June 29, 2012
Predictable Punishment: Clandestine U.S. Attacks On Pakistan
Nine month ago the U.S. accused the Haqqani clan for some highly visible attack in Afghanistan and accused Pakistan of directly supporting the Haqqanis. I then suggested that such accusations and accompanying threats put war with Pakistan on auto mode:
Having accused Pakistan for direct influence on the Haqqani network the administration will have to again escalate after the next attack with a military strike now being the only option left. This is now an automatism the Obama administration needlessly created in its attempts to overtake the Republicans on the right.
Not surprisingly there were recently again some highly visible attacks in Afghanistan and the Obama administration has again claimed that the Haqqani group is responsible for them. It also again threatened Pakistan. But as I predicted it escalated further. From the two news items below we can reasonably conclude that U.S. attacks on Pakistan are now indeed happening.
The announcement of imminent attacks came on June 22: US Mulls New Covert Raids In Pakistan
U.S. military and intelligence officials are so frustrated with Pakistan's failure to stop local militant groups from attacking Americans in neighboring Afghanistan that they have considered launching secret joint U.S.-Afghan commando raids into Pakistan to hunt them down, officials told The Associated Press.
The officials who were briefed told the AP that recent discussions of clandestine ground attacks have included Gen. John Allen, the senior U.S. commander in Afghanistan, as well as top CIA and special operations officials.
The officials say options that have been prepared for President Barack Obama's review included raids that could be carried out by U.S. special operations forces together with Afghan commandos, ranging from air assaults that drop raiders deep inside tribal areas to hit top leaders to shorter dashes only a few miles into Pakistan territory.
Don't get confused with that "have considered launching" stuff. Such official leaks to the press about "we have considered" stuff are done when the decision has already been taken. Only three days later, on June 25, the results were in: Taliban Kill 13 Soldiers in Pakistan Raid
A relatively rare cross-border raid into Pakistan by Afghan-based Taliban militants killed at least 13 Pakistani soldiers, the military said Monday.
A senior Pakistani military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that more than 100 Taliban militants armed with heavy weapons had crossed the border in the attack. After initially reporting six soldiers killed and 11 missing, the official later said that seven of the missing had been “reportedly killed and then beheaded.”
Residents of Dir said the militants were operating from a base just over three miles from the border, where there is no visible Afghan or NATO presence.
Gen. John R. Allen, the American commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, is scheduled to visit Pakistan on Wednesday, the Pakistani Army said on its Web site. He will meet with the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, to focus on new border-coordination procedures, the statement said.
This weeks Allen-Kayani talks went well say some spokespersons, but a closer reading reveals that not even one issue on each sides agendas was solved. That why I expect to see those "rare" cross-border raid into Pakistan will become less so in future days and months.
The U.S. has lost the war in Afghanistan. The COINdinistas, who pushed the escalation of that war, are trying to rewrite history and to disclaim their responsibility for the mess. Someone else will have to blamed for the loss of the war and it seems that Pakistan will be made the culprit and therefore rightfully punished by the retreating U.S. forces.
Posted by b on June 29, 2012 at 01:29 PM | Permalink
Interesting piece by William Lind that suggests that the Taliban have mastered the operational art of modern war.
Attacks by Afghan troops on American soldiers are making the training and eventual hand-over to an Afghan army impossible. American soldiers have come to distrust the Afghans, and the feeling is mutual.
The level of distrust has gotten to the point where American troops in the vicinity of Panetta had to be disarmed during his last visit. Apparently, Panetta feared that American soldiers had learned too much from the Afghans...
Posted by: JohnH | Jun 29, 2012 2:38:48 PM | 1
M K Bhadrakumar seems to be on the same page.
Is the United States starting a low-intensity war against Pakistan? The signs look ominous. The relentless drone attacks through the recent months are destabilizing Pakistan’s tribal areas, especially the areas adjacent to the border with Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, there has been a concerted attack by assorted militants of dubious backgrounds on Pakistani troops from across the border in Afghanistan. Exactly who they are or who are their mentors no one knows. In a cross-border strike on Monday, the militants used extremely brutal method to behead Pakistani soldiers. Evidently, they were making a point – showing their thumbs up at the Pakistani military leadership.
Quite obviously, the US has concluded it has no alternatives but to step up the pressure and escalate tensions in a calibrated way. The US has been taken by surprise at Pakistan’s ‘strategic defiance’. The fact of the matter is that the present directions of Pakistani foreign policy hold the serious threat of undermining the US’ regional strategies with regard to permanent military presence in Central Asia, US’ containment strategy toward China (and Russia), projection of the NATO as a global security organization and of course the so-called New Silk Road Initiative.
In fact its best just to read the whole thing it paints a fairly good picture of where things stand and just how much Pakistan is fucking with the US in Central Asia.
Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Jun 29, 2012 3:41:38 PM | 2
JohnH @ 1
That visit by Leon Panetta was in conjunction with the night-raid massacre, where one soldier was blamed for what was a team gone rogue. He obviously feared there were a more widespread unstability in the troops, not that they had been influenced by the Afghans - rather on the contrary.
Posted by: Alexander | Jun 29, 2012 3:52:35 PM | 3
As resigned as I am to Obama's capacity for underhanded uses of force and acts of covert war, I find it hard to believe he is sending raiding parties from Afghanistan into Pakistan to attack the Pakistani soldiers. That is what b is saying here, right? The risks of such operations would be extraordinary. Making cross border raids on Taliban fighters I can see, but attacking the Pakistani Army - I don't think so.
Posted by: J. Bradley | Jun 29, 2012 4:04:46 PM | 4
J. B. @ 4
Although I think I side with you on this issue, it does still fit nicely with the pattern of US tactics lately.
Posted by: Alexander | Jun 29, 2012 4:20:09 PM | 5
There is something strange happening between the Taliban and the US. The Taliban opened or are to open an office in Qatar supposedly to start negotiations with the US. But the violence never stopped. Whatever became of those negotiations?
From Jazeera in January this year:
Taliban confirms deal to open Qatar office
Afghan peace negotiator calls Taliban decision to set up office in the Gulf state a "gesture of good faith".
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2012 01:32
The Taliban has confirmed it has come to an "initial agreement" to open a political office overseas as part of peace talks with the US, according to a statement.
In a statement that was emailed to news organisations and published on their purported website, Voice of Jihad, on Tuesday, the Taliban said it had held "preliminary talks with relevant sides including Qatar" to open an office outside Afghanistan.
"We're now prepared, while having a strong presence inside [Afghanistan] to have a political office outside [the country] for negotiations," the statement said, reiterating the stance that all foreign troops must leave to end the war.
A senior member of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, the government's official body charged with seeking a negotiated end to the country's war, said he welcomed the Taliban move.
"It is important for the Taliban to negotiate with the international community, especially with the US, and we welcome their decision to set up a political office," Arsala Rahmani, a top negotiator on the council, told the Reuters news agency.
A senior Taliban source told Al Jazeera that representatives from the group are already in Qatar, and that they plan on opening an official mission there on the condition that the US free five high-ranking Taliban members from the US off-shore Guantanamo Bay prison.
According to the source, the US has told the Taliban that the freeing of prisoners needs to be approved by the US senate, and that this process is going ahead.
Under the deal, the prisoners would be released to live in Qatar under an asylum deal, but they would be prevented from returning to Afghanistan.
Posted by: www | Jun 29, 2012 4:31:20 PM | 6
Yes - but let's just hope President Peace Prize's success with the Bin Laden raid hasn't completely gone to his head.
Posted by: J. Bradley | Jun 29, 2012 4:35:04 PM | 7
Actually, b makes a good case on this. Not long ago, US made some pretty fierce threats against Pakistan.
Posted by: Alexander | Jun 29, 2012 4:58:22 PM | 8
Posted by: alexno | Jun 29, 2012 5:05:32 PM | 9
>>> A senior Pakistani military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that more than 100 Taliban militants armed with heavy weapons had crossed the border in the attack. After initially reporting six soldiers killed and 11 missing, the official later said that seven of the missing had been “reportedly killed and then beheaded.” >>> (NYT)
Now the US has the Afghan Talibans attacking the Pakistani Taliban. Looks like the Doha office that the US approved for the Taliban is already yielding dividends. Wouldn't be surprised if some have already been assigned to Syria; this thing about beheading sounds a lot like what happened in Houla and what had happened in Libya.
Posted by: www | Jun 29, 2012 5:06:51 PM | 10
'Nine month ago the U.S. accused the Haqqani clan for some highly visible attack in Afghanistan and accused Pakistan of directly supporting the Haqqanis'
you can cut the irony with a knife...now what hsa the US been doing in a region thousands of miles away from defending US turf...if not making some highly visible attacks on Afghanistan Iraq AND pakistan! and aiding and abetting terrorists thruout the middle east and africa...
the US regime keeps lying and lying and accusing others of its crimes...when will we se its heads sent to the ICC? where are Amnesty and HRW to demand their trial for war crimes?
Posted by: brian | Jun 29, 2012 9:08:37 PM | 11
This seems a bizarrely self-indulgent stunt for the US to pull on the eve of their departure. If they had an axe to grind with anti-US elements in AfPak, logic would suggest that they'd wait until they were safely out BEFORE settling scores with the people they blame for their defeat.
There's a long Afghan tradition of transforming the retreat of defeated but unrepentant invaders into a bloodbath. What the Yankees are doing now seems like an attempt to guarantee that their send-off will be as well-attended and bloody as any withdrawal in the past.
Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jun 30, 2012 3:18:05 AM | 12