April , 2014

JK Alternative Viewpoint

Challenges & Responses to Conflictual Politics

Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz, the kingdom's interior minister, named heir to throne following death of ...
To mark one year since the start of popular protests in Tunisia, Joseph Daher, co-author ...
Tibet’s two giant neighbours, China and India, have a lot at stake in a meaningful ...
Both the benefits and limitations of nuclear weapons are best captured by a single fact: ...
North Korea’s powerful National Defense Commission announced its intention this week to carry out “a ...
There probably isn’t much more to be said about the tenth anniversary of the U.S. ...
Medvedev is apparently not completely disappearing – in fact, he's once more turning into the ...
Like his fellow strongmen Vladimir Putin and Hugo Chavez, Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega is routinely ...
The UPA government’s decision to allow FDI in the retail sector has spawned heated debates ...
There has been hysteria in the west, especially in Europe, on Pakistan’s fragile political situation. ...

Archive for the ‘National / International News’ Category

When Gabriel García Márquez Went Back to Aracataca-BRENT STAPLES

Posted by admin On April - 19 - 2014 Comments Off


The novelist and maestro Gabriel García Márquez died Thursday , mourned by the world at the ample enough age of 87. But for a time during his youth in Colombia — when he was inhaling three packs a day — he was sure that he would die young, dissolute “and in the street,” as he put it in his 2003 memoir “Living to Tell The Tale.” At that point, his mother, Luisa Santiaga Márquez, appeared unexpectedly in the city of Barranquilla, determined to rescue her law-school dropout son from a wasteful life as a mere writer. She convinced him to travel with her to the desolate, hellishly hot Caribbean town of Aracataca, where he was born in 1927.
Thus unfolds one of the great sojourns in literature, easily on par with the voyage of the Pequod in “Moby-Dick,” or the trip upriver to find Mr. Kurtz in “Heart of Darkness.” Along the way, our nicotine-stained hero-to-be breathes in the scenes and sensations that would later emerge fictionalized in the pages of “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” He encounters, for example, a ruined banana plantation called Macondo — a name he remembered from childhood and that he would give to the lost village at the heart of the novel, where ghosts roam and exotic flowers fall from the sky.

Arriving in the withering heat, he writes:
The first thing that struck me was the silence. A material silence I could have identified blindfolded among all the other silences in the world. The reverberation of the heat was so intense that you seemed to be looking at everything through undulating glass. As far as the eye could see there was no recollection of human life, nothing that was not covered by a faint sprinkling of burning dust. My mother stayed in her seat for a few more minutes, looking at the dead town laid out along empty streets, and at last she exclaimed in horror:
“My God!’’
His mother wanted badly to dissuade him from the writer’s life. But the wave of desolation and reminiscence that swept over him that day sent him hurtling into the past and had precisely the opposite effect.

Qatari crisis in context-Mohamed Al-Said Idris

Posted by admin On March - 17 - 2014 Comments Off


The withdrawal of the Saudi, Bahraini and UAE ambassadors to Qatar has thrown the Gulf Cooperation Council into deep crisis

Since its inception on 25 May 1981, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has encountered difficult challenges that were instrumental in obstructing the realisation of unity, a goal that remained an aspiration of GCC members even if it had not been stated in black and white in their charter. The organisation’s goals, as defined by its charter, are “to achieve coordination, integration and interdependence among member states and to deepen and strengthen the bonds, ties and forms of cooperation existing between their peoples in all fields.” The document remained shy of a wording that would call for a unification formula higher or closer than cooperation and coordination. The founders were also clearly determined to obviate an expansionist concept that could bring on board other Arab states. GCC membership is closed; it cannot be extended to any other state or states. Also, under the charter, each member state has the right of “veto”, which effectively strips resolutions adopted by the council of any binding force, rendering them mere recommendations. In addition, the GCC’s Supreme Council, which consists of the heads of state of the six member nations (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE), has not appointed a president. Rather, there is a system of an annually rotating chairmanship, the authority of which is limited to presiding over the organisation’s summit sessions.


A LONG HISTORY OF DISPUTES: There are reasons for the foregoing. The rivalries among the six member nations have always been intense and the balance of powers has always been skewed in favour of Saudi Arabia. There is a long history of border disputes and problems that date back to the era of the British occupation. As part of their policy of splitting up the Arab region, in the Gulf area in particular, colonial architects drew up boundaries that ultimately generated a plethora of sources of tension and conflict.

Such were the factors that would subsequently account for the reluctance of the five smaller nations to enter into a joint regional security system with Saudi Arabia since the first and last ministerial conference for the “Regional System of the Arab Gulf”. Held in Muscat in November 1976, the conference was attended by the foreign ministers of the eight Gulf states: Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain. After it failed to obtain its objective, the six countries that would later go on to form the GCC continued negotiations aimed at creating a regional joint security framework for themselves. But nothing evolved, not only because of the aforementioned causes but also due to a range of other important regional and international factors. Prime among these were:

The constant meddling on the part of the two regional powers Iran and Iraq in relations between Saudi Arabia and the five smaller Gulf countries which, in turn, saw in Tehran and/or Baghdad a key to leveraging themselves with respect to Riyadh.

The fact that all these countries possessed huge oil and gas reserves and were, additionally, located in an area that was strategically vital to world trade and security. They were therefore a focus of major concern to international powers, which readily offered them sufficient protection to enable them to dispense with the need to enter a security and defence pact with Saudi Arabia.

All the above factors combined propelled against the creation of a regional security order in the Gulf during the five years that followed the collapse of the ministerial conference in Muscat, even if all the smaller countries, apart from Kuwait, entered into bilateral security agreements with Riyadh that were chiefly concerned with internal security matters. However, the overthrow of the Shah in Iran and the establishment of the Iranian Islamic Republic (on 11 February 1979) triggered alarm among the six Gulf states in view of the declared intention of the new rulers in Tehran to “export” their Islamic revolution. The fears were heightened with the outbreak of the Iraq-Iran War (in September 1980) the potential repercussions of which galvanised the leaders of the five smaller Gulf states into joining Saudi Arabia in the creation of the GCC.

We can therefore say that the GCC was born weak, as the majority of its members were driven to join it more by the perceived need to counter looming dangers than by the prospect of potential gain. As an organisation, it is also structurally weak. As the member states were determined to retain their full sovereignty and independence, the GCC as a “subsidiary regional organisation” was given no authority above that of its member states and its decisions are “advisory” rather than “binding”. Such structural deficiencies combined with ongoing rivalries and disputes continued to prevent the creation of a joint regional security order and the evolution of the GCC into an economic, political and security bloc capable of offsetting the weight of the two major regional powers in the Gulf, Iran and Iraq. Then, as of the outset of 2011, the shockwaves of the Arab Spring revolutions began to hit. The most affected by the repercussions were Bahrain and Oman, aggravating the causes of disputes that soon escalated into tensions and that began to jeopardise the continued unity of the GCC and its aspirations to develop into a Gulf Union.


THE PROBLEM OF CREATING A GULF UNION: GCC governments, and Saudi Arabia in particular, reacted quickly in order to contain the fallout from the wave of Arab revolutions and uprisings. Firstly, Riyadh injected huge sums of financial aid ($5 billion) into Bahrain and Oman so as to address the economic and social problems that lay at the root of discontent and unrest in those countries. A more significant development was the direct military intervention on the part of the GCC’s “Al-Jazira Shield Forces” to curb the deterioration in the state of security in Bahrain. Then Saudi King Abdullah Ben Abdel-Aziz proposed inviting the kingdoms of Jordan and Morocco to join the council. The proposal was roundly rejected by the other members, firstly because of the closed membership stipulated in the charter, and secondly, because they feared that relaxing this stipulation would pave the way to the inclusion of the three neighbouring countries — Iraq, Iran and Yemen — that had also been keen to join the GCC.

However, the most significant development occurred in the organisation’s summit in Riyadh in December 2011, when the Saudi monarch aired the call to transform the GCC into a “Gulf Union” along the lines of the EU. The idea was raised again in the consultative summit in Riyadh in May 2012, but discussion was deferred until the ministerial meeting scheduled for September that year on the grounds that it required more comprehensive study. Then the subject was supposed to head the agenda of the last GCC summit in Kuwait (10-11 December 2013) but — due to reasons pertaining to Omani opposition to the concept — not only was discussion deferred, the subject was taken off the agenda.

The tensions over this issue could jeopardise the future of the Gulf organisation. In the annual “Manama security dialogue”, Omani Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Youssef Ben Alawi Abdullah openly noted the existence of strong differences between GCC members of proposed projects concerning the foreign and defence policies of the council. He went on to state that his country refused to be a member of a Gulf Union project, a subject scheduled for discussion in the summit.

The Omani minister’s statement was a response to the earlier speech by his Saudi counterpart Nazar Madani who, in the Manama dialogue, which had been given the title “Regional Security, Conflicts and the Great Powers”, said that transforming the GCC into a union was “an urgent necessity compelled by security, political and economic changes”. Madani stressed that GCC members needed to work together to turn the Arab Gulf region into “a major strategic power zone”. He urged members to be “cautious and alert” in handling foreign interventions and “to reach collective understandings on the importance of an agreement on a unified framework for responding to the challenges and threats that loomed over the countries of the council”.

Ben Alawi’s sudden, frank and vehement response may have come as a shock to the participants in that conference. But it was not spontaneous; it had been carefully studied in advance. He made it explicit that his country was prepared to withdraw from the GCC should its members choose to pursue the idea of a Gulf Union. “If they create a [Gulf] union, we will not be a member of it,” he stated, adding, “we will not prevent the creation of such a union, even though we could since GCC decisions are taken by unanimous vote.” He also made it clear that Muscat opposed a regional joint security and defence pact. “If there are other or new [security] arrangements among the GCC countries as the result of currently existing or future conflicts, we are not and will not be a party in them.” He cautioned on the need for GCC members “to stay clear from regional and international conflicts” and went on to state: “We believe that, in the GCC and outside of it, power does not necessary mean that people have to militarise in order to enter into conflicts.”

Some Gulf officials who took part in the Manama dialogue responded to the Omani minister’s threat to withdraw from the GCC with remarks such as, “may they leave in peace.” Fortunately, the participants preferred to sustain the unity of the organisation by shelving the Gulf Union project, at least temporarily. However, neither the dismissive sneers of some of the participants or the inclination to sweep the subject under the rug will solve the GCC’s dilemma. This dilemma — indeed, crisis — is the lack of consensus over collective strategies in foreign policies and security and, to be more specific, strategies with respect to Iran. Some believe that Tehran has an expansionist agenda and regard it as a major regional threat. They are therefore pushing for the creation of a regional military bloc strong enough to counter Iranian military might. Among these are some who see Iran as the chief threat or the foremost strategic enemy, and believe that the only way to counter it is to do battle with it to the end, in the Syrian arena above all.

Oman is adamantly opposed to such thinking. It refuses to deal with Iran as an enemy. In fact, Muscat’s attitude towards Iran remains largely unchanged since the time of the Shah: it regards Iran as a strategic partner. Therefore, not only is it opposed to transforming the GCC into a military pact with the aim of doing battle with Iran, it favours promoting “Iranian partnership” with the GCC.

Since the departure of the British from the Gulf, Oman has developed its relations with Tehran (both under the Shah and then the Islamic Republic) as a counterweight to enhance its leverage with Riyadh. More importantly, however, Muscat has been determined to prevent the Gulf from becoming embroiled in avoidable conflicts. Therefore, unlike the governments of Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries, Oman moved to defuse the confrontation between Iran and the “P5+1” (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) over the Iranian nuclear programme. It was Muscat that hosted the secret US-Iranian talks (in which the UK participated at some junctures) aimed at reaching peaceful resolution to that crisis. The negotiations, which began in March 2013, led to the Geneva Interim Accord, a development that cast a shadow over Muscat’s relations with some other GCC governments that continue to regard Tehran as a primary source of threat.


QATARI REBELLION BRINGS GCC TO A CROSSROADS: Before the GCC could absorb the shock from the discord that led to the shelving of the Gulf Union project, the organisation was struck by the greatest crisis in its history. This took the form of the joint ministerial statement issued by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain on 5 March 2014 announcing their decision to withdraw their ambassadors from Qatar. Riyadh then followed through on this unprecedented measure with another stinging blow, which was to declare the Muslim Brotherhood along with a number of jihadist and takfiri groups terrorist organisations and to prohibit any Saudi citizen or resident in the country from affiliating or dealing with these organisations.

In justifying the decision to withdraw the ambassadors, the joint ministerial statement explained that GCC states had exerted considerable efforts at numerous levels to persuade Doha to adopt a mode of behaviour consistent with the GCC charter and the agreements signed between member states, inclusive of the security agreement, and to abide by the principles in those charters. Those principles are to refrain from intervening, directly or indirectly, in the domestic affairs of any GCC member state; not to support, directly or indirectly, any individual or group that threatens the security and stability of a member state; and not to support a hostile media.

These efforts had led to an agreement signed by the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Ben Ahmed of Qatar and all other GCC heads of state in accordance with which Doha pledged to conform to the abovementioned principles. The agreement was signed following the summit that was held in Riyadh on 23 November 2013 and attended by the Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed. However, according to the joint ministerial statement, during the subsequent three months, Doha failed to abide by the agreement, which prompted the heads of state of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain to instruct their foreign ministers to alert Qatar to the danger of its behaviour. The ministers issued this caution to Qatar in a meeting that took place in Kuwait on 17 February 2014 and that was attended by Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed of Kuwait, Sheikh Tamim Ben Ahmed of Qatar and the GCC foreign ministers. In that meeting, it was also agreed that the foreign ministers would set into motion a mechanism for monitoring the implementation of the aforementioned Riyadh agreement.

Several weeks later, on 4 March, the GCC foreign ministers met in Riyadh and attempted to prevail upon Qatar the need to take the necessary measures to put the Riyadh agreement into effect and to agree upon the monitoring mechanism. However, as Qatar during that meeting showed no willingness to comply with these demands, the governments of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain felt that they had no alternative but to proceed with that unprecedented step in the history of the GCC.

The subsequent Saudi decision to enter the Muslim Brotherhood on the list of terrorist organisations has further aggravated the crisis that now threatens the GCC. Qatar is faced with two choices. The first is to bow to the wishes of the other GCC members and cease its support for terrorist organisations and relinquish its alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood. The second is to persist in its current policies and alliances in the hope that this will precipitate a broader rift in the council and encourage other countries to rebel against the Saudi leadership and even to ally with regional forces opposed to Riyadh, most notably Iran.


THE GCC AND TOUGH CHOICES: What future awaits the GCC in light of the foregoing developments? What are the available options, especially in view of concurrent regional and international developments? In any decisions GCC members take, the questions of Iran (with regard to which the US appears to have put the option of war on a back burner in favour of negotiations), Syria (a looming military intervention scenario receded in favour of multinational diplomacy that includes Iran), the mounting Muslim Brotherhood terrorist threat (backed by the US and Turkey), not to mention the ongoing repercussions of the Arab Spring revolutions loom large. Such questions combined with the internal tensions among GCC countries bring the organisation to a critical crossroads in which its members will have to make some tough choices. The following are the most salient options:

1. To sustain communications with Qatar via the Kuwaiti intermediary. Some argue that this is the most viable option as Doha has been keen to keep channels of dialogue open with Kuwait, which did not follow suit with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain. At the same time, officials in these three countries realise that their peoples have common interests that are realised through the GCC and that there are strong economic bonds between GCC countries.

