"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

New York

A Workable Strategy

From Harlan Ullman writing for the Wahington Times.

Though not called it, World War II was a "great" war. Good triumphed over evil. Enemies became friends as Japan and Germany grew into democracies. And ultimately, allies who grew into enemies — Russia and China — at least re-emerged as potential partners and not yet permanent threats.

We had a strategy — hold in the Pacific, win in the Atlantic first — and powerful allies in the Red Army that kept Hitler bloodied and at bay in the east. Nations were united and unified. And we had the collective wisdom and compassion not to leave the defeated powers to fester and arise as enemies.

With the onslaught of primaries and national elections, politics in the United States has moved to hyper-spin. That spin spills over of course into foreign policy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and now into fears about Pakistan's future. Neither the president nor the administration has succumbed to declaring the surge in Iraq as "mission accomplished." However, the administration and its fiercest supporters are certainly suggesting that image as violence in Iraq has declined, in large measure due to the additional 30,000 U.S. forces.

For a full read, click here.

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'Dear Palestinian Brothers . . . Please Return to Gaza'

From The Washington Post.

Throngs of Palestinians fought off Egyptian security forces trying to drive them back behind the breached border walls of the Gaza Strip on Friday, thwarting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's efforts to end the Palestinian exodus from Gaza as protests on their behalf grew across the Arab world.

The standoff threatened to bring the armed Hamas movement that governs Gaza into open confrontation with Mubarak's administration. Hamas officials supported the Palestinians' refusal to be forced back into Gaza, a cramped slice of coast inhabited by 1.5 million people.

The article continues with,

Violence broke out in the late afternoon, when police were due to close the border. Palestinian witnesses said Egyptian security forces fired tear gas and unleashed attack dogs. Palestinians abruptly turned on the Egyptians, pummeling them.

Egypt has to tread carefully in dealing with the Palestinians in Gaza.

Mubarak risks stirring up domestic dissent, particularly among Islamic groups, if he acts too roughly in returning the Palestinians to Gaza, where the Israeli restrictions remain in force.

Islamic political movements in Egypt and Jordan led mass protests Friday against the restrictions, which the Israeli government says have reduced the number of rocket attacks from Gaza.

From a fellow Palestinian,

"To be honest, what the Israelis did with blocking the borders gave a boost to Hamas," said Walid Awad, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a leader of the rival Fatah party that governs the West Bank. "It was a strategic mistake."

This carefully planned Hamas operation was a watershed for Hamas and a strategic misstep for Israel. Hamas now has relatively unhindered access to Egypt from which it can smuggle in rocket parts and other weapons which it can use to further terrorize Israel. It won a significant propaganda victory for its organization which will help it maintain control of Gaza. Israel lost its ability to blockade Palestinians in Gaza into submission. Finally Hamas has opened up a front from which it can now seek to further weaken and bring down Mubarak's government and increase the strength of the Muslim Brotherhood.

At this point Israel only has two bad options. First, it can completely pull all support from Gaza causing the Palestinian leadership in this region to begin to negotiate with Egypt for supplies. Second, it can move into Gaza to re-establish the border. Both will bring the international condemnation on Israel.

However, the first choice, if done smartly, will allow this international condemnation to be spread between Israel and Egypt. Secondly, it will force Hamas to refocus its efforts to keep the popular support it just gained in Gaza. The refocusing of effort will be from continuing to terrorize Israel to now providing basic services for its people. These basic services must come from Egypt, who can now use these needs as leverage against Hamas, should they seek to destabilize Mubarak's government or increase Muslim Brotherhood support in Egypt.

I would argue for completely severing all links between Gaza and Israel and declaring Gaza an independent Palestinian state. Yes, a humanitarian crisis would result which the UN would ease, but out of this crisis, Hamas would have to provide for Gazans. If it fires rockets into Israel, Israel can then claim it has been attacked by an independent state and is only protecting its citizens. Retalitory attacks by Israel; however, must be focused not the Palestinian people nor on projects which will increase basic services for Gazans, but on specific Hamas targets, much like the recent attack on a Hamas commander.

Hamas will have to focus its efforts on providing services, which Egypt would mainly provide. Hamas would have to become an administrative government instead of allowing it to focus on terror since all services are now provided by Israel. By having to negotiate with Egypt, Mubarak would maintain a tool to keep Hamas in line. Israel would retain its ability to strike Hamas if it chose to continue rocket attacks.

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Geopolitics of Gaza

From The Terror Wonk.

The Terror Wonk provides a different perspective on the "humanitarian crisis" in Gaza brought about by the Israeli blockade and subsequent destruction of the border wall with Egypt.

In the coverage of the breach of the Gaza border, the focus has been on the increased threat to Israel. While there is little question that terrorists will acquire new capabilities and use them against Israel, their gaze may turn to a nearby but softer target.

In his memoirs Knights under the Prophet’s Banner: Meditations on the Jihadist Movement, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri observed:

The problem of finding a secure base for jihad activity in Egypt used to occupy me a lot, in view of the [activity against us] by the security forces and because of Egypt’s flat terrain, which made government control easy, for the River Nile runs in its narrow valley between two deserts that have no vegetation or water. Such a terrain made guerilla warfare in Egypt impossible…

Many folks see the destruction of the border wall between Egypt and Gaza as a response to the recent Israeli blockade. However, this is an incorrect inference. The wall was cut with torches and then explosive charges were strategically set along the wall which resulted in almost two-thirds of a 12km section coming down.

As shown in this photo, provided by Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty, this was a large, synchronized, deliberately planned operation by Hamas, not something that could have been done in a few days. Instead, a better inference would be that the current crisis was a manufactured by Hamas. For its part, Hamas played Israel perfectly in this crisis and won unhindered access to Egypt as a result.

Hamas used Israel's targeting on militants as stepping stone to start the crisis. Hamas begin to bombard Israel with a multitude of rocket. Israel in turn started a blockade. Knowing Israel's response, Hamas sought international sympathy by playing up a "humanitarian crisis" happening in Gaza as a result of the blockade. At the height of the Israeli blockake, Hamas brought the wall down, not only effectively ending the blockade, but also opening a new, porous border with Egypt as shown in the photo below (courtesy of the BBC).

The Terror Wonk provides the reasoning for Hamas' action.

However, a new base of operations against Egypt could have vast geopolitical implications. Egypt has a fragile economy, frustrated populace with a large Islamist movement, and an aging leadership. There have already been terror attacks in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula with Gaza links. Even if the regime is not overthrown, HISH [Hezbollah-Iran-Syria-Hamas] will acquire substantial leverage over Egypt, and further the penetration of radical Islam into the largest Arab state, while acquiring a staging ground into the Maghreb, sub-Saharan Africa, and beyond.

