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Haqqani Network Poses Risk to US-Pakistan Relations

Posted by David Merrell On August - 9 - 2012 Comments Off on Haqqani Network Poses Risk to US-Pakistan Relations




ISLAMABAD: Grinning for the camera, the suicide bomber fondly patted his truckload of explosives. ‘We will defeat these crusader pigs as they have invaded our land,’ he declared as he revved the engine. 

The camera followed the truck to an American base in southern Afghanistan, where it exploded with a tangerine dust-framed fireball that punched a hole in the perimeter wall. Other suicide bombers leapt from a second vehicle and swarmed through the breach. The crackle and boom of violence filled the air.

The video, documenting a June 1 assault on Camp Salerno near the border with Pakistan, was released in the past week as a publicity blitz by the group behind the attack, the Haqqani network, a Taliban affiliate whose leaders are believed to take shelter in Pakistan, according to a report in The New York Times.

Even as the US begins a large-scale troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Salerno attack, acknowledged at the time only in terse official statements, and others like it have cemented the Haqqani network’s standing as the most ominous threat to the fragile US-Pakistani relationship, officials from both countries say.


The two countries are just getting back on track, after months of gruelling negotiations that finally reopened NATO supply routes through Pakistan. Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt Gen Zahirul Islam, is scheduled to arrive in Washington this week for talks with the Central Intelligence Agency, in an early sign of a new reconciliation.

Days after the Salerno attack, the White House held a series of interagency meetings to weigh its options in the event of a major success by the Haqqanis against US troops.

The meetings yielded a list of about 30 possible responses, according to a senior official who was briefed on the deliberations — everything from withdrawing the Islamabad ambassador, to a flurry of intensified drone attacks on Haqqani targets in Pakistan’s tribal belt, to American or Afghan commando raids on Haqqani hideouts in the same area.

‘We looked at the A to Z of how to get the Pakistanis’ attention,’ the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The Haqqanis’ formidable reputation comes from a series of ‘swarm’ attacks that have struck at American efforts to ensure a smooth and public transition of power to Afghan President Hamid Karzai by the end of 2014. Since 2008, Haqqani’s suicide attackers have struck the Indian Embassy, five-star hotels and restaurants and, last September, the headquarters of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the US Embassy.

The headlines created by such violence are disproportionate to their military significance, Haqqani operations account for one-tenth of the attacks on ISAF troops, and perhaps 15 percent of casualties, senior US officials estimate. Other countries do not even consider the Haqqanis to be the most dangerous group sheltering in Pakistan, a mantle usually awarded to the more ideologically driven Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, which was allegedly behind the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India.


‘We think the Haqqani network has an ongoing relationship with the ISI,’ a senior Obama administration official said. ‘But I am not convinced there is a command-and-control relationship between the ISI and those attacks.’

American efforts to kill Haqqani leaders with CIA drone strikes in Waziristan and Afghanistan have met with little success, two senior officials said, partly because Sirajuddin Haqqani surrounds himself with civilians – often women and children – at his base in the town of Miran Shah. The United States has long pressured Pakistan to attack the Haqqanis in North Waziristan, but the Pakistan Army says its forces are overstretched.

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Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/journalism-articles/haqqani-network-poses-risk-to-us-pakistan-relations-6103810.html

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US Makes Payments to Victims of Soldier Rampage

Posted by David Merrell On March - 25 - 2012 Comments Off on US Makes Payments to Victims of Soldier Rampage

    The US has made massive payments to the victims of a recent shooting massacre in two Afghan villages. The government doled out $50,000 for each Afghan killed in the massacre. They also paid $11,000 for every wounded person. The US typically gives money to the families of innocent victims, but those figures were higher than normal. Normally the families of victims receive $2,000 per death and $1,000 per injured person. The US is trying to cool rising tensions with Afghans over a string of recent incidents.

