CIA to Pakistan: ISI works for the enemy

posted at 7:49 am on July 30, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

The CIA briefed senior Pakistani officials this month on the connections between radical Islamist terrorists in the Taliban and al-Qaeda and Pakistan’s own intelligence service.  While Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani still publicly refutes the charge, the US showed evidence that, at the least, rogue elements within the ISI have maintained ties to the movement they helped install in Afghanistan after the Soviets retreated:

A top Central Intelligence Agency official traveled secretly to Islamabad this month to confront Pakistan’s most senior officials with new information about ties between the country’s powerful spy service and militants operating in Pakistan’s tribal areas, according to American military and intelligence officials.

The C.I.A. emissary presented evidence showing that members of the spy service had deepened their ties with some militant groups that were responsible for a surge of violence in Afghanistan, possibly including the suicide bombing this month of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, the officials said.

The decision to confront Pakistan with what the officials described as a new C.I.A. assessment of the spy service’s activities seemed to be the bluntest American warning to Pakistan since shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks about the ties between the spy service and Islamic militants.

The C.I.A. assessment specifically points to links between members of the spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, and the militant network led by Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani, which American officials believe maintains close ties to senior figures of Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

The CIA hasn’t yet determined how deep the penetration has been within the ISI.  Certainly, no one would be terribly surprised to find it significant.  The ISI has always sympathized with the Taliban, if not al-Qaeda, and seen the radical Islamists as a partner.  At one time, the entire Pakistani government felt the same way.  Both Benazir Bhutto and Pervez Musharraf had supported the Taliban movement at various times, and Musharraf only severed his connections after 9/11.

This appears to be a warning from the CIA and the Bush administration to the Pakistanis.  The US has made no secret of its impatience with the Gilani government over their appeasement strategy with the terrorists.  The Haqqani network has grown more sophisticated and dangerous, and NATO wants an end to their activities in Afghanistan.   The US believes they operate successfully because of ISI assistance and want the Pakistanis to put an end to it.

That’s easier said than done.  The new civilian government tried to bring ISI under their control, but the military and the ISI stopped that attempt last weekend, as the Times notes.  Without Musharraf’s strong authoritarian power and will, the ISI has grown more independent and more dangerous than before.

The army has announced a new operation in Swat today, in which they have ended a peace deal that never took hold.  The Pakistanis want to show that they’re taking action, but the hit-and-miss nature of the operations suggests that they’re more interested in playing favorites among the competing terrorist groups than in eliminating terrorists altogether.  That may or may not start with the ISI, but at least the message looks clear from the CIA: clean up your own house, or we’ll clean it for you.


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… the message looks clear from the CIA: clean up your own house, or we’ll clean it for you.

… in the form of a Hellfire missile.

This is another ‘Gee, ya think?’ moment. I’m glad to hear that the CIA has finally came out and said it.

Tony737 on July 30, 2008 at 8:19 AM

Ed,

To quote what one of the Americans said,
It is like deja vu all over again.
This is not the first time that CIA has passed incriminating evidence against ISI. Nothing is going to happen this time either.
One (perhaps) misconception is that ISI is a rogue outfit in Land of pure.I am afraid that is not true. ISI is very much part of establishment, and this establishment straddles a fragile society.
Pakistani society is one in constant identity crisis.It is a schizophrenic nation.

Gaurav on July 30, 2008 at 8:36 AM

What does the strongeat nation in the history of earth say to a third word nation with nuclear weapons? We sure have had plenty of time to think about it. I’m wondering how we are going to mess this up.

volsense on July 30, 2008 at 8:37 AM

One of the sad things about Pakistan is that since Partitition political leaders have carved out fiefdoms all across the country, to the point that a Prime Minister or President who hails from Sindh basically has no authority in Quetta or Lahore. Pakistan has over a hundred political parties, each owing allegiance not to Pakistan but to whomever the leader of their party is at any given point in time.

The ISI in general suffers this same problem.

ISI’s “authority” as a national inter-services agency is limited in some districts by party membership of certain regional chiefs or whomever holds political power in any particular region. It never has been a national intelligence agency since its inception. Thus an order from Islamabad to all ISI offices is typically ignored depending on who gave the order or who is the current PM or President. Tribal loyalties and political party loyalties are more important than loyalty to a national government. It has always been this way.

Actually, obtaining ISI cooperation [in limited form] in Karachi, for example, can be fairly easy, but the same cannot be said if one travels up the road to Quetta or Lahore. It’d be like the FBI in DC issuing a national criminal directive to all FBI field offices and having only those who were of the same party, or religion, or family of the FBI official in DC who issued the directive complying and all other FBI field offices not having to listen at all. No way to run a national security agency…here…nor in Pakistan.

With the apparent “calm” of the new Giliani government bringing an end to the chaos of last year, Gilani needs to be impressed with the notion that his own survival, let alone that of Pakistan, hinges on bringing the ISI on board as an apolitical organization dedicated to the national government…or, perhaps a total disbandment of the ISI completely.

The only “law and order” in the Northwest Tribal Regions for years has been ISI influence. Unfortunately, this influence is in turn influenced by the local loyalties of the tribal leaders, hence ISI’s initial use of the tribal regions to arm and support the Taliban going unchecked for over a decade.

Got to give the Administration credit for this one, and especially whomever at the Agency who put this together. It has taken too long for the Pakistani government to be made aware of the elephant in the living room.

Gilani has to act or the ISI will depose him. Gilani needs to act soon, and bring the Pakistani Armed Forces along with him, to counter the ISI all across Pakistan. Going after terrorists is presently secondary to the survival of the nascent Gilani government. At least Musharraf had no problem with the loyalty of the Pakistani Armed Forces. Gilani has a tough row to hoe in front of him. As does Pakistan, if Pakistan wants to be taken seriosuly as a modern secular state in a growing modernized South Asia.

coldwarrior on July 30, 2008 at 8:41 AM

The ISI has long held an unsettling amount of authority in Pakistan. The question that leaps to mind is “Just how much power do they hold in the government?” and this leads to “How sure are we that the wrong hands don’t already have access to the Pakistani nukes?”

