Why Pakistan supports the Haqqani network: Fear for its own security


ISLAMABAD — To American officials, the Haqqani network is a criminal syndicate with al-Qaida and Taliban ties that is frequently responsible for deadly attacks on U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Pakistan must sever its ties or risk being branded a supporter of terrorism.

To Pakistan, however, the picture is much more complex. Pakistani support for the Haqqanis is tied to Islamabad’s fears for its own future security, and Pakistan is unlikely to surrender that support no matter how much pressure the United States applies, analysts here say.

The gulf between those views promises continued tension between the two supposed allies. For many in Pakistan, Jalaluddin Haqqani is a veteran Afghan jihadist who fought valiantly to free his country from Soviet occupation; it is the U.S., they believe, that is the illegitimate force in Afghanistan.

Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress last week that Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, had helped Haqqani gunmen launch an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. He called the Haqqanis a “veritable arm” of the ISI.

But analysts here say the relationship between the Haqqani network and the ISI is more distant and complicated than portrayed by U.S. officials. Understanding that relationship, and the reason it exists, is critical if whatever relationship remains between Islamabad and Washington is to be preserved.

At the root of the Pakistani support for the Haqqanis is the country’s long rivalry with its archenemy, India. Pakistan thinks that the Afghan regime that the U.S. has backed since 2001 contains elements that are dangerously close to India. Haqqani and the Taliban are important counterweights to that, analysts here say.

Washington says that the Haqqani network is based in North Waziristan, part of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Area, which runs along the Afghan border. The Haqqanis have compounds in the district capital, Miranshah, as well as other infrastructure, according to U.S. officials.

But while the Haqqanis certainly are present in North Waziristan, Jalaluddin Haqqani’s 30-year history of fighting against foreign armies, first the Soviet Union and now the United States, means that he is respected in Pakistan’s tribal belt and across the border in Afghanistan as a “true mujahid” (holy warrior), says Saifullah Mahsud, executive director of the FATA Research Centre, an independent think tank in Islamabad.

“We cooperate with the Haqqanis because they are our long-term allies and our interests coincide in Afghanistan,” Mahsud said. “We see them as important stakeholders in any future Afghan dispensation, and it’s too late for us to find new trustworthy friends there.”

Pakistan officially insists that the Haqqani network is based entirely in Afghanistan, as does the group itself. Washington blames the Haqqanis for a series of attacks against Western targets in Afghanistan, including a 20-hour assault in Kabul this month that tried to strike the U.S. Embassy.

The Haqqani network is allied to the Taliban and says it works under its ultimate authority, though it is operationally independent. While the Taliban’s strength is in the south of Afghanistan, especially the province of Kandahar, where it was founded, the Haqqani network is entrenched in the east of the country, particularly the provinces of Khost, Paktia and Paktika. From the east, the Haqqani network is within easy striking range of Kabul, and it has the military capacity for highly ambitious attacks, which makes the group arguably an even bigger threat to the Afghan government than the Taliban.

While it may be difficult for Americans, and many ordinary Pakistanis, to understand why the country’s military believes jihadist groups lie at the center of its security strategy, analysts say Pakistan’s armed forces have a 30-year history of working with Islamic militants – supported by the CIA in the 1980s, when the militants’ target was the Soviet Union.

Afghanistan’s ethnic mix also drives the thinking of Pakistan’s generals.

Afghanistan is a multi-ethnic state, with the Pashtun population as its biggest constituency. The Taliban and Haqqani also are predominantly Pashtun, which is also one of Pakistan’s major ethnic groups. Pakistan’s military thinks that a hostile regime in Afghanistan would threaten it with a possible war on two fronts, with traditional enemy India to the east and Afghanistan to the west, so backing Pashtun forces are its best insurance policy.

Afghanistan’s other ethnic groups, such as Uzbeks and Tajiks, are associated with the former “Northern Alliance,” which Pakistan believes to be in the pay of India and to have dominated Kabul since 2001, though President Hamid Karzai is a Pashtun.

“The policy is India-centric. The fear is a two-front war,” said Asad Munir, a retired brigadier who had served as the ISI chief in the tribal area. “Pakistan wants a government that is dominated by Pashtuns, but not an extremist government.”

Pakistan’s suspicions of the U.S. have been fueled by the fact that Washington has cut Islamabad out of tentative negotiations it has held with representatives of the insurgent leadership, including talks this year in Qatar and Germany with a man considered close to Taliban founder Mullah Mohammed Omar and reportedly also to Ibrahim Haqqani, brother of Jalaluddin.

