Tag: Afghan Civil War

The E-mail Was Probably a LOLcat

Once again, we see that good will always triumph because evil is dumb:

In a Dilbert-esque faux pax, a Taliban spokesperson sent out a routine email last week with one notable difference.He publicly CC’d the names of everyone on his mailing list.

The list, made up of more than 400 recipients, consists mostly of journalists, but also includes an address appearing to belong to a provincial governor, an Afghan legislator, several academics and activists, an Afghan consultative committee, and a representative of Gulbuddein Hekmatar, an Afghan warlord whose outlawed group Hezb-i-Islami is believed to be behind several attacks against coalition troops.

In recent weeks, the Taliban have increased the number of emails they send out, growing from just a handful every week, to several per day. Most of the emails are sent from Ahmedi’s account. The increase coincides with the end of the annual Taliban fighting season, prompting one local journalist to joke, “I guess when fighting season ends, emailing season begins.”

I don’t know how much help this will be in the War on Terror. My impression is that the journalists are not sympathizers but people the Taliban has chosen to send their declarations to. Still, I would not be surprised if some surveillance comes down on those on the list.

The Pakistan Problem

Obama made absolutely the right call when he did not tell the Pakistani government that we were going after bin Laden. While I think the Pakistani government tries to be sympathetic to us, I also think they are both compromised by Wahabbists within and desperate not to inflame a radical Islamist revolution in their own country.

Whether we should break off things with them is even more iffy. Having their government on our side makes it easier to chase down AQ operatives in their country and try to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of Jihadists. Pakistan is also being courted by China as a strategic ally, a potentially dangerous power shift.

But the Pakistani’s are not making it easy for us. Beside hiding bin Laden in their country, they’ve threatened to give the wreckage of the stealth helicopter to the Chinese. And yesterday, they outed our CIA station chief:

The public outing of the CIA station chief here threatened on Monday to deepen the rift between the United States and Pakistan, with U.S. officials saying they believed the disclosure had been made deliberately by Pakistan’s main spy agency.

If true, the leak would be a sign that Pakistan’s powerful security establishment, far from feeling chastened by the killing of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani garrison city last week, is seeking to demonstrate its leverage over Washington and retaliate for the unilateral U.S. operation.

Less than six months ago, the identity of the previous CIA station chief in Islamabad was also disclosed in an act that U.S. officials blamed on their counterparts in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI.

The new station chief, who runs one of the largest U.S. intelligence-gathering operations in the world, played an instrumental role in overseeing efforts to confirm bin Laden’s location before last week’s raid.

This is, to some extent, a temper tantrum by Pakistan. The Soviet Union and the US used to do this to each other in retaliation during the Cold War. But there’s a very real danger here of Pakistan sliding toward China and away from us. (On the other hand, the Chinese would probably find an alliance with Pakistan even more of a mixed blessing than we do).

The future of our relationship with Pakistan is going to be a real test of both Obama and Hillary Clinton. I don’t know if we can keep Pakistan on our side and I don’t know that we should. But without them, things get a lot more difficult. Patching up our relationship as best we can — at least in the short term — may be the least of several evils.

Long term, India is far more important to us and far less insane. We might be better off concentrating our efforts there.

Time to rethink U.S. – Pakistani relations…

As I suspected and as the news hinted, it now looks like we finally got Osama because the US went at it alone instead of telling the Pakistanis we were going after him as was the case in the past. That’s because the Pakistanis were actually playing us and helping him.

American diplomats were told that one of the key reasons why they had failed to find bin Laden was that Pakistan’s security services tipped him off whenever US troops approached. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISID) also allegedly smuggled al-Qaeda terrorists through airport security to help them avoid capture and sent a unit into Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban.

The claims, made in leaked US government files obtained by Wikileaks, will add to questions over Pakistan’s capacity to fight al-Qaeda. Last year, David Cameron caused a diplomatic furore when he told Pakistan that it could not “look both ways” on terrorism. The Pakistani government issued a strongly-worded rebuttal.

But bin Laden was eventually tracked down and killed in compound located just a few hundred yards from Pakistan’s prestigious military academy in Abbotabad. The raid by elite US troops was kept secret from the government of Pakistan. Only a tight circle within the Obama Administration knew of the operation. In December 2009, the government of Tajikistan warned the United States that efforts to catch bin Laden were being thwarted by corrupt Pakistani spies.

Explains why the guy was so effective at hiding out for so long, despite our major effort to find and bag his ass. The Pakistanis played us, and played us good, and this revelation should reshape our policies and actions towards them. At a minimum we should stop giving them any money or aid. And we should be seriously concerned that so many in the military and intelligence agencies of a nuclear armed Pakistan are in bed with al Qaeda, a sworn enemy, that has repeatedly said it wants to nuke the west. Doesn’t this qualify Pakistan as a terror enabling state: our worse night mare? This is going to be one heck of a foreign policy problem for us. At least Pakistan now should be made aware that any WMD action by al Qaeda means we obliterate their country. Might serve as a deterrent, might not. We are dealing with insane religious fanatics and evil men here in most cases.

Think about it: how can we ever feel secure with al Qaeda having ties to a government that not only has sympathies for their cause, but has nukes? And what’s China’s role in all this? Pakistan is one of their proxies – against rival India – and I am sure China has going-ons there that are definitely not in our interest. Seriously, while the death of bin Laden is a big score, the revelations that come with it should make us wearier than ever that we can win this war against the terror enablers without resorting to a brutal “hammer them all down” approach. Does the west reach a point where it simply looks at the cost vs. return and decides that since these people want to drag us all back to a dark age that it’s us or them? These revelations are not good for anyone I think, but we can not ignore them. Looks like team Obama is going to have to do some serious growing up here.