The military has kept the peace in Pakistan for a good while now, but the pot has been simmering for a long time.

Musharraf had some measure of success in keeping the lid on the pot, but recent events lead me to think that the extremist elements are less afraid now to turn up the heat.

I fear for the percentage of Pakistanis who are modernistic and pro-Western in their thinking. It is a poisonous atmosphere for modernity and moderation, and one in which the radical Islamists find opportunity.

hillbillyjim on July 30, 2008 at 8:45 AM

falling on deaf ears

ej_pez on July 30, 2008 at 8:46 AM

possibly including the suicide bombing this month of the Indian Embassy in Kabul

This is very serious if we have proof of ISI’s direct involvement!

luckybogey on July 30, 2008 at 8:52 AM

coldwarrior on July 30, 2008 at 8:41 AM

Excellent post, coldwarrior.

Is the Pakistani military structure as factionalized as the ISI?

hillbillyjim on July 30, 2008 at 8:55 AM

As factionalized as the ISI?

Perhaps not so much, from what I have seen over the years, but factionalized nevertheless, but for different reasons than the ISI.

Not so much along tribal or family or even party lines, but along service lines. The Air Force, especially the fighter jocks are at the top of the heap, followed by Army commando/paratroop units (jump wings are a prominent and treasured uniform insignia) and so on down to Army infantry units and Navy elements. A great number of Pakistani officers have trained at Sandhurst, or even at Fort Benning or Fort Leavenworth, and a great number of Air Force officers have trained here in the States. There is a huge cultural chasm however between these and the line troops, perhaps a lot worse than it was under the British.

Untrained, or poorly trained, mostly illiterate, soldiers being ordered into operations against “terrorists” by officers sitting comfortably in Islamabad is no way to build or maintain an effective national defense force. The common soldiers in general are looked down upon by the Pakistani population at large. No Pakistani businessman or educated Pakistani wants his kid to be in the Army…socially disgraceful…save for those who are fighter pilots.

Yet, in times of internal danger, it is the Pakistani military that is often the only thing holding the country together. A national leader, such as a Gilani, who fails to see this need for an educated, modern defense force, or who disparages the military, soon finds himself tossed out of office, or worse. At the same time, a leader who has the sworn loyalty of the armed forces can easily be in a position to threaten the entire political fabric of the nation.

There is no “Pakistani.” There are a number of tribal, ethnic and family groups lumped together into an artificial construct we know as Pakistan. The only outfit in the nation that can actually be called “Pakistani” is the armed services.

The recurring Pakistani desire for F-16′s, for example, is not so much a threat to India, from the Pakistani point of view, but a necessity to keep the corporate ladder of the Pakistani armed forces vibrant. Take away a modern Air Force with modern equipment, and the whole shebang crumbles into nothing more than armed thugs, who will cut their loyalties to a national government, a national entity, and tribalism will return with a vengeance.

coldwarrior on July 30, 2008 at 9:30 AM

The recurring Pakistani desire for F-16’s, for example, is not so much a threat to India, from the Pakistani point of view, but a necessity to keep the corporate ladder of the Pakistani armed forces vibrant. Take away a modern Air Force with modern equipment, and the whole shebang crumbles into nothing more than armed thugs, who will cut their loyalties to a national government, a national entity, and tribalism will return with a vengeance.

coldwarrior on July 30, 2008 at 9:30 AM

I agree more or less with coldwarrior, though I must add a (minor) point of my own. There is a (small) middle class in Pakistan which is Pakistani in the sense it is more connected to idea of Pakistan than narrow parochial or tribal identity. But even to this the identity of Pakistan is a mystery, one which I am afraid can not be solved.

Gaurav on July 30, 2008 at 9:34 AM

Gaurav, the tragedy that is brewing is that that small middle class in Pakistan of which you speak is migrating out of Pakistan, once to the UK, but today largely to the US. The reception received in UK has convinced most of the educated small middle class that coming to America is the only logical choice to make if they want their kids to be educated and enabled to make the best for themselves. So, this middle class will remain small, or diminished, leaving the elites (the Bhutto’s for example) to use Pakistan as their personal piggy bank, and the mullahs to use the elites and the escape of the educated middle class to their advantage, being able to control huge segments of an illiterate population in a manner common to a good deal of the present-day region.

Across the border, in India, where education, modernization and a vibrant middle class is heralded daily, India has been able to toss off the cloak of a Third World nation in just a few decades. Thirty years ago there was little difference between Pakistan and India, still pretty much as Gandhi and Ali Jinnah left it. Now, there is such a complete difference between modern India and stiffled Pakistan that it boggles the mind.

coldwarrior on July 30, 2008 at 9:46 AM

The fact that the ISI is dirty is not news. The fact that we’re confronting them on it is. Pakistan has played both sides of the fence for too long.

CP on July 30, 2008 at 9:49 AM

Good thing the ISI couldn’t possibly facilitate the transfer of nuclear warheads to terrorists.

Akzed on July 30, 2008 at 9:56 AM

coldwarrior on July 30, 2008 at 9:46 AM

You are correct about but the problem IMO is deeper and serious. India also has considerable migration of middle class (Personally speaking, I am also in two minds about migrating, to USA of course)

Problem is of opposing pull of history. Pakistan was established for Indian Muslims, problem is Islam is exclusionary in nature, which means Indian identity of Pakistan must be subsumed in larger Ummah.
However then at best Pakistani identity becomes void or as most likely inferior to Arab or Persian identity.

This is why I called Pakistan schizophrenic and this is why second generation Muslims in UK become suicide bombers.

Gaurav on July 30, 2008 at 9:57 AM

coldwarrior on July 30, 2008 at 9:30 AM

Thanks.

hillbillyjim on July 30, 2008 at 10:07 AM

coldwarrior
Gaurav

Very enlightening. Thank you. Helps explain why A Q Khan was such a hero in Pakistan, too.

