Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=TEHRAN – KABUL – ISLAMABAD WATCH – Central Asia Theatre: Tehran – Beijing – Riyadh – Ferghana – Tashkent – Islamabad – Kabul/Brussels; Iran-Pakistan Prepare Taliban Bases for April-September Offensive Against NATO-Kabul – NATO Position on Wasteland Front Untenable – Serves Iran’s Purpose – Palestinians Launch Massive Qassam-Mortar Barrage After Israel Kills Militants Trained in Iran-Syria
Night Watch: WARDAK PROVINCE – The South Asia Daily News Scan, of retired India Brigadier Rahul Bhonsle, referred today to an investigation by Asia Times Online on the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan as NATO continues to counter more Taliban-al-Qaeda forces than Brussels ever projected. Neither the Taliban or al-Qaeda could exist without Tehran’s active support. For the Brussels based alliance Afghanistan was supposed to be NATO’s grand power projection beyond Europe as it trained the new Afghan army to replace the Taliban who were initially defeated in 2001. But Tehran stated late that year it found some of the Taliban useful so Iran waited for NATO to commit more forces there as Iran knew it could use Afghanistan to keep the West busy on a wasteland front whose main raw material and contribution to the international economy is opium. NATO’s showcase front has become a smaller version of the trap in Iraq as Brussels and the West want to do anything except attack the center of international terrorism and the biggest threat to the West-Iran. [SASTSCAN]
This is one of the best examples in modern history of the power of illusory thinking in governments decision making process and it revolves around the West’s fear of confronting a more powerful enemy than they ever believed would emerge as a result of the 1979 Khomeini revolution in Iran which he launched while he was based in a Paris suburb. Industrial services along Boulevard Haussmann and the West assumed Khomeini’s influence would not reach beyond Central Asia and the Caucasus which would provide Moscow with another reason to continue its historical expansion (invasion) south and re-occupy Iran as they did with the British in World War II. With Iran’s oil resources under a communist economy it would reduce the price of Iran’s oil exports to the West but they had no idea Khomeini’s beliefs would impact the Arab world even after his death in 1989 nor was the massive military support Beijing provided Iran-Pakistan anticipated either. Beijing did so knowing if Tehran-Islamabad were successful three of China’s international rivals would become weaker, the West-India-Russia. So China provided Iran-Pakistan with the foundation of their nuclear-ballistic missile programs which Beijing could also send through North Korea.
In the meantime enter the Taliban emerging in 1996 from radical religious schools on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, refugees inspired by an extreme interpretation of the Quran and hatred of the West as it replaced the Soviet occupation of the country which invaded Afghanistan in 1979 to outflank China. Iran matched its support of the Taliban based on the level of military commitment by NATO just enough to force Brussels, obsessed with making a success it could be proud of, to continue to deploy more forces as the occupation and NATO’s training programs were under attack. The alliance became increasingly uncomfortable since it never wanted any heavy combat anywhere. I believe it was NATO’s General James Jones who commented about five years ago when the Taliban re-emerged, that asking NATO governments to send more troops to Afghanistan was like passing the hat.
The fighting in the country became heavier two years ago as Tehran was completing its final preparations for (f)allout war, 2006 being the year Iran conducted military maneuvers almost all that year. That same year the Taliban were able to take control of the Taghab valley, northeast of the capital Kabul and the Nasayab valley south of the capital but were unable to hold them for more than a few months. According to the latest reports the Taliban are prepared to re-enter both areas more heavily equipped, supplied and with more units than before, by establishing a network of bases from the Pakistan border to the capital. The network runs from the Mohamand and Bajaur agency in Pakistan through Kunar-Nooristan provinces in Afghanistan to the Taghap valley in Kapisa province just 60 miles (100 km) northeast of Kabul. It is a three pronged strategy that has enabled the Taliban to operate freely in Wardak province just 18 miles (30 km) east of Kabul. The Taliban are believed to have 18,000 fighters in Mohamand and between 20-25,000 in Bajaur and if they are kept supplied it would enable them to maintain an offensive from April to September in an area just a few miles from Washington’s airbase in Kunar.
NATO is frantically trying to piece together an offensive for next month to disrupt the Taliban’s preparations but not only is the alliance increasingly reluctant to sustain any losses Brussels is also depending on sincere support from Islamabad. Pakistan only provided token support for Washington’s mythological war on terror as it pursued the phantom Bin Laden a video decoy. Islamabad did so in order to receive an enormous amount of aid and a resumption of F-16 fighter’s sales which can carry a nuclear bomb. Pakistan’s latest excuse for not participating in more than a few sorties is the unstable political situation in the country which President General Pervez Musharraf encourages as a strategic domestic smokescreen.
Khan Yunis – Some power in Israel’s port city Ashkelon was knocked out by Qassam rocket fire as Palestinians fired 45 rockets and dozens of mortar shells between 3 pm – 7:30 pm Wednesday after Israel killed five Hamas militant trainers near Khan Yunis in southern Gaza. This is the largest daily total since Qassam fire began eight years ago and is one of many signs the war in the region is about to expand. Haaretz reports according to Israeli intelligence, Shin Bet, said the severity of the rocket attack response reflected the importance of the militants who were killed. The action started Wednesday morning as five Hamas militants, trained in Iran-Syria, were killed when an air strike hit their minivan. Israel conducted another air strike in northern Gaza and Israeli commandos encountered some armed Palestinians in the West Bank city of Nablus. [HAARETZ]
Jerusalem has stated it is only their operations in the West Bank that keep Hamas from controlling the territory.