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Thread: Bin Laden: after Abbottabad (merged thread)

  1. #61
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by huskerguy7 View Post
    Here's the thing. We can't begin chewing out Pakistan and telling them that we aren't going to work with them. That's equivalent to a road builder saying that he won't work with the Department of Roads. It just won't work.
    So how far has working with them gotten us in Afghanistan? It has gotten us the considerable emotional satisfaction of getting somebody who may not matter much, after 10 years, what it will cost yet to be determined. If the road builder keeps constructing bridges that collapse and road beds made of silt in a flood plain, maybe we ought to consider changing something.
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    Either OBL was given up on purpose by the Pak Army, ISI, or factions thereof, or the US acquired and acted upon intel without their help, which is entirely possible. The official Pakistani reaction will be interesting. I imagine comment from both sides will be sanitized to some extent, likely a large extent... still interesting to see what emerges. It would be tough for the Pakistani government to admit that they passed on information that led to an American operation on Pakistani soil, so I suppose they'll have to pitch it as an independent US operation, whatever the truth of it is.
    Following my own research on the relations between the Pakistani Politics and Security appartus with Taliban fighters, I guess you are not to far off Dayuhan. Especially the ISI not onlx colludes with Taliban leadership but seems to exert a large amount of control over it. This becomes especially clear , when one considers how Pakistan is picking out leaders who deviate from the 'official' Pakistani policy, as for example Mullah Beradar last year and his brother this year.
    Therefore, I think the death of OBL will not have a great impact on the war in Afghanistan nor on terrorism worldwide.

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    Good to remember, I think, that while a great deal of speculation is possible, it's all still speculation. There's a great deal that we do not know, and may not know for a long time, if ever. If there was a formal decision to give up OBL, or if someone sold him out without approval from higher levels, or if the US used its own resources to get information from within the Pakistani establishment, that information will not be revealed. Whatever is said will be adjusted to protect sources.

    There's a lot we don't know, and any conclusions based on speculation are inherently... well, speculative.

    I agree, though, that there will probably not be any dramatic effect on the war in Afghanistan or on the various Islamist networks.

    I do wish people would stop asking questions like "how will the death of OBL affect terrorism" or "what will terrorism be post bin Laden". This makes no sense. Terrorism is now exactly what it was before: a tactic. That tactic will continue to be adopted by those who believe it suits their ends and means. We are not fighting "terrorism", we are fighting a loose coalition of Islamist groups that have adopted terrorism as a primary tactic, though often in pursuit of diverse aims. We can ask what the impact of OBL's death on this international Islamist network will be, but we should not confuse that network with "terrorism".
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 05-03-2011 at 07:03 AM.

  4. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by motorfirebox View Post
    Well, regarding the locals, I doubt they wanted to know. Possible results of knowing OBL is your next-door neighbor:

    1) OBL's buddies kill you to keep you quiet.
    2) The US blows up the whole compound and you're collateral damage.
    3) The US sends in a team to kill OBL in person, and you have to worry about catching a stray round.

    There's really no upside to knowing.
    ... besides getting super-rich with the bounty and moving into a safe Western country with the money.

  5. #65
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    Best that we accept and never forget that Pakistan's top vital interest is their national survival in regards to their greatest threat, India. That is not going to change any time soon, and certainly not because the US comes to town for a few years with an urgent crisis on our hands and asks them to subjugate that enduring national interest to the temporary pursuit of a conflicting interest as defined by the US. It is completely unreasonable to expect Pakistan to do so.

    But here is there conundrum, they also have a vital interest in maintaining strong relations with the U.S. This has put them in a situation where they have little choice but to officially support us to the degree they can, while at the same time unofficially, and if need be covertly, continue to support their other interest as well. This is natural, we would all do the same thing if in the same situation, and it is to me frankly bizarre that the US leadership and US media make such sport of throwing verbal rocks at Pakistan for being an unreliable ally.

    In court, this is what is called a "hostile witness" when you put someone on the stand to testify that has a clear conflict of interests, as they are clearly identified as such and special guards and allowances are made to facilitate gaining the support one needs.

    Pakistan is a "hostile ally," and that is ok. We really should not expect more of them. Beyond mis-identifying the problem in Afghanistan, we have also failed to fully appreciate Pakistan's interests and taken all into account in our operational design for mitigating AQ and achieving some degree of stability in the region.