Working against this option, on the other hand, is the intensive financial, intelligence and media support that Qatar provides the Muslim Brotherhood within the framework of a larger alliance that includes the US, Turkey and — ultimately — Israel. The larger objective of this alliance is to engineer a restructuring of the Middle East order in a manner that serves US interests, and empowering the Muslim Brotherhood is a key element in this project. Qatar may not have the desire or opportunity to withdraw from that alliance.

 2. Freeze Qatar’s membership in the GCC. This may be the easiest option, especially since Riyadh appears serious in its resolve to clamp down on terrorist organisations and activities. Nevertheless, the option may not be welcomed by other GCC members, such as Kuwait and Oman, and therefore pushing for it could lead to further ruptures.

3. Restructure the Gulf regional security order in a manner that excludes US participation and, for the first time, brings on board Egypt and perhaps other Arab countries. This could be done by altering the GCC charter to provide for the membership of other nations or by creating a broader framework for cooperation and integration such as an Arab Union, which would operate in parallel with the Arab League and the Maghrebi Federation. This would pave the way for the inclusion of countries that are neither members in the GCC or the Maghrebi Federation in a larger bloc. Membership could be immediately extended to Egypt, Jordan and Yemen, although Lebanon and Syria would have to wait, given the murkiness of the situation there, and the same might apply to Sudan in view of its Muslim Brotherhood connection.

A possible disadvantage of this option is that Qatar might be prompted to promote the creation of a rival framework comprising Iran, Syria, Lebanon as well as such organisations as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizbullah and Hamas. Such an alliance would be perceived as a grave threat and aggravate the dangers of divisions, animosities and polarisations in the Arab region.

If such choices are tough, the worst option would be to leave the future of the GCC countries and their stability and security prey to the moods and whims of the ruling regime in Doha whose conceit and arrogance was amply expressed by its foreign minister, Khaled Ben Mohamed Al-Attiya. In a speech at the Institute for Political Studies in Paris on 10 March 2014, he said: “The independence of the foreign policy of the State of Qatar is, simply put, non-negotiable.” He added that his government is “committed to supporting the right of peoples to self-determination and to supporting their aspirations for the realisation of justice and freedom.” Who exactly he had in mind is a matter of conjecture. But his words were not well received in Riyadh.

The writer is head of the Arab Affairs Unit in Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.

Pakistani government to open preliminary talks with the Pakistani Taliban- Tim Craig

Posted by admin On February - 4 - 2014 Comments Off



European Pressphoto Agency – Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid, right, with central commander Azam Tariq, said in a phone interview, “We have not yet put forward any conditions or demands for the talks.”
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — In its most ambitious step yet to address Pakistan’s most potent domestic threat, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government plans to hold preliminary talks Tuesday with representatives of the Pakistani Taliban.

The meeting is described as an introductory chat with the Islamist militant group, which is responsible for a decade-long insurgency that has claimed more than 45,000 lives. If the talks are unsuccessful, Sharif has signaled that he might order a military offensive to regain control of tribal areas that are effectively under Taliban control.



.Representatives from both camps confirmed Tuesday’s meeting. But many analysts doubt that a peace deal can be reached, citing the insurgent group’s violent history, decentralized command structure and harsh ideology.

Some Pakistani Taliban officials have circulated 10 demands they want to pursue in the talks, including a ban on women appearing in public in jeans or without head scarves, the release of all Taliban prisoners, immunity for the group’s commanders, the establishment of Islamic courts, a complete withdrawal of the Pakistan army from tribal areas and compensation for the victims of U.S. drone strikes.

The list has shocked Pakistan’s political and cultural elite.

“If this is true, it will not be acceptable to very many people in Pakistan,” Khalid Naeem Lodhi, a former Pakistan army general, said of the demands.

The Taliban is increasingly splintered, and the group’s chief spokesman, Shahidullah Shahid, said any information about demands is premature.

“We have not yet put forward any conditions or demands for the talks,” Shahid said in a phone interview. “If there is a list of demands in the media, that is not ours but may be someone else’s.”

Sharif, who returned as prime minister in June after two previous terms in the 1990s, has made a negotiated settlement with the Pakistani Taliban a chief priority.

The Pakistani Taliban formed in 2008 in the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan. It claims to be independent of the Afghan Taliban, but the two groups are thought to coordinate activities. Both organizations seek to replace their respective governments.

Although Pakistan’s major political parties gave Sharif broad support last summer to engage in talks, the prime minister has struggled to persuade Taliban representatives to participate.

 Over the past four months, the Taliban has asserted responsibility for a series of attacks that have killed hundreds of people. Last month, 20 Pakistani soldiers were killed in a suicide bombing in North Waziristan. The military responded with airstrikes that killed 40 militants and foreign fighters and caused thousands of residents to flee their homes.

Many analysts saw the bombardment as a sign that Sharif and Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, were preparing to launch a major offensive. Instead, Sharif announced last week that he was appointing a four-member delegation to make a final push at peace talks.

This time, Taliban leaders have appeared more receptive. They have appointed three representatives for the talks, including Maulana Sami ul-Haq, a top religious leader.

Analysts caution, however, that Sharif’s government may not have much leeway to bargain with the Taliban. Although Pakistan’s constitution is rooted in Islamic principles and law, it also includes provisions guaranteeing the rights of women and minorities.

Efforts to ban women from wearing jeans in public would probably run afoul of those principles, said Khalil ur-Rehman Khan, a former Supreme Court justice.

Although women in rural areas rarely wear jeans, it’s becoming more common to see young women wear them in urban settings.

“Under Islam, you have to dress in a way that is not profane, or abusive, but that choice is given, and it’s based on how society accepts you,” Khan said. “And the culture of society changes with the passage of time, more education.”

Zahid Hussain, an Islamabad-based defense analyst, said Sharif would run into resistance from military leaders if he agreed to any release of prisoners. Many military leaders are still angered that Taliban commanders freed under previous peace initiatives have returned to the battlefield, he said.

“There have been several peace deals with the Taliban, and none of them have worked, and I don’t think things have diametrically changed,” Hussain said.
Haq Nawaz Khan in Peshawar and Aimar Iqbal in Islamabad contributed to this report.


Karzai Arranged Secret Contacts With the Taliban- AZAM AHMED and MATTHEW ROSENBERG

Posted by admin On February - 4 - 2014 Comments Off


KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has been engaged in secret contacts with the Taliban about reaching a peace agreement without the involvement of his American and Western allies, further corroding already strained relations with the United States.
The secret contacts appear to help explain a string of actions by Mr. Karzai that seem intended to antagonize his American backers, Western and Afghan officials said. In recent weeks, Mr. Karzai has continued to refuse to sign a long-term security agreement with Washington that he negotiated, insisted on releasing hardened Taliban militants from prison and distributed distorted evidence of what he called American war crimes.
The clandestine contacts with the Taliban have borne little fruit, according to people who have been told about them. But they have helped undermine the remaining confidence between the United States and Mr. Karzai, making the already messy endgame of the Afghan conflict even more volatile. Support for the war effort in Congress has deteriorated sharply, and American officials say they are uncertain whether they can maintain even minimal security cooperation with Mr. Karzai’s government or its successor after coming elections.

Launch media viewer A convoy with Afghan National Army troops. American forces are turning over their combat role to Afghan forces. Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times Frustrated by Mr. Karzai’s refusal to sign the security agreement, which would clear the way for American troops to stay on for training and counterterrorism work after the end of the year, President Obama has summoned his top commanders to the White House on Tuesday to consider the future of the American mission in Afghanistan.
Western and Afghan officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the peace contacts, said that the outreach was apparently initiated by the Taliban in November, a time of deepening mistrust between Mr. Karzai and his allies. Mr. Karzai seemed to jump at what he believed was a chance to achieve what the Americans were unwilling or unable to do, and reach a deal to end the conflict — a belief that few in his camp shared.
The peace contacts, though, have yielded no tangible agreement, nor even progressed as far as opening negotiations for one. And it is not clear whether the Taliban ever intended to seriously pursue negotiations, or were simply trying to derail the security agreement by distracting Mr. Karzai and leading him on, as many of the officials said they suspected.
As recently as October, a long-term agreement between the United States and Afghanistan seemed to be only a few formalities away from completion, after a special visit by Secretary of State John Kerry. The terms were settled, and a loya jirga, or assembly of prominent Afghans, that the president summoned to ratify the deal gave its approval. The continued presence of American troops after 2014, not to mention billions of dollars in aid, depended on the president’s signature. But Mr. Karzai repeatedly balked, perplexing Americans and many Afghans alike.
Peace Contacts Fade
The first peace feeler from the Taliban reached Mr. Karzai shortly before the loya jirga, Afghan officials said, and since then the insurgents and the government have exchanged a flurry of messages and contacts.
Aimal Faizi, the spokesman for Mr. Karzai, acknowledged the secret contacts with the Taliban and said they were continuing.
“The last two months have been very positive,” Mr. Faizi said. He characterized the contacts as among the most serious the presidential palace has had since the war began. “These parties were encouraged by the president’s stance on the bilateral security agreement and his speeches afterwards,” he said.
But other Afghan and Western officials said that the contacts had fizzled, and that whatever the Taliban may have intended at the outset, they no longer had any intention of negotiating with the Afghan government. They said that top Afghan officials had met with influential Taliban leaders in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in recent weeks, and were told that any prospects of a peace deal were now gone.
The Afghan and Western officials questioned whether the interlocutors whom Mr. Karzai was in contact with had connections to the Taliban movement’s leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, whose blessing would be needed for any peace deal the group were to strike.
Though there have been informal contacts between Afghan officials and Taliban leaders since the very early days of the war, the insurgents’ opaque and secretive leaders have made their intentions difficult to discern. Afghan officials have struggled in recent years to find genuine Taliban representatives, and have flitted among a variety of current and former insurgent leaders, most of whom had only tenuous connections to Mullah Omar and his inner circle, American and Afghan officials have said.
Western Outreach
The only known genuine negotiating channel to those leaders was developed by American and German diplomats, who spent roughly two years trying to open peace talks in Qatar. The diplomats repeatedly found themselves incurring the wrath of Mr. Karzai, who saw the effort as an attempt to circumvent him; he tried behind the scenes to undercut it.
Then, when an American diplomatic push led to the opening of a Taliban office in Qatar, Mr. Karzai lashed out publicly at the United States. Afghan officials said that to them, the office looked far too much like the embassy of a government-in-exile, with its own flag and a nameplate reading “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” Within days, the Qatar initiative stalled, and Mr. Karzai was fuming at what he saw as a plot by the United States to cut its own deal with Pakistan and the Taliban without him.
In the wake of the failure in Qatar, Afghan officials redoubled their efforts to open their own channel to Mullah Omar, and by late autumn, Mr. Karzai apparently believed those efforts were succeeding. Some senior Afghan officials say they did not share his confidence, and their doubts were shared by American officials in Kabul and Washington.
Both Mr. Karzai and American officials hear the clock ticking. American forces are turning over their combat role to Afghan forces and preparing to leave Afghanistan this year, and the campaigning for the Afghan national election in April has begun. An orderly transition of power in an Afghanistan that can contain the insurgency on its own would be the culmination of everything that the United States has tried to achieve in the country.
“We’ve been through numerous cycles of ups and downs in our relations with President Karzai over the years,” Ambassador James B. Cunningham said during a briefing with reporters last week. “What makes it a little different this time is that he is coming to the end of his presidency, and we have some very important milestones for the international community and for Afghanistan coming up in the next couple of months.”
Speaking of biting the hand that feeds him….This is the paroxysm of ingratitude and arrogance.after countless lives of our precious young…


Mr. Karzai has been increasingly concerned with his legacy, officials say. When discussing the impasse with the Americans, he has repeatedly alluded to his country’s troubled history as a lesson in dealing with foreign powers. He recently likened the security agreement to the Treaty of Gandamak, a one-sided 1879 agreement that ceded frontier lands to the British administration in India and gave it tacit control over Afghan foreign policy. He has publicly assailed American policies as the behavior of a “colonial power,” though diplomats and military officials say he has been more cordial in private.
Mr. Karzai reacted angrily to a negative portrayal of him in a recent memoir by the former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, and he is still bitter over the 2009 presidential election, when hundreds of thousands of fraudulent ballots were disqualified and, as he sees it, the Americans forced him into an unnecessary runoff against his closest opponent.
Domestic Interests
In some respects, Mr. Karzai’s outbursts have been an effort to speak to Afghans who want him to take a hard line against the Americans, including many ethnic Pashtuns, who make up nearly all of the Taliban. With the American-led coalition on its way out and American influence waning, Mr. Karzai is more concerned with bridging the chasms of Afghan domestic politics than with his foreign allies’ interests.
If the peace overture to the Taliban is indeed at an end, as officials believe, it is unclear what Mr. Karzai will do next. He could return to a softer stance on the security agreement and less hostility toward the United States, or he could justify his refusal to sign the agreement by blaming the Americans for failing to secure a genuine negotiation with the insurgents.
Mr. Karzai has insisted that he will not sign the agreement unless the Americans help bring the Taliban to the table for peace talks. Some diplomats worry that making such a demand allows the Taliban to dictate the terms of America’s long-term presence in Afghanistan. Others question Mr. Karzai’s logic: Why would the insurgency agree to talks if doing so would ensure the presence of the foreign troops it is determined to expel?
The White House expressed impatience on Monday with Mr. Karzai’s refusal to sign the agreement. “The longer there is a delay, the harder it is for NATO and U.S. military forces to plan for a post-2014 presence,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary. “This is a matter of weeks, not months.”


The military leaders expected to attend the planning conference at the White House on Tuesday include Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the commander of American forces in Afghanistan; Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the former Iraq commander now serving as head of the United States Central Command; and Adm. William H. McRaven, head of the United States Special Operations Command.
In recent statements, Mr. Karzai’s office in Kabul has appeared to open the door to a resolution of the impasse over the security agreement. The presidential spokesman, Mr. Faizi, has said that if one party is obstructing the American efforts to get talks going, the United States need only say so publicly.
“Once there is clarity, we can take the next step to signing” the agreement, he said.
Peter Baker contributed reporting from Washington.


