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18 April 2011


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Very informative, General Ali. Thank you.

If I may, how do you think Pakistan will respond if the US continues drone strikes? And if the US ceases the strikes, how will that affect the ground war in Afghanistan?

The Twisted Genius

Thank you for tying this all together. I only read bits and pieces of these events over the weekend. Now if we would just take the hint and move out of the area in a quiet, orderly fashion, I'm sure the parties involved will figure out a solution... just or otherwise. I strongly believe that CENTCOM desperately desires to maintain occupation forces in their AOR just for the sake of bureaucratic aggrandizement. They've always been jealous of EUCOM's arrangement.


Thank you for your excellent analysis of the current situation Gen. Ali.

I wonder if peace were to break out in Afghanistan, would the military industrial complex and the Israel lobby try and restart the war drums for Iran?

To put it another way, will we see headlines like : "Never mind Afghanistan, Iran is the real problem"?

William R. Cumming

Thanks again General Ali for a great post and summary. I would argue the Arab awakening stems from the self-immolation of the young vendor in Tunisia over 4 months ago and the Japanese event is only 5 weeks old so that explains to some degree the MSM interest and attention span.

Several questions? What significance is there to the new "documentation" of Karzai long being on the Iranian payroll? And what exactly do you think the USA expects to happen in Pakistan and Afghanistan between now and the Presidential election? Can events in those two countries actually influence the election from your point of view? How about the ME and Magregb? How about Iran?

No rush and appreciate your thinking as always. Perhaps Obama should run with Congressman Ken Ellison of Minnesota and have a MUSLIM on the ticket?


FB Ali:

Thank you for your clear, concise appraisal of what's going on over there.

We've been unable to exploit constructively our relationship with Turkey ever since Powell assumed without asking that they would give us the right to insert the 4th Infantry Division into Iraq using Turkish ports and territory.

Turkey has long been an obvious asset to anyone really interested in reaching a political solution to the Middle East conflicts instead of a kinetic one. I hope this one works.

As to the jingoists who will continue to trumpet the need for aggression, I believe that our economic problems are of sufficient magnitude to mute them if not melt outright their swords into ploughshares. We'll see.


Regarding a deal requiring US withdrawal and US difficulty opposing it, I say "great news."

The US never could make a plausible case for its being there in the first place, much less one that entailed any strategic interests.

Instead, let's fund education, health care and Social Security, which do in fact strategic interests--the health, productivity and well being of Americans.

cat man

agree w wrc, ellison would be a great choice to replace biden and of course hilary must go as well, i would consider ralph nader or dennis kucinich. for defense, colin powell might be coaxed out of retirement and we all know what the first order of business will be, i think jimmy carter would be a good mid east peace envoy to bring a lasting peace.
in the mean time obama needs to bring about natanyahu's departure to be replaced by our man livni, she got the most votes in the last election,her people meet us in wa dc somewhat regularly to discuss plans for the orderly as possible transition,
god bless.

FB Ali

I am glad that so many readers have found my post useful. It is this that makes the effort worthwhile.


How do you think Pakistan will respond if the US continues drone strikes?

The drone strikes are essentially an irritant for the Pakistani government and military (though certainly not so for the civilians being killed and injured, and their kin), and Pakistan may not respond because of the impact that would have on the overall relationship with the US. If it did decide to react, the direct method would be for Pakistan to ask the CIA to vacate the airbase in Pakistan from which they are being launched. That wouldn’t necessarily stop the attacks, but it would raise difficult issues of foreign aircraft crossing national borders to launch attacks inside the country.

Cessation of the drone attacks would not materially affect the war in Afghanistan.


Iranian money to Karzai buys some influence, just as US and international money does. (The latter two, having troops in the country, also have other means of exerting influence). I would not read too much into it.

I’m afraid the other questions you raise relate to the US, not my area of expertise.


Gen Ali, thank you for the dispatch. Very informative.

Doesn't this leave Karzai in a position of eventual decline? If the US pulls out of Afghanistan, what is to stop the Taliban from slowly undermining Karzai? The Taliban will certainly have more freedom of movement and will have resources newly freed up from fighting against the US (and they certainly have a conflict-oriented mindset after close to a decade of warfare). By all reports Karzai's government is not very strong outside of Kabul. I don't imagine the Taliban are particularly fond of Karzai. He seems the odd man out, here.

William R. Cumming

Thanks General Ali!


I have never understood how it is that Pakistan thinks that it can "preserve the Afghan insurgency as a viable force in both the current war and the future ‘peace’, in order to influence through them the final outcome of the Afghan conflict" at the very same time that the Americans are trying to eradicate that very same insurgency AND expect to be accepted as a good faith partner. Imagine what relations between Canada and the US might have been during WWII if portions of the Canadian government had been suspected of supporting Vichy elements.

Further, the powers that be in Pakistan seem to have wildly discounted the possible degree of impact of that very insurgency -- on their side of the border -- on the functioning of Pakistani civil and political society.


Taliban seems to be mounting its Spring offensive--inside NATO and Afghan security compounds. "Keeping Taliban supporters out of the country's security forces is increasingly difficult."

Are they sending a message, or what? And, if so, what is it?

