Thursday, September 29, 2011

Buscando un "nuevo" enemigo (interior). "Texas border security: A strategic military assessment"

Copio de Herschel Smith, The Captain´s Journal, Texas border security: A strategic military assessment:

Two very important individuals in the military (and now consulting) community, Barry McCaffrey and Robert Scales, have penned a much-anticipated study entitled Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment.

The state on the ground in the war with the Mexican cartels is remarkable. We’ve already discussed how the Mexican cartels have adopted military-style tactics, techniques and procedures.

Mexican drug cartels are using military weapons and tactics while also recruiting Texas teenagers to carry out their operations, which are evolving into full-blown criminal enterprises, experts said.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven C. McCraw said last week in a report given to Congress that the cartels “incorporate reconnaissance networks, techniques and capabilities normally associated with military organizations, such as communications intercepts, interrogations, trend analysis, secure communications, coordinated military-style tactical operations, GPS, thermal imagery and military armaments, including fully automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades.”

There is apparently massive corruption in the U.S. border patrol, and the Mexican cartels have law enforcement officials at the local, state and national levels on their payroll. In order to combat the smuggling operations across the Rio Grande, Texas is creating a marine division. The reach of the cartels goes into the High Schools in Texas where they are recruiting children for cartel work.

McCaffrey and Scales add to the bleak picture by showing how the cartel strategy has changed from control through locations South of the border to control via operations at least one county deep into Texas, and they discuss the increased criminalization and violence associated with the cartels. The bleak picture dovetails with an assessment by Robert Bunker at Small Wars Journal.

Ten years after the 9/11 attack by Al Qaeda, the United States has reached a pivotal strategic decision point in our national policies. Are we to continue with our national security policy of focusing on that terrorist entity (and its group of networks) as the dominant threat to the US and the homeland or will the Mexican cartels (and their supporting gang networks) now be recognized as replacing Al Qaeda as the number one threat to our government and safety of our citizens? While the violence potentials of Al Qaeda are universally recognized— we will never forget the thousands of our dead mourned after 9/11— the violence associated with the criminal insurgent potentials of the Mexican cartels and their ability to corrupt and undermine governments in the Western Hemisphere must now be considered far more threatening to our nation.

The cartels’ influence expands to thousands of U.S. cities and communities, and there are on the order of 18,000 cartels members or associated workers in Texas alone. The ability to intimidate and corrupt is unmatched in U.S. history – there is no national analogue to which the U.S. can refer to combat this menace.

The task for McCaffrey and Scales is big, and the bar set high. As for their recommendations? They sweep across a range of options, coordinated relationships, and increased efficiency in law enforcement. Counterintelligence and sting operations are of course important, as is rapid response capabilities and increased manpower.

McCaffrey and Scales do recommend the involvement of state troops (i.e., National Guard), but all efforts in this program are seen as led by Texas Rangers. It is fundamentally a civilian-led operation. Perhaps this focus is in deference to the Posse Comitatus Act (Section 1385, Title 18 U.S.C.), but it isn’t at all clear that U.S. troops should be forbidden or even could be forbidden from participating in border security under this act.

Furthermore, McCaffrey and Scales have a problem with their recommendation to use National Guard under the current circumstances. Recall that in Arizona, a National Guard-manned post was attacked and overrun by cartel fighters. Immediately after this, the following assessment was proffered.

Unfortunately, I must report that “Armed does not always mean “armed” as most Americans would understand. There are various states of being “armed.” These are called “Arming Orders (AO)” which define where the weapon “is,” where the magazine “is,” where the bullets “are” and where the bayonet “is.” They start at Arming Order One which could best be described as a “show of force” or “window dressing” in the worse case.

After considerable searching, I was able to find a complete copy of the Memorundum of Understanding/Rules of Engagement pertaining to the National Guard Deployment (“Operation Jump Start”), which I could then review.

After reviewing the MOU/ROE, I contacted several senior “in the loop” National Guard Officers that I have previously served with, to determine how many soldiers would be “armed” and their Arming Order number. After confirming The El Paso Times article that “very few soldiers there would carry weapons,” I was advised that during the next 90 days, amongst the few soldiers that have weapons, no soldier will have an Arming Order greater than AO-1, which means that an M-16 will be on the shoulder, there will be no magazine in the weapon (thats where the bullets come from), and the magazines stored inside the “ammunition pouch” will in most cases have no ammunition, they will be empty.

It was also conveyed to myself that in the unlikely event that a soldier is ever harmed on the border, the Arming Order will not be raised. Every individual I spoke to envisions no circumstance where there will ever be soldiers at AO-3/4, where a magazine with ammunition would be immediately available. Instead the soldiers will simply be kept farther away from the border if needed. They will be deliberately kept out of harms way.

I know you are thinking (maybe screaming), “but Why?” The easy public relations answer is that a soldier could kill someone. The National Guard is going to ensure that there is not a repeat of the incident in which Esequiel Hernández was killed by a US Marine along the Border.

There are also numerous regulations pertaining to weapons. There is a requirement that a soldier must qualify with his weapon on an annual basis. Reasonably, you must be “qualified” with your weapon before you may carry a weapon. However, ranges for weapons qualification are extremely limited. National Guard soldiers normally perform their once a year required qualification when they go to Annual Training at Ft. Stewart, Ft. McCoy…… This year they are going to “the border” and unless there is a “regulation M-16 qualification range” down the road, they will not be able to get qualified. There is also the question of weapon storage and how do you prevent theft.