For a full read, click here.

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Iraq to go after al-Qaida in Mosul

From Yahoo/AP.

Iraq's prime minister announced Friday that the government was launching a major offensive against al-Qaida in the northern city of Mosul after two days of deadly bombings that killed nearly 40 people.

He promised the fight "will be decisive."

The announcement by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki came after warnings by the U.S. military that Mosul was the last major city where al-Qaida maintains a strong presence after largely being driven from Baghdad and other major population centers.

Al-Maliki said the government was sending troops to Mosul and an operations room had been established to fight the insurgents.

This move by Maliki is significant in that he does not mention U.S. forces. He only mentions Iraqi Army forces. While U.S. Forces are already in Mosul, there numbers are small. While Iraqi Army Forces will undoubtedly link up with U.S. Forces, it appears that Maliki wants this fight to be mainly an Iraqi Army fight.

It will be interesting to see how far Iraqi Army forces have come. Can they clear and secure an ethnically diverse city such as Mosul while maintaining support from the populous in this religiously mixed city?

For a full read, click here.

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Explosion rocks Beirut, 5 dead

From Yahoo/AP.

A car bomb exploded in a Christian neighborhood of Beirut on Friday killing at least five people, including a top police official who dealt with terrorist bombings and had previously been targeted, authorities said.

The blast in Hazmieh on the Lebanese capital's Christian eastern edge set dozens of vehicles ablaze and ripped a giant crater in the asphalt.

The national police chief, Brig. Gen. Ashraf Rifi, said one of those killed was Capt. Wissam Eid, a senior police intelligence official. Eid was an engineer who was handling "very important" files, including "all those having to do with the terrorist bombings" in Lebanon, Rifi said.

For a full read, click here.

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Pakistani tanks, choppers kill dozens of militants: army

From Yahoo/AFP.

Pakistani troops backed by tanks and gunships cleared militant hideouts near the Afghan border amid fierce fighting that left eight troops and 40 rebels dead, the army said Thursday.

Thirty militants have also been arrested during clashes over the past 24 hours in the South Waziristan tribal district, the hideout of an Islamist commander accused of masterminding the killing of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

Pakistani forces have launched a major operation against extremist positions following days of gunbattles in the barren region, which the United States has identified as a key lair of Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.

For a full read, click here.

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Attacks imperil U.S.-backed militias in Iraq

From International Herald Tribune.

American-backed Sunni militias who have fought Sunni extremists to a standstill in some of Iraq's bloodiest battlegrounds are being hit with a wave of assassinations and bomb attacks, threatening a fragile linchpin of the military's strategy to pacify the nation.

Al Qaeda is targeting "Awakening" groups.

Officials say that Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia has a two-pronged strategy: directing strikes against Awakening members to intimidate and punish them for cooperating with the Americans, and infiltrating the groups to glean intelligence and discredit the movement in the eyes of an already wary Shiite-led government. "Al Qaeda is trying to assassinate all the Awakening members that support the government, but I believe that criminal militias are also doing this," Bolani said during a recent interview in Taji.

For a full read, click here.

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Suicide bomber kills Mosul police chief

From Yahoo/Reuters.

A suicide bomber in police uniform killed the police chief of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Thursday as he toured the scene of a blast a day earlier in which at least 20 people died, police said.

Rescuers were still digging through the rubble of Wednesday's explosion in search of survivors when the attacker blew up next to Mosul police Brigadier-General Salih Mohammed Hasan and his bodyguards, the army said.

Mosul is unique in that it lies along several historic trade routes, has a ethinically diverse population, and straddles the Tigris River.

U.S. commanders have identified Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, as al Qaeda's last major urban stronghold in Iraq after its fighters were driven out of western Anbar province and from around Baghdad during security crackdowns last year.

For a full read, click here.

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Egypt jittery over Israeli Gaza proposal

From Yahoo/AP.

The Gaza border crisis caused another sharp flap Thursday in Egyptian-Israeli relations, with Egypt angrily accusing Israel of trying to dump all responsibility for the troubled Gaza Strip in its lap.

The idea expressed in this article is intriguing.

For a full read, click here.

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Al Qaeda's Isolation and Freedom's Expansion

From U.S. News & World Report.

The remaining top al Qaeda leaders are increasingly isolated and have growing difficulty directing plots, according to Dell Dailey, a retired lieutenant general who serves as the State Department's counterterrorism coordinator.

"We see them with much, much less central authority and much, much less capability to reach out," Dailey told a group of defense reporters this morning. "They can't centrally plan aspects from where they are located, whether it's Pakistan or not, and their franchise folks aren't very good."

Dailey credited the response from the United States and other nations for taking out key al Qaeda leaders and disrupting their ability to plan, finance, and carry out attacks. According to Dailey, most of al Qaeda's recent activity has been carried out by franchises, using supporters already in place in countries like the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

"The one area where al Qaeda has this centralized reach capability is in the media," he said. "They have not been able to build back their centralized, core strike capability."

Dailey did say that al Qaeda's recent alliance with the Algerian-based Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (which has been renamed al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) is troubling. But he also said that the groups miscalculated with their recent attack on a United Nations office in Algeria. "For al Qaeda, taking on the U.N. is a bad move." {emphasis added)

A few things which LTG (Ret) Dell Dailey states are key. But we need to first get back to the basics about fighting an insurgency. For basics, one needs to go back to T. E. Lawrence and The Mind of the Insurgent. This article discusses the six principles of fighting an insurgency taken from Lawrence's time battling an insurgency in WWI.

1. A successful guerrilla movement must have an unassailable base.

2.The guerrilla must have a technologically sophisticated enemy.

3. The enemy must be sufficiently weak in numbers so as to be unable to occupy the disputed territory in depth with a system of interlocking fortified posts.

4. The guerrilla must have at least the passive support of the populace, if not its full involvement.

5. The irregular force must have the fundamental qualities of speed, endurance, presence and logistical independence.

6. The irregular must be sufficiently advanced in weaponry to strike at the enemy's logistics and signals vulnerabilities.

The three most enduring principle which T. E. Lawrence espoused is an insurgency needs to have an unassailable base, passive support of the population, and presence in the population. On the counterinsurgent's side, they must be sufficiently weak in numbers so as to be unable to occupy the disputed territory.

In this context, let's examine LTG (Ret) Dailey's comments.

