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

New York

Cairo official: Gaza Strip conflict serves Syrian interests

From Haaretz.

According to Egyptian sources, the heads of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, currently based in Damascus, are the only ones authorized to make a decision regarding a cease-fire with Israel, and it is possible that the Syrian government is behind the failure of truce negotiations thus far. "All the evidence points to the fact that Syria wants to divert attention from Lebanon and point the spotlight on Gaza," the Egyptian official said.

"The current escalation [of violence] in the Palestinian arena serves the Syrian interests," they said, explaining that the embarrassment caused by continuing violence in Gaza to Arab Leaders may prompt the Arab nations to send high-level representation to the upcoming Arab summit hosted by Syria later this month, after having threatened that state leaders will not attend if Syria continues to interfere in the political crisis in Lebanon.

For a full read, click here.

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Muqtada Al-Sadr Announces He’s Retiring From Leadership Of Sadrist Movement, Sequestering Himself


The leader of the Shi'ite Sadrists in Iraq, Muqtada Al-Sadr, has announced in a letter to his followers that he is stepping down from his position, distancing himself from people, and focusing on his studies.

He explained that he was doing so because he had failed in carrying out his father's will to liberate Iraq from the occupation and turning its people into believing Muslims.

This statement from Sadr will have far reaching ramifications.

While Sadr instructed followers to continue to obey his committee, the lack of a central figure will undoubted cause the movement to fracture even more than it already is, jeopardizing his ceasefire order. Baha al-Araji, a former Sadr spokesman and member of the Iraq Parliament, has been very vocal in his opposition to Sadr's continued ceasefire.

Additionally, an interesting linkage is also present with Sadr's recent "food poisoning" where he was transferred to an Iranian hospital under life-threatening conditions. He was apparently worked on by Russian doctors.

Finally, does any linkage exist between Mugniyah's recent death and Sadr stepping down. Mugniyah was well known for building Hezbollah in the past and more currently restructuring the Mahdi Army.

One also has to wonder whether Sadr has really stepped down from head of the Mahdi Army or is just preparing for the day when he can return to lead the Mahdi Army as a full ayatollah after finishing his studies in Iran.

Whatever the truth behind his stepping down, this situation bears continued obsevation.

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32,000 Former Officers In Saddam's Army Join New Iraq Army


Iraq's Implementation and Follow up Committee for National Reconciliation (IFCNR) secretary Dr. Basameh Al-Sa'di said that Iraq was offering former security and military industry employees in the previous regime a choice: they could return to service, receive a civilian job, or retire.

He said that over 32,000 former officers in Saddam Hussein's army, from the rank of major on up, had joined the new Iraq army.

For a full read, click here.

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Looking to the Levant: Internationalizing the Iraqi Insurgency

From the Jamestown Foundation.

A number of Iraqi insurgents are increasingly turning their guns outward—rhetorically at least—toward the Levant (Jordan, Gaza, the West Bank, Israel and Lebanon) in general and Israel in particular. It is no secret that Osama bin Laden has renewed calls for the destruction of Israel and the liberation of Palestine, and has also stepped up efforts to set up bases of operations around the Levant in its attempt to restore the Caliphate over every former territory of Islam, from Spain to Iraq. At a time when al-Qaeda is enhancing its Israeli-Palestinian agit-prop and is developing networks in Lebanon and Palestine, the rhetoric of Iraqi insurgents—whether involuntarily or by design—might play into the hands of al-Qaeda’s master plan for the region

For a full read, click here.

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A Military Analysis of Turkey’s Incursion into Northern Iraq

From the Jamestown Foundation.

The recently concluded eight-day Turkish military incursion into northern Iraq marks the beginning of a new phase in Turkey’s nearly 24 year-old struggle against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Despite the Turkish military’s claims to have inflicted high casualties and severe damage to the PKK’s infrastructure in the region, in the medium term the greatest impact of the operation is likely to be psychological.