Afghanistan Exit Is Seen as Peril to C.I.A. Drone Mission-DAVID E. SANGER and ERIC SCHMITT

Posted by admin On January - 27 - 2014 Comments Off



WASHINGTON — The risk that President Obama may be forced to pull all American troops out of Afghanistan by the end of the year has set off concerns inside the American intelligence agencies that they could lose their air bases used for drone strikes against Al Qaeda in Pakistan and for responding to a nuclear crisis in the region.
Until now, the debate here and in Kabul about the size and duration of an American-led allied force in Afghanistan after 2014 had focused on that country’s long-term security. But these new concerns also reflect how troop levels in Afghanistan directly affect long-term American security interests in neighboring Pakistan, according to administration, military and intelligence officials.
The concern has become serious enough that the Obama administration has organized a team of intelligence, military and policy specialists to devise alternatives to mitigate the damage if a final security deal cannot be struck with the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, who has declined to enact an agreement that American officials thought was completed last year.
If Mr. Obama ultimately withdrew all American troops from Afghanistan, the C.I.A.’s drone bases in the country would have to be closed, according to administration officials, because it could no longer be protected.
Their concern is that the nearest alternative bases are too far away for drones to reach the mountainous territory in Pakistan where the remnants of Al Qaeda’s central command are hiding. Those bases would also be too distant to monitor and respond as quickly as American forces can today if there were a crisis in the region, such as missing nuclear material or weapons in Pakistan and India.
A senior administration official, asked about the preparations, responded by email on Sunday that as the possibility of a pullout “has grown in Afghanistan, we have been undertaking a methodical review of any U.S. capabilities that may be affected and developing strategies to mitigate impacts.”
The official added that the administration was determined to find alternatives, if necessary. “We will be forced to adapt,” the official said, “and while perhaps less than most efficient, the United States will find ways necessary to protect our interests.”
The issue is coming to the fore after the Pentagon recently presented Mr. Obama with two options for the end of the year. One option calls for a presence through the end of Mr. Obama’s term of 10,000 American troops who could train Afghan troops, conduct counterterrorism raids and protect the American facilities, including those in eastern Afghanistan where drones and nuclear monitoring are based.
Under the other, so-called zero option, no American troops would remain. The United States has said that if it is unable to reach a final security arrangement with Mr. Karzai, it is prepared, reluctantly, to pull out completely, as it did in Iraq in 2011.
Mr. Obama has made “no decisions” on troop levels, said Caitlin M. Hayden, the spokeswoman for the National Security Council. “We will be weighing inputs from our military commanders, as well as the intelligence community, our diplomats and development experts, as we make decisions about our-post 2014 presence in Afghanistan,” she said.
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, however, Mr. Obama is expected to say that by the end of this year the Afghan war will be over — at least for Americans — slightly more than 13 years after it began, making it the longest in American history.
Mr. Obama’s hope is to keep 8,000 to 12,000 troops — most of them Americans, some from allies — in Afghanistan after the NATO combat mission ends this year. The resurgence of Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, combining with insurgents in Syria, has offered a sobering reminder of the consequences of the American decision to withdraw all its troops from Iraq. Mr. Karzai seems to be betting that the damage that a withdrawal would do to American intelligence operations is so great that he may be able to strike a better deal.
Even though the zero option has few supporters in the administration, the idea has gained renewed credence with each day that Mr. Karzai delays signing the security accord and poses new demands to the United States. “Karzai has believed for some time that he has this leverage — that we need him and his bases more than he needs us,” said Daniel Markey, a former State Department official and the author of “No Exit From Pakistan,” published last year.
Secretary of State John Kerry is to meet Pakistan’s foreign and national security policy adviser, Sartaj Aziz, here on Monday, and counterterrorism operations are to be a major subject of discussion, a senior State Department official said Sunday. Talking with Pakistan about its nuclear program is especially delicate.
In recent years the country has accelerated its drive to build small tactical nuclear weapons — similar to what the United States placed in Europe during the Cold War — that could be used to repel an invasion from India. But those weapons are considered more vulnerable to theft or use by a rogue commander, and they are one reason that American intelligence agencies have invested so heavily in monitoring the Pakistani arsenal.
A scare in 2009, when the United States feared that nuclear materials or a weapon was missing in Pakistan, led Mr. Obama to order the basing of a permanent monitoring and search capability in the region.
Recent CommentsPillai49 minutes ago That might be the best thing for US and the Afghan civilians then. Let’s use the drones as a last resort.
Keith49 minutes ago I hope we can now focus on unemployment and injustice at home. The best hope for that is if we can find a role for the national security…
Tartarito50 minutes ago Cut his financial aid.he is addicted to us dollars!
See All Comments Write a comment
But the complexities of bringing those capabilities to an end are forcing the intelligence agencies, which run the covert strikes into Pakistan and monitor nuclear events around the world, to scramble. Their base inside Pakistan was closed after a shooting involving a C.I.A. security contractor, Raymond Davis, and the raid into Pakistani territory that killed Osama bin Laden, both in 2011.
Crucial to the surveillance of Bin Laden’s house in Abbottabad was the use of an RQ-170 drone. Pakistani officials talked openly in the weeks after that raid about their fear that the unmanned aircraft was also being used to monitor their nuclear arsenal, now believed to be the fastest growing in the world. The raid, and those drones, came out of American facilities just over the Afghan border.
“You hear about the president’s decision of the ‘zero option’ in the context of the future of Afghanistan, but this is really more about Pakistan,” said one former senior intelligence official who has consulted with the Pentagon and intelligence agencies about the problem. “That’s where the biggest problem is.”
The C.I.A.’s drone bases in Afghanistan, including one in the eastern part of the country, allow operators to respond quickly to fresh intelligence. The proximity to Pakistan’s tribal areas also allows the Predator drones and their larger, faster cousin, the Reaper, to fly longer missions without having to return to base.
“There certainly is an interdependence between the military and the intelligence community in Afghanistan,” one senior administration official said.

The Reapers, the newest, largest and most capable of the unmanned armed vehicles, have a range of up to 1,100 miles. That puts Pakistan’s tribal areas within range of some bases the American military has flown from, especially in Kyrgyzstan, where for more than a decade the Pentagon has conducted air operations, include cargo and troop flights, out of a base at Manas. But the United States said last fall that it would pull out of that base in July.
Other allied countries are within the Reaper’s range — in the Persian Gulf, for example. But the distances would be too great to carry out drone operations effectively, officials said, and it is very unlikely that any of those nations would approve launching the diplomatically sensitive strikes missions from their soil.
“There’s no easy alternative to Afghanistan,” one former senior American counterterrorism official said.

Pakistan’s Illegal Nuclear Procurement Exposed in 1987

Posted by admin On January - 7 - 2014 Comments Off












Arrest of Arshed Pervez Sparked Reagan Administration Debate over Sanctions

(Kenneth Adelman with President Ronald Reagan, 21 January 1983, at the time of his controversial nomination as director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Adelman became a hard-liner on Pakistan’s nuclear program, but his support for cutting aid met resistance at the State Department and the White House. (Photo from Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Photo C12544-8A).

Newly Declassified Documents Show Illegal Network Had Islamabad’s “Approval, Protection, and Funding”

Reagan White House Chose Afghan War over Nonproliferation Enforcement

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 446

Posted – November 22, 2013

For more information contact:
William Burr – 202/994-7000 or nsarchiv@gwu.edu



Kenneth Adelman with President Ronald Reagan, 21 January 1983, at the time of his controversial nomination as director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Adelman became a hard-liner on Pakistan’s nuclear program, but his support for cutting aid met resistance at the State Department and the White House. (Photo from Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Photo C12544-8A).

Arriving in Washington on 6 December 1982, Pakistani dictator General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq meet Secretary of State George Shultz, a steady supporter of aid to Pakistan, nuclear problems notwithstanding (Photo from National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, RG 330-CFD ).

Michael H. Armacost at the time of his appointment as U.S. Ambassador to Japan in May 1989, having previously served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs during 1984-1989. When the Pervez case broke out, Armacost played a major role in strategizing ways and means to avoid punitive action but also to encourage General Zia to meet U.S. nonproliferation objectives. (Photo from National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, RG 59-S0, box 1).
Washington, D.C., November 22, 2013 – The arrest of a Pakistani national, Arshed Pervez in July 1987 on charges of illegal nuclear procurement roiled U.S.-Pakistan relations and sharpened divisions within the Reagan administration, according to recently declassified documents published today by the National Security Archive and the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) director Kenneth Adelman wanted to crack down on the Pakistani nuclear program by cutting military and economic aid; Adelman argued that failure to do so “would be seen as ‘business as usual,’” taking the pressure off Pakistan “at the very time we should be trying to increase pressure on them to stop … illegal procurement activities in the US.” By contrast, the State Department took a contrary view because U.S. aid to Pakistan supported the mujahidin in Afghanistan: “We are particularly concerned about weakening the President’s hand in discussions with the Soviets on Afghanistan, which [are] at a critical stage.”

Pervez, who had tried to bribe a Customs official to get an export license, sought to purchase high strength maraging steel, uniquely suited for gas centrifuge enrichment technology, and quantities of beryllium for his country’s covert nuclear program. This arrest and then an indictment in California on another case[1] made headlines in the United States. Adelman wanted President Reagan to invoke the Solarz amendment (after then-Rep. Stephen Solarz, D-NY), which required an aid cut-off in the event that governments receiving U.S. aid or their agents illegally tried to procure material that could be used for a nuclear weapons program. Reagan, however, refused to invoke the Solarz amendment. Although Pervez would be found guilty, the White House kept U.S. aid flowing to Islamabad for reasons of “national security.”

For the Reagan administration, aiding the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan trumped nonproliferation policy interests. The high priority given to a close U.S.-Pakistan relationship may have encouraged, as some journalists have alleged, State Department officials to warn the Pakistanis of the imminent arrest of their agents.[2] Indeed, a key figure in the A. Q. Khan nuclear procurement network, Inam Ul-Haq, who was working closely with Pervez, evaded arrest by slipping out of the United States at the last minute. A few weeks later, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Michael Armacost explained to Pakistani dictator General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq that State had unsuccessfully tried to get information about the Customs Bureau’s investigation of Perez, but “we did alert the GOP [Government of Pakistan] through letters, Ambassador Hinton, and our talks with the Foreign Minister that there was an issue here that needed to be addressed urgently.” “I understand the idea of warning, Zia replied.” Future declassifications may elucidate exactly what these urgent alerts amounted to.

The Pervez case demonstrates how U.S. government agencies, including the Customs Bureau and ACDA, sought to monitor and disrupt Pakistan’s nuclear procurement activities. For its part, the Reagan White House used loopholes in U.S. nonproliferation laws to avoid the enforcement of sanctions on Pakistan.  The documents published today illustrate these and related developments. They include:

Records compiled by U.S. government lawyers for prosecuting Pervez, including correspondence between Pervez and the Khan front company, Multinational, Inc., Pervez’s correspondence with Carpenter Technology Corporation, the supplier of maraging steel, and Pervez’s personal notes, which include references to “atom” and “military” which his lawyers could not explain.
A memorandum by Kenneth Adelman shortly after Pervez’s arrest: “If we now ‘lawyer our way around’ the Solarz amendment”, and seek to avoid its enforcement, “Zia will conclude once again that he need do nothing about his bomb program.”
An ACDA memo on the applicability of the Solarz amendment which concluded that “there is no plausible end-use for 25 tons of grade 350 maraging steel other than in the manufacture of centrifuges” for producing highly-enriched uranium and “for which Pakistan has no use except in nuclear explosives.”
A record of meetings on 5 August 1987 between general Zia and Under Secretary Armacost. Seeing a “conspiracy” to harm U.S.-Pakistan relations, Armacost observed that Washington could not simply “wink” at Pakistani procurement operations. He later said that U.S. government “information” indicated that “enrichment levels above 90[percent] have been achieved at Kahuta,” the site of a secret gas centrifuge facility. This meant that Pakistan was producing weapons-grade material in violation of an earlier commitment to a five percent ceiling.
A State Department Intelligence and Research report that characterized Pervez as “a convenient tool” for Pakistani nuclear procurement agents “to use in obtaining sensitive goods in the US.” They supplied Pervez with nuclear “shopping lists” that showed that his “activities were part of a larger government-supported plan.”
Besides the Solarz amendment, other acts of Congress were at issue in the debates sparked by the Pervez affair. One was the Pressler amendment (1985), after Senator Larry Pressler (R-SD), which required annual certification that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear explosive device. The other was the Symington amendment (1976); named after Sen. Stuart Symington (D-MO); it prohibited aid to non-NPT countries that initiated uranium enrichment programs for producing nuclear weapons. In 1979, under the Symington amendment, the Carter administration suspended aid to Pakistan after it discovered the Kahuta enrichment plan. When the Reagan administration came to power in 1981 it worked with Congress to give Pakistan a five-year waiver of the amendment because of its role in funneling U.S. aid to the Mujahadin in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, Congress imposed conditions – for example, aid would stop if Pakistan tested a nuclear weapon. With the waiver expiring in Fall 1987, the Reagan White House successfully finessed the Pervez affair so that it could justify continued economic and military aid to Pakistan.[3]

What had inspired the 1979 application of the Symington amendment was the discovery of Pakistan’s purchases of dual-use technology for its uranium enrichment program. A. Q. Khan was one of the founders of the Pakistani nuclear procurement system, but with other countries seeking specialized technology for their nuclear programs illegal networks have flourished. A recent report by the Institute for Science and International Security reminds us that illegal procurement networks for nuclear technology continue to pose a challenge to law enforcement and nonproliferation policy. The acquisition of material for gas centrifuges is central to this activity and maraging steel remains a commonly sought item by the procurement networks. This puts the Pervez incident in perspective as an event in the historical continuum of illegal procurement organizations for nuclear programs. What make this case distinctive is that Pervez was caught and his activities were documented.

The documents in today’s posting only give part of the story, mainly the ACDA perspective and the nuts and bolts of Pervez’s procurement activities as presented in the trial documents. The State Department is coordinating the review of other documents on the Pervez case with other agencies and offices (probably including CIA), and some denied items are under appeal. The Archive has also requested declassification of a November 1987 memorandum by Secretary of State George Shultz to President Reagan arguing against penalizing aid to Pakistan. Assuming that some of these documents get declassified, more light will be shed on the way that the Reagan administration handled the Pervez case.


Note: Except for document 9 and the Reagan public statements, all items below are from recent Department of State mandatory declassification review releases.


Documents 1A-B: Tracking the Khan Network

A: Department of State telegram 287763 to Embassy Bonn, “Export of Uranium Enrichment equipment to Pakistan,” 19 September 1985, secret.

B: Embassy Bonn telegram 35237 to Department of State, “Export of Uranium Enrichment to Pakistan,” 22 November 1985, secret

As these telegrams demonstrate, by Fall 1986, if not earlier, the U.S. government believed that a Pakistani firm, Multinational Inc., was a “procurement agent” for A.Q. Khan’s secret network. In this case, Pakistani agents operating in West Germany were trying to secure aluminum tubes that could be used for the Khan Laboratory’s gas centrifuge program. The State Department sent the U.S. Embassy talking points that could be used for a “non-paper” for German officials. According to the Foreign Office’s response, the equipment had not been delivered and German firms had been informed that an export license needed to be granted. More needs to be learned about the follow-up in West Germany, but Multinational Inc. would surface in the Pervez case.