Even disregarding all of this, the rules for the use of force will prevent the effective use of the National Guard to accomplish border security. That is, unless something drastically changes.

I have recommended that we view what is going on as a war against warlords and insurgents who will destabilize the state both South and even North of the border. I have further recommended that the RUF be amended and the U.S. Marines be used to set up outposts and observation posts along the border in distributed operations, even making incursions into Mexican territory if necessary while chasing insurgents (Mexican police have used U.S. soil in pursuit of the insurgents).

While militarization of border security may be an unpalatable option for America, it is the only option that will work. All other choices make the situation worse because it is allowed to expand and grow. Every other option is mere window dressing.

While McCaffrey and Scales have done a service in their outline of the scope and magnitude of the problem, their recommendations are, needless to say, underwhelming. They kick the can down the road, and the road only becomes more dangerous with time and distance. Above it was said that there is no national analogue to the menace at the border. The only analogue to this problem is the most recent campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. The problem has exceeded the ability of law enforcement to cope.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

Military commissions website

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ayudas a la traducción inglés-Español

New York, New York

La Guardia Civil detiene a cinco personas en Guipúzcoa y Navarra acusadas de formar una célula logística relacionada con la red terrorista de al qaida

La Guardia Civil ha detenido en las últimas horas a cinco personas en Guipúzcoa y Navarra acusadas de formar una célula logística relacionada con la red terrorista de Al Qaeda.

En concreto, a los arrestados, de nacionalidad argelina, se les acusa de contribuir a la financiación de Al Qaeda en el Magreb Islámico (AQMI).

Dos de las detenciones se han producido en las localidades guipuzcoanas de Irún y Legorreta, otras dos en Pamplona y la última en la localidad navarra de Berriozar.

La operación ha sido efectuada por agentes del Servicio de Información de la Guardia Civil con mandato de la Audiencia Nacional.

Los arrestados son sospechosos de enviar dinero a Argelia que tendría como destino la rama de Al Qaeda que opera en el Magreb africano.

Entre 36 y 49 años

El Ministerio del Interior ha facilitado en una nota su identidad y su edad, comprendida entre los 36 y los 49 años: Mohamed Talbi, Hakim Anniche, Mounir Aoudache, Abdelghaffour Bensaoula y Ahmed Benchohra.

Según la Guardia Civil, los detenidos tendrían vinculaciones en otros países europeos (Italia, Francia y Suiza) y prestarían colaboración financiera a estas organizaciones terroristas vinculadas a Al Qaeda.

Operación aún abierta

En los registros llevados a cabo en los domicilios y locales vinculados a los detenidos, los agentes se han incautado de diverso material informático y documentación.

Las actuaciones han sido dirigidas por el Juzgado Central de Instrucción número 3 y la Fiscalía de la Audiencia Nacional.

La investigación, en la que han participado más de 150 efectivos dado que los registros se han realizado de forma simultánea, sigue abierta y no se descartan nuevas actuaciones.


La "metamorfosis" islamista / Islamist metamorphosis

Copio de Jopeph Fitsanakis,, Analysis: Ex-CIA WMD director warns of ‘morphed’ Islamist groups:

In recent months, the heads of the United States Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency have opined that the United States may be close to “strategically defeating al-Qaeda”.

These were the words used by former CIA Director and current Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta in July, to describe the current state of Washington’s ‘war on terrorism’.

Shortly afterwards, General David Petraeus, who replaced Panetta at the helm of the CIA, echoed his predecessor, arguing that the situation following the death of Osama bin Laden “hold[s] the prospect of a strategic defeat [...], a strategic dismantling, of al-Qaeda”.

But do such optimistic projections correspond to reality on the ground?

In a new column for Homeland Security Today, former CIA operations officer Charles S. Faddis, who retired from the Agency in 2008 as the chief of its weapons of mass destruction counterterrorism unit, agrees that al-Qaeda has been “severely battered” in the ten years since 9/11.

But he warns that, while America insists of engaging in “large-scale conventional military operations” in Afghanistan, and essentially “a strategic bombing campaign” in Pakistan, a new generation of terrorist groups appears to have “shifted, morphed and evolved”.

In light of this reality, the recent comments by Panetta and Petreaus may suggest “the possibility of a loss of focus” in American counterterrorist operations, says Faddis.

The former CIA covert operations officer, who has written several books since his retirement, goes on to discuss the rapid rise of several ethnic or regional militant Islamist groups, including Nigeria’s Boko Haram.

The organization made macabre headlines earlier this month, when it launched a massive suicide attack against a United Nations office complex in the Nigerian city of Abuja, killing and injuring over 100 people.

He also mentions the Islamic State of Iraq, a notorious outfit whose most recent strikes display an operational sophistication that often surpasses that of Boko Haram’s.

Finally, Faddis discusses Yemen’s Al-Qaeda in the Arabic Peninsula (AQAP) and al-Shabaab, the youth wing of Somalia’s Islamic Courts Union.

The latter, he warns, is now developing an operational alliance with al-Qaeda, through which American members of al-Shabaab are trained by “senior al-Qaeda operatives”, he says. One question that remains unanswered in Faddis’ well-argued analysis is why America’s reshuffled military and intelligence leadership engaging in a concerted public information campaign apparently aimed at convincing domestic audiences that Washington’s ‘global war on terrorism” may soon be ending. Faddis’ personal blog, entitled Common Sense, can be found here.