RushBaby on July 30, 2008 at 10:21 AM

RushBaby on July 30, 2008 at 10:21 AM

You flatter me :-), but yes preoccupation of Pakistani strategic thinking is India as an existential threat.
Since it was weaker than India in conventional war, it acquired nuked.Since it lacked the territory for prolonged land war, it promoted Taliban for “strategic depth”. And this is why it actively supports terrorism against India.

By the way, I must clarify as Indian I am no big fan of “Land of Pure”

Gaurav on July 30, 2008 at 10:29 AM

I spend a good bit of time during the year visiitng friends in Dearborn, a nice part of Detroit, eating in cafes and restaurants, but above all engaging in discussions with Middle Easterners of many stripes. Having hot and cold running water your kids can drink or bathe in, having a yard and real furniture, having books in the house, real books, not just collections of Korans, or Islamic texts, having a car, having a job, no, a career, with limitless possibilities, is a common theme raised again and again. Hence the migration to other parts of the world…to the US or Canada, to Australia, to South Americas.

India, for reasons of economics and for a stronger national identity in the international realm, has embarked on a huge development program all across India, and a large growing middle class who identify themselves proudly as Indians is the result.

Pakistan, and all the other nations of the region, need to take a good hard look at India, once a basket case, now a technological breadbasket, and be honest in their perusal.

Pakistan was founded pretty much by accident…even Ali Jinnah was amazed when it was formed, despite the bloodletting that preceeded its foundation. But much of what we now see as the Pakistani population that moved to Karachi and Lahore and into other regions were outsiders from the start. In order to form Pakistan, the people who lived there originally were displaced, physically and economically…hence the “lawlessness” of the tribal regions being codified in Pakistan’s founding documents.

The outsiders took over what was a backwater and displaced those who had lived there for centuries. Pakistan is artificial. It needn’t remain that way. ISI’s appeal to many is that the ISI could act sub rosa and with authority, being able to fob themselves off as being part of the “government” but at the same time not part of the “government. Under these conditions, the ISI could act with impunity, disregarding whatever emanated from Islamabad when they chose, thus building credibility among the tribal leaders.

The ISI has a following. It is a fiefdom unto itself, buying loyalty where needed, and giving loyalty in return. A year ago, people here and abroad railed at Musharaff and the Pakistani Armed Forces being a danger to us all. Our Congress, and a number in the Administration saw Musharaff and the Pakistani Armed Forces as being THE threat to peace and stability in the region. Many still believe this. Bhutto was canonized long before her death by this same politically correct cabal. Few saw the Pakistani Armed Forces as being the only true National entity in the nation. Most saw the military as being the evil root of all things bad. Pakistan schizophrenic? Yep, sure is. But our policies toward Pakistan have been no less schizophrenic over the years.

Maybe, just maybe, our notice to Gilani that the ISI must be reined in or, better, dismantled, will aid Gilani into making a tough choice, a choice Pakistan should have made years ago. Should be fairly easy…no one I know of in Pakistan (save for tribal leaders and the Taliban) have any fondness for the ISI, and the armed forces have a good deal of disdain for the ISI as well.

Give Pakistan the tools to grow themselves, to enable their economy, to professionalize the Armed Forces from top to bottom, building a real military intelligence apparatus for national defense along the way, offer stability to the middle class and the underclasses, set the conditions for growth along the lines of India or even South Korea, and Pakistan may actually be able to shed its schizophrenia and grow a national identity…and a real nation.

coldwarrior on July 30, 2008 at 10:35 AM

Hey!

If we’re dumb enough to let them keep doing this, why should they not keep doing it?

???

Lawrence on July 30, 2008 at 10:47 AM

The way we put pressure on these moron Pakistani’s is to cut off all aid, sever our diplomatic ties and strengthen our relationship with India. Bush should have the Indian leadership visit him in Crawford. DD

Darvin Dowdy on July 30, 2008 at 10:47 AM

coldwarrior on July 30, 2008 at 10:35 AM

I think you have aptly described available American options.
As far as us Indians are concerned I am afraid we dont have much options. Earlier there used to be whispered suggestions of dismembering Pakistan for once and all. but nukes have finished this too.

Gaurav on July 30, 2008 at 10:48 AM

Coldwarrior and Gaurav are dead on in their comments above.

The other aspect of this, IS religious though, because the controlling movement in Pakistan, throughout the Military Officer Corps and the Major Politicans, is the Sunni Sufi Deobandi Movement; which started in the Darul Uloom Deoband, in India, back in 1867.

The Deobandis are radical Salafiyya, influnced by Wahabiyyah missionaries, dating back to the 1780′s.

The Sepoy Mutiny in 1857 was influenced by the Wahabiyyah agitators as well!

Regardless, the Deobandi clique, that permeates the Professional Military Officer Corps, and the major Political parties, believes the ONLY “national” goal for Pakistan, is the “liberation” and control of ALL of Kashmir from India; it is their entire raison d’etre.

For them, even the support and formation of the Taliban in the early 90′s, was seen as a way to counter and also defeat Indian “moves” and influence in Afghanistan!

The Deobandis do not consider the US GWOT, and fight against Al Qaeda to be their fight; they are after all, fellow Salafiyyah Sunni Jihadis.

Kashmir is their only goal!

In their twisted world view, since the US is not helping them with Kashmir, the US must be “allies” with India. Thus, there is a large Deobandi ISI & Military & Political faction in Pakistan, who believe that Pakistan must stay constantly close to China, to counter the US-Indian “alliance” (and also because China and India have competing territorial claims on parts of Kashmir as well), pay lip service to US pressure about Al Qaeda/the GWOT, and focus on their real target: Kashmir.

It’s a mania with them; and the only probable solution is either independence for Kashmir, which NONE of the parties will agree too, of course, or for India to cede all of Kashmir to Pakistan (will never happen), or a major war between all the parties (possible).

In other words, we’re in for decades more of stalemate, and the subsequent Jihad and insurgencies in Kashmir will continue….