Document 2: Embassy Islamabad cable 11791 to Department of State, “Nuclear: Solarz Conversation with GOP,” 29 May 1986

The year after Congress passed the Solarz amendment in August 1985, Rep. Stephen Solarz (D-CA) traveled to Pakistan, a country that would become a major test case for the amendment which cut off U.S. foreign aid to recipients. Solarz confronted General Zia and other top officials with his perception, based on U.S. intelligence, that Pakistan’s Kahuta plant was enriching weapons-grade enriched uranium. The Pakistanis strenuously denied the charge, arguing that if their “word” could not be accepted there would be no “basis for the relationship.” Solarz argued for independent verification of that claim but the Pakistanis argued that would be an unacceptable intrusion on their sovereignty. The possibility of a regional nuclear solution was discussed but the Pakistanis argued that India had been unresponsive to their proposals.

During a discussion with Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) chairman Munir Khan which included Australian and British diplomats, the question arose what would happen if Washington terminated aid to Pakistan in 1987. The Australians and British “posited” that Pakistan would “seek an accommodation on Afghanistan,” presumably through a deal with Moscow.


Document 3: State Department telegram 215122 to Embassy Islamabad, “Maraging Steel Case: Press Guidance,” 14 July 1987, unclassified

The Pervez arrest immediately raised questions in the media but the State Department would say little other than: let the legal system do its work, no speculation about Pervez’s intentions, and the admission that the Department had expressed concern to Pakistan about the “overall nature and direction of [its] nuclear program.” No decision had been made whether to invoke the Solarz amendment and suspend aid.


Document 4: Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Memorandum from Kenneth Adelman to Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, “Your Meeting with Ambassador Merker,” 14 July 1987, secret

When ACDA director Kenneth Adelman saw the State Department talking points for a conversation with Pakistani ambassador Jamsheed Marker about the Pervez case he was irritated by the “business-as-usual” tone. If the comments did not express “outraged indignation,” Pakistan “will continue its bomb program and continue to lie to us.” Apparently, the language was strengthened in the final version (see document 7).


Document 5: Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Memorandum from Norman Wulf, Director to the Director, “Solarz Amendment Applicability to the Pakistani Procurement Case.” 16 July 1987, secret

Immediately arms control experts began to review available information about the Pervez case and drafted preliminary answers to whether the Solarz amendment was applicable. ACDA official Norman Wulf saw a good case, with the information supporting positive answers to basic questions: would the maraging steel to be used for nuclear weapons manufacture, was the Pakistani national working on behalf of his government, would the steel “contribute significantly” to a capability to manufacture a nuclear explosive, and was there an “attempted illegal export”?


Document 6: Department of State, Memorandum from Ted Borek to Mr. Peck [et al.], “Letter to Justice on Pakistan Export Case,” 15 July 1987, unclassified

This draft of a State Department letter to the Justice Department, that was presumably sent soon thereafter, supported prosecution of Pervez to the “fullest extent of the law.” The cover memorandum mentioned an earlier smuggling case involving Nazir Ahmed Vaid which raised “allegations … that the Department had intervened to prevent a more vigorous prosecution.”[4] The State Department lawyers denied the allegations, but in handwritten comments ACDA official Norman Wulf (an attorney by training) saw a different problem: not the prosecutor’s handling of the case, but the “lenient sentence.” To prevent a recurrence, Wulf suggested that the letter include the concept of a “stiff sentence” if prosecution led to conviction, although it was necessary to avoid “prejudicing the rights of the accused.”


Document 7: Department of State, Memorandum from Ted Borek to Mr. Peck [et al.], “Solarz Amendment: Legal Memorandum for Mr. Armacost,” 20 July 1987, limited official use

The Pervez case immediately raised questions among State Department lawyers about the relevance of the Solarz amendment. A final answer depended on more evidence; the lawyers wanted to see the many documents that Canadian authorities had impounded as well as the tape recordings of Pervez’s conversations with U.S. undercover agents. Nevertheless, enough information was available for a general discussion of the “elements … which must be satisfied to trigger the Amendment.” One point of controversy was when a president should act, for example, whether the president had the “discretion to withhold action while criminal proceedings are in progress.” Not only could the results of the proceedings clarify the case, presidential action “could prejudice the criminal proceedings.” The State Department and the Justice Department favored maximum presidential discretion, but Congressman Solarz argued that this was not what Congress had in mind: “it intended the President to act if he believed on the basis of a preponderance of the evidence that the illegal conduct occurred.”


Document 8: U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Memorandum from Kenneth Adelman for the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, “The Pakistani Procurement Cases,” 23 July 1987, secret

What State Department lawyers had in mind aggravated ACDA director Adelman who believed that they might “lawyer their way around” the Solarz amendment. With Pakistan already violating the “red line” on uranium enrichment, Adelman believed that without a display of resolve “presidential credibility” would be further damaged; that required cutting off aid under the Solarz amendment. Reagan should offer to waive the amendment only if the Pakistanis stopped procurement activities and undertook a verifiable halt to enrichment above five percent. As it was, aid to Pakistan would automatically stop on 30 September when the waiver to the Symington amendment expired and it would be difficult to persuade Congress to approve the restoration of aid unless Reagan “demonstrates that he takes the Solarz amendment seriously.”


Document 9: National Security Council, Memorandum from Shirin Tahir-Kheli to Robert Oakley,” Dealing with Pakistan’s Nuclear Program: A U.S. Strategy,” 23 July 1987, secret Source: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

This memorandum by a senior NSC staffer took the Pervez case seriously as a threat to aid to Pakistan that Islamabad needed to avert by making “reliable assurances on enrichment and on illegal procurement activities.” Instead of focusing on the U.S. dilemma of balancing nuclear proliferation and Cold War concerns, Washington should “shift the onus of maintaining the relationship onto” the Government of Pakistan. Something “substantial had to be done” because the Pervez case was an embarrassment to the President and involved a violation of U.S. law. Among the options that Tahir-Kheli believed were worth discussing were “verification of limits on enrichment,” “identification of parties responsible for illegal activities” and “action against” them, a decision, with a “written commitment,” to adhere to the five percent enrichment level, and “institutional measures” to curb illegal procurement activities.


Document 10: Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Briefing Memorandum from Anthony Salvia to the Director, “HFAC Asia Subcommittee Hearing on Pakistan,”24 July 1987, unclassified, with Bonker-Fascell letter to Reagan attached

A hearing by the House subcommittee on International Economic Policy and Trade on 22 July 1987 made it clear why administration officials worried about the implications of the Pervez case. With Congressman Solarz arguing that the arrest involved “a flagrant and provocative challenge to U.S. nonproliferation objectives.” A number of subcommittee members called for a temporary suspension of aid to Pakistan; a letter to President Reagan from subcommittee chairman Don Bonior (D-WA) and Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Dante Fascell (D-Fl) recommended aid suspension along with a “review with Pakistani leaders [of] the future direction of our relations.” Others on the subcommittee, such as Rep. James Leach (D-IA) “urged caution” and suggested “intermediate sanctions,” for example, a partial aid cut-off. He argued that the “problem with the Solarz amendment” was that it “puts the Administration so much on the spot that a national security waiver is virtually inevitable.”


Document 11: U.S. District Court, “Indictment: U.S. of America Vs. Arshad Pervez and Inam Ul-Haq,” 28 July 1987.

The indictment against Pervez and Ul-Haq included charges of conspiracy, bribery, racketeering, export violations, and false statements. The key element in the case was the illegal effort to acquire 1) 350 maraging steel that would be “used in a uranium enrichment plant to manufacture nuclear weapons,” and 2) beryllium, used specifically for the neutron initiator in a nuclear weapon, the export of which was controlled in the government’s Commodity Control List.


Document 12: Department of State, “Classified Congressional Briefing on Pakistani Clandestine Nuclear-Related Procurement, “circa 26 July 1987, secret.

These are the Department’s talking points, intended for use with Congress. While ACDA officials were fairly certain that a violation of the Solarz amendment had occurred, the State Department did not want to assume anything until it had reviewed the evidence. What comes across very clearly is a strong aversion to “hasty reaction to this case” because of the situation in Afghanistan. “We are particularly concerned about weakening the President’s hand in discussions with the Soviets on Afghanistan, which is at a critical stage.” Moscow’s “incentives to reach a settlement” could be reduced if “US resolve or ability to work with Pakistan” was in doubt.


Document 13: Department of State, Draft telegram to Embassy Athens [et al.], “Pakistani Circumvention of Nuclear Export Controls,” 28 July 1987, Secret

Whatever the State Department told Congress, nuclear experts in the State Department were more certain that the maraging steel was “probably intended” for the Pakistani gas centrifuge program. This telegram included information that U.S. embassies were to share with foreign governments to help them tighten up their export controls. While maraging steel tubes were specifically subject to international export controls, the raw maraging steel bars that Pervez sought “requires a license if the exporter has reason to know that the material will be used in uranium enrichment.”


Documents 14A-D: Armacost Meeting with General Zia:

A: Embassy Islamabad telegram 16294 to Department of State, “First Day in Islamabad-August 2,” 3 August 1987, secret

B: Embassy Islamabad telegram 16556 to Department of State, “Under Secretary Armcost Meeting with Zia,” 5 August 1987, secret

C: B. Department of State telegram 244270 to the Embassy in Islamabad, “Under Secretary Armacost Meeting with Zia,” 7 August 1987, secret

D: Embassy Islamabad telegram 16052 to Department of State, “Pervez Nuclear Arrest Case-July 23 Statement by MFA Spokesman Gives Greater Emphasis to Conspiracy,” 30 July 1987, confidential

Only a few weeks after Pervez’s arrest, Under Secretary of State Armacost traveled to Pakistan for wide-ranging discussions with General Zia, but with a special focus on nuclear procurement and the uranium enrichment program. As Armacost reported to Secretary Shultz, “I emphasized the need for immediate practical steps to demonstrate to an aroused Congress and a skeptical administration that no further illegal procurement activities would take place and that we had verifiable assurances there would be no further enrichment of weapons-grade uranium.” The talks had their tense moments, for example, when Zia argued that Washington was trying to “get one Pakistani in order to hang the entire government.” Using language that was becoming routine at the Foreign Ministry, Zia said he saw a “conspiracy to destroy” U.S.-Pakistan relations and denied that Pervez had any connections with Pakistani government agencies. He argued that the maraging steel could be “used for 20 or more different things.”

Declaring that the administration had an “open mind” about the Pervez case, Armacost nevertheless observed that “the only apparent use for this grade of maraging steel [was] for a gas centrifuge.” What Armacost wanted in particular were Pakistani actions that he could tell Congress about, such as government “instructions” that showed it was trying to stop illegal procurement in the United States and that it would extradite Brigadier Inam. Zia declared that Pakistan would cooperate to “prevent illegal procurement;” he asked for a list of illegal items and said that steps would be taken to “tighten up” procurement operations.

Armacost raised the matter of Pakistan’s commitment to follow a five percent ceiling for uranium enrichment, noting that U.S. government “information” indicated that “enrichment levels above 90 have been achieved at Kahuta” in violation of the 5 percent ceiling that Zia had accepted in discussions with President Reagan. Zia laughed off the charge but then declared that the U.S. government “will have to accept my word.” Nevertheless, he agreed to a meeting between Chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission Munir Khan and Ambassador-at-Large Richard T. Kennedy (whose portfolio was nonproliferation policy) to confirm the “five percent level.”

When the embassy in Islamabad sent to the State Department a record of the conversation, Armacost had not reviewed the first 45 paragraphs; subsequently, his assistant Andrew Steinfeld sent a corrected copy that had interesting and sometimes important differences from the original (for example, compare the versions of paragraphs 14 and 34).


Document 15: Arms Control And Disarmament Agency, Memorandum from Norman Wulf to the Director, “Recent Activities Related to the Pakistani Procurement Case,” 10 August 1987, secret

Following up the Armacost-Zia talks, ACDA official Norman Wulf reviewed plans for a “dialogue” with Pakistan to prevent illegal procurement in the United States and verification of the five percent enrichment commitment. Adelman probably wrote the marginal comment on the document, “Better than nothing.”


Document 16: Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Memorandum from Norman Wulf to the Director, “Weekly Activities Report,” 13 August 1987, secret

Wulf reported to Adelman that the information telegram on the Pervez and other smuggling cases [see Document 13] had gone out to the embassies (except for the Soviet bloc) and had received a favorable response from nuclear-supplier states. ACDA had proposed a “range of overt, technical means” to verify the five percent commitment and it was under further review. Adelman wanted ACDA to “hammer home on the 5% firewall” and not let procurement “be sole topic.”


Document 17: Embassy Islamabad telegram 17754 to the Secretary of State, “Pervez Case-GOP Regulation on Procurement Activities,” 23 August 1987, Secret

During the Armacost-Zia talks, the Pakistanis had told U.S. officials that they would confidentially share any new procurement regulations with them. The embassy reported that a “roadblock” had emerged and that Foreign Minister Yaqub Khan was looking into why the regulations had not been made available. The Pakistanis made available some documentation later [see document 26] but the specifics have not been disclosed.


Document 18: Consulate Lahore telegram 0524 telegram to Embassy Islamabad, Information Department of State, “Pervez Nuclear Arrest Case – Possible Location of Brig. Inam Ul Haq,” 2 September 1987, Confidential, excised copy

A confidential source told consular officials that the Pakistani government had detained Inam Ul Haq and was “being rotated between various locations” in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. The source did not know this first-hand, but had another source “that he is convinced is correct.”


Document 19A-C: Getting the Pervez Documents from Canada

A: Department of State telegram 270161 to Embassy Ottawa, “Access to Canadian Documents in Pervez Case,” 29 August 1987, Secret

B: Ted Borek to Mr. Peck et al, “Draft Note to Canadians on Pervez Documents,” 4 September 1987, with Ottawa embassy telegram, 3 September 1987 attached, secret

C: State Department telegram 278631 to U.S. Embassy Ottawa, “Access to Canadian Documents in Pervez Case,” 5 September 1987, secret

The Canadian government cooperated with the U.S. Justice Department in the Pervez case by seizing documents at his and making them available to federal prosecutors. The State Department wanted permission to review the documents “on the premises of the U.S. law enforcement authorities” so that it could use them to prepare recommendations to President Reagan “concerning a decision regarding the applicability of the Solarz amendment.” These documents concern messages to the Canadian government on the request for access; how and when Ottawa responded is not clear, although presumably it gave permission.


Document 20: Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Memorandum from Kenneth Adelman to Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, “A Strategy on Pakistan,” 4 November 1987, secret

Continuing to take a tough line on Pakistan, Adelman advised Armacost to “increase pressure on Pakistan to try to get them to stop enrichment above five percent and to stop illegal procurement activities in the United States.” To do this he suggested holding off until January any certification that Pakistan does not “possess a nuclear explosive device” (as required by the Symington Amendment). Moreover, he recommended invoking the Solarz amendment but not making a decision on “waiving its restrictions” also until January. On Solarz “the facts certainly support such a finding” and leaving the decisions in suspense would act as pressure on Islamabad.