Próxima parada: Pakistán // Next stop: Pakistan

Últimamente se está filtrando mucha información sobre los pakistaníes a propósito, probable señal de que la "tolerancia" norteamericana se acaba.

The New York Times publicó ayer un artículo describiendo una emboscada que tropas pakistaníes tendieron a soldados norteamericanos en 2007, en la que murió un comandante y resultaron heridos tres soldados y un intérprete.

También ayer se hizo pública una reunión de "espías" chinos, pakistaníes y saudíes en Islamabad: los chinos porque Pakistán es un aliado contra India; los saudíes porque buscan alinearse con el sunita Pakistán, como contrapartida a la creciente influencia iraní (y el declive estadounidense) en la región.

También es verdad que los saudíes están en todas partes y que no se pierden una...

A destacar:

... A trilateral meeting between intelligence officials from Saudi Arabia, China and Pakistan will held in Islamabad today, Express 24/7 reported.

The trilateral meeting between officials will focus on United States (US) allegations against Pakistan and the future course of action in this regard.

Earlier, Director-general (DG) ISI Lt General Ahmad Shuja Pasha met Saudi officials at Chaklala base.

Sources said Saudi officials had conveyed a positive signal of considerable support to ISI officials during the meeting.

Pakistán no es China y parece que esta vez MacArthur no se detiene en las riberas del Yalu.

Más en:

Mullen Takes on the ISI -- Foreign Affairs.

Pakistan Is the Enemy: We know that Pakistan's intelligence service is aiding terrorists. What are we going to do about it? -- Christopher Hitchens, Slate

Pakistan's real terrorism problem -- Ahsan Butt, Foreign Policy

El "problema" kurdo hoy

Libia / Lybia

Libya's NTC May Delay Forming Gov't Again-Source -- New York Times/Reuters

Libya Political Infighting Hampers Drive to Form New Cabinet -- Bloomberg Businessweek

Libya’s Premier Warns Against Political Feuds While War Persists -- Bloomberg Businessweek

Libyan leaders in second day of interim government talks -- CNN

Libya: Net closes in on pro-Gaddafi stonghold of Sirte -- BBC

Libyan NTC fighters breach Gaddafi city Sirte from east -- BBC

Libyan tanks strike Sirte loyalists -- Reuters

Libya fighters push into Gaddafi bastion -- Al Jazeera

Libyan Opposition Fighters Renew Assault on Qaddafi Hometown -- Bloomberg Businessweek

Civilians flee Gadhafi loyalist stronghold Sirte -- Stars and Stripes/AP

Hundreds of Libyan civilians flee Gadhafi’s hometown Sirte as revolutionary offensive on hold -- Washington Post

Libyans Say Qaddafi Loyalists Mounted Raid From Algeria -- New York Times

Libyan forces enter Gaddafi home town from east -- Reuters

Libya: forces close in on Sirte despite fresh attacks from Gaddafi loyalists -- The Guardian

Thousands of fighters have lost limbs in Libya conflict -- The National

NATO authorizes extending Libya mission 90 days -- L.A. Times

Accused of Fighting for Qaddafi, a Libyan Town’s Residents Face Reprisals -- New York Times

Misurata, proud of its role in Libya revolt, looks to the future -- L.A. Times

Italy's Eni: Oil production resumes in Libya -- Yahoo News/AP

Libya seeks partners for rebuilding -- BBC

Oil, Guns and Candy Floss: Don’t Expect Business as Usual in Libya, Yet -- Wall Street Journal

FACTBOX - Foreign embassies opened in Libya -- Reuters

Defuse arms threat in an unstable Libya -- National Editorial

Exploring a New, But Cautious, Tripoli -- New York Times

The Bitter Rump of Qaddafi Loyalists -- The Atlantic

ANALYSIS - Libya's last battle may be its toughest -- Reuters

Sunday, September 25, 2011

If the euro falls, what price peace?

Copio de Stephen Wall, The Tablet, If the euro falls, what price peace? The future of the EU:

From the time of its founding fathers, the dream of post-war Europe has been political union as well as economic prosperity.

But with its economy in crisis, the danger is that Europe’s core values of solidarity and peaceful coexistence will be lost

It was Margaret Thatcher, speaker of unpalatable truths, who first said it back in 1990.

A single currency, in which nations gave up the right to set their exchange and interest rates, could only work if there were significant fiscal transfers from the rich to the poor member states.

And that would not happen unless economic and monetary union were accompanied by political union, which, for her, meant an unacceptable sacrifice of national sovereignty.

Those countries that signed up for the single currency in 1991 were committed to a political union.

But they explicitly ruled out fiscal transfers and the rules they set (the stability and growth pact) to try to effect the economic convergence essential to a successful single currency were soon breached by France and Germany, the very countries that had invented and imposed them on others.

So they willed the end, but not the means of achieving it.

That conflict between the European ideal and national self-interest is not new.

Jean Monnet, the inspirational genius behind the European project, saw that in post-war Europe, France had coal but no steel-making capacity.

Germany had that capacity but no coal.

Monnet detected the risk of renewed conflict and persuaded French and German leaders to create a supra-national authority to manage and share their coal and steel resources.

From that sprang the idea of the European Community, in which nation states would vest some of their sovereignty in supra-national institutions in order to develop a single European market and a series of common policies, which would so intertwine their interests that war between them would become unthinkable.

It was always in Monnet’s mind that this organisation of member states would eventually pool so much of their sovereignty that they would form a single political federation.

Five of the six founding members shared his view.