    Tensions flared up dramatically in the past few weeks after it was revealed that the US had disposed of some copies of the Quran by burning them. This led to major backlash against the Americans. Several soldiers were killed in the ensuing violence. Just as it appeared the tension was simmering down, a new and more damning incident occurred.

    On the night of March 11, Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales has been accused of sneaking off his military base and killing 16 innocent Afghan civilians in cold blood. The attack came in the middle of the night while the victims were sleeping. Many of the deceased were children. Though the US alleges that Bales acted alone, many Afghans believe it was a coordinated attack by the US. Bales is currently being held at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and faces 17 counts of murder charges.

    Oddly the massacre has drawn smaller outrage than the Quran burning. This is an example of the problem we are dealing with in the region overall. Our lack of knowledge of the customs and beliefs of the people of the middle east have caused us many problems. The Iraq War became a major problem because the three major sects in the country were not properly understood and dealt with. The various tribes and ethnic groups of Afghanistan were poorly understood when that war began. Even after all these years of war we still do not fully understand the people of this region.

    I believe these problems may be beyond our ability to fix. We will not be able to transform these middle eastern countries into Western societies over night. Unless we plan on occupying them for decades we must pull back and let the inevitability of progress do that for us. The conflict in Libya gives us a blueprint on how to handle dangerous regimes in the future. Support the overthrow of enemy governments with rebels within the country supported by air power.

    Unlike we have in the past, we should narrow down our support of rebels to those that favor democracy. During the Cold War we would support anyone who was against the Soviets. Democracy is our greatest weapon to change the middle east. A freely elected form of government will change as the people in a given country change. That way, as middle eastern society inevitably becomes more tolerant and open, their governments will do so as well. That must be the way forward, as we can not afford to force change upon other countries any longer.

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Afghan Attack Suspect Identified

Posted by David Merrell On March - 17 - 2012 Comments Off on Afghan Attack Suspect Identified

    The identity of the soldier who killed 16 Afghan civilians has been released. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was an 11 year veteran. The 38 year old was on his fourth tour of duty in a war zone. Though originally from Ohio, he was stationed in Washington state. He was deployed to Afghanistan in December, working with special forces who were tasked with village stability alongside locals.

    Bales was told he would not have to go to Afghanistan, but plans were changed and he ended up being deployed. He was not happy with the decision, and did not want to depart. He suffered injuries during previous tours in Iraq. It is being speculated that perhaps a concussive head injury he sustained in Iraq may have affected him mentally. It has also been reported that the day before the shooting a friend of his had his leg blown off in an attack. All of these factors may have led to Bales snapping.

    Investigators have discovered that Bales was drinking the night the murders took place. Drinking coupled with possible post traumatic stress disorder is a recipe for disaster. Bales then armed himself with weapons and night vision goggles and set out into the night to commit the grizzly murders in two different villages.

    Everyone who knew the Staff Sgt. has expressed shock at what happened. Be it family or neighbors, they all claim there was no sign that he was about to go berserk. The attack seemingly came from nowhere. Bales arrived Friday night at the Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas. It is the nation’s only maximum security military prison. He has not been charged yet, but charges are surely coming.

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US Prepares for Backlash After Soldier Kills Civilians

Posted by David Merrell On March - 12 - 2012 Comments Off on US Prepares for Backlash After Soldier Kills Civilians

    On Sunday a US soldier reportedly killed 16 Afghan civilians. The deaths were not part of an American military mission. The soldier apparently went out on his own at 3:00 AM and went door to door killing those he came across. Eleven of the victims were from the same family. The soldier hit three houses before returning to his base and turning himself.

    The US has offered in condolences for the attacks, and promised to prosecute those responsible, but the incident is sure to set off a new wave of protests in the war torn country. Tempers had just begun to simmer down following the Koran burning incident a few weeks ago. Protests over that situation led to the deaths of several US soldiers. The military is already preparing to face an even more intense backlash this time.