Dale in Atlanta on July 30, 2008 at 10:52 AM

and..the ISI, and Pakistani Military & Political parties, in an effort to play to their “base”; will continue to use the Pashtun tribemen as their Proxy Jihad fighters in Kashmir, against the Indians; the ramifications which affect Afghanistan of course.

That is what this is all about…

Dale in Atlanta on July 30, 2008 at 10:56 AM

coldwarrior on July 30, 2008 at 8:41 AM

I am so glad that you are posting here now. Your insights are valuable; your contributions to CQ were ones that I found balanced, knowledgeable, and credible.

onlineanalyst on July 30, 2008 at 10:57 AM

Dale in Atlanta on July 30, 2008 at 10:52 AM

Agree, Kashmir has always been the hot button issue.

Gaurav on July 30, 2008 at 11:00 AM

“Cut off all aid, sever our diplomatic ties and strengthen our relationship with India.” Such a tack would once and for all drive whatever remains of Pakistan right into the hands and hearts of radical Islam all across the region.

Yes, it may be a transitory feel good moment…but at what cost? Making Pakistan a more hostile entity would serve what purpose? Surely India, despite nuclear war concerns, would not sit by idle with an angry armed Pakistan next door. They’ve been through that a couple times already. Cut Pakistan off at the knees or higher and one can easily toss the entire region into a lethal chaos.

Guarav, as for India, I believe they have shown us, and themselves, and the rest of the world that economics in our world often speak louder than militarism and militancy. Now that I am competing at the gas station for gasoline that I desire and that some guy who owns a tech firm in Madras desires as well, one can easily say that India has come a long long way since Partition…and in a good way, too.

coldwarrior on July 30, 2008 at 11:00 AM

Dale in Atlanta: You bring even further dimensions to our understanding.

Great job, D in A and CW.

onlineanalyst on July 30, 2008 at 11:01 AM

coldwarrior on July 30, 2008 at 11:00 AM

Yes things have certainly improved. The credit, goes to PV Narsimha Rao. I doubt many people in US have heard about him.
Many Indians still rue the failures and missteps of Nehru.
Unfortunately the democracy has its own constraints, and the present govt is hell bent in dragging India back to glorious days of socialism. Even today India has to free itself from bondage of socialist utopia.

Gaurav on July 30, 2008 at 11:10 AM

Dale in Atlanta on July 30, 2008 at 10:52 AM

Excellent points. The several Pakistani professional military officers I have known over the years were of a stripe where their religion was part of their daily lives but was not the only part of their daily lives. Get down to infantry and logisitcs units and such, and you’ll find more and more officers and soldiers of the type you describe.

The Kashmir focus is one that will be the spark that will ignite a major war, once again in the region. By accident or design.

The ignorance of the West, and moreso, the US, regarding how Pakistan (and India) views Kashmir is something we need turn our attention towards. We have a propensity to look at world events, and world players one on one…and in doing so, we fail to see many many ramifications of our actions.

But what we do with China can affect our relations with Khzakstan, or Pakistan, or India, for example, and not in a good way. Bush engaged in a Wilsonian vision of democracies fostered across the globe…all well and good in theory, perhaps, but lacking in detail. Yes, vibrant democracies are not prone to impulsive aggession with neighbors who are also vibrant democracies. But what if the guy next door is not such a vibrant democracy? Wilson failed to understand this, Bush and others as well. The easiest long term solution is indeed fostering vibrant democracies and vibrant economies wherever and whenever we can…but, at the same time, we must be mindful of deep rooted animosities that if ignored or allowed to fester, can lead to masasive destruction. Kashmir has been under “UN” observation for how many decades? 5? And no solution found. Yet, we seem to be willing to allow the status quo to prolong itself…so long as they are actually fighting, things are swell, right?

Global policies and domestic policies as well, driven by 30-second sound bites, are useless, and most often cause further problems in the long run. A year ago, we were talking seriously, as part of a national policy, that the Pakistani military under Musharaff was a threat to us all…and Bhutto was the only thing that could bring peace and stability to Pakistan…and the professional officer corps saw this how? They certainly didn’t wrap their arms lovingly around that notion, now, did they?

Gilani is no Musharaff. He is no Ayub Khan, either, fortunately. But he has the opportunity to dismatle the ISI and build the Pakistani Armed Forces into a modern national defense establishment. He also has the opportunity to go to New Delhi, and should. And we should encourage that at every juncture.

coldwarrior on July 30, 2008 at 11:20 AM

Gaurav,

“…the present govt is hell bent in dragging India back to glorious days of socialism. Even today India has to free itself from bondage of socialist utopia.”

Seems to be a lot lot more in common between the US and India every day. You guys have the equivalent of Obama, Pelosi and Reid in New Delhi, too? Who’d have thunk that? :-)

coldwarrior on July 30, 2008 at 11:23 AM

Thanks to all for the enlightening information. It’s nice to receive real insight, clarity and education on Pakistan from the members of this group. What a refreshing change from posts at other sites such as USA Today which are as vicious as they are shallow.

Texas Mike on July 30, 2008 at 11:24 AM

coldwarrior on July 30, 2008 at 11:23 AM

Well to begin with imagine if all your senators, congressmen, governors, judges everyone in body polity is Obama, Pelosi or Reid.

Sorry for scaring you :-)

Gaurav on July 30, 2008 at 11:31 AM

Oops!! We were cleaning our Predator and it went off!!!

Luckily, it took out the bad guys you were chasing!

landlines on July 30, 2008 at 11:43 AM

Excellent points. The several Pakistani professional military officers I have known over the years were of a stripe where their religion was part of their daily lives but was not the only part of their daily lives. Get down to infantry and logisitcs units and such, and you’ll find more and more officers and soldiers of the type you describe.

Coldwarrior: yes, its really almost impossible, to convey to Americans who haven’t lived in some of these places (I’ve lived in Nigeria for 6 years, Egypt for 5 years, Spain for 3 years, Japan for 2 years, Bahrain for 6months, Iraq/Turkey for 2months); and visited for work/military/business/pleasure another dozen countries in the region; studied and learned Arabic, for years; and have focused on Radical Islam for 31 years)); it’s difficult to get across to average Americans, the vast gulf that separates the miniscule educated/professional/middle classes in countries such as Pakistan, or Egypt, or Afghanistan, and the rest of the country; the majority of whom are illiterate, uneducated, poor, and brainwashed into Islam from the moment they are walking a talking….