De Gaulle’s France did not and, in the mid-1960s, de Gaulle boycotted the European Community for six months in an unsuccessful attempt to unravel some of what Monnet had created.

De Gaulle wanted, instead, a powerful union of nation states, led by France in partnership with Germany.

The boycott ended but for 10 years from 1958 the political development of the European Community was held to ransom by de Gaulle.

His vision of a militarily strong Europe, independent of the United States for its defence, put him at loggerheads with every other member state.

De Gaulle’s successors were, unlike him, committed to the notion of a European political union.

Even when the Community grew to embrace other European countries, including Britain, the commitment to political union was maintained.

Precisely what it meant was not defined but, for most, economic and monetary union with a single currency was to be the key ingredient.

That it took more than 30 years to bring the single currency into being is a measure of the difficulty of reconciling conflicting national interests and of the impact of world events such as the oil crisis of the 1970s and the collapse of the post-war Bretton Woods monetary system.

When, in 1990, the President of the European Commission, Jacques Delors, said that the ultimate objective should be a federal structure with the European Commission as its government, answerable to the elected European Parliament and with the European Council (the heads of the Community’s Governments) as a kind of senate, Margaret Thatcher was the only European leader to say “no, no, no”.

Nevertheless, there were already signs that the commitment of other member states to political union had become more rhetorical than real.

At French insistence, the Common Agricultural Policy still accounted for nearly half of the Community’s budget, despite the fact that agriculture represented only around 6 per cent of the European Community’s GNP.

There was not enough money to support other more pressing policies that would have increased the integration of the member states.

With German reunification, the German Government’s interest in political union waned.

The collapse of the Soviet Union removed a threat that had helped bind the Community members together.

The countries that signed up to the single currency gave to the European Commission and European Parliament only a walk-on part, making one of the core structures of any political union the creature of the member states, outside the guardianship of the independent institutions.

The European Community has always been a project led by the elites of its member states.

For most of its history, outside Britain at least, it enjoyed popular support because it delivered growth and prosperity, especially in its early years.

But the last two decades have seen a big change.

The treaty that set up the single currency obliged all member states of the now European Union, with the exception of Denmark and Britain who had opted out, to adopt it once they met the economic criteria.

For the sake of the political dynamic, the criteria for joining were sometimes fudged.

The more fragile economies struggled, especially when, faced with economic downturn and unemployment, they were bound by exchange rates and interest rates better attuned to the stronger economies than to their own needs.

Over the same period, the EU welcomed in the newly liberated countries of eastern and central Europe.

Their acceptance by the existing membership has been the supreme achievement of the European Union to date: a brilliant act of generosity in the interests of peace and stability.

But it has been accompanied by migration from the new member states on a scale that few anticipated.

That in turn has contributed to massive social change.

The resulting tensions have combined to turn public opinion away from support of the European Union and its institutions.

None of us can know whether the European Union could survive the break-up of the single currency.

It looks for now as if the departure of some members is more likely than the demise of the whole project.

And it may yet be that the crisis will finally bring about the central political governance necessary to make the currency a success.

But the pressures of national public opinion make such a dramatic breakthrough very problematic.

Greater democratic accountability looks to me to be a necessary condition of the European Union’s continued success but it is far from clear whether the founding vision of the EU still commands popular support.

The post-war motivations of Monnet look like ancient history 65 years on.

The European Union is a secular organisation but its founders were Christian Democrats and at its core are values rooted in the very Christian notion of solidarity.

Its members remain 27 independent countries but with a shared belief in peaceful coexistence, democracy, social justice and responsibility to the poorer nations of the world.

They have created an organisation that both affirms the nation state and constrains it, and in which national governments do compromise for the common good.

It has not worked out as its founders expected.

But it has worked and, flawed as it inevitably is, it is hard to think of a better realistic alternative, both as a way of managing potential conflict between the members and of promoting their shared values and interests in a dangerous world.

French Libya lessons learned

UN agency confirms raw uranium in Libya

Foto: David Rose.

The Boston Globe, The Big Picture, Afghanistan, September, 2011

The Boston Globe, The Big Picture, Afghanistan, September 2011.

Israel secretly receives 55 bunker busting bombs from the U.S.

U.S. to provide drones to Turkey

Foto: Reuters.

Saudi king gives women right to vote

Friday, September 23, 2011

A secret license to kill

Foto: AFP/Getty Images.

Copio de David Cole, NYR blog, A Secret License to Kill:

On Friday, a front-page New York Times story reported that a rift has emerged within the Obama Administration over whether it has authority to kill “rank-and-file” Islamist militants in foreign countries in which there is not an internationally recognized “armed conflict.” The implications of this debate are not trivial: Imagine that Russia started killing individuals living in the United States with remote-controlled drone missiles, and argued that it was justified in doing so because it had determined, in secret, that they posed a threat to Russia’s security, and that the United States was unwilling to turn them over. Would we calmly pronounce such actions compliant with the rule of law? Not too likely.

And yet that is precisely the argument that the Obama Administration is now using in regard to American’s own actions in places like Yemen and Somalia—and by extension anywhere else it deems militant anti-US groups may be taking refuge. On the same day the Times article appeared, John Brennan, President Obama’s senior advisor on homeland security and counterterrorism, gave a speech at Harvard Law School in which he defended the United States’ use of drones to kill terrorists who are far from any “hot battlefield.” Brennan argued that the United States is justified in killing members of violent Islamist groups far from Afghanistan if they pose a threat to the United States, even if the threat is not “imminent” as that term has traditionally been understood. (As if to underscore the point, The Washington Post reports that the US has “significantly increased” its drone attacks in Yemen in recent months, out of fears that the government may collapse.)