Document 21A-D: U.S. v. Arshad Pervez, Criminal Number 87-00283 “Exhibit List,” circa November 1987

A: Exhibit List

B: Exhibits 24 through 38-37

C. Exhibits 38-38 through 38-85

D: Exhibits 38-86 through 52

Most of the copies of the exhibits provided by the State Department lacked the original exhibit numbers. Nevertheless, to the extent possible the documents reproduced here follow the order of the exhibit list. Some exhibits are unavoidably missing, such as a videotape and $1,000 in 100 dollar bills, but what is available provides a good sense of Pervez’s efforts on behalf of the A. Q. Khan front, Multinational Inc., to purchase the maraging steel. Included is correspondence from Multinational Chief Executive Inam-Ul-Haq to A.P. Enterprises, run by Pervez, and from Carpenter Technology Corporation to A.P. Enterprises with price quotes for the steel.

The exhibits included Pervez’s notebooks with such incriminating language as “atom,” “military,” and “my expert is procurement manager for nuclear plant.” [See Document B at PDF pages 24 and 26]. A letter from Ul-Haq to Pervez [See Document B at PDF page 45] from early 1987 demonstrated that this was more than a business venture: “personal interests must not be allowed to overtake national interests.” Pervez had taken some financial losses and Ul-Haq observed that “in this bargain I have suffered a loss of nearly 15000 $.” The losses, however, could be “made up” by getting an “order for other items.”


Document 22: Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Memorandum from Kenneth Adelman for the President, “Certification on Pakistan,” 21 November 1987, Secret

By the time that Adelman signed this memorandum to President Reagan, Secretary Shultz had recommended that Washington “now certify” that Pakistan “does not possess a nuclear device” (as required by the Pressler amendment). Noting that aid deliveries would not restart until December, Adelman asked Reagan to delay certification as a way to keep “pressure” on the Pakistanis to stop enriching uranium and crack down on illegal procurement. He also called for invoking the Solarz amendment to avoid giving a “business as usual perception.”


Documents 23A-C: Pervez Trial and Verdict

A: Department of State, memorandum from Jonathan Schwartz to Ms. Verville [et al.], “Pervez Trial Status,” 14 December 1987, unclassified

B: Department of State telegram to U.S. Embassy Islamabad, “Pervez Case Verdict,” 17 December 1987, unclassified

C: Department of State, Memorandum from Jonathan Schwartz to Mr. Keczko [et al.], 23 December 1987, unclassified, excised copy

After hearing tape-recorded conversations and seeing Pervez’s diary entries and the Pervez-Carpenter correspondence, on 17 December 1987, the jury found him guilty on 5 out of 8 counts, including conspiracy, attempted export of beryllium without the required license, and submitting false end-use statements about the maraging steel. Inam Ul-Haq was also found guilty of conspiracy and false statements. The three charges relating to bribery did not hold up, possibly because the defense had argued that the government had entrapped Pervez. In any event, according to a State Department report, the jurors found Pervez’s testimony “confused and not credible” and “accepted the theory that [he] was part of a plot to send nuclear materials to Kahuta for an enrichment program aimed at producing nuclear bombs.”


Document 24: President Reagan to Speaker of the House, 17 December 1987, enclosing presidential determination

Source: Digital National Security Archive

Apparently following Shultz’s advice, Reagan informed Congress that he had “concluded that Pakistan does not possess a nuclear explosive device.” Not only would that allow military aid to resume, but Reagan argued that such aid provided “the most effective means for dissuading Pakistan from acquiring nuclear explosive devices.” The implication was that working with the Pakistanis on the inside was more effective for the nonproliferation cause than were sanctions.


Document 25: Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Memorandum from Norman Wulf for Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, “Next Steps on Pakistan-Solarz and Symington,” 21 December 1987, secret

ACDA did not buy Reagan’s argument about preferring to work with Pakistan rather than impose sanctions. With Adelman leaving ACDA, acting director Norman Wulf sent Armacost a proposal for applying nonproliferation standards to Pakistan even if Reagan rejected application of the Solarz amendment and aid continued. Recognizing that the war in Afghanistan was in its end-game, Wulf wanted the administration to prepare for a new relationship with Pakistan. As he put it: “if we do not have meaningful nuclear restraint from Pakistan now we are unlikely to be able to sustain a significant relationship with Pakistan in a post-Afghanistan environment.” In light of the Pervez verdict, Wulf recommended invoking Solarz to “send the right message to potential proliferants and to Zia.” If the Pakistanis could make helpful changes on their procurement policies, e.g., no more attempts to acquire U.S.-origin goods for their nuclear program; then it would be possible to waive Solarz. Simultaneously, Washington could follow up a recent Shultz proposal for nuclear suppliers to tighten up licensing of dual-use exports.

As for Symington, Wulf argued that with resumption of the next aid package it would be a “gross error” not to reestablish the “red lines” on reprocessing, device assembly, testing, and sensitive technology transfers, and enrichment that Reagan had set in 1982 and 1984. To secure compliance with the five percent enrichment limit, Wulf proposed barring certain military aid deliveries, such as AWACS, as an “inducement to cut enrichment.” A dissenting reader wrote “NO” next to this paragraph.


Document 26: Department of State, memorandum from INR Director Morton Abramowitz to Mr. Armacost, “Pakistan-Pervez Case and Solarz Amendment,” 29 December 1987, secret

This fascinating INR memorandum tacitly assumed that the facts of the Pervez case fit a decision to invoke the Solarz amendment: despite some recent actions to “restrict nuclear procurement in the US,” the procurement network “could not exist without the umbrella of government approval, protection, and funding.” Khan Research Laboratories was directly linked to Pervez’s quest for maraging steel, while Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) was behind the attempt to acquire beryllium. Zia and Prime Minister Mohammad Khan Junejo “allowed the nuclear procurement network to flourish and the clandestine ethic to become ingrained in their subordinates and agents.” Moreover, both Inam and another network manager, Khan Abbas Khan, “continually” supplied Pervez with “nuclear shopping lists,” making it “difficult to write off the maraging steel and beryllium deals as renegade capers.”[5]


Document 27A-B: Rejecting Solarz Amendment

A: “White House Statement on Continuation of Military Aid to Pakistan,” 15 January 1988

Source: Public Papers of the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, 1988, Book I (Washington, D.C., Government Printing Office, 1990), 46.

B: “Presidential Determination No. 88-5 of January 15, 1988,” Federal Register, Vol. 83, No. 24, 5 February 1988

Recognizing the facts brought out by the Pervez conviction, in January 1988 the Reagan White House invoked the Solarz amendment but then waived it. The White House used a clause in the amendment that allowed a waiver in the interests of the “common defense and security.” Cutting aid, Reagan argued, would be contrary to U.S. “strategic interests” and “unlikely to achieve the nonproliferation objectives sought by [their] sponsors.”‘ Possibly following advice from ACDA or other sources, the statement tacitly linked the aid program to nonproliferation goals: it made an indirect reference to the five “red lines” by asserting that “there are crucial nonproliferation criteria which Pakistan continues to honor. According to the statement one reason why the White House waived Solarz was that the Pakistanis had pledged to “tighten” procurement procedures in the United States. Moreover, Washington would “continue pressing Pakistan away from a nuclear weapon option” and work to avoid a South Asian arms race. How the Reagan administration followed up on this during 1988 remains to be disclosed.


Document 28A-B: Resolution of Pervez Case

A: Department of State, memorandum from Elizabeth Rindskopf to Mr. Kimmit, “Pakistan Nuclear-New Trial for Pervez,” 13 January 1990, unclassified.

B: Department of State, memorandum from Abraham Sofaer to Mr. Kimmit, “Pakistan Nuclear-Final Resolution of Pervez Case,” 10 April 1990, unclassified

Pervez’s lawyers had mounted an entrapment defense in 1987 and a Supreme Court decision relating to that defense (Matthews vs. United States) case made it possible for Pervez to launch successfully a bid for retrial on all of the counts. After plea bargaining discussions, a trial was avoided when Pervez pleaded nolo contendere to the count of illegal export of beryllium. He was released from prison on 4 April 1990 on the basis of time served. According to the State Department’s chief lawyer, Abraham D. Sofaer this outcome “did not suggest either innocence on the defendant’s part or a lack of evidence supporting the government’s case.”


[1] A Hong National and two U.S. citizens were indicted for illegal exports to Pakistan of advanced computers and other technology; see Dennis Kux, The United States and Pakistan, 1947-2000 (Washington, D.C,, 2001), 285. See also document 13 in this collection.

[2] Adrian Levy & Catherine Scott-Clark, Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons (New York, 2007), 168-169.

[3] For background see Kux, The United States and Pakistan, 1947-2000, 223, 239, 275-278, and 285-286, and National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 377, “New Documents Spotlight Reagan-era Tensions over Pakistani Nuclear Program,” 27 April 2012.

[4] For the weak prosecution allegation, see Levy and Scott-Clark. Deception, 109-110, 114

[5] The “shopping lists” may have been among the documents seized in Canada, but apparently were not used as trial exhibits.

An Anticlimactic Referendum in Egypt-Nathan J. Brown

Posted by admin On January - 7 - 2014 Comments Off


Egyptians will begin 2014 by heading back to the polls, this time to pass judgment on a new constitution. The draft, actually a series of changes to the old constitution so numerous as to constitute an entirely new document, will be put to a vote in mid-January.

In this Q&A, Nathan Brown argues that approval of the referendum is a foregone conclusion, and the result is likely to resolve little. Indeed, the constitution and the referendum are more likely to exacerbate tensions and divisions in Egyptian politics than to form part of a democratic transition.

•Will voters approve the draft constitution?
•Will the election be free and fair?
•Is Egypt following the interim government’s plan for its political transformation?
•Will the new constitution be legally adopted if it passes?
•Will the constitution be legitimate?
•Is voter turnout expected to be strong?
•What are the next steps in Egypt’s political transition?
Will voters approve the draft constitution?
Nathan Brown
Nonresident Senior Associate
Middle East Program
More from this author…
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Egypt’s al-Azhar Steps ForwardYes.

It is rare for a constitution to be rejected in a referendum. Egyptian voters have never turned their rulers down, and constitutional referenda in other countries almost always pass. In this case, it is true that there are some political actors opposed to the constitution—most notably the Muslim Brotherhood and its associated Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), which was ousted from power in July.

But these actors are more likely to boycott the referendum than to mobilize for a “no” vote. It is unlikely that the FJP would be able to muster a majority against the constitution. What’s more, prevailing feelings among FJP members—from what can be gleaned—lend themselves far more to expressions of outrage than to cold electoral strategizing. The widespread arrests of movement members, the regime’s violent crackdown to disperse demonstrators, many of whom were FJP supporters, last summer, and more recent attempts to ban the movement have left the Brotherhood and the FJP ill equipped to strategize and in no mood to participate in the political system for now.

Will the election be free and fair?No, but that won’t affect the outcome—the referendum would probably pass even if the election were free and fair.

It is probably impossible to hold a free vote in the current political environment. The FJP, which won more seats than any other party in the country’s 2011 parliamentary elections, clings to legal existence but is not able to operate freely. Islamic broadcasters have been shut down. Opposition rallies of any size seem impossible in the current climate. Journalists and activists report harassment and threats from security agencies, and there have been many arrests. There have also been scattered reports that even campaigning against the referendum has been treated as a threat to public security.

And the referendum will not be fair because various parts of the state apparatus are tipping the scale in favor of approval. State-owned media, for example, treat the constitution as a breakthrough and the referendum as a time for celebration, fostering an atmosphere in which the campaign to oppose the referendum is at best anemic. Official encouragement merely to vote is essentially tantamount to an appeal for approval.

While it is difficult to say with certainty, even a free and fair election would still likely result in approval for the constitution. Mobilized public opinion seems largely supportive of the current political order, though pockets of strong Brotherhood support continue to exist.

Is Egypt following the interim government’s plan for its political transformation?Not really, but its departures from this plan do not seem to matter much to anybody.

On July 3, Defense Minister Abdel Fattah el-Sisi laid out a road map for Egypt’s future. The new military-backed Egyptian regime appointed two committees to amend the country’s constitution—a committee of jurists began the work, suggesting a comprehensive set of changes, and a second committee of officials, representatives of specified groups, and other prominent individuals then drafted its own series of amendments.

But the country’s political actors seem to have simply forgotten other elements of Sisi’s plan, such as a code of ethics for the press, a reconciliation commission and a rapid review of the parliamentary electoral law passed by the Brotherhood-dominated upper house of parliament.

Other elements of the road map have been changed with only muted complaints. The entire transitional process has stretched out longer than promised, with creative counting of days for each of the document’s various deadlines. And one matter ostensibly settled by the road map, the sequence of parliamentary and presidential elections, has been reopened by the draft constitution.

But these changes seem to make no difference to all actors’ evaluation of the political sequence. While there is considerable jockeying now about the law for parliamentary elections and the sequence of presidential and parliamentary elections, none of the key players are referring back to the way these issues were handled in the July 3 statement. Instead, they are treating them as matters for negotiation.

Will the new constitution be legally adopted if it passes?Yes, though the reasoning is a bit circular. The new constitution and the referendum will make themselves legal. According to the draft constitution itself, if the document is approved in a referendum it becomes legally binding. If there was anything illegal done prior to that point (such as the suspension of the constitution in July), that flaw becomes irrelevant.

This reasoning may be strange, but it is both practical and based on political realities and precedent.

Past Egyptian courts have treated referenda on constitutional matters as beyond their reach, operating on the premise that once the people have spoken in a constitutional voice, no court drawing its authority from that constitution can overrule them. Such was the attitude of the country’s Supreme Constitutional Court as recently as this past June when it accepted the validity of the country’s controversial 2012 constitution. Therefore, Egyptian courts will only view the current constitution as having been overturned if a new one is approved in a referendum or a revolution occurs and brings about a constitutional vacuum.

And all critical parts of the Egyptian state are fully behind the new document, so the country’s most powerful political actors are unlikely to seek any way to reverse it.

Will the constitution be legitimate?That will depend on whom you ask. And that is precisely the problem: Egypt has no tools accepted by the country’s main political actors to settle political differences. Losers no longer regard elections as binding, and there no processes in place that allow contending parties to hammer out agreements.

In fact, the country’s new constitution might entrench, rather than manage, Egypt’s deep political divisions. The constitution will be approved and accepted by its supporters. But that will not persuade its opponents.

The same thing happened in 2012, when Egyptians were strongly divided over the draft constitution proposed by then president Mohamed Morsi. Although the constitution was approved in a December 2012 referendum, sharp disagreements persisted and contributed to the political crisis that ended in the overthrow of Morsi’s presidency.

This constitution will likely last longer than the one it is replacing, but there are some worrying signs about its fate as a viable document that provides for a stable system. Some of the constitution’s defenders excuse its flaws by claiming that the document might not last more than five or ten years anyway, a remarkably diffident attitude. And the political process since the massive June 30 demonstrations against then president Morsi has led to the creation of an increasingly embittered Islamist minority (that does not seem to accept that it is the minority).

