Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=TEHRAN – KABUL – ISLAMABAD WATCH – Central Asia Theatre: Kabul Under Siege – Iran-Pakistan to Increase Movement of Fighters Against NATO-Heaviest Fighting Expected from August-October-Islamabad About to Sever Strategic Relations with Washington and Increase Them with Tehran-Israel DM Barak Arrives in Washington-Israel Alone on Iran Attack
Night Watch: PUL SURKH – “Today the Taliban are here, tomorrow they may be in Kabul.” That was the statement by Maidan Shar a resident in the village of Pul Surkh near Kabul right after a convoy in the village was attacked by Taliban fighters. The daily South Asia News Scan by retired Indian Brigadier Rahul Bhonsle (www.security-risks.com) has reported the Taliban move freely in the village openly displaying brand new AK-47s and rocket propelled grenades (RPG). After a series of attacks this year, the January attack on the heavily guarded Serena Hotel in Kabul, the State Ceremony attack which caused foreign diplomats to flee, and the recent suicide car bomb attack on the India Embassy in Kabul, the capital has taken on the appearance of Baghdad. Barricades and protective blast walls have been erected all over as the residents are afraid to even venture a few miles from the city.
In a desperate attempt to put a brave face on the crises situation a senior Western diplomat stated, and only on the condition of anonymity, “No one is going to take Kabul or any provinces or province capital or establish the Revolutionary Republic of Afghanistan.” Frankly this sounds like famous last words. What happens depends not on the harassed, confused, misinformed response of NATO but on the level of support Tehran-Islamabad decide to send not only the Taliban but to other tribal groups and Islamic units. And based on recent news that appears to be considerable with the Afghan government daily, Anis, describing Iran as a “tunnel for terrorists”, more that come through Pakistan, despite the popular myth still circulating in Brussels-NATO headquarters and Washington the main entry for Islamic fighters is still Pakistan.
Washington – Gulf-Times/AFP report U.S. President George W. Bush stated he was “troubled” by the movement of Islamic extremists from Pakistan into Afghanistan and this was echoed by NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer as the alliance heads a 40 nation effort which only intially envisioned engaging in training missions for the new Afghan Army not heavy combat for NATO units. Last week Secretary-General Scheffer was in Islamabad and practically beside himself as he exclaimed, “The bottom line is that the present situation cannot be acceptable for anyone.” And he announced he wanted Pakistan to be part of a regional effort to defeat the increasing militancy. But it is not Islamabad’s strategy to see the West control one of the most important crossroads in Central Asia or to see its hated rival India develop important economic projects in the country. [GULFTIMES]
Azam Warsak – And what happened Monday morning is just one small example of what will end the strategic-military cooperation between Washington/Islamabad. Swissinfo/Reuters six people were killed at a madrasa (religious school) in the village of Azam Warsak, just 12 miles (20 km) west of Wana in South Waziristan. A local tribesman in the village, Zia-ur-Rehman said, “We had heard the sound of a drone engine just before the explosions. The drones have been flying since late Sunday night.” The drones are operated by the CIA, with no coordination with NATO and have a limited impact on the battlefield but this is one of the reasons for the increase in popular support for the Taliban or any unit attacking NATO. Pakistan military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas stated, “Some incident did take place but what kind of strike it was, whether it was a missile or rocket attack or bomb explosion, we don’t know. Coalition forces don’t share information about any strike with us prior to any attack.” [SWISSINFO]
Of course the CIA suspected the school was also a military compound and a base of support for the Taliban and that is quite possible knowing NATO and the CIA’s record of causing so many civilian deaths. A leading Taliban figure, Baitullah Mehsud has suspended peace talks with Islamabad and has threatened to unleash a new wave of attacks and I suspect he will have the full support of Islamabad-Tehran. It is even possible there could be reports of Pakistani soldiers serving with him and eventually those reports become quite public as relations between Islamabad/NATO continue to deteriorate.
This was always inevitable as Islamabad, like the Baghdad government, knew the West was not a long term military presence but for a while cooperation was useful until Iran was ready to enter the conflict directly and install a Revolutionary Islamic Republic of Afghanistan with Hamid Karzai as head of state. According to Brigadier Bhonsle fighting in Afghanistan always peaks from August to October and with the massive support Tehran-Islamabad are prepared to send and with the very real prospects of Iranian-Pakistani units entering, with air support, the fighting this year will reach unprecedented levels. Islamabad has already warned any attack on their country by NATO units will be treated as an invasion. The only thing Brussels-Washington will control is their explanation.
Bhonsle’s newsletter reports, the Taliban commander in Ghazni province, Mullah Bari Khan, says his unit is pushing its agents and fighters into Kabul from surrounding provinces. And Taliban strategists (probably in consultation with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards) have divided the capital into fifteen zones with each zone to have its own operatives and some bringing their families to serve as cover while they work to recruit local support and prepare for new attacks.
Rawalpindi – As this debacle is being coordinated between Tehran-Islamabad and with the tacit approval of President Karzai, Xinhua reports Pakistan’s military Monday expressed its concerns over the loss of life from constant cross-border attacks by NATO. The concern was delivered in the garrison city of Rawalpindi near Islamabad by Pakistan Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee(JCSC) General Tariq Majid. He confronted the visiting U.S. Air Force General Martin Dempsey head of the U.S. Central Command. General Majid stated, “Our sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected, any violation in this regard could be detrimental to bilateral relations.” [XINHUA]
rfm=Washington – At the same time Xinhua reports Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani met with President Bush and both pledged to support the fight against terrorism. Events will speak for them. [XINHUA]
Washington – Though the Pentagon will not take an active role in Israel’s possible attack on Iran’s known nuclear installations, Debka reports Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak arrived in Washington Monday for meetings with Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice, senior military officials and members of Congress. As Barak’s spokesman explained, “This is a very important visit. Israel cannot tolerate being under an Iranian nuclear threat.” Washington had requested the Israeli government to inform them right before their attack and that is what Jerusalem is now doing. Though no meeting with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had been planned a last minute meeting has now been arranged. This is a direct follow up to last week’s round of meetings in Washington with Israel Defense Force Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi and Barak will be followed immediately by Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz a former Defense Minister, who is a liaison in Israel-U. S. strategic relations. The reason given for the attack will be Iran’s nuclear threat to the entire region. [DEBKA]
Kazimiyah – Tehran may have decided to cause more chaos in Iraq by targeting the massive Shia pilgrimage to the shrine of Imam Mossua al-Kadim in northern Baghdad. Al Jazeera reports three female suicide bombers have already attacked pilgrims as they approached the shrine yesterday. The ceremony climaxes Tuesday with a million worshippers expected. [ALJAZEERA]