Crossfire War: Strategy Behind Operation Mountain Thrust

Crossfire War – TEHRAN WATCH – Central Asia Theatre – Afghanistan: Tehran – Kabul/Washington – Brussels; Strategy Behind Operation Mountain Thrust – Prevent Taliban Advance on Kabul and Supplies from Herat

Night Watch: BAGHRAM VALLEY – Debka reports that the reason for Allied forces in Operation Mountain Thrust (OMT), landing for the first time in the Baghram Valley on mountain ridges north of Helmand province, is part of a desperate attempt to prevent a Taliban advance on the capital Kabul and the major city Herat to the west along Iran’s border. Major General Benjamin Freakley, commander of American forces in Afghanistan, said there was no time limit to the operation, but he only has 11,000 troops, a division, to work with, 6,000 of them Afghan. [Debka]

With the Taliban becoming active again, as they said they would earlier this year with the end of winter, Afghanistan has become a more active front than Iraq, exactly what Tehran wants, keep the Pentagon going back and forth between two fronts, away from Iran.

Taliban spokesman Qari Muhammad Yousef said that they were not surprised that the coalition forces were operating more north than ever because of information he and the Taliban had received. “We have anti-aircraft guns and thousands of fighters… and we will use every strategy to hurt them.” Military analysts have stated the resurgent Taliban are now active in a third of the country, some even say in half, covering an area of 200,000 square miles. Primarily in four provinces: Uruzgan, Helmand, Kandahar and Zabul, the last three border Pakistan and it is along and across this border where most of the Taliban support is based.

Helmand and Kandahar provinces are adjacent to Pakistani Balochistan, an unstable region and one of the centers of al-Qaeda’s (Tehran) operation. The area is part of the main route and network they use for dispatching fighters and arms to and from Pakistan to Iran and from there to Iraq, with Iran actually being the center. That is why there is no way to successfully fight the war against Islamic terrorism without attacking the center of it-Iran. Kandahar also borders Pakistani Quetta Pishin whose indigenous tribes collaborate with al-Qaeda (Tehran). Zabul borders the semi-autonomous North-South Waziristan where al-Qaeda also has established a major presence.

I suspect that Tehran, since the Khomeini revolution and even more so after the Iran/Iraq War 1980-88, have instructed their Revolutionary Guards to establish the terrorist network and all of its services, in order to use it as the vanguard of Tehran’s terror directed, crisis creating, foreign policy, as part of preparing a region for Iran’s military to join the war more directly.

Debka believes Operation Mountain Thrust faces three problems: 1- The Taliban strength is not out in the open but in Waziristan sanctuaries in Pakistan were reserves can be based along ill-defined borders. Earlier this year the close Washington-Islamabad alliance faced a major embarassment when American warplanes killed Pakistani civilians in the area.

2- The Taliban backers are beyond the reach of OMT. It is known that the Pakistani intelligence agency SIS still sends arms, money and intelligence to the Taliban, which is why their spokesman Qari Muhammad Yousef said they were aware when and where the attack was coming. With the network of contacts Tehran has, while at the same time, Riyadh-Islamabad also supporting the Jihad, it will be impossible for the Allies to conduct any operation or even its planning secretly.

Taliban backers also include opium farmers and marketeers, distributors along Taliban patrolled drug routes that encompass Pakistan – Iran and employ al-Qaeda networks who send the opium to the Middle East, Europe and Far East.

A third level of support for the Taliban comes from disaffected Afghan tribes and clans disillusioned by the corruption in the adminstration of President Hamid Kharzai that includes some of the warlords in the government actively involved in the drug trade. Afghanistan has been rightly called a narco state. In the meantime government services never reach the remote, distant provinces where every basic necessity is lacking. Recently a report compiled by an Afghan-American for Corp Watch admitted the extreme mismanagment of construction-restoration projects that have also alienated a lot of Aghanistan’s population.

3- The 11,000 troops are too small a force to successfully engage a guerilla army dispersed over 200,000 square miles and over wild, hostile terrain; rugged mountains, steep valleys and dry rivers. The Taliban are also more familar and are at home with the terrain.

There is a fourth reason not covered in Debka’s article. Tehran’s response when OMT gets closer to Iran’s boder. When the operation extends into Herat province, the Persian part of Afghanistan, Iran’s Defense Ministry will probably not only increase their support of the Taliban but they may also send special Iranian units to actively attack the Allies and with heavier weaponry than they have supplied the Taliban.

As in Iraq, this is more of a war the lost alliance of London-Washington planned and banked on. War in Iraq was supposed to have ended three years ago and the Taliban were supposed to have been finished off five years ago.

Night Watch Information Service

Based in Flossmoor,IL 60422.


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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.