Fighting Shadows: Why the U.S. Will Struggle to Defeat the Haqqani Network in Afghanistan

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muhammadmohsinali
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Fighting Shadows: Why the U.S. Will Struggle to Defeat the Haqqani Network in Afghanistan

Post by muhammadmohsinali » Tue Oct 11, 2011 7:04 pm

In recent weeks, there has been a seemingly incessant barrage of NATO press releases coming out of Kabul, announcing the capture or death of commanders within the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network. It would almost make one believe that the war on the Pakistani border is being won against this shadowy militia known for their daring and complex attacks in Kabul over the past few years. But the reality is different.Western attention to the Haqqani network spiked a month ago when the group was blamed for a series of attacks across Kabul, the most severe of which had RPGs landing inside the heavily fortified U.S. embassy and only ended after a 20-hour gun battle. Then a week later, the group used a bomb hidden in an insurgent's turban to assassinate former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, head of the High Peace Council, the commission charged with negotiating with the Taliban. (See pictures of the attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul.)With Osama bin Laden dead and al-Qaeda on the wane, the Haqqani network has offered the U.S. a new bogeyman in Afghanistan. Like bin Laden, it too is also based in Pakistan — a point emphasized late last month when Admiral Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress that the Haqqani network is a "veritable arm" of Pakistan's Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). After Rabbani's assassination, both Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the U.S. are ratcheting up pressure on the network as well as Pakistan, but many see these as ill-conceived or ineffectual efforts by an occupying power whose time is running out in Afghanistan.Over the past year the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has said it has carried out more than 500 operations against the Haqqani network. On Sept. 30, ISAF announced what it touted as a major coup: the capture of Haji Mali Khan, whom it described as "the senior Haqqani commander in Afghanistan" and uncle of Siraj and Badruddin Haqqani, the day-to-day commanders of the fighting force and the sons of Jalaluddin Haqqani, the patriarch of the family and a former commander of a mujahedin force funded by the CIA during the war with the Soviets. ISAF says Khan "moved forces from Pakistan to Afghanistan to conduct terrorist activity," "served as an emissary" between the group and the Pakistani Taliban and "established a militant camp" inside Afghanistan along the border.But Thomas Ruttig, a co-founder of the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) and expert on the Haqqani network, thinks ISAF may be crowing over very little — and still has a lot of work to do. "Mali Khan has not been one of the top five Haqqani network commanders. His name was not widely known, and he was more of local importance. In the news of his capture, I see more of an attempt to project progress in the fight against this Taliban network, as we saw a few years ago in the fight against al-Qaeda, when a number of previously unknown number fours and fives were discovered and killed or captured," says Ruttig. (See pictures of a medevac in Afghanistan.)Regardless of Khan's true importance, ISAF increased the frequency of its Haqqani-focused missions fourfold after his capture and claim almost every day that they are bringing down network leaders. "The Haqqani network and its safe havens remain a top priority for the Afghan and coalition force," ISAF said in a statement, adding that so far they had killed 20 leaders and captured more than 1,400 insurgents since the start of this year.But Afghan army and police commanders on the ground in Khost, Paktia and Paktika provinces, the core of the network's territory on the Afghan side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, have a different view. "Our police are looking for Haqqani and Taliban fighters everyday in different districts, but right now we are unable to stop the Haqqani group from crossing the border. If they come during the night, we aren't able to stop them because we don't have an air force, night vision and we lack training and high-quality weapons," says Colonel Almar Khan, a border police commander in Paktia province, part of the Haqqani heartland.General Orya Khail, a corps commander in Khost province, says the number of Haqqani fighters on the border is "increasing day by day." Asked if Afghan security forces should go into Pakistan to root out the Taliban in their bases, he tells TIME, "We can't even ensure security in our own country, how we can go into Pakistan to clear the area? Look at our provinces: in Logar we can't go to the villages although Logar is the closest province to Kabul. Now it's not advantageous for Afghanistan to fight on the border. We should take care of our local problems first. The main challenges are corruption and strengthening the army and other security forces."On the political side, the situation is no easier. Repeated allegations by the Afghan and U.S. governments that the Haqqani network is supported by Pakistan's ISI were somewhat corroborated last week, when Lutfullah Mashal, the spokesman for the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan's version of the FBI, announced that evidence gleaned from the capture of an insurgent shows that the plans to assassinate Rabbani were drawn in Quetta, Pakistan. "Photos, maps and videos showed that it was planned in Quetta," Mashal tells TIME. As a result, Karzai pulled out of tripartite talks between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the U.S. scheduled for this week. (See pictures of the British Council attack in Kabul.)But Ruttig, of the AAN, says, "It is difficult to prove that the ISI is behind, or advises in, particular operations of the Haqqani network, or, for that matter, other Taliban subgroups or other terrorist organizations. Often, reports about the Haqqani network or other organizations' involvement in certain attacks remain unclear. This is still the case in the latest attacks." For what it's worth, both the Pakistani and Taliban spokesmen have denied that links exist between the ISI and the Haqqani network. At the same time, Zabiullah Mujahid, a well-known Taliban spokesman, tells TIME, "Siraj Haqqani is one of the best commanders and mujahid of the Afghan people, and he is with us." Though relations between the Taliban and the Haqqani network have never been completely clear, Mujahid says recent overtures made by the Karzai government to bring Siraj Haqqani into the government have failed: "Yes, a few days ago as always, the government told Siraj Haqqani to come to the government and he would be given a high ranking position, but they got a negative answer back."Now, ever fragile relations between the current government in Kabul and the Pakistanis are at a low ebb. Deputy National Security Adviser Shaida Mohammad Abdali told the Wall Street Journal: "From now on Afghanistan will follow the 'trust but verify' approach toward Pakistan, in particular with regard to our peace effort." Karzai himself said that Kabul could no longer negotiate with the Taliban, and the only viable negotiating partner is Pakistan, a provocative declaration dismissed by Islamabad, which would not have been pleased by Karzai's visit last week to India (an archenemy in the minds of many Pakistani strategists), during which he signed a strategic cooperation deal with New Delhi.Despite the ramped-up military pressure on the Haqqani network and diplomatic pressure on Pakistan, Mashal of the the NDS believes Kabul will see more spectacular attacks like those the group has been accused recently of carrying out. "We do predict more terrorist attacks, but they won't be successful. We are capable of stopping them, God willing." But they have not been in the past.


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Re: Fighting Shadows: Why the U.S. Will Struggle to Defeat the Haqqani Network in Afghanistan

Post by mjahanzaibzia » Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:51 pm

Why the U.S. Will Struggle to Defeat the Haqqani Network in Afghanistan??? ......Just beacause U.S claims that Usama has died & they have a solid reason to remain in Afghanistan & to keep an eye on Pakistan & its neighbour countries.......Thats Why!!....
:: J ahanzaib Z ia

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