“America has started a reconciliation process in Afghanistan but they want Pakistan to fight,” said Aftab Sherpao, a former Pakistani interior minister. “They want peace over there and war here.”

Analysts say there is little the United States can do to wean Pakistan from its ties to the Haqqani network.

Pakistan receives around $3.5 billion a year in civilian and military aid from the United States. U.S. officials have said repeatedly that they do not want to repeat the 1990s experience of cutting off assistance and slapping sanctions on Pakistan, which did not work.

A U.S. offensive on Pakistani soil against the Haqqani network also is not likely to work. Such an offensive would certainly push public opinion in a dangerously radical direction. More than half the supplies for U.S. troops in Afghanistan pass through Pakistan.

Pakistan is also not likely to launch an armed assault on North Waziristan, where either army would be greeted by a formidable and motley collection of thousands of jihadists.


Adm. Mullen’s words on Pakistan come under scrutiny

Mike Mullen Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen delivers remarks during a National Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon July 8, 2009 in Washington, DC. Mullen was asked about the changing mission in Afghanistan, about recent cyber attacks on government Web sites and other defense subjects.


Adm. Mike Mullen’s assertion last week that an anti-American insurgent group in Afghanistan is a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s spy service was overstated and contributed to overheated reactions in Pakistan and misperceptions in Washington, according to American officials involved in U.S. policy in the region.

The internal criticism by the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to challenge Mullen openly, reflects concern over the accuracy of Mullen’s characterizations at a time when Obama administration officials have been frustrated in their efforts to persuade Pakistan to break its ties to Afghan insurgent groups.

The administration has long sought to pressure Pakistan, but to do so in a nuanced way that does not sever the U.S. relationship with a country that American officials see as crucial to winning the war in Afghanistan and maintaining long-term stability in the region.

Mullen’s testimony to a Senate committee was widely interpreted as an accusation by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that Pakistan’s military and espionage agencies sanction and direct bloody attacks against U.S. troops and targets in Afghanistan. Such interpretations prompted new levels of indignation among senior officials in both the United States and Pakistan.

Mullen’s language “overstates the case,” said a senior Pentagon official with access to classified intelligence files on Pakistan, because there is scant evidence of direction or control. If anything, the official said, the intelligence indicates that Pakistan treads a delicate if duplicitous line, providing support to insurgent groups including the Haqqani network but avoiding actions that would provoke a U.S. response.

“The Pakistani government has been dealing with Haqqani for a long time and still sees strategic value in guiding Haqqani and using them for their purposes,” the Pentagon official said. But “it’s not in their interest to inflame us in a way that an attack on a [U.S.] compound would do.”

U.S. officials stressed that there is broad agreement in the military and intelligence community that the Haqqani network has mounted some of the most audacious attacks of the Afghanistan war, including a 20-hour siege by gunmen this month on the U.S. Embassy compound in Kabul.

A senior aide to Mullen defended the chairman’s testimony, which was designed to prod the Pakistanis to sever ties to the Haqqani group if not contain it by force. “I don’t think the Pakistani reaction was unexpected,” said Capt. John Kirby. “The chairman stands by every word of his testimony.”

But Mullen’s pointed message and the difficulty in matching his words to the underlying intelligence underscore the suspicion and distrust that have plagued the United States and Pakistan since they were pushed together as counterterrorism partners after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

U.S. military officials said that Mullen’s testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee has been misinterpreted, and that his remark that the Haqqani network had carried out recent truck-bomb and embassy attacks “with ISI support” was meant to imply broad assistance, but not necessarily direction by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

Related–CIA Documents: US Drastically Overestimated Soviet Capabilities
Politicians hyped an inflated threat from the Soviets, just as they do with today’s enemies
Declassified CIA documents reveal that the United States drastically overestimated the number of Soviet missiles in the beginning of the arms race in the 1950s and 1960s.


During the so-called Missile Gap period, American politicians and the public believed that the Soviet Union had hundreds of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), outmatching the US in bombing capabilities. But over 189 documents were recently released which “showed the Soviets didn’t really have an advantage,” Chief of the CIA’s Historical Collections Division Bruce S. Barkan said.

John F. Kennedy showed himself stronger on defense by hyping this “gap” when debating Richard Nixon for the presidency, and continued to inflate the threat during his term. But one of the documents from Sept. 21, 1961 debunked this theory, providing evidence that the Soviets only had four ICBMs.

