Wednesday, December 2, 2009

OBAMA'S TRAVAILS - NEITHER INDIA NOR PAKISTAN HAPPY WITH STRATEGY

Article (c) STRATFOR

U.S. President Barack Obama’s long-awaited announcement on U.S. strategy for the war in Afghanistan is not sitting well in Islamabad or New Delhi. While Pakistan now has to figure out how to keep American forces from taking more aggressive action against jihadists in Pakistan, India does not want to deal with the messy aftermath of a U.S. military exit from the region in two years. Meanwhile, the jihadists operating in Pakistan have a greater incentive to create a crisis on the Indo-Pakistani border through rogue attacks in India — a scenario that could well upset Obama’s exit strategy from Afghanistan.

Analysis

U.S. President Barack Obama announced Dec. 1 the broad strokes of his administration’s strategy for the war in Afghanistan. In short, he said there are three main objectives:

1)deny al Qaeda a safe haven on the Afghan-Pakistani border,
2)halt the momentum of the Taliban offensive in Afghanistan with an additional 30,000 troops, and
3)train and build Afghan security and civilian forces to deal with the jihadist threat themselves.


Notably, Obama also refused to commit to a long-haul nation-building strategy in Afghanistan. On the contrary, he defined the endgame for the war and specified that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan could begin as early as July 2011.

Pakistani Concerns

Pakistan’s primary concern with the strategy has to deal with the first objective: denying al Qaeda a safe haven. It is well known that al Qaeda’s safe haven is not in Afghanistan, where U.S. troops are concentrated, but in Pakistan, where Pakistani forces employ a much more nuanced method of distinguishing between “good” and “bad” jihadists.

Under the Obama plan, the U.S. military is evidently working on a tight timeline to demonstrate (prior to the 2012 U.S. elections) that al Qaeda has been defeated. The United States needs results and it needs them fast. Pakistan can thus assume that the United States is about to apply a lot more pressure on Islamabad to dismantle al Qaeda in Pakistan.

But Pakistan’s definition of “bad” jihadists does not mesh with that of the United States. Indeed, the targets of Pakistan’s offensive in Swat and South Waziristan have been those Taliban militants who have clearly turned against the Pakistani state, namely the Tehrik-i-Taliban movement. Al Qaeda and its allies, on the other hand, have strategically kept their focus on Afghanistan while maintaining a safe haven in Pakistan. If Pakistan widens the scope of its counterinsurgency efforts to include the militants on Washington’s hit list — particularly the Haqqani network, the Mullah Omar-led group of Afghan Taliban, Maulvi Nazir, Hafiz Gulf Bahadir and other high-value targets with strong linkages to al Qaeda — then the Pakistani military will be forced to deal with a bigger backlash.

Pakistan continues to deliberate over how the United States actually intends to achieve its objective of denying al Qaeda safe haven in Pakistan.

In private discussions with Pakistani leaders, the United States has delivered an ultimatum to Islamabad: either give up its militant-proxy project and enjoy the political, economic and military benefits of an enhanced relationship with Washington or the United States will take unilateral action on Pakistani soil.

Such unilateral action would go beyond the CIA’s unmanned aerial vehicle strikes in the borderlands and likely entail sending in fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft with special forces for quick “get in and get out” operations against al Qaeda targets deep inside Pakistani territory. The United States carried out such an overt incursion in Pakistan in September 2008 in South Waziristan, which led to widespread popular backlash inside the country.

This type of unilateral U.S. military action is a redline for the Pakistani military. The impression STRATFOR has gotten from Pakistani military sources is that Islamabad is still quite confident that the United States won’t risk a serious destabilization of Pakistan in pursuit of its counterterrorism objectives. In fact, Pakistani officials have made it a point to paint a doomsday scenario for the United States should the Pakistani military be pushed to the edge in its fight against Pakistani jihadists while trying to hold a feeble government and shaky economy together.

Pakistan will thus try to hedge as best it can to keep U.S. forces at bay. The Pakistani military has a strategic imperative to continue along the current path and engage in limited military offensives against those jihadists who have turned on the Pakistani state while turning a blind eye to those jihadists whose efforts are focused on Afghanistan and/or India. But the United States is unlikely to tolerate Pakistan’s way of handling its jihadist threat, particularly now that U.S. forces are under a tight deadline to neutralize al Qaeda in Pakistan.