NATO incompetence seems to extend an open invitation to attack: "As ISAF prepares to hand security responsibilities to Afghans in some parts of the country this summer, recruiting for the army and police has been accelerated...But there hasn't been any increase in efforts to screen recruits for their political leanings. The only requirements for joining the army or police are that you be 18, an Afghan citizen and have no criminal background. Two government officials are required to confirm those details, but there is no further exam beyond a medical checkup."

At the Virginia Capes

Thank you for your insights into a very complex situation, FB Ali.

The Twisted Genius


Perhaps one of the roadblocks to understanding the situation in this region is our view that the insurgency is a malignant virus that must be eradicated. Brigadier Ali can better explain who these people we call the insurgency really are. Are they Taliban, Pashtun, Al Qaeda or some other combination/mixture? Are they bent on world, regional or local domination or do they prefer to just live their lives their way in their lands? We don't have anything that equates to the tribal areas along the Afghan-Pakistan border. Perhaps the native American tribes and nations in the northeast U.S. during the French and Indian wars may provide an apt analogy. Both situations are comprised of many actors with different goals and motives... not just good guys and bad guys. Brigadier Ali, can you enlighten us?

Dan Gackle

Brigadier Ali:

I read every one of your posts (and comments) with interest. Your perspective is unique among the sources I know of and I have come to regard it as somewhere between valuable and indispensable. Thank you for contributing it.

FB Ali


The relationship between the US and Pakistan is a transactional one, not a partnership. The US gives Pakistan money, and in return Pakistan provides it certain critical support in its Afghan war ‒ mainly, the use of its ports and roads for the lifeline supporting US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and by moving its army into its tribal areas bordering Afghanistan so that the insurgency could not establish a secure base there. For the money it receives, Pakistan did not undertake to become a vassal of the US, nor did it agree to sacrifice its own national and security interests.

Most Pakistanis, including those in the military, believe that the price they have had to pay for this support to the US is not worth the aid they receive. The “insurgency on their own side of the border” that you speak of is a direct result of this support. It is not the Afghan Taliban or al-Qaeda who are attacking Pakistani troops and civilians, but Pakistani insurgents who have taken up arms because of Pakistan’s involvement in the US’s Afghan war. In these operations the Pakistan army has lost about 10,000 soldiers killed and wounded, while thousands of Pakistanis have been killed and wounded in terrorist attacks inside the country. The country’s economy has suffered serious damage because of this war.

Pakistan had hoped that this support it had given the US, and the price it had paid for it, would justify converting the relationship from a transactional one into a genuine partnership, with true reciprocity in considering the other partner’s needs and interests. It found that the US was not interested; all it wanted was a client state that would do its master’s bidding. It seems it is not prepared to continue in such a relationship any longer.

Charlie Wilson

Gen Ali:

My recommendation is that the Paks continue doing what they are doing. There is still a lot of $$$ to be milked out of this cow. Why stop now?


C'mon, now, this Pakistani as victims narrative is way over-drawn. Perhaps if Pakistan wanted a "genuine partnership" with the USA, they could have foregone the wanton killing of numerous US citizens in Bombay/Mumbai (11/26/08). Or, you know, at least not *continue* to let the operational leadership of said "courageous strike" like Hafiz Saeed strut around their "land of the pure" to raise money to kill more people.

William R. Cumming

General Ali! You last comment is correct IMO. FEW in the US political/military leadership want partnership with anyone. They lack the patience, understanding, languages, sensitivity to other cultures to be partners. This is a huge part of the collapse behind US foreign policy and foreign relations. Perhaps it is in part the deep racism in US polity. Tragic for the US and the world.

Brian Cloughley

A precise, concise analysis, as always. The treatment of General Pasha will not be forgotten and is indicative of the arrogant condescension so common in Washington. The Obama administration forgets that if it were not for his country's absurd invasion of Afghanistan there would be no crisis in Pakistan. But Paistanis haven't forgotten it.

clifford kiracofe

Helpful analysis.

These United States have no vital national interest in Afghanistan despite the neo-Mackinder fantasies of the "nation builders", counter-insurgenciers, assorted Belfer Center-Harvard types, Samantha Power, etal.

Obama's mistake was to continue Little Bush's policy and then to escalate. It may be that the president has learned a lesson and/or it may be that his campaign-political types looking at 2012 are taking into account public opinion.

The regional players can sort things out and the analysis above appears to support that. Washington has wasted enough tax payers' money in the game.


The ME wars were ordered by the oil industries but conducted for the expense of the society’s well being: http://news.maars.net/blog/2011/04/19/secret-memos-expose-link-between-oil-firms-and-invasion-of-iraq/


Excellent treatment of "what's happn'en now!" Can I surmise that OBL's existence plays no role in the close-out of the Afg War?

Charles I

surely there are equally or more imperative mission concepts besides bureaucratic aggrandizement, i.e., the ones used to sell the aggrandizer's plans - security, the terrorists, Central Asisn mineral/energy treasure chest, China, Russia, Iran. OH yeah, and women's education. Surely the heroin alone requires a presence, an influence, some participation.

And surely we will need a decade to integrate and train the new Pashtun/Taliban National Forces.

Byron Raum

TamBran, Was the US interested in a strategic partnership with Pakistan on 11/25/08? Can you provide some insights as to how this event significantly changed people's minds, preferably with a 'before' and 'after' picture?

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