That mob of the unwashed mass, is what those Pakistani Military Officers you have known, has to try and mold/force/lead into the fight; an almost impossible task, to get past a lifetime of Family, Clan, Tribe & Religious indoctrination!

Dale in Atlanta on July 30, 2008 at 11:44 AM

Dale in Atlanta on July 30, 2008 at 11:44 AM

What you are saying can be summarized as gullible poor made to fight the holy war. While it is correct, I will say it is not the whole issue. Human societies to various extent are controlled by identity and passion it arouse. which is why even the educated (even those with liberal education)can be provoked. When the society is in throes of passion, something extraordinary (in both sense positive and negative)happens.

Case in point: Nazism.

Gaurav on July 30, 2008 at 11:53 AM

What you are saying can be summarized as gullible poor made to fight the holy war.
Gaurav on July 30, 2008 at 11:53 AM

Yes, I’ve seen three different levels in my experiences:

a) the indoloent Rich Financiers: the Saudi Sheikhs, and others; they can afford to be Salafiyyah, because they’re living off Petro-dollars; live fantasy lives of Palaces and yatchs and private planes, and wives and harems, they have everything they want, are bored, believe in spreading Islam for idealogical reasons, and have the money to burn to do so; these guys never get their hands dirty; they supply the money/cash, and in secret, urge people on; but that’s it…; Bin Laden actually belongs to this group, technically; but he is a true anonmoly in how he has gotten hands-on involved..

There is a small, small class of high-level upperclass radical Clerics/Imams, who can belong to this group, someone like Qaradawi for example.

In this class also, are many ME/Arab/Muslim “Politicians”; who because of birth, are rich, and usually have Theological family credentials, usually thru inherited family Sunni Sufi lineages.

b) the mid-level/middleclass “Mangers”: the most dangerous group, actually; really truly BELIEVE; the Zawahiris the Atta’s, etc.; these people are firmly Middle Eastern/Arab/Paksitan Middle Class: they are trained Doctors and Chemists and Engineers and IT people and Clerics & Imams; they manage the movement; do the hands on, the training, the ideological motivation, and like the Atta’s, for the high-level/PR operations, they may actually be the “trigger-pullers”. Strangly enough; most successful Suicide Bombers actually come from the bottom rung of this class as well!

The Clerics/Imams at this level, are the “Blind Sheikh” types. This is the class that Zawahiri belonged too; most of the Muslim Brotherhood members belong to this class, as well as Islamic Jihad, etc.

c) the great unwashed, uneducated, illiterate masses of Footsoldiers: the Madrassa masses; inculcated from walking age into Islam, and nothing else, some of these can be Suicide Bombers as well; but not the most spectacular, high-profile/best planned attacks; the Suicide bombers from this class are the ones who are fooled/tricked/coerced into it, and the ones who are unwitting or don’t even know they just “volunteered” to blow themselves up!; these are the masses of footsoldiers in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and Pakistan, who’s main mission is to confront the enemy, and get killed, hoping for a Propaganda or accidental “victory”; such as killing an American Serviceman or downing a Heliopter with an RPG, IF they get “lucky”.

We’ve focused on killing the last group a lot in Iraq & Afghanistan, because that shows immediate results, and they are on the frontlines in confronting the US Military; we’ve targeted via Rendition, UAV, SpecOps, the 2nd group, to some success, since 9/11.

However, it is the first group, that aside from Bin Laden, that for political expediency, we’ve ignored completely. It is these, frankly, we need to identify, target, and assassinate; but I’ve not been successful in getting that message across!

Dale in Atlanta on July 30, 2008 at 12:21 PM

Dale in Atlanta on July 30, 2008 at 12:21 PM

I confess while I wish Americans all the luck, I am pessimistic about the endeavour to get Islam rid of its crazies. The most likely path (and not very likely at that) for containing Ummah is to cause dissension on ethnic or sectarian lines(Arab vs Turk, Iranian vs. Arab, Sunni vs. Shiites)and then try to contain it. Easier said than done !

Gaurav on July 30, 2008 at 12:26 PM

The most likely path (and not very likely at that) for containing Ummah is to cause dissension on ethnic or sectarian lines(Arab vs Turk, Iranian vs. Arab, Sunni vs. Shiites)and then try to contain it. Easier said than done !

Gaurav on July 30, 2008 at 12:26 PM

Yes, I think it is the only way; I agree, to fan the flames of those natural divides, as well as a dual approach as I mentioned above with targetting the high-level supporters.

Either that, or fit your women folk for Burqas, and submit!

Dale in Atlanta on July 30, 2008 at 12:33 PM

Iranian vs. Arab

Quite frankly, I think this is a strategy we’ve tried to evoke and might be having some success in getting the Saudis to recognize that the Persians with nuclear weapons are not in their best interest, that problem is not just limited to the USA and Western civilization.

Very informative and insightful discussion which also helps to explain why Afghanistan is going to be a long, long-term challenge for us and we, the US and Western civilization in general, need to make a long term commitment to the development of that country.

I wonder if any of you would offer your thoughts on the relationship between the Taliban, the Pustuns on the Afghan side of the border along the NW Territory and the difficulty in creating an Afghanistan national identity.

Texas Gal on July 30, 2008 at 12:36 PM

Dale in Atlanta on July 30, 2008 at 12:33 PM

I agree. One thing I will like to emphasize is that when I say cause dissension, I don’t mean permanent state of warfare between different ethnicities. While at first glance this idea may seem attractive (better let them kill themselves then us), the problem with fostering too much violence even through inaction is that it creates too much disruptions and chaos with consequences which are always unpredictable and mostly undesirable. Instead what should be attempted is to foster (through trade and diplomacy) liberal and tolerant polity and society which is centered around on ethnic identity.