As U.S. pressure on Islamabad and the threat to Pakistani sovereignty inevitably increase in the months ahead, Pakistan will rely more heavily on intelligence cooperation with Washington to manage its relationship with the United States. STRATFOR’s Geopolitical Intelligence Report this week discusses in depth how the U.S. battle against al Qaeda and its jihadist allies is largely an intelligence war, one in which Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate could play a crucial role in penetrating al Qaeda and the Taliban. The more reliant the United States is on Pakistani intelligence to achieve its aims in Afghanistan, the better able Islamabad will be in convincing Washington that it’s better off leaving the Pakistani segment of the U.S.-jihadist war to the Pakistanis — or so Pakistan hopes.

At the end of the day, Pakistan cannot escape its fear that the United States will take more aggressive action on Pakistani soil with or without Islamabad’s consent.

Pakistan also has a deeper dilemma to contend with concerning its relationship with the United States. Though Pakistan’s alliance with the United States has often left Pakistan feeling betrayed, Pakistan still needs a great power patron with enough interest in the region, like the United States, to counter India. During the Cold War, Pakistan was the key for the United States in containing Soviet expansion in South-Central Asia. Today, Pakistan is the key to containing radical Islamism. In both cases, Pakistan has benefited from U.S. political, economic and military support in its attempts to level the playing field with India.

Though the U.S. partnership with Pakistan against the jihadists is fraught with complications, Pakistan still does not want the day to come when U.S. forces draw down from the region and leave it to Islamabad to pick up the pieces of the jihadist war. If the United States is sufficiently satisfied with its mission in the region by the summer of 2011 to draw down forces according to the timeline Obama laid out, U.S. interest in Pakistan will wane and Islamabad will be left in a difficult position. Pakistan is feeling especially vulnerable these days considering the United States’ growing strategic partnership with India next door.

Pakistan can therefore be expected to lay heavy demands on the United States to restrain India if Washington expects greater cooperation from Islamabad. Pakistan is already urging the United States to restrict Indian influence in Afghanistan, which is viewed by Islamabad as nothing short of an Indian encirclement strategy. Whereas India has been careful to specify that its support for Afghanistan is primarily economic, Pakistan remains convinced that the Indian presence in Afghanistan, whether in the form of consulates or construction companies, is simply a front for Indian Research and Analysis Wing intelligence agents to exploit the Baloch and jihadist insurgencies in Pakistan.

Moreover, Pakistan will continue to insist to the United States that it cannot devote more forces to combating the jihadist threat in its western periphery as long as it has to worry about the high concentration of Indian troops along the Indo-Pakistani border to the east. New Delhi, however, remains convinced that Pakistan continues to support militant proxies against India and is unlikely to heed any U.S. request to back off the border with Pakistan to assuage Islamabad’s concerns when the threat of another militant attack remains real and near.

Indian Skepticism

Obama telephoned Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the eve of his Dec. 1 speech to brief him on his strategy for Afghanistan. India publicly expressed support for the strategy, maintaining the image that U.S.-Indian relations are tightening following Singh’s official state visit to the United States the previous week. Privately, however, India has reason to be skeptical of Obama’s plan.

There is no getting around the fact that Obama is attempting to define an endgame for the U.S. war in Afghanistan, recognizing the need to free up the U.S. military for crises beyond South Asia. This is not to say that the United States will completely abandon the region or that the threat of militant Islam will not persist, but removing thousands of U.S. troops in the region certainly changes the equation in New Delhi’s mind. The last thing India wants is for the United States to draw down its commitment to Afghanistan (and thus ease up pressure on Pakistan) in two years, leaving New Delhi to deal with the aftermath. Indeed, when Singh met with Obama at the White House, he told the U.S. president to stay resolute on his mission in Afghanistan, warning that a U.S. defeat there would have catastrophic consequences.

India sees the benefit of developing a closer partnership with the United States but also wants Washington to do its part to convince Pakistan to give up its decades-long policy of supporting proxy militants against India. Now that Pakistan is experiencing the side effects of its own militant-proxy strategy, India’s hope is that with enough U.S. pressure, Pakistan can be induced to clean up its militant landscape. Yet if the United States is preparing its exit from the region, India may end up losing a valuable lever to use against Pakistan.

Jihadist Wild Card

New Delhi and Islamabad have different reasons to be concerned about U.S. strategy in the region, but there is one area of concern that is common to both: rogue jihadists operating on Pakistani soil.

