determination for the Pakhtun and Baloch people there as a means of reducing the effects of Islamist influence.

    Second, Pakistan cannot obtain any concessions from Afghanistan as long as NATO is backing the Kabul regime.

    Third, Pakistan does not want to break the Islamist movement that is countering Pakhtun separatism. Pakistan's current Afghan strategy is therefore to play for time until NATO scales-back its commitment and Islamabad can more directly pressure Kabul.
    Above article references this useful backgrounder on the history of Af-pak relations.

    Resolving the Pakistan-Afghanistan Stalemate. pdf | USIP Special Report | Oct 2006
    Afghanistan and Pakistan have had largely antagonistic relations under all governments but the Taliban since Pakistan was created as part of the partition of India in 1947. Some elements of friction were also inherited from conflicts between Afghanistan and India when it was under British imperial rule.

    Afghanistan’s governments, including that of the Taliban, have never recognized the Durand Line between the two countries as an international border and have made claims on the Pashtun and Baluch regions of Pakistan. Today’s cross-border insurgencies, with their sanctuaries and support networks in Pakistan, are nurtured by the same sources as previous conflicts, as well as global Islamist movements.
    Future relations between the two countries will depend on how successfully the below suggestions are realised.

    - A process should work toward reforms in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, leading to their integration into Pakistani national politics and administration;

    - the recognition by Afghanistan of the international border;

    - assured access by Afghanistan to Pakistani ports and transit facilities;

    - the maintenance by both countries of open borders for trade, investment, and cultural relations;

    - agreement by both countries and by India to keep the India-Pakistan dispute out of Afghanistan’s bilateral relations with both; and

    - agreements on both sides to cease supporting or harboring violent opposition movements against the other

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  • Mihais
    replied
    JAD,you missed a big thing in human nature,IMHO.''We'' can do no wrong.''They'' do all the wrongs.Take my word,nobody loves you in Serbia because the USAF was professional.But a lot of folks love you in Albania&Kosovo.Also,quitters are losers.

    Leave a comment:


  • JAD_333
    replied
    Originally posted by astralis View Post
    JAD,



    not sure what "winning" means here. from 2002-2005 the war was by any real standard effectively WON. i don't think the issue was will and determination.
    That's the problem these days. No one seems to know what winning is anymore. It seems to me that winning depends on your objectives going in. You win if you achieve your objectives; you lose if you don't.

    If that is the case, we can't say the war in Afghanistan was won by 2002-05. As subsequent events showed we hadn't achieved our major objective, namely to secure the country against the return of AQ and the Taliban. We night have won had we not turned our attention to Iraq, but that is conjecture.



    frankly given our only examples of this, a more accurate assessment is because we shattered enemy will completely followed by a massive occupation in which there is a considerable amount of transference.

    a lot harder to do to one sub-group (the taliban), or their pakistani backers, precisely because we're not willing to do what we were quite eager to do during WWII- burn hundreds of thousands to cinders, cut off supplies so people starve, etc. hell, in WWII we killed tens of thousands of french civilians as collateral damage.

    different times.
    I took it for granted that we all know both sides do ugly things in wartime. I was speaking of the overall impression people have of the combatants during and after the war and was suggesting that on balance the US fares reasonably well. Compare the overall conduct of the US to NAZI Germany, Japan and the USSR during WWII, and since then to the North Koreans, the NVA and the Taliban, and maybe you'll understand what I meant.

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  • astralis
    replied
    JAD,

    I don't believe that anyone in this fight, much less the Taliban, have any doubts that the US could have won hands down if it had the will and determination to see it through.
    not sure what "winning" means here. from 2002-2005 the war was by any real standard effectively WON. i don't think the issue was will and determination.

    Second, there something in the way the US conducts itself during wars that seems to turn former enemies into friends. Maybe it's the professionalism and bravery of our forces, the tendency US troops to exhibit friendliness and generosity toward the non-combatant indigenous population, a willingness to punish our own people for atrocities, the ban against systematic torture, the freedom US domestic groups have to protest the war, the intense care the US shows for retrieving its MIAs, and on and on, and finally, a policy that aims to leave behind a democratic government to run the country.
    frankly given our only examples of this, a more accurate assessment is because we shattered enemy will completely followed by a massive occupation in which there is a considerable amount of transference.

    a lot harder to do to one sub-group (the taliban), or their pakistani backers, precisely because we're not willing to do what we were quite eager to do during WWII- burn hundreds of thousands to cinders, cut off supplies so people starve, etc. hell, in WWII we killed tens of thousands of french civilians as collateral damage.

    different times.

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  • JAD_333
    replied
    In the end the US is not perceived by its enemies as the loser so much as the quitter. I don't believe that anyone in this fight, much less the Taliban, have any doubts that the US could have won hands down if it had the will and determination to see it through.

    In every prolonged war the US has been in since WWII, Korea, Vietnam and now Afghanistan/Iraq, the other side's best weapon has been patience. This drives people who believe in clear cut victory crazy. But could there be a method to this madness?