The incursion was the first major Turkish ground operation into northern Iraq in over a decade and followed over two months of aerial bombardments of PKK camps and bases in the region. By launching a ground operation in winter, when most of the mountainous terrain was still deep in snow, the Turkish military forced the PKK onto the defensive by demonstrating that organization’s presence in northern Iraq is no longer immune to attack—whether by land or from the air—at any time of the year.

While it was initially believed Turkey entered Iraq with two heavy brigades composed of 10,000 troops, this was a diversion to confuse the PKK. The Turkish military diverted attention from the coming attack on the Zap region by bombing PKK positions around Avasin. Instead 1400 commandos were airlifted to Zap. Operations were extremely sussessful.

Buyukanit said that intelligence reports indicated that around 300 PKK militants were located in the Zap region immediately prior to the incursion. He claimed that during the eight days of the operation the Turkish military had killed 240 of the militants, mostly during night attacks. On the Turkish side, 24 soldiers and three members of the Village Guards militia are reported to have died. Buyukanit also said that, in addition to the element of surprise, one of the reasons for the TGS’s decision to launch the attack in winter was that the snow made it very difficult for the PKK to use its stocks of explosives. According to the general, ground and air attacks resulted in the partial or total destruction of 126 caves, 290 shelters, 12 command centers, six training centers, 23 logistical facilities, 29 signals and communications facilities, 40 trenches and 59 anti-aircraft emplacements (Hurriyet, Sabah, Milliyet, Radikal, March 4); the figures have not been independently confirmed. The TGS has not released information on the quantities of arms and logistical supplies seized or destroyed during the operation.

For a full read, click here.

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Iran and the Road Ahead

From The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Recently, two important developments have broken months of gridlock on the Iranian nuclear issue: a third round of UN sanctions and a new warning by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Although both measures are positive, their ultimate impact will depend on how aggressively and effectively key governments implement them.

For a full read, click here.

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Pakistan opposition parties win over independents to tighten grip on parliament

From Dawn.

Parties opposed to President Musharraf have won the allegiance of 11 lawmakers who contested last month's elections as independents, the election commission said Friday. Seven independents have joined Pakistan People’s Party while four have lined up with Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz, according to a breakdown provided by the commission. No lawmakers have joined pro-Musharraf parties. The election commission said 18 parliamentarians will remain independent after Thursday's deadline to sign up for a party. The cutoff also triggered the allocation of additional seats reserved for women and non-Muslims. PPP now has 120 lawmakers in the 342-seat National Assembly, the commission said. The PML-N has 90, while the PML-Q has 51. The election commission said 11 seats in the National Assembly remain vacant. The results in seven constituencies are in litigation, while voting in three places has been delayed by either security concerns or the death of a candidate. One seat reserved for a woman will be decided by drawing lots because two parties - the PML-Q and an alliance of religious parties - have an equal claim on it.

What is significant here is a PPP and PML-Q coalition now has a majority of the seats in a new coalition. Take this together with the Army's backing of Musharraf and the fact that the PML-Q still maintains a majority in the senate, a coalition between the PPP and PML-Q is a likely prospect as is Musharraf's continuation of the Presidency. Musharraf announced the parliament will be convened within 10 days. The next ten days will see interesting political maneuvering in Pakistan.

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ANALYSIS: Elections in Iran - Referendum for changes

From Monsters and Critics.

After more than 30 months of the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iranians will show in next week's parliamentary elections whether they still support the presidential course or rather vote for changes.

The March 14 elections will, in effect, be a pro- or contra- Ahmadinejad referendum.

What are the chances for a anti-Ahmadinejad referendum? Rather large if one believes this analysis. Who is most likely to benefit from an anti-Ahmandinejad referendum?

The reformists have formed a coalition led by ex-presidents Khatami and Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani. Most of their candidates have, however, been disqualified for ideological reasons by the senate-like Guardian Council. So they have no top candidate, and would be more than happy to win even one-third of the seats....

Observers have, however, focused on the new conservative faction led by former chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani. Last October he resigned from his post owing to differences with Ahmadinejad over the president's uncompromising nuclear policies.

The new faction, also supported by Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, is loyal to the system, but unlike Ahmadinejad follows a more moderate course.