Al Qaeda and its jihadist allies are examining Obama’s strategy just as intently as everyone else. These jihadists can quite easily deduce that more pressure will be brought to bear on their safe havens in northwest Pakistan, thus threatening their survival. There is a clear intent, therefore, for these jihadists to keep Pakistan focused on the Indian threat on its eastern border in order to alleviate the pressure on their jihadist bases in the northwest. The best way to do this is to create a conflict between India and Pakistan through a large-scale militant attack in hopes of inducing an Indian military response and possibly triggering another near-nuclear confrontation on the border.

Pakistan wants to avoid getting bogged down in a fight with India while trying to deal with its jihadist problems at home. Though Pakistan is trying to rein in many of its former militant proxies, it still has to worry about a number of rogues that could embroil Pakistan in a conflict that it did not ask for. The 2001 bombing of the Indian parliament and the 2008 attacks in Mumbai revealed signs of jihadist involvement that may not have been under direct Pakistani control. Pakistan can attempt to stave off such a crisis by sharing intelligence on militant plots and actors with India through a U.S. channel, but even with enhanced intelligence cooperation, an attack could still happen.

India is already bracing itself for such a scenario and is still grappling with the dilemma that any Indian military response inside Pakistan — even limited strikes — would risk emboldening the jihadists, seriously destabilizing Pakistan and bringing the region to the brink of a nuclear conflagration. India struggled with this issue in the wake of the Mumbai attacks and it appears undecided on how to react to another major attack. In any case, a crisis along the border can be expected, and it would be up to the United States to put out the fire.

The United States is already giving itself a limited timetable to complete its objectives in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and it needs Pakistan’s cooperation to make its strategy work. A crisis on the Indo-Pakistani border would certainly jeopardize those plans, since Pakistan would devote its energy to dealing with India (its primary existential threat) rather than al Qaeda and the Taliban. Throw the threat of nuclear war into the equation, and the United States has an entirely new challenge.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

How come Obama did not mention 26/11 in his speech, though Bali bombing et al found space?

Come on Obama, dont pussy foot around Pakistan too much - we will lose patience and your endgame in Afghanistan will be brought nearer.

India does not fear US or China in case of a war with Pakistan.

Anonymous said...

By giving an exit date Obama has managed to do the following:

a) Pakistan will now ensure that it keeps its Taliban assets safe so that they fill in the vacuum after US exits.

b) India too will try to beef up its presence with anti- Taliban and pro Northern Aliiance set up together with Iran and Russia.

China will hedge its bets with both Pakistan and to Russia and Iran through SCO. Whoever wins, China's interests are maintained.

If one looks at above, it does not seem feasible that US will walk out of such a theatre anytime soon !!

Anonymous said...

Position as on date
1) Pakistan view: wait and watch and hope for the best
2) India view: wait and watch and hope for the best
3) Taliban / alqaida / TTP etc. view: wait and watch and hope for the best
4) Iran view: wait and watch and hope for the best
5) NATO / CHINA / OIC view: wait and watch and hope for the best.
6) US view: home land security to be ensured by fight to destroy the alqaida / talian / TTP etc. + prevent the fall of pakistan / do not give overt advantage to any country (india, iran, pak, china etc)

BUT YOU NEED TWO ACTIVE MEMBERS TO WIN A WAR

now two hypothetical situations

1) If US packs and leaves:
taiban will not be able to run over afghanistan unlike earlier because other neighbours too have learnt their lesson. The inactive members will become active. war will involve the neighbouring countries. Durand line will cease to exist. Iran and India might change their borders.
Pakistan will be in trouble. Afghanistan borders might change.

2) If US stays to fight

a) status quo unless war is taken into pakistan – eventual US leaves staus 1)
b) war goes into pakistan – pakistan in trouble. repeat of scenario 1) with some modifications.

Final analysis

- pakistan in trouble any way
- region in for a long haul
- US will quit
- JOKER IN THE PACK IS CHINA – the end might be see the rise of CHINA as a superpower

Raymond Turney said...

The fact that Obama built the speech up to be treated as a big deal makes it a big deal.

But what was actually announced was a lot less impressive.. The US will send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, which is all it has to send, but probably not enough to turn things around. Obama promises that he will withdraw in 2011, but that's a politician's promise. Who knows what will in 2011?