1. Key leaders are isolated: Al Qaeda (whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or elsewhere) are isolated for several reasons. First, because of their extremism and indescriminate killing of fellow Muslims, in many areas where they had/have a presence they are losing the passive support of the population. At a microcosm level, this is what happened Al Anbar with the "Awakening" movement of Sunni tribes. This "Awakenig" movement pushed them out of Al Anbar, their unassailable base in Iraq to such an extent that Al Qaeda in Iraq no longer has a significant presence in this region from which to terrorize and subdue the population, hence causing a loss of passive support.

This same dynamic is seen in Afghanistan to a lesser extent and is most notable in Mula Qasa, the town which was recently liberated by the Afghan National Army and Coaltion forces. In addition, the ex-Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Salaam, became disfranchised with Al Qaeda and is now in charge of the district. In Mula Qasa, Al Qaeda has lost an unassailable base, the passive support of the population, and its presence.

Finally, this same dynamic is becoming more prevalent in Al Qaeda's largest unassailable base, the FATA region in Pakistan. With the recent assassination of Bhutto and the ongoing suppression and killing of fellow Muslims, Al Qaeda (and the Taliban) are losing the support of the population. The Pakistani Army has recently established a presence in the region, limiting Al Qaeda's (and the Taliban's) presence in the region.

What used to be a region squarely under Al Qaeda's control from which it could launch operations worldwide is now threatened which brings us to another back to LTG (Ret) Dailey's comments.

2. "They can't centrally plan aspects from where they are located."

For all the reasons noted above, Al Qaeda's ability to centrally plan operations is extremely limited. Their presence in Iraq has been signifcantly degraded. In Afghanistan last year alone, 4500 militants were killed Several more were wounded, effectively taking them out of the fight. Strategically significant towns, such as Mula Qasa with its huge cache of refined opium (cash for the insurgent), have been lost. Loss of key terrain is also seen in Somalia and Indonesia. With the attack on the UN in Algeria, Al Qaeda repeated the same mistake it made in all other areas and will lose support in this region. Now, their last unassailable base, the FATA region in Pakistan, is under attack. It is hard to focus on operations outside your area of operations when your area of operations is under attack. Similarly, it is hard to gather support when your operations have at best resulted in the status quo and at the worst, a complete rout of your forces which bring us to the third significant comment from LTG (Ret) Dailey.

3. "Their franchise folks aren't very good." Al Qaeda in Iraq, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the Taliban, or the Islamic Courts all have a habit of disenfranchising the very population they need support from, which causes them to lose their passive support, loss of presence in these regions, and finally their unassailable base as the population with help from military forces expel them from their stronghold. While the cycle is in different stages in all these areas, the cycle is the same and stems from Al Qaeda wanting to create a single Caliphate in a world in which people associate themselves as Iraqis, Algerians, Afghanistanis, Somalis, or Pakistanis. In addition, while these people are Muslim, they all have different aspect of beliefs within the Muslim religion and most do not share the extremist views espoused by Al Qaeda.

4. We finally go to LTG (Ret) Dailey's last comment. "Dailey credited the response from the United States and other nations for taking out key al Qaeda leaders and disrupting their ability to plan, finance, and carry out attacks." This comment ties in with T. E. Lawrence's last principle above. On the counterinsurgent's side, they must be sufficiently weak in numbers so as to be unable to occupy the disputed territory. Established nations, such as Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Phillipines, have enacted systems and rules which significantly limits Al Qaeda's activities and freedom of action. Politically changed nations, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, are rebuilding armys and taking the fight to Al Qaeda directly. Other established nations, such as Pakistan, now see Al Qaeda as the threat that it is and are putting forces against it to counter its influence.

Al Qaeda's ability to occupy disputed territory has been significantly decreased since 9/11. Nations across the globe have seen what Al Qaeda does when it occupies a region or a state. They see it everyday in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Algeria. No nation wants Al Qaeda within its borders disrupting it society and decreasing its political and economic stability.

This leads us back to LTG (Ret) Dailey's orginal comment and T. E. Lawrence's principles. "The remaining top al Qaeda leaders are increasingly isolated and have growing difficulty directing plots." Whereever Al Qaeda occupies a region, they enact Sharia law, initially welcomed by the population resulting in passive support. Later they begin to terrorize the populous as stricter forms of Sharia law are enacted. In turn, the populous, whom Al Qaeda depends on for passive support, withdraws this support. This action by the populous causes Al Qaeda to increase it reign of terror, killing innocent Muslims. Over time, populations, typically with outside military assistance, rise up and kick Al Qaeda out of their region. Al Qaeda loses presence and hence influence in the region (unassailable base). These "Awakening" groups, Concerned Local Citizens (CLCs), tribes, peoples, or governments band together to increase the counterinsurgents numbers and decrease the disputed territories Al Qaeda can occury in the future.

It is for these reason that Al Qaeda in Iraq is being/or is defeated. It is for these reasons that the Taliban cannot retake Afghanistan and in fact are losing ground and support. It is for these reasons why Al Qaeda and the Taliban are facing hundreds of thousand of regular army troops and frontier corpsmen in the FATA region of Pakistan. It is for these regions why Ethiopia stepped into Somalia.

Al Qaeda is on the wane. Freedom is on the march.

Muslims the world over, once intent on helping Al Qaeda with support, an unassailable base, and presence in their states against what they considered a imperialistic United States are beginning to see firsthand what the Iraqis in Al Anbar saw two years ago. Al Qaeda is nothing but a bunch of unholy, sadistic extremists who violate Islamic principles by killing innocent Muslims as they enact stricter and stricter Sharia law on the populous.

Due to the Long War, Muslims the world over are seeing Americans firsthand and not the America portrayed on SITCOMs and in movies. Muslims are seeing America's greatest ambassadors, young American Soldiers and Marines who embody a warrior ethos respected in this region and the world over. These warriors are dying while battling Al Qaeda to spread to the rest of the world those unalienable rights written down by our founding fathers more than 200 years ago, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Al Qaeda only delivers, Death, Subjugation, and Despair.

Far from America being further branded as an imperial power seeking to control the world, America is becoming the savior of many peoples and nations delivering freedom and in some cases democracy through its young ambassadors, Soldiers and Marines. President Bush's bold move to plant the seeds of democracy in the center of Middle East and in Asia are having and will continue to have far reaching consequences. Namely, it will result in the decline of tyranny in "Non-Integrating Gap" countries. In time, these countries will move closer to democracy and therefore freedom. Given more freedom, individuals in these countries will increase their standards of living and begin to contribute to the world economy. Instead of being destructive members of society, they will become productive members of society and share in those unalienable rights given to all men and women by their Creator

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[Diyala] After Al Qaeda

From Newsweek discussing Diyala Province two weeks after the start of operations to clear it.