Much attention has therefore focused on turnout in the referendum as an indicator of its legitimacy. Critics attacked the 2012 constitution since slightly less than one-third of eligible voters cast a ballot. If supporters of this constitution cannot beat that mark, they will suffer an embarrassment. But embarrassment is not a particularly strong factor driving Egyptian politics, so they have no real cause for worry.

Is voter turnout expected to be strong?Strong is a relative word. Egyptian elections have always had low turnout, although those that have taken place since the 2011 revolution that overthrew then president Hosni Mubarak have been partial exceptions to that rule. Even in those elections, though, turnout figures have varied greatly—41 percent for the March 2011 referendum on constitutional amendments, 62 percent for 2011 parliamentary elections; 15 percent for 2012 elections to the upper house of parliament; 52 percent for 2012 presidential elections; and 32 percent for the 2012 constitutional referendum.

With the country exhausted and cynicism returning, the upcoming referendum certainly faces an uphill battle. What is more, the new regime’s attempts to discredit its opponents may backfire and reduce voter turnout. The interim government has been trying to convince Egyptians that its Islamist opposition consists of terrorists who will stop at nothing to disrupt the referendum but also that it is perfectly safe to vote.

The country’s most successful electoral mobilizers in the very recent past—the Brotherhood and the Salafis—have lost both their interest in bringing voters to the polls and their ability to do so. One Salafi group, the Nour Party, backs the draft constitution, but its base of support among its past sympathizers remains unclear.

Various formulas have been used in the past to raise turnout figures, but each has limitations.

First, Egyptian leaders made voting compulsory so that those who failed to vote would be subject to fines. But that law has never been enforced and hardly seems a tool for inducing popular acceptance of the constitution.

Second, official vote totals have been inflated, sometimes shamelessly. Such electoral manipulation was far easier in the past when nobody took elections seriously. It may still be possible now depending on how the election is managed.

Third, locally influential or wealthy figures have mobilized their followers in cities and towns throughout the country to vote, using a wide variety of inducements. This method characterized elections in much of the twentieth century. Such influential political figures may be reemerging, but they are far more likely to be interested in parliamentary elections (in which they may gain a seat) than in a referendum without candidates.

Finally, the entire state apparatus—including public sector companies—has been mobilized to produce voters. The resulting referenda, characteristic of the plebiscites of former Egyptian presidents Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar al-Sadat, have been designed more to celebrate the outcome than to determine it. In 2013, such an effort might do more harm than good to the cause.

But this constitution’s fate likely depends little on a healthy turnout. Because of the self-referential world of Egyptian political debates, the reaction will likely be the same regardless of how many actually vote: supporters will hail the decisive victory of Egypt’s best constitution ever while its opponents outbid each other in decrying the violation of everything good and Godly.

What are the next steps in Egypt’s political transition?After the constitution passes, there will be parliamentary and presidential elections. The sequence and rules, originally laid out in the road map but reopened by the constitutional drafting committee, have not been announced.

Suspicions abound that the country’s interim rulers have decided the rules of these elections and tailored them to ensure a specific result but that they will not make the rules public until after the constitution is approved. But my strong impression based on a recently concluded visit is that these rules have not been decided. Virtually nobody is ready for these elections, so there is no consensus about how to move forward.

The presidential race is dominated by the question of whether or not Sisi will run. And on this question the indications are very clear but completely contradictory.

The defense minister has strong reasons not to run—his candidacy would expose him and the military politically, cement the reputation of the regime as a military one, saddle him with responsibility for Egypt’s insoluble problems, and in some ways constitute a demotion from his position leading the Ministry of Defense. But at the same time, it will be very difficult for him not to run: there is nobody to fill his shoes as a candidate, and the military might not trust anyone else in the job. There is also concern that the presidency, a critical institution in the Egyptian state, would be weak in the hands of an inexperienced politician.

Parliamentary elections face perhaps an even more daunting challenge: no party is ready for them. Various political actors are focusing their attention on writing election rules in a way that promotes their interests rather than building true national parties.

The sequence and procedures have therefore been turned over to the taciturn acting president, Adly Mansour, who has given little indication of how he plans to proceed. Egyptian newspapers are filled not only with accounts of public consultation but also with speculation on what is being thought and discussed privately.

But the process of consultation and decisionmaking is only just beginning. And these decisions, while fateful, will hardly be the end of Egypt’s political journey. The country’s deep political wounds are not healing, calling into question whether it still makes sense to describe the process, such as it is, as a political “transition.”


A Nobel Prize for Irrelevance-Paul J. Saunders

Posted by admin On October - 12 - 2013 Comments Off


The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which today announced its decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, seems increasingly over its head. Following last year’s selection of the European Union, the Committee’s recognition of the OPCW appears likely to further dissipate the value of the Peace Prize and the attention it receives. Taking into account the very real importance of peace and its advocates to the day-to-day lives of millions around the world, one can only hope that the Committee will reevaluate its approach to the award next year.

First, to be clear, the OPCW is a valuable organization that is conducting very important work in destroying Syria’s chemical weapons. The weapons are a grave danger to innocent civilians in Syria and elsewhere and the individuals responsible for safely eliminating them deserve gratitude and praise.

At the same time, however, the OPCW was not pivotal in the chain of events that made its work in Syria possible. The key events were Syria’s entry into the Chemical Weapons Convention and the U.S.-Russian agreement on managing the process in the United Nations Security Council. The people most responsible for those two things were Bashar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama, and their diplomats and advisors. Only after their choices and actions did the problem of Syria’s chemical weapons fall into the lap of the OPCW and its staff. In other words, the men and women of the OPCW are simply doing their jobs—albeit demanding and significant jobs.

One can imagine why the Nobel Committee would not want to present the Peace Prize to some or all of Assad, Putin and Obama. In Assad’s case, he is widely believed to have used the weapons and is conducting a brutal civil war. Few admire Putin’s peacemaking—though a Russian parliamentarian did nominate him for the prize—and for many Europeans, Russia’s domestic governance, its war in Georgia, and its heavy-handed attempts at energy diplomacy would likely rule him out. For his part, Obama already received the prize once recently, in advance of any particular accomplishments. Moreover, awarding a peace prize to leader for failing to follow through on threats of military action might lower the bar even further.

What is harder to understand is why in facing this dilemma the Nobel Committee did not choose to focus global attention on another issue instead. There are clearly many other real threats to peace beyond Syria—some of which affect many more people than a tragic civil war inside one country—and many courageous leaders and ordinary citizens working to address them. A variety of contenders have appeared in the press.

Ultimately, the Norwegian Nobel Committee may be trying too hard to send messages through its choices. Committee members probably wanted to make a statement about Syria, but couldn’t identify an individual—or even two or three—who captured the sentiment they wanted to deliver. So they presented the award to the OPCW, which offers maximum clarity of message, but none of the inspiration or excitement that has made the Nobel Peace Prize internationally meaningful in the past. One suspects that they likely followed the same logic chain in selecting the EU last year. But only by selecting specific people, not groups, can the Nobel Committee offer a truly compelling message with real impact.


The Limits of Counterinsurgency Doctrine in Afghanistan- Karl W. Eikenberry

Posted by admin On October - 12 - 2013 Comments Off




Eikenberry, Obama, and General Stanley McChrystal in Afghanistan, March 2010. (Pete Souza / White House)
Since 9/11, two consecutive U.S. administrations have labored mightily to help Afghanistan create a state inhospitable to terrorist organizations with transnational aspirations and capabilities. The goal has been clear enough, but its attainment has proved vexing. Officials have struggled to define the necessary attributes of a stable post-Taliban Afghan state and to agree on the best means for achieving them. This is not surprising. The U.S. intervention required improvisation in a distant, mountainous land with de jure, but not de facto, sovereignty; a traumatized and divided population; and staggering political, economic, and social problems. Achieving even minimal strategic objectives in such a context was never going to be quick, easy, or cheap.

Of the various strategies that the United States has employed in Afghanistan over the past dozen years, the 2009 troop surge was by far the most ambitious and expensive. Counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine was at the heart of the Afghan surge. Rediscovered by the U.S. military during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, counterinsurgency was updated and codified in 2006 in Field Manual 3-24, jointly published by the U.S. Army and the Marines. The revised doctrine placed high confidence in the infallibility of military leadership at all levels of engagement (from privates to generals) with the indigenous population throughout the conflict zone. Military doctrine provides guidelines that inform how armed forces contribute to campaigns, operations, and battles. Contingent on context, military doctrine is meant to be suggestive, not prescriptive.

Broadly stated, modern COIN doctrine stresses the need to protect civilian populations, eliminate insurgent leaders and infrastructure, and help establish a legitimate and accountable host-nation government able to deliver essential human services. Field Manual 3-24 also makes clear the extensive length and expense of COIN campaigns: “Insurgencies are protracted by nature. Thus, COIN operations always demand considerable expenditures of time and resources.”

The apparent validation of this doctrine during the 2007 troop surge in Iraq increased its standing. When the Obama administration conducted a comprehensive Afghanistan strategy review in 2009, some military leaders, reinforced by some civilian analysts in influential think tanks, confidently pointed to Field Manual 3-24 as the authoritative playbook for success. When the president ordered the deployment of an additional 30,000 troops into Afghanistan at the end of that year, the military was successful in ensuring that the major tenets of COIN doctrine were also incorporated into the revised operational plan. The stated aim was to secure the Afghan people by employing the method of “clear, hold, and build” — in other words, push the insurgents out, keep them out, and use the resulting space and time to establish a legitimate government, build capable security forces, and improve the Afghan economy. With persistent outside efforts, advocates of the COIN doctrine asserted, the capacity of the Afghan government would steadily grow, the levels of U.S. and international assistance would decline, and the insurgency would eventually be defeated.

Blindly following COIN doctrine led the U.S. military to fixate on defeating the insurgency while giving short shrift to Afghan politics.

More than three years after the Afghan surge’s implementation, what can be said about the efficacy of COIN and the U.S. experience in Afghanistan? Proponents might, with some merit, claim that the experiment was too little, too late — too late because an industrial-strength COIN approach was not rigorously applied until eight years after the war began, and too little because even then, limits were placed on the size and duration of the surge, making it more difficult to change the calculations of Afghan friends and enemies. Moreover, even though President Barack Obama announced plans to end U.S. participation in combat operations in Afghanistan by 2014, the war continues and the outcome remains indeterminate. Still, it is possible to answer the question by examining the major principles of COIN and analyzing how these fared on the ground.

The COIN-surge plan for Afghanistan rested on three crucial assumptions: that the COIN goal of protecting the population was clear and attainable and would prove decisive, that higher levels of foreign assistance and support would substantially increase the Afghan government’s capacity and legitimacy, and that a COIN approach by the United States would be consistent with the political-military approach preferred by Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Unfortunately, all three assumptions were spectacularly incorrect, which, in turn, made the counterinsurgency campaign increasingly incoherent and difficult to prosecute. In short, COIN failed in Afghanistan.


The first principle of COIN doctrine is the need to secure the indigenous population in areas deemed centers of gravity politically, economically, and militarily. Surge advocates argued that behind the protective shield of increasing numbers of foreign and Afghan security forces, good government would emerge, the rule of law would take root, and prosperity would grow. A more secure and content people would rally behind local elected and appointed officials, and peace and stability would follow.

“Protect the population” makes for a good bumper sticker, but it raises the question: Protect it from whom and against what? It certainly meant protecting the Afghan people from marauding Taliban insurgents. But what about criminal narcotraffickers, venal local police chiefs, or predatory government officials? What should be done about tribes that turn to the Taliban for help in fighting more powerful tribes with patrons in the Kabul government? And what about complex cases of ethnic violence with roots dating back a century or more? Young men without jobs are supposedly ripe for insurgent recruiting, so should protection be offered against unemployment? The provision of basic health care is frequently cited as a service the Taliban cannot offer. To make the Afghan government appear comparatively more effective, should the people be protected against illness? These were not hypothetical questions but rather very real challenges that U.S. military forces, civilian diplomatic personnel, and development specialists in Afghanistan struggled with daily as they sought to implement COIN doctrine.

Late in 2010, the comedian Kathleen Madigan, participating in a USO tour in Afghanistan, visited a forward operating base in Helmand Province. With some humorous exaggeration, she told a story about meeting a young Marine captain who pointed to a nearby Afghan village and enthusiastically described how his unit was busy building a school, establishing a health clinic, creating a local government center, training and reforming the police force, helping the people with grievance resolution, actively supporting gender rights via a U.S. Marine “female engagement team,” improving agricultural productivity, and more. As the list continued to grow, Madigan finally interrupted and asked, “Marine captain, when are you going to invade Detroit?”

Her quip hit the mark. “Protect the population” is a vague and open-ended guide to action, with increased effort alone regarded as an end in itself. But COIN adherents believed that even if the goals were not well defined, such an approach vigorously and simultaneously applied at the national, provincial, and district levels would steadily reduce the ground on which the Taliban stood and inevitably cause their defeat. Every military leader, traditionally a professional specializing in the management of violence, was now instructed that he must be prepared, in the words of the mid-twentieth-century French counterinsurgency expert David Galula, “to become . . . a social worker, a civil engineer, a schoolteacher, a nurse, a boy scout. But only for as long as he cannot be replaced, for it is better to entrust civilian tasks to civilians.” Given the prestige Galula is accorded by enthusiasts of modern COIN doctrine, it is worth parsing his guidance.

First, deploying highly trained U.S. soldiers and marines to Afghanistan to serve as social workers or to manage development projects comes at a very high price. The U.S. government spends about $1 million per year per soldier deployed in Afghanistan. At the height of the surge, Washington had about 100,000 troops in theater, costing about $100 billion annually. Moreover, it was sheer hubris to think that American military personnel without the appropriate language skills and with only a superficial understanding of Afghan culture could, on six- or 12-month tours, somehow deliver to Afghan villages everything asked of them by the COIN manual. The typical 21-year-old marine is hard-pressed to win the heart and mind of his mother-in-law; can he really be expected to do the same with an ethnocentric Pashtun tribal elder?

Second, Galula tempered his enthusiasm for assigning armed forces personnel such a broad range of tasks by stipulating that an army had to perform those tasks only in the early stages of a counterinsurgency campaign, when it was the only actor around with the necessary capabilities and resources to do so. But eventually, he argued, the military should be relieved of civic duties by capable civilian entities. Yet experience has shown that the required civilian capacity will never emerge, because no U.S. government department or agency will make the major investments necessary to develop highly specialized niche skills that would be utilized only briefly and rarely. Nor will Congress authorize additional department or agency funding to encourage such efforts. With no squadrons of civilian cavalry on the horizon in Afghanistan, the U.S. military, with stated reluctance but genuine verve, moved to fill the gaps. Over time, it even arrogated to itself the responsibility for deciding where these gaps existed, and then it methodically developed plans and relentlessly acquired the resources from the Pentagon and Congress needed to take action. Some examples include spending hundreds of millions of dollars on fiscally unsustainable diesel generators to power Kandahar City, paradoxically assigning a U.S. Army brigadier general to mentor Afghan officials on the importance of civilian leadership and the rule of law, and deploying multimillion-dollar female engagement teams without a clear purpose. But these expensive ad hoc efforts, while well intentioned, simply did little to pave the way for the establishment of good Afghan governance and economic prosperity.