Texas Gal on July 30, 2008 at 12:36 PM

Well, this is a difficult question, but let me give it my best shot. I think as far as Afghanistan is concerned a loose federation of tribes should be constituted the governance should be left to tribes in some fashion of federalism as long as 1) the resulting arrangement remains peaceful and friendly. and 2) Doesn’t allow radicals and sharia based rule.

Reg. NWFP America should directly deal with tribes and should convince them to disassociate from Taliban in exchange of greater constitutional and military autonomy.

Again easier said than done.

Now Afghanistan is a country with meager resources but good location for trade so it can be used for trade between India and Central Asia. Though this is likely to be acceptable to Pakistan.

Gaurav on July 30, 2008 at 12:59 PM

Texas Gal, getting the Saudis to “recognize” anything is next to impossible.

Religion and family ties, both of which run deeper than one can imagine in the West, and enables the Saudis to have no intention of doing anything they themselves do not want to do. For the present, they will do nothing of any sort that enables cracks in the veneer of the House of Saud.

They have known of the “Persian” threat for decades, and even during the relatively peaceful time of the Shah, the Saudi’s made sure they kept an eye on Iran. They spent billions to build a National Guard and Air Force armed with the latest the US and Europe could offer not so much to protect Saudi Arabia, but to make sure the House of Saud was protected.

Only after we gain energy independence can we actually pressure the Saudis. So long as they know they have us and Europe by the short hairs, they will do whatever they wish. The most recent ban on cat and dog sales in the Kingdom being a ludicrous but at the same time a serious example of the depths the Sauds will go to maintain their total control over their subjects.

I am sure the Saudis are talking under the table to Iran…making sure the Persian “menace” is focused on the West and, of course, Israel. One would have expected a united Sunni front in the Gulf against Shi’ite Iran, but seems that they are deeply engaged in carpet trading of a sort to make sure the mullahs in Teheran don’t get too out of hand and endanger their game…the Sauds, the Emirates and and the sheikdoms as well. Hence the reluctance of the Saudis and the sheiks in the region to voice support for the toppling of Saddam…he was of the same cloth as they in many many respects.

Energy independence here at home offers much more than cheap fuel and alternative green energy sources…it will allow us to dictate terms to the Saudis and others in the region who grow quite rich on the backs of the average American or European worker, and who frankly couldn’t care less about how much Joe or Mary, Hans or Heidi has to fork over at the gas pump each week, so long as they fork it over.

Not a lot of choices out there, but driving home to the middle class in the region that they are getting screwed from the top by the elites and face getting beheaded by the masses below them should the Caliphate come to fruition seems our best avenue.

As for the Pashtuns in the MW Tribal areas…their loyalties run to individual families for the most part…they have a deep sense of honor. How to capture that honor code and use it is a route worth exploring.

Had a senior level Pakistani official as a contact (and a friend) with whom I was able to use his personal sense of honor to do a few things that he’d previously would not have done. [He was Pathan, of a warrior class hundreds of years old, and he was educated and quite literate, thus more easily engaged, and very proud of his Pathan credentials. Of all things, a shared knowledge and appreciation of Kipling provided the entree.]

But for the most part, the Pashtuns, the tribes along the frontier are not so literate nor educated. Getting involved with them on a level footing to begin with is a tough task. Convincing them that their honor dictates tossing out the foreign interlopers has been successful in only a few cases thus far. Turning against Arab, or Tadjikh or Turkomen interlopers was one thing, getting them to turn on neighbors, ethnic brothers across the border, well, that is something quite different.

As for an Afghan national identity…similar problems as found in Pakistan. Afghanistan as we know it today is not nor has it ever been Afghan…the same as Pakistan being somewhat artificial. Afghanistan was “created” because it was all that was left in the region that was not India nor Persia a century or so ago. The Afghans look toward Central Asia more than they look to the Indian Ocean. It is that hundreds of years old Afghan focus that we seem to not want to recognize. For the Afghans, Bukhara and Samarkand hold more meaning than Paris, or Washington, let alone Islamabad or New Delhi. Perhaps engaging in a Central Asia politik (something the Russians are scared to death of) can the sense of “Afghan” identity be harnessed.

In the case of Pakistan, Afghanistan or the rest of the region, I still hold to the notion that developing a vibrant middle class, complete with job with a demanding boss, a mortgage, a car payment, credit card debt and a spouse and a few teens who want more and more…giving them the American Dream…is a decent way to topple the power of the ruling elites and also give them something to protect from the unwashed radicalized masses. Each having a vested interest in the stability and growth of their nation, they would be more prone to make sure that the radicals were eliminated and the ruling elites brought to task as well.

coldwarrior on July 30, 2008 at 1:34 PM

As for an Afghan national identity…similar problems as found in Pakistan. Afghanistan as we know it today is not nor has it ever been Afghan…

There was a brief period of “Afghan” history; actually with Alexander the Great and all the Greek and Macedonian settlers that went out there.

And again, in the 17th Century, “Afghanistan” did control an Islamic kingdom that included parts of Persia and modern Pakistan.

However, I explain Afghanistan this way to people: most countries have started out as a central “core”, and thru war, marriage, territorial expansion, have expanded out in layers around that “core”.

With Afghanistan: Persia, the British Raj/India/Pakistan, the Russian Empire/Soviet Union/CIS and China, they all Expanded as far as they could, and then the Blank Spot on the map, full of Crazies that they couldn’t control any how, that became “Afghanistan”!

Dale in Atlanta on July 30, 2008 at 1:50 PM

The Grand Trunk Road ended at the Khyber Pass…beyond that was the great unknown…that blank spot on the map we know as Afghanistan.

Hasn’t been all that long since the West made the first steps into the area (not counting that Macedonian Boy Wonder, Alexander, of course) and not a lot has changed once you cross the Khyber.

BTW, Dale in Atlanta…nice to have you hanging out here. Am learning a good bit from you and a couple others. Makes for a good blog site.

coldwarrior on July 30, 2008 at 2:03 PM

coldwarrior: yes, good to see you here too.