During the Eisenhower administration, there was a concern about a “bomber gap,” that the Soviets had more bomber aircraft than the US. The CIA discredited this and by 1957, the bomber gap concept turned into the missile gap.

The government has a record of inflating security threats and parallels can be drawn with today’s supposed threats. Iran is consistently hyped as a major threat, specifically a nuclear threat, despite leaked intelligence that there is no nuclear weapons program. Before the 2003 US invasion, the threat from Iraq too was inflated,  to tragic effect. Similarly, terrorism is recognized by many experts as a much weaker threat than Washington makes it out to be.

Overestimating the Soviet threat during the Cold War not only led to an enormous and unnecessary build-up of arms, it served as the justification for various deadly wars abroad and the loss of civil liberties at home. Today’s threat inflation has similar consequences in both foreign and domestic policy.





Palestine Vote Showcases the Decline of American Power

AP / Seth Wenig
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas listens as President Barack Obama speaks at the U.N. on Sept. 21.

By Juan Cole

The United States, castigated by its critics as recently as a decade ago as a “hyper-power,” is now so weak and isolated on the world stage that it may cast an embarrassing and self-defeating veto of Palestinian membership in the United Nations. Beset by debt, mired in economic doldrums provoked by the cupidity and corruption of its business classes, and on the verge of withdrawing from Iraq and ultimately Afghanistan in defeat, the U.S. needs all the friends it can get. If he were the visionary we thought we elected in 2008, President Obama would surprise everyone by rethinking the issue and coming out in favor of a U.N. membership for Palestine. In so doing, he would help the U.S. recover some of its tarnished prestige and avoid a further descent into global isolation and opprobrium.

It is often the little things that trip up empires and send them spiraling into geopolitical feebleness. France’s decision to react brutally to the Algerian independence movement from 1954 arguably helped send its West African subjects running for the exits, much to the surprise and dismay of a puzzled Gen. Charles de Gaulle. Empires are always constructed out of a combination of coercion and loyalty, and post-colonial historians often would prefer not to remember the loyalty of compradors and collaborators. But arguably it is the desertion of the latter that contributes most decisively to imperial collapse.

Thus, it is highly significant that an influential Saudi prince warned the United States that a veto of Palestine at the U.N. could well cost the latter its alliance with Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is the world’s swing petroleum producer and has done Washington many favors in the oil markets, and although such favors were seldom altogether altruistic, Riyadh’s good will has been a key element in U.S. predominance.

The House of Saud has other options, after all. It has been thinking hard about whether its ideological differences with the Chinese Communist Party are not outweighed by common interests. Among these mutual goals is the preservation of a model of authoritarian, top-down governance combined with rapid economic advance to forestall popular demands for participation, as an alternative to Western liberalism. For its part, China has invested $15 billion in the Arab world in recent years and is an increasingly appealing destination for Arab capital. Beijing is supporting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ initiative for recognition in the U.N.

NATO ally Turkey has also broken with the U.S. over Palestine policy, vowing to do what it can to end the shameful and illegal Israeli blockade on civilian Palestinians in Gaza. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to change Obama’s mind, reminding him of his 2010 speech to the U.N. General Assembly, in which the U.S. president looked forward to the establishment in short order of a Palestinian state. Erdogan says of the veto threat, “We have difficulties in understanding their position. … The U.S. has always advocated a two-state solution.”


Even NATO ally France, which has troops fighting in Afghanistan alongside U.S. forces, broke with Obama on Palestine, advocating a compromise abhorred in Washington and Tel Aviv whereby the Palestinian Authority would join the Vatican in being a formal U.N. observer state. Indeed, NATO is divided on this issue, with Spain and Norway joining Turkey and France in bolting from U.S. leadership. In the wider European Union, the split is even more stark. With countries traditionally willing to follow the U.S. lead on important geopolitical issues now breaking with Washington on Palestine, it is no surprise that the tier of rising world powers known as the BRICS—Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—is unanimously in favor of the Palestine bid at the U.N.


Also gone by the wayside are Arab dictators such as Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, who were usually willing to do Washington’s bidding in dealing with the Palestinians. The vital youth movements in the Arab world have not foregrounded the Palestine issue, afraid of giving their dictators an opportunity to change the subject from domestic issues of repression and corruption. But the invasionby some Egyptian protesters of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo and the forced withdrawal of Israeli ambassadors from Egypt and Turkey signal a likely turn in the region toward governments more attentive to public opinion in favor of the Palestinians in the Middle East. The revolutionary youth of 2011, having overthrown three governments and shaken a half-dozen more to their foundations, had idolized democracy and seemed willing to give Washington a hearing. But Obama could squander the remnants of his good will by appearing to support the repression of a whole people’s yearning for basic human rights.