    I'd give the current strategy (that is about 9 years old) and the many variations of tactical priorities and programs (that change every couple of years due to the flawed strategy) about a D+ and demand a do-over. Ironically I was chatting with some "AFPAK Center of Excellence" people from CENTCOM the other day, and they believe their mission is only to think within the lines drawn for them by higher (White House, ISAF, CENTCOM CDR). I asked them who then thinks about other alternatives and options that might more effectively get at the ends for the operation? They had no good answer for that.

    If we are waiting for some White House staffer to whisper in the President's ear a brilliant new concept for achieving our ends in the AFPAK region we are in some serious trouble. Too bad the hundreds of action officers tasked to work the mission at MacDill don't see that as being in their lane. (granted, the ones I spoke to may not have represented the entire organization, but chain of command and nesting can have a stifling effect on creative thinking)
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    Robert sahib, lets take the notion of thinking outside the given parameters a little further. What happens if you dare to think (creatively) that the assumption that Pakistan's national interest consists of nothing more than an endless zero-sum game with India is in fact wrong? That BOTH countries would have been much better off if they had not spent the last 60 years trying to pull each other down by all means fair or foul.
    I dont mean to sound rude, you are obviously a senior professional and therefore must know what you are doing, but I fail to see why you accept the Pakistani army's narrow definition of Pakistan's national interest totally without question?
    Could it be that the "interest" here is not the interest of the 180 million people of Pakistan, but only of a very small military-bureaucratic elite that uses this storyline to pursue policies that are actually inimical to the interests of most of those people (and of course, milks its helpful patrons in the process....patrons who are either cynically exploiting this warped storyline for their own purposes or failing to think above their pay-grade)?

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    Bob,

    I think your analysis on Pakistan is spot on. All the hand-wringing and complaining here in the US about Pakistan isn't going to change that. Unfortunately, we've tied our strategy to Pakistan as we would like it to be and not the Pakistan as it is.
    Supporting "time-limited, scope limited military actions" for 20 years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by omarali50 View Post
    Robert sahib, lets take the notion of thinking outside the given parameters a little further. What happens if you dare to think (creatively) that the assumption that Pakistan's national interest consists of nothing more than an endless zero-sum game with India is in fact wrong? That BOTH countries would have been much better off if they had not spent the last 60 years trying to pull each other down by all means fair or foul.
    I dont mean to sound rude, you are obviously a senior professional and therefore must know what you are doing, but I fail to see why you accept the Pakistani army's narrow definition of Pakistan's national interest totally without question?
    Could it be that the "interest" here is not the interest of the 180 million people of Pakistan, but only of a very small military-bureaucratic elite that uses this storyline to pursue policies that are actually inimical to the interests of most of those people (and of course, milks its helpful patrons in the process....patrons who are either cynically exploiting this warped storyline for their own purposes or failing to think above their pay-grade)?
    I think this is a very interesting premise, but...

    Whom would the US pol/mil reps deal with if not the acknowledged national leadership? Are you suggesting supporting a democratic revolution? From a US perspective... an altruistic set of Pak strategic priorities would seem to include eliminating terrorist elements that are formenting unrest and detente with its neighbors... I think BW is simply advocating acknowledging the geopolitical realities of the Pak nation and working from there... you seem to be advocating determining what should be the geopolitical realities of the Pak nation and act to see that reality emerge (the US has been pretty roundly criticized for that type of foreign policy in the distant and recent past)...

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    Pakistan is a "hostile ally," and that is ok. We really should not expect more of them. Beyond mis-identifying the problem in Afghanistan, we have also failed to fully appreciate Pakistan's interests and taken all into account in our operational design for mitigating AQ and achieving some degree of stability in the region.
    Tell that some journalists of the western european, and especially the german speaking press. For the absolute majority of them Pakistan ist still the true parter in the GWOT.

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    Default The Compound factor Part 5 (The ISI visit)

    This is a very curious statement:
    The ISI official told the BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones in Islamabad that the compound in Abbottabad, just 100km (62 miles) from the capital, was raided when under construction in 2003. It was believed an al-Qaeda operative, Abu Faraj al-Libi, was there. But since then "the compound was not on our radar, it is an embarrassment for the ISI", the official said. "We're good, but we're not God."
    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13268517

    Abu Faraj al-Libi was detained in Mardan, Pakistan in 2005, in a joint operation and is in Guantanamo Bay, from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Faraj_al-Libbi

    When you are pursuing a fugitive any residence linked to him and his close associates should remain on the radar, if only for reference purposes and was this information shared in 2003?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-03-2011 at 01:32 PM.
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  11. #71
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    Default Pakistani jigsaw

    The BBC World Service reporter Owen Bennett-Jones, until last week in the Lebanon covering Syria, has returned to Pakistan and his short analysis is worth citing in full and I have placed one sentence in bold:
    Clearly there were people helping Bin Laden in this location... were they state employees, were they simply from Taliban-related groups, were they from the intelligence agencies?