In international law, where reciprocity governs, what is lawful for the goose is lawful for the gander. And when the goose is the United States, it sets a precedent that other countries may well feel warranted in following. Indeed, exploiting the international mandate to fight terrorism that has emerged since the September 11 attacks, Russia has already expanded its definition of terrorists to include those who promote “terrorist ideas”—for example, by distributing information that might encourage terrorist activity— and to authorize the Russian government to target “international terrorists” in other countries. It may seem fanciful that Russia would have the nerve to use such an authority within the United States—though in the case of Alexsander Litvinenko it appears to have had few qualms about taking extreme measures to kill an individual who had taken refuge in the United Kingdom. But it is not at all fanciful that once the US proclaims such tactics legitimate, other nations might seek to use them against their less powerful neighbors.

Ironically, Brennan’s speech lauded the benefits of fighting terrorism within the confines of the rule of law. When we uphold the rule of law, Brennan argued, “our counterterrorism tools are more likely to withstand the scrutiny of our courts, our allies, and the American people,” and to offer “a powerful alternative” to al Qaeda’s lawless ways. Indeed, as I argue in the current issue of The New York Review, the Obama administration deserves credit—along with civil society and the courts—for helping to restore the rule of law, at least partially, after the blatant disregard with which its predecessor dismissed it in the immediate aftermath of September 11.

Yet as the New York Times report makes clear, when it comes to targeted killings, there is serious dispute, even within the administration, about what the law permits. . Some, like State Department legal advisor Harold Koh, take the position that beyond the battlefield, we can attack only those “high-value individuals” who are actually engaged in plotting attacks on the United States, and only where their threats are specific enough to allow the US to claim the right to self-defense granted to all states under the UN Charter. The Charter permits nations to use unilateral military force only in self-defense against an armed attack, and has been interpreted to permit self-defense against threatened attacks only when they are imminent.. Defense Department lawyers maintain, by contrast, that the ongoing war against al-Qaeda authorizes us to kill any of the thousands of rank and file members not only of al-Qaeda itself, but also of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula—a Yemen-based group founded in 2009—and of al-Shabab, a Somalia-based militant group. Although both of the latter organizations were founded well after the September 11 attacks, the Defense Department considers them fair game because it deems them to be associated with al Qaeda.

In his Harvard speech, Brennan deftly avoided siding with either contending position. He insisted that the administration’s policy is “focused on those individuals who are a threat to the United States, whose removal would cause a significant—even if temporary—disruption of the plans and capabilities of al-Qaeda and its associated forces.” But note his use of the words “focused” and “associated forces.” He did not say that the administration’s targeting authority was limited to such individuals, only that for the moment that is where the US’s strategic focus lies. And he did not define what counts as an “associated force.” Is the US’s desire to disrupt temporarily the capabilities of al Shabab, a group largely consumed by an internal conflict in Somalia, enough to justify killing a high-ranking member (let alone the “rank and file”) with a drone, even if neither the individual nor the group is poised to attack us? Brennan’s formula seemed to suggest as much. And published accounts report that the US has indeed attacked al Shabab members with drones in Somalia.

Brennan further argued that the UN Charter requirement that a threat be imminent before a nation can exercise its right of self-defense makes less sense when a country faces a threat from a clandestine terrorist group, whose threats may be harder to spot in advance. But the purpose of that requirement was to ensure that military force is truly a last resort. Too many wars have been launched on the basis of ill-defined future threats. The watered-down imminence that Brennan seemed to advocate, especially when coupled with his suggestion that even a temporary disruption of “capabilities” is sufficient reason to strike, would seem to permit targeting even where no attack is in fact imminent. Such reasoning could also be used to justify lethal force in cases where it might well be possible to foil a possible attack through arrest, criminal prosecution, interdiction, or other means. As many countries, including Great Britain, Germany, Spain, and, Italy have shown, the fact that organized groups seek to engage in politically motivated violence does not necessitate a military response.

The legal parameters defining the use of military force against terrorists are unquestionably difficult to draw. On the one hand, no one disputes that it is permissible to kill an enemy soldier on the battlefield in an ongoing armed conflict. On the other hand, absent extreme circumstances, constitutional and international law bar a state from killing a human being in peacetime without a trial (and even then, many authorities hold that capital punishment violates international human rights law). Al-Qaeda has not limited its fight to the battlefield in Afghanistan, and most agree that, as long as sovereignty concerns are met, the use of military force can follow this enemy beyond the battlefield at least in some situations. Killing Osama bin Laden in Pakistan—whose tribal areas are for all practical purposes part of the theater of war—was the justified targeting of the enemy’s leader. But are al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or al-Shabab the same “enemy,” or merely sympathetic adherents of a terrorist philosophy? They certainly did not attack us on September 11, nor are they harboring those who did. Can we summarily execute all terrorists who we fear might someday commit a terrorist act against us? Brennan’s speech offered no answers.

And that makes it especially disturbing that the contours of US policy and practice in this area remain largely secret. Presumably the administration has developed criteria for who can be killed and why, and a process for assessing who fits those criteria and when their targeting is justified. But if so, it hasn’t told us. Instead, it exercises the authority to kill, not only in Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan, but in Yemen,Somalia, and presumably elsewhere, based on a secret policy. We learn more about its outlines from leaks to The New York Times than from the cryptic comments of US officials in speeches like Brennan’s. If we are engaging the enemy within the rule of law, as Brennan insisted we must, we should have the courage to make our policies transparent, so that the people, both in the United States and beyond, can judge for themselves. And if, by contrast, we continue to justify such practices in only the vaguest of terms, we should expect other countries to take them up—and almost certainly in ways we will not find to our liking.