Some pressure has been applied to Pakistan and India. On the other hand, pressure applied to Pakistan might merely result in the collapse of the civilian government of Pakistan ... leaving us to deal with the military again. So the US has limited leverage in Pakistan. The US has if anything, even less leverage to affect India's policy.

Thanks for reading this. If you want more, you can read my blog at:

http://www.rememberjenkinsear.blogspot.com/

Ray,

BENGAL UNDER ATTACK said...

@Anon: December 3, 2009 3:55 AM - Could not agree with you more !!

@Raymond Turney - You will not have to deal with the "military again". That's coz military is donning civvies. UK / US is preparing the return of their prodigal son Pervez Musharraf in civilian clothes. That will entail smooth line of command to the Pak military as well as stay within Kerry Lugar bill provisions.

That leaves with wait and watch policy. What will queer the pitch and dangerously so if INDIA takes on the covert onus of military training of the Afghan Army. That, if it happens, will give an indication that State Dept has precedence of Pentagon and CIA.

With military supplies at India doddering around 50% of requirement, it will indeed be interesting what realistic options India have in event of an even more spectacular attack! One of the lessons learn of the SWAT offensive was the dangerous low levels of gas that was left with Pak Army during a particularly long and onerous offensive. Its not as if Pak Army can take advantage of the precarious situation of India's armaments.

BENGAL UNDER ATTACK said...

THE ARTICLE ON POSSIBLE INDIAN INVOLVEMENT IN TRAINING AFGHAN NATIONAL ARMY:

New Delhi, Dec. 3: A top US commander is in New Delhi to seek Indian military help to train Afghanistan’s army even as the import of Barack Obama’s 18-month surge-and-exit strategy for the embattled country is being assessed.

The commander of the US Pacific Command, Admiral Robert F. Willard, met senior officers in the capital today and enquired if Indian special forces’ instructors could be deployed in select Afghan National Army (ANA) academies to train troops in commando operations.

“We have not said yes or no. We are assessing and we will take everything into consideration,” a defence ministry official told The Telegraph. “This is not quite the same as deploying troops. So we shall see. We do have good relations with the Afghan military.”

Admiral Willard met the chairman, chiefs of staff committee, and army chief, General Deepak Kapoor; the chief of naval staff, Admiral Nirmal Verma; the vice-chief of air staff, Air Marshal P.K. Barbora; and the defence secretary, Praveen Kumar. He was hosted by the chief of the integrated defence staff, Air Marshal Suresh Chand Mukul.

In international coalition efforts to “stabilise” Afghanistan, the US is the “lead nation” — denoting that it has primary responsibility — for the Afghan National Army. The surge-and-exit strategy, which involves deployment of 30,000 additional US troops plus anticipated (but much less) troop contributions from Nato countries, has a roadmap for the expansion of the ANA built into it.

In July, the chief of the ANA, General Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, was hosted in New Delhi. India says its involvement in Afghanistan is restricted to humanitarian projects. Deploying Indian military instructors in Afghanistan under US aegis will give Delhi a larger strategic footprint in Kabul at the cost of upsetting Pakistan.

Between 50 and 100 Afghan officers and soldiers are trained in Indian military institutions, such as the National Defence Academy and the Indian Military Academy, every year. India runs a medical mission in Kabul that is manned by army doctors.

It also trains Afghan soldiers in India to play martial music and has sent a team to teach Afghan army officers to read, write and speak in English so that they may communicate better with the Americans. Indian military efforts in Afghanistan since 2001 have included the supply of 300 troop carriers (trucks) and consignments of bullet-proof jackets and helmets.

But deploying Indian soldiers in Afghanistan, even if for the specific purpose of training, is more serious than lessons in music and tuitions in English.

First, it puts Indian soldiers at risk in a foreign country. Indian telecom engineers have been kidnapped and killed and the Indian Embassy in Kabul has been bombed twice. It also means that Pakistan, suspicious about Indian consulates in Jalalabad, Herat and Kandahar, may object.

The Karzai government has welcomed international efforts to train its army. After Obama’s strategy was announced yesterday, Afghan defence minister General Abdul Rahim Wardak said: “We just ask the international community to equip us quickly, to train us quickly, so that we can fulfil our historic responsibility.”

Anonymous said...

If India wants a say in South Asian theatre, it has to take some action. No longer can it wait and muddle through expecting benevolence from Uncle Sam / Monsoons and a largely lethargic, poor & ignorant diaspora.