This time the sound of Stryker personnel carriers rolling into the town of Himbus had a triumphal rumble to it. Two weeks after launching an offensive to drive Al Qaeda in Iraq from its stronghold in Diyala province, American soldiers were back, arriving in broad daylight in a trio of provincial towns to see townsfolk cautiously venturing into streets they had once avoided and interacting openly with Iraqi security forces.

Platoons watched as residents lined up for fleece jackets and rice being distributed by Iraqi soldiers in the hamlet of Abu Musa. Soldiers mingled with people receiving medical care for the first time in weeks at a clinic in Himbus. And they stood guard while men, women and children filled jugs of kerosene from a tanker truck in Taiha.

"Iraq forces now have control of the bread basket, announced Lt. Col. Rod Coffey, commander of the 3rd Squadron of the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment. "The facts on the ground are we have freedom of movement and the insurgents do not."

How secure is it?

The soldiers' drive back to Warhorse base after their visit to Himbus, Tahia and Abu Musa did offer one measure of Operation Bread Basket's success in rousting Qaeda cadres from their embeds. Three Strykers drove over an IED on a stretch of road the Americans call Route Ann. It did not go off. "There was no triggerman," said Coffey. "With our forces around, they cannot get into position [to detonate their bombs]."

Diyala, once the stronghold of Al Qaeda in Iraq and the capital of Islamic State of Iraq is being returned to its citizens.

For a full read, click here.

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Baitullah Mehsud's close aide arrested

From South East Asia News.

The Karachi Police have arrested a close associate of militant commander Baitullah Mehsud, Younas.

Police have shifted Younas to an unknown place for interrogation, Daily Times quoted sources, as saying.

Weapons and explosive material were also recovered from Younas.Younas is a 'right-hand' man of Baitullah Mehsud and brother of his spokesperson, Wahab Mehsud.

Baitullah Mehsud is head of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a newly formed coalition of Islamic militants along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and believed to be linked to al Qaeda.

For a full read, click here.

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Taliban a bigger problem than al Qaeda, Musharraf says

From South Asia News visa Monsters and Critics.

The Afghan-based fundamentalist Islamic group Taliban is a bigger problem for the stability of Pakistan than the al Qaeda terrorist network, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said Tuesday in Paris.

'When the army battles with al Qaeda now, the number of (al Qaeda)casualties are in the single digits, three or four,' Musharraf said, suggesting that Osama bin Laden's network had been decimated. 'But the Taliban is a more serious issue.'

This change of position in Musharraf is significant in that he has steadfastly been opposed to foreign miscreants (Al Qaeda), but has consistently taken a less obtrusive tone against the Taliban.

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Admiral William Fallon meets General Kayani in Rawalpindi

From Dawn.

Head of the U.S. military's Central Command Admiral William Fallon met with Pakistan's army chief General Ashfaq Kayani in Rawalpindi Tuesday, officials said.

It will be interesting to see what comes out of this meeting.

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The Surge - Working or Not?

Frederick W. Kagan, Jack Keane and Michael O'Hanlon argue The Surge is Making Iraq Safe for Politics.

This political progress resulted from a year's worth of substantial effort to reduce violence in Iraq. Proponents of the surge always said that getting violence under control was an essential prerequisite to reconciliation, not the other way around. The full surge has been in place and operating for just over six months, and already violence has fallen dramatically across the country. The achievement in such a short time of significant legislation that requires all sides to accept risk and compromise with people they had been fighting only a few months ago is remarkable. It would have been unattainable without the change in strategy and addition of American forces that helped bring the violence down.

Andrew J. Bacevich, however, believes The Surge is a Surge to Nowhere.

According to the war's most fervent proponents, Bush's critics have become so "invested in defeat" that they cannot see the progress being made on the ground. Yet something similar might be said of those who remain so passionately invested in a futile war's perpetuation. They are unable to see that, surge or no surge, the Iraq war remains an egregious strategic blunder that persistence will only compound.

Both views are well worth the read.

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The Fallacy of Grievance-based Terrorism

From Melvin E. Lee writing for the Middle East Quarterly.

The fundamental premise of much scholarly examination and public discourse is that grievances with U.S. policies in the Middle East motivate Islamist terrorism. Such assumptions, though, misunderstand the enemy and its nature. In reality, the conflict is sparked not by grievance but rather by incompatibility between Islamist ideology and the natural rights articulated during the European Enlightenment and incorporated into U.S. political culture. Acquiescing to political grievances will not alter the fundamental incompatibility between Lockean precepts of tolerance and current interpretations of Islam: Only Islam's fundamental reform will resolve the conflict.

Mr Lee goes on to explain what a Muslim ambassador (Abdrahaman) relayed to our President.

All Christians are sinners in the context of the Qur'an and that it was a Muslim's "right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to enslave as many as they could take as prisoners." Islam gave great incentive to fighting infidels, Abdrahaman explained, because the Qur'an promised that making war against infidels ensured a Muslim paradise after death.

The President was Jefferson and he had this conversation with the Ambassador of Tripoli during the time of the First Barbary War (1801-1805).

While we as a nation and the world has changed significantly in the last 200 years, extremist Islam has not.

For a full read, click here.

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Mehsud warns of strong retaliation

From The Nation.

The Nation has an interesting article. It starts with Baitullah Mehsud.

Baitullah Mehsud, the militant commander, spearheading insurgency in South Waziristan Agency, has asked the armed forces to immediately stop, what he said, targeting the civilian population, or else be ready to face dire consequences.

While his forces have overran two forts, which were subsequently taken back by Pakistani forces, he warns of "dire consequences" if attacks continue. What specifically is he talking about?

Baitullah Mehsud also accused security forces of being involved in disgracing the tribesmen....

Security forces have intensified their operation against militants in the area after the various forts and government installations were attacked by the warring forces. During the military action, a large number of houses have been razed to ground.

Meanwhile, due to closure of roads, there is acute shortage of wheat flour, fuel and other items of daily use in the area.

Now, we see it. Since General Kayani's assignment as Chief of Staff of the Army, he has used more forceful methods against lawlessness in the FATA and NWFP regions. But key words here are important.

