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on Patterns of Global Terrorism for 2002
US State Department's Report on Patterns of Global Terrorism for 2001
IRAQ: QUAGMIRE LOOMING? The Iraq "jihad" appears to have captured the imagination of thousands of young Muslims around the world, many of whom have had no previous connection with Al-Qaeda or other jihadi networks. The New York Times reports that hundreds of young Muslims are making their way from Europe to Iraq, in order to fight the U.S.
The downing of a U.S. Chinook helicopter over Fallujah last weekend created just the sort of "Black Hawk Down" imagery the Bush administration has worked hard to avoid in Iraq -- 16 American soldiers killed in a single dramatic incident, while the locals stand around cheering. And as dramatic as it was, that incident was simply one of an average of 30 attacks endured by U.S. forces every day, highlighting the fact that whatever progress is being made on reconstruction in the south and north, the security situation in and around the capital is deteriorating. And that leaves the administration in a quandary: President Bush has vowed to stay and fight, aides citing the argument that to cut and run would not only hand a victory to terrorists, but by doing so it would also encourage more terror attacks on the U.S. Unfortunately, however, the reverse may also be true -- that the continued U.S. occupation of Iraq will generate more resistance and terrorism. Staying put requires escalating the fight against the insurgency, and that requires more troops. Right now, Washington is hoping that it can find Iraqis to fill the void, with some U.S. commanders even suggesting that U.S. viceroy Paul Bremer's order disbanding the Iraqi army be reversed. Bremer is now also talking about accelerating the transfer of political authority to Iraqis. With a tough reelection fight looming, Iraq suddenly appears to be not the jewel in the crown once imagined by his political handlers, but a growing liability for President Bush.
(Washington Post, November 3, 2003)
The Guardian reports that coalition aircraft have been targeted by surface-to-air missiles at least 30 times over the past six months, which is one reason Baghdad's international airport has not been reopened. These and other sophisticated weapons are widely available amid the chaos of postwar Iraq. While the U.S. has collected some 300 SAMs by offering a $500 reward for each, the missiles are reported to fetch up to $5,000 when sold clandestinely.
Still, writes Syed Saleem Shahzad in Asia Times, most of the would-be 'foreign fighters' are captured en route, and the actual number of foreign jihadis in Iraq may be no higher than no 250.
The Sydney Morning Herald's Paul McGeogh writes that the escalating insurgency in Iraq reflects an intelligence failure by U.S. forces on the ground, and argues that the fact that Iraqis are not pointing the U.S. to the insurgents is a sign that they have not accepted the occupation.
The Christian Science Monitor suggests that maintaining U.S. public support for the occupation effort requires that the administration show progress in handing the reins of power to Iraqis.
Brookings scholar Michael O'Hanlon recently testified to Congress that the U.S. counterinsurgency effort in Iraq is going well, all things considered . Even if the casualties continue at current levels, he argues, they will be considered acceptable if the U.S. achieves its reconstruction goals.
The endpoint in Iraq may not be quite as the neo-conservatives imagined it, according to Noah Feldman, the constitutional scholar appointed by Bremer as consultant to the Iraqi constitution-making process. Feldman tells the Telegraph that "any democratically elected Iraqi government is unlikely to be secular, and unlikely to be pro-Israel. And frankly, moderately unlikely to be pro-American."
The Center for Defense Intelligence warns that little consensus exists over how to resolve the security and political crises in Iraq. For some, accelerated elections are the answer; others fear that holding an early election will almost certainly ensure victory for the most radical faction of Iraq's Shiites, led by Moqtada al-Sadr.
As Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld put it in his recently leaked memo, "the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog."
FALLUJAH: TOUGH TOWN The violent standoff is likely to continue, however. The New York Times reports that U.S. forces aren't about to let the insurgents take control of town.
Fallujah's reputation as the epicenter of resistance to U.S. forces will have certainly been enhanced by last weekend's action, but even before the hardscrabble town west of Baghdad was frequently cited by insurgents as the example they are seeking to emulate. The town's response to the U.S. forces is shaped by a combination of loyalties - Baathist, Islamist, tribal. And, of course, some generous bounties on U.S. vehicles and aircraft paid by the insurgents' paymasters.
(Guardian, November 3, 2003)
The Washington Post goes inside Fallujah and finds a town that can't be tamed. The insurgency has hampered reconstruction, and counterinsurgency efforts have generated anger that has reinforced the insurgency.
