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from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Do Obama’s Afghan plans still make sense post-Mumbai?

The United States is aiming to send 20,000 to 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan by the beginning of next summer, according to the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The plan is not unexpected, and from a military point of view is meant to allow U.S. and NATO troops not just to clear out Taliban insurgents but also to bring enough stability to allow economic development, as highlighted in this analysis by Reuters Kabul correspondent Jon Hemming.

But does it still make sense after the Mumbai attacks -- intentionally or otherwise -- sabotaged the peace process between India and Pakistan?

As discussed many times on this blog, most recently here, a crucial element of President-elect Barack Obama's Afghan strategy was to combine sending extra troops with a new diplomatic approach looking at the Afghanistan-Pakistan-India region as a whole. The argument was that Pakistan would never fully turn its back on Islamist militants as long as it felt threatened by India on its eastern border and by growing Indian influence in Afghanistan on its western border.  India and Pakistan, so the argument went, should therefore be encouraged to make peace over Kashmir, to reduce tensions in Afghanistan and pave the way for a successful operation by the extra U.S. troops.

Where does that plan stand now? India-Pakistan relations are extremely strained and vulnerable to any second militant attack on India. It's hard to imagine the two countries sitting down any time soon for serious peace talks, and certainly not at the United States' behest, given that outside interference on Kashmir has always been anathema to India.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Mumbai attack and Obama’s plans for Afghanistan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As if the challenge facing President-elect Barack Obama of stabilising Afghanistan was not difficult enough, it may have just got much, much harder after the Mumbai attacks soured relations between India and Pakistan -- undermining hopes of finding a regional solution to the Afghan war.

As discussed in an earlier post, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has blamed a group outside India for the attacks which killed at least 121 people. The coordinated attacks bore the hallmarks of Pakistani-based Kashmiri militant groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which India says was set up by Pakistan's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Israel and India vs Obama’s regional plans for Afghanistan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will Israel and India -- the first the United States' closest ally and the second fast becoming one of the closest -- emerge as the trickiest adversaries in any attempt by the United States to seek a regional solution to Afghanistan?

The Washington Post reported earlier this week that the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama plans to explore a more regional strategy to the war in Afghanistan — including possible talks with Iran.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Al Qaeda – From bin Laden’s cave command to regionalised “franchise company”?

Osama bin Laden is no longer involved in the day-to-day planning of attacks, Germany's spy chief says, arguing that al Qaeda has turned from a centralised force into a regionalised "franchise company" with power centres in Pakistan, North Africa and the Arab peninsula. Does this weaken or strengthen the Islamist militant group? And how does it influence its operations, planning of attacks and its efforts to recruit new followers?

Ernst Uhrlau, who heads the BND foreign intelligence agency, Germany's equivalent of the CIA, says al Qaeda's "concept" has changed significantly over the past few years. "After the centralisation phase and the break-up of its bases in Afghanistan, when it had the backing of the Taliban government, we have seen a regionalisation over the past four years -- something like a franchise company."    "Today, there is al Qadea in the Maghreb, al Qaeda on the Arab Peninsula, in Iraq, in Yemen," Uhrlau told Reuters in an interview this week.

Afghan President gets unintentional laugh on Palin meeting

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai got an unexpected laugh on Tuesday for his straight-man reaction to a question about Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

Karzai was speaking at the Asia Society on topics ranging from security to relations with Pakistan and the United States in a conversation with former Viacom CEO Tom Freston. The audience perked up when Karzai mentioned Palin, following their meeting earlier in the day. The McCain campaign drew protests from reporters after they were barred from a picture-taking session at the beginning of the meeting.

What’s next in the Russia-West crisis over Georgia?

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South Ossetian servicemen fire their weapons and wave South Ossetian (C) and Russian flags as they celebrate Russia's recognition of their state as an independent state in Tskhinvali August 26, 2008. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced on Tuesday that Moscow had decided to recognise two rebel regions of Georgia as independent states, setting it on a collision course with the West. REUTERS/Sergei KarpukhinThe people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia were celebrating on Tuesday after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree recognising the independence of the two regions. 

Western leaders responded with harsh words. U.S. President George W. Bush said it increased world tensions and Britain called for “the widest possible coalition against Russian aggression in Georgia,” where the two regions lie. 

What Russia wants: lessons from the 19th century

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Russian tanks in N. Ossetia after crossing from S. Ossetia/Sergei KarpukhinRussia’s bear-paw swipe at Georgia has got many people drawing comparisons with the Cold War, but personally I like to look for parallels in the 19th century.

At the time the faultlines between Russian and British imperial interests ran from the Balkans through the Crimea and the Caucasus to Central Asia and Afghanistan. That is remarkably similar to some of the faultlines creating upheavals today.  

The Trials of the Turkish Jihadi

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   “(It) is a very sensitive topic, so sensitive it can break many people’s hearts, and so delicate it can destroy many Mujahideens’ dreams.”

    A senior Jihadi offers us an unusually frank insight into problems of recruiting dedicated and disciplined foA suicide attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul in July killed 41 people.reign fighters to battle U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan.

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