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  1. #1
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Winding down in Afghanistan: a victory for Pakistan?

    Myra McDonald using an ex-ISI chief's speech asks what does the exit or re-roling in Afghanistan mean for Pakistan.

    A hat tip to WoTR is due:http://warontherocks.com/2014/12/exp...singlepage=1#_

    Near the start, a taster:
    For anyone who believes Pakistan’s aim in Afghanistan all along has been to turn the clock back to Sept 10, 2001 – when it exercised its influence over the country through its Taliban allies – it could almost have been a victory speech.
    I guarantee her penultimate passage will upset SWC readers:
    Like other suggestions about Pakistani policy, the idea that the Pakistani security establishment is emerging from the Afghan war more confident than ever is only one possibility. It does however raise a fundamental question about U.S. policy. The default position in Washington has been to see Pakistan as insecure, a notion made all the more convincing by the prickliness of its security and intelligence officials. What if the opposite were true – that a nuclear-armed Pakistan whose Taliban allies survived the war is coming out of the Afghan war feeling very secure?
    The Kings War Studies speech by ret'd General Durrani, forty five minutes long:https://soundcloud.com/warstudies/sets/events

    Plenty there to mull over. SWC already have a few threads on Pakistan's relationship with the USA, China and related issues, such as internal security.
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    In a more optimistic frame of mind a few years ago, i had this to say (what if we win?)

    http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksd...if-we-win.html

    And I succumbed to irrational exuberance here

    http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksd...tionality.html

    btw, here is Obama being very candid about the "sensible" American government position on this issue

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2c...-obamas-e_news

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    I listened to Durrani sahib. Very clearly on message all the time. Not very retired it seems...

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    Major Agha Amin (who offends some people with his style and some of his ethnographic nuggets, but is a VERY well read military historian and the best source of information on the military aspects of various India-Pakistan wars..and on the British Indian army in general) has a characteristically blunt assessment of General Durrani's speech:

    http://csi-ops.blogspot.com/2014/12/...pakistani.html

    I wish someone would work with major Amin and write some articles loaded with original information, yet properly attuned to current sensibilities (so that important sections of the audience are not distracted early on by some aspects of major sahib's style or ideological issues)... . Someone with time on their hands can find him easily enough...
    Last edited by omarali50; 12-12-2014 at 09:11 PM.

  5. #5
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Afghanistan, its neighbours and non-NATO nations

    This is the fourth of five new threads, its focus is the often, to be polite turbulent, complex relationship with its neighbours, hence the title Afghanistan, its neighbours and non-NATO nations; yes, India, Iran, Pakistan, China and Russia.

    There are numerous threads on this theme, including a number in the South Asia arena, so I have refrained from listing them all and chosen the most relevant IMHO:

    1) China's role in Afghanistan: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=16608
    2) The Indian role in Afghanistan: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=3166
    3)Iran & USA allies in Afghanistan:stranger than reality: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...read.php?t=729

    The South Asia arena: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...splay.php?f=74

    I expect there can be cross-over between the topics, notably how the US, with NATO, respond to these nations interaction with the Afghan national government, the Taliban and each other. Not to overlook Afghanistan's "best friend" and often unhelpful, even hostile neighbour, the Pakistan military (including ISI) and Pakistani politicians.
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    Default Here to help - maybe one day?

    Once again China offers help to Afghanistan and Pakistan, with civil schemes. Note Kunar Province hydro-electric plant. Since previous schemes have been halted one wonders if this is rhetoric only.
    Link:http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/...LE1VA20150210?
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    Default No more help from Russia

    This can hardly come as a shock given relations elsewhere and I am unsure whether it will actually matter now:
    Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev has revoked a decree that allowed delivery of NATO military equipment to Afghanistan through Russian territory.
    Link:http://rt.com/news/259809-russia-sto...anistan-cargo/

    There is an old, now closed thread on supply routes into Afghanistan, for background reading:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=6386
    davidbfpo

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    Default Can China Assert Itself in Afghanistan?

    An update on China's role by Raffaello Pantucci (who has affection for the region), which IMHO ends rather optimistically:
    China has set itself up to be a major player in Afghanistan’s future and expectations are being raised. It now needs to find ways of asserting itself both politically and economically to play the role that increasingly is being expected of it. Beijing may still shy from such ambitious aims, but at the same time, it is now too late to back away from them. China needs to find its feet and move forward in a more certain manner in Afghanistan.
    Link:http://thediplomat.com/2015/08/can-c...n-afghanistan/
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    China is still in the "1950s" phase of being big brother to Pakistan. Their strategy is likely to be to wait for their man in Islamabad to deliver the peace and strategic depth and free bauxite he promised.
    It takes a while to get to to CSF suspension level. Sometimes it takes decades. (Chinese are fast learners though )

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    To "fight Nusra",#Russia destroys entire cities, but to weaken the west,it is willing to cooperate with the Taliban.http://www.thedailybeast.com/article...ource=twitter#
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-05-2017 at 10:48 PM. Reason: Copied from Syria thread and edited.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Mind the neighbours

    A rare commentary - in the UK - on Afghan-Iranian relations just before any potential impact of President Trump's arrival: https://defenceindepth.co/2017/01/16/irans-afghanistan-policy-at-odds-with-trump/
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-16-2017 at 01:24 PM. Reason: 19,423v
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    Default Afghanistan (2017-on)

    Below are some statements made by U.S. general officers and the Secretary of Defense on Russia's involvement with the Taliban in Afghanistan over the past 12 months.