    For all Americans may ask the questions, I doubt they will get any answers. There will be ambiguity about this and the Pakistanis will deny they had any knowledge whatsoever.

    The establishment here is made up of army leadership, intelligence agency leadership and some senior civil servants, and they have always run Pakistan, whether democratic governments or military governments, and those people do have connections with jihadis.

    The difficulty the West has is in appreciating there are more than 20 different types of jihadi organisations, and al-Qaeda is just one of them. The state has different policies towards different types of group and that subtlety is often lost on Western policy-makers.
    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13268517
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  12. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Best that we accept and never forget that Pakistan's top vital interest is their national survival in regards to their greatest threat, India. That is not going to change any time soon, and certainly not because the US comes to town for a few years with an urgent crisis on our hands and asks them to subjugate that enduring national interest to the temporary pursuit of a conflicting interest as defined by the US. It is completely unreasonable to expect Pakistan to do so.
    In the spirit of Mr. Omarali, your statement would much more accurate if you substituted for the word Pakistan, the phrase "Pak Army/ISI/feudal elites" and the word "their" for "national." I agree it would be completely unreasonable to expect them to change. Things have been working out well for them, lots of money and little risk, kind of like the Somali pirates.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    But here is there conundrum, they also have a vital interest in maintaining strong relations with the U.S. This has put them in a situation where they have little choice but to officially support us to the degree they can, while at the same time unofficially, and if need be covertly, continue to support their other interest as well. This is natural, we would all do the same thing if in the same situation, and it is to me frankly bizarre that the US leadership and US media make such sport of throwing verbal rocks at Pakistan for being an unreliable ally.
    They do indeed have a conundrum, but it is more along the lines of a commercial problem-how to keep the money flowing mostly to them for as long as they can. They have been doing a good job 'cause they are good at sneaky.

    Please though Councilor, why would a conscientious advocate find it bizarre that the Americans point out that the Pak Army/ISI/feudal elites are unreliable allies. They are unreliable allies as you have noted for the reasons you have noted. Why is it bizarre for the truth to be stated?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    In court, this is what is called a "hostile witness" when you put someone on the stand to testify that has a clear conflict of interests, as they are clearly identified as such and special guards and allowances are made to facilitate gaining the support one needs.
    I submit that a different analogy be used, that of an informant playing both sides and occasionally setting up officers to be killed. You do take special precautions, like getting rid of the guy. Officers morale tends to decay when this isn't done. I like this analogy better because things are still happening; not like court where things that happened are talked about.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Pakistan is a "hostile ally," and that is ok. We really should not expect more of them. Beyond mis-identifying the problem in Afghanistan, we have also failed to fully appreciate Pakistan's interests and taken all into account in our operational design for mitigating AQ and achieving some degree of stability in the region.
    Yes the Pak Army/ISI/feudal elites are hostile allies and it is ok...for them. They will continue to be since it pays. I disagree that we do not appreciate their interests since we keep blindly serving them. A few verbal pokes once in a while is a small thing in return for the money they get. Blindly serving their interests has led us into misidentifying the biggest part of the problem in Afghanistan, their interests. It is hard to see the sun in the sky with our eyes closed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    I'd give the current strategy (that is about 9 years old) and the many variations of tactical priorities and programs (that change every couple of years due to the flawed strategy) about a D+ and demand a do-over. Ironically I was chatting with some "AFPAK Center of Excellence" people from CENTCOM the other day, and they believe their mission is only to think within the lines drawn for them by higher (White House, ISAF, CENTCOM CDR). I asked them who then thinks about other alternatives and options that might more effectively get at the ends for the operation? They had no good answer for that.

    If we are waiting for some White House staffer to whisper in the President's ear a brilliant new concept for achieving our ends in the AFPAK region we are in some serious trouble. Too bad the hundreds of action officers tasked to work the mission at MacDill don't see that as being in their lane. (granted, the ones I spoke to may not have represented the entire organization, but chain of command and nesting can have a stifling effect on creative thinking)
    I agree with every word. If only we could toss away our blinders, see that sun in the sky and stop being teacup poodles for the General sahibs and the feudal lords, then a whole range of possibilities would open up. But we won't because we haven't and we can't do what we haven't done because we can't think of it. Just like you say.