    Though the details of this incident are still unknown, something like this was bound to happen. Someone was eventually going to snap under all the pressure placed upon them. The US military is trapped in Afghanistan with no clear mission objectives. They are essentially sitting ducks. Soldiers patrol the streets seeking to keep the peace while enemies stalk about trying to kill them. No country has been able to tame the wild land of Afghanistan, and it appears the US will not become the first.

    Our mission in Afghanistan is complicated by the fact that the government we helped set up, led by Hamid Karzai, is horribly corrupt. As long as Karzai is in power progress will not be made. After more than ten years the Afghans are not ready to stand on their own two feet. If we were to leave Afghanistan tomorrow, the Taliban would be back in power by the end of the week.

    At this point it seems keeping a large force in Afghanistan is a bad idea. We can keep the Karzai government propped up with a tactical unit of special forces. Against an enemy using guerrilla tactics it does not make sense to give them a large army and big bases to target. Afghanistan will not become a Westernized country in our lifetime, so we might as well stop pouring so much money into the place.

    The draw down from Afghanistan should be accelerated. Going forward we must be more tactical in our actions in the Middle East. The operation in Libya is a model of the type of efficiency that is needed to take care of business given our current debt woes. We were able to take down Muammar Qaddafi for around $2 billion in just a few months. By contrast we spent that much in one week during the peak of the Iraq War.

    The other successful strategy employed in the Libyan conflict was that we never occupied the country. Occupation in the middle east is like kicking over an ant hill. You may succeed in what you set out to do initially, but you are setting yourself up for trouble later. We have witnessed that first hand in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Going forward we must limit our objectives to targeting our enemies and leave the rebuilding and governing to those who inhabit a given country.

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Florida Soldier Killed in Afghanistan

Posted by David Merrell On February - 27 - 2012 Comments Off on Florida Soldier Killed in Afghanistan

    The on going backlash against US personal accidentally burning copies of the Quran have led to the death of a Niceville, Florida soldier. Sgt. Joshua Born was killed last Thursday in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. He was stationed out of Fort Stewart in Georgia. Cpl. T.J. Conrad of Roanoke, Virginia was also killed in the protests. Their bodies were returned to Dover Air Force Base on Saturday. Born was just 25 years of age, and Conrad was about to turn 23.

    Protests have gripped the nation of Afghanistan following accidental burnings of the holy book of Islam, the Quran. President Obama issued a formal apology to President Hamid Karzai, but the protests have continued. Two military advisers were killed earlier in the week inside an Afghan ministry building. That attack led to the withdrawal of all NATO forces from Afghan ministry buildings.

    These attacks come at a sensitive time in US-Afghan relations. Peace talks have begun with the Taliban, but peace seems very far away at the moment. The insurgency is still strong, and the coming of spring and the fighting season is sure to intensify that sentiment. The United States has spent a lot of blood and treasure building the nation of Afghanistan and it is perplexing to see the people of that country react so violently to a simple mistake. It is safe to say people would not be rioting in the streets of Washington if someone at the Afghan embassy burned a few bibles by mistake.


Two US Soldiers Killed Within Afghan Interior Ministry

Posted by David Merrell On February - 26 - 2012 Comments Off on Two US Soldiers Killed Within Afghan Interior Ministry

    Two US military advisers, a lieutenant colonel and a major, were killed Saturday inside an Afghan Interior Ministry building. The advisers were found dead inside an office that could only be reached by opening a lock with a numeric combination. The Taliban is claiming credit for the attack. The killings were performed in retaliation for the accidental burning of copies of the Quran earlier this week.

    Protests have gripped the country since news of the Quran burning became public. All NATO staff have been recalled from Afghan Ministries in response to the attacks. All foreigners working at the US Embassy have been told to not leave the premises. Tension has been high since the protests began on Tuesday.

    Afghan officials have been quick to apologize for the killings of the US advisers. Apologies have been quite common this week as President Obama had to apologize earlier in the week for burning of the Quran. Republicans were quick to criticize the president for the move, but it was done to protect the troops at the request of the generals in Afghanistan. Unfortunately the president’s words fell on deaf ears.