Iran, which has suffered a loss of prestige in the Arab world because of its support for the repressive government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria (from which Tehran has recently only mildly backpedaled), could recover some of its past cachet if the U.S. vetoes the Palestinian bid for U.N. membership. Iran’s public relations difficulties in the Arab world had been a godsend for Obama in the past six months, but he could easily squander this opportunity.

The American inability to fashion a consensus on this issue among its closest allies, much less on the world stage, stands in stark contrast to the role Washington had been able to play only two decades ago. One recalls the unarguably impressive performance of George H. W. Bush in 1990 in constructing a U.N.-backed international alliance, including the Arab League, for the purpose of the Gulf War. In part, the failure derives from declining economic and political clout. The U.S. economy is only 20 percent of the world gross domestic product now, down from 25 percent in 1990 (and down from 50 percent in 1945), and America has powerful new economic challengers such as China, which could overtake it in a decade.

But in large part, Washington’s current difficulties derive from adopting a position contrary to international law and to basic human decency. Israel’s creeping annexation of the West Bank looks suspiciously like Saddam Hussein’s occupation of Kuwait—both being land-grabs that violate the United Nations Charter, Article 2.4. The stateless Palestinians ultimately have no individual rights. No national courts uphold their property deeds or rights to resources such as water. At least if they are recognized by the vast majority of U.N. member states, the Palestinians may gain the standing to sue in national and international courts to stop the ongoing torts being committed against them by the Israeli settler-industrial complex. In standing against this attempt to right an epochal historical wrong to an entire people, Obama puts the United States on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of world opinion. Neither is likely to forgive him.


Are We At War With Pakistan?

Justin Raimundo
In the days before the Empire,  generals – particularly Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs – kept their  mouths shut. The Founders’ justified fears of military intrusion  into the political realm were still present in the American consciousness,  and the idea that an American general might try to influence policy  directly, by making public statements on controversial political topics,  was considered outside the norm. Today, however, no one is shocked by  Admiral Mullen’s testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee  that we are, for all intents and purposes, already at war with Pakistan:

“Extremist organizations  serving as proxies of the government of Pakistan are attacking Afghan  troops and civilians as well as U.S. soldiers. For example, we believe  the Haqqani Network – which has long enjoyed the support and protection  of the Pakistani government and is, in many ways, a strategic arm of  Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency – is responsible for  the September 13th attacks against the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

“There is ample evidence  confirming that the Haqqanis were behind the June 28th  attack against the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul and the September  10th truck bomb attack that killed five Afghans and injured another  96 individuals, 77 of whom were U.S. soldiers. History teaches us that  it is difficult to defeat an insurgency when fighters enjoy a sanctuary  outside national boundaries, and we are seeing this again today. The  Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Network are hampering efforts to improve  security in Afghanistan, spoiling possibilities for broader reconciliation,  and frustrating U.S.-Pakistan relations. The actions by the Pakistani  government to support them – actively and passively – represent a growing  problem that is undermining U.S. interests and may violate international  norms, potentially warranting sanction. In supporting these groups,  the government of Pakistan, particularly the Pakistani Army, continues  to jeopardize Pakistan’s opportunity to be a respected and prosperous  nation with genuine regional and international influence.”

If the evidence is so “ample,” why didn’t Mullen reveal any of it during the course of his testimony?  It’s “classified,” which means we ordinary mortals aren’t entitled  to see it: we just have to take their word for it. In this context,  however, their word isn’t worth a hill of beans.

The earlier part of Mullen’s   testimony was a paean to the “success” of US/NATO efforts in Afghanistan:  except for a few minor glitches, he strongly implied, everything’s  coming up roses. How, then, to explain the brazen attacks on the Inter-Continental   Hotel in Kabul, and the Taliban strike at the US embassy, which penetrated  to the very core of the American presence in the country – the Afghan  equivalent of Iraq’s “Green Zone”? It must be the ISI,  Pakistan’s intelligence agency – yeah, that’s the ticket!

Facing questions about his  competence, and that of his generals, Mullen struck back with a conspiracy  theory that explains away – or, at least, explains – the severity  of these attacks, which fatally undermine his Pollyanna-ish narrative.  The Obama administration has been laying the groundwork for this particular  conspiracy theory for quite some time, peppering the Pakistanis with  accusations of complicity in Taliban attacks on US forces – albeit  without producing any public evidence. You’ll recall that the President  himself, during the 2008 campaign, explicitly threatened to strike at  Pakistan – and even John McCain was horrified.