    And just like you say we should, I suspect we have adjusted our strategy to accommodate the General sahibs and company. They give us AQ, we give them Afghanistan. Aside from the shame of that, it will work out great for us and, temporarily, for the Pak Army/ISI/feudal elites. Not in the long run though for them because stability will most certainly not follow. It will work out bad for everybody else in the region from the get go. Maybe we can take some of the terps with us on the way out.
    Last edited by carl; 05-03-2011 at 01:53 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hacksaw View Post
    I think this is a very interesting premise, but...

    Whom would the US pol/mil reps deal with if not the acknowledged national leadership? Are you suggesting supporting a democratic revolution? From a US perspective... an altruistic set of Pak strategic priorities would seem to include eliminating terrorist elements that are formenting unrest and detente with its neighbors... I think BW is simply advocating acknowledging the geopolitical realities of the Pak nation and working from there... you seem to be advocating determining what should be the geopolitical realities of the Pak nation and act to see that reality emerge (the US has been pretty roundly criticized for that type of foreign policy in the distant and recent past)...

    Live well and row
    1. First of all, there IS a democratic (or semi-democratic) leadership and they DO have different ideas from what GHQ is selling. Pakistan does not HAVE to mean GHQ and no one else, though obviously it means GHQ TOO.
    I am not suggesting the US impose democracy or anything else. But I do suspect that the current "transactional relationship" would change rather drastically if all transactions are consciously carried out while knowing the various forces in play instead of creating a standard narrative of "national interests" and being all too "understanding" of GHQ's version of "national interest" when the nation is actually full of people who DO have a different and saner version.

    2. The US has tremendous leverage which it sometimes seems to waste on inessential or secondary objectives. This is, of course, an opinion. What is essential or secondary is a judgment call. I can only suggest that those judgments will themselves change (gradually and sometimes silently and unknowingly, as judgments usually change in human minds) when the narrative we are using is adjusted. This is a claim based on personal experience. Step one is being willing to consider (if only as a background assumption) that the existing narrative of Pakistani national interest may not be in the interest of most Pakistanis. let that stay in your mind for a few months. Other parts of the mental furniture will move around gradually as you do so.
    One day, Wittgenstein was chatting with a friend and said "‘I’ve always wondered why for so long people thought that the Sun revolved around the Earth."
    ‘Why?’ said his surprised interlocutor, ‘ I suppose it just looks that way’
    ‘Hmm’, retorted W. ‘and what would it look like if the Earth revolved around the Sun and rotated on its axis?
    The point of the anecdote is that both narratives would look the same to a casual observer watching the sun from his window. But the second is "truer" (closer to reality), and because it is so, it opens up vast new understandings and possibilities that the first failed to catch.
    Its the same here. Try out the alternative narrative and it may make other things clearer and it may throw up options that the first one did not.

    3. As an illustration, let me attempt what I think is a possible scenario about this bin laden hideout business (one of many possible scenarios...with zero inside information, I cannot pretend to be able to reach final conclusions). I think it is plausible that GHQ really did NOT know where Bin Laden was hiding. But GHQ has failed to act against (or even to regard as potentially suspicious) the "good jihadis", both within the ISI and outside it. Because of that, the ordinary Pakistani police and the average local security officer does not have to be a jihadist to fail to take note of jihadists in his area. All that is needed is that some sympathizers within the intelligence community set up such a compound and let it be known that it houses "good jihadis" and has been checked out. NO ONE else will want to look into it. Everyone knows which way their bread is buttered.
    As a practical matter, the "war on terror" is never going to get too far while there are good terrorists being protected, there are sympathizers in power and the vast psyops apparatus of GHQ is spreading disinformation that demonizes the US, Jews, Hindus ,CIA...everyone but the jihadists. The whole thing would be a huge task even if the aim was clear. Its an impossible job in the current fashion. Telling GHQ that they really have to drop the notion of fighting their real and imaginary war with India using "good taliban" and "good jihadists" is not a side issue. It is the main issue.

    4. Having said all this, I also don't think the US is going to be the agent of this change. It would have been nice if the US had used it leverage to get GHQ under adult supervision, but realistically, that is not something the personnel involved on the American side are even capable of doing. Most military officers have a soft spot for uniformed officers who talk in the same "strategic terms". The US is mostly a bumbling and partly unwilling agent of a change that is going to be forced on GHQ by many factors. I still think that the change is inevitable because I (like many other people..this is not a unique quality) do think that there is a real world and in that real world some maps are slightly more accurate and useful than others. Just because someone calls it a "map" does not mean I have to buy it. When it comes to Pakistan, I do have a map in mind and it is not the one being sold on paknationalists.com. That makes me a sort of interested party, so "buyer beware" when it comes to MY map. But again, I know I am not selling BS for some other purpose, so I am sticking to my claims. Everyone else has to judge them for themselves and make up their own minds. How else could it be?

