Crossfire War – Infiltration into Kashmir Continues Despite Record Snowfall

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Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=TEHRAN – BEIJING – ISLAMABAD WATCH – South Asia Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Beijing – Tashkent – Kabul – Katmandu – Dhaka – Islamabad/Srinagar – Arunachal Pradesh – Delhi; Record Snowfall in Kashmir No Barrier to Infiltration by Islamic Militants – Joint Operations Between Lashkar-e-Toiba – Muslim United Army International – Only 5,000 Palestinians Attend Rally in Gaza – Concerns Over Possible Violence Between Serbs/Albanians in Kosovo

Night Watch: KERAN SECTOR – The South Asia Daily News Scan of retired Indian Brigadier Rahul Bhonsle has reported constant attempts by Islamic militants to infiltrate into Kashmir despite the record snowfall this winter. Bhonsle reports despite an “ocean of snow” in the mountains and valleys, with areas like the Nanda post in the Gulmarg sector with 24 feet of snow and Cheema post with 17, arms caches are still being discovered along the Line of Control, which divides India’s part of Kashmir from the area controlled by Pakistan. It is significant a lot of the weapons are of Chinese manufacture. Beijing conducted joint maneuvers with Islamabad in December 2006 just west of Kashmir as the two governments established a joint command. The South Asia Daily News Scan is the most consistent record of the confrontational negotiations between China/India over the disputed Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh in India’s northeast on China’s border. This area has long been claimed by Beijing and was invaded by China for one month in 1962. Last year India increased its defenses stating there will be no repeat of China’s 1962 successes but I suspect Beijing will use the next India/Pakistan war to invade the area once again. China has been Pakistan’s most consistent military supporter with the two governments establishing strategic relations in 1951 just four years after Pakistan/India’s independence. [SASTSCAN]

Two Islamic militants were killed in an infiltration attempt on the 22nd in the Keran sector 65 miles (111 km) from the provincial capital Srinagar. Colonel Mathur, with India’s 15 Corps described the infiltrators, “These are foreign militants in pursuit of their agenda of global Jihad. The most disturbing fact is that terror camps are still intact. Militants have been shifted to launching pads. There are at least 26 of them in the sectors facing the valley.” A former militant leader, now an above ground activist, told the Hindustan Times, “When I was in Pakistan last year, I asked ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) officers why they keep sending militants to Kashmir despite the ceasefire and Indo-Pak dialogue. Their answer was: We cannot dismantle our infrastructure which took us 50 years to put together.” The current militancy and infiltration did not start in 1987-88, “It started long ago”. I have often suspected the Indo-Pak dialogue has been conducted by Islamabad to masque their preparations for a (f)allout fourth war.

The first war, 1947-48, began when Pakistani tribesmen invaded Kashmir and advanced towards Srinagar in an attempt to seize the Muslim majority province. The Hindu Maharajah (Prince) who still ruled it called on Delhi for assistance and India airlifted troops to prevent the capture of Srinagar and the pattern was set. The Indian officials monitoring the infiltration this winter stated it seems to be the beginning of something. That something is more infiltration than what occurred even during the 1965 war, the last one fought over Kashmir and the first one experienced by President General Pervez Musharraf. According to the former militant leader the infiltration infrastructure was already in place. This is obviously an ongoing policy on the part of Islamabad and they realize it is no longer between Pakistan/India. Not only is Beijing prepared to enter the conflict but also Tehran which was visited by Musharraf in February last year as he presented them his “Action Plan”.

The Islamic government in Iran, established in 1979 by the Ayatollah Khomeini, is central to any international military planning on the part of Islamic governments and they definitely want to see if Islamic countries can once again control the resources on the Indian sub-continent. The House of Saud is also prepared to enter the next war. Not only did Saudi Arabia conduct joint maneuvers with Pakistan in December 2006 in the eastern Punjab but Riyadh also purchased 50-60 CSS-2 long range ballistic missiles from China in the mid-1980s. The CSS-2 has a range of 2,500 miles (4,000 kms) and can reach all of India.

The South Asia Daily News Scan also mentioned there are disturbing indications Islamic militant groups in Pakistan are pooling their resources and engaging in joint operations in Pakistan but that could eventually lead to joint action against India. Intelligence analysts have noted the Jaish-e-Muhammed working with, Harkut-ul-Mujahideen (Hum), Harkat-al-Jihad-Islami and the Muslim Unity Army International. Eight training camps have been found in Pakistan and the one group leading this new united effort is the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) which has been at the front of the infiltration into Kashmir. Indian officials know the LeT is a subsidiary of the ISI and therefore a major part in Islamabad’s strategic policy, preparing for the current low level war against India to become full scale with Pakistan having more international support than ever before.

Erez Crossing – After statements and threats by Hamas and Palestinian leaders of a massive human chain demonstration Monday against Israel’s blockade and with estimates as high as 50,000 people expected, only one tenth of that turned up. There was no storming of any border crossing only some chanting of slogans, an enormous let down especially after what happened last month when 700,000 Palestinians crossed through the Rafah Terminal into Egypt and the Sinai after it was blown up by Hamas. This could in some way confirm my suspicion Hamas-Tehran are more opposed to Cairo than they are to Jerusalem. It is also possible Tehran-Hamas prefer to force Israel to invade the Gaza Strip rather than have waves of Palestinian people attempted to flood into Israel. Israel was indeed ready to fire on them. What we saw was a demonstrative retreat. [ALJAZEERA]

Villa Bokeljka – As expected Russia First Deputy Premier Dmitry Medvedev, chosen by President Vladimir Putin to be his sucessor, has used his visit to Serbia to express Russia’s support for Serbia’s sovereignty including over Kosovo. B92 reports Medvedev met both Serbia President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and stated afterward, Moscow “firmly supports the stand that Serbia is a unified state with Kosovo within its borders. Our starting point is that Serbia is a unified state whose jurisdiction extends to the entire territory and we will abide by this principled stand.” Prime Minister Kostunica announced, “We agreed to coordinate efforts to find ways out of this complicated situation, and that we will solve the issue of Kosovo.” He also announced there will be “no normalizations of relations with those countries that have recognized Kosovo until they annul their decision.” [B92]

Kosovska Mitrovica – Swissinfo/Reuters reports demonstrations by Serbs in Kosovska Mitrovica have continued for the seventh day. Nearly 1,000 people took part that included dozens of Serbian veterans throwing rocks and stones at Kosovo police. There seem to be two most likely scenarios for violence to break out in the province, Kosovo Serb leader Marko Jalesic warned, “Albanians are waiting for any excuse to use violence against Serbs isolated in enclaves of eastern and southern Kosovo.” If that happens Belgrade will be obliged to not only call for the Serbs to be protected by NATO-KFOR but Serbia will also intervene militarily. A UN official stated another way for violence to begin could be with Serbs attacking Albanians in the north of the province where Serbs are the majority and Albanians respond by sending them military support. [SWISSINFO]

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Willard Payne is an international affairs analyst who specializes in International Relations. A graduate of Western Illinois University with a concentration in East-West Trade and East-West Industrial Cooperation, he has been providing incisive analysis to NewsBlaze. He is the author of Imagery: The Day Before.