1. Disgracing tribesmen: This region has always been ruled by tribes and has never been conquered, neither by Alexander the Great nor Great Britain. Instead of conquering these people, both leaders decided in the end to pay tribal leaders to keep the peace. Are General Kayani's tactics bringing shame on tribal leaders due to razing of homes and the inability of tribal leaders to ensure the supply of flour, fuel, and other daily use items? But it appears that General Kayani is allowing the tribal leaders to save face.

Pakistan army has ruled out possibility of grand operation against Mehsud tribe in Waziristan.

Talking to a private TV channel, DG ISPR Major-General Athar Abbas also ruled out the deployment of tanks in the area. He said that Pakistan forces take action whenever attack is carried out on the forces or against the civilians.

So we have Mehsud accusing the government of Pakistan and the government of Pakistan accusing Mehsud. In steps the US military.

“Nonetheless, the level of cooperation, particularly in recent months, between the Pakistani military, Afghan military, and ourselves, has resulted in significant success,” he pointed out.

US Admiral Fallon said the Pakistan military’s response to the instabilities that resulted in the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) incident and these tragic bombings had caused the government to realise that they “have a significant threat.”

Admiral Fallon cites the increased cooperation between the US military and Pakistan in recent months. Could this be what Mehsud is talking about? If the Pakistani Army on the ground is being aided by American intelligence, then there is the possibility of General Kayani's forces of quelling the tribes in the region, something both Alexander the Great and Great Britain were never able to do. Commenting on this fact, Admiral Fallon states,

“And they have now moved their regular military forces into parts of this area (FATA) in an attempt to put pressure on the insurgents,” the top military official said.

“I think the insurgents now are faced with the challenge of not only having us in the west on the Afghan side, working with the afghan security forces, but now they have got the Pakistan military squeezing them on the right,” Admiral Fallon said.

Iraq was ungovernable unless a evil force such as Saddam was around to quell the divergent cultures. This premise was proved wrong. The Soviets got mired in Afghanistan as has several other occupiers. However, America is not mired in Afghanistan. Alexander the Great nor Great Britain could subdue the tribal leaders in the FATA region. Can America?

The lesson here is America will not try to subdue the tribal leaders. This distinction is where all others have failed and America will succeed. We do not invade countries to occupy them. We invade countries to ensure our security by promoting democracry. Once established, we pull out when ASKED. This fact is the key.

Democracy is a great thing. All people want it. Most do not know how to get it. In ancient times, conquests were the norm. However, the US does not wish to counquer these regions in Pakistan. We just ask that they do not allow terrorist a safe haven to train in their areas whic will lead to an eventual attack on America.

For Mehsud to come out and say Pakistan has disgraced tribal leaders, is another way of saying he is getting pressure from tribal leaders to quit the fight. Tribal leaders can deal with a capitalistic America. It is after all, what they are all about.

For a full read, click here.

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Saudi Arabia to lift ban on women drivers

From the Telegraph in England.

Saudi Arabia is to lift its ban on women drivers in an attempt to stem a rising suffragette-style movement in the deeply conservative state.

Government officials have confirmed the landmark decision and plan to issue a decree by the end of the year.

The move is designed to forestall campaigns for greater freedom by women, which have recently included protesters driving cars through the Islamic state in defiance of a threat of detention and loss of livelihoods. (emphasis added)

Despite threats of detention, women are still driving. So, to ensure women do not ask for more rights, the Saudi government is letting them operate vehicles. How much you bet this causes women in Saudi Arabia to ask for more rights. But is this part of King Abdullah's strategy?

Mohammad al-Zulfa, a reformist member of the Saudi consultative Shura Council, which scrutinises official policies in the oil-rich state, said reversing the ban was part of King Abdullah's "clever" strategy of incremental reform.

"When it was first raised, the extremists were really mad," he said. "Now they just complain. It is diminishing into a form of consent."

Slowly but surely, Saudi Arabia is coming into the 21st century.

Critics believe allowing women to drive would be the first step towards a gradual erosion of the kingdom's modesty laws. A woman would have to remove the traditional abaya robe to get a clear view behind the wheel.

"Allowing women to drive will only bring sin," a letter to Al-Watan newspaper declared last year. "The evils it would bring - mixing between the genders, temptations, and tarnishing the reputation of devout Muslim women - outweigh the benefits."

One has to ask. Who's temtatiion? Surely not the femaile's, so it must be the males. This fact is what has fancinated me about devout Islam. The laws are present to limit male temptation, not female temptation.

This is just one example of how the beacon of freedom and democracy, which is Iraq, is beginning to shine brighter each day in the Middle East.

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Kurdish Police, Security Forces Discover Underground Chemical Cache


Kurdish police and security forces in the city of Kirkuk have found a large underground cache of numerous barrels of poisonous chemicals.

Samples from the chemicals have been sent to oil company laboratories in Kirkuk to ascertain their composition.

More to follow as the situation develops.

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UN confirms "notable" decline in hostilities in Iraq

From Middle East News via Monsters and Critics.

The United Nations acknowledged Monday a marked decline in hostilities in Iraq, helped by the cumulative effect of an increase in US troops, the declared ceasefire by Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr and the role of Iraq's Awakening Councils.

Iraq's neighbours also worked on security-related issues to help achieve the 'notable decline,' Staffan de Mistura, the Swedish diplomat who heads the UN mission in Iraq, told the UN Security Council in a public meeting.

'We cannot ignore the recent improvements both in the security and political situation in Iraq,' he said. But he warned that the main challenges in the war-torn country remain 'largely unaltered.'

Heck, even the UN is acknowledging The Surge is working. I guess Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi cannot be far behind.

I wonder if Presidental hopefuls Clinton and Obama will join with the UN on this fact.

For a full read, click here.

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Papers Paint New Portrait of Iraq's Foreign Insurgents

From the Washington Post.

Muhammad Ayn-al-Nas, a 26-year-old Moroccan, started his journey in Casablanca. After flying to Turkey and then to Damascus, he reached his destination in a small Iraqi border town on Jan. 31, 2007. He was an economics student back home, he told the al-Qaeda clerk who interviewed him on arrival. Asked what sort of work he hoped to do in Iraq, Nas replied: "Martyr."

This article details the records kept by Al Qaeda in Iraq on 606 insurgents who came to Iraq to fight the Coalition between August of 2006 and 2007.

Based on the Sinjar records, U.S. military officials in Iraq said they now think that nine out of 10 suicide bombers have been foreigners, compared with earlier estimates of 75 percent. Similarly, they assess that 90 percent of foreign fighters entering Iraq during the one-year period ending in August came via Syria, a greater proportion than previously believed.

For a full read, click here.

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US military says suspected Shiite militia leader killed

From The Jerusalem Post.