September 19, 2011 5:30 p.m.

Pakistan is "exporting violence"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

US setting up secret drone bases in Africa, Indian Ocean

Copio de Lalit K Jha,, US setting up secret drone bases in Africa, Indian Ocean:

Spurred by the runaway success of drones in Afghanistan, US is setting up an array of secret killer unmanned spy plane bases in Africa, Middle East and Indian Ocean to chase al-Qaeda targets and confront pirates.

The move comes as Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and top US military officials have predicted that remnants of the al-Qaeda may be planning to shift bases out of the South Asia following unprecedented American pressure which has already led to the killing of their top leader Osama bin Laden in May.

Fleets of 'hunter-killers' drones - capable of firing hellfire missiles and satellite guided bombs - have already been based on the Indian Ocean island of Seychelles and in Ethiopia to form a ring round Yemen and Somalia, The Washington Post reported.

"The rapid expansion of the undeclared drone wars is a reflection of the growing alarm with which US officials view the activities of al-Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and Somalia, even as al-Qaeda's core leadership in Pakistan has been weakened by US counter-terrorism operations," it said.

Another installations is being established in Ethiopia, a US ally in the fight against al-Shabab, the Somali militant group that controls much of that country, the paper said.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the US has used the Seychelles base for flying surveillance drones, and for the first time will fly armed MQ-9 Reapers from the Indian Ocean site, supplementing strikes from a US drone base in Djibouti.

"US officials say they are concerned that al-Qaeda — under pressure from US operations in Pakistan — is moving to expand operations through its affiliates in East Africa, and that a new charismatic militant leader could emerge there," The Journal reported.

"Politiquillos, tertulianos y togas"

Copio de Don Alberto Martinez de Santos, No atendemos después de las dos, "Politiquillos, tertulianos y togas":

Y a veces tienen toga y te los encuentras intentando imponer su ideología con sentencias, desde los más altos tribunales de Estado.

Ilma. Sra. Carme Chacón Ministra de Defensa del Gobierno de España.

Ursicino Gómez Carbajo, Juez del Juzgado número TRES de los de MADRID está de guardia el día 13 de julio de 1936 cuando le comunican el asesinato de José Calvo Sotelo. Abre el sumario 286/36 e inicia los interrogatorios, pero no logra nada. Nadie busca, ni persigue a los asesinos del líder de la derecha y Prieto, Indalecio ordena que se escondan los de la Motorizada; una fuerza de jóvenes socialistas que actúa en Madrid con rango de “policía auxiliar”. El Gobierno indica que se trata de una simple represalia por la muerte del Teniente Castillo. Nadie lo cree: se sabe que el asesinato se produjo en la Camioneta de Asalto 17 y también se sabe que salió del Cuartel de Pontejos. La noche del día 13 de julio llegaron a ese Cuartel veintiocho órdenes de registro firmadas por Alonso Mallol, vendedor de maquinas de escribir y en la fecha, Director General de Seguridad.

Claridad” el periódico del moderado Largo Caballero, publica en la página 16, la muerte del “Jefe del Fascismo y Ex Ministro de la dictadura” Calvo Sotelo y añade “Todo el proletariado está al lado del Gobierno para la lucha activa contra el fascismo, hasta su total aplastamiento”. Meses después, cuando la Legión y los primeros Tabores de Regulares lleguen a Madrid, Largo Caballero se irá a Valencia, dejando la lucha activa a Miaja y a Rojo.

Ursicino Gómez hace lo que puede y le dejan. A las 23.00 horas del día 13 de julio, el Magistrado del Tribunal Supremo, Eduardo Iglesias Portal se hace cargo del sumario por orden del Gobierno y hace lo que puede, que es nada. En noviembre de 1936, este Magistrado del Tribunal Supremo es nombrado Juez del Tribunal Popular que juzga y condena a muerte a José Antonio en Alicante y en el año 1937 preside en Barcelona el Tribunal que liquida jurídicamente a los anarquistas. “Se llevan en los madriles, sobre las togas, mandiles”.

Unos, preferimos a Ursicino Gómez, Juez de Guardia de Madrid y otras al Magistrado del Tribunal Supremo Eduardo Iglesias Portal. No es cuestión de gustos, en muchas ocasiones, en la historia de España, fue cuestión de vida o muerte. Pero claro, pídele peras al olmo (y la olma).

NATO's military committee meets in Seville, Spain

A Brief History of Negotiating with the Taliban

Three years ago I wrote an article on the history of Taliban negotiations. Anyways, the website I wrote the article for changed formats and my piece disappeared. In the interests of framing (historically) the assassination today of Burhanuddin Rabbani, the most prominent government negoatiator/contact for talks with the Taliban, I will copy and paste the article here. Additionally, numerous people have contacted me over the last couple of years looking for the article, and I just recently found a copy. So here it is…


A Brief History of Negotiating with the Taliban

October 24, 2008.

Should the Afghan government and the international community seek a negotiated settlement with the insurgency? Recently it seems that every second newspaper op-ed on Afghanistan carries the message that negotiating with the Taliban is the best or only option to resolve the conflict in Afghanistan. So I would like to provide the historical context for any potential negotiations with the leadership of the Taliban, particularly its habitual pattern of negotiating in bad faith.