Moreover, although reasonably competent at establishing and training foreign military forces — and, to a lesser extent, foreign police forces — the U.S. military has overly optimistic expectations about the timelines required to build healthy local civilian institutions, such as a competent civil service or a functioning justice system. Civilian government organizations require more highly educated work forces than their military counterparts, are often only one component within a complex bureaucracy, and are more susceptible to domestic political interference. The growth rates of organic government and civil society are sociologically constrained, and at some point, adding larger and larger doses of foreign resources and assistance becomes counterproductive.

The risk of senior U.S. commanders’ becoming intellectually arrogant and cognitively rigid is real.

Commentators would occasionally highlight extraordinary “COIN successes,” supposedly achieved by certain uniquely talented U.S. civilian and military officials in parts of Afghanistan, and conclude that the problem was not doctrinal inadequacy but the inadequacy of team members and their leaders. What was needed was many more Lawrences of Arabia. Of course, even a great professional basketball coach must occasionally dream of fielding a team whose players are all clones of Michael Jordan at his prime. However, the coach does not develop a winning strategy based on such flights of fancy. Moreover, T. E. Lawrence specialized in inciting revolts, not in state building. Historically, visionary indigenous leaders backed by native populations have been the key to building viable states — not foreigners serving one-year tours of duty, no matter how passionate and skilled they might be.

Finally, Galula described a path for counterinsurgents to follow but did not specify a destination. Absent clearly defined political goals, a COIN trek might continue for many years at extraordinary expense without ever knowing when and where the journey might end. Diplomats and soldiers both agree that conflicts are concluded only when the warring parties agree to the terms of a political settlement. By contrast, COIN partisans focus on the struggle between insurgents and the host-nation government, with conflict termination achieved principally through insurgent defeat or co-option. But a different theory of conflict resolution is required in Afghanistan, where the principal causes of insecurity arise from the absence of national reconciliation (predating the rise of the Taliban by several decades), coupled with the presence of ineffectual, corrosive governance.

Blindly following COIN doctrine led the U.S. military to fixate on defeating the insurgency while giving short shrift to Afghan politics and hence the political logic of the overarching campaign. U.S. military commanders became obsessed with convincing Commander in Chief Karzai to use his rapidly expanding and staggeringly expensive security forces to defeat the Taliban. However, their main efforts should have focused on helping President Karzai deliver an inclusive peace and Chief Executive Karzai build an adequate state apparatus.

Galula’s writings about counterinsurgency were inspired by his service as a French army captain in the Algerian War from 1956 to 1958. Ultimately, however, France lost. Although Algeria and Afghanistan mark two very different conflicts, they resonate in one important way. It was assumed in both campaigns that a grab bag of “doctrinally sound” military actions would somehow add up to a strategic win. In Algeria, that assumption proved to be erroneous, and a similar outcome appears likely in Afghanistan.


Field Manual 3-24 states that as a counterinsurgency campaign is successfully prosecuted, the “government secures its citizens continuously, sustains and builds legitimacy through effective governance, . . . and can manage and meet the expectations of the nation’s entire population.” Unfortunately, the assumption that robust and well-designed foreign development assistance programs would, over time, yield effective governance and popular legitimacy proved to be a bad one in Afghanistan.

In theory, the president of a democratic republic enters into an implicit contract with the electorate. The president’s administration collects taxes in return for delivering services, such as security, justice, health care, and education. If the value of the benefits received is seen as less than the price charged, the president or his preferred successor will likely be defeated in the next election. Executive accountability and inducements to improve effectiveness are thus built into the political system. This theory, however, does not apply to the Karzai administration in Afghanistan.

The Afghan government collects an extremely low level of revenue (less than ten percent of GDP), and a large share of this comes from customs rather than taxation. In effect, Afghans are not really charged by their government for the services they are provided. Moreover, for the most part, the Afghan government neither funds nor delivers the key public services offered in the country. According to estimates by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, in recent years, the United States and other donors paid for about 90 percent of Afghanistan’s total public expenditures, including funding for the Afghan National Security Forces. In addition, the provision of many key services remains highly dependent on foreign advisers and experts.

In their 1967 book, The United States in Vietnam, George Kahin and John Lewis wrote that “U.S. aid thus provided [South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh] Diem with a degree of financial independence that isolated him from basic economic and political realities and reduced his need to appreciate or respond to his people’s wants and expectations.” Like Diem, Karzai has had little reason to improve his state’s effectiveness or accountability.

Americans tend to see Afghan political institutions as nonexistent or immature and therefore as requiring creation or further development. The traditional power brokers in and allied with the Karzai administration see matters differently. They consistently oppose foreign efforts to create transparent, rule-bound Afghan institutions because such projects threaten to undermine their political domination and economic banditry.

In the absence of an enforceable democratic contract between the ruler and the ruled, the U.S. embassy in Kabul, as an advocate of Afghan government reform, frequently served as the de facto political opposition. Such advocacy, however, found little support among U.S. military commanders, because with some 130,000 NATO-ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) troops on the ground, their top priority was to defeat the Taliban. The military had the resources and the potential leverage to influence and persuade Karzai to make the difficult decisions of state, but its leaders were focused on the tactical battlefield and the development of the Afghan National Security Forces rather than on political and economic reform. Most assumed that good governance would inevitably follow, rather than precede, the defeat of the Taliban insurgents, elections, and generous development assistance.

This erroneous assumption damaged the U.S. war effort in various ways. It created a disjointed civil-military approach, allowing Karzai to operate in the seams, exploit bureaucratic differences, and attempt to pit the embassy against the military command (and often the intelligence agencies). It also damaged U.S. credibility with the Afghan people, who saw Americans less as protectors than as the supporters of the weak and predatory Karzai government (once again replaying the Vietnam dynamic). Ultimately, taking the legitimacy of the Karzai government as a given has even jeopardized the costly U.S.-led efforts to train and equip capable Afghan army and police forces, which, no matter how tactically proficient they might become, can contribute to stability only if they are reliably employed on behalf of a politically legitimate government.


The COIN field manual declares, “U.S. and [host-nation] military commanders and the [host-nation] government together must devise the plan for attacking the insurgents’ strategy and focusing the collective effort to bolster or restore government legitimacy.” Heavily influenced by COIN doctrine, the political-military strategy employed in Afghanistan during the surge (and to a lesser extent in the years prior) did not meet this criterion.

U.S. military commanders diagnosed Afghanistan’s problem as an indigenous insurgency, albeit one made worse by the insurgents’ access to sanctuaries in Pakistan. By contrast, Karzai and many of his compatriots diagnosed the problem as militant extremism, exported from Pakistan but cleverly masquerading itself in local garb. So while U.S. military commanders argued that a long, costly counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan was necessary to decisively defeat al Qaeda in the Central and South Asian region, Karzai consistently held that the so-called insurgency was mostly a “Made in Pakistan” product that Islamabad was forcefully exporting across the border. He had a point.

In late 2001, the world watched in awe as small numbers of U.S. ground forces, operating together with mostly Northern Alliance militias and enabled by twenty-first-century intelligence, communications, and precision strike ordnance, quickly routed the Taliban forces that had dominated Afghan battlefields for some five years. The Taliban regime was dismantled, but it was not destroyed. Aided by Pakistan’s military and intelligence services, the Taliban’s leadership began to reconstitute across the Durand Line, beyond the reach of the American military. In short order, the Taliban soon reestablished influence inside Afghanistan.

The Afghans observed these developments at first with puzzlement, then with frustration, and ultimately with anger. They were initially puzzled as to why the U.S. government and military generally refused to publicly admit for several years that the Afghan Taliban’s center of gravity had shifted from Kabul to Islamabad. They then became frustrated when they realized that the United States would not attack the Afghan Taliban inside Pakistan because of Washington’s worry that violations of Islamabad’s sovereignty would risk more important strategic objectives (such as defeating al Qaeda and preserving stability in a problematic, nuclear-armed power). And finally, they became angry when the costs of counterinsurgency seemed to far exceed the benefits delivered.

As the United States launched the surge, Karzai ever more frequently and publicly made such statements as “Al Qaeda was driven out of Afghanistan in 2001. They have no base in Afghanistan. The war against terrorism is not in Afghan villages and is not in the Afghan countryside.” Still, the southern Afghan countryside was designated ground zero of the counterinsurgency campaign by the U.S. military. Karzai came to regularly protest aerial bombardments of Afghan villages, coalition night raids that violated Afghan homes, detentions of Afghan citizens by international military forces, abuses by armed contractors and local militias paid by and loyal to foreign forces, and the rising tide of inadvertent but inevitable civilian casualties. American commanders always respectfully listened to such complaints and genuinely tried to make amends. Yet they never stepped back and asked whether Karzai’s list of grievances could properly be dealt with in a checklist fashion or if together they were actually symptomatic of strategic divergence. Getting the answer right mattered profoundly.

The irony was considerable. Karzai acquiesced to the surge because it guaranteed further U.S. and international commitment to the still fragile Afghan state, but he did not support its central premise. In a different world, he would have preferred that most of the surge forces be dispatched to Pakistan to attack Afghan Taliban sanctuaries, with perhaps others deployed to accelerate the training of the Afghan National Security Forces. Instead, the vast majority were sent to those locations where Karzai said there was no war on terror to be fought — the Afghan countryside.

Despite the sharply contrasting perspectives, U.S. and other NATO-ISAF forces still managed to perform impressively, usually improving security in their areas of emphasis. Yet as these hard-won tactical wins were chalked up, Karzai seemed both uninterested in and unappreciative of what the COIN advocates took as mounting evidence that all was going according to plan. For his part, Karzai could not have cared less about complex COIN metrics invented by foreign military staffs and think tanks (such as trend lines on the number of attacks with improvised explosive devices being thwarted by tip-offs from Afghan civilians or the number of Afghan army battalions operating at the level called “capability milestone 1”). What mattered to him was achieving the interdependent aims of regaining Afghanistan’s de facto sovereignty, strengthening political legitimacy and control, and bringing peace and stability to his country. In his mind, the American military’s way of war did not appear to bring him closer to any of these goals.

The escalation of the war in 2009 delayed the exercise of real sovereignty, something all Afghans wanted. Over the next two years, the number of American boots on the ground essentially doubled, from about 50,000 to almost 100,000. Nighttime raids and detentions of Afghans by international military forces skyrocketed. Foreign military commanders, their pockets stuffed with cash (COIN disciples emphasize that, properly used, “cash is a weapon”) and accompanied by civilian diplomats and development specialists, were suddenly ubiquitous. Savvy provincial governors, district chiefs, and tribal elders all followed the bank robber Willie Sutton’s maxim and made their way to the NATO-ISAF military headquarters and provincial reconstruction teams because that was where the money was. Karzai’s constant complaint about the international community establishing “parallel government institutions” had merit.

None of this nurtured the growth of organic Afghan governance or politics, nor did it bolster the Karzai administration’s legitimacy. As the noted anthropologist Thomas Barfield has written, “The country’s past suggests that to be successful . . . a ruler will need to convince the Afghans that he will not be beholden to foreigners even as he convinces these very same foreigners to fund his state and its military.” Accordingly, Karzai often criticized the Afghan National Army as being more like indulged American mercenaries than an authentic native force. He frequently berated his technocratic expatriate cabinet ministers and agency heads (whose offices truly were overrun with foreign advisers and mentors) as American spies and lackeys. And he worried greatly that his people would see through the veneer designed by the U.S. military to portray him as a good leader, concluding instead that he was a puppet propped up by an infidel foreign coalition. The more resources the Americans threw into the Afghan cauldron, the more Karzai felt compelled to burnish his own nativist credentials by lashing out at what he decried as pernicious U.S. influence.

A final strategic conundrum was that the surge temporarily increased the importance of the NATO-ISAF logistical supply lines passing through Pakistan, further reducing Washington’s already weak leverage when it came to securing Islamabad’s cooperation in attacking insurgent sanctuaries. So while U.S. military commanders endlessly traveled to Pakistan bravely maintaining the pretense of consulting with “allies in the war on terror,” their troops and the Afghans continued to be hammered by the confederates of these same supposed allies. If Americans were merely confused, observant Afghans were increasingly disillusioned and disheartened.

The United States’ strategy suffered from a serious internal contradiction. Its military claimed to have a winning plan that it pretended was supported by the Afghan head of state and commander in chief. But this was a complete fiction. Karzai disagreed intellectually, politically, and viscerally with the key pillars of the COIN campaign. The result was that while American military commanders tirelessly worked to persuade the Afghan president through factual presentation, deference, and occasional humor that the plan was working, they never seemed to consider that Karzai just might not be on board.

None of this is meant to imply that Karzai’s approach to the conflict was better or worse than that pursued by the American military. Frankly, it is not clear that Karzai even had an alternative in mind. He liked to cast himself as a Gandhi-like figure, desperately trying to defend his people against the twin depredations of a self-serving superpower and a rapacious and extremist Pakistan. He also increasingly used the United States as a convenient scapegoat for his administration’s massive shortcomings in accountability and performance. Ultimately, however, a COIN approach is predicated on the general alignment of the foreign and host nations’ overarching political and military strategies — and this was simply not the case in Afghanistan.

In its implementation of COIN doctrine in Afghanistan, the U.S. military was playing American football, so to speak. It was not at all clear what sport Karzai was playing, or indeed whether he was even in the same stadium as the Americans.


Waging war is serious business, and military commanders must ensure that their critical planning assumptions are based on empirical evidence and probabilities, not simply on hope. This was not done when the Afghan surge was designed in 2009.

“So what?” some might say. Even if the campaign plan was based on faulty assumptions, might not the final result still be an Afghanistan better off than before? That is possible. But while making Afghanistan a better place to live is certainly a noble goal, it is not necessarily a vital U.S. national interest, and the history is still worth revisiting so proper lessons can be learned.

First and foremost, the U.S. experience in Afghanistan should serve as a reminder that war should be waged only in pursuit of clear political goals — ones informed by military advice but decided on by responsible civilian leaders. U.S. military leaders should not necessarily be criticized for devising plans to fill the gaping policy hole they stumbled on years into the Afghan war. But the public marketing of these plans by some of these generals in an effort to enlist support from members of Congress, sympathetic think tanks, and the media should serve as a warning against granting too much deference to military leadership.

Unbounded and unconstrained by civilian authorities, the commanders of the incredibly well-funded U.S. armed forces fixated on a way forward that was breathtakingly expansive and expensive. Citing the logic of COIN doctrine, senior U.S. military leaders insisted that there was no alternative to adopting a full-court press aimed at rapidly and simultaneously improving Afghanistan’s security, governance, judicial system, economy, educational standards, health-care delivery, and more. But as the ancient Chinese military sage Sun-tzu wrote, “There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited.” Even in the case of the United States, the high opportunity costs of these extended spendthrift campaigns matter. From the time he entered office, Obama recognized this fact, and he accordingly limited the deployment time of the surge forces in Afghanistan and subsequently set a date certain for the end of U.S. combat operations there. Still, he faced considerable political opposition in doing so, because he refused to make an open-ended commitment to those military commanders who favored withdrawal only after favorable tactical conditions emerged on the ground.