The Justice Department is playing  a key role in the anti-Pakistan offensive, utilizing the infamous David  Headley – a DEA snitch and “former” terrorist operative – to  fill in the details of Pakistan’s alleged perfidy. Headley claims  he was trained by the ISI at one of several terrorist training camps  run by a Kashmiri separatist group, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and that  Pakistan was the real source of the terror in Mumbai. Go here for the suspiciously murky details  of his convoluted story, but suffice to say that I’d sooner trust  the word of a used car dealer who’s down to his last dime. While in  the pay of the DEA, Headley traveled around the world committing and  planning terrorist acts – but you’re a “conspiracy theorist” if you think this throws a shadow of suspicion on his character, his  motives, or his “testimony.”

With military ties tightening between  the US and India – Pakistan’s ancient enemy – one  thing is clear: Washington is tilting toward New Delhi. This shift began  in 2006, when India and the US agreed to cooperate on the development  of “civil” nuclear power. However, as the Council on Foreign Relationsreports, under the terms of the agreement “India  would be eligible to buy U.S. dual-use nuclear technology, including  materials and equipment that could be used to enrich uranium or reprocess  plutonium, potentially creating the material for nuclear bombs.”

Pakistan and  India have come close to a nuclear exchange on several occasions over  the years. With theHindu ultra-nationalists who wield increasing political  clout frothing at the mouth for war, the introduction of such technology  poses a deadly danger to the entire region. A nuclear sword of Damocles,  forged by the US government, is hanging over the heads of Pakistanis – and we wonder whythey hate us.

The Americans  are playing a very dangerous game with Pakistan, doing everything in  their power toundermine the elected government, while at the same time  decrying the threat of “extremism” in that nation. But they can’t  have it both ways: if they fear destabilization, then why are they doing  their utmost to provoke it? You’d almost have to be a “conspiracy  theorist” to make sense out of it.

We are fighting  an unwinnable war in the region, one that doesn’t serve our interests,  eithergeopolitical or economic, and we’ve tasked our military with  solving an insoluble problem: how to win over a people whose land we’ve  occupied. Our military leaders, in response, are forced to invent plausible  reasons explaining why they’ve been unable to accomplish the impossible.  The blame Pakistan narrative serves that purpose admirably.

The ass-covering  isn’t limited to the Afghan war, however, as Mullen’s remarks made  all too clear. In warning against letting the alleged problem with Pakistan  fester, unacknowledged, Mullen told the Senators:

History teaches us that it is difficult  to defeat an insurgency when fighters enjoy a sanctuary outside national  boundaries, and we are seeing this again today.”

A revealing comment if ever  there was one: the US military is still burning with resentment over   their defeat in the Vietnam war, and they blame the politicians for  not letting them “win” by bombing the entire region into submission.  Mullen is signaling to Congress and the civilian leadership that the  military isn’t going to stand by, this time, and let itself be railroaded  into taking the blame for another humiliating defeat. Mullen’s message  to Congress, and the White House, is clear: let us go after the Pakistanis – or else….

The Obama administration, already  intimidated by all things military, is going along with the program.  What the anti-Pakistan campaign we’ve been subjected to in recent  months amounts to is that the Obama administration is angling for the  equivalent of Richard Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia – an act that  ended in disaster for all concerned, including the US.

Remember, Pol Pot arose from  that slaughterhouse. Who knows what monsters will rise in the wake of  our invasion of Pakistan?

It’s just what the politicians  need – a fresh overseas war to take our minds off the economic and  social crisis here at home. Think of it as another “stimulus package”  – war being the only stimulant bothparties can agree on.


Can The US Afford a Military Conflict With Pakistan?




Pakistan Warns US Not to Send Ground Troops


Pakistan’s forces and its 180 million strong population is ready in ambush. Obama must decide if he is ready to face the wrath of a nation that has held a grudge against this sworn enemy for decades.

Dan Qayyum | PKKH Editorial

In face of the latest and unprecendated downturn in US-Pakistan relations,Pakistan Army can at the very least boast the kind of popular support that PresidentObama can only dream of.

General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is the man of the moment, fast turning into a national hero by default, thanks to the hyperbole emanating from Washington. On the other hand President Obama resembles the captain of a ship that is sinking fast.