US and Iraqi commandos killed a suspected Shiite militia leader Monday during a raid in western Baghdad, the military said. But relatives said the man was an innocent truck driver who was killed while trying to shield his wife from the troops.

Hundreds of men chanted "there is no God but Allah" and carried a huge Iraqi flag as they followed the coffin of Jawad Abdul-Kadim during a funeral service in the Amil neighborhood. Protesters said he was not affiliated with any militant groups.

The military said the slain extremist brigade commander led a network of 10 groups in Baghdad that were implicated in murder, kidnappings and other criminal activity against Iraqi security forces and civilians. The suspect had established a group to collect information used to target Iraqi troops, according to the statement.

"Credible intelligence indicates he and his group are responsible for the sectarian murder of several hundred Iraqi civilians in the past year," the statement said.

Hundred of men (probably military age) carrying a "truck driver's" coffin and carrying a huge Iraqi flag protesting his killing.

Somethings just do not add up, like this guy not being a "truck driver". Truck drivers, while a noble profession, do not typically get large, patriotic funerals. This is they type of funeral prossession that militant, Iranian-backed Palestinian commanders get, not truck drivers.

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Pakistan braces for elections amid flaring violence

From KUNA.

A good roll up of activities in the run up to Pakistani elections.

Pakistan is bracing for much-anticipated general elections, expected to be held in the mid-February, amid flaring up violence, political as well as power and wheat crisis.

While, the threats of possible large-scale military operation are looming on the bordering tribal region, the federal government is trying to fight off a new wave of suicide bombers and meet the growing oil, energy and wheat shortages.

President Musharraf embarked on four-nation tour to Belgium, France, Switzerland and the United Kingdom to improve countrys image abroad and clear misperceptions created since he imposed over a month-long emergency in the country in November 2007 and subsequent events including Benazir Bhuttos assassination.

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto opened a new chapter of violence in the major cities of the country including Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi and Peshawar. Near 15 persons including five policemen were killed and about 36 others were wounded in a latest suicide attack in Peshawar.

As I have stated before, democracies become the home of the free, because of the brave.

Pakistanis must be brave in these upcoming, decisive elections in order to earn their freedom. For too long the Pakistan military has protected the populous while at the same time limiting freedoms. Now it is time for the populous to protect itself and the freedoms it is seeking.

For a full read, click here.

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Terrorism the key challenge, Afghan leader tells parliament

From Yahoo/AFP.

President Hamid Karzai opened the third working year of Afghanistan's post-Taliban parliament saying terrorism was the nation's biggest challenge and must be fought inside and outside the country.... (emphasis added)

He again called for extremism to be fought at its "original sources," a likely reference to neighbouring Pakistan where Afghan and Western officials say Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked rebels have bases.

"Without a broad-based strategy, the fight on terrorism can't be successful and meet its goals," Karzai said.

"Targeting its original sources, drying up its finance sources and stopping the expansion of extremism must be included as the key points in the fight on terrorism."

Karzai continued with,

Another main challenge was opium production, the president also told the legislators....

"Drugs cultivation, production and smuggling, the existence of international drugs mafia and the terrorism leaders' and drugs mafia connection are another major challenge of our country," he said.

President Karzai is an outstanding leader who is not afraid to tell it like it is. Terrorism and opium is keeping Afghanistan from being a robust, vibrant, free democracy.

For a full read, click here.

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Iraq parliament considers amnesty for detainees

From Khaleej Times.

More progress on the political front in Iraq.

Iraq’s parliament gave a first reading on Monday to a draft law that offers a general amnesty to thousands of detainees held in US and Iraqi prisons in a bid to boost national reconciliation.

The detainees, mostly Sunni Arabs, are being held without charge. Most have been detained for more than a year on suspicion of backing the anti-US insurgency.

Their detention is seen as fuelling animosity between the Shia and Sunni communities in Iraq and the US military in particular has been strongly advocating their release in the wake of a growing alliance of Sunnis with American forces.

MPs said the bill will not apply to those sentenced to death or convicted of terrorism, premeditated murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, incest, drug trafficking, forgery, rape, sodomy or the smuggling of antiquities.

It will also not apply to anyone formally charged with these crimes.
Sadiq Al Rikabi, an adviser to Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki, said when the cabinet approved the bill on December 26 it would apply to ‘as many detainees as possible’, including those held for corruption and other financial crimes.

The second reading of the law is scheduled for four days’ time whereafter it will be put to the vote.

Around 26,000 detainees are held in two US prisons and thousands more in Iraqi-run detention centres.

The US military holds the detainees at Camp Cropper near Baghdad international airport and at Camp Bucca near the southern port city of Basra.

For all of those defeatist politicians who wanted the US and Iraqi leaders to negotiate all these items from a position of weakness, it is so much better to negotiate them from a position of strength.

In the seven short months since The Surge has been in full effect, reconciliation is occurring in Iraq now that security is obtained.

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Al Qaeda's 2008 Outlook - Iran's Future

From Yahoo/AP.

This Yahoo article has a good roll up of recent battlefield activities in Iraq and while at the end of the article, it sums up Operation Phantom Pheonix with the following.

He [Rear Adm. Gregory Smith] said 121 militants were killed, including 92 so-called "high-value targets" and 1,023 detained since the most recent operation against them began on Jan. 8.

Since 08 January 2008, when Operation Phantom Pheonix began, 121 militants were killed, 92 of which were high-value targets (HVTs - which means they were cell leaders, financiers, recruiters, organizers, and/or operators), and 1,023 were detained. The significance of these numbers must be viewed with another number. McClatchy Newspapers also reports today via Kansas City Star on the number of foreign fighters entering Iraq.

[Rear Adm. Gregory] Smith also said that most foreign insurgents in Iraq come from Saudi Arabia, which President Bush visited on his trip. Other foreign fighters have come from Libya, Yemen, Syria, and even a few from France, Smith said.

In the last year, improved border enforcement by Syria and increased profiling by Saudi officials of single men traveling to Iraq have helped cut the number of foreign fighters entering Iraq in half, Smith said. Between 40 and 50 a month are thought to be entering Iraq now, he said.

Between 50 and 60 percent of those become suicide bombers, and 90 percent of the suicide bombers are thought to be foreigners. (ephasis added)

So, in 13 days (since Operation Phantom Pheonix began), 1144 insurgents have been killed or detained. In this same time, insurgents have received approximately 22 replacements (given 50 enter Iraq monthly). These numbers are hardly a winning strategy and show how desparate the situation for Al Qaeda in Iraq has become. While this just shows what has happened during the last 13 days, The Surge has produced similar numbers for the seven months it has fully been in effect.

