Monday, December 31, 2007

Pakistan, 2008: the beckoning abyss

David Seaton's News Links
In common speech, "nightmarish" often means to clearly see what is tragic and dreaded coming and not be able to do anything stop it or to even soften its effects. In nightmares the dreamer sees the unnameable approach, rustling and twittering in the dark of bedroom night and tries to escape, dragging impossibly leaden feet. The relentless pull of gravity toward the object of dread is the stuff of nightmares.

As we enter the inauspicious year of 2008 the situation in Pakistan could be fairly called "nightmarish". We are being daily drawn deeper into a cauldron of molten misery and an abattoir of hemorrhaging violence: a civil war in a country where there are atom bombs and where the men who broke the skyline of New York live and work.

Benazir Bhutto's death, in itself, is not in any way the end of the world. Corrupt and intriguing, she was no Joan of Arc... or the real solution to anything. What is significant about her assassination is the will to chaos that it manifests and the casual ease with which it was carried out. That will to chaos and its clockwork precision of execution is certainly not going to stop at eliminating one politician. In the butchering of Benazir Bhutto we begin to see the tragic and futile waste of lives, political capital and military power of invading and occupying Iraq. Now when they might be needed desperately, that capital, those lives, that power and the will to use them may no longer be at hand.

Because at some point a decision is going to have to be taken... Pakistan with its atomic bombs, home away from home for Osama bin Laden, cannot be allowed to turn into a "failed state"... I use the passive tense "cannot be allowed", but somebody is finally going to have to bell the cat and that cannot be done in the passive tense. If the situation continues to deteriorate, and who imagines it won't, "surgical strikes" and "special forces" are not going to be enough, it would require a multinational force of hundreds of thousands of men to take, occupy and literally smother anarchy and rebuild a collapsed state of many millions of citizens. This would surely require a return to universal military service in both the USA and NATO in order to pull off. At this point I feel I am writing political fiction. After Iraq an effort of such magnitude is unthinkable.

As I write these words, I can feel how even the language necessary to describe the action which may finally be inevitable, may have become impossible to use through the neocon-speak travesty of Iraq. All the sophistries and bad faith used to needlessly invade Iraq and to unjustifiably try to start a war with Iran have emptied the credibility from American speech so that every statement coming from Washington rings with the sinister cynicism of "arbeit macht frei". If someday 9-11 becomes little more than a curious footnote to much greater tragedies, the men and women who gutted the language and credibility of power will be responsible for every drop of blood shed. DS

Al-Qaeda aims at Pakistan's heart - Asia Times
Abstract: Following the killing of Bhutto - considered by her al-Qaeda killers to be an "American asset" - al-Qaeda can be expected to launch more suicide attackers on those considered a part of the United States plan to establish a broad coalition government comprising secular and liberal elements that would change the political and social dynamics of the country and the region. At stake is the very soul of the country and how it should be governed. On the one side are US-backed President Pervez Musharraf and political parties such as Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (now headed by her 19-year-old son Bilawal) and Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League. Against them are al-Qaeda ideologues such as Egyptian scholar Sheikh Essa, who are determined to stamp their vision on the country and its neighbor, Afghanistan. Prior to 2003, the entire al-Qaeda camp in the North Waziristan and South Waziristan tribal areas of Pakistan was convinced that its battle should be fought in Afghanistan against the foreign troops there, and not in Pakistan against its Muslim army. That stance was changed by Sheikh Essa, who had taken up residence in the town of Mir Ali in North Waziristan, where his sermons raised armies of takfiris (those who consider all non-practicing Muslims to be infidels). He was convinced that unless Pakistan became the Taliban's (and al-Qaeda's) strategic depth, the war in Afghanistan could not be won. In a matter of a few years, his ideology has taken hold and all perceived American allies in Pakistan have become prime targets. Local adherents of the takfiri ideology, like Sadiq Noor and Abdul Khaliq, have grown strong and spread the word in North Waziristan. Former members of jihadi outfits such as Jaish-i-Mohammed, Laskhar-i-Toiba and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi have gathered in North Waziristan and declared Sheikh Essa their ideologue. This is the beginning of the new world of takfiriat, reborn in North Waziristan many decades after having first emerged in Egypt in the late 1960s. On the advice of Sheikh Essa, militants have tried several times to assassinate Musharraf, launched attacks on the Pakistani military, and then declared Bhutto a target. This nest of takfiris and their intrigues was on the radar of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the day after Bhutto's killing Sheikh Essa was targeted by CIA Predator drones in his home in North Waziristan. According to Asia Times Online contacts, he survived, but was seriously wounded. Sheikh Essa had only recently recovered from a stroke which had left him bedridden. READ IT ALL

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