We’ll limit this discussion to domestic and Pakistan-involved negotiations. The ongoing amnesty/reconciliation program whereby Talibs renounce violence and quit the insurgency was openly approved by US senators Bill Frist and Mel Martinez two years ago and recently endorsed by General Petraeus. That’s no secret. In an earlier post I discussed that program as well as the exploratory talks (not negotiations) in Mecca between Afghan government representatives and representatives/proxies for as of yet undefined insurgent groups (rumor mill says Quetta Shura and Hizb-i Islami Hekmatyar, but no mention of Haqqanis or ISI). So, we’ll delimit discussion to commitments made by the Taliban leadership, and their failure to honor them, a pattern that potential negotiators should keep in mind when considering making concessions in exchange for any promise from the Taliban (I’ll skip Hizb in this analysis).

During the 1990s the international community learned quickly that negotiating with the Taliban was anything but straightforward. The negotiations between the Taliban and the UN, NGOs and other members of the international community are well known as having generally been a frustrating and unproductive exercise in futility. Consider Osama bin Laden’s pre-2001 quote: “Our Jihad has two targets. One is America and the other is the Foreign Ministry of the Taliban.”[1] Those were the people with whom the international community often negotiated (and later pointed out as the “moderate” Taliban). The Foreign Ministry of the Taliban was not exactly known as an influential entity. As that is already well known, I’ll address my comments to domestic political negotiations with the Taliban leadership prior to 2001.

Early on the Taliban had shown an apparent eagerness to talk. They had negotiated at the individual level and taken many Khalqi communists into the fold. Hekmatyar, an opponent of the Taliban at the time, claimed that 1600 Khalqis had joined the Taliban, making them a large employer of “reformed” radical communists. The number may be exaggerated, but the presence of Khalqis was well known. However, the Taliban had very short term plans for them: they were needed for their technical military expertise. By 1998 that was no longer required (in my view, because Pakistan ISI officers had replaced them) and they were discarded.[2] The Taliban certainly did not negotiate in good faith with these men at the individual level, a common tactic of marginalizing or discarding short term allies that is by no means confined to Afghanistan.

Speaking of former communists (but not Khalqis), Rashid Dostum, the Uzbek leader of Junbesh, was already wary of the Taliban because of their execution of the former communist leader Najibullah when they captured Kabul.[3] This had a strong effect on him, as it foreshadowed what could be his fate if he surrendered or was captured.[4] The Taliban confirmed these suspicions when they conferred death sentences on Ahmed Shah Massoud, Burhanuddin Rabbani, and Dostum.[5] This was at odds with the Pakistani leadership’s strategy at the time to have Dostum remain in control over the north, with minimal Taliban authority over the area, in order to placate Russia and the Central Asian states.[6] However, Pakistan’s attempts in 1995 and 1996 to persuade their Taliban clients to allow Dostum his continued autonomy in the north were a failure, as they refused any suggestion of sharing power there.[7] As a result, Dostum joined Massoud, Rabbani, Karim Khalili, and others in an anti-Taliban alliance known in the Western media as the Northern Alliance.[8]

However, one Uzbek leader, Dostum’s second-in-command Abdul Malik, was persuaded to cooperate with the Taliban. This occurred after he had received guarantees from Pakistan, who sent in ISI officers and diplomats to Mazar to settle the final terms of an agreement (Malik was also motivated by the belief, shared by many, that Dostum was behind his brother’s assassination). The Taliban promised to put Malik in power in the north, until elections could be held, in return for his cooperation. He complied and allowed Taliban troops to go through his defensive positions and into Mazar, the de facto capital of the north, causing Dostum to flee the country.

The terms offered to Malik were never implemented. The Taliban reneged on their agreement almost immediately, and the power-sharing quickly morphed into an unconditional surrender. The Taliban refused to share power with Malik and instead attempted to assign him the minor post of Deputy Foreign Minister (see bin Laden’s quote above). The Taliban did all this despite Pakistani attempts to persuade them to at least renegotiate, if not honor, their agreement. Everything in Mazar fell apart when the Taliban attempted to disarm Hazara militiamen, who knew, based on the previous treatment of Shia Hazaras, what to expect. The short version goes like this: Hazaras fight back, Uzbeks join in, Dostum returns, Taliban heavily defeated, Taliban return the next year, Taliban orgy of rape, murder and torture. The end result for Malik was the destruction of his forces and exile in Iran.[9]

This incident was an obvious final warning to any leader who thought that the Taliban would negotiate in good faith. Massoud took all this into account and never entertained Taliban overtures up until his assassination by al Qaeda.

Tragically for one leader, this lesson had been learned several years earlier during the battle for Kabul. In 1995 Massoud’s forces attacked the Hazara Hizb-i Wahdat positions, resulting in the Shia cleric and political leader Abdul Ali Mazari meeting with and attempting negotiations with the Taliban who were then advancing from the south. While Mazari was a guest or guest-turned-prisoner (depending on the version) of the Taliban, the Akbari faction of Wahdat showed that it was in no mood to surrender its positions and the Taliban had to engage a number of Wahdat militiamen as it entered the city. The sources vary on the story at this point but most agree that the Hazara Shia leader Mazari was killed while in the custody of the Taliban. Either you believe that the elderly Shia cleric was summarily executed, killed while attempting a Rambo-style escape or, as others maintain, you believe that Mazari was put on a helicopter bound for Kandahar, then thrown out when at a sufficient height.[10]

What lessons does this hold for any prospective negotiations today? The Taliban leadership, if one can speak of a single entity (which one really can’t these days), does not feel the need to negotiate honestly with Shia “heretics”, former communist “atheists” and “hypocrite” mujahideen. I think it is safe to put foreign “infidels” and Afghan government “puppets” in that same category. And, most definitely, the Pakistani government has a horrible record of guaranteeing anything in regards to the Taliban.