In addition and much more significant, 92 HVTs were killed in the past 13 days. Ninety-two leaders, with specific leadership knowledge, skills and abilities, will no longer be able to hand down their expertise to incoming recruits. This sobering fact is clearly demonstrated in the two recently failed suicide attacks in Anbar. Four suicide bombers were not able to kill corresponding Awakening leaders in Anbar. What we see is Coaliton and Awakening leadership exponentially developing while at the same time Al Qaeda leadership exponentially being eliminated, in some case permanently.

In addition, several other leaders who were detained (although precise numbers are not given in these articles) are now giving up Al Qaeda's secrets to Coalition forces which will lead to further reduction in Al Qaeda in Iraq's overall numbers and leaders in particular.

The Yahoo/AP article also notes the following.

[Rear Adm. Gregory] Smith, the U.S. military spokesman, said the military had al-Qaida on the run with recent operations. But he warned the group remains a force in eastern Anbar, northeast of Baghdad in Diyala province, in areas surrounding the northern city of Kirkuk, "in small numbers to the south of Baghdad" and in the northern city of Mosul.

"Mosul will continue to be a center of influence for, a center of gravity for al-Qaida because of its key network of facilitation — both financing and foreign fighters," he said.

A few things are significant about this statement. The first is the region which is not listed, namely Baghdad. In fact, a recent USA Today article cited that 75% of Baghdad is secured compared to 8% in the same month last year. The USA Today article also states,

The 310 neighborhoods in the "control" category are secure, but depend on U.S. and Iraqi military forces to maintain the peace. The 46 areas in the "retain" category have reached a level where Iraqi police and security forces can maintain order, a more permanent fix. The remaining areas have fewer security forces based there, though they are not necessarily violent. (emphasis added)

Therefore, in Baghdad, the center of gravity in this war, 75% of the neighborhoods have seen enemy activity mostly eliminated and normal economic activity resuming. The other 25% of the neighborhoods are "not necessarily violent", but neither are they secured by Coalition forces.

Despite a recent killing of a US Marine in Anbar (which has not occurred since 08 October 2007) and the two recent failed suicide attacks, Anbar is also secure, enemy activity has been mostly elminated and normal economic activity is resuming. Finally, the entire southern part of Iraq and the northern Kurdish part of Iraq continue to be secure.

The US Military now has two divisions (the 1st Armored Division and the 3rd Infantry Division respectively) along with several Iraqi Divisions focusing on securing north of Baghdad to Kirkuk and Mosul (focused in the Sunni Triangle region) and south immediately south of Baghdad (focused in the Triangle of Death region).

The success of The Surge overall and Operation Phantom Pheonix lately can be found thoughout this blog.

  • 1144 insurgents killed or detained in the past 13 days
  • Insurgent replacements of approximately 22 in the past 13 days
  • 92 leaders killed in the past 13 days
  • An unspecified number of leaders detained in the past 13 days
  • 50% reduction in foreign insurgents entering Iraq
  • 75% of Baghdad secured
  • 25% of rest of Baghdad not necessarily violent
  • 100% of Anbar secured
  • 100% of Kurdish north secured
  • 100% of Shiite south secured
Finally, the three most important items of all:

1. Al Qaeda is clearly losing wholesale in Iraq, which Bin Laden himself called the central front in his war against the west. Like Hitler losing Paris or failing to defeat Great Britain, Bin Laden has lost Iraq. Even though Al Qaeda, like Nazi Germany, may be able to surge, the facts speak for themselves. It is now just a matter of time until the complete destruction of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

2. Al Qaeda has been unable to defeat the democratic government in Afghanistan. In fact, approximately 4500 Taliban have been killed in 2007 alone. The number of wounded is probably twice this number. Again, like Nazi Germany against Russia, this endeavor has just wasted precious resources for absolutely no gain militarily.

3. Due to his significant losses in Iraq and no appreciable gain in Afghanistan, Bin Laden has been forced to turn inward to Pakistan, once a safe haven for Al Qaeda. To wage the fight in Pakistan, Musharraf has repositioned 100,000 Regular Army troop from Kashmir to the FATA and NWFP regions in addition to the tens of thousand Frontier Corps already in the region. While shaping operations are already underway, decisive operations will begin shortly after the 18 February parlimentary elections.

Just like Hitler, holed up in an underground bunker in Berlin in the final days of the war, knowing that the 1000 year reign of the Third Reich had come to an abrupt, permature end, Bin Laden also sees his grand plan to establish a caliphate from Spain to China crumble as Coalition forces ever so slowly close in on him.

For all its outrageous and boisterous rhetoric, Iran is not unlike Japan in WWII. Coalition forces have island hopped to surround the theocratic leader of Iran in the Persian Gulf, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and shortly in Pakistan. While not part of the coalition in this war, Turkey is a member of NATO and is pressuring Iran from the north, similar to China's and Russia's pressure on Japan in WWII.

For Iran's sake, it may want to surrender or it may see some of its major cities completely obliterated.

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Director of Pak Intelligence Bureau shot dead

From newKerala.

A director of the Pakistan's Intelligence Bureau, Nisar Khan, was shot dead by an unidentified gunman in Seerikh village adjoining Mohmand tribal district in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

Khan was killed near his home when he was returning home after offering early morning prayers at a local mosque, the police said.

The attackers came in a white car, shot Nisar Khan and abducted the prayer leader of the mosque who was walking with him," said Momin Khan, a local police official.

The victim was rushed to a hospital in Peshawar, the capital of NWFP, but he was declared brought dead by doctors, the Dawn quoted the police official, as saying.

The fleeing assailants released the prayer leader on the way, he added.

Who would do such a thing?

1. Pakistani Government. Why? The director is supporting Al Qaeda and the Taliban against the government. Why not just remove the director? Because he is a highly placed political official. While not know if this is the Nisar Khan being talked about, a Nisar Khan was cited on Nawaz Sharif’s first aborted attempt to return home in September 2007. In addition, a Nisar Khan is noted to be a leader in the party of PML-N, Sharif's party. Musharraf and the PML-Q would be at the top of the list if it was expected for the PML-N to get a large percentage of the votes on the 18 Februrary elections. However, this projection does not seem to be the case. In addition, if this Nisar Khan was so anti-Musharraf, why did not Musharraf sack him with judges during emergency rule?

2. Al Qaeda/Taliban. Why? Nisar Khan was no longer supporting Al Qaeda and/or the Taliban and was in fact beginning to provide intelligence on their locations in FATA and NWFP.