Second, the war in Afghanistan has demonstrated that for all of the vaunted agility and resourcefulness of the U.S. armed forces, the risk of senior commanders’ becoming intellectually arrogant and cognitively rigid is real. The COIN paradigm was applied with such unquestioning zeal that critical thought was often suspended. Countless commanders’ memorandums detail how their multibillion-dollar discretionary spending appropriations (known as the Commander’s Emergency Response Program) should be put into action across a mind-boggling array of socioeconomic conditions all in order to achieve variously described “COIN effects.” Military commanders elevated the program to the grand macroeconomic level and promoted projects such as the large-scale diesel generator power station in Kandahar in pursuit of these same vaguely defined COIN effects. A program to improve the transparency of U.S. military contracts was unsurprisingly named “COIN contracting.” And so it went, with groupthink becoming the norm.

“COIN” evolved from a noun to an adjective, and its overuse became almost a parody of faithful Red Guards chanting Maoist slogans during the Cultural Revolution. As a former U.S. military commander in Afghanistan who later served as the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, I developed deep appreciation and respect for various embassy civilian department and agency heads who, not wedded to a certain doctrinal framework, would offer analyses that in hindsight were often more sober and realistic than those of their military counterparts. Well-conceived plans are usually an antecedent to operational success, and unquestionably, the U.S. military excels at planning. The assumptions and risk analysis that underpin a plan, however, must be continuously challenged in a dynamic and complex conflict zone, lest commanders find themselves fighting the wrong war. The U.S. military and its civilian masters must find ways to avoid this trap in the future.

Finally, even as the United States relearns the limits of intervention, it should not reject all the techniques and procedures put into practice in Afghanistan and Iraq. Fragile and failing states will continue to endanger U.S. and international security, and the choice of responses is not limited to doing nothing or deploying massive numbers of troops and civilians who must march in lockstep to the beat of Field Manual 3-24. A dispassionate civil-military study comparing the application of COIN doctrine during the surges in Iraq and Afghanistan could be useful in drawing appropriate lessons from these costly ventures.

The many successful efforts of American diplomats, development specialists, and soldiers in the field during the war in Afghanistan should also be duly noted. Americans are creative and innovative people, and these characteristics have been reflected in the work of the military and civilian teams on the ground. Working with great courage and skill, they have devised countless novel, pragmatic, and often inexpensive approaches to a myriad of difficult security, governance, and development challenges. Such rich experience, acquired at great cost and sacrifice, can and should be applied in ways tailored appropriately to future problems of instability in countries and situations that matter.

In sum, the essential task is deciding how to do less with less. It has been said that in Afghanistan, as in Southeast Asia 40 years earlier, the United States, with the best of intentions, unwittingly tried to achieve revolutionary aims through semicolonial means. This is perhaps an overly harsh judgment. And yet the unquestioning use of counterinsurgency doctrine, unless bounded politically, will always take the country in just such a direction. Before the next proposed COIN toss, therefore, Americans should insist on a rigorous and transparent debate about its ends and its means.

Sudan and South Sudan Inch Toward War- Jérôme Tubiana

Posted by admin On October - 9 - 2013 Comments Off


From dawn until dusk, they walked the red-earth path between territory controlled by the government of Sudan to that held by the rebels — small groups of men in jalabiyas, women in colorful clothes, and children on donkeys or their fathers’ shoulders or in baskets on their mothers’ backs. They carried jerricans that were filled with water at the start but were now dry, goats too young to walk, utensils, and weapons — from nineteenth-century swords to rocket-propelled grenade launchers, sometimes both on one shoulder. Among the civilians walked rebel soldiers who were there to protect against depredation by government militias. The travelers’ villages in the Ingessana Hills were four days back down the road and surrounded by government forces. Occasionally, a rebel car would come to pick up stragglers and drive them to the next resting spot. But the very weakest — the oldest, the blind, those too sick to recover — were left behind. The survivors pressed on toward El Fuj, a crossing point at the border between their war-torn homeland, the Blue Nile state in Sudan, and the new nation of South Sudan. It was one or two days farther on.

Sudan’s civil war has often been called Africa’s longest conflict. Its first stage, between 1963 and 1972, pitted rebels from the southern part of Sudan against the central government, which was dominated by a northern Arabized elite. The North granted the South a degree of autonomy in 1972, but it was not enough to paper over years of resentment. The conflict resumed in 1983, with the creation of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). Although the movement had “liberation” in its title, its leader, John Garang, a charismatic southerner, advocated “diversity in unity” rather than the South’s separation. Less appealing in the deeper south, this relatively modest agenda was popular within border regions on the northern side of the eventual Sudan–South Sudan border, including Blue Nile state and the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan.

In 2005, after 20 years of a brutal war, Khartoum and the rebels signed a peace agreement that granted the South (but not Blue Nile or South Kordofan) the right to self-determination. By 2011, most southerners had lost faith in unity and voted for independence. North of the new 1,250-mile border between North and South Sudan, some of the South Kordofan and Blue Nile rebels, now calling themselves the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), vowed to fight on. In June 2011, just after losing local elections and with one month to go before South Sudan’s independence, they once again picked up their guns and war resumed, first in South Kordofan then in Blue Nile. Since then, nearly 200,000 Sudanese civilians have made their way across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan.

For many of them, the idea that they are even crossing a border is a foreign notion. The placement of the new border was supposed to be based on provincial boundaries that existed in 1956, the year of Sudan’s independence. But those boundaries had never stopped moving before or since — sometimes for good reason, such as facilitating the movements of nomads or access to a watercourse. Suddenly transformed into a solid border, though, the 1956 line looks rather arbitrary. Traveling along it, one mostly meets minorities afraid of being more marginalized than ever in what remains of Sudan and nomads scared of losing their grazing rights in South Sudan. As a result, African Union mediators have insisted that the new line become a “soft border,” one that gives rights to people on both sides of the fence: freedom of movement, trade, residence, farming and grazing, or even the right to vote and of dual citizenship. That idea is appealing, but making it work will require much more from both Khartoum and Juba than the current chronic low-grade warfare.

The day before, government planes had dropped four bombs, damaging an empty hospital. Tree limbs were still smoking on the blackened soil around the nearby mosque.


One afternoon in the dry season, I visited Chali, the main village of the Uduk tribe in Blue Nile. By an accident of history, the region was home to some of Sudan’s Christians, converted by American missionaries expelled from Ethiopia by Benito Mussolini in the late 1930s. By the time I got there, the village was largely deserted. The day before, government planes had dropped four bombs, damaging an empty hospital. Tree limbs were still smoking on the blackened soil around the nearby mosque. Built in 1983 with Saudi funding, the beautiful, castlelike brick construction had prompted many Uduk to join the southern, largely Christian, rebellion against Khartoum that was just getting started.

“The mosque is the cause of our problems,” Polis Macha, a local rebel, told me. “We understood they wanted to change our children to Muslims.” He was sitting with his gun in the church — intact, but abandoned — next door to the mosque. Martin Luin, the only one of seven priests who did not leave for refugee camps in South Sudan, was by his side. The Uduk fear that they have no place in a northern Sudan, whose ruling elite, Macha and Luin explained, is increasingly bent on asserting its Muslim and Arab identity. Before South Sudan’s secession, Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, had warned that, should the South obtain independence, there would be “no time to speak of cultural and ethnic diversity.” In the North, he said, “Sharia and Islam will be the main source for the constitution, Islam the official religion, and Arabic the official language.”

The reason for the warning was obvious: After losing a third of its territory (and three quarters of its oil resources), Khartoum would not be ready for further accommodation. Bashir’s threats sparked considerable anxiety not only among Sudan’s few remaining Christians but also millions of non-Arab Muslims, many of whom live in war-torn regions along the border.


One main reason for the deadlock over disputed parts of the border regions is that the governments in Khartoum and Juba are both fragile and wary of turning border people into rebels. An important site in their game is the so-called Mile 14, a territory that was the subject of thorny negotiations in 2012.

In the dry season, Mile 14, which spans 14 miles from north to south and 125 miles east to west, is a mostly empty plain inhabited by sedentary Dinka cattle herders but also grazed by Arab nomads from the North. I drove across the yellow grass until I reached the river the Arabs call Bahr al-Arab, the “river of the Arabs,” and that the Dinka call Kiir. The snaking waterway, edged with lush greenery, is the northernmost permanent watercourse west of the Nile. The steel hulk of a bridge linking both banks still served as a crossing point for northern traders and nomads in spite of the three southern tanks pointing their guns northward. The tanks are an artifact of South Sudan’s late 2010 strategy of arming that disputed part of the border.

When the Rizeigat Arabs, who live in the North, asked Khartoum to respond to what they saw as an invasion of their homeland by southern tanks, they were told to send their camels and armed herdsmen. The command might sound dismissive, but its message was clear: Get ready to “make a war,” as one Arab leader told me. Since then, tensions have intensified, with Rizeigat militias sometimes fighting against forces from South Sudan. The multiplication of cross-border incidents prompted another round of peacemaking between Juba and Khartoum, which, in September 2012, agreed to demilitarize the borderlands, including the whole of Mile 14. After months of dragging its feet, the southern army began to evacuate the disputed zone in March 2013. According to the United Nations, the troops soon came back.

Both sides know that the area will never be demilitarized. Repeated commitments by Juba to stop harboring northern rebels are unlikely to satisfy Khartoum or end rebellions in Sudan. With South Sudanese authorities not fully willing or able to prevent SPLM-N and allied Darfur factions from going back and forth across the new border, Sudanese rebels are at home in the borderlands. They claim to control 40 percent of the invisible line.

Another reason both Khartoum and Juba hesitate to make too many concessions on the border is that both are rightly worried about turning disgruntled people from the borderlands into rebels. As much as the Dinka from the border areas were the vanguard of the SPLM/A during the civil war, Arab tribes such as the Rizeigat formed the bulk of the paramilitary forces used by Khartoum to fight the rebels in South Sudan and later in Darfur. Increasingly feeling they were both manipulated and not adequately rewarded, Arab fighters joined the SPLM/A (several hundred are reportedly still in South Sudanese ranks). Some have now turned up among the northern rebel groups as well.

Another reason both Khartoum and Juba hesitate to make too many concessions on the border is that both are rightly worried about turning disgruntled people from the borderlands into rebels.


It is easy to find anti-Khartoum rebels in the ill-named South Sudanese state of Unity, which borders South Kordofan. The oil-rich province was supposed to symbolize the coexistence of the North and South, but that was a pipe dream. One day, after landing on a plain blackened by bushfires and dotted with oil installations, I drove north toward Unity State’s Jaw area in a vehicle bearing southern license plates but full of northern fighters. They had been caught unprepared by the South’s separation. They had not been into the North for years. At this point, none of them were sure whether they were now southern soldiers or northern rebels.

We reached a checkpoint along the border between Sudan and South Sudan. My guide, a northern rebel, was afraid that the southern soldiers manning the post would climb aboard for the sake of a free lift. “I don’t like them,” he said. “They’re undisciplined. They’re the guys who looted Heglig, for their own profit.” Some 30 miles away, Heglig, an oilfield in Sudan that is still claimed by South Sudan, had been raided by a coalition of the South’s army and northern rebels in April 2012. The same had happened in Jaw in February. Since then, southern and northern combatants were living in nearby camps and bathing together in Lake Jaw. My guide was more at ease at a second checkpoint, a few hundred feet on and intended to mark the northern side of the border, although it was not guarded by Sudanese soldiers but by rebels. My guide hugged them — he was now at home.

For rebels in North Sudan, discussing the border is often painful. People from all sides and all tribes in Sudan resent the separation of the south, seeing it as representing a collective failure to accommodate southerners and “make unity attractive” — a major promise of the 2005 peace agreement. The government in Khartoum and many in the opposition are not ready to lose any other part of their territory. A rebel from the Misseriya Arab tribe told me that he had no doubt that Heglig, his tribal homeland, was part of the north. But he also said disputed areas such as Heglig or nearby Abyei — a flashpoint between North and South Sudan — are supposed to be common to Dinka and Arabs, “who should live there in harmony.”

Our talk was interrupted by a northern Antonov plane, which circled us before dropping eight bombs not far from the road (and supply line) linking South Sudan and the rebel stronghold in the Nuba Mountains nearby, on the northern side of the border. But both the bombs and the Arab rebel suggested the same message: For the border to be peaceful it would need to be soft, as the African Union has insisted. Further talks on how to make it so would have to involve the governments in Khartoum and Juba, northern rebels, and the local people. Why couldn’t a Dinka be a Sudanese citizen and an Arab a South Sudanese? The border might have to be weak in order to survive at all.


Even at the height of the conflict that led to the division of Sudan, peaceful exchanges between border communities never ceased. Throughout the war, Arab nomads such as the Misseriya secretly traded with the rebels in both the south and the north. Some of those suq-al-salam (“peace markets”) still survive today — but barely.

One northern trader, Yahya Mohammed, explained: “We Arabs want to establish good relations to bring our livestock to rebel areas and to South Sudan. So both sides meet in green areas at the border, and their livestock graze together without any problem. We also trade with each other. We used to call the markets suq al-salam, but we prefer suq sambuk.” A sambuk is a small boat migrants use to cross the Red Sea. “Going to these markets is just like navigating a sambuk: You don’t know whether you’ll come back or not. Two months ago, I brought fuel to the market, but government soldiers shot at me and left me for dead. The rebels rescued me.” In April 2012, Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha declared the whole border area “an emergency zone.” He gave orders to the armed forces to shoot anyone smuggling across the border or the frontline with SPLM-N rebels. Yahya told me that when he heard the  “shoot to kill” order, he decided not to go back to the government-controlled area.

It is impossible to build a durable peace between Sudan and South Sudan, and within both countries, through separate piecemeal fixes. By their own acknowledgement, international players, in particular African Union mediators, have focused on the relations between Sudan and South Sudan. After having tried everything possible to prevent or solve new conflicts between the two countries, they increasingly realize that peace will remain fragile as long as both governments remain undermined by internal divisions and conflicts with rebels. Both states should work to re-establish trust with their citizens, in particular in the borderlands. Border communities are aware that they matter; their lands are among the most populated, and their livestock, water, oil, and cross-border trade make them some of the wealthiest people in either country. Nevertheless, they feel abandoned by their governments. In Sudan in particular, an inclusive national dialogue could lead to their empowerment. Recent unrest in Khartoum itself makes this solution more and more popular among Sudanese from all sides and among international players.

Back in war-torn Blue Nile, at the triple border of Sudan, South Sudan, and Ethiopia, a local tribal chief, Uweisa Madi Zima, told me, “We’re not educated people and don’t understand much about politics. But the government that will treat us well will be our father, be it South or North Sudan.”


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