I haven’t had a consequential “discussion” on HA before with anyone.

I normally just drop in 2 – 3 times per day, to insult Obama, then leave.

In fact, my insults and my Facts about him, have offended some of the high-minded types; willful ignorance I like to call it…

Dale in Atlanta on July 30, 2008 at 2:44 PM

Gaurav on July 30, 2008 at 12:59 PM

I think as far as Afghanistan is concerned a loose federation of tribes should be constituted the governance should be left to tribes in some fashion of federalism as long as 1) the resulting arrangement remains peaceful and friendly. and 2) Doesn’t allow radicals and sharia based rule.

Thanks for your insight. I had been forming a similar conclusion in my head. And since it is our experience in Iraq that was the catalyst for my thinking, hopefully, similar thinking is going on in Washington. Keeping Afghanistan peaceful and free of radicals while infrastructure and civilization is developed is, in my opinion, the best we can do not only for Afghanis but for ourselves. It’s going to be a long, long process and I’m mighty afraid the American public is not up for it unless we can get to a point where Afghanistan is out of the news like Iraq is now, but Afghanistan is going to have to be an international philanthropic project and I don’t see that many nations onboard with that notion.

Now Afghanistan is a country with meager resources but good location for trade so it can be used for trade between India and Central Asia. Though this is likely to be acceptable to Pakistan.

Did you mean unacceptable to Pakistan? Why so? Because they would be a competitor? I’ve heard it said by some that we should be buying up the opium crop in Afghanistan for legal use but that Turkey would not cooperate since it would cut into their market. And I do know that trying to move the farmers to another form of commercial product would require better infrastructure to get it to market. Seems like the best plan would be to find another legal use for the poppy?

coldwarrior on July 30, 2008 at 1:34 PM

Texas Gal, getting the Saudis to “recognize” anything is next to impossible.

Well, “recognize” was probably a poor word choice by me. Maybe “understand” would have been a better word. I agree with the need for energy independence is a national security issue, and for me more than an environmental issue. Unfortunately, I don’t think the case has been made or will be made to the majority of the American public that this is about national security not $4 a gal. gasoline. I fear that when the price comes down, so will the motivation.

If it was me, I’d be sure that the Saudis came around to the understanding that it is evitable that American will move away from importing their oil by using our own and developing technologies that serve as alternatives to fossil fuels and these technologies will eventually find their way into global markets. I would help them understand that as that happens, our national interests in keeping our military in the Straits for the sake of exporting their oil will be come less important to the American voter who has a tendency for isolationism and is footing the bill for the House of Saud and in that respect the Americans are paying at both ends of that pump. I don’t think Americans understand that right now, but I’ve got a feeling it will come to light. When that happens the Saudis are going to need another protector and as long as we no longer need their oil I don’t think we are going to care who that is. But I would think that Russia and China cozying up with Iran and the real possibility of a nuclear Iran who very much wants to control the Straits ought to create some level of discomfort. I’m sure the Saudis could not care less about how much we pay for gasoline but they ought to be wise enough to understand that one day their oil could sit under their sand with Iran calling the shots.

Turning against Arab, or Tadjikh or Turkomen interlopers was one thing, getting them to turn on neighbors, ethnic brothers across the border, well, that is something quite different.

A couple of weeks ago I watched the video Charlie Wilson’s War. Of course, it was a movie but I’m sure the basic history was that was depicted was accurate. In that movie, when the Russians invaded Afghanistan there were thousands of Afghani refugees that flooded into Pakistan along the NWFT border. Without going into the entire movie, I wonder if now almost 2 decades later there is some sense of ownership of Afghanistan by Pakistan (who evidently facilitated the assistance to defeat the Russians), especially those in the NWFT (where perhaps there are still some of those refugees), the Taliban that resulted and this is the root for the ongoing attempt by the Taliban to take back Afghanistan?

Personally, I see what is going on in Afghanistan as 2 different wars, one between USA/NATO and the Taliban who want Afghanistan back and the other between USA/NATO and AQ who just want to kill as many westerners as possible for the sake of jihad and draining resources. It’s the first one that I worry about not being able to win. And if we can’t find a way to win it, then Afghanistan will never develop into a civilization much less a nation.

Perhaps engaging in a Central Asia politik (something the Russians are scared to death of) can the sense of “Afghan” identity be harnessed.

Can you talk more about that, coldwarrior?

Dale in Atlanta on July 30, 2008 at 1:50 PM

However, I explain Afghanistan this way to people: most countries have started out as a central “core”, and thru war, marriage, territorial expansion, have expanded out in layers around that “core”.

With Afghanistan: Persia, the British Raj/India/Pakistan, the Russian Empire/Soviet Union/CIS and China, they all Expanded as far as they could, and then the Blank Spot on the map, full of Crazies that they couldn’t control any how, that became “Afghanistan”!

Excellent explanation! I’m very much a visual learner, and that drew a wonderful picture for me. But is sure doesn’t give me much hope for a national identity!

I just want to add that in the time I’ve spent here at HA, this is the most informative discussion on this topic I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Thanks to you all!

Texas Gal on July 30, 2008 at 3:55 PM

Dale in Atlanta on July 30, 2008 at 1:50 PM

Actually it goes even before Raj/Persian to the days when Afghanistan formed a shifting boundary between Pre-Islamic Iranian civilization (Sassanid, Achaemid ) and Indian civilization(Mauryas,Guptas). It is hard to believe now but before the advent of Islam the tribals were overwhelmingly Buddhist plus Zorasterians.

Texas Gal on July 30, 2008 at 3:55 PM

Yes I meant unacceptable, for the simple reason that Pakistan hates India. Reg Afghanistan I personally am in favour of greater Indian involvement, not least for non trivial cultural leverage that India has over Afghanistan.
Unfortunately opinion in India is divided over this owing to difference whether any such move would be welcome to tribes.

Gaurav on July 30, 2008 at 4:08 PM

Pakistan could end being one huge pain in the arse.

byteshredder on July 30, 2008 at 4:39 PM

Texas Gal, ref “Perhaps engaging in a Central Asia politik (something the Russians are scared to death of) can the sense of “Afghan” identity be harnessed.”