Under pressure due to a faltering economy and suffering humiliation in Afghanistan, the Obama administration has kicked off a noisy blame game pointing fingers at Pakistan for America’s failures in what is known as the ‘Graveyard of Empires’. Attacks on what were thought to be some of the most secure targets in Kabul have blown the cover of America’s false claims. With the Afghan Taliban in control of over 80% of Afghan territory and now knocking on the doors of Kabul, one can be forgiven for thinking that things could not get any worse for the American occupying forces. Because it looks that they will.

Around 75% of American and NATO military supplies pass through Pakistan. Shutting off this vital lifeline alone would spell disaster for the American and Nato forces stationed in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has a highly trained army which, unlike the Iraqi forces, are itching to hammer the Americans. It has a fairly strong air force that is, at the very least, capable of downing a good few US bombers. And it also has a modest navy that is quite capable of causing damage.

Around 200,000 US, NATO and Afghan forces that are incapable of fighting against the Haqqani insurgents, numbered between 5000 to 10,000 at most, will prove no match for Pakistan’s highly trained army consisting of around 600,000 active troops and another 550,000 reserves. Add to that the million strong tribals residing on the Pak Afghan border and armed to the teeth, who have pledged support to Pakistan’s armed forces in the event of a direct confrontation with US/NATO forces. Last but not the least are the Jihadi organisation active in Indian OccupiedKashmir, with a strength of around another 100,000.

Pakistan is quite capable of unleashing hell on the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan if it decides to. And that is without even taking into account Pakistan’s fast growing nuclear arsenal and its advanced missile systems that are capable of hitting any US target within a 3,500 mile radius. Already under heavy fire from a rag tag poorly equipped and trained force of the Afghan Taliban, the US and NATO forces will prove easy pickings for Pakistan army’s elite commandos. Its missileswill level US bases and military installations to the ground.

President Obama, even in his wildest dreams, cannot dare to enter a military conflict with Pakistan at this moment in time. And therefore the the US tantrums seem nothing more than an immature bluff, without taking into account the geopolitical implications as well as the consequences it will have to face in Afghanistan, if it dares violate Pakistan military’s ‘red lines’.

The best they can hope to do is isolate Pakistan internationally declaring it a pariah state that sponsors terror, and enforce economic sanctions. Then again, if the Pakistani intelligence agencies and armed forces are indeed secretly helping the Afghan Taliban under the pretence of being a front line ally, imagine the damage they would be able to do if declared the enemy.


Russia, China and Iran are considering a Joint Missile Shield directed against the US and NATO

Unofficial sources have announced that IranRussia, and China are currently holding talks on a proposal to establish a joint missile defense shield as a counterweight to a NATO defense shield, Mehr news agency reported.

The report, which was published in the Iranian daily newspaper Kayhan on Sunday, said that the sources cited two reasons why serious consultations have been held on the initiative.

First, all three states have come to the conclusion that U.S. officials’ assertion that their concern over the alleged missile andnuclear capabilities of Iran and North Koreais the reason for the decision to establish a NATO missile defense shield is just a pretext and the true objective of the shield is to threaten Russia andChina.

In addition, now that the proposal to establish an early warning radar system in southeast Turkey, which is one component of the NATO missile defense shield, appears to be a done deal, the U.S. is now planning to establish other components of the new system in South Korea and Taiwan, which clearly shows that Washington is using the alleged threat from Iran and North Korea as a pretext to target China and Russia.

An informed expert believes China, which has not taken any action on the issue so far, is beginning to comprehend the level of danger posed by the new system, Mehr quoted the report as saying.

Russia’s analysis of the situation is similar to Iran’s view, which was expressed during Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev’s recent visit to Tehran.

Therefore, it seems the three countries have realized that the time has come to seriously start discussions on the plan.

Some sources say Dmitry Rogozin, the Russian envoy to NATO, who is scheduled to travel to Iran before the end of September, will probably hold operational discussions on the plan with Iranian officials.

According to RIA Novosti, Rogozin is going to discuss “strategic issues” in Tehran.

Military experts are of the opinion that since Iran, Russia, and China have made great progress in designing anti-aircraft defense systems, the construction of such a missile shield system will not be a difficult task for them.


Why the Middle East Will Never Be the Same Again

The Palestinians won’t achieve statehood, but they will consign the ‘peace process’ to history.