TEMPTING FATE WITH THE SHIITES
Iraq's Shiite population has, for the most part, remained on the sidelines in the course of the current insurgency, their leaders counseling patience even as they urge the U.S. to hasten the end of its occupation. But one faction contending for supremacy among the Shiites, the followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, have made confrontation with the U.S. the centerpiece of their militant challenge. Sadrist activity has mostly stopped short of violent confrontation, but their followers are increasingly clashing with U.S. forces in protests and other actions. Now, says the Washington Post's David Ignatius, the U.S. has decided to go after the Sadrist movement and close it down as a threat. That strategy has some U.S. commanders on the ground worried, says Ignatius, because it carries the risk of inflaming the relatively tranquil south.
(Washington Post, October 31, 2003)
The uncertainty prevalent in postwar Iraq, the legacy of Shiite suffering and the ongoing U.S. occupation have made many Shiite Iraqis to turn Moqtada.
DOES THE U.S. HAVE ENOUGH TROOPS? Former Ambassador James Dobbins, in a RAND study, reviews the history of U.S. nation-building efforts and offers some tentative conclusions for Iraq: At minimum, it will require a seven-year commitment, and the number of casualties suffered by the U.S. will be in inverse proportion to the number of troops sent by the U.S. He also underlines the importance of a multilateral approach, particularly of drawing in the countries neighboring the one under reconstruction.
Edward Luttwak suggests that the U.S. lacks sufficient numbers of troops to pacify Iraq. He notes that the ratio of support troops to combat troops, and the requirements of sleep and food mean that at any one time there are only 28,000 soldiers available to patrol Iraq. New York City, he points out, has 39,000 policemen. And he suggests that the Iraqi forces the Bush administration is hoping will carry the additional load are not up to the task.
(New York Times, November 4, 2003)
A Congressional Budget Office study finds that even in the optimistic scenario in which U.S. troop levels in Iraq are halved by 2005, and all troops were gone by 2008, mission will cost the U.S. a further $85 billion. Less optimistic scenarios see substantial increases on that figure.
AP reports that the U.S. will almost certainly have to send more reservists to Iraq next year, because Turkey has made clear it will not send troops to Iraq unless invited by the Iraqi Governing Council, which has made clear that it wants no troops from neighboring countries in Iraq.
Suggestions that the old Iraqi army be revived have been shot down by Coalition Provisional Authority leaders. Ambassador Bremer's decision to summarily disband the Iraqi regular army last June has been widely criticized.
WHAT SADDAM WAS THINKING
Following the failure of the coalition to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq six months after taking control raises the question of why, if he had no such weapons, did Saddam Hussein court disaster in his handling of the international community before the war. Interrogations of leading members of Saddam's regime, including former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, suggest the Iraqi dictator was engaged in an elaborate game of deception, in which he wanted his enemies to overestimate his capability. The only area in which Iraq consciously violated UN arms restrictions, they say, was in pursuing missiles with a range greater than 150km. And ahead of the war, Saddam believed -- on the basis of tips from French and Russian contacts -- that there would be no invasion, and later that the U.S. would bomb Iraq but refrain from launching a full-blown ground invasion.
(Washington Post, November 2, 2003)
AFGHANISTAN'S 'ISLAMIC' CONSTITUTION FACES SECURITY CHALLENGE The Independent reports that the resurgent opium-poppy industry is financing feuding armies across Afghanistan.
Political stability is the key to allowing a U.S. exit from Afghanistan, and the government of President Hamid Karzai took an important step in that direction this week when it unveiled a draft constitution for approval by the "Loya Jirga" assembly. The constitution defines Afghanistan as an "Islamic Republic," requiring that no law shall contradict the principles of the religion -- at the same time as upholding freedom of religion. But whether or not elections planned for next year can go ahead will depend on the security situation. And outside the capital, that remains perilous.
(The Economist, November 4, 2003)
The Guardian reports that while the battle lines in the south are clear -- the U.S. and its allies vs. the resurgent Taliban -- in the north, three different U.S.-aligned warlords are fighting among themselves.
PRESIDENTIAL PUTSCH CLOUDS SRI LANKA PEACE PROSPECTS
Sri Lanka's President Chandrika Kumaratunga went to unusual lengths to signal her displeasure at the direction of the peace process being negotiated between her government and the Tamil Tiger rebels: On Tuesday, she suspended parliament, sacked three key ministers, sent troops to secure major facilities in the capital and declared a state of emergency. Kumaratunga is unhappy at the peace plan being pursued by her rival, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was in Washington meeting with the Bush administration at the time. The President reportedly fears that the government will offer concessions to the Tigers that she finds unacceptable -- the insurgents are demanding that the Tamil areas of northern Sri Lanka be governed as autonomous region. But observers fear her action may have scuppered the negotiation and set the stage for a resumption of the three-decade old civil war.