    The statements reveal nothing more than diplomatic outreach and an attempt to include the Taliban in a reconciliation process. However, when the subject of direct material aid arises, there is a wall of silence.

    Are the Russians arming the Taliban? Is there evidence of advanced Russian small arms being used by Taliban fighters against NATO forces? If so, is it possible that such arms were say sold to the Iranians and then transferred to the Taliban?

    Thoughts?

    Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on March 31, 2017:

    We have seen Russian activity vis--vis the Taliban. I'm not going to say at this point if that has manifested into weapons and that sort of thing, but certainly what they're up to there in light of their other activities gives us concern.
    General Mike Scaparotti, SACEUR on March 23, 2017:

    I have seen the influence of Russia of late, an increased influence in terms of association and perhaps even supply to the Taliban.
    General John Nicholson on February 17, 2017:

    The Russian involvement this year has become more difficult. First, they have begun to publicly legitimize the Taliban. This narrative that they promote is that the Taliban are fighting Islamic State, and the Afghan Government is not fighting Islamic State, and that, therefore, there could be a spillover of this group into the region. This is a false narrative.

    They also have initiated a series of meetings in Moscow to which the Afghans have not been invited for the first several meetings in which to discuss the future of Afghanistan.

    ...we have reports of support to the Taliban. But anything more than that, sir, I would ask to discuss in another forum.

    [On Russia indirectly helping Al Qaeda by way of the Taliban]...the Taliban are the medium for many of these other terrorist groups to operate because of the convergence of these groups. So your logic is absolutely sound, sir.

    ...there is some classified reporting that I would request to share with you in another venue. But we are concerned about, in general, support. And I will just leave it at that.

  13. #13
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Shifting sands in Kabul

    Elsewhere, including SWJ Blog, there have been reports on US and NATO troops returning to Afghanistan.

    I wonder if anyone in those governments has considered the impact of this long awaited Afghan compromise with an opponent returning to Kabul, not a Taliban leader or faction, rather Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, once labelled "The Butcher of Kabul" of Hezb-e-Islami. A faction noted for its warfighting capability, almost exclusively along the eastern border against US troops IIRC.

    The initial, September 2016 BBC item on the agreement:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-37438674

    The latest report, which I note does not explain if his fighters will follow him:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-39802833

    I know this is the Afghan way of campaigning, with fighting and talking often in parallel and it is their country. Why should we commit blood and gold to support this?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-05-2017 at 03:35 PM. Reason: 26,849v
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  14. #14
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Wrong strategy in the wrong place

    Professor Paul Rogers asks "Will more the same, fewer in number work" or something similar and near the start:
    ....the war in Afghanistan is evolving into a conflict even more intense than in recent years, one that will inevitably demand far more of Donald Trump’s attention than he would like.
    Citing the latest SIGAR report:
    A dangerous and stubborn insurgency controls or exerts influence over areas holding about a third of the Afghan population. Heavy casualties and capability gaps limit the effectiveness of Afghan soldiers and police. Opium production stands at near record levels.
    He ends with:
    After 15 years of failure, more troops will be seen as the answer, with little chance of any other approach being tried. That makes three regimes toppled in the War on Terror era (the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, and Gaddafi), and three countries wrecked – but still no fundamental reflection on a strategy that’s clearly failed.
    Link:https://theconversation.com/deadly-kabul-bombing-heralds-a-new-western-surge-in-afghanistan-77041?
    davidbfpo

  15. #15
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    Default Now we have clarity from Pakistan's Army?

    A curious commentary from a RUSI analyst, a Pakistani, that suggests a new firmness in the Pakistani Army's stance on Afghanistan under the new Chief of Staff's leadership:https://rusi.org/commentary/pakistan...on-fewer-words

    Two passages:
    On the Afghan front, Bajwa’s argument seems to be that Pakistan has secured its own territory and it is not the Pakistani army’s job to secure Afghanistan, as this is up to NATO and the Afghan National Army. This may be debatable, but one conclusion is clear: Pakistan’s military leadership is no longer either apologetic or pretending to play along with any foreign narrative on Afghanistan.

    (Later) ....in Afghanistan, Bajwa has brought more clarity
    Really the Pakistan Army have pretended to play along with a foreign narrative? No, they have always followed their interests, even if that meant assisting killing NATO soldiers and enabling NATO to be in Afghanistan at the same time or with some temporary interruptions.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-21-2017 at 09:29 PM. Reason: 33,251v
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    Default Badakhshan: here we come!

    A short website report entitled:
    China Building Military Base on Afghan-Tajik Border (then adds) The plan, if it is realized, promises a deeper Chinese military involvement in Tajikistan, which is necessary as a supply corridor to Badakhshan.
    Even more curious:
    some media have reported that Chinese military vehicles were using Tajikistan territory to transit to Badakhshan for military patrols...Chinese patrols inside Afghanistan had ended in late 2016. It's not clear whether those patrols were ever restarted, but this base, if realized, would seem to portend much heavier traffic in the future
    Link:http://www.eurasianet.org/node/86661

    First time I've seen this website, so this helps:
    Based in New York, EurasiaNet.org is hosted by Columbia University’s Harriman Institute, one of the leading centers in North America of scholarship concerning Eurasia.
    Link:http://www.eurasianet.org/node/14733
    davidbfpo

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