Take a bit of time and head over to Google Earth and take a look at Central Asia, zoom in on the towns, and the general lack of infrastructure, save for a few pretty much crumbling Soviet Socialist Realist portions of some of the major cities. Pretty bleak. But, just a few centuries ago this was the center of the world for a vast number of people, the trade of goods from all over the world was abundant. Subsistance agriculture was pretty much the mainstay, other than trade. Central Asia was a natural entrepot for half the Asian landmass. Control of this trade made empires and kingdoms, and there were libraries and schools that rivaled those in Europe.

Thanks to the Russians, and moreso the Soviets, this region was turned into a backwater, forgotten by most of the rest of the world and depleted by the Soviets.

Kazakhstan,. for example has large deposits of oil, natural gas, manganese, copper, coal and iron, the sort of stuff that is demanded by developed and developing economies. Facilitating the extration and export of these essentials can provide large sums to the Kazakhs, and lend toward the modernization of the overall region. Kyrgizia has little to offer the industrial nations, a few known gold deposits, but not a lot of other exportable goods…that we know of yet. Tadjikistan is similar. Uzbekistan has oil, coal, gas, copper. All of these countries are presently dependent on Soviet-built road and rail systems that all lead to Russia, not to the rest of Asia. This is why Afghanistan became a prime candidate for routing a gas pipeline into Pakistan or India, and according to a good number on the whacko Left, the sole reason for our invading Afghanistan. The nations of Central Asia need, desperately need, to become physically connected to the outside world by routes other than through Russia. They require investment and exploration, and development and economic assistance and techical expertise to do so. This is where the West, and developed and developing South Asia can play a major role…all players obtaining economic payoffs over the long haul.

How does Afghanistan fit in? Geography. The corridor from the Kara Kum flatlands and desert to the Indian Ocean runs right through Afghanistan. High mountain ranges prevent such easy access all along the rest of south Central Asia from the Caucausus to the Dzungarian gateway into China. Pipelines, highways, and rail lines through Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean can make the minerals of Central Asia accessible to overseas markets, and bring in the necessities of modernization. Afghanistan collects fees for transit, adds to her coffers, gets off the opium market, gains real income and development, and along the way, the people in Afghanistan take control of their own nation…being able to afford to do so, and being able to afford to feed their own as well.

China is and has been looking at Kazakhstan for quite a while. China has been working on building infrastruure to its westernmost borders. China is or soon will be in a best postition to oversee the extraction and transport of the minerals of Central Asia. China needs this. If successful, China will grow and develop at a rate thought impossible just a decade ago.

Now…do we want China to control this flow? Does Europe want China to control this flow? Does India or Pakistan?

Unless we, and India, and Pakistan, and Europe, get off our collective backsides and make a major push into Central Asia, and soon, opportunity will be lost…to the Chinese, once and for all.

The Russian fear is that we do so…removing the focus of Central Asia from a Moscow orientation, a legacy of the past 80 years, to an Indian Ocean focus…something the Russians have wanted going back to the 18th Century and were denied.

coldwarrior on July 30, 2008 at 5:05 PM

Thank you very much for taking the time to explain that to me. I’ve learned a lot today. Since I see this posting is about to move off the front page I want to thank you all for providing such a great discussion.

I hope there is another opportunity soon to have another discussion about that region. It’s very complicated, this I did come to understand. It’s not just a case of fighting terrorists that is going to bring about success in Afghanistan.

Texas Gal on July 30, 2008 at 6:14 PM

Texas Gal: I have a company function going on; so I’m just able to stay 5min.

Coldwarrior & Gaurav all make great points, and I’ll throw one more out there.

The dynamic now, across the CIS states, and and into Pakistan & Afghanistan, are burgeoning populations; 90% or more who are illiterate, primarily agrarian, and inclucated into Islam, and not “passive” Islam, but Salafiyyah Jihadi Islam: Wahhabiyyah, Salafiyyah, Deobandi…

And Coldwarrior and Gaurav, started to touch on it, but I’ll flesh it out:

Islam, in it’s history (except for a brief period in Al Andalus, and maybe, maybe for a short period in the Mughhal Empire in India, has never had the the following (sustained):
a Reformation, a Scientific Englightenment, a Rennaisance, an Industrial Revolution, a Puritan Movement(Social), a Humanist Movement, a Democratic Movement…etc..

Western Civilization, Christianity, had all those and more. All those “movements”, helped, incrementally, to decouple Society and Civilization away from RELIGION, which allowed the West to leap forward and progress; and acheive all the things that it has acheived, in the past 500 years.

Conversely, while the West was ungoing those same massive Societal changes, Islam, was retrenching, and retreating, and becoming isolationist, and moving backwards.

To the extent, that now, the ONLY discussion what is allowed in Islamic societies, is not how to reform Islam in order to decouple the religion and society, and allow the great leap forward that is deperately needed; no the ONLY discussion allowed is how to in fact, to make Islam MORE “perfect”, more puritanical, more widespread, bring more people into the fold via conversion-by-force, how to suppress Western inflences such as “science”, etc.

With over a Billion Adherents, this is certainly NOT a good thing…

Dale in Atlanta on July 30, 2008 at 6:52 PM

I’ll be sending people to this thread in the future. I feel like I’ve been in college for an afternoon!

RushBaby on July 30, 2008 at 9:24 PM

coldwarrior on July 30, 2008 at 5:05 PM

You are right of course. Since antiquity Central Asia has benefited from Trade. Major empires in this region had their source of income either from trade or from plunder of India and Iran.

While Central Asia has prospect of wealth from discovery of resource esp. petroleum, India can take no part of it, as it doesn’t have direct access and doesn’t trust Pakistan on it.

Dale in Atlanta on July 30, 2008 at 6:52 PM

Now I am hardy an expert on Christianity, but I think one of the major reason that the things turned that way is because initially Christianity independently of state

Gaurav on July 31, 2008 at 6:52 AM