As for contemporary negotiations, I’ve already offered my skepticism and gone into the details, as have Troy at Abu Muqawama and Josh Foust at Registan. You could also look to Pakistan’s negotiations with their Taliban to gauge what the “Taliban’s” strategy may be. Christine Fair’s excerpted opinion:

Pakistani negotiations with the Taliban have been “ratifications of defeat on the ground.” Without “any ability to verify” Taliban compliance. They were a joke, a separate peace, legitimizing Taliban leaders. In the tribal areas, “the so-called jirgas often held up as a pathway to peace have been fundamentally eviscerated” and replaced by religious and Taliban figures. “I’m dubious, especially in the tribal areas,” that negotiating with the Taliban in Pakistan could be productive, “since their goals are antithetical to the state.”

Most pundits advocating a negotiated political compromise never get beyond merely stating that this conflict cannot be won and therefore a political solution with the Taliban is required. The hypothetical details of any prospective arrangement are very rarely provided. An antedote to these superficial statements can be found in a recent article in Foreign Affairs by Barnett Rubin and Ahmed Rashid. They advocate, as part of a broader diplomatic initiative, “a political solution with as much of the Afghan and Pakistani insurgencies as possible, offering political inclusion…” But they are cautious about propsective negotiations and any “guarantees” that may be offered:

The guarantees these interlocutors now envisage are far from those required, and Afghanistan will need international forces for security assistance even if the current war subsides. But such questions can provide a framework for discussion.

The entire article is required reading, as the analysis offers many qualifications. The most important, beyond the “guarantees,” deal with the relationship with al Qaeda and the Taliban’s “retrograde social policies.” Clearly Rubin and Rashid are advocating cautious negotiations with elements of the insurgency. But many questions still remain. Some of which were discussed by Josh Foust. The technical details and “what abouts?” still need to be filled in.

The Taliban (Afghan and Pakistani) pattern of behavior will hopefully be in the mind of any negotiator who finds himself opposite a Taliban representative claiming to deliver on the ground in Afghanistan. Assuming those at the negotiating table can actually make their field commanders comply with the political leaderships’ decisions, the Afghan government/coalition would be foolish to offer too much up front.

At the moment there is great speculation about exploratory talks and negotiations, up to and including a comprehensive negotiated settlement. Beyond the issue of the Taliban’s history of neglecting to deliver on agreed terms is this question: why would a force on the rise negotiate honestly and seriously with a force that still appears to be on the decline? I don’t believe in assigning a rigid pattern of behavior to any social/historical entity and then expecting predictions based on that to be completely accurate. Variables, sometimes unseen, can change. However, the recurring pattern of the Taliban failing to honor agreements should instil wariness in any potential negotiator.


1. Wahid Muzhda, quoted in Robert D. Crews (2008), ‘Moderate Taliban?’, in The Taliban and the Crisis of Afghanistan. Robert D Crews and Amin Tarzi (eds.), Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, p. 238.

2. Larry Goodson (2001), Afghanistan ’s Endless War: State Failure, Regional Politics, and the Rise of the Taliban, Seattle : University of Washington Press , p. 120.

3.William Maley (1998), ‘Interpreting the Taliban’, in William Maley (ed.) Fundamentalism Reborn? Afghanistan and the Taliban, New York: New York University Press, pp. 10-11.

4. Rieck, Andreas (1997), ‘Afghanistan’s Taliban: An Islamic Revolution of the Pashtuns’, in Orient, Vol. 38, No. 1, p. 137; Sreedhar, Mahendra and Ved (1998), Afghan Turmoil, New Delhi: Himalayan Books, p. 59.

5. Ahmed Rashid (2000), Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, New Haven , CT: Yale University Press, p. 50.

6. Maley, op. cit., pp. 10-11.

7. Ahmed Rashid (1998) ‘Pakistan and the Taliban’, in William Maley (ed.), Fundamentalism Reborn? Afghanistand and the Taliban, New York: New York University Press, p. 82.

8. Rashid (2000), op. cit., pp. 52-3; Sreedhar, Mahendra and Ved (1998), op. cit., p. 59.

9. Rashid (2000), op. cit., pp. 57-63; Amin Saikal (1998), ‘Afghanistan’s Ethnic Conflict’, Survival, Vol. 40, No. 2, pp. 114-126., p. 120; Maley (1998), op. cit., p. 11; Angelo Rasanayagam (2003), Afghanistan : A Modern History, London: I.B. Tauris, p. 153; Sreedhar et al (1998), p. 39. See also Human Rights Watch: The Massacre in Mazar-i Sharif.

10. Peter Marsden (2001), Afghanistan : Minorities, Conflict and the Search for Peace, London: Minority Rights Group International , p. 23; Saikal (1998), op. cit., p. 34; Rashid, op. cit., p. 35; Anthony Davis (1998), ‘How the Taliban became a Military Force’, in William Maley (ed.), Fundamentalism Reborn? Afghanistan and the Taliban, New York: New York University Press, pp.56-58.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...