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Middle East New Service: A Godforsaken War

A Godforsaken War

Middle East New Service

[ Middle East New Service Comments: When it comes to wars, guerrilla armies and terrorism, Ephraim Halevy has a reputation of knowing what he is talking about. As former head of the Mossad and most recently head of Israel’s National Security Council he has certainly had plenty of experience. He is not one of the usual suspects – even the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council uses him.

So when he says that the occupying powers are in dire straits, it is time to take notice. Apparently the near surrender situation that he alludes to has received some coverage but it has certainly gone under the radar as far as public awareness is concerned. Only a short item and worthwhile in terms of getting a grip on the situation

-Sol Salbe.]

A Godforsaken War

Western forces prepare for key battle in Afghanistan amid rise in suicide attacks
By Ephraim Halevy

Part 1: Afghanistan
The US attacked Afghanistan at the beginning of 2001. Now, Western forces are expecting a major offensive by the Taliban in the coming spring. During the last two years the Taliban have managed to recover and succeeded in bringing British combat units stationed in the south of the country close to surrender: Only heroic efforts enabled their rescue from a tough siege.

The US is taking preventative measures and is dispatching reinforcements of more than 3,000 troops to join the 27,000 already there. Britain is dispatching an additional 1,500 soldiers to join its 5,000 fighting troops, and they, along with units from other countries, are supposed to win a battle described as crucial.

Research conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, and financed in part by the American Administration, recently warned that without dramatic changes in the coming weeks a breaking point may be reached in 2007.

The outgoing US forces' commander testified before Congress in February and said that a point may be reached where the Afghan government would no longer be relevant to its citizens, and the aspiration to establish a democratic, moderate, sustainable country may be lost forever. Osama bin Laden and his partners would rise from the ruins like a phoenix, and this would constitute the greatest defeat in the war against global Muslim terror.

The fighting on the various fronts also saw a sharp rise in the number of Taliban suicide bombers in the past year. In 2005, 25 suicide attacks were carried out, in 2006 the figures rose to 139, and this year a further rise is expected. Recently the Taliban spokesman announced that 2,000 suicide bombers are ready for action and a similar number are in training.

On February 27th a suicide bomber attacked the main US military base in Afghanistan during Vice President Dick Cheney's visit there. Twenty-three people were killed.

Locals losing faith
The allied forces have nonetheless chalked up a few achievements lately: Targeted killings eliminated some key "rebels," and one of the top four Taliban leaders was captured in the Pakistani city of Quetta; yet these achievements do not change the basic assessment that a victory is more out of reach than ever.

Meanwhile, the local population is losing its faith in the ability of foreign forces and is seeking coexistence arrangements with the Taliban in many locations. The US and Iran, each from its own view point, are observing with growing concern developments perceived as endangering vital interests with strategic dimensions.

Pakistan is maintaining a complex policy replete with contradictions since the outbreak of the war. On the one hand it is a key US ally and is assisting America's campaign against the Taliban, Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. On the other hand, it keeps open channels to terror leaders and has thus succeeded in maintaining a minimal degree of internal cohesion.

Pakistan's collapse in the face of external political pressure is perceived as a viable option and the fate of its nuclear capability is vague. One last reminder: Pakistani centrifuges found their way to North Korea, Libya and Iran, either with or without the knowledge of the Pakistani leadership.

Ephraim Halevy is a former Mossad chief. Read part 2 tomorrow on Ynetnews


[The independent Middle East News Service concentrates on providing alternative information chiefly from Israeli sources. It is sponsored by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the AJDS. These are expressed in its own statements]

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