By Robert Fisk

September 20, 2011 „The Independent‘ – -The Palestinians won’t get a state this week. But they will prove – if they get enough votes in the General Assembly and if Mahmoud Abbas does not succumb to his characteristic grovelling in the face of US-Israeli power – that they are worthy of statehood. And they will establish for the Arabs what Israel likes to call – when it is enlarging its colonies on stolen land – „facts on the ground”: never again can the United States and Israel snap their fingers and expect the Arabs to click their heels. The US has lost its purchase on the Middle East. It’s over: the „peace process”, the „road map”, the „Oslo agreement”; the whole fandango is history.

Personally, I think „Palestine” is a fantasy state, impossible to create now that the Israelis have stolen so much of the Arabs’ land for their colonial projects. Go take a look at the West Bank, if you don’t believe me. Israel’s massive Jewish colonies, its pernicious building restrictions on Palestinian homes of more than one storey and its closure even of sewage systems as punishment, the „cordons sanitaires” beside the Jordanian frontier, the Israeli-only settlers’ roads have turned the map of the West Bank into the smashed windscreen of a crashed car. Sometimes, I suspect that the only thing that prevents the existence of „Greater Israel” is the obstinacy of those pesky Palestinians.

But we are now talking of much greater matters. This vote at the UN – General Assembly or Security Council, in one sense it hardly matters – is going to divide the West – Americans from Europeans and scores of other nations – and it is going to divide the Arabs from the Americans. It is going to crack open the divisions in the European Union; between eastern and western Europeans, between Germany and France (the former supporting Israel for all the usual historical reasons, the latter sickened by the suffering of the Palestinians) and, of course, between Israel and the EU.

A great anger has been created in the world by decades of Israeli power and military brutality and colonisation; millions of Europeans, while conscious of their own historical responsibility for the Jewish Holocaust and well aware of the violence of Muslim nations, are no longer cowed in their criticism for fear of being abused as anti-Semites. There is racism in the West – and always will be, I fear – against Muslims and Africans, as well as Jews. But what are the Israeli settlements on the West Bank, in which no Arab Muslim Palestinian can live, but an expression of racism?

Israel shares in this tragedy, of course. Its insane government has led its people on this road to perdition, adequately summed up by its sullen fear of democracy in Tunisia and Egypt – how typical that its principle ally in this nonsense should be the awful Saudi Arabia – and its cruel refusal to apologise for the killing of nine Turks in the Gaza flotilla last year and its equal refusal to apologise to Egypt for the killing of five of its policemen during a Palestinian incursion into Israel.

So goodbye to its only regional allies, Turkey and Egypt, in the space of scarcely 12 months. Israel’s cabinet is composed both of intelligent, potentially balanced people such as Ehud Barak, and fools such as Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the Ahmadinejad of Israeli politics. Sarcasm aside, Israelis deserve better than this.

The State of Israel may have been created unjustly – the Palestinian Diaspora is proof of this – but it was created legally. And its founders were perfectly capable of doing a deal with King Abdullah of Jordan after the 1948-49 war to divide Palestine between Jews and Arabs. But it had been the UN, which met to decide the fate of Palestine on 29 November 1947, which gave Israel its legitimacy, the Americans being the first to vote for its creation. Now – by a supreme irony of history – it is Israel which wishes to prevent the UN from giving Palestinian Arabs their legitimacy – and it is America which will be the first to veto such a legitimacy.

Does Israel have a right to exist? The question is a tired trap, regularly and stupidly trotted out by Israel’s so-called supporters; to me, too, on regular though increasingly fewer occasions. States – not humans – give other states the right to exist. For individuals to do so, they have to see a map. For where exactly, geographically, is Israel? It is the only nation on earth which does not know and will not declare where its eastern frontier is. Is it the old UN armistice line, the 1967 border so beloved of Abbas and so hated by Netanyahu, or the Palestinian West Bank minus settlements, or the whole of the West Bank?

Show me a map of the United Kingdom which includes England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and it has the right to exist. But show me a map of the UK which claims to include the 26 counties of independent Ireland in the UK and shows Dublin to be a British rather than an Irish city, and I will say no, this nation does not have the right to exist within these expanded frontiers. Which is why, in the case of Israel, almost every Western embassy, including the US and British embassies, are in Tel Aviv, not in Jerusalem.