'The criteria of the voters have changed - the economic crisis has made the economy the main issue, and even political considerations tend towards that direction,'

March 14 parliamentary elections in Iran will be interesting to watch. Ex-presidents Khatami and Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani are not expected to win more than 1/3 of the available seats. Both of these parties started and continued Iran's nuclear enrichment programs. Ahmadinejad's party is also expected to go down in defeat due to concern over the economy while oil is at $100 per barrel. In addition, he contines nuclear enrichment.

Instead, a new faction, led by former chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani is expected to win control of the parliament. It must be remembered that Larijani resigned as Ahmadinejad's chief negotiator due to differences in dealing with the EU and America over the nuclear issue. Larijani was willing to suspend enrichment for economic assistance. Ahmadinejad wasn't.

If Larijani's party assumes control of the Parliament, it will not only signal a defeat for the "old guard" in Iran, but may also signal a willingness for Iran to compromise over its nuclear enrichment. Russia and China for their part recently fully back tough sanctions against Iran signally their intentions to seek a more moderate Iranian Parliament and in the future, a president.

Diplomatically and economically, Iran is becoming increasingly isolated. Thanks to tough new sanctions, this isolation will increase. The US maintains the upper hand in negotiations as sanctions are now in full effect. For sanctions to be lifted or reduced, Larijani's party will have to show its willingness to not only suspend enrichment, but also to suspend support of Special Groups in Iraq. In addition, Iran's support of Hezbollah may also be in play.

Again, the outcome of 14 March parlimentary elections may very well mark a significant turning point in Iranian relations with the rest of the Middle East and America in general. It will be interesting to see the outcome.

For a full read, click here.

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Pakistan's generals come down hard

From Asia Times Online.

With Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's allies routed in last month's parliamentary elections and civil society led by lawyers aggressively calling for his dismissal and trial for his actions in the "war on terror" over the past eight years, Musharraf has received a boost with the top military brass putting their weight behind the presidency.

Faced with rising militancy, the military did not have much option but to close ranks and back the US push to tackle Taliban and al-Qaeda militants head-on.

Militants in Pakistan have stepped up their attacks. As a result, General Kayani only has the choice of bringing the battle directly to the militants in Pakistan.

The raids reinforce the conviction that there is no longer any chance for reconciliation, at least for this year, and that the Pakistan armed forces and the militants will be battling it out with full force, whether in the main cities or in the tribal areas along with North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces.

Thursday's Corps Commanders' meeting confirms this open battle against the militants as a continuum of the Washington-led "war on terror".

For a full read, click here.

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Saudi arrests 28 suspects for links with Zawahiri

From Dawn.

Saudi Arabia said Monday it had rounded up 28 more Al-Qaeda suspects after arresting a similar number in December following an alleged plot to carry out attacks during Hajj. This brings to 56 the total number of people arrested who are linked to the Al-Qaeda leadership abroad and were in contact with Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri, the interior ministry said in a statement carried by the SPA news agency. The group had been instructed by the Al-Qaeda leadership to launch a “terrorist campaign” inside the kingdom, it said.

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The Rejected

From Paul McLeary writing for the Columbia Journalism Review.

This month marks the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. For many of the journalists who have covered it, it has been the story of their lifetime, but we’ve nevertheless seen coverage of the war slip off the front pages over the last few months. While there are still plenty of reporters risking their lives doing great work in Iraq, much of the political, social, and economic complexity of today’s war seems to be getting lost in the election-year crush, even as the war continues to be a major issue in the campaign. This series is CJR’s attempt to add a little bit of context to the whole, while digging into stories that don’t always make it into our morning newspapers.

Mr. McLeary writes of his embed with Charlie Company of the 1st Battalion, 21st Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, part of the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team. In this article, he writes of Captain Glenn Helberg'as meeting with sheik Munder. During the meeating, the power went out. Mr. McLeary explains.

Power failures are so common that the sheik just kept talking; mostly about the dark days just a few months ago when al Qaeda ran the area, of the family members killed, how his sons had to drop out of school. He joked that he was thinking of renaming his tribe “The Rejected,” since that’s what al Qaeda used to call Shia.