    First, no question it demonstrates that the US will use force to protect its vital interests. No leadership of a country wants to face the might of a superpower sure to use military power as a last resort. Therefore, settling disputes with it through diplomacy becomes the only sensible choice.

    Second, there something in the way the US conducts itself during wars that seems to turn former enemies into friends. Maybe it's the professionalism and bravery of our forces, the tendency US troops to exhibit friendliness and generosity toward the non-combatant indigenous population, a willingness to punish our own people for atrocities, the ban against systematic torture, the freedom US domestic groups have to protest the war, the intense care the US shows for retrieving its MIAs, and on and on, and finally, a policy that aims to leave behind a democratic government to run the country.
    Last edited by JAD_333; 28 Jul 12,, 21:27.

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  • Double Edge
    replied
    Originally posted by astralis
    this meme has been getting a lot of traction lately. here's an excellent piece by dexter filkins.
    It starts off with the usual FUD but has its bright spots.

    One illuminating example comes from 1989, as the Soviet Union began withdrawing its soldiers. The mujahideen, suddenly deprived of an enemy, began to quit in droves, making the Afghan Army’s job easier. The Afghan Army did indeed come apart—but only after three years, and only after the Soviet Union itself collapsed. Even today, people marvel at the resiliency of the now defunct Afghan Army.

    One of those is Lester Grau, the author of “The Bear Went Over the Mountain,” a history of the Soviet war in Afghanistan and a civilian employee of the U.S. Army. “If the money hadn’t stopped flowing, I firmly believe that the Afghan Army would still be intact today,” Grau said. “The Afghan state would probably have held together, and there probably wouldn’t have been a civil war.”

    In a recent article published on a U.S. Army Web site, Grau and a co-author argue that the challenges faced by the United States in Afghanistan appear to be far smaller than those faced by the Soviet Union in 1989. Now as then, there is a good bet that Taliban insurgents will start quitting once the United States begins to depart. The international community—having seen Afghanistan implode once before—also appears to be far more committed to the state’s survival, Grau noted. And, as grave as America’s economic problems are, Grau pointed out that there is no apparent danger that the United States is going to collapse, as the Soviet Union did.
    :Dancing-Banana:

    Originally posted by JAD_333 View Post
    Of course, if the US pulls the aid plug or skimps on aid, all bets are off.
    This is the only situation where i see things falling apart. $16 billion has been pledged through to 2017, pledges are just that, promises not commitments.

    Isn't it cheaper for interested parties to just fund the right groups. I'm guessing that should work out to much less than $16billion.

    When i see articles like this it makes me wonder as to their intent.
    - they want the donors to stick to their pledges because the expectation is the donors will cut & run. If a civil war occurs then the donors have an out.

    Which begs the question, what has the US achieved to date in Afghanistan ? How about the other allies that make up ISAF.

    After eleven years, nearly two thousand Americans killed, sixteen thousand Americans wounded, nearly four hundred billion dollars spent, and more than twelve thousand Afghan civilians dead since 2007, the war in Afghanistan has come to this: the United States is leaving, mission not accomplished
    The US & the rest could have left much earlier and just supported the right groups and saved a bundle.

    Therefore a civil war breaking out in Afghanistan isn't in US interest and i expect moves from the US to delay that outcome.

    Bear in mind there is yet a SOFA to be worked out this year. If that does not happen as happened in Iraq then the picture changes.

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  • 1980s
    replied
    Originally posted by JAD_333 View Post
    Good article. Drills down to where the reality lies. My hunch is that there won't be a widespread civil war like in 1993. I have nothing to go on except what I hear from time to time that the Afghans are tired of fighting. Of course, if the US pulls the aid plug or skimps on aid, all bets are off.
    They may be tired of fighting, but they'll have no choice but to fight as there is no indication that the Taliban will sincerely settle with the Karzai regime, and more importantly, no indication that Pakistan has abandoned its support for them. The Pakistanis in fact just continue to mock the US - Tense Talk in Conference Between U.S. and Pakistan: NYT - These people are not serious at all.

    Great article btw. Very informative.

    Leave a comment:


  • JAD_333
    replied
    Good article. Drills down to where the reality lies. My hunch is that there won't be a widespread civil war like in 1993. I have nothing to go on except what I hear from time to time that the Afghans are tired of fighting. Of course, if the US pulls the aid plug or skimps on aid, all bets are off.

    Leave a comment:


  • S2
    replied
    Excellent article, Astralis. Thank you. Nothing offered by Filkins has changed my view but it was, again, another example of his excellent journalism. Many worthy souls committed to a better Afghanistan are condemned to suffer horribly by what lies shortly ahead.

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  • astralis
    replied
    this meme has been getting a lot of traction lately. here's an excellent piece by dexter filkins.

    Will Civil War Hit Afghanistan When The U.S. Leaves? : The New Yorker

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