(BBC, November 5, 2003)
The Economist suggests that while the Tigers commitment to peace was open to question, Kumaratunga's action makes it unlikely their commitment will be tested.
OIL TYCOON'S ARREST SPLITS THE KREMLIN Andrew Meier, author of "Black Earth: A Journey Through Russia After the Fall" sees the Khodorkovsky arrest as the first salvo of Putin's reelection campaign. By going after those deemed to have improperly enriched themselves in a Faustian pact with Boris Yeltsin, Putin's henchmen are playing to Russian popular sentiment. But the consequences could come back to haunt their boss.
Reactions to the arrest of Yuko CEO Mikhail Khodorkhovsky suggest there are two clear factions in the administration of President Vladimir Putin, and the pro-business faction has clearly lost out to the secret policemen. Less clear is whether the arrest is simply a play to public sentiments ahead of the next presidential election -- the Russian electorate, after all, has little affection for "oligarchs" such as Khodorkhovsky, much of whose wealth was accumulated under questionable circumstances during the Yeltzin era. Besides his forays into opposition politics that irritated the Kremlin, Khodorkovsky also represented a uniquely independent actor in a sector that may be Russia's most important strategic asset.
(The Economist, November 3, 2003)
Speaking to the Center for Defense Information, Russian analyst Nikolai Zlobin suggests that
the West has not yet established the power configuration behind Putin. The campaign against Yukos has further muddied the water.
THREE GORGES DAM NOW A REALITY
The waters have risen, turning farmers into boatmen and leaving whole towns submerged. China's epic Three Gorges Dam, which many had warned would be a social and ecological disaster, is now a reality. The Guardian's Jonathan Watts went to investigate its impact, and found that the change had made more people happy than unhappy. But, he warns, it could still go horribly wrong.
(The Guardian, November 1, 2003)
While the Bush administration today approaches its relations with Southeast Asia through the prism of security concerns, China is engaging the region on its economic concerns. And right now, it's Beijing that's talking the language Asia wants to hear, warns Evelyn Goh.
SHARON'S GAME OF BLUFF New Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei is hoping to renew the "hudna" cease-fire that his predecessor, Mahmoud Abbas, negotiated with Hamas and other radical groups. In a wide-ranging BBC interview, Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin suggests his movement is ready for another truce. But he also suggests Hamas's struggle now is not simply confined to challenging Israel's occupation of Palestinian land, but also to what he calls the Bush administration's "crusader war" on terrorism.
Under mounting domestic pressure for his failure to quell the Palestinian uprising or to pursue a political solution to the conflict, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has lately begun talking, again, of new diplomatic possibilities. But Zeev Schiff, the dean of correspondents in the Israeli media, says Sharon's statements and the occasional symbolic gesture are designed to deflect attention away from the reality that he is deepening Israel's occupation of the West Bank, and making it more intractable.
(Haaretz, October 31, 2003)
One reason for the pressure on Sharon is the recent statement by the chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Force, General Moshe Yaalon, that Israel's collective punishment of the Palestinians was breeding more terrorists, and imperiling its own long-term interests.
An orchestrated society
NORTH KOREA AFTER
THE 'DEAR LEADER'
Most of the discussion over North Korea today concerns managing its nuclear proliferation threat, and calls for "regime-change" in Pyongyang are confined mostly to the hawkish circles of the neo-conservatives. But the regime of "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-il will collapse sooner or later, under the weight of its own economic stasis. And Korea analysts Kongdan Oh and Ralph C. Hassig have produced a chilling study of the likely fallout from such a collapse. The possibility of a mass influx of starving and desperate refugees into China or South Korea is already well-known. But the task of rehabilitating a society of 22 million people with negligible resources and a centuries-old tradition of absolutist authoritarian rule is a monumental one. Currently, some one third of the population is in the active-duty military or on reserve, and the military will likely be relied upon to maintain order even after the regime collapses. Once the regime goes, however, North Korea's destiny inevitably involves reunification with South Korea. And that would involve absorbing 22 million deeply impoverished citizens with no cultural grounding in the ways of a market-based economy and a democratic polity. If absorbing East Germany created a drag on the West German economy that has lasted more than a decade, the impact on South Korea of absorbing the north could be far more extreme. Oh and Hassig conclude: "The magnitude of the challenge explains why none of North Korea's neighbors, much as they dislike the Kim regime, is eager to see it overthrown."
(Foreign Policy, November/December, 2003)
Security Policy Working Group
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