Friday, March 14, 2008

The latest on the Middle East

To get a deeper understanding of the Middle East and its relationship to the West, sign up for Scott Powell's Islamist Entanglement lecture series. But in the meanwhile there's the inimitable Caroline Glick. Her latest column is up on her website. Here's a long excerpt:
In a radio interview this week, Michael Leiter, the director of the US National Counter-Terrorism Center, noted that al-Qaida today is stronger than it was two years ago. This development, he explained, is a consequence of Musharraf's decision to sign peace accords with the Taliban in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the Afghan border.

The first agreements in North and South Waziristan were signed in September 2006. They involved the removal of Pakistani military forces from the areas, and the release of 2,500 Taliban and al-Qaida prisoners from Pakistani prisons.

The Waziristan accords made the area the Taliban's and al-Qaida's first safe haven since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. Freed from the need to defend themselves against the Pakistani army, al-Qaida and the Taliban immediately turned their attention to Afghanistan. Within weeks of the signing ceremony, cross-border raids from Pakistan tripled.

And so began a devastating calculus. Systematic breaches of the accords by the Taliban were ignored. But any anti-Taliban operations launched by Pakistan or US forces in Waziristan or anywhere else in Pakistan were met with massive brutality.

Speaking to CNN recently, Michael McConnell, the Director of US National Intelligence, concurred with Leiter's dim assessment. McConnell noted that from its safe havens in Pakistan, al-Qaida has reconstituted itself as the central command post for global jihad. "They have the leadership that they had before. They've rebuilt the middle-management and the trainers. And they're recruiting very vigorously," he said.

These American acknowledgments of the consequences of Musharraf's "peace process" with the Taliban come rather late in the game. When he first signed the accords, Musharraf pretended that the Taliban were not involved, claiming that the accords were with "tribal leaders."

Musharraf's statements were obvious lies, and yet the US decided to pretend along with him. In September 2006, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, "The [Waziristan] agreement really has potential to work... Talibanization will not be allowed in the area of or in the cities near the tribal region."

The State Department had no excuse for believing Musharraf because by the time Boucher made the statement, Musharraf had already released the 2,500 al-Qaida and Taliban prisoners.

But American praise for the agreement didn't end with Boucher. President George W. Bush also endorsed it.
Well, at least it's nice to know our President knows what side to be on. I suppose as long as we stand by our "allies" nothing can go wrong. Read the whole thing.

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