People seek the powerful for guidance and advice. No weakling is ever consulted. Its for India to take advantage of this and train ANA.

INDIA MUST !!!!!

tagskie said...

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Anonymous said...

JOKER IN THE PACK IS CHINA – the end might be see the rise of CHINA as a superpower




How can China be seen as a Superpower here ?

Anonymous said...

lol.. obama is a dirty cunt who accepts a noble prize in advance... the muslim blood in him is showing up.. in one way or another

BENGAL UNDER ATTACK said...

How can China be the superpower ?

Very well - lets draw up the following scenarios.

1. China had invited Jamaat delegate and had a hard talk with them - ensure no needling in Xingiang for continued support. Hence Gulbuddin H is in the pockets of the Chinese.

2. Pakistan is in the pockets of China

3. Maosits in Nepal are in the pockets of China. Look for these Maosits trying to carve out a separate state in Nepal which will be a Chinese satellite state right above India (if RAW is not smart enough to stop this).

4. Largest investment in Afghanistan has been done by China in Ainak copper mines and more to come.

5. Rail link from Bangladesh to China through Myanmar - bypassing India already planned.

US is going out of Afghanistan one way or another sooner rather than later. The next wave of currency crisis is going to hit them hard and Obama will be in no position to sell a war in Afghanistan anymore - come what the Republican "oil" strategists might say or push.

With large portion of US debt and production in the hands of China, the US may hand over the region to China. To protect the interests of US against India, Iran and Russia.

You want to laugh at this - do so at your own peril.

One question - if Headley was an US asset that went rogue - what was the US doing when Headley was sending his notes pre (NOT POST) 26/11. Why did the US not alert India.

Chew on this :)

Anonymous said...

TIMES OF INDIA: FBI interrogation of David Coleman Headley alias Daood Gilani has, for the first time, confirmed what India has always known: A "section of serving Pakistan army officers" are working in collaboration with India-specific jihadi groups like LeT and JeM"

GIVE ME A BREAK !!

1. Musharraf paid Rs 1 lac bounty to Ilyas Kashmiri for beheading an Indian soldier. This, when Kashmiri was a "terrorist".

2. Some hard core terrorists held in India have stated that Kiyani, now Army Chief, who was earlier ISI head himself imparted training to chosen few on tactical and psychological aspects of black ops.

HENCE, WHAT DOES TOI MEAN A SECTION OF PAK ARMY - IT IS THE WHOLE BLODDY PAK ARMY FROM TOP TO DOWN

Anonymous said...

BENGAL UNDER ATTACK

Your analysis is Pragmatic but History doesn't travel alone, let us travel with it & wait for a final war.


And for the China part, I don`t think China would play such an aggressive role so early so to say, but China can be seen as a Global Power for its economic & powerful foreign relations that China maintain globally.

India has a strong base in Nepal , Bangladesh & it won`t be so easy for US to put India in a corner and leave it alone !!

BENGAL UNDER ATTACK said...

I am not saying US will want to put India in a corner necessarily. In fact it wants India to act is part which India is somehow feeling shy about.

India is behaving like a first time actor coming to stage for his first show and is numbed by stage fright.

India should take the offer of US to train the ANA (Afghan National Army) with both hands. Coz if India does not, someone else will. Imagine this going to Pakistan Army (which is not a possibility given the hostile view in Afghanistan with a major section of population towards Pakistan).

China believes in SLOW RISING. It will not disrupt beyond a point - the logistics of war - limited war is exhorbitant. Not impossible - but exhorbitant and might dissuade the Chinese to do more than sabre rattling. But we should be prepared for a short swift war along the Indo China border.

But the situation India should watch out for is US rogue black ops. Headley could be just that. The US knew of 26/11 before hand. And another US / UK asset - Omar Sheikh posed as Pranab Mukherjee and called Pak Prez to ostensibly start a war - which he nearly did.

26/11 - to start a war. Headley -Known to US (US asset)

Omar Saeed - to start a war - Known US / UK agent.

At least these are facts - weave your own story from here. And note, both are in detention and cannot be interrogated by anyone other than the host country. KOSHER !!!

Anonymous said...

I kinda have been expecting this in a way...
But I reali dun think da world is going to end...start a new era maybe but the world is not ending.
That's not gonna happen till a thousand years later! Ok, I'm not sure bout that either but that's not the point! The world's not gonna end! Full stop!
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