    This incident once again highlights the culture class occurring between the Middle East and the West. While the burning of the Quran was an offensive act, albeit accidental according to US officials, it does not warrant rioting in the streets and murder. When foreigners across the world burn American flags in protest you do not see Americans going crazy and killing people.

    Our problem in Afghanistan closely resembles the problems we faced in the early 1970s in Vietnam. We are once again fighting in a civil war and find ourselves backing a corrupt government. We are fighting a guerrilla war that is likely to never end. Just like Vietnam, the Afghan war has dragged on far longer than we anticipated.

    The outcome to the Afghanistan conflict is likely to mirror the end of the Vietnam war. We lack the funds to continue the war forever, but as soon as we leave the Taliban would likely topple the Kabul government. Peace talks have begun with the Taliban, but prospects for a settlement seem slim. There is no silver bullet to the Afghan problem. We are ultimately going to have to choose between two untenable outcomes: occupy indefinitely or leave the country to the Taliban.


Airman From Eglin Air Force Base Killed in Afghanistan

Posted by David Merrell On June - 29 - 2011 Comments Off on Airman From Eglin Air Force Base Killed in Afghanistan

    News 5 is reporting that an airman who was stationed Florida’s Eglin Air Force Base has been killed in Afghanistan. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Daniel Douville was killed Sunday in the Nad ‘Ali district by an IED. Douville was a part of the 96th Civil Engineer Squadron. Sgt. Douville leaves behind a wife and three children.


Terror Attack in Afghanistan Capital Kills 7

Posted by David Merrell On June - 29 - 2011 Comments Off on Terror Attack in Afghanistan Capital Kills 7

    Afghan insurgents attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan on Tuesday night. At least 7 people are reported dead at this time. Afghanistan security forces battled the insurgents for hours before NATO reinforcements arrived to finish off the terrorists. The hotel was heavily fortified, but the intruders still managed to breach its defenses. The attackers were all wearing suicide vests.

    The attack comes just a few days after President Obama announced troop reductions in the War in Afghanistan. There is clearly a lot of work still to be done in Afghanistan. The question many Americans are beginning to ask is whether or not that is our responsibility. We have been rebuilding the country for nearly 10 years now. Our primary target in the war, Osama Bin Laden, has been killed. As we struggle with our own problems at home it may be time for Afghanistan to begin to take care of itself.


Soldier From Alabama Killed in Afghanistan

Posted by David Merrell On June - 6 - 2011 Comments Off on Soldier From Alabama Killed in Afghanistan

    The Florence Times Daily has reported that a soldier from Alabama was killed in Afghanistan on Saturday. Cpl. Christopher Roger Bell was killed when a roadside bomb went off while he was on morning patrol. Three other soldiers were also killed in the attack. Bell, who was only 21 years old, had been in Afghanistan since March. He was a part of the U.S. Army’s 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.


US Drones Take Out Another Top Al Qaida Agent

Posted by David Merrell On June - 4 - 2011 Comments Off on US Drones Take Out Another Top Al Qaida Agent

    The United States is believed to have killed another top Al Qaida target: Ilyas Kashmiri. He was Al Qaida’s military operations chief in Pakistan. The killing of Kashmiri could help ease tensions between the partners in the War on Terror. The Al Qaida terrorist was wanted in Pakistan for killing citizens in that country.

    The US had a $5 million bounty on any information leading to Kashmiri. He is one of the five most wanted militants in Pakistan. Kashmiri has been linked to terror attacks across Pakistan, as well as the Mumbai hotel siege in 2008. He has fought with jihadists in Afghanistan and Kashmir.

    He was believed killed in an air strike on Friday near Wana town in South Waziristan. As of now neither the US, Pakistan, nor Afghanistan will officially confirm his death. The terror group he operates with put out a note claiming he was killed in the 11:15 PM air strike. The “313 Brigade” has sworn revenge against America.


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