In the new Middle East, amid the Arab Awakening and the revolt of free peoples for dignity and freedom, this UN vote – passed in the General Assembly, vetoed by America if it goes to the Security Council – constitutes a kind of hinge; not just a page turning, but the failure of empire. So locked into Israel has US foreign policy become, so fearful of Israel have almost all its Congressmen and Congresswomen become – to the extent of loving Israel more than America – that America will this week stand out not as the nation that produced Woodrow Wilson and his 14 principles of self-determination, not as the country which fought Nazism and Fascism and Japanese militarism, not as the beacon of freedom which, we are told, its Founding Fathers represented – but as a curmudgeonly, selfish, frightened state whose President, after promising a new affection for the Muslim world, is forced to support an occupying power against a people who only ask for statehood.

Should we say „poor old Obama”, as I have done in the past? I don’t think so. Big on rhetoric, vain, handing out false love in Istanbul and Cairo within months of his election, he will this week prove that his re-election is more important than the future of the Middle East, that his personal ambition to stay in power must take first place over the sufferings of an occupied people. In this context alone, it is bizarre that a man of such supposed high principle should show himself so cowardly. In the new Middle East, in which Arabs are claiming the very same rights and freedoms that Israel and America say they champion, this is a profound tragedy.

US failures to stand up to Israel and to insist on a fair peace in „Palestine”, abetted by the hero of the Iraq war, Blair, are responsible. Arabs too, for allowing their dictators to last so long and thus to clog the sand with false frontiers and old dogmas and oil (and let’s not believe that a „new” „Palestine” would be a paradise for its own people). Israel, too, when it should be welcoming the Palestinian demand for statehood at the UN with all its obligations of security and peace and recognition of other UN members. But no. The game is lost. America’s political power in the Middle East will this week be neutered on behalf of Israel. Quite a sacrifice in the name of liberty…


Palestinian U.N. Bid Teaches Us About America

Given that the anticipated substantive U.S. policy change regarding Palestine and Israel under Obama has not materialized, it would seem that strategic U.S. interests have again been hijacked by the Israel lobby.


by Sam Bahour


El Bireh, West Bank — The case of Palestine’s bid for U.N. membership is teaching us more about the United States than it is about the stubborn Middle East. Sadly, the United States, my country, heads the list of member nations making a mockery of the international venue founded to intervene in exactly the type of crisis now facing Palestinians and Israelis.

The Palestinian case for full U.N. membership is rather simple. After 20 years of fruitless negotiating, championed by the United States, the talks have come to a screeching halt.

President Obama talks with his Chief of Staff in the Oval Office on day one…

From his first day in office, President Barack Obama sought to restart the talks between Palestinians and Israelis and failed. The Palestinians, meantime, are paying the price of that failure with every single additional day spent in the cross hairs of Israeli military rule. At long last, the Palestinian leadership has chosen to do what any other people would have done years, even decades, ago: to seek redress back where it all began, at the United Nations. Addressing the most multilateral venue in the world, Palestinian leaders have a simple request: Take a stand.

The Palestinian action is not really news. Far more newsworthy is how the United States and Israel have reacted — with total hysteria.

I don’t expect much from Israel, as perpetrator of the dispossession of, discrimination against and four-decade-long outright military occupation of Palestinians — especially after witnessing how they operate, from up close, for nearly 20 years. Israeli policies have proven, year after year, that Israel prefers to wage war and colonize our territory more than pursue a just peace.

Given that the anticipated substantive U.S. policy change regarding Palestine and Israel under Obama has not materialized, it would seem that strategic U.S. interests have again been hijacked by the Israel lobby.

The U.S. executive and legislative branches have overwhelmingly and publicly chosen to stand by Israel in its attempt to thwart Palestinian freedom and statehood. Has the entire U.S. political leadership read no Middle East history? Have U.S. public figures not the slightest understanding of the transformations currently shaking the Arab world? They evidently cannot see that U.S. strategic interests in one of the world’s oil-rich regions have yet again been seriously jeopardized by the misguided U.S. bias favoring blind support of Israel–. The urgent need to resolve the most pressing issue in the region, if not the world, does not move them, apparently.

September will pass, Palestinian state or not. What may persist, however, is the self-inflicted and possibly irreversible damage to U.S. interests generated by its refusal to join the rest of the world in backing Palestinian self-determination.

For many of us, this is not an academic exercise. I have a family, two beautiful daughters regarded as inferior under Israeli law, a business threatened by military occupation and many friends, both Palestinian and Israeli. I fear that the United States is recklessly putting all of us in serious danger.

Americans should be leading the effort to support this nonviolent Palestinian move toward independence, not leading the effort to thwart it. “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Americans should read the Declaration of Independence. It offers the redress of grievances when a people — having lived too long under “absolute despotism” — decides that enough is enough.

Source: Sabbah Report