  14. #74
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    Default Pakistani official statement

    Worth capturing here and has some noteworthy passages:http://www.mofa.gov.pk/Press_Release...May/PR_152.htm

    Like:
    Abbottabad and the surrounding areas have been under sharp focus of intelligence agencies since 2003 resulting in highly technical operation by ISI which led to the arrest of high value Al Qaeda target in 2004. As far as the target compound is concerned, ISI had been sharing information with CIA and other friendly intelligence agencies since 2009. The intelligence flow indicating some foreigners in the surroundings of Abbottabad, continued till mid April 2011. It is important to highlight that taking advantage of much superior technological assets...There has been a lot of discussion about the nature of the targeted compound, particularly its high walls and its vicinity to the areas housing Pakistan Army elements. It needs to be appreciated that many houses occupied by the affectees of operations in FATA / KPK, have high boundary walls, in line with their culture of privacy and security. Houses with such layout and structural details are not a rarity.
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    Default Bin Laden Arabic Editorial Roundup

    Bin Laden Arabic Editorial Roundup

    Entry Excerpt:

    Bin Laden Arabic Editorial Roundup
    Selected Excerpts Compiled by Scott Weiner, PhD Student
    The George Washington University
    Translated from Arabic

    Continue on for the editorial roundup.



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    Default OBL: Epic Fail and Legacy

    OBL: Epic Fail and Legacy

    Entry Excerpt:

    Osama Bin Laden: Epic Fail? - Dr. David Betz at Kings of War:

    "... On the other hand, I also agree with something Bruce Berkowitz wrote about Bin Laden years ago in his book The New Face of War: ‘History will not portray Osama bin Laden as a mere terrorist, rather instructors at West Point and Annapolis will cite him as one of the first military commanders to use a new kind of combat organization in a successful operation.’ There’s no contradiction here; Bin Laden joins a long list of military innovators who fought in lost causes. The advantage of being first is often fleeting and I think, hope earnestly, that that is what is happening here ..."
    FPRI Perspectives on bin Laden's Demise - Foreign Policy Research Institute:

    The world is better off without Osama bin Laden. But his demise does not mean the end of terrorism. What is bin Laden’s legacy, and what will Al Qaeda and its affiliates do in the post-bin Laden era? We asked two Senior Fellows of FPRI to comment on these questions – Lawrence Husick and Barak Mendelsohn.

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    Default The Compound factor Part 6 (Life inside)

    Slowly some more details are appearing, much of it appears to be from asking the locals and I expect some speculation:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13266944

    I liked these snippets:
    ..neighbours say the "Osama entourage" passed themselves off as gold merchants...all observers are united is that the women were rarely seen. Most people assumed that this is because they were Pashtun, and they tend to observe strict purdah.
    Slightly more local 'colour" on:http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011...den-death-raid

    Note the nearest neighbour's house was occupied by a Pakistani Army major.

    You judge how accurate this is.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-04-2011 at 09:40 AM. Reason: Add 2nd link.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    ... besides getting super-rich with the bounty and moving into a safe Western country with the money.
    Eh, Joe Sixpakistan doesn't have the connections necessary to get the information to the US and collect the bounty without somebody killing him--either to keep him quiet or so they can collect the bounty themselves.

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    Quote Originally Posted by motorfirebox View Post
    Eh, Joe Sixpakistan doesn't have the connections necessary to get the information to the US and collect the bounty without somebody killing him--either to keep him quiet or so they can collect the bounty themselves.
    ...except that the U.S. embassy is in Islamabad's city map.

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    Fuchs, 25 million and a green card is very attractive, but try to think of the downsides.
    1. The ISI watches embassies and foreigners like a hawk. Anyone thinking of ratting out binladen faced the real prospect of being picked up and found with a hole drilled in his head (not with a bullet..with an actual electric drill).
    2. Suppose you got out alive, what about your extended family? Either you sever all ties with life in Pakistan forever, or you take them all with you? the logistics are not straightforward, nor are the pros and cons.
    I am not saying no one would be tempted. I am just pointing out that there are some downsides to being on the wrong side of international Jihad in such a public way.

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