This article is very interesting as it writes about the "strategic corporal", the "three-block war", and cultivating relationships with Iraqis which are all tenets of counterinsrugency doctrine. It is a first in a series of planned articles about how all these tenets are affecting the war in Iraq, where we are in our counterinsurgency fight, and where we and the Iraqi government have to go.

For a full read, click here.

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Violence Leaves Young Iraqis Doubting Clerics

From The New York Times.

After almost five years of war, many young people in Iraq, exhausted by constant firsthand exposure to the violence of religious extremism, say they have grown disillusioned with religious leaders and skeptical of the faith that they preach.

In two months of interviews with 40 young people in five Iraqi cities, a pattern of disenchantment emerged, in which young Iraqis, both poor and middle class, blamed clerics for the violence and the restrictions that have narrowed their lives.

This disillusionment with extremism is part of the "intellectual turbulence" discussed several times in this blog and continues to present itself in Islamic culture. This New York Times Article reflects first hand accounts of disillusionment with extremist Islam regardless of faith, whether Sunni or Shiite. This disillusionment was discussed in an earlier blog entitled, "Old Jihad, New Jihad". While the Al-Ahram Weekly article misses the true nature of the reformation which is occuring in Islam, it is an insightful article to discuss the intellectual turbulence which is happening in the Muslim world.

The old Jihad is external jihad against the infidel. It is the jihad that led to the World Trade Center attacks. It is the jihad which saw the rise to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is the jihad which saw the rise of Al Qaeda in Iraq. The new jihad is an internal struggle. It is truly the "old" jihad discussed in the Koran but has been co-opted by radical Islamists as an external struggle.

The New York Times article provides a chronological account of changes among the faithful in Iraq. When freed from Saddam's tyranny, Shiites became extremely religious. The article notes in 2003, one could not find room to pray in a mosque. In 2004, many younger people took up Jihad, both Shiites and Sunnis. This jihad caused actions like the following.

Zane Mohammed, a gangly 19-year-old with an earnest face, watched with curiosity as the first Islamists in his Baghdad neighborhood came to barbershops, tea parlors and carpentry stores before taking over the mosques. They were neither uneducated nor poor, he said, though they focused on those who were.

Then, one morning while waiting for a bus to school, he watched a man walk up to a neighbor, a college professor whose sect Mr. Mohammed did not know, shoot the neighbor at point blank range three times, and walk back to his car as calmly “as if he was leaving a grocery store.”

Indiscriminant killings of innocent Muslims became the norm in 2004 and 2005. By 2006, many groups, most notably the Sunnis in Al Anbar begin to question this religious extremism. In response, Al Qaeda attacked and killed tribal leaders and their followers. Tribes turned to Marines for help and thus began the Awakening movement. The surge of 2007 provided the military resources to fight against extremists, not only Sunni, but also Shiite. The surge happened to occur during a time when Iraqis were beginning to questioning the more extreme members in their sects.

2008 is a year in which violence has subsided and people are looking back and wondering how all this death and destruction occurred over the last five years in Iraq. It was not at the hands of the Americans. It was, in fact, at the hands of the extremists, both Sunni and Shiite. What allows it to persist and gain followers is the unemployed and uneducated, as noted in the above quote from Zane Mohammed.

However, America has brought to Iraq democracy and freedom. With democracy, people have the right to choose. With democracy, economic strength of individuals grow and flourish. With freedom, people have the right pursue happiness. The war in Iraq for the last four years has been like a college education for most Iraqis. The Iraqi choice is a more secular, religiously tolerant society, not unlike the religious undertones present in American society today.

What we are seeing now is a backlash against Islamists noted by the quote below.

“I used to love Osama bin Laden,” proclaimed a 24-year-old Iraqi college student. She was referring to how she felt before the war took hold in her native Baghdad. The Sept. 11, 2001, strike at American supremacy was satisfying, and the deaths abstract.

Now, the student recites the familiar complaints: Her college has segregated the security checks; guards told her to stop wearing a revealing skirt; she covers her head for safety.