3. PML-N. Why? He must have fallen from favor in this party. What did he do to fall from favor in this party? Possibly turn agains the PML-N, which has supported Al Qaeda/Taliban in the past and has sided with Musharraf?

A more detailed analysis of Nisar Khan and the circumstances surrounding his death need to be conducted to see who killed him and why.

More to follow as this story develops.

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Gaza's power shortage worse than expected

From Haaretz.

Gaza City was dark Sunday night after the Hamas government shut down the Palestinian power plant that supplies some of the electricity in the Strip.

Hamas spokesmen blamed Israel for the power shortage following the closure of the border crossings through which fuel for the power plant is brought into Gaza, but Israel said it is providing 75 percent of Gaza's electricity and Egypt is providing another 5 percent.

Nonetheless, security officials said Sunday night that the electrical supply difficulties in Gaza were greater than Israel had previously thought. They said the fuel supply to Gaza was tens of percent less than planned, a problem exacerbated by the closure.

For a full read, click here.

Ok. Let's calculate this out. Israel supplies 75% and Egypt supplies 5% for a total of 80% of the power needs of Gaza. Due to closures of the Gaza crossing, fuel supplies were 10% less or 70%. Given 24 hours in a day, then Gazans should be without power for 7.2 hours assuming constant usage. Spike usage (i.e. more power used during the day when people are awake) would possibly increase this time.

However, when power was disrupted,

Four hours after the blackout, Hamas said that five patients died because of the cutoff of electricity in hospitals.

Two factors make me suspect this fact.

1. If Hamas knew they were running out of fuel in their main plant, why did they not cut power to certain parts of Gaza to be certain that emergency services would still have fuel?

2. I thought all hospitals had back up generators. Could not Hamas ensured fuel to hospitals to prevent the loss of life?

Hamas failed to do the two critical things that every responsible government does to ensure the safety of its people.

This brings forth the following conclusions.

1. Hamas is not a responsible government.

2. Hamas is not concerned about the safety of its people.

3. Hamas is a bunch of idiots.

4. Hamas is using the decrease in fuel shipments to further its political goals.

While I truly believe number one and two are correct, I certainly do not believe number three. If Hamas wanted to save the five people who died, it would have done so.

For Hamas, what is the death of five Palestinians if it can blame these deaths on Israel, even though it could have prevented them.

For Hamas it is political advantage. For Israel, it is a grave concern in which they are now questioning if their methods (note, this article is from Haaretz, an Israeli news outlet) leads to death. For a Christian, it is murder, a mortal sin.

Two groups of people are truly concerned about these five deaths, Jews and Christians. Hamas is only concerned about the political advantage. However, Khaled Mashaal is apparently concerned.

The plea was rare show of emotion for the hard-line Khaled Mashaal, who lives in exile in Damascus, Syria. (emphasis added)

That's right, Khaled Mashaal lives in Sryia where he is not experiencing these power outages. This fact brings me to another point. Gaza was turned over to Palestinians. Hamas waged a coup and now controls all of Gaza. Why is Khaled Mashaal still in exile if his party is in complete control of Gaza? Could it be that Khaled Mashaal is happy where he is as opposed to living among his people he is helping to kill. I am sorry, I meant his people he is helping to liberate.

Things that make you go, "Hmmmm".

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Second Suicide Attack in Two Days in Al Anbar

On Saturday, 19 January, Dawn reported that five Anbar police officers were killed and 10 wounded by three suicide bombers. The police were able to kill one suicide bomber without incident, but the other two managed to get close enough to kill five police officers.

Now, a day later on Sunday, 20 Janurary, Yahoo/AP is reporting another attack in Al Anbar.

Meanwhile, a suicide bombing killed six people in western Iraq, the second such strike in as many days in Anbar province, where U.S.-backed Sunni tribes were said to have routed al-Qaida in Iraq last year. The attack near the city of Fallujah missed its target: a local tribal leader who is organizing resistance to the terror group.

The attack targeted a sheik, Aeifan al-Issawi, who is a leading member of the Anbar Awakening Council. He was unhurt, but

In Sunday's bombing in Anbar province, meanwhile, the bomber detonated explosives in his belt after four guards stopped him at the checkpoint leading to the sheik's farm near Fallujah. The attack killed the four guards and two civilians and injured four people, according to a police official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared reprisals.

I speculated in an earlier blog that Al Qaeda was trying to show its resurgence in Al Anbar. I also commented that it failed since three suicide bombers only managed to kill five people. Nor did I believe Al Qaeda would try a similar attack. However, they now have.

Again, this operation appears a failure as the intended target was not killed or injured.

In addition, these attacks appear rather foolhardy. While the first one should have gone over well given that Al Anbar has not been attacked in several months, this latest one was attempted with outposts and checkpoints definitely on alert.

This situation needs to be monitored for continual action and further analysis.

It could be a last ditched effort by a remaining suicide cell or it could be a resurgence of Al Qaeda in the Al Anbar province.

Either way, all four attempts were generally a failure from a strategic perspective in that no leaders were killed and attempts were thwarted prior to major catastrophies occcurred.

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Pakistani army retakes South Waziristan fort

From Bill Roggio at the Long War Journal.

Just one day after the military spokesman denied the fort in Saklatoi fell to the Taliban, Pakistani special forces launched an operation to retake the outpost. Meanwhile heavy fighting was reported in the Chagmalai region, where the Frontier Corps maintains an outpost.

Pakistani commandos of the Special Services Group launched a helicopter assault on the Saklatoi Fort on Saturday. A platoon of Special Services Group commandos backed by a platoon of Frontier Corps paramilitaries stormed the compound after a heavy battle, the Pakistani military said.

For a full read, click here.

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Foreign observers to monitor elections in Pakistan

From the Pakistan Times National News Desk.

Foreign observers will have the freedom to thoroughly monitor the general elections process in the country, Caretaker Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Syed Afzal Haider said.

He expressed these views during a call on with Canadian ambassador David Collins here Friday. He said that the upcoming elections would be held in free, fair and transparent manner while all the political parties have been provided with level playing field.

Syed Afzal said a large number of foreign observers will arrive in the country so that no body can raise his or her eyebrows over the transparency of the whole process.

“Election results will be announced at the relevant polling station and transparent ballot boxes would be used,” he added.

He said caretaker government has released all the political detainees and the remaining few would be released soon.

Expressing Canadian government’s satisfaction over the caretaker government’s steps, the ambassador said they hoped the elections in Pakistan would be held in peaceful and pleasant atmosphere.

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