“Now I hate Islam,” she said, sitting in her family’s unadorned living room in central Baghdad. “Al Qaeda and the Mahdi Army are spreading hatred. People are being killed for nothing.”

It is not that this person hates Islam as she states. Instead, she hates what Islam has become. She hates the external jihad controlled by Islamists. She, and many other Iraqis, have began their internal jihad, questioning indiscriminant killings of not only fellow Iraqis, but also of American forces which brought her democracy and freedom. Iraqis are also questioning religious leaders. Why cannot she wear a skirt? Why cannot women go to beauty parlors which have gone underground in Iraq, but continue to flourish. Why indeed?

I have expressed several times in this blog that Iraq is the beacon of democracy continuing to shine brighter each day in the Middle East. It is becoming economically strong and will become the economic powerhouse in the Middle East due to the democracy that America established and the Iraqis have fought so hard to make work. It will change Islam since it has all faiths in it, Shiite, Sunni, Kurd, Turkman, Christian, and Jew. Due to the freedom which America gave it, it is beginning to change Islam back to the Islam of old, the internal jihad, or struggle, in which individuals look for spiritual enlightenment not by going to a mosque, wearing vails, or killing innocent people, but by trying to become a better person internally.

This same intellectual turbulence is expressing itself in Pakistan which is why tribal leaders are turning against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. This same intellectual turbulence is expressing itself in Lebanon which is why Hezbollah does not have the popularity to lead a revolt against the March 14 led government. This intellectual turbulence will shortly express itself in Iran in upcoming elections.

What is interesting is had not President Bush invaded Iraq and then had the fortitude to surge forces in 2007, this intellectual turbulence would have been suppressed and quite possibly stamped out. However, not only has the surge defeated Al Qaeda in Iraq, but it also weaken Shiite militias like Sadr's Mahdi Army. It prevented Hezbollah from siezing control in Lebanon. It allowed for the first democractically elected government to come to power in free and fair elections in Pakistan. It indirectly caused the splitting of Palestinian factions. It allowed for the propagation of intellectual turbulence. It will result in the reformation of Islam not unlike the reformation which occurred in Christianity hundreds of years ago. It will allow Islam to come into and be part of the 21st century and contribute to the global economy.

The Bush Doctrine was a bold experiment. It has had many trials and tribulations. It has however succeeded in establishing an Islamic democracy in the center of the Middle East which will continue to shine brighter and brighter each day. It will drastically change the Middle East in the years to come.

Democracy is not something which can be given to a people. It must be earned. It must be fought for and in the fight for democracy, people engage in war and unfortunately die. But in the end, those who successfuly fight for democracy are blessed by those inalienable rights so eloquently written by Thomas Jefferson: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness causes intellectual turbulence in strict societies which is precisely what is now occurring in Islam and what occurred in Christianity several hundred years ago.

One final note. The reason I tie the Protestant Reformation of 1517, the American Declaration of Independence of 1776, and Operation Enduring/Iraqi Freedom of 2001 together is because they so vastly changed (and will change) the world.

Adam and Eve not only gave us original sin, but they also gave us choice, choice to do right and wrong. Jesus Christ gave us forgiveness of our sins and asked us only to do unto others as we would have them do to us. The Protestant Reformation of 1517 began by Luther expressed that sinners must have a genuine change of heart to be forgiven by Christ and allowed into heaven. The Declaration of Independence 0f 1776 more specifically laid out that we were endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To ensure these rights, government are instituted among people and derive their power from the consent of the governed. If a government becomes destructive to these ends, we have a right to alter it and abolish it. This abolition of extremism is precisely what President Bush gave to Aghanis and Iraqis. This abolition of extremism is creating intellectual turbulence in the Muslim world today. In the future, Iraq will return the favor as it frees countless others living in tyranny in the Middle East.

The process of enlightenment that began several millennia ago with Adam and Eve, possibly in the very country of Iraq, has now come full circle. It is noteworthy to remember Adam and Eve did not eat from the Tree of Life, but instead ate from the Tree of Knowledge. Knowledge gave humankind liberty, the ability to chose right and wrong. Democracy gave humankind the ability to pursue happiness. Both together will give us ability to enjoy everlasting life. One can only imagine God's joy in what his children have learned.

While I like many others would rather see life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness occur without death and violence, it must be remembered that freedom isn't free. It is born out of the sweat, blood, and death of the brave.

For President Bush, I salute you for the bold undertaking to instill democracy in the Muslim world. More importantly, I salute you for having the fortitude to surge forces when many were crying for withdraw. For all who have made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, you enjoy everlasting life because you gave liberty and allowed others to pursue happiness. You had a genuine change of heart, a compassion for others, as described by Martin Luther. You chose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, a choice given to us by Adam and Eve, in their orignal home.

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PPP, PML (Q) working towards national consensus government

From South East Asia News.

A national consensus government involving the Musharraf-backed Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) appears to be in the making in Pakistan's Punjab province, if the results of the over two-hour long talks between PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and PML (Q) leader Hamid Nasir Chattha on Saturday are anything to go by.

The Daily Times quoted sources privy to the meeting as saying that a thaw in relations between the two parties is in the offing."

The PPP is keeping all its options open. However, it is difficult to say at this time whether it will take the PML-Q on board," the sources added.

A coaltion between the PPP, the PML-Q and the PML-F would give this coalition 187 of the 186 seats needed to form a coalition government. One would ask why would the PPP form a coalition with the PML-Q and not the PML-N. A couple of factors are at work here.

1. The PML-N is supportive of Al Qaeda's/Taliban's presence in Pakistan. If the Pakistani elections tell anything, it is the population is growing less supportive of militants noticed by the loss of several seats by the MMA garnering only 3% of the vote compared to 11% in the last election. While the PML-Q also lost significant seats, it managed to maintain 15% of the electorate.

2. A little know fact is the PML-N's Sharif put Zardari, the PPP Co-chairman, in prison for in 1994. He gained his release from Musharraf in 2004.

3. PML-Q has a majority in the Senate and senatorial elections are two years off. This fact and the lack of a 2/3 majority will prevent the PPP from impeaching Musharraf. In addition, a lot can change in two years and Zardari does not want to burn more bridges after spending 11 years in jail for one thing or another.

4. The PML-Q won a majority in Balochistan Province where the new Gwandar port is becoming fully operational which will allow international trade and access to proposed oil pipelines from Iran and India.

5. The PML-Q threatened to file money laundering charges against Zardari last month. Forming a coalition with the PML-Q will make these charges go away.

6. Mr 10% (Zardari) would have no issue focusing on the economy while letting Musharraf battle militants. In many respects, it is a marriage made in heaven.

7. Musharraf recently delivered an olive branch to the PPP offering to reinstate expelled justices.

8. Maintaining Musharraf in power will ensure continued military support and financial aid from the US.

All of these factirs gives the PPP good incentive to form a coalition with the PML-Q.

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US to send 100 military trainers to Pakistan

From South East Asia News.

The US military is planning to send around hundred American trainers to work with a Pakistani paramilitary force that is fighting against al Qaeda, the Taliban and other radicals in that country's troubled tribal areas, US military officials have said.

Initially trainers would be restricted to training compounds, but after seeking permission from the Pakistan Government they could accompany Pakistani troops on missions "to the point of contact" with militants, the New York Times quoted a senior US military official, as saying.

The British Government is also mulling sending a similar training mission to Pakistan, officials said. However, a spokesman at the British Embassy here had declined to comment over the matter

Right now about 50 US forces are in Pakistan. This will quadruple their number. The British are also looking at providing training. Training will be focused on the Frontier Corps according to this article. Undoubtedly, training will focus on linking the military muscle to the Frontier Corps ability to gather intelligence. This is being done in Iraq through Joint Security Stations. In addition, General Kayani has requested intelligence personnel.

The US Central Command has sent a four-member intelligence team to Pakistan at the request of Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. The Americans are also helping with techniques on sharing satellite imagery and addressing Pakistani requests to buy equipment used to intercept the militants' communications, a senior American officer said.

General Kayani is upgrading his satellite and signal intelligence in the FATA/NWFP regions. He is getting counterinsurgency training for his military and the Frontier Corps. He has also apparently approved more armed Predator overflights as noticed by the two recent attacks on high value targets. All facets needed to conduct a successful counterinsurgency are starting to be applied.

HUMINT on the ground in terms of Frontier Corps.

SIGINT intercepts to localize terrorists, track movements, and establish cell linkages.

IMINT to put faces to other intelligence and allow for precision strikes.

Precision Strike capability in terms of Predators to reduce civilian casualties.

Pakistani Military to conduct raids for high value targets and to assist the Frontier Corps in security of the populous.

Joint Security Stations manned with District Coordinating Officers, Tribal Agents, Frontier Corps, and Pakistani Military.

Loss of tacit support from the populous. This facet is something only Al Qaeda/Taliban can give up. They are losing support due to their indiscriminant killings and attacks on tribal leaders.

As intelligence builds, Al Qaeda/Taliban will run out of hiding places, be killed and captured, or be forced back into the mountainous regions along the Afghanistani border. Either way, 2008 will be a year in which Al Qaeda/Taliban will be pushed out of their unassailable base and brought back to mountainous caves preventing them from executing complex attacks and limit their ability to support terror activities abroad or in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

2008 in Pakistan will look very similar to 2007 in Iraq from Al Qaeda's perspective.

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Doctor: 40 dead in Pakistan attack

From Yahoo via AP.

A suicide bomber blew himself up Sunday at a large meeting called by tribal elders pushing for peace in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 40 people and injuring more than 100, witnesses and officials said....

The five tribes involved wanted to finalize a resolution calling for punishing anyone who sheltered or helped militants, including those of al-Qaida and the Taliban, Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said on state-run Pakistan Television.

This attack is reminiscent of similar attacks against Al Anbar tribes in Iraq and signals a complete break with these tribes and Al Qaeda/Taliban. There is no way reconciliation can now happen between these tribes and Al Qaeda/Taliban.

While the Pakistani people believe the US is responsible for increased violence in their country, much like the Sunnis in Iraq initially did, attacks like these will focus anger at Al Qaeda/Taliban and decrease support for these terrorists.

It is key to understand an insurgency can only exist with tacit support of the populous. Once the populous turns against an insurgency, it is doomed to fail.

Al Qaeda is repeating their failed policies of indiscriminant murder of any entity that opposes it. As such, it not only loses tacit support, but creates significant enemies which turn on the organization.

Musharraf's and General Kayani's multi-pronged strategy takes this fact into account. An insurgency cannot be won by military forces. Military forces can only help secure a population which wants to secure itself.

The fact that five tribes were finalizing a resolution to punish anybody who helped or sheltered militants show the complete lack of support for Al Qaeda/Taliban and the active maneuvering by tribes against Al Qaeda/Taliban.

Just like in Al Anbar, a military presence is needed to provide security for the population. Once they have some semblance of security, locals will begin to point out Al Qaeda/Taliban members in the area. As opposed to creating CLCs from scratch as American's did in Iraq, Pakistan already has frontier corps of locals to provide security. Pakistan should begin vetting these members to ensure they are on the government's side, employ these members at checkpoints to limit Al Qaeda's/Taliban's movements in the region, and establish joint security stations with the Frontier Corps, the Pakistani military, and tribal leaders. Pakistan will find this solution as they have a perfect template in Iraq to go by and have the basic template already installed in Pakistan.

I have noted before that 2008 will be the year of Al Qaeda's/Taliban's destruction in the final unassailable base. Attacks like these will initially terrorize the populous, but eventually cause the populous to act against Al Qaeda/Taliban.

For their part, Pakistanis need to understand this is not a war the US created in Pakistan or Musharraf caused. It is a war against Pakistanis by Al Qaeda/Taliban. Attacks against high profile targets such as the one noted above will sway the population against Al Qaeda/Taliban. Instead of securing their